Palais-Royal: Grand and Quirky

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Today’s Paris memories are of the Palais-Royal, a one-time palace located near the Louvre on the Right Bank. Once called the Palais-Cardinal, the palace is today home to an unusual modern art exhibit and a gorgeous enclosed courtyard with a huge reflecting pool, numerous statues and perfectly aligned rows of trees and shrubbery. Continue Reading →

A Serious Museum Examining Sex and Sexuality

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Paris is bursting at the seams with museums and galleries. And among the City of Light’s 175 public and private museums are several unconventional collections, including the Musee de l’Erotisme (Museum of Eroticism). And let’s set the record straight: This unusual seven-level exhibition space in Paris’s Pigalle district is a serious museum, not a prurient tourist trap. The artifacts on display, amassed since the 1960s by cultural anthropologists Alain Plumey and Joseph Khalifa, date back to the 1st century A.D. and provide a fascinating examination of the roles that sex and sexuality have played in numerous cultures and civilizations during the past two millennia. 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 →

Statues, Statues Everywhere

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One of the things I — and most visitors to Paris — admire most about the City of Light is the abundance of art that greets Parisians each and every day. From glorious architecture to historic fountains to large outdoor murals to anonymously scrawled street art, Paris offers something beautiful to gaze upon no matter where one looks. There’s so much public art that many have dubbed the city a massive “open-air museum.” And that “museum” includes statues and sculptures. Lots of statues and sculptures. In fact, Paris has more than 1,000 statues created by more than 400 artists on public display throughout the city. Continue Reading →

Golden Statue Near the Louvre Honors Joan of Arc

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Visitors to the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens are often surprised to stumble across a glittering gold statue of a soldier on horseback, seemingly guarding the posh Hotel Regina that overlooks the area. And many snap pics of the equestrian sculpture without ever really knowing that they’ve captured the likeness of Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc), a peasant from northeast France who became a commander in the French military and led several victories over the invading English forces during the Hundred Years’ War. Today, Jeanne d’Arc is a martyr of the Catholic Church and one of the nine patron saints of France. Continue Reading →

The Heart of French History

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One of my favorite sights to visit in Paris is the gorgeous and historic Basilica of Saint Denis in the suburb of Saint Denis. The church and abbey have been the burial place of French royalty since the 10th century (although kings from as far back as the year 500 have had their remains moved here). Parts of the church itself were constructed more than 1,300 years ago. The history here is mind-boggling. 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 →

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 →

Visiting One of Paris’s Most Unusual Churches

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Eglise Saint-Merri is arguably the most unusual church in the City of Light. As much a cultural center, gallery and concert hall as it is a Catholic house of worship, Saint-Merri is unique in all of Paris in that visitors are as likely to visit for a myriad of other reasons as they are to attend Mass. Possibly even more so. 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 →