Quatrehomme: Arguably Paris’s Best Cheese Shop

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Parisians and tourists alike have their favorite cheese shops, and commit to them with a fierce loyalty. But a consensus for one of the city’s best — and possibly the best — is Quatrehomme, a mini-chain of fromageries founded in 1953 with its headquarters at the incomparable Quatrehomme: La Maison du Fromage on the Rue de Sevres in the 7th Arrondissement. Continue Reading →

Fantastic Fromage at La Fermette

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Fromage! Like so many other visitors to France, I have fallen in love with French cheese. Brie de Meaux. Camembert. Epoisses. Reblochon. Bleu d’Auvergne. Chaource. You name it, and I’ve tried it—and loved it. Even what some call “stinky foot cheese.” While every fromagerie in the City of Light carries the most popular cheeses, there are two Parisian fromageries that I go to again and again when I want to sample my favorites or try something new: La Fermette on Rue Montorgueil and Fromagerie Quatrehomme on Rue de Sevres. Continue Reading →

The Medici Fountain: A Luxembourg Gardens Gem

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Many tourists in Paris make a trip to gorgeous Jardin du Luxembourg in the 6th Arrondissement to admire its exquisite landscaping, children playing with toy boats on its circular basin, more than 100 statues and other monuments scattered throughout the park’s nearly 57 acres and the ornate Luxembourg Palace, which today serves as home to the French Senate. One of the true gems of the Luxembourg Gardens, however, is not as frequently visited—the Medici Fountain. And that’s a shame, because the fountain is not only beautiful, but is deeply rooted in Paris’s rich history. Continue Reading →

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 Petit Prince de Paris: A Latin Quarter Gem

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One of the truly great Parisian restaurants is Le Petit Prince de Paris, a quintessentially French hideaway located in the midst of a warren of tiny cobblestone streets in the city’s Latin Quarter just a stone’s throw from the Pantheon. The only LGBT restaurant on the city’s Left Bank, Le Petit Prince de Paris is housed in a site that has served as a tavern and restaurant since the year 1450. That ancient building provides the restaurant with much of its yesteryear charm, including exposed ceiling beams, pale stone walls, plush draperies, antique furnishings and dozens of candles and chandeliers. Continue Reading →

Royal History at Saint-Germain-des-Pres Church

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If you’ve visited Paris’s chic Saint-Germain-des-Pres neighborhood—and in particular either of the district’s historic cafes, Les Deux Magots or Café Flore—you’ve undoubtedly at least seen the Eglise de Saint-Germain-des-Pres. It was this very church—originally founded in the mid-6th century as a Benedictine abbey—that gave the name to Paris’s Saint-Germain-des-Pres district as the abbey for centuries owned all of the Left Bank land in the area. Sadly, though, few tourists do more than admire the scenery or perhaps take a photo or two. And that’s a shame, because the church itself is well worth a visit if nothing other than for its rich history deeply intertwined with France’s Merovingian kings who ruled the nation for 300 years beginning in the middle of the 5th century. Continue Reading →

Perfect Confit de Canard? Head to Chez Dumonet

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One of the many French staples served at restaurants, bistros and brasseries throughout Paris is confit de canard (duck confit)—a leg of duck that’s salt-cured and then cooked in its own fat. It seems that it’s practically a requirement that every cook in the city makes and sells this dish. But truth be told, most Parisian eateries serve a poorly cooked canard. More often than not, you’re served a piece of duck with rubbery skin and super-greasy meat or one that’s so overcooked that it’s dry as toast. Fortunately, there are a handful of restaurants in Paris that know how to prepare a perfect confit de canard with crisp, crackling skin and moist, succulent meat, and one of the very best is Chez Dumont in the 6th Arrondissement. Continue Reading →

Saint Etienne du Mont: A Gothic Gem

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There are many huge—and hugely popular—churches in Paris that make it onto most tourists’ must-see lists: Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Saint Sulpice, etc. But the City of Light is home to more than 125 churches, and some of the most interesting and most beautiful are among the less-popular and out-of-the-way houses of worship. One that’s definitely worth a visit is Saint Etienne du Mont in the Latin Quarter just a block from the more-often toured Pantheon. Why should you add Saint Etienne to your sight-seeing itinerary? Not only does the church’s history stretch back more than 1,500 years but it also contains the shrine of Saint Genevieve, the patron saint of the City of Paris. And it’s one of the rare churches in the world (outside of Italy) where two Popes have held Mass. Continue Reading →

A Fascinating Study of France’s Military History

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One of the most fascinating museums in Paris is one that probably turns off a lot of people just from its name—the Musee de l’Armee (Army Museum). But France has such a long history—including centuries as the dominant power of Europe, and the French military has played a significant role in the building of the nation through the ages (and it’s downfall at certain times, including Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo that ended his rule). And because much of both World Wars were fought on French soil, visiting the Musee de l’Armee is as much a lesson in world history as it is a glimpse at the weapons, soldiers and warfare of the past half century. Continue Reading →

Au Revoir to Paris’s Best Cassoulet Restaurant

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One of my favorite cold-weather comfort-food meals in Paris is cassoulet. A few years ago, I stumbled across the very best cassoulet I’ve ever tasted, at Au Bon Saint Pourcain — a tiny restaurant in the shadow of Saint Sulpice church. But fellow fans of the eatery began to notice in mid-2014 that the restaurant was temporarily closed, with signs in the window indicating “Ferme Pour Travaillez (Closed for Work).” After several months of seemingly no progress, patrons–locals and visitors alike–began to question when the renovations would be complete. And now we know the disappointing answer. Continue Reading →