Hotel de Sens: A Marvelous Medieval Marais Mansion

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Paris is nirvana for lovers of art and architecture. It seems like every new street corner unveils another marvel, some totally unexpected. This is one of the true joys of visiting the City of Light—suddenly stumbling upon a beautiful old building, statue, park or street art that warms the heart and sparks the spirit. One of the best of these surprises is when wandering the streets of the Marais near the Seine and suddenly catching a glimpse of the gorgeous stone mansion Hotel de Sens—what can only be described as a stately medieval castle, complete with turrets, spires and grand stone arches. And it is accurate to depict the Hotel de Sens as medieval, as its construction as a private mansion began in 1475, the tail end of the Middle Ages. In fact, the Hotel de Sens is one of only three medieval residences remaining in all of Paris. Continue Reading →

Saint Etienne du Mont: A Gothic Gem

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There are many huge—and hugely popular—churches in Paris that make it onto most tourists’ must-see lists: Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Saint Sulpice, etc. But the City of Light is home to more than 125 churches, and some of the most interesting and most beautiful are among the less-popular and out-of-the-way houses of worship. One that’s definitely worth a visit is Saint Etienne du Mont in the Latin Quarter just a block from the more-often toured Pantheon. Why should you add Saint Etienne to your sight-seeing itinerary? Not only does the church’s history stretch back more than 1,500 years but it also contains the shrine of Saint Genevieve, the patron saint of the City of Paris. And it’s one of the rare churches in the world (outside of Italy) where two Popes have held Mass. Continue Reading →

Saint Gervais, a Gorgeous Out-of-the-Way Church

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There are many huge—and hugely popular—churches in Paris that make it onto most tourists’ must-see lists: Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Saint Sulpice, etc. But the City of Light is home to more than 125 churches, and some of the most interesting and most beautiful are among the less-popular and out-of-the-way houses of worship. One of my favorites of these less-visited sites is also one of the oldest churches in Paris (it’s roots going back to the 4th century)—Saint Gervais-Saint Protais, located just east of Hotel de Ville in the 4th Arrondissement. Continue Reading →

Capturing the City’s Beauty in “Paris in Color”

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I recently received the book “Paris in Color” by photographer Nichole Robertson, and it’s a wonderful look at the City of Light through about 150 photos of Paris that are grouped by color. But Roberston doesn’t serve up the usual snapshots of iconic Paris landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame. Instead, she chronicles this gorgeous city through the everyday sights that truly give Paris its charm and beauty—a bright-yellow Metro sign, red cafe chairs, bouquets of pink roses for sale by local florists, blue bicycles parked outside a typical neighborhood boutique, the ever-present black chalkboards announcing the day’s specials at local bistros, and so on. Continue Reading →

Paris Rooftop Photos Shown at Marais Gallery

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As anyone who has ever rented a Parisian apartment—even for just a short stay in the City of Light—knows, one of the true pleasures of non-hotel living in Paris is the views over the city’s iconic rooftops. The hundreds of tiny clay chimneys. The ornate sloping roofs adorning ancient stone buildings. The skylights and wrought-iron balconies peering out over the entire scene. It’s magical. And now, a photo exhibit staged at Paris’s La Galerie Particuliere, located in the artsy Marais, celebrates those picturesque canopies through the images of renowned photographer Michael Wolf.
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Does Paris Need ‘Epicurean Street’ La Jeune Rue?

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There’s a bit of a controversy brewing over plans by a wealthy French entrepreneur to turn a largely nondescript area along the Rue du Vertbois in the Marais into an upscale epicurean “village” called La Jeune Rue. Some say the initiative is the next big advance in urban gentrification, while others claim it merely turns the Paris neighborhood into a sort of Disneyland for the well-to-do. What do you think? Continue Reading →

Selfies Instead of Love Locks? Hmmm …

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Paris officials announced this week that they have a partial solution to the city’s “love locks” problem–asking couples that normally would place a padlock on the Pont des Arts to instead take a selfie on a Paris bridge and post it Twitter with the hashtag #lovewithoutlocks. The idea is that couples can celebrate their relationships through social media rather than via real-world padlocks. Yeah, good luck with that. Continue Reading →

It’s No Cliche: Springtime in Paris is Magical

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Ah, springtime in Paris.

Certainly you’ve heard more than one visitor to or resident of the City of Light utter this phrase, usually with a wistful sigh. And while it’s true that equating springtime in Paris with extreme bliss is something of a cliché, there’s actually a very logical reason this adage developed—there is nothing in the world quite like springtime in Paris. Continue Reading →

Marais Mansions: 18th Century Hotel de Rohan

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Another of the gorgeous 300-year-old mansions in Paris’s Marais district is the massive Hotel de Rohan, officially named the Hotel de Rohan Strasbourg as it was built in 1705 for the bishop of Strasbourg, Francois-Armand-August de Rohan-Soubise. This 18th century mansion was designed by architect Pierre Alexis-Delamair as the sister to the nearby Hotel de Soubise estate, Today, both manors are owned by the French government, and serve as the location for France’s national archives and the Musee de l’Histoire de France. Continue Reading →

An Easter Visit to the Dazzling Sainte Chapelle

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It’s Easter weekend in Paris—called Paques in French. And visitors to the City of Light can enhance their appreciation of the role of Catholicism in the history of Paris through all of the fine art and architecture that can be seen via the city’s 125-plus churches. One of the very best of these—and a must-see destination for first-time visitors—is the dazzling Sainte Chapelle, located just a few blocks from its more famous cousin, Notre Dame. Continue Reading →