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 →

Saint Gilles Garden Offers Total Serenity

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One of my favorite green spaces in the Marais is the tranquil Jardin Saint Gilles Grand Veneur-Pauline Roland, a roughly 1,000-square-meter park that is among the most secluded spots in the City of Light, mostly because the park is nearly impossible to find. The garden, particularly enjoyable in late spring when the hundreds of pink, red and white rose bushes and covered trellises are in full bloom, is tucked into a hidden courtyard between several large stone buildings, including the Hotel Grand Veneur mansion built in 1637 for the captain of the king’s huntsmen. Continue Reading →

Take a Weekend Break at Fun, Funky Lezard Cafe

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One of the chief joys of Paris is simply relaxing in one of the city’s cafes. And a cafe terrace can be particularly fun on a spring or summer weekend when you’re with a group of friends, the weather is warm and breezy and Parisians are in buoyant spirits. If you’re ever near the Rue Montorgueil shopping street or Saint Eustache church, a perfect spot for a weekend coffee or cocktail is Lezard Cafe, with its huge, shaded and enormously popular terrace. Continue Reading →

Remembering Diana at Her Impromptu Paris Memorial

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Today, Aug. 31, 2014, marks the 17th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, who passed away in the City of Light as a result of injuries she suffered in a horrific car accident in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel. After Diana’s death, Parisians and visitors alike flocked to the Place de l’Alma above the tunnel to pay their respects. Many left bouquets of flowers and personal notes to the Princess at the base of the Flame of Liberty, a replica of the torch held by the Statue of Liberty in New York City. Today, 17 years since Diana’s death, mourners in Paris still leave flowers and notes to the princess at the torch, which has become an impromptu memorial to the People’s Princess. 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 →

It’s Chilly. Time for Fondue at Pain, Vin, Fromages

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The weather’s getting colder, and that means it’s time for heartier French cuisine. I’m a big fan of French winter classics, like boeuf bourguignon, cassoulet, soupe a l’oignon and other tummy-warming dishes. And you can find these tasty concoctions at many restaurants throughout Paris. Oddly, though, one cold-weather dish is rather difficult to find in the City of Light—fondue. OK, fondue is not French per se, but given that France is world-famous for its cheese, it’s not really a stretch for visitors to Paris to hope to find hot, gooey, melted cheese on at least a few restaurant menus. Fortunately, there’s a fantastic cheese-centric restaurant in the heart of the Marais that offers up some of Europe’s very best fondue throughout the year—Pain, Vin, Fromages (which translates as Bread, Wine, Cheese). 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 →

Picturesque Park Off the Busy Blvd. Sebastopol

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One of the true pleasures of Paris is the array of surprises that one stumbles upon when strolling the twisty-turny lanes through the City of Light. From medieval architecture to historic statues, and from stately fountains to tiny parks and green spaces, there’s something new and exciting practically around every corner. One such delight is the Square Emile Chautemps, located just off the very busy and very commercial Boulevard Sebastopol in the 3rd Arrondissement. Continue Reading →

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 →