A Salute to Louis XIV at Place des Victoires

Place des Victoires 5

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 →

Off the Beaten Path: The Historic Square du Temple

Square Du Temple  9

On the northernmost edge of the Marais is a fantastic public park that is quite literally an oasis in the midst of urban Paris—the Square du Temple. Because the Square is a considerable distance from any major tourist site, the garden and park is used almost exclusively by locals, particularly families living nearby. The park also provides a splendid view of the ornate Mairie du 3rd Arrondissement, the municipal offices for that district of the city. And for history buffs, the park occupies the site of a former fortified monastery of the Knights Templar and the infamous Tower of the Temple prison that served as the final “residence” of King Louis XVI before his execution. It’s well worth visiting, and is a short walk from the Musee des Arts et Metiers or from the Place de la Republique. 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 →