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 →

Summer Trip to Paris? Don’t Miss the Tuileries Garden

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Travelers to the City of Light definitely should not miss a chance to visit one of Paris’s many parks during the summer when then weather is warm and sunny, the trees are lush and rustling in the breezes off the Seine, and Parisians show up in force for picnics, sunbathing and to just stroll through and relax in these urban oases. One of my favorites is right in the heart of “Visitor’s Paris”–the Jardin des Tuilieries, which connects the Louvre with the Place de la Concorde. 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 →

Remembering the Nazi Impact on Paris

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Straddling the eastern tip of Ile de la Cite just behind Notre Dame is the Memorial de la Deportation, a tribute to the more than 200,000 French men, women and children—including homosexuals—who died in Nazi extermination camps during World War II. The memorial is a poignant reminder of the role racism, antisemitism, homophobia and flat-out hatred played in the deaths of nearly 50 million people worldwide during WW II. 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 →

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 →

Paris’s Unique Street Signs

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An unusual thing that I love about Paris is its iconic green, blue and white street signs. At the top of each is the district (called Arrondissement, and there are 20 of them in Paris) in which the street is located. Then comes the street name. And for my favorite part, the bottom of the sign contains information about the person for whom the street is named, if applicable. You get a mini-history lesson on most street corners! Continue Reading →

Popular Paris Square Has a Dark Revolutionary Past

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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 →

Parking Lot Project Unearths Ancient Artifacts

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In far too many cities, the classic song lyric “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot” is sadly accurate. But in Paris, ironically, it was the building of a parking lot that unearthed a wealth of archaeological treasures, including some that date back to the Gallo-Roman era that began in the year 52 B.C. And even more surprising is that this historical treasure trove literally lies at the feet of every tourist who visits one of Paris’s iconic sites. Continue Reading →

Unexpected Attractions In Paris

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Visiting Paris, you can quickly get caught up in all the things you’ve always wanted to see and do. Famous buildings and monuments, charming cafes and legendary shopping areas are often among the main draws. But it’s a big city that seems to get more entertaining by the year—probably because it’s always catering to fresh waves of tourists. For that reason, there are a lot of attractions in town that you might not necessarily expect to come across or enjoy. These can be fun to put on your list, though, as they make the trip feel a little less like you’re simply meandering through the front pages of a Parisian guidebook. Here are a few things to think about doing. Continue Reading →