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 →

‘Midnight in Paris’ Truly Captures the City’s Beauty

MidnightinParis

There is simply no denying that Midnight in Paris, particularly the introduction scene, truly captures the City of Light in all its glory. Every time I watch the first few minutes of the movie, I start to mentally plan my next visit to Paris. Even in the rain! Read more to check out a YouTube video of the movie’s gorgeous introduction to the beauty of Paris. Continue Reading →

Rue Quincampoix: A Perfect Medieval Parisian Street

Quincampoix 2

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 →

Golden Statue Near the Louvre Honors Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc 1

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 →

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

Hotel de Sully 5

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 →

Popular Paris Square Has a Dark Revolutionary Past

Concorde 8

Place de la Concorde, one of the most popular squares—and the largest in terms of sheer size—in the City of Light, may be beautiful and picturesque today, but at one time it witnessed dozens of bloody executions during the French Revolution. In fact, it’s the exact site where King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were made a foot shorter on top via the guillotine. Visitors today, enamored of the square’s gilded fountains, soaring Egyptian obelisk and unfettered views of some of Paris’s most iconic sites, are probably unaware of the area’s decidedly grotesque past. Even the square’s name today—essentially The Place of Harmony—belies its dark history. Continue Reading →

Louvre Breaks All-Time Attendance Record in 2018

Louvre pryamid 2 - Copy

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

Rodin 5

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 →

A (Mostly) Forgotten Louvre-Area Church

St Germain L'Auxerrois 3

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 →