Where Marie Antoinette Played Make Believe

Marie Antoinette's hamlet

One of the most interesting parts of the sprawling Versailles compound outside of Paris is the Hameau de la Reine (The Queen’s Hamlet), a fake rural farming town built solely so Marie Antoinette could escape the “pressures” of being queen of France and pretend to be a simple milkmaid. Seriously.

The town (which actually does function as a farming community) includes a farmhouse, dairy, dovecote/pigeon coup, mill, tower and the “queen’s house and billiard room,” set in the very center of the village. Continue Reading →

Paris, City of Fountains

Fountain in Square Louvois 1

One of the things I love about Paris are the scores of fountains scattered throughout the city. Many are quite famous as tourist sights: the Fontaine Saint-Michel on the Left Bank, the Fontaine des Innocents near Les Halles, the Medici Fountain in the Jardin du Luxembourg, and the fountains at Place de la Concorde, Place des Vosges and the Louvre pryamid, to name just a few.

But one of my favorites–and one I came across completely by happenstance–is the Fontaine Louvais … Continue Reading →

Rude Parisians? Not If You Make a Bit of Effort!

Lexard Cafe 4

My fellow bloggers at Paris Attitude have put together a helpful list of tips for travelers to Paris. But there are a few other sage pieces of advice that Americans should keep in mind so that we don’t perpetuate the stereotype of arrogant tourists and so we will smooth our interactions with waiters, shop clerks and fellow pedestrians so that we will never experience that cliche of the rude Parisian. Continue Reading →

Paris’s Passages: The World’s First Malls

shopping "passage"

Did you know that Paris was home to what are considered the first shopping malls? Called “passages,” these covered streets and courtyards (usually just one long thoroughfare, but sometimes consisting of several intersecting passages) first cropped up in Paris in the late 1700s and spread like wildfire in the early to mid-1800s. Continue Reading →

Paris’s Perfect Pastries

Pastries at Stohrer

Paris is home to some of the world’s best pastry shops (called patisseries), and the delectable desserts they produce every day are simply to die for. Here are some pastry perfections from my favorite Parisian bakeries: Angelina, Laduree, La Loir dans la Theiere, Mariage Freres, Le Gay Choc, Pain de Sucre and Stohrer. Continue Reading →

Up Close and Personal with Monet at the l’Orangerie

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Today’s Paris memory is of the exquisite Musee de l’Orangerie, in which 8 of Monet’s huge water lily paintings (called the Nympheas) are displayed in two large ovals rooms designed in part by Monet himself so as to achieve the perfect lighting and ambiance. The effect is magical. Continue Reading →

Don’t Miss Saint-Eustache, a Gothic Masterpiece

Saint Eustache 4

Paris is littered with dozens of gorgeous churches, and many end up on tourists’ must-see lists: Notre Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, Sacre Coeur, Saint-Sulpice. But one of the City of Light’s most impressive houses of worship that stands guard over the Les Halles neighborhood is not visited nearly as often as it should be—L’Eglise Saint-Eustache. And that’s a shame, because many visitors to Paris rate this church as one of the city’s finest, both inside and out. Continue Reading →

My Louvre — Beyond the “Big Three”

Louvre gallery

Today’s Paris memories are all about the fantastic art at the Louvre. Yes, most people maybe a beeline to see the Big Three (Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Winged Victory of Samothrace), but you can spend literally days in the huge museum and never see all of the pieces on display. Here are some of my favorites, Continue Reading →

Paris: The World’s Best “Walking City”

Entrance to Rue Montorgueil

One of things I love to do most while in Paris is simply wander the streets and check out all of the amazing architecture, art and green spaces. There’s so much to see on every single block that it’s almost overwhelming. Even a leisurely ramble with no destination in mind reveals so much beauty. Paris has been called the best “walking city” on Earth, and I have to wholeheartedly agree! Continue Reading →

Les Halles’ Tour Saint-Jacques

Tour Saint-Jacques 2

Today’s Paris memories are centered not far from city Hall — the Tour Saint-Jacques, a Gothic tower that is all that remains of a 16th century church. The tower’s rich decoration reflects the wealth of its patrons, the wholesale butchers of the former Les Halles market that existed nearby for centuries. Continue Reading →