A Salute to Louis XIV at Place des Victoires

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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

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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 →

E. Dehillerin: Copper Cookware And So Much More

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France is quite simply the center of the culinary universe. And the City of Light itself is home to world-class restaurants, top cooking schools, celebrity chefs and some of the finest culinary supplies stores on the planet. The very best of these renowned boutiques is E. Dehillerin. Founded in 1820, E. Dehillerin is ground zero for high-end culinary equipment, from dishes and serving utensils to cookware, knives and specialty tools, and draws in customers—both pros and amateur cooks—from all over the world, including current culinary superstars Robuchon, Paul Bocuse and Michel Troisgros, as well as the legendary Julia Child, who was a regular E. Dehillerin shopper for more than 50 years. And while there are thousands of products available, the shop’s signature items are its renowned copper cookware. Continue Reading →

Rue Quincampoix: A Perfect Medieval Parisian Street

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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

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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 →

A Visit to the Delightful Rue Montorgueil Market Street

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An extremely popular 2nd Arrondissement destination for both tourists and locals is the Rue Montorgueil market street, a five-block long lane between Rue Etienne Marcel and Rue Reaumur. Home to more than two dozen specialty food shops, cafes and bistros, including a patisserie founded nearly 280 years ago by the head pastry chef to king Louis XV, Rue Montorgueil is a real treat even if you’re just window shopping (called faire du leche-vitrines in French, which oddly translates to “window licking). 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 →

A (Mostly) Forgotten Louvre-Area Church

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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 →

For Extreme Opulence, Visit the Opera Garnier

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If you want a glimpse of how Louis XVI may have lived, it’s not necessary to trek all the way to Versailles, the massive royal palace on the outskirts of Paris, a trip to which will take up an entire day of your visit to the City of Light. If you’re hoping to save some time and yet also experience over-the-top opulence and more gold leaf than Donald Trump’s infamous golden bathroom, head to Paris’s Palais Garnier. Typically called just the Opera Garnier, this gorgeous Beaux-Arts and Neo-Baroque palace was built on the border of the 2nd and 9th arrondissements in the late 19th century to host the renowned Paris Opera. And it’s perhaps even more spectacular than anything one might see at Louis’s former palace, even the oft-photographed Hall of Mirrors. Continue Reading →

Turkey Day in Paris? Head to Thanksgiving

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Parisians don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. Nope, there’s no turkey. No stuffing. No candied yams. No cranberry sauce. No pumpkin pie. No, Thanksgiving is very much an American holiday, and with the exception of a few restaurants catering to U.S. tourists that offer a Thanksgiving Day meal, the holiday is virtually ignored in the City of Light. So, what do expats do when they want to cook up a big Turkey Day feast with all the trimmings? Or those visitors to Paris who are lucky enough to be in a rental apartment and who wish to prepare a scaled-down version of the grand holiday dinner? Those in the know head to Thanksgiving, a delightfully quirky Marais shop specializing in American foodstuffs. Continue Reading →