Saturday, December 14, 2013

Le Village Royal

Métro: Madeleine (line 12 or 14)
Address: 25 rue Royal, 75008 Paris
Hours:  8:00 am to 7:00 pm Monday-Saturday
             Closed on Sunday

Probably one of the most well-kept passages in Paris, it makes you feel in a different atmosphere than the busy Paris we all know. One of the things I really like about this passage way is that it's decorated with seasonal flowers and plants so you can even smell tropical flowers in the summer months. Right now, obviously it's Christmas season so it's appropriately dressed for the occasion with beautiful red lights and abundant Christmas trees.

So beside its charm, this place also has a cool history. Originally, it was a barrack for the Musketeers of Louis XIII. With the growing population of the 18th century, there was an urgent need for a market. Butchers and farmers made it their quarter. But with the years, it got abandoned. Luckily in 1992, it was decided to make it the fashion place that it is now. Chanel or Dior are its new residents more glamorous than fishmonger.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Passage Gustave Lepeu et Passage Alexandrine

Métro: Charonne (line 9)
Address: Passage Gustave Lepeu, 75011 Paris
               Passage Alexandrine, 75011 Paris

I was walking around in the 11th district when I stumbled upon these two paralleled passage ways. They're not the most amazing, famous or original streets of Paris I've seen but I don't know there's something about them. They are located far from the glitz of the center of Paris but they got soul. I find them charming in their own way. You can tell it's not the rich and famous living here but yet I think the inhabitants of these lovely pads did an awesome job making these streets romantic.

Friday, November 29, 2013


Métro: Solférino (line 12)
Address: 258, boulevard Saint Germain, 75007 Paris
Hours:  7:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday-Friday
             7:30 am to 7/30 pm Saturday
             Closed on Sunday
Cost: 3 to 5 euros for a pastry

When I stepped in this bakery-pastry shop, I just didn't know where to look at, there's so much choice. I usually like to try something unique or different but I was hypnotized by this gorgeous vanilla éclair. I am usually disappointed by vanilla éclairs. It's a classic but a hard one to sublimate. So when I took a bite out of this one I was pleasantly surprised by its finesse. You can really taste the vanilla and the custard cream is light and divine. Really well done. I should try the bread next time especially the olive bread. The plus, it's steps away from the Musée d'Orsay so you can burn the calories easily!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Père Lachaise

Métro: Père Lachaise (line 2 or 3)
Access:8, boulevard de Ménilmontant 75020 Paris
            16, rue du Repos, 75020 Paris
Hours:everyday from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm (varies according to the season check web for details)
Cost: Free

"Wanna go to the cemetery for our date?" My first reaction is "Huh???"
Being a French native, I've seen plenty of them and they are spooky, creepy and plain sad; so far from the beautiful cemeteries of the US or England. So no, I don't want to go to a cemetery for our date when we're living in the city of love.
But my hubby has a lot of charming arguments and some logical ones too like for instance: "It would be a good blog entry" or "You've never been there? Really?"

***Big Sigh***

Off we went to Père Lachaise, one of the most famous cemeteries of France. I have to say that I was wrong. It is not a spooky place. Quite far from it, it is really peaceful. It's a small village inside of a big city. We should rename it "Cool Deads". It would go like:

Someone 1: "Where can I find Chopin?"
Someone 2: "Don't you know he resides in Cool Deads?"

Okay it's pushing it a little. It's not a happy retirees community but for a cemetery. However, it's a really awesome place.

Of course, it's free. It's a cemetery after all but you will find people selling maps at the entrance. It costs about 1-2 euros but you can actually get a free one at the guardian houses. Personally, we bought one because we did not know better. You will need to be well prepared if you want to check out some of the famous graves because, Père Lachaise is a a maze. It's a gigantic. The website is really well done and it's a lot more friendly using that a regular map.

Père Lachaise is placed on one of the 7 hills of Paris. It was inhabited as soon as the Middle Ages by clergymen. In 1430, it was bought by a rich merchant who constructed a lavish mansion there. It was then acquired 2 centuries later by Jesuits. It was used for convalescence or rest of the bourgeoisie and royalty. But it takes its name after François d'Aix de La Chaise (1624-1709) aka Father La Chaise who was the confessor of Louis XIV. Through the years, it went through a few landlords to be finally abandoned.

In 1765, a law is passed under Napoléon Bonaparte (then a consul) to ban cemeteries in Paris for sanitary reasons and to move them to the outskirts of the city. The law also stipulated than criminals, excommunicated souls, comedians and poor ones had the right of being buried: a first in Paris. It was then decided to acquire the property of Père Lachaise to create a cemetery.

The problem was that it wasn't favoured by Parisians who thought that it was a poor and immoral neighborhood. In 1817, the mayor of Paris decides to transfer the remains of Molière, La Fontaine and Héloïse and Abélard to Père Lachaise. Great marketing move!

There are so many famous residents buried there that it is hard to name them. But in an attempt to name a few:

Honoré de BALZAC (48 division)
Frédéric CHOPIN (11 division)
Eugène DELACROIX (49 division)
HELOISE and ABELARD (7 division)
MOLIERE (25 division)
Jim MORRISON (18 division)
Edith PIAF (97 division)
Camille PISSARO (7 division)
Marcel PROUST (85 division)
Georges SEURAT (66 division)
Oscar WILDE (89 division)

Check out also the monuments dedicated to the fallen of wars and the huge neo-Byzantine crematorium.

So I can officially say it was a really good date especially on a sunny fall day! By the way, special thanks to my better half for some of his amazing pictures.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Musée Cognacq-Jay

Métro: Saint Paul (line 1) or Chemin Vert (line 8)
Address: 8 rue Elzévir, 75003 Paris
Hours:Tuesday-Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (last ticket sold at 5:00pm)
Closed on Monday and national holidays
Cost: Free

I don't really know where to start with this museum. The Hôtel Particulier Donon is a beautiful building from the 16th century typical of the area (Le Marais). It was acquired by a rich business man Ernest Cognacq. At his death in 1928, the city of Paris transformed the property into a museum. Basically the concept is to step into the home of an art collector in love with his time (18th century).

I have to be honest with you. I felt totally out of place - like an elephant in a glass store. Of course when you wear rubber shoes and attempt to walk on an old squeaky floor, you know that it's not a winning combination. Anyway, I am not sure if I was not in the mood for it but I went through it pretty fast. Am I going to get death threats from the 18th century lovers?

Okay, I have to say something positive here! I loved the attic. Very impressive, it reminds me of the upside down boat technique used by some sailors to construct the ceilings of their churches. I don't think I've ever seen one in Paris but I still have so much to discover.

Now for the funny story. If you are a huge fan of horror movies, I am inviting you to use the bathroom or at least try to find them. It's located in the basement. It's easy follow the signs. I'm kidding, it's a maze. You need to go through 6 or 7 fire proof doors that looked like you're going to walk into some kind of WWII underground secret services' headquarter. Instead you will find a sentiment of oppression. I felt like someone was going to kidnap me and use my body for some scientific research. But once you finally reach your destination, you gotta smile or you'll throw up. All the French stereotypes are true. I'll leave it at that!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Musée d'Art Moderne

Métro: Alma-Marceau or Iéna (line 9)
RER C: Pont de l'Alma
Address: 11 avenue du Président Wilson, 75016 Paris
Hours:Tuesday-Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (last ticket sold at 5:00pm)
Thursday from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm (last ticket sold at 9: 00pm)
Closed on Monday and national holidays
Cost: free (temporary exhibits 5 euros)

Ah Modern Art! It's always a love/hate relationship. I think the Paris administration felt the same way when they created the Modern Art Museum of Paris in 1961. The site is gorgeous, perfect spot for an afternoon drink with a killer view on the Eiffel Tower. But as you can see, the building is in appearance classic and doesn't scream modernity. Yet inside of its walls, you will find the elite of modern art works.

Rythme by Robert Delaunay (1938)

Antigone consolatrice by Giorgo de Chirico (1973)

My hubby and I are often disagreeing concerning modern art. I think most of it is pure genie and he thinks a 3 yr old could do it. I'm not saying I would buy one for the house but I appreciate how daring and original this art movement is. I even love the bold ceiling lines of the building:

Odalisque au fauteuil by Henri Matisse (1923)

You can admire art work starting the Fauvism to now day including artists like Dufy, Derain, César, Arman or Robert Filliou just to name a few. Most of the collection is breathtaking but not always for the same reason. For example, you can admire a Matisse like above with vibrant colors drooling with admiration or you can scratch your head at an alignment of sweaters on the wall. Still don't understand that one.

Femme aux yeux bleus by Amedeo Modigliani (around 1918)

I have to admit I truly enjoyed it. And if you are more like my husband, you will still feel rejuvenated by the good laughs you got at some of the more contemporary art work. All of that for free!

Portrait relief de Martial Raysse by Yves Klein (1962)

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