Palais-Royal: Grand and Quirky

Palais-Royal 5

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

St. Gervais 2

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 →

A Serious Museum Examining Sex and Sexuality

url

Paris is bursting at the seams with museums and galleries. And among the City of Light’s 175 public and private museums are several unconventional collections, including the Musee de l’Erotisme (Museum of Eroticism). And let’s set the record straight: This unusual seven-level exhibition space in Paris’s Pigalle district is a serious museum, not a prurient tourist trap. The artifacts on display, amassed since the 1960s by cultural anthropologists Alain Plumey and Joseph Khalifa, date back to the 1st century A.D. and provide a fascinating examination of the roles that sex and sexuality have played in numerous cultures and civilizations during the past two millennia. Continue Reading →

Le Grand Palais: A Lot More Than Just a Pretty Photo

Paris Le Grand Palais 11

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

Deportation Memorial 7

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 →

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 →

Paris Is Home to Europe’s Largest Science Museum

Cite des Sciences 4

Cite des Sciences et de l’Industrie, one of the biggest museums in Paris—and, in fact, the largest science museum in all of Europe—is rarely visited by tourists, likely due to its location on the very outer edge of the distant 19th Arrondissement and the fact that there’s not much else to see in the blandly residential district. But that’s a shame, because the museum is terrifically entertaining and even offers occasional IMAX films and planetarium presentations in English (or with English subtitles). And more than 5 million annual visitors can attest to the universal appeal the sleek, modern and highly informative science center has for both adults and children alike. Continue Reading →

Quintessentially French Dining On the Ile Saint-Louis

Auberge de la Reine Blanche 8

Parisians and tourists alike have a love affair with the Ile Saint-Louis, the tiny sister island and next-door neighbor to the larger Ile de la Cite that marks the geographic center of Paris. To add to your quintessentially Parisian experience while strolling the island, be sure to stop in for lunch or dinner at the charming bistro L’Auberge de la Reine Blanche. This quaint eatery looks every bit as a Parisian bistro should—timeworn tables packed tightly together, oil paintings and copper cookware hanging on the walls, romantic lighting overhead and a gorgeous antique oak bar overlooking the entire scene. Best of all, the food is superb. 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 →

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 →