Viaduc des Arts: Shopping Below an Elevated Park

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Many visitors to Paris are familiar with the Coulee Verte Rene-Dumont, more commonly called the Promenade Plantee, a 4.7-kilometer long elevated park built atop a disused elevated railway line that runs roughly from the Place de la Bastille to the Bois de Vincennes on the eastern outskirts of the city. But equally recognizable—and even sometimes confused for the park above it—is the Viaduc des Arts, a rehabilitated arched bridge in the 12th Arrondissement that hoists only a small portion of the park, but is home to many ground-level shops, galleries and restaurants. And the shops—while typically pricey—are unique and well worth a visit. Continue Reading →

Unexpected Attractions In Paris

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Visiting Paris, you can quickly get caught up in all the things you’ve always wanted to see and do. Famous buildings and monuments, charming cafes and legendary shopping areas are often among the main draws. But it’s a big city that seems to get more entertaining by the year—probably because it’s always catering to fresh waves of tourists. For that reason, there are a lot of attractions in town that you might not necessarily expect to come across or enjoy. These can be fun to put on your list, though, as they make the trip feel a little less like you’re simply meandering through the front pages of a Parisian guidebook. Here are a few things to think about doing. Continue Reading →

Conciergerie: The Tears of Marie Antoinette

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Everyone who’s even a little bit familiar with French history knows that Marie Antoinette and her husband, King Louis XVI, were made about a foot shorter on top during the French Revolution. And you’re probably also familiar with Marie’s alleged–and oft-disputed–statement “Let them eat cake!” when told the poor didn’t have bread to eat. But what happened to her between the time of her arrest and her execution? Most of that period was spent imprisoned in the Conciergerie, a sprawling, medieval fortress-like facility on the western tip of the Ile de la Cite. And you can pay a visit to the facility—and tour the very rooms where Marie Antoinette spent her final days. Continue Reading →

Don’t Miss Saint-Eustache, a Gothic Masterpiece

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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 →

Les Halles’ Tour Saint-Jacques

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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 →

Have You Seen Paris’s Coat of Arms?

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Chances are that most visitors to the City of Light have no idea that they’ve spotted the official emblem of Paris countless times. Paris’s coat of arms appears on well more than 100 buildings and other structures throughout the city. The reason you likely didn’t recognize that what you’re seeing is an official symbol of Paris is because its main image is that of an ancient merchant sailing ship—not something that most people would associate with France’s capital. Continue Reading →

Porte Saint-Denis: Once a Medieval Gate to Paris

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Not as large or well-known as the Arc de Triomphe, the Porte Saint-Denis is another massive arch in Paris that is well worth checking out. Technically a “porte” and not an “arc” since it marks the site of an ancient gate through ramparts surrounding Paris’s Right Bank, the Porte Sainte-Denise was designed by sculptor Michel Anguier and architect Francois Blondel in 1672 when the fortification was razed. The engravings and reliefs on the structure symbolize King Louis XIV’s military victories in the Netherlands and along the Rhine River. Continue Reading →

Quirky Musee de la Poupee Focuses Solely On Dolls

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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 →

Honoring Victims of War at Paris’s Anne Frank Garden

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Visitors to the City of Light who enjoyed today’s annual Armistice Day parade and the ceremonial placement of a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier under the Arc de Triomphe might also wish to take a moment to solemnize the second World War, in particularl the millions of Jews who were murdered by Nazi Germany (including about 77,000 French Jews). What better place to honor them than with a visit to a serene city park dedicated to perhaps the most well-known of all the victims of the Holocaust—Anne Frank? The charming but difficult-to-locate Jardin Anne Frank memorializes the teenaged girl known worldwide for the diary she kept while she, her family and friends hid from the Nazis in Amsterdam during World War II. But the quiet green space in Paris also more broadly memorializes all those who’ve lost their lives to war. Continue Reading →

Paris’s Oldest Candy Store: A la Mere de Famille

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Some of the best chocolatiers in the world live in and operate out of Paris, including such renowned chocolate makers as Christian Constant, Michel Cluziel, Pierre Herme, Jean-Paul Hevin and Patrick Roger, to name just a few. But in addition to the shops operated by these sultans of sweets, there’s another chocolate emporium that is highly regarded by Parisians and well worth a visit by any tourist to the City of Light—the A la Mere de Famille chain of boutiques. Specifically, the Rue du Faubourg-Montmatre outlet in the 9th Arrondissement, which is the oldest chocolate shop in Paris, founded in 1761. Yes, this charming and enormously photogenic shop, both inside and out, has been open for 254 years. Continue Reading →