Some Things Never Change : 19th Century Parisian Activities

Expo : Les Parisiens de Daumier.
Until March 4th… HURRY!
3€ Entry.

Galerie du Crédit Municipal de Paris

55, rue des Francs-Bourgeois – 75004 Paris.

Mon-Fri 9am-5pm – Closed Sundays

I first heard about this expo via the blog Paris, Maman et Moi. Being a 19th century French literature fan (I have the entire collection of Balzac – and FYI, some editions of Balzac’s works were illustrated by Daumier) I knew this was right up my alley. So instead of waiting in line for the Brassaï expo (just like in Sheily’s post linked above), I headed over to see these wonderful drawings of what Parisian life was like in the 1800’s.

You could say that Daumier, who’s work is the entirety of the exposition, was what we would consider a lifestyle/humorist blogger today. Each drawing (there were dozens and dozens of them) mocked, exaggerated or poked fun at a certain “type” of Parisian, in different situations of social life back 150-200 years ago. Continue reading

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A Wonderful Time seeking Coco Chanel

N° 5I was invited to join a fun and delightful tour with a new company called Wonderful Time. They were in the final stages of testing their tours, and asked me to join a group (thanks to Pamela of francophilia who put me in touch with them, and who joined me on the tour) for a tour of Coco. THE Coco.

Continue reading

THAT Lou – Museum Treasure Hunt

I have been dying to write about THAT Lou for some time now, but I wanted to do so with the voice of experience. Alas, time and scheduling constraints have kept me from joining one of her acclaimed treasure hunt tours thus far. But the idea is SO COOL! Imagine visiting a museum and having fun! So here is Daisy’s oeuvre in all it’s press release glory! I will get on one of her hunts one of these days…I promise! In the meantime I urge you to play the THAT Lou game on your next trip to Paris or on your next rainy day off! It’s a great idea for groups of friends and or family, student groups or even employee groups working on team building. Continue reading

Ladurée in NYC

Article by Frank Cierpial

Frank G Cierpial

Montclair State University is on Spring Break this week, so at the time when I would normally be in Advanced Spoken Language, I was on a train into New York Penn Station to find one of Paris’s newest most prized treasures, La maison Ladurée.

LadureeNYC Continue reading

Festival Baroque – Paris

I discovered recently through a friend of Chéri’s that there is a new and first-of-it’s-kind event happening in Paris : a baroque music festival.

It immediately caught my attention and I feel it is imperative to share it with my lovely readers! I will be attending at least one concert from the festival, and if you are in Paris from November 23rd to December 9th I urge you to grab tickets! To listen to quality baroque music in some of the most architecturaly beautiful monumetns in Paris will be quite a treat, especailly as many of the places were meant to have music notes wafting over our heads in the lofty vouted ceilings.

Festival Baroque : YouTube ; Facebook page ; Twitter Continue reading

Monuments off the Beaten Path – The Château de Chantilly

Post by contributor Jenny Bailey

Parc du Château de Chantilly, by Esther Westerveld

With so many tourists visiting Paris every year looking for great deals, it’s hard to imagine that there are still some places that are relatively unheard of. Away from some of the more popular attractions, there are however various monuments that are equally as impressive. One of these is the Château de Chantilly – a beautiful castle located in one of the largest forests near Paris, Le Massif de Trois Forêts, in the town of Chantilly. It is home to the Grand Stables, various courtyards and gardens, a lake and the Musée Condé – one of the country’s finest art galleries. Continue reading

Saut Hermès – 2012

Recently I was let out of work early to go spend the rest of the day at the Saut Hermès! It was a glorious sunny day in Paris in the middle of March, and life felt like a million dollars. I walked from work to the Grand Palais where the 3 day jumping contest event was being held for the 3rd consecutive year. I love this building that was built for the World exposition of 1900 with a glass and steel ceiling, it has a yesteryear yet modern style that I never get tired of and reminds me of the Crystal Palace of London built for the World exposition of 1851. Continue reading

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

Monuments off the Beaten Path – Fontaine des Innocents

Post by Jenny Bailey

Fontaine des Innocents, by Tom Bream

Whilst world-renowned landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe are well worth visiting, discovering some of the other monuments in Paris that are slightly off the beaten path is just as rewarding. For a fascinating piece of history, tourists staying in Paris hotels near the Les Halles district should check out the Fontaine des Innocents (Fountain of the Innocents).

This beautiful Renaissance structure was designed by French architect Pierre Lescot, before being sculpted by architect Jean Goujon. Created between 1546 and 1549, the fountain was built into a wall at the intersection of Rue St Denis and Rue au Fers (now Rue Berger) and originally had just three façades.

Commissioned as part of the decoration of the city to welcome King Henry II into Paris, the Fontaine des Innocents is the oldest monumental fountain in Paris. It was designed not only to be a fountain, but to be a grand reviewing stand for local notables. It is decorated with Henry II’s Coat of Arms, as well as nymphs on each side of it, typical of the Mannerist style of the time. The arch is covered by angels and traditional ‘putti’ – naked, plump little boys with wings, which was very common in Renaissance works.

In 1788, the fountain was moved to a newly created square, known as the Square des Innocents, to make way for a market. A fourth façade was then built to match the three original ones before it was placed on a pedestal and topped with the dome that is there today. The fountain did not have water running from it until 1812, when a system of canals was put in place to bring water to the public fountains in the capital.

As one of the lesser known landmarks in the city, a trip to see the Fontaine des Innocents is a great way to spend an afternoon in Paris. Combine a visit to the fountain with other attractions in the area such as the Tour St-Jacques – the remains of an old 16th century church – and Les Halles Market with its large underground shopping mall, meat, fruit and vegetable market and the largest underground subway station in the world. Travelers staying in hotels in the area can then head back for a quick change before going out for a delicious evening meal.

A Quick Guide to Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Post by Jenny Bailey

When most people imagine 19th century Paris they usually picture artists in berets painting on easels, or bourgeois thinkers discussing the philosopher Descartes over a glass of red wine. Perhaps the picture in their head is of neither of these things but of impoverished writers sipping on absinthe in a typical Parisian café? Any of these images would be true to life, at least in painting a picture of
what the Saint-Germain-des-Près Faubourg was like at this time. In the 19th Century, this was the intellectual centre of Paris and home to some of the city’s greatest minds. Fast-forward centuries later and the area is still one of prettiest areas in Paris, with plenty of attractions for visitors to see and do. Here are some of the highlights:

Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés

The Faubourg takes its name from the Benedictine Abbey that used to stand here. However, nowadays it is only the church that still remains. This historic church dates all the way back to the 6th century and is the oldest in Paris. However, most people flock here to visit the tomb of Descartes who’s buried in one of the smaller side-chapels. In its earlier years this was the burial place for Merovingian kings and its gold roof led to it being known as the gilded Saint-Germain.

Jardin du Luxembourgis the second largest public park in Paris and a great place to while away a lazy afternoon. The gardens, which were built in 1612 for the queen consort Marie Medicis, are landscaped in an Italian baroque style and were designed by Jacques Boyceau. Originally built to keep the queen from feeling too homesick for Italy, they may have changed a lot in the past few centuries – they now include a play-area and tennis courts – but the palace and gardens have become quintessentially Parisian. Sculptures in the garden of Stendhal, Chopin, Montesquieu, Phidias, Baudelaire, Delacroix and Blanche of Castille are there to be admired, whilst the impressive Palace is now home to the French Senate.

Marie de Medicis

Although there are plenty of Paris hotels to choose from in the Saint-Germain district, it’s rare to find one which is a tourist
attraction in its own right. However, Hotel Lutetia is no ordinary hotel. It was created in 1910 by two of the best known architects of the time and became the first art deco hotel in Paris. Since its construction, several famous artists and writers have either stayed here or made the building their home. These include Matisse, Picasso, Antoine de Saint-Exupery and General Du Galle, who spent his honeymoon in this building. Inside the lobby, there are works of art by more contemporary artists, such as Arman, Cesar and Thierry Bisch. This has to be one of the few hotels in Paris that have such a historic connection.

Located on the Left Bank of the Seine, the Musée d’Orsay is best known for its large collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. The museum, housed in a former railway station, contains famous pieces by Cezanne, Renoir, Degas, Monet and Van Gogh amongst others. There are 86 paintings by Monet and 81 by Renoir, (including his famous work, Montmartre) which makes this one of most important museums for fans of these two artists. There are also sculptures and collections pertaining to photography and architecture.

Musée d’Orsay

Those who visited Café Procope in the 18th century may have found themselves sitting on a table next to Voltaire, who it is said often drank 40 cups of coffee – mixed with chocolate – at this establishment every day. During this century, Benjamin Franklin, John Paul Jones and Thomas Jefferson were also regular visitors. Café Procope is still the oldest continually-running restaurant in Paris, having opened its doors for the first time in 1623. Since then it has seen many famous faces and almost as many scandals. In 1752, composer Rousseau publicly announced his retirement in the café, and explorer Alexander von Humboldlt was known to lunch here every day between 11am and noon. The restaurant serves traditional French meals and highlights include the coq au vin and calf’s head casserole.

Visitors that have already explored all the typical, traditional sights associated with Paris will find that the Saint-Germain district not only  offers something new and unique, but provides a fascinating glimpse into a Paris of yesteryear.