Paris – Number 1 in beautiful richness

Paris
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What can we say in an intro about Paris that hasn’t been said by hundreds? Have you heard about the Eiffel tower? Damn, you did.

And Notre-Dame, the cathedral that… you have too.
Ah, yes! The Louvre. You know, the Louvre is… you know it too.

Well, let’s try the Champs Elisées and the arch… wasting my time!

Luxembourg…no. Marais…no. Bastille…no. La Villette… again no.

OK. Let´s go a little out of town to visit Versailles, the palace of… please no.

Ok Let’s be original. I’ve been there. I don’t remember how many times. I don’t know how many more. But I will each time that I can

St Louis Island – The heart of Paris

St Louis island, with its concentration of monuments, may be considered the heart of Paris.

​It is not only Notre-Dâme an Sainte-Chapelle – it is… everything!

Address: Île Saint-Louis, 75004 Paris

The centre of France

Historic Paris
Historic Paris – Notre-Dame

A gothic masterpiece. Notre Dame, conceived by Maurice de Sully, was built between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries (1163-1345).

​In an island of Sena, surrounding by many marvels of history, it’s the centre of France, with the road distances calculated on the basis of the “0 km” marked on the square in front of the cathedral.

Address: Place du parvis de Notre Dame , 75004

Directions: Métro: Cité; RER: Châtelet-Les Halles, Saint Michel-Notre Dame

Website: Notre Dame

Notre Dame

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Historic Paris

It is always a pleasure the visit to this cathedral, one of the oldest and biggest of early French Gothic. In each detail we may find in our memories references of the old stories that made the history of France and western culture.This was my fifth or sixth visit, but not the last. I hope!

Address: Place du parvis de Notre Dame , 75004

Stained glasses

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Historic Paris
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Historic Paris

A special advice: If you plan to visit Notre-Dâme and Sainte-Chapelle (and you must!), start in Notre-Dâme. The stained glasses in the cathedral are very beautiful, but after seeing the wonders of Sainte-Chapelle they may seem banal. Each thing has its epoch, its concept, and comparisons are often unfair.

Sainte-Chapelle – ​Explosion of colors

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Historic Paris Sainte-Chapelle

There’s no way to describe this chapel; there’s no way, either, to capture it entirely in pictures or video. It has to be lived in location.This small chapel, near Notre-Dame, is a splendour of colours. It’s incorrect to say that the chapel has wonderful stained glasses – it is just the opposite: the fabulous stained glasses compose a magnificent chapel. But there’s more.Don’t get impressed by the long lines at the entrance – you must accept them, because this is something that no one should miss.

Address: Boulevard du Palais

Website: Sainte-Chapelle

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Historic Paris

Long Lines

Sainte-Chapelle is one of greatest wonders of Paris, but it is small. This means very long lines to enter. When planning your visit, go in advance and be prepared to a long wait.

Maybe you don’t know, but I’m a gentleman. The women had other plans (the shops in St German, of course) and I left our only umbrella with them. While in the line a strong rain came and… yes, I stayed, and got totally wet.

​Once inside, I quickly forgot it.

Schapelle 1 n
Historic Paris

People’s level

Not very common in most churches (I think), in this one the nobles and the people were separated in two different levels.

​We enter through the low level (people’s level) and thought the beauty is also present, it will not announce the striking light and colours of nobles’ level.

Address: Boulevard du Palais

A loved river

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Historic Paris

One of the things that the Portuguese need to learn is how to deal with rivers.

​Paris is a good “lesson”, with a warm relationship with Seine. Beautiful bridges, gardens and monuments flanking it, and boats all day round exploring its beauty.

Address: Île de la Cité, 75001 Paris

Directions: Flows through the city of Paris.

Montmartre

Historic paris
Historic paris

Montmartre

Would it be possible to go to Paris without walking one night around Montmartre, descending the narrow streets to Pigalle, and watching one of the liveliest quarters of the world?

For us that was the whole program, but for who wants something else, all other kind of programs are available and openly offered.

The religiosity is confined to the top of the hill…

Sacré Coeur

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Historic Paris

In the top of the only hill of Paris, this church was built by the national will, following the defeat in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870.

​The basilica, by the architect Abadie was consecrated in 1919.

Address: 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris

Place du Tertre

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Historic Paris

There’s a special romanticism in Tertre’s nights (in summer… I may say now!). Several painters occupy the place, displaying their portfolio, while hundreds of people walk around, comparing and commenting the styles, and some of them negotiating a portrait or caricature. And the time passes quickly, comparing faces to the expressions fixed in the papers.

Address: Near Sacré Coeur

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Historic Paris

Tertre in Winter

I wasn’t expecting the Tertre that I saw in winter!

The esplanades, usually full of life with artists all around, were closed, and the few resistant painters were sheltered inside the restaurants. The sad emptiness was justified by the weather, but it was a shock, the contrast with my expectations. No, Tertre is in summer, in winter it is just another square, at least until the arrival of the Portuguese smiles!

Address: Place du Tertre, 75018 Paris

Funicular

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Historic Paris

Climbing to Sacré-Coeur is not too hard, but after a day strolling in the city, the funicular is almost a blessing.

Not cheap, demanding one ticket each way, it is usually used upwards to visit the hill while descending to Clichy, and that was what we did.

Address: Paris

Directions: 18th arrondissement

The old icon

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Historic Paris

No, we didn’t enter! However, more than a club with expensive drinks and naked women in elaborated shows, this is a city’s icon, almost as Eiffel tower, impossible to pass by without a comment or a picture.

Website: Moulin Rouge

In my first visit to Paris, I was sitting in a esplanade, when my wife (girlfriend a the time), asked me where was the Moulin Rouge.
I knew that it was nearby, and walked to the center of the street to view the facades, verifying that we were exactly in front of it.

Immediately two beautiful girls approached me, saying that they were just arriving from the province, and needed someone reliable to go along with them in the cabaret.
What happened to those vulnerable girls? ​I still have a weight in the conscience for not being available to help them…

Walking around

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Place des Vosges – Old Paris postcard

Constructed in the 17th century under Henri IV, the first attempt at urban planning, the Place des Vosges, is now Paris oldest square. A wide symmetric square, surrounded by 39 (some say 36) houses made of red brick with stone facades.

Address: Place des Vosges, 75004 Paris

Website: Place des Vosges

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Old Planning

That oldest square in Paris it is one of the first examples of symmetrical planning. Built in 1604, king Henry IV ordered that the 34 buildings linking the royal pavilions (king’s and queen’s mirroring each other) should have the same architecture.A few buildings deserve reference as Victor Hugo’s residence or Tournelles hotel. In the middle of the square there’s a statue of Louis XIII added later.

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Place Vendôme – Supreme Harmony

I was always very impressed by the geometric harmony of this square. The square was constructed in the 18th century to commemorate the armies of Louis XIV, but only after Napoleon, was added the central column, modeled after Trajan’s column in Rome, to commemorate the victory in Austerlitz.

​This is one of the places that I can’t describe – we must be there to feel the balance, the proportions, the size. Wonderful!

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​Montparnasse

No, this time I’m not going to write about Zara – you have to browse my other tips to find it.

In Fernanda’s first time in Paris (my third) we ended one day in Montparnasse.
​We were so tired, that I couldn’t understand where did her find strength to the enthusiastic zigzag in the shops of Montparnasse avenue, while I crawled in one of the walkways.

Upon arriving to the square, she gave up – the commercial tower was a mirage, far… far, in the distant opposite side of the square. We just dragged our bones to the hotel.

​If in those old days there was a Zara in location, as today, the end would have been “slightly” later!

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Le Marais – ​Fashioned quarter

After several visits to Paris always skipping this quarter, I spent there a full week. It gave me a new image of this trendy area, where many recent investments didn’t compromise its history and traditional look.

Address: Le Marais, 75003 & 75004 Paris

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Republic square

A large square was used to commemorate the third republic. Inaugurated in 1880, the monument was conceived by Morice brothers. Decorated with two fountains, the whole is part of Haussmann’s renovation scheme for Paris.

Address: Place Beaubourg, 75004

Directions: Métro: Rambuteau ; RER: Châtelet-Les Halles

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Mairie du IX

​A little out of the touristy area I was surprised by a very beautiful building – the Mairie of the 9th quarter.

It is installed in a palace coming from the 18th century, built to be used as a hotel – Augny hotel.

It’s long and interesting history may be read in the Mairie page (link below… in French)

Website: Mairie du IX

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Père Lachaise

The biggest cemetery in Paris is also the most visited in the world.

​A great part of the names that compose the culture and history of France in the last two centuries are buried there.

Address: 1 Place de la Concorde, 75008 Paris

Directions: At Rue de Rivoli.

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“Forum des Halles”

In a lovely quarter, a modern building is surrounded by history and classical monuments. It is a shopping mall that didn’t impress me but… I’m not a shopping expert, however, Fernanda is THE shopping expert, and she didn’t dedicate to it the usual eternity.I really appreciated more the outside, the contrast with the quarter, and its light effects.

Address: Metro: Chatelet, Les Halles

Directions: Between Rue Berger & Rue Rambuteau.

Website: Forum des Halles

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Near “home”

I didn’t mind entering this mall in Marais several times in my last visit – while the women browsed the shops, I was compensated with a couple of good pictures of the monuments and gardens around, and the shopping mall itself.

Please don’t ask what they sell inside – the same articles, the same brands, the same (high) prices as anywhere else in the global consumer market.

I think!

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St Denis

The northern “border” of interesting Paris is dotted with a couple of arches with few differences except size.

The biggest one, St Denis was built in 1672 and restored in 1988. Twenty five meters high, it has some low reliefs, and sculpted elements.

​Side-by-side with St Martin they represent the line between the touristy area and… the other.

Yes, it is frontier land!

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St Martin

St Martin door was built in 1674 to replace a medieval gate, and restored in 1988.

It is close to the avenues of the great malls, and it is almost a frontier with… the other Paris.

In my last visit, I heard a sound that looked like pistol shots, but everybody was so calm, that… I kept walking without concern.

The following day, by the arch, I noticed that the window of the next shop presented signals of… bullets.

Coincidence? Of course…  Paris is nice!

​So, let’s look at the arch, inspired in Titus arch, in Rome, and built by François Blondel by command of Louis XIV, to celebrate his military victories.

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Sorbonne

Sorbonne is a name forever connected with the movement that in 1968 changed the world, known as the “French May”. It is a reference in culture, and its influence may be noticed in all the quarter.

Address: 1 Rue Victor Cousin, 75005 Paris

Directions: At Rue Cujas. Metro Line 10 : Cluny-La Sorbonne

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The oldest house of Paris

In my birthday, my son took us to Flamel, a restaurant located in what they call “the oldest house in Paris”.

It is an old lodging-house for poor people, built in 1407 by Nicolas Flamel and wife. The restaurant uses the place, but for the… not so poor.

Address: R. Montmorency, 51

Website: Flamel

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Passages

Ancestors of the big malls, the passages are galleries along corridors, connecting streets and providing covered access to several shops.

​There are many in Paris, still with the old functionality, and some of them really beautiful.

Website: Passages

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Classical

Pulled by a woman from shop to shop, the exhausted man had, at last, a small compensation in Printemps: the beautiful building composes a classical ambiance for the myriad of shops and stalls.

Shopping? Excuse-me! That’s up to her.

By the way… where the hell did she go?

Address: 64 Blvd Haussman

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Hotel de ville

City Hall is a palace in the centre of Paris, built in the 14th century. In 1533 king Francis decided to build a bigger palace and the former building was replaced. A long history have those walls, that, in the revolutionary period, were set on fire by extremists, being reconstructed afterwards with the actual look.

Address: Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, 75004 Paris

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Chatelet

A small castle by Sena river was demolished under Napoleon’s orders, creating a large square.

​In its centre a fountain was built, with a central pillar topped by Victory’s statue.Nowadays, taking advantage of its central location, Chatelet is a very important transport hub, with the biggest underground station for train and metro.

Address: Metro: Chatelet, Les Halles

Directions: At Quai de la Mégisserie & Quai de Gesvres.

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Paris stock market

Since the beginning of the 19TH century, the French stock market functions in Brongniart Palace, near Opera Garnier, expressly built to centralize those financial operations. We didn’t visit it.

Address: 28 Place de la Bourse, 75002 Paris

Directions: At Rue Notre Dame des Victoires.

Website: Brongniart

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Caumartin

Many years ago, I stayed a few days in one of the hotels in Caumartin St. I kept the idea that it was an ugly neighborhood, close to some of the really beautiful many things of Paris. I stayed there again recently and… surprise!

​Meandering in those “hidden” streets, closed to traffic, I found another reality:

A beautiful quarter, with fancy restaurants, statues, and a peaceful ambiance, in contrast with the rush of the main avenues. Wrong idea in the first impressions, or an excellent work in space rehabilitation?

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Commodities exchange

Centuries of history live in this building in Chatelet – from several hotels, it has been a convent and a wheat market until finding its final shape and function in the 19th century.

Address: 2 Rue de Viarmes, 75001 Paris

Directions: At Rue du Louvre

Website: Bourse

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Bastille

The conquest of Bastille is, maybe, the most remarkable moment if French history, the birth of citizenship, under the principles of freedom, equality and fraternity.

In location of the destroyed prison there’s a square with the same name, but, I don’t know why, the central and unique monument is “Colonne de Juillet”, celebrating another revolution about 50 years later.

Funny things, hard to understand!

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Saint German

“Rive gauche”, the left bank, is slightly different from the other side, dominated by students and cultural activities. Of course, shopping is the “cultural activity” for many people (no, I’m not talking about Fernanda…) and the avenues of Saint Germain are filled with “cultural centers”. Another “cultural activity” recommended to this area is lunch, in one of the many restaurants. Of course, in the breaks of so intense cultural activities, strolling in the narrow streets allows some small surprises and pleasures.

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La Villette

A fabulous sphere is the top attraction of a park that, to be honest, has nothing more very interesting.

​Gardens, concert hall, music museum may fill your time but, for me, the sphere is really the only special thing.

Address: 30 Avenue Corentin Cariou, 75019 Paris

Website: La Villette

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Stravinsky fountain

Don’t be mislead by the kids playing around the fountain near Georges Pompidou Centre – it is an artistic ensemble, as I read in Wikipedia: “The nearby Stravinsky Fountain (also called the Fontaine des automates), on Place Stravinsky, features sixteen whimsical moving and water-spraying sculptures by Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint-Phalle, which represent themes and works by composer Igor Stravinsky. The black-painted mechanical sculptures are by Tinguely, the colored works by de Saint-Phalle. The fountain opened in 1983”

Address: Place Beaubourg, 75004

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Innocents fountain

Built in the middle of the 16th century, in a former graveyard, this fountain got its name from the church of Innocents, built in memory of the children killed by Herodes.

​Later on, in the 18th century the church was replaced by a market, but the foutain was moved to the centre of a new square, giving name to it.

Address: Le Marais, 75003 & 75004 Paris

Directions: Around Rue Vieille du Temple.

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Rue des Rosiers

The “Jewish capital” of Paris is Rosiers street, located in Marais.

The roses that justified the name are gone, and now the street houses many restaurants and commercial places.

Champs Elysées – Vanity Fair

Elisées and defense 1
Elisées and defense

Tradition, elegance, sophistication are words that merge in this famous avenue of Paris.

​In a classical image, here and there a few dots of modernity are useful, to remind that time doesn’t stop. It’s funny to compare the actual look with the memories of several decades ago!

Address: Champs-Élysées, Paris 75008

Website: Elisées

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Elisées – Arch du Triomphe

Impressive

The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. It was commissioned in 1806 after the victory at Austerlitz by Emperor Napoleon I at the peak of his fortunes.

Laying the foundations alone took two years, and in 1810 when Napoleon entered Paris from the west with his bride Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria, he had a wooden mock-up of the completed arch constructed. The architect Jean Chalgrin died in 1811, and the work was taken over by Huyon.

Some details

​During the Restoration, construction was halted and would not be completed until the reign of King Louis-Philippe, in 1833–36.The monument stands 49.5 meters (165 ft) in height, 45 meters (148 ft) wide and 22 meters (72 ft) deep. It is the second largest triumphal arch, inspired by the Roman Arch of Titus.

Address: Place Charles-de-Gaulle Etoile

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Elisées – Arch du Triomphe

Useful Information

The Arc de Triomphe is a monument in Paris, France, that stands in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle, also known as the Place de l’Étoile (Star Square). It is at the western end of the Champs-Élysées.

​The arch honors Napoleon kings. Inside and atop the arc there are all of the names of generals and wars fought. Underneath is the tomb of the unknown soldier from World War I. But… Didn’t you already really know that?

Website: Arc du Triomphe

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Elisées – Arch du Triomphe

Garden in the roof

I was sorrow for having no opportunity to visit one of the buildings that surround the “Arch du Triomphe”.

Atop of it, is clearly visible a dense garden replacing the roof.

​What is it?

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Elisées – Palais

Good stop at Grand (or Petit) Palais

“Les Champs Elisées” is a very long avenue, meaning a very long walk. That’s why, those two palaces standing between the avenue and the river, are a very strong invitation to stop. Considering that they usually have interesting exhibitions, the invitation is reinforced. And looking at the lawn in the shades…

Address: 3, Avenue du Général-Eisenhower, 75008, Paris

Website: Grand Palais

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Concorde

Concorde – a wide square

This large square always gives me the same sensation: breath! The river “disappears” and we have the sensation of being in a wider area, surrounded by wonderful buildings. The inevitable cars are no more than a detail.

It is impossible to miss it, with the Champs Élisées at one side, the Tuileries in the other, Madeleine in your back, Seine and Orsai ahead… The only odd detail – that Egyptian obelisk in the center! It was a gift from Egypt, but I would rather see it in Luxor. Here, I do prefer the fountains – wonderful.

Address: Metro 1, 13 : Concorde

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Concorde

Obelisk

The historic guillotine of the French revolution, in the center of Concorde square, was replaced by an obelisk from Luxor, offered by the Egyptian viceroy. With original carvings, it’s suffering from pollution. The works of transfer and installation are represented in the base, with gilded images.

Address: Metro 1, 13 : Concorde

Website: Concorde

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Elisées – Tuilleries

Special in summer

In winter the Tuilleries are a wide and sad area that we have to cross to go anywhere, blaming who did it so big and unprotected.

In summer this garden is a refreshing area, plenty of color and life.

Address: Place du Louvre

La Défense

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Défense

New Grandiosity

It is big, it is modern, it is nice. Better than that, it is several kilometers far from the historic Paris. Good.

​La Defense is a wise solution to build an impressive modern quarter without spoiling the image of the city. Though out of central circuit, the common tourist tickets include it as an exception – the many commercial structures need customers…

Address: West Paris.

Directions: Boroughs: Courbevoie, Nanterre·& Puteaux.

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Défense

Congress Hall

The trip to the “island” of La Defense is several kilometers long, and somewhat boring. The monotony is broken in Porte Maillot with an ugly but simultaneously appealing building.

A simulated odd door breaks a blind and flat facade, giving some expression to the whole.

​After the long minutes browsing your guides to discover what the hell is that pavilion, you will be arriving to La Defense or Étoile, which means back to tourism.

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Défense

Skipped

Tito tried his best to explain his mother that La Defense included a great shopping area. She was convinced, but so tired, that the rain was enough as an excuse to spare that visit.

Hurrah! I skipped one!

Churches

La Madeleine – A strange church

Madeleine
Madeleine

The first look at this church gives a strange sensation of a pastiche – a copy of a roman temple out of date and context. Well, it is, looking like roman, without being roman. It has a style uncommon in France in the 18th century, where it was started. It was built for artistic reasons, not exactly religious ones, what explains its odd look. But it got a history: the revolution, right after its start, stopped the construction, and hardly discussed its future – a library, a marketplace, even a ballroom, but it was Napoleon who decided, at last, to proceed with its religious vocation, as temple to the glory of the army.

After Napoleon’s fall, the temple was dedicated to Mary Magdalene. Now it is a trendy beautiful and odd church and it reaches perfectly its original aesthetic objective.

​Address: Place de la Madeleine and Rue Royale         Website: Madeleine

Churches and Museums - Trinité
Churches and Museums – Trinité

Sainte Trinité Church

The “Église de la Sainte-Trinité” is a Catholic church located in the IXe quarter in Paris, France. The church is an edifice of the Second Empire period, built between 1861 and 1867, at a cost of almost 4 million francs.

La Trinité, as it is known, was designed by Théodore Ballu as part of the beautification and reorganization of Paris under Baron Haussmann.

​The church is accessible by the Métro (the nearby station, Trinité, is named after it) and is known internationally for its former organist, Olivier Messiaen.

Address: Place d’Estienne d’Orves, 75009 Paris

Website: Trinité

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Churches and Museums – Saint Eustache

Saint Eustache

Saint-Eustache is a church built between 1532 and 1632. I don’t remember where I read that: “It is another Parisian gothic gem. The church’s reputation was strong enough of the time for it to be chosen as the location for a young Louis XIV to receive communion.

Mozart also chose the sanctuary as the location for his mother’s funeral. Among those baptised here as children were Richelieu, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, future Madame de Pompadour and Molière, who was also married here two decades later.

The last rites for Anne of Austria, Turenne and Mirabeau were pronounced within its walls.

​Situated in an area of Paris renowned for fresh produce of all kinds, the church became a parish in 1223, thanks to a man named Alais who achieved this by taxing the baskets of fish sold nearby. To thank such divine generosity Alais constructed a chapel dedicated to Sainte-Agnès, a Roman martyr. The construction of the current church began in 1532, the work not being finally completed until 1637. The name “Saint-Eustache” refers to Saint Eustace, a Roman general who was burned along with his family for converting to Christianity. Several impressive paintings by Rubens remain in the church today. Each summer, organ concerts commemorate the premieres of Berlioz. “Anyway, the historic references are only one more note in a very interesting visit.
Address: 2, Rue du Jour, 75001 Paris

Website: St. Eustache

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Churches and Museums – Saint Augustin

Saint Augustin – Church in evidence

Saint Augustin is a church in the 8th arrondissement of Paris.

It was built between 1860 and 1871, close to St Lazare metro station, integrated in Baron Haussmann’s design for that area of the city, and that’s the reason why it seems so well integrated, even evidenced by the street planning.

Address: Place St. Augustin

Website: St. Augustin

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Churches and Museums – Lorette
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Churches and Museums – Lorette

​Notre-Dame-de-Lorette

Discreet, facing a narrow street, and diminished by the image of Sacré-Coeur in its back, this neoclassic church was built in the 19th century.

​A statue symbolizing faith dominates the facade, and the interior is decorated with paintings, statues and stained glasses

Address: Rue de Chateaudun-Metro Notre Dame de Lorette

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Churches and Museums – Saint Severin

Saint Severin

The Church of Saint-Séverin (Eglise Saint-Séverin) is a small church in the Latin Quarter of Paris, located on the lively tourist street Rue St-Séverin. It is the oldest church that remains standing on the Left Bank, and it continues in use as a place of worship.The church is dedicated to Séverin, who who lived and prayed there in a small oratory. After Séverin’s death, a basilica was constructed, later destroyed by the Vikings. The current church was started in the 11th century, though its major features are Gothic from the 15th century.With some fine gargoyles, it has the oldest bell in Paris, cast in 1412.

Address: 3 Rue des Prêtres Saint-Séverin, 75005 Paris

Website: St. Severin

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Churches and Museums – Pantheon

Pantheon

Returning home from Paris, in my first visit, I came with the idea of seeing Napoleon’s tomb in the Pantheon. A rough confusion, as I noticed when, more than 30 years later, I decide to see it again, and… it was not there but in Invalides.

Napoleon didn’t move and we didn’t bother, because the visit to the Pantheon is always interesting, even without the emperor. Very similar to the Panthéon of Rome, it started to be a church dedicated to St. Genevieve.

Napoleon is absent, but you have there the memory of many famous French citizens waiting for your visit.

Website: Pantheon

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Churches and Museums – Expiation

Expiation

A chapel built in the 19th century was dedicated to the memory of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

In Wikipedia we may read that:

“The Chapelle expiatoire is without doubt the most uncompromising late neoclassical religious building of Paris. Chateaubriand found it “the most remarkable edifice in Paris”. The chapel’s severe geometry is unrelieved by sculpture as can be seen by the view from rue d’Anjou.”​”

Maybe so. It didn’t impress me too much, maybe because it was the most expensive ticket to a monument in Paris that I paid this time.

Museums

Paris
Churches and Museums – Louvre

Louvre – Huge and Impressive

Once again I got no time (nor mood) to enter the Louvre. I still am one of the few that went several times to Paris without standing some seconds in front of that small picture of an ugly lady that someone decided to consider “THE” masterpiece.

I didn’t also have time to browse the thousands of other artworks, searching for the originals of the known reproductions that fill our memories. I only had time to admire the wonderful palace and gardens, where the flocks merge to enter.

Maybe the Louvre is the center of the world, but, after visiting it, what will be the excuse to return to Paris again and again?
​I need to go back to Paris to see the Louvre, but… time… in Paris…

Address: 99 rue de Rivoli, 75058 Paris,   Directions: Métro: Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre          

Website: Louvre

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Churches and Museums – Baccarat

Baccarat Museum

With a large and rich history in glass manufacturing, Baccarat is a respected name. If you pass by the United States square, you may enter and see a couple of great pieces, well displayed in a beautiful palace. I must confess that I expected more, and took a morning expressly to go there.

​Somewhat disappointed, but I didn’t regret the time. Why do they forbid to take pictures inside? There’s no risk to the pieces, and copying models will not be stopped nor limited by boring the tourists!

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Churches and Museums – Medieval

Medieval Museum

In the “Rive Gauche”, near Sorbonne, the national museum of the Middle Ages is installed in a complex composed by two Parisian monuments: Gallo-Roman thermal baths (1st-3rd centuries) and the hotel of the abbots of Cluny (15th century). The museum was founded in 1843, thanks to the collections of Alexandre de Sommerard who lived in the hotel of Cluny.

​Enriched during the years, the large collections covers all the art from Gaulle Roman times to the 16th century.

Address: Boulevard St-Michel

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Churches and Museums – Arts

Arts Museum

In my first visit to Paris, in 1971, I stayed in “Hotel des Arts et Métiers”, near “Place d’Italie”. It was with surprise that I found the museum “des Arts et Métiers” in the opposite side of the river, in Marais.

​Recent moving? No way. I read that: “In 1794, the Abbot Grégoire founded the Conservatoire des arts et métiers. Installed between the walls of the old priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs in Paris, this “depot of new and useful inventions” became a museum for all types of trades and crafts.​

The collection is unique in the world: 80,000 objects, 15,000 drawings testify to the ingenuity of humankind and the spirit of adventure of the pioneers of the industrial revolution.

​The museum is part of the Musée de l’Education Nationale system, for education, but it is also a place of marvels for all. “This means that the museum is there for a long time. I understood that the hotel’s name was given by the school of arts and crafts, also located near Place d’Italie.

“My” old hotel (the cheapest that my Parisian friend could find to a Portuguese student) is gone. By the way… I didn’t had time to visit the museum, but it is in my list for the next time in Paris.

Address: 60 rue Réamur, 75003.
Website: Arts et Métiers

Paris
Churches and Museums – Orsay

Orsay Museum

In 1900 a train station was built to the universal exhibition and served as a connection to southwest France until 1939.

​During the war it was used to the movements of prisoners, and, after the war… Well, why not a museum? In 1978 was created the museum, that covers all the western arts from 1848 until WW1, and opened to the public in 1988.

Address: 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris

Website: Orsay

Paris
Churches and Museums – Georges Pompidou

The Centre Georges Pompidou

No, it is not a factory. No, it is not a docked ship.

​It is a large and modern cultural center, housing the biggest museum of modern art, a public library, and a research centre for music and acoustic effects.It is open since 1977, and it is one of the most visited places in Paris since then.

Address: Place Beaubourg, 75004

Website: Centre Pompidou

Paris
Churches and Museums – Carnavalet

Carnavalet Museum

I think that I will live 160 years. I hope so, because this will be the only way to have time to visit fifty percent of the museums in Paris.

​Carnavalet Museum is planned to 2036, which means that I will visit it in my nineties, young enough to appreciate it.Then, I will describe its contents (promise).

Website: Carnavalet

Invalides

Paris
Churches and Museums – Invalides

Bad plan

The ticket to Invalides do include the visit of the military museum. The women and Tito were not interested, and I accepted to skip it.

Later on, I felt deeply sorry – my grand uncle’s greatest works were done in France, capturing some scenes of WW1.

​Maybe the museum displays anything from him, that I don’t know. If you go to the museum search for “Sousa Lopes” paintings. If you find anything e-mail me, and I’ll offer you a candy.

Paris
Churches and Museums – Invalides

The church

Built in the 17th century, this large complex should be a hospital for old aged and cripple soldiers, thus getting its name. A few years later a royal church was built, inspired in St Peter’s church, in Rome. This church is now the central part of the complex, becoming a gem of French Baroque.

Address: 129 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris

​Website: Musée de l’Armée

Paris
Churches and Museums – Invalides

Napoleon’s tomb

Napoleon’s tomb is the central piece in Invalides church.

​Seen from above or below, all the visitors go round it, more impressed by the dimension of his memory than by the austere look of the tomb.

Website: Tombe de Napoleon

Opera Garnier

Opera to Eifell
Opera to Eifell

Opera

Several times I passed by Opera Garnier, a mandatory reference to locate ourselves in Paris, but never decided to enter. This time, instead of staying outside Zara for two hours, waiting for… you know… I decided to use the time visiting it.

Excellent. It’s a rich and handsome palace, built in the 19th century by the architect that gave it its name – Charles Garnier. Its sumptuous conception and delicate decoration are a must see.

Address: Place de l’Opéra , 75009
Directions: Metro: Opéra
Website: Opera

Opera to Eiffel

The entrance

The imposing entrance is dominated by the big staircase, 30 meters high.

​Balconies add volume and elegance to the space, embellished by the carved marble used in the construction.​​

The rich lobby

The “Grand Foyer” seems… Versailles. Luxury and art merge in any detail of a wide area, with evidence to the painted roof.

Paris

The Library
The most discreet area in the Palace is the (rich) library, that is part of the French National Library, and keeps the documents concerning opera from 1669 till the present.

Paris

The auditorium
The luxury of the palace is in evidence in the auditorium, with precious details in gold and red velvet surrounding the huge chandelier, with a Chagall’s roof painting as background.

Paris

The basement

The basement is a good option to rest a while.

Though the Phantom of the Opera was out (performing in New York ?), and I couldn’t find its lake, I had the opportunity to sit for some minutes, enjoying a musical projection.

​Even at the dimmed light, the basement revealed itself as a nice space.

Eiffel tower

Paris 421 41
Paris 421 41

The Last Time

Yes, we’ve been in Eiffel tower, and went up to the top. It’s beautiful and expensive, and, once done it’s done.Yes, we did it one second time, still beautiful as in the first one. No need to repeat…We did it a third time. And a fourth…Now for sure: the fourth was the last one.

I guess: when will it be the fifth one? Not yet, but my grandson is already five years old…

Paris

Top Level

Most newcomer insist in going up to the top of the tower – no objection, it’s really high, and you’ll feel it in your way up, but be prepared for a small disappointment: the views are generally better from the first level (much cheaper).

​Of course, you will have the pleasure of having been there, the post office and souvenirs to register it, but if you’re more practical or in a budget the first level will do it.

Paris

An alternative look

No matter the times you visit a place, when it is a wonder, it always surprises you with unexpected experiences.

The harmony of Eiffel tower’s structure passes all tests under all the angles.

(Justice to the author – Tito was the artist)

Paris

Chaillot

So wide, this complex where I never entered, becomes… cold.

Seen from Eiffel tower it reveals perfect proportions and harmonic shapes, but from the ground the sensation is… cold!

Address: Place du Trocadero

Website: Chaillot

Paris 421 44
Paris 421 44

Beauty and power

The sights from the Trocadero esplanade are great, especially if you have the luck to get the fountains at work. The power of the great cannons is fabulous, and the harmony of the whole makes you forget that, in front of you is… the Eiffel tower.

​It’s the best side to approach the tower, and must be enjoyed without rush. It’s also the place where a couple of young boys decided to follow my camera – no chance, Fernanda noticed and warned me. Be careful!

Paris

Champ de Mars

All the wide space between Eiffel tower and the Military school, is occupied by a garden that, maybe because of the school’s presence, took the name of the Roman god of war.

It is very harmonious seen from the tower, and a long walk to those who dare.

Address: 2 Allée Adrienne Lecouvreur, 75007 Paris

Website: Champ de Mars

The Palace

Versailles
Versailles

The richness of the palace and the perfection of the gardens became a model for lots of palaces all over Europe, but none beats the original.

​There’s no chance to see in a glance an entire salon because there will always dozens of persons everywhere you go. It’s impossible to make a picture different from some bodies or heads, at least, with a palace in the background.

It’s impossible to analyze many of the details, because everything is so immense, and there are so many people behind you, that you have to rush, but it is a hell of experience.

​I suggest that you make several visits, each time focusing in a different angle. To start, the building. It’s huge marvelous and rich. And with thousand of beautiful details that you are unable to see, unless you repeat, and repeat, and repeat…

Address: Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles

Website: Versailles

Versailles

The Art

Now, let’s concentrate on art.

Forget for a while the palace and gardens, and look at the paintings, statues, frescoes and carvings.

Where?

Everywhere! Each salon or corridor is a tremendously rich gallery of art that could keep you busy for hours, and if, not being a French, you had to study french culture and history, you are going to meet lots of names and faces familiar to your memories

Versailles

Ceilings

I repeat – One visit is not enough to appreciate all the beauty of this palace.

From my first visit I didn’t remember the ceilings, dominated by the look of everything at eyes’ level.

​I had to come twice, prepared to look for details, to really enjoy the diversity and beauty of the painted ceilings.

Versailles

Chandeliers

Maybe the most beautiful room in the palace (if it is possible to choose one) is the Hall of Mirrors where glass is dominant.

Seventeen large mirrors face seventeen windows, with sparkling chandeliers enhancing light and colors.

The chandeliers opened a market to lead crystal, with “Versailles” style challenging Murano or Bohemia.

PS – A few years later I found a serious challenger – In Istambul, the Dolmabahce palace 

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Trianon

Adjacent to the big palace, a wing with the name of Grand Trianon was built in 1687 to replace the “Trianon de porcelaine” used by Louis XIV in his unofficial loving affairs.

​The building has an Italian look, and it is famous mainly for its gardens.

Website: Versailles

Imagem

The Gardens

A world around the Palace, the gardens are a wide collection of fountains and lakes, surrounded by flowers carefully arranged.

Being so wide, you may use a small train to follow it, stopping in several of its more distinctive areas.

​Funny, the way they use irregular measures, to compensate the errors of perspective caused by the size of the longest lake.

Imagem

Perspective

It is not an example of “trompe l’oeil” art, but we may be confused by the garden’s size and proportions in Versailles.

The lake named “Grand canal” that is the axis of the gardens, is almost 1700 meters long, and it is larger at the end to reduce the perspective.

​It was used to several nautical exhibitions, even with large boats, but don’t ask me how did they move them into the lake.

Imagem

Louis XIV

In the huge, rich and magnificent complex of Versailles the statue of Louis XIV seems… poor and discreet.

​The ambitious and vainglorious king would cut some heads if he could return and judge his successors.

Rest2 Le Relais Cambon

Cambon
Cambon

Big lunch in small table

A very small restaurant always full is a recommendation. We accepted it, and were well succeeded.

In the smaller table I have ever seen, we could manage to accommodate and eat.

The food was very good, the service was quick and gentle, and the price acceptable. We will come back, if needing a restaurant in the area.

Address: 22 rue Cambon

Rest2 Rêves 180

Eating in Paris
Eating in Paris

“Street food”

My son and his girlfriend love to eat crepes.

They are really delicious, easy to by in the way, and not expensive, but I do prefer real food.

OK, once or a couple of times, I concede, and this”boulangerie-creperie”, in Republic square, is really good.

Rest1 Flamel restaurant

Paris
Eating in Paris

High Cuisine

Someone said one day, with fun, that high cuisine is when they use huge dishes for tiny food. This is the case. Though having the sensation that we are paying more for the decoration that we will destroy in the dish than for the food itself, the overall opinion was that it was tasty and well served. The ambiance is sophisticated, and the price is high, but below scandal.

Address: 51 Rue de Montmorency, 75003

Phone: +33 1 42 71 77 78

Website: Flamel

 It's there Le Pré Grill (closed)

Paris
Eating in Paris

A funny situation

What a strange situation we lived in this restaurant!I ordered lunch and a pitcher of wine.

I didn’t like it at first time… nor second, and at the third attempt I noticed it was oxidized. I sent it back and ordered only a glass of a new one.

The waiter brought the glass, and when I was starting to drink, a lady from next table exclaimed:

– I drunk that wine.

I thought that she was telling me that she had tasted the same wine, wanting my opinion and… advanced to taste it.- I drunk from that glass!After some talking to clarify the confusion I understood what happened:The waiter brought the glass of wine and by mistake, put it in the lady’s table. She started to drink it. After some moments the waiter noticed the mistake and… no problem! Got the glass and moved it to my table.Despite this bizarre situation, the lunch was good. Tasty, well served and reasonably priced. With some laughing at the end.

Address: R Saint Severin

Rest2 Palais du Marais

Paris
Eating in Paris

Good and Cheap

Close to the Chatelet and Les Halles, this restaurant serves Chinese, Thai, and vietnamese food.

We tasted several dishes, and all of them where appreciated. The service was good, and it was our cheaper meal in a Parisian restaurant this time.

​A good choice.

Price Comparison: less expensive than average

Rest3 Best of Cafe

Paris
Eating in Paris

Finally the andouillete

For more than 40 years that I resist to the temptation! What is that thing that almost all french restaurants announce and I never tasted – andouillete?

This was the day!

Well, I didn’t like it. Furthermore, there was nothing positive in this restaurant except the fact that one of the employees was Portuguese.Narrow restaurant, small tables, bad food, confuse service…First and last visit!

Address: Rue Mogador, 18    Phone: 01.48.74.05.68

Rest2 Hippopotamus

Paris
Eating in Paris

No surprises

Being part of a reasonable chain of restaurants, the service is normalized, following the standards chosen by the chain. Good meat, grilled in a few different combinations, well served, at a regular price. OK! Not remarkable, but a positive impression.

Directions: 8, Bd. St. Denis 75 010 Paris

Website: Hippopotamus

Hotel1 Hotel L’Athenée

“Au Point”

I wanted to stay as close as possible to Opera Garnier (R. Scribe, to use Roissybus from and to CDG airport). I needed only a decent bed and a working bathroom. L’Athenée was there and… cheap. I risked. EXCELLENT. It was as modest as expected, small rooms, small elevator, no extra services. But the room was clean, the bed comfortable, the bathroom perfectly functional, the staff friendly and helpful, and I even had a (very basic) breakfast included, for… 70 €. The receptionist couldn’t understand how did I get that price: the desk price, without breakfast, was… 110 €. Internet, with work and caution makes miracles! No doubt!

Sleeping in Paris - Athenée
Sleeping in Paris – Athenée

Unique Qualities: Location, price, cleanliness

In Centralr (that I used) it lists today by 75 £.

Address: 19 Rue De Caumartin, Paris 75009

Price Comparison: less expensive than average

Hotel2 Park Inn Hotel

Paris
Sleeping in Paris – Park Inn

Practical and cheap

When arriving late, or needing to leave early, staying by the airport is the best solution, and CDG has many options around it. We stayed in Park Inn, a modest place where… we slept well and cheap. No complaints, and transfer did work.

Address: 3 Allee Du Verger (Formerly Country Inn & Suites, Paris CDG), Roissy, Ile-de-France, France

Price Comparison: less expensive than average

Bad day Little Regina Hotel

Regina
Sleeping in Paris – Regina

Well located but…

I booked this hotel because I needed something close to both train stations: Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est.

The hotel was cheap, and very well located, and I risked.

​Well, the location was perfect, the price very affordable, and the conditions… according to the price.

Old hotel, very small rooms, tiny elevator, a minimal breakfast, but it was clean, the small bathroom was functional and nothing to complaint about the staff. This means that we had what we paid for. And that’s fair.

Address: 89, boulevard de Strasbourg, Paris, 75010, France      Phone: 33(0)1 40 37 72 30

Baccarat Museum

Baccarat
Baccarat

Maybe it’s unfair to call this a tourist trap: the museum is beautiful, and some pieces truly remarkable, but the ticket they charge allows us to expect more.

A few (very few) good pieces, and, when I tried to see something else, I found myself in a larger display that was… the showroom, with five or six people available to deal with clients, but not to waste their time with curious tourists.

Well… I understand: It’s not a cultural entity, but an industrial company trying to survive in a each time harder competition…

Site : Baccarat

Expensive visit

Warnings in Paris
Warnings in Paris – Expiation

Expiation chapel is a curiosity near St Augustin and in the shopping area.

​It’s interesting to see Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette’s first burial place, but the ticket (5€ when I was there), compared to the usual prices in the other monuments it’s really high, and it doesn’t justify what we see.

​Watch yourself

Paris
Warnings in Paris – Cautions

The crowds around Eiffel tower are a good opportunity to pickpockets.

In one of our later visits, Fernanda noticed a couple of men following us, too close, and with a clear concentration in my camcorder.

We joined one line to the elevators and they lined after us.

Then, I turned myself, looked the first one clearly in the eyes, and, without a word, we moved to another elevator.

​They abandoned the line and went away.

The Square to Walk Backwards

To start, one of my oldst and funniest memories of Paris:

​If you want a little bit of fun, just stop in the square facing Notre-Dâme and look at the people. There’s always someone walking backwards in the square.

Notre dame
Notre dame

The facade is so big that confuses the photographers, who try to frame it from the center of the square, and discovering the impossibility start to move backwards until… until the photographic point right at the bottom of the square.

​So, after looking and smiling, save your time, and go straight there. In my recent visit I noticed that the old fun is over – the new cameras have wider lenses and framing the facade is easier… closer.

This funny experience was lived in 1979, in the “pré-history” of photography.

Now with digital cameras, the angles have changed, and the fun is no more available to anyone.

​Tertre

Memories of Paris
Memories of Paris – Tertre

NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!

One million times NO!

I went to the romantic square of Tertre and couldn’t believe what I saw: the artists, expelled from the square by a dense esplanade!

No! I can’t believe that the good old Tertre was killed! It was the effect of the rain! It only could be!

I hope!

I will never go there again in winter!

​Bad for photo

Paris
Memories of Paris – Concorde

Place de la Concorde, one of the most beautiful places in Paris, is also the least photogenic of them all.

A wide place by the river, flanked by wonderful palaces, no matter from where you look at it, becomes a plantation of cars.

The geometry, the beautiful gardens, the sights of the several monuments that can be seen, close by, or several kilometers distant, all vanish behind the always rushing lines of cars.

​Unless you dedicate a special attention to details (and the obelisk invites you to), the square risks to be a discreet passage in your visit.

​Tuileries in winter

Tulherias 2 t
Memories of Paris – Tuilleries

I use to say that the only city in Europe that challenges Lisbon’s light is Paris.

Tuileries, in summer, is one of the best places for that light to glow, and that’s precisely the reason why it becomes so depressive in winter, at least to who is expecting its colors and brightness.

​A provocation

Triunfo 4 o
Memories of Paris – Provocation

Standing below the Arch of Triumph I was reading the many names of the battles won by Napoleon’s soldiers when I had a surprise: OPORTO.

This means our Porto, a city that calls herself “invicta”, which means never defeated. Where is the truth? I must go back to history and read it more carefully!

I did it:

​In 1809, March 29th, the army of General Soult entered Porto without any significant military opposition, and attacked the civil population. 

Trying to escape to the southern bank of Douro river, people used a precarious bridge made by boats that collapsed, killing more than 4000 civilians.

​Less than one month later, Portuguese and English armies fought back the French, that where obliged to leave Porto forever.

Everything is now explained: in Paris it’s celebrated March 1809. In Porto they celebrate from April till now. Everybody gets happy, and I celebrate the pretexts to build monuments like this one. (I think that there’s an arch missing in Porto)

​Victor Hugo

Paris
Memories of Paris

It’s not so common as in other places, but beggars may appear in touristy areas.

Sometimes they are pushy, some other they are shy and discreet, and most times they are “professional”, taking advantage of the ambiance.

​Will it be difficult to you to find out why did Victor Hugo come to my mind, when entering Notre-Dame?

​I prefer an umbrella

Zara 2 o
Memories of Paris – Zara

It’s not Pavlovian, but, while in Paris, I’m starting to associate Zara with rain: One day, it started raining while we were close to the Opera Garnier – Fernanda found immediately one Zara and entered, while I stayed almost two hours at the door waiting for the rain to stop.

It didn’t until the shop’s closing time, and we had to run back to the nearby hotel.

​Another day, we were in Montparnasse, and… rain again. No umbrella, but Fernanda found… (bravo! you guessed well!) another Zara. This time I entered praying to all the known and unknown saints to stop the rain. They did! My problem is that, now, I don’t know to which saint should I be grateful.

​A shopping icon

Paris
Memories of Paris

A man gets a map from Printemps;

Gets another one from Galeries La Fayette, and becomes ready to be dragged from one place to the other with 2763 stops in between by his shopaholic wife.

He tries to remember the places, their differences, but… no way.

The building is wonderful and it seems to sell everything, but in such a bustle even breathing is hard, and in a couple of weeks I will be back.

With the same stores, and thousands more, because this time we will stay a week. I promise that the 6 visits planned to these galleries will allow me to see, at last, the Invalides and Sainte Chapelle. Well, let’s not be optimist: at least one of them!

Hurrah! I DID see both, in my return to Paris. And the galleries, once more. Of course!

​Music in Metro

Nexo
Memories of Paris

It’s not exactly a local custom, more an universal custom in a local flavor.

In all the Metro lines in the world it is common to see someone playing guitar or accordion or any other light instrument.

However, a complete camera orchestra… only in Paris!

Asterix park – Funny and French

Travelling with kids, while in Florida I had to go to Disney World.

To do in Paris - Asterix
Asterix

In France, why should I search for American culture (and business) to go to EuroDisney?

​I preferred Asterix Park. It’s the same idea, lots of amusement, and… it’s french.

Address: 60128 Plailly, France

Directions: 30 Km from Paris by the Highway A1. By RER (metro) Roissy Charles de Gaulle then a shuttle.

Hop On Hop Off

Like many other cities Paris has a Hop on Hop off line of buses that cover the main touristic points.

Like anywhere else, that is an expensive way to see the city, so:

Transport 1
Hop on Hop off

If you are short in time and want to have a quick view, with an occasional stop, or…

​… you had no time to prepare your trip and don’t know where to go, or…

… you absolutely need some immediate information about the seen places…  then do it.​

Otherwise, remember that everywhere they go you will have a cheaper alternative not difficult to find, and the open deck is great from outside, but as soon as you enter, sun, wind or rain may give you a different idea.

​Roissy Bus

Paris
Transports in Paris – Roissy bus terminal

The best and cheapest way to move from CDG to Paris is Roissybus.

 used it in my last visits to Paris, and booking a hotel in Opera area, it worked perfectly fine, with a short walk from and to Scribe avenue, the departure place.

​Zones

Paris
Transports in Paris – Zones

The prices for public transport in Paris obey to distance, with the city covered by concentric crowns.

Most touristy destinations are in the central crown, and even LA Défense, a few kilometers out of it gets special treatment, being included in central zone. Our problem was not knowing where to exit, and we noticed that we had passed the right stop, we were already in the outer zone.

​We decided to stay until the end of the line, and stop there in the way back, expecting to be asked for the right ticket. As a matter of fact, no one bothered us – the bus stopped about 10 minutes, the driver let us stay inside, and returned without any demand. I think we were lucky, but next time I will control carefully the right stop.

Bateaux mouches

Transports in Paris
Transports in Paris – Bateaux mouches

Many attractions are close to the river, and for those with displacing problems, short time, or the need of a different angle, there are several boat trips along the river, easy to deal and book locally.

​You just have to choose your program.

​Walking

Paris
Transports in Paris – Walking

Versailles is very big, so, be prepared to a long walk.

Either inside or outside, the distances are big, and if you go to the gardens (of course, you will!) the distances are counted in kilometers.

​There’s a small train, and believe me, at least for who was coming directly from America, without sleeping and with jet-lag, it was a blessing.

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