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 →

Paris Is Home to Europe’s Largest Science Museum

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Cite des Sciences et de l’Industrie, one of the biggest museums in Paris—and, in fact, the largest science museum in all of Europe—is rarely visited by tourists, likely due to its location on the very outer edge of the distant 19th Arrondissement and the fact that there’s not much else to see in the blandly residential district. But that’s a shame, because the museum is terrifically entertaining and even offers occasional IMAX films and planetarium presentations in English (or with English subtitles). And more than 5 million annual visitors can attest to the universal appeal the sleek, modern and highly informative science center has for both adults and children alike. Continue Reading →

Quintessentially French Dining On the Ile Saint-Louis

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Parisians and tourists alike have a love affair with the Ile Saint-Louis, the tiny sister island and next-door neighbor to the larger Ile de la Cite that marks the geographic center of Paris. To add to your quintessentially Parisian experience while strolling the island, be sure to stop in for lunch or dinner at the charming bistro L’Auberge de la Reine Blanche. This quaint eatery looks every bit as a Parisian bistro should—timeworn tables packed tightly together, oil paintings and copper cookware hanging on the walls, romantic lighting overhead and a gorgeous antique oak bar overlooking the entire scene. Best of all, the food is superb. Continue Reading →

Rue Quincampoix: A Perfect Medieval Parisian Street

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One of the most enjoyable experiences in Paris is to wander along a medieval, cobblestone lane lined with ancient stone buildings and massive arched doorways that is so narrow that is seems barely able to accommodate a Smart Car, much less any other modern mode of transportation. Yes, you can certainly meander the City of Light’s many streets—particularly those in the twisty, turny Marais—to find your own favorite byways to stroll. Actually, one of the most popular tourist experiences is “getting lost” in Paris’s charming neighborhoods and stumbling across that perfect Parisian street on your own. But there’s a quaint, ancient lane that’s literally within a stone’s throw of a major tourist destination that somehow escapes most visitors’ attentions—and yet delivers wholly on that medieval Parisian experience: the tiny Rue Quincampoix just west of the Pompidou Center. And it’s well worth a visit. Continue Reading →

Hotel de Sully: A Mansion in the Heart of LGBT Paris

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Paris’s Marais district, and in particular the areas around the Metro stations Hotel de Ville and Saint-Paul, is the heart of the City of Light’s thriving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. And while there are plenty of LGBT shops, bars, restaurants and sight-seeing destinations in this neighborhood, it’s also home to more than a dozen 17th and 18th century mansions, called Hotels de Particuliers, that once served as single-family homes to France’s wealthy aristocrats who wished to live near Continue Reading →

Louvre Breaks All-Time Attendance Record in 2018

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As anyone who’s visited the City of Light can attest–particularly tourists who inundate Paris during the peak summer travel months–the crowds for some of the iconic attractions can range from frustratingly busy to downright overwhelming. And 2018 was no stranger to massive throngs of sight-seers, particularly to the city’s world-famous Louvre museum, which set an all-time record for number of visitors. Continue Reading →

A Visit to the Delightful Rue Montorgueil Market Street

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An extremely popular 2nd Arrondissement destination for both tourists and locals is the Rue Montorgueil market street, a five-block long lane between Rue Etienne Marcel and Rue Reaumur. Home to more than two dozen specialty food shops, cafes and bistros, including a patisserie founded nearly 280 years ago by the head pastry chef to king Louis XV, Rue Montorgueil is a real treat even if you’re just window shopping (called faire du leche-vitrines in French, which oddly translates to “window licking). Continue Reading →

Viewing the Crown of Thorns at Notre Dame

The Crown of Thorns, inside its protective case

Gargoyles. The rose window. Victor Hugo’s hunchback. Flying buttresses. These are just a few of the countless reasons why Parisians and visitors to the City of Light visit and fall in love with Notre Dame de Paris, the stunning gothic cathedral that often is included with the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe as iconic symbols of Paris. But for Catholics, indeed for all Christians, the church also is host to one of the most important relics in all of Christendom—the Crown of Thorns, allegedly worn by Jesus during his crucifixion. And visitors to the cathedral can see this most holy of artifacts all day on Good Friday. Continue Reading →

A (Mostly) Forgotten Louvre-Area Church

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Visitors to Paris are, of course, familiar with most of the vicinity around the Louvre—the gorgeous, massive museum itself, the pristine Tuileries park to the west, the picturesque Seine to the south and the trendy Rue de Rivoli to the north. Note, the use of the word “most,” because even the savviest tourist typically misses the buildings just “behind” (to the east of) the renowned museum, and that’s a shame, because it’s home to one of the most beautiful and historic churches in all of Paris—Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois. Continue Reading →

For Extreme Opulence, Visit the Opera Garnier

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If you want a glimpse of how Louis XVI may have lived, it’s not necessary to trek all the way to Versailles, the massive royal palace on the outskirts of Paris, a trip to which will take up an entire day of your visit to the City of Light. If you’re hoping to save some time and yet also experience over-the-top opulence and more gold leaf than Donald Trump’s infamous golden bathroom, head to Paris’s Palais Garnier. Typically called just the Opera Garnier, this gorgeous Beaux-Arts and Neo-Baroque palace was built on the border of the 2nd and 9th arrondissements in the late 19th century to host the renowned Paris Opera. And it’s perhaps even more spectacular than anything one might see at Louis’s former palace, even the oft-photographed Hall of Mirrors. Continue Reading →