Monuments off the Beaten Path – Église de la Madeleine

Guest post by Jenny Bailey

Église de la Madeleine, by flickr user Christina

Following on from Part I of monuments off the beaten path, I took a look at another attraction that is less known by most tourists staying in Paris hotels. Dedicated to St Mary Magdalene, L’Église de la Madeleine is a Roman Catholic Church that occupies a commanding position in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. Designed as a temple to the glory of Napoleon’s army, this impressive structure attracts around 600,000 visitors every year.
La Madeleine – as it is most commonly known – is built in a Neo-Classical style with fifty-two Corinthian columns, each 20 metres high, which can be seen around the whole building. The real delights of this building can be seen inside the church though, as the décor is inspired as much by Roman baths as it is by Renaissance artists. At the back of the church stands a statue by Charles Marochetti that depicts St Mary Magdalene being lifted up by angels, which is truly beautiful.
Commissioned in 1757, the first design of the church was by Pierre Contant d’Ivry, with construction beginning in 1764. In 1777 d’Ivry died however, and new designer Guillaume-Martin Couture, decided to start from scratch. He demolished the incomplete construction, basing his new design on the Roman Pantheon.
In 1806 Napoleon made his decision to create a Temple de la Gloire de la Grande Armée (Temple to the Glory of the Great Army) based on the design of an antique temple, so work began once again. After the fall of Napoleon, King Louis XVIII determined that the structure would be used as a church.
Today, masses and other religious services are celebrated daily in the church, as well as funerals and fashionable weddings. In the basement of the church, visitors will find the Foyer de la Madeleine, which is home to a restaurant, open at lunch times from Monday to Friday. The walls of the Foyer are often decorated by French artists and many locals pay a yearly subscription fee of 3 Euros to be able to enjoy a three course meal under the vaulted ceilings.
With many popular hotels nearby, a couple of hours spent perusing this wonderful construction is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon and is also located near one of the most prestigious shoppping quarters of Paris, the rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré.  Before hitting the boutiques, tourists will be able to marvel at the stunning architecture as they discover another of the lesser frequented monuments in the capital. It


Valentines giveaway Feb. 14 – Feb 29


This is  Prête-Moi Paris’ first blog giveaway ever!

As Valentine’s day is celebrated (or hated) all over the world I thought it would be the perfect time to show my appreciation for all my followers by hosting my first giveaway ever. The prize? A collection of 3 scented soaps from the darling boutique Marie Antoinette that I keep raving about!

How to enter :

1. Follow me on twitter and tweet the following : “I just entered the February Valentines giveaway on @PreteMoiParis !”

2. Like my Facebook fan page :

3: Comment on this article about how you celebrate your loved ones!

4 : Comment on another blog post of your choice on my site.

Note : Please comment with a name and an email address (it will not be shown publicly) so I can contact you if you are the winner. Also, if your comment, facebook and twitter names differ please let me know in your comment here.

The winner will be drawn randomly on Fabruary 29th, at 10pm Paris time.

Good luck and spread the love!!!

Parisian Movie Magic

Post by Jenny Bailey

For centuries, Paris has been immortalised in the arts. From music to literature, theatre to poetry, artists and writers have long attempted to capture that indefinable beauty which bursts from the city’s every pore. Recent decades, however, have seen an explosion of Parisian representation at the movies, with Hollywood’s obsession with the City of Lights materialising in a number of block-buster films taking place on the beautiful streets of the French capital. Summertime in the city literally brings out the movie sets in full force. You can come across one several times durring a holiday in Paris. Below is a breakdown of 10 of the most iconic cinematic Paris moments, and how you can make sure you stop off at the locations on your Parisian holidays to re-create the movie magic.

10. Moulin Rouge!

Moulin Rouge, of course, takes place at the infamous Le Moulin Rouge cabaret and music hall in the Pigalle district of Paris (close to, but not actually in, the Montmartre area, as it is depicted in Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 musical). The Moulin Rouge itself is located at 82 Boulevard de Clichy, directly opposite Blanche metro station.

9. The Phantom of the Opera

Although Joel Schumacher’s 2004 adaptation of the classic Gaston Leroux novel was filmed entirely in the UK, the action is set in the world-famous Palais Garnier, built in 1861, and home of the Paris Opera. Visit the still-magnificent opera house at Place de l’Opéra, directly adjacent to Opéra metro station.

8. Inception

Christopher Nolan’s 2010 psychological thriller has a large chunk set in the city, as Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) teaches Ariadne (Ellen Paige) the secrets of dream-stealing as they wander through the streets of Paris. Filming locations for this included le Pont de Bir-Hakeim, and various streets in the 15th arrondissement, including Rue Bouchut, and the Da Stuzzi Delicatessen on Rue César Franck.

7. The Da Vinci Code

This 2006 thriller, based on the novel by Dan Brown, featured a plethora of scenes filmed and set in Paris, most notably in the Louvre museum and the Palais Royal. The novel and film heavily feature the ‘inverted pyramid’ in the museum’s foyer area, which is interpreted as a chalice symbol, and the possible burial place of Mary Magdalene.

6. Midnight In Paris

Woody Allen’s 2010 film sees Owen Wilson as a young present-day script-writer who is transported back to the 1920s to fraternise with the best artists of Paris’ ‘lost generation’, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Cole Porter, Gertrude Stein, and Salvador Dalí. Filming locations include John XIII Square, near Notre Dame, and around the Panthéon.

[ Side note from Prête-Moi Paris : This film, although esthetically lovely with a perfect picturesque view of Paris, gravely lacked a reality check in my opinion, but then reality is probably not what Woody Allen was going for. Nonetheless I became more and more annoyed with the film as it gained more and more success; because fans of Paris regard this picturesque perfect view AS THE REALITY of Paris. Le sigh. Sadly, it is not the reality for everyone, nor is it the daily reality for those who do see this kind of Paris on occasion. But then…I wrote another post about that…) Back to the movie list!!! ]

5. Ronin

Starring Robert De Niro and legendary French actor Jean Reno, this 1998 crime-thriller is famed for its lengthy climactic car chase through the streets of Paris. The final scene, which reportedly used over 2,000 extras, was filmed at the Zénith de Paris, in the 19th arrondissement.

4. La Haine

Mathieu Kassovitz’ explosive crime drama follows three troublesome teenage kids (one of whom played by a young Vincent Cassel) as they travel around Paris over the course of a day and a night, getting into trouble with the police and local gangs. One notable filming spot is Avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie, in the 16th arrondissement, which is the location of the apartment of Asterix, one of the gang’s drug-dealer friends.

3. Amélie

Cafe des 2 moulins by Jeremy Pearson

This 2001 film showed a whimsical depiction of contemporary Parisian life, with Audrey Tatou playing the eponymous waitress who decides to change the lives of those around her for the better. The café where she works in the film is a real place – Café des 2 Moulins, at 15 Rue Lepic in the Montmartre area – and has since become a popular tourist attraction.

2. The Devil Wears Prada

This popular American film features a fashion trip to Paris as one of the major plot points, although filming in Paris was in fact limited. At one climactic point, Andy (Anne Hathaway) defiantly throws her phone into a fountain, signalling the end of her cloying for Miranda’s (Meryl Streep) approval. The fountain in question is located on the Place de la Concorde.

1. A View To A Kill

In one of the best Bond films, Roger Moore plays Bond as he chases May Day (Grace Jones) through Paris as she parachutes from the top of the Eiffel Tower into a boat in the Seine. Bond’s jump off a Paris bridge onto the roof of a passing boat takes place on the Pont Alexandre III.

And voilà! – your own little slices of big-screen magic to make your Paris holidays feel all the more cinematic. This way, no matter how frugal your cheap holidays to the French capital are, you can still feel like a movie star as you recreate all your favourite film moments with this handy guide, for free!

Le Lac Daumesnil

The craziness of September is past us now, the return from vacation and all the things that have piled up while we were away have hopefully been ticked off the to-do list. The fashion week frenzy has subsided. My Blog-anniversary has come and gone, and my human life one looms up in front of me… It’s about time for some calm and tranquility.

For this, I head to  the eastern side of Paris, where I enjoy the Lac Daumesnil.

I love the Lac Daumesnil. Nestled in the bois de Vincennes, on the edge of Paris, lies this lovely lake, where swans have found a home, duck families, a row boat rental company and where many Parisians go to breathe some slightly more fresher air on the weekends, and joggers go to shed a few pounds by trotting around the circumference of the lake.
Entrance to the Bois de Vincennes

A beautiful piece of outdoors in Paris, the lake offers a romantic setting for a stroll with your chéri(e) or a paddle in a boat where you take a few snapshots of the swans…there is even a charming little gazebo in a hill and a man made grotto for lovers and friends to share for a kiss or a warm embrace.
Lac daumesnil

The Lac Daumesnil on a September morning

The Lac Daumesnil in the Bois de Vincennes

Swans on the Lac Daumesnil
To get there, take the metro line 8 and get off at Porte Dorée. Head up the hill towards the gold statue/fountain, and veer towards your right, take the footpath into the sparsley wodded area and cross the parking lot street, you will see the boat house for the row boats. And Voilà, there you are…. Enjoy!

Styliste fait maison

So, remember how recently I blogged about where to toss bags of excess clothing in Paris? Well, before I did that, I invited some friends over to rifle through it all, and take their pick. I called it a “troc party” which is franglais for “clothing swap”! 😉

So I prepared a few pretty nibbles and some refreshments, set up my living room as a make shift showroom (albeit sans special equipment), and sipped bubbly while we chatted. Milla of Not Just Another Milla, and Sion of Paris Imperfect came over to play dress up, and as Milla and I found, Sion was very fun to dress up. So we became instant stylists and she seemed to rock every outfit we could throw at her. Le sigh. So that called for a montage of photos, of course! I never like to miss a good fashion moment!!!

I also scored a great dress from Milla’s closet. Win!


Cashmire top, Kookaï sleaveless vest, H&M short pants, Zara shoes

VIntage dress and belt, Zara shoes

Minelli shoes

Behind Paris’ doors

Sometimes you can catch a glimpse through a large building’s door as it is opened, and there is a whole other part of Paris to be be found there. Masked from the visitors’ eye are the insides of these old stone buildings that date back to the 30’s or 20’s or the end of the 19th century, or even older than that…
I LOVE to catch those doors as they are closing and grab a shot or two to keep of these charming places that are not readily available to the Parisian wanderer.

Here are a few. I won’t put the addresses so as to protect the inhabitants of those buildings from too many curious lookers, but I will tell you the arrondissement :


This courtyard door was open, and therefor I didn’t feel stealth walking in, but it was clear I was walking into someone’s front porch area. A beautiful looking apartment with an expansive artist’s window to let in the light, and a wooden, table for an apéro with friends perhaps…




The first time I walked through the door on the boulevard where I found this place, I was awestruck. The ground level is lined with 19th century office spaces, and the cobble stone with flower pots scenery seems to come straight from a postcard! Every doorway to the different buildings seems to have a potted tree and flowers with a bicycle in front of it.

Paris courtyard
Paris courtyards

Paris courtyards

Paris courtyards

Paris courtyards

Marie Antoinette was here (posthumous)

Square Louis XVIII


A pretty little square in the 8th, with a chapelle, where the remains of Louis the XVI and Marie Antoinette were lain for 21 years, until their remains were removed by order of Louis the 18th, January 21st in 1815 to the cathedrale of Saint Denis where most of the other French kings and queens are buried.


Visit the chapelle or relax in the park.


The square is openat 8am on weekdays and at 9am on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. It closes at 8:30pm during the summer (during winter I am assuming it’s earlier than that. The time was not posted.)

Tour Saint Jaques

As long as I had been in Paris, the Tour Saint Jaques had been under scaffolding, and hidden by the screens that cover them. I had no idea what was underneath all that white. A complete mystery to me, I heard that it had been under scaffolding since 2001 waiting for the argument over who was to pay for the restauration to come to a conclusion. Finally in 2007 the tower started to shed it’s heavey coat and reveal it’s gorgeous gothic head.

I was particularly looking forward to seeing whatit looked like, having never seen it. And when it was finally uncovered I was thrilled to see such a gem from the middle ages. It’s been cleaned and has a lovely creamy white color, and sticks out gloriously against the blue sky.

The tower is what remains of a church called Saint-Jaques-de-la-Boucherie which was founded in the 12th century, apparantly ordered by Charlemagne, but this has never been confirmed. The tower was added in the 16th century (flamboyant gothic style, which I find a little odd for that century which was suddenly preoccupied with Italian style architecture and the Renaissance was about to happen, but perhaps the got a discount from an architect who was having a promotion on anything retro styled… It was designed by these three guys : Jean de Felin, Julien Ménart et Jean de Revier.

It seems that this tower held a relic of Saint Jaques, and was a place of pilgrimage. The tower fell under the ownership of the city of Paris in 1836, and in 1862 was classified as a historical monument.

There is a lovely garden surrounding it, where you can sprawl out, or sit under a tree, or snuggle on one of the park benches. You can’t go up the tower, but you can sit in it’s shade and enjoy its beauty.

Access it on rue de Rivoli, in the 4th and on the edge of the 1st arrondissements. the closes metros are Châtelet and Hôtel de Ville.
the square below it is open at 8:00am on weekdays and 9:00am on weekends and holidays. It closes at 8:30pm from May 1st to August 31st. After that date, I am not sure, but I am assuming it closes earlier (probably around sundown).

Père Lachaise : lingering in the past


Many visitors to Paris, hold a special place in their heart for those artists that helped make Paris the epicenter of culture that it is today. The writers musicians, dancers and thespians, even politicians have all contributed to the concept that many visitors are now nostalgic for. Those visitors often find themselves meandering the pathways of the Père lachaise cemetaryto “visit” or pay their respects to those artists who have passed, who came through Paris, made her a better place.


Edith Piaf, French crooner (singer)


Oscar Wilde, Irish writer with a passino for Paris, where he lived at the end of his life.


Frederic Chopin, musician, pianist, passionate for Paris...


Balzac, THE writer of Parisian and French society of the Restoration period.


Jim Morrison, American rock musician, who loved Paris.

The website for the cemetary has a wonderful system (in French or English) that helps you map out the different tombstones, and gives you information on the personalities buried there (not every one of course, just the famous ones).

You can also see the tombstones fo Isadore Duncan, a faous dancer from California who brought modern dance to Paris; Jean de la Fontaine and Molière friends, philosophers in their own right and playwrights have their tombstones nex to eachother; Eugène Delacroix, the artist who is most known for his romantic styled large format paintings, his most famous one perhaps being “La Liberté guidant le peuple” which you can see at the Louvre museum; René Lalique, master of glass and jewelry work in the art nouveau style; Gertrude Stein the famous writer, philosopher and art collector who lived in Paris during the first two decar=des of the 20th century and spent her time patronning artists and writers; Marcel Proust, the author of “À la recherche du temps perdu”… and so many others.

I advise you to wear VERY comfortable shoes while visiting because the cobblestones are not very flat, and to give yourself plenty of time as it is easiy to get a little lost inside the cemetary when looking for specific tombs. About 2 hours is reasonable in order to find and visit about 10 grave stones.


And remember, although it is a hot spot for tourists, Père Lachaise is a cemetary, and people still hold ceremonies there, so remember to be respectful of others and the grounds.

Metro Père Lachaise, lines 2 or 3. There is a small entrance at the corner edge of the cemetary right next to the exit of the metro station. This will save you from walking all the way to the main entrance.

ANIMALS ARE NOT ALLOWED IN THE CEMETARY (sorry gotta leave the puppy at home)

Hours :

From the 6th of November to the 15th of March :
Mon-Fri: 8h – 17h30 (5:30pm)
Saturday: 8h30 – 17h30(5:30pm)
Sundays and holidays:  9h – 17h30(5:30pm)

From the 16th of March to the 5th of November:
Mon-Fri: 8h – 18h00(6:00pm)
Saturday: 8h30 – 18h00(6:00pm)
Dimanche et jours fériés
Sundays and holidays:  9h – 18h00(6:00pm)


World Press Photo Expo

The World Press Photo 2011 expo is hosted by (fashion designer) Azzedine Alaiä, in his gallery in the Marais.
These are the photos of 2011 that have won World Press Photo recognition. This is photojournalism with a push towards creativity. The contest to select the top photos was held in February, and over 108,059 photos were submitted in the 9 different categories. Press photographers, press agencies, newspapers and magazines were able to submit photos. Those that were recognized are up on the walls of Mr Alaïa’s gallery.



The building is normally home to The fashion designer’s showroom. It was build just before the Eiffel tower, and has that very distinct architectural design that came out of that era. The space was originally built by the owners of the BHV to become a people’s class restaurant. After that it became a place for BHV to store things, until Mr Alaïa purchased it for his fashion house. I love the opaque white glass ceiling which lets in so much light that no artificial light is really needed at all. And then there’s that typical juxtaposition of sculpted metal and glass that is so common to Parisian architecture from the Art Nouveau period (one of my favorites along with Art Deco).


Enjoy the expo until June 21st, 11am to 7pm every day. Entry is free. 18 rue de la Verrerie 75004, Paris.