Parking Lot Project Unearths Ancient Artifacts

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In far too many cities, the classic song lyric “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot” is sadly accurate. But in Paris, ironically, it was the building of a parking lot that unearthed a wealth of archaeological treasures, including some that date back to the Gallo-Roman era that began in the year 52 B.C. And even more surprising is that this historical treasure trove literally lies at the feet of every tourist who visits one of Paris’s iconic sites. Continue Reading →

Up Close with Le Penseur at the Musee Rodin

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One of my favorite Paris Museums is the Musee Rodin, adjacent to the Invalides complex on the Right Bank. Opened in 1919, the museum is dedicated to French sculptor Auguste Rodin. The museum is housed in the 17th century Hotel Biron—a glorious mansion in which Rodin rented four rooms for his workshop from 1908 until his death in 1917—and the manor’s enormous gardens. Among the many pieces displayed at the museum are three of Rodin’s most famous works, including Le Penseur (The Thinker), Le Baiser (The Kiss) and La Porte de l’Enfer (The Gates of Hell). 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 →

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 →

Quirky Musee de la Poupee Focuses Solely On Dolls

Musee de la Poupee 6

Paris is the global leader in the number and quality of museums that are open to the public (many for free). There are almost 250 musees and galeries in the City of Light, including some of the best-known museums in the world. But there also are many small, unusual halls and salons in Paris that appeal to very specific demographic groups or focus on what can charitably called obscure objets d’art. Any of these unconventional museums make for enormously interesting visits. But one of my favorite off-beat institutions provokes an interesting array of emotions among attendees, from puzzlement to absolute delight—the Musee de la Poupee, a museum devoted entirely to dolls. Yes, dolls. Continue Reading →

A Visit to the Home of the Man Who Saved Notre Dame

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A great—and free!—way to spend a delightful and informative hour or two while in the City of Light is to visit the one-time home of one of the most famous of all Parisians: artist, poet and author Victor Hugo. Hugo lived in a 17th century mansion overlooking the gorgeous Place des Vosges in the Marais for 16 years, from 1832 to 1848. In fact, it was at his second-floor apartment in this very house that Hugo penned one of his most famous works, the novel Les Miserables. But perhaps his most significant work is the novel Notre-Dame de Paris (known in English as The Hunchback of Notre Dame), a book that is credited with saving Notre Dame Cathedral from possible demolition. Continue Reading →

Musee Carnavalet to Close for 3 Years for Renovations

Musee Carnavalet

The Musee Carnavalet, which chronicles the unique and rich history of Paris from it’s founding in 250 B.C., is set to close in October for a three-year, 43 million euro renovation project aimed at restoring portions of the 17th century mansions that house the museum, improve the presentation of the museum’s collections, add new exhibits, and make the facility handicap accessible. The renovation is part of a larger 100 million euro plan to revitalize 14 city-owned museums between now and 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 →

A Fascinating Study of France’s Military History

World War I tank

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 →

World’s Premier Photo Show Held Nov. 13-16 in Paris

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Photographers and lovers of the photographic medium will be in sheer heaven this week when Paris’s Grand Palais hosts “Paris Photo”—widely considered the world’s premier international photography art fair. This year’s show marks the 18th anniversary of the event that is known across the globe not only for its stunning displays of photography, but also for its innovative and high-level programming. Paris Photo will include nearly 170 exhibits from more than 1,200 photographers, collectors and galleries spanning 33 nations. Continue Reading →