Walking Around, Paris
If ever you're in Paris, you're bound to see these cute little things zipping around the chaotic streets like a motorcycle. Yes, it's none other than the fuel-efficient, green Smart Car.
There's also a couple of these in Singapore as well, but none of us have really taken to these little things since everyone buys a SUV these days. Somehow, there's this inherent fear that we'll turn into Fat Bastard* if we enter into one of these things and get stuck there forever.
*Scottish lump of fat as seen in Austin Powers , the movie.
If you happen to stroll rue de Paradis (the "crokery and china" street of Paris), you may notice, among the surronding non descript buildings, a very special looking house : the Galerie Paradis
Built in 1900 by Jacottin, it was initially the Ceramic fabricant Boulenger's main store (the factory was located in Choisy le Roi).
The facade looks like an italian theatre and the walls are decorated with pictures made out of ceramics.
The designs are from Arnoux and Guidetti who were also the Maison Boulenger's main designers.
From 1978 to 1991, the house used to host the Musee de l'Affiche et de la Publicite now situated in the Louvre (in the Pavillon de Marsan).
If you are lucky enough, you can enter the courtyard and have a closer look (or else, just catch a glimpse though the railings).
Also known as 'Salle Favart' (it's first name) the Opera Comique, (re)built in 1887 (on the location of the previous Comte de Choiseul's private theater) is now just a secondary implementation from the Opera Garnier.
Initially dedicated to opera comique (a now vanished form of opera) and operette, it has lost importance since the decline of those genres and the creation of the Opera Bastille.
It now hosts the "Centre National d'Art Lyrique" (part of the opera school) and the only performances presented are french opera works sung in french (along with the new opera singers auditions).
But, in 2006, the Opera Comique may find a new youth, after undergoing a renovation (2005), it will gain the status of 'Theatre National' (and that means more budget...)
Address : Rue Favart/Place Boieldieu
Metro Richelieu Drouot or Quatre Septembre
Marcel Duchamp's Studio
11, rue Larrey
Probably the most famous of the major dadaists (he was also considered to be cubist & surrealist), Marcel Duchamp is famous for his Nude Descending a Staircase (cubist work), his Mona-Lisa-with-a-mustache-and-beard (surrealist work - yeah, I know, you thought that was Salvador Dalì - it's ok, I forgive you!) and his urinals hung on a wall as art (well, that's dadaism for you).
His Mona Lisa is also known as LHOOQ (elle a chaud au cul), in French pronunciation it roughly translates as "she's got a hot ass"!
Incidentally, his urinal sculpture is deemed the most influential piece of modern artwork.
Photos: Nov '07 & Feb '06
The Palais Royal was built in 1629 for the Cardinal de Richelieu and given to Louis XIII after his death. It consists in two intersting parts : the palace itself and the galleries surrounding it.
The main courtyard, with access via a vaulted passage, is now decorated with a set of 260 unequal sections of columns, striped black and white, courtesy to the sculptor Paul Buren.
Initially (in 1986), this exhibit created a lot of controversy but is now totaly part of parisan landscape as the columns have been found useful for more than one purpose : children's games, seats, ...
The Palais Royal houses the Council of the state, the Constitutional Council, the ministry of Culture,those can be visited only once a year (during the journées du Patrimoine - 2nd week end of September) and the Comedie Française (you can visit on appointment or each 3rd sunday of the month : http://www.comedie-francaise.fr/en/histoire/visiter_cf.php)
The old gardens, surrounded by the galleries, hosting luxury shops, are a haven of peace
Place du Palais-Royal, 75001 Paris
Metro line 1 or 7 - Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre
What I really love about Paris are all those hills with all those beautiful stairs that double as streets and afford us a lovely sweeping views of Paris. The most obvious areas you'll find these are
Rue Jean de Beauvais
Rue St Yves
Butte aux Cailles (13th arrondissement):
Rue Eugene Atget
Rue Dumeril (13th not Butte aux Cailles)
Rue Michel Tagrine
Rue Lauzin/Allée Louise Labe
Rue Francois Pinton
Villa Albert Robida
But of course no place is more indicative of these than
Rue des Saules
Rue du Calvaire (with a beautiful view of Paris)
Rue Drevet (featured in Ronin)
Passage des Abbesses (which ends near Au Marché de la Butte featured in Amélie)
Rue Chevalier de la Barre
You'll have to be careful following map listings of streets in Montmartre because many times they are actually staircases. You can't drive down these streets although they certainly did it in the Bourne Identity!
Photos: April 2003 & Feb 2006
Very close to the famous Moulin Rouge and Cabarets, near eglise Notre Dame de Lorette lies the quiet and luminous Place Saint Georges.
On one side of the place is a peaceful square (hosting the bust of the painter Gavarni) , on the other side superbs troubadour style, statues, and medallions cover the façade of the town house occupied by Thérèse Lachman at the beginning of her career. She later became Marchioness of Paîva (marrying Mr Paiva among all her succesive husbands) and promptly left to take up a more splendid mansion on the Champs Elysées (behind what is now the HSBC change office).
Her house (housing a financial institution) is impossible to visit but you can still admire the facades.
And if you do wander you will find what remains of the Jewish Marais centered around rue de Rosiers. The Hamman may be a store rather than a bath and Goldenbergs may be closed, but there is still plenty to see and eat from the funky Hollywood Bagel to Sacha Finkelstein's apple strudel, latkes, pastrami, gefilte fish & chicken livers with onions.
Historically Le Marais was a swampy area outside the walls of the medieval city where the Jews and other undesirables lives. In sweet revenge the area is today one of the hippest and most interesting places to stay, eat and walk.
Go to "Place des Vosges", walk around the arcades, and there you may enjoy a free lovely concert: might be classical music, or jazz, or chanson française...The acoustic under these passageways is really good.
I first thought it was music coming out from loudspeakers (unusual here) and then I saw these musicians on the picture : it is a string orchestra playing every weekend.
I volunteered to buy their CD 20 euros: it is a good deal (beautiful version of Vivaldi) and the money goes to their association.
A great little street with quirky shops and lots of activity.
Combine with a walk back from the catacombs or Pantheon?
Not too far to walk from our hotel on Rue Des Ecoles but there is a metro stop at Place Monge or Censier Daubenton nearby too.
Google map it - it's great fun!
Located in the 13th Arrondisement, la Buttes aux Cailles is a hilltop village within Paris with cobblestone streets. Not crowded with tourists and tacky shops as is Montmartre, it still maintains that local feeling where only Parisians live, eat, and play. In fact I had lunch in a restaurant there and the man sitting next to me was very surprised that I was there. He said that very few tourists come into that area.
Some of these photos were taken on a Sunday afternoon during the neighborhood Fall flea market.
It gives the feeling that you are not in Paris.
Very close to Place d'Italie.
UPDATE SEPTEMBER 22, 2011 I wrote this tip in 2006 not realizing that I would be returning every year since. I am once again staying in the 14th arrondissement and it has become a second home to me. If you find a hotel in this area that you like don't hesitate to stay here because people say it's too far out. It isn't. And it is a lot more peaceful than staying in the madness of the tourist area during high season. By the way there has not been a demonstration here in the last three years. So not to worry about that.
My six months in Paris were spent living in the 14th arrondissement. My apartment was right at Place Denfer Rochereau which is unfortunately where most of the demonstrations started. It is a fabulous location as far as transportation is concerned because, in addition to several bus lines, there are the Metro lines 5 and 6 and the RER B. It is also an easy walk to Montparnasse, Saint-Germaine de Pres, Boulevard Saint Michelle, Jardin du Luxembourg, and many other locations.
On the map it looks like it is pretty far from the center. It isn't. I often walked from here to le Marais, les Halles, the Eiffel Tower, and many other places. Just get yourself a good pair of walking shoes or take public transportation.
There are fewer tourists here so you will experience more of a flavor of normal Paris life.
While I would not tell you to go out of your way to see Rue Daguerre, I would say that if you want a break from the touristy areas and would like to see a real French neighborhood that is not too far out of the way then this would be a good place to go. This is a wonderful street which, for one block, is a pedestrian street. Here is where you will find the "true" Parisians, as I have heard some say. They go about their daily lives shopping at the fromagerie, or the several boucheries. On this street you will also find, a poissonerie, a couple of boulangeries and patisseries, several vegetable and fruit markets, two wine caves, as well as restaurants, and various other shops. You can stop in at my favorite neighborhood café, Café Daguerre, for a glass of wine, an express, or even a meal. They actually serve very good food at Café Daguerre.
Though there are a number of hotels in the area, you don't find very many tourists walking about, probably because they have headed in to the tourist areas. So you will get a real taste of normal life for the middle class Parisian.
METRO: Denfert Rochereau
BUS: 38 and 68
RER B: Denfert Rochereau
Claude Monet (1840-1926) completed the painting La Rue Montorgueil à Paris. Fête du 30 juin 1878 (The Rue Montorgueil in Paris. Celebration of June 30, 1878). The celebration was actually the end of the World's fair that was held in the city that year.
The painting is one of the highlights of the Musée d'Orsay. The painting is a swirl of the countries colours - red, white and blue. Monet apparantly painted it from a window, so although there is the very 'immediate' reportage feel to it, because it is composed froma high level it also feels strangely detached from the festivities as well.
You can still visit the street, its in the 2nd arrondisment and compare the scenes. Nowadays it is an area well worth visting itself witha good mixture of shops, cafes and a street market.
Michael is as nice & wonderful as you’ve read: charming, intelligent, erudite & witty. He’s extremely knowledgeable about art, architecture & history to bring Paris alive more than any guidebook. No small wonder he has a legion of fans. He currently charges 100 euros which includes as many people in the party so you may split up the cost amongst you.
If Michael is unavailable he may suggest Scott who is equally fabulous! Had drinks with him & Michael at the Ritz, went to a Jim Haynes dinner party, Tour Montparnasse, dined at Chartier, & a VT meeting at Le Train Bleu.
Michael gets a kick out of planning itineraries geared to your specific tastes. If you like art, tell him what types (Impressionist, Expressionist, modern, medieval) or artists. Or he could do a Da Vinci Code tour for you. Or something specific to an historic era, i.e. gothic or medieval, Renaissance, pre-Revolution, Revolution, etc.. Or a tour of Arago markers, Wallace fountains, Art Nouveau architecture, just whatever you're interested in finding in Paris! I know he does shopping tours sometimes. The more specific you are, the better he's able to plan it.
February 2006, I spent a day with Michael by myself doing a Working Class/Belleville Tour while another day was spent with shrimp56 and Tsarina doing the Philippe-Auguste wall tour. November 2007, I spent 4 days with him and we had a wonderful time together. I'm working on a project and he was instrumental in helping me work out some of the kinks in it, suggesting shortcuts & prettier avenues.
FYI, Michael's bday is Nov 9 and one of his fave things from home is Cream of Wheat. I brought him a box!
Photos of the Working Class Paris tour:
Photos of the Philippe-Auguste Wall Tour:
Photos: February 2006 & November 2007