Saint-Michel Fountain: Well Worth a Short Detour

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Just a stone’s throw from the Sainte Chapelle church is one of Paris’s most glorious “monumental” fountains that is surprisingly not as popular among tourists as other sights in the area—the Fontaine Saint-Michel. Although many guidebooks include the fountain in their sight-seeing recommendations, it usually doesn’t fall on traveler’s “must-see” lists for the City of Light, particularly for first-time visitors. And that’s a shame, because a less-than-five-minute stroll from either Sainte-Chapelle or equality popular Notre Dame puts you directly on the charming Place de Saint-Michel, which is dominated by the gorgeous (and extremely photogenic) fountain at its southern end. Continue Reading →

Le Grand Palais: A Lot More Than Just a Pretty Photo

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Here’s a paradox that is very specific to the City of Light: One of Paris’s buildings that is among the most photographed by sight-seers is also one of the city’s facilities that is least visited by tourists. If you’ve been to Paris, chances are you’ve had a glimpse (and taken multiple photos) from Les Invalides, the Orsay Museum, the Champs Elysees or especially from the ornate Pont Alexandre III. Any guesses what it might be? Continue Reading →

Place des Vosges: Paris’s Most Beautiful Square

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There are many beautiful parks, squares and “places” throughout Paris, each with its own special charm. But ask a Parisian–or even a visitor to the City of Light–to name Paris’s most beautiful square, and the answer is routinely the Place des Vosges. Continue Reading →

UPDATE: A L’Etoile d’Or to Reopen Nov. 3!

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UPDATE: After a gas explosion destroyed her candy shop A l’Etoile d’Or in February 2014, it was reported that shop owner Denise Acabo had thrown in the towel and would not be reopening the boutique that drew visitors from around the world. But multiple reports out just today say that Acabo is stocking her shelves for a Nov. 3 reopening! This is a most welcome development for scores of candy fans throughout Paris–and indeed the entire world–who regularly visited Acabo’s renowned shop. If you’ve never been, definitely make a special trip to A l’Etoile d’Or at 30 Rue Fontaine in the 9th Arrondissement (Metro: Blanche/Pigalle). Continue Reading →

A Salute to Louis XIV at Place des Victoires

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A little-visited but still quite scenic—and historic—site in Paris’s 1st Arrondissement is the Place des Victoires, a circular “square” that was created to honor King Loius XIV. Place des Victoires is a short walk from the more popular Palais Royal, but few tourists make their way to this locale. And that’s mostly because aside from a large statue of Louis in the center of the circle, there’s no real “sight” to see. That’s a shame, because the circle has delightful 17th century architecture and, for history buffs, roots stretching back to the French royal House of Bourbon, and links to the French Revolution and Napoleon Bonaparte. Continue Reading →

Quirky, Kinetic Fountain Honors Composer Stravinksy

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In addition to visiting Paris’s futuristic Pompidou Center, many tourists also enjoy the next-door Fontaine Stravinsky (Stravinsky Fountain), a quirky, kinetic public fountain designed to honor composer Igor Stravinsky, a Russian composer—later a naturalized French citizen—considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century. The Paris fountain that honors the composer was created in 1983 by Swiss artist Jean Tinguely, known for his kinetic-art pieces, and his wife, French sculptor, painter and filmmaker Niki de Saint Phalle. The 580-square-meter basin is ornamented with 16 pieces of sculpture and water-movement installations that represent 16 of Stravinsky’s works, including those from his best-known ballet “The Rite of Spring.” Continue Reading →

Tea Time? Head to Mariage Freres in the Marais

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Most people naturally associate tea with England, where indulging in afternoon tea is practically a national pastime. But the tea trade also became a vital part of France’s economy and part of its aristocratic culture in the mid-17th century when entrepreneurs and explorers began to seek out and import exotic foreign goods, including teas. One of the best-known tea emporiums in France—Mariage Freres—has its roots in this global exploration. Brothers (freres, in French) Nicholas and Pierre Mariage became experts in the tea trade in the mid-1600s, and passed that knowledge on to successive generations of Mariages. Today, the family operates more than 30 tea shops and salons (including sales counters in luxury department stores) around the world, including it’s flagship emporium in Paris’s Marais district that is the perfect setting for a delicious dessert and a spot of tea. Continue Reading →

Marvelous Modern Art at the Pompidou Center

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Modern art is not everyone’s cup of tea. Personally, I prefer avant-garde paintings, sculpture and other futuristic installations over gallery upon gallery of Christian imagery, and I adore the work of Picasso, Matisse and Chagall. To each his or her own, right? But even I sometimes find some modern art pieces to be, shall we say, wanting. There is a museum in Paris, however, that I highly recommend to everyone, even those who normally are turned off by modern art—the Musee National d’Art Moderne, housed in the city’s equally futuristic—and fascinating—Pompidou Center. Continue Reading →

Picasso Museum Set for Reopening. Again

Musee Picasso

Paris’s famed Picasso Museum is set to reopen on Saturday, October 25, after a planned two-year renovation project stretched to more than five years in length and resulted in cost overruns nearly doubling the initial eight-figure budget. The museum, established when Picasso’s family members donated hundreds of pieces of art to the French government in lieu of estate taxes when the artist passed away, shut in August 2009 for a planned two-year, $40 million renovation. Numerous times since, the museum’s administration announced additional delays and more expenditures. In fact, just this spring the renovation team announced a June reopening. Obviously, that never happened. So will Saturday’s reopening actually occur? There’s every indication that this time it’s done deal. Continue Reading →

Eiffel Renovations Include Glass Floor. Sacre Bleu!

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Renovations of the first level of the Eiffel Tower wrapped up this week, and they include a new feature that is wowing (and in some cases terrifying!) tourists: A glass floor 57 meters above the ground that one can walk across–or, as the case seems to be, lie on to take selfies. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo opened the new attraction this week, telling CNN that the project is helping Paris reinvent itself “without ruining our history.” She christened the new see-through-floor with a series of Twitter messages in several languages inviting tourists to pay a visit to the Eiffel Tower to check out the nearly $39 million in renovations, which also include shops, restaurants, a new museum and newly installed safety railings that provide better views of the City of Light. Continue Reading →