Updated! The Mega-List of the Oldest Places in Paris

Comite Champs Elysees

It’s a fact that Paris is filled with tons of surprises but these landmarks and buildings, which have stood on the same spot for hundreds of years will leave you with your jaw wide open in amazement.

If you are looking for history, a great story to share with friends and family back home, or perhaps an experience you will never forget, visit the oldest landmarks in Paris. Many of these landmarks are older than you– some are even older than Paris itself!

Oldest Cafe or RestaurantCafé Procope in 13 Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie, 75006

Cafe Procope first opened its doors to patrons in 1686, making it the oldest restaurant in Paris that has never closed*. If you do the math mentally, Cafe Procope is exactly 327 years old.

Le Cafe Procope

The man behind Cafe Procope was the Sicilian chef, Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli. Although Cafe Procope is a fine dining restaurant today, it started out as a coffeehouse serving light meals and coffee made from exotic beans. To add to the exotic ambiance, the waiters of Cafe Procope served esteemed clientele who were mostly nobles and artists in Armenian clothing.

You can find Cafe Procope in along the 6th district, right in front of Comédie-Française, also another interesting landmark to visit.

Oldest Pastry Shop: La Maison Stohrer in 51 Rue Montorgueil, 75002

Now 283 years old, La Maison Stohrer has never moved from its original address in rue Montorgueil. That’s what you call dedication!

Le Maison Stohrer

I’ve written about La Maison Stohrer before, as a pastry shop where tourists can get fine Parisian treats, but if you want to visit a historical landmark, La Maison Stohrer also makes for the perfect candidate. Although La Maison Stohrer no longer serves pastries for the king, you can still find delights fit for royalty when you visit their only shop at the second district.

The variety of dishes at Stohrer have also expanded over the years. They now serve breakfast, double as a bakery and do catering for receptions and parties.

Oldest Wine Shop: Caves Auge in 116, Boulevard Hausmann, 75008

Caves Auge is what many call a mecca for wine enthusiasts. Outside, wine distributors offer free wine tasting, and inside the shop, you can find the widest selection of spirits and brews.

Caves Auge

This wine shop has been serving enthusiasts for about 163 years. It first opened its doors in 1850 and has since been giving free drinks and serving Beaujolais Nouveau every November.  When you get to the shop and its closed, try to check the website for their calendar of activities.

Oldest Candy Shop: A la Mère de Famille in 35, rue du Faubourg-Montmartre, 75009

If you find yourself standing outside of A la Mère de Famille during a stroll around the city, rest assured, your sweet tooth led you to the doors of this 252-year old candy shop, or confectionery.

A la Mère de Famille

A la Mère de Famille has been operating in the same spot, in the same building and street since 1761. If that’s not a clear example of dedication and longevity, I don’t know what is! The shop started out a bit like La Maison Stohrer, a place where you can find pastries and Debauve & Gallais, Paris’ oldest chocolate shop (see below), but it has since evolved from making sweet bread and chocolate into candies, candied sweets, and basically, anything with a hefty sugar content.

Oldest Chocolate Shop: Debauve & Gallais in 30 rue des Sts-Pères, 75007

Like La Maison Stohrer, Debauve & Gallais, founded in 1800, supplied the royal house of France with freshly made, chocolate creations: cakes, cupcakes, candies, bread, filling– you name it, Debauve & Gallais delivered.

Debauve & Gallais

But today, Debauve & Gallais no longer serves royals exclusively. Anyone with a craving for something bittersweet is welcome to their shop at 30 Rue des Saints-Pères. They have built quite a fan base among popular personalities, but anyone who loves chocolate (and who doesn’t!?) has a place here, in Debauve & Gallais.

Oldest Department Store: Le Bon Marché in 24 Rue de Sèvres, 75007

It’s no wonder why Parisians are so fashionable. Their oldest department store has been in business, selling the best and most fashionable effects, since 1838.

Le Bon Marche

It’s hard to miss Le Bon Marche. It is not only a department store today, but also a landmark which tourists frequent to find souvenirs and other trinkets. Le Bon Marche has gained quite a status in Paris– many visit it for its great deals (coincidentally, “Le Bon Marche” translates to “a good deal” in French) and for the historical feel which still emanates from the building, 175 years after it opened.

Le Bon Marche operated from a smaller building in 1838, but Louis Auguste Boileau later commissioned the construction of the 4th storey building we see today in 1867.

Oldest Covered Market: Enfants Rouges Covered Market in 39 rue de Bretagne, 75003

Open since 1615, the Enfants Rouges Covered Market is, and has always been, the best source for exotic food you can eat on the go, fresh vegetables, and simple snacks. The regular vendors include a sandwich stand, small stalls for Thai and Moroccan food, and of course, France’s pride and joy, crepes.

Les Enfants Rouges

It’s not hard to miss the market: it is located between a narrow street, despite being called a “covered market” and the only indicator you’ve reached it is when you see a sign like the one above. There are plenty of food markets in Paris, this just happens to be the oldest, and perhaps, the most popular; no trip to Paris is ever complete without a visit through here. Whether you’re here to taste the food or just to see more of the lively Marais district, include Enfants Rouges Covered Market in your list of places to visit.

Oldest Fresh Market: Marché Maubert in Place Maubert in Saint-Germain, 75006

It is not clear when Marche Maubert exactly opened but loyal patrons say it has been around since the Medieval Ages. You could say Marche Maubert is lucky– one of the many reasons why it has stuck around for so long even after the Hausmann buildings overhauling of the entire city is because of its location.

Marché Maubert

Source: Elizabeth Olson Porter

There are so many things you can find  in Marche Maubert: from fresh flowers, to fresh fruits, to fresh meat and veggies. As the oldest fresh market, the name is a dead giveaway that most of the produce found here come straight from someone’s backyard garden.

Oldest Tea Shop: Mariage Fréres in 13, rue des Grands-Augustins, 75005

The oldest tea shop in Paris first opened its doors to tea lovers as far back as 1854 by brothers Henri and Edouard Mariage. This once cozy tea shop located in Luxembourg has since grown into the popular gourmet tea shop it is today, serving thousands of guests every month with a wide variety of teas and flavored drink concoctions.

mariage freres

Mariage Freres

The selection of teas at Mariage Freres range from common to exotic, to French fusion. Aside from tea, you can also find tea gift sets, tea cups, and tea paraphernalia from Mariage Freres which you can take home as souvenir.  If you’re looking for something truly unique, you can also find tea-based perfumes here.

Oldest Flea Market: Marché aux Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt in Porte de Clignancourt, 93400

For odd trinkets, household decor, and aluminum ware, nothing beats the (more or less) 100-year old flea market at Porte de Clignancourt. It’s right outside tourist traffic so you will not find Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt on most tour itineraries, but like Paris, it is easily accessible by bus.

Les Puces de Saint-Ouen

Going through Marché aux Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt can be a bit confusing for first-time visitors. With around 14 smaller markets in the flea market, you will have a smorgasbord of options before you.

Oldest Church: Eglise Saint-Germain-des-Pres in 3 place St-Germain-des-Pres, 75006

There are plenty of churches and abbeys situated around Paris and many are, to this day, considered landmarks and heritage sites for the French, but the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés is just a little more special. Built under the command of a king and blessed by a Saint, the Abbey of Saint-Germain-de-Prés is the oldest church in Paris.

Eglise Saint-Germain-des-Pres

This structure is literally older than the country. Built in 990 and accomplished in the 16th century, Eglise Saint-Germain-des-Pres is one of the most popular landmarks in the city that has withstood the tests of time and history. It has served its role as a church, prison, infirmary, and even, as a weapons stockroom.

If you are a lover of all things related to science, math, and philosophy, you can pay your respects to Rene Descartes who is interred here.

Oldest Garden: Jardin des Tuileries in Louvre Museum, 75001

The heart of Paris is literally a garden. Located in the 1st arrondissement, Jardin des Tuileries is one of Paris’ most loved tourist attractions and most iconic parks in the city. It is situated between Musee du Louvre and Place de la Concorde, both of which are also historical destinations you have to visit on your first day in Paris.

Jardin des Tuileries

The Tuileries Garden was not always just your average park. In the past, it served as a personal zoo to one of France’s monarchs and was also a location for a public circus. Things have clearly changed though and while the Tuileries Gardens no longer host animals or ferris wheels, it is still a beautiful landmark you should not miss seeing!

Oldest Zoo: Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes in Jardin des Plantes, 57 Rue Cuvier, 75005

What started out as a herb garden is now one of the largest, most visited zoos in Paris– and not to mention, the oldest. Originally designed as a royal herb garden, the garden became a zoo when Parisian scientists decided to house animals here, originally for research purposes. The herb garden was eventually “re-purposed” and it is now home to different birds, reptiles, and average-sized animals.

Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes

 

Oldest Pet Cemetery: Le Cimetiere des chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques in Asnières-sur-Seine, France

Le Cimetiere des chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques

Oldest Square: Place des Vosges in 14 Place des Vosges, 75004

Place des Vosges

Oldest Tree: Locust Tree in Square René-Viviani, North of Saint-Julien-le-Pauv, 75005

Locust Tree in Square René-Viviani

Oldest Fountain: Fontaine des Innocents in Place Joachim-du-Bellay, 75001

Fontaine des Innocents

Oldest Clock: Charles V Clock on the side of La ConciergerieQuai de l’Horloge

A public clock should be hard to miss, but you can’t say the same for the clock found on the wall of La Concierge. Many people have missed it while many others have mistaken it for a modern addition because of the vibrant paint job.

Charles V Clock

But what many do not know is, that the clock on La Conciergerie is actually Paris’ oldest, functional time teller. Think of London’s “Big Ben” but French.

Oldest Stone House: Auberge Nicolas Flamel in 51 rue de Montmorency, 75003

You might have heard of Nicolas Flamel before, but you

Auberge Nicolas Flamel

Oldest Bridge: Pont Neuf in Ile de la Cite

Today, it sounds ironic when someone sets a rendezvous with you on Pont Neuf and la

Pont Neuf

Oldest School: Ecole Des Mines in 60 Boulevard Saint-Michel, 75006

 

Ecole Des Mines

Oldest Ballet School: Ballet de l’Opéra de Paris

Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris

Oldest Passage: Passage des Panoramas in 10 rue Saint-Marc, 75009

The modern equivalent of a passage is an arcade. Stores and

Passage des Panoramas

Source: Remi Jouan

Oldest (Private or Public) Museum: Musée du Luxembourg in 19 Rue de Vaugirard, 75006

Musee du Luxembourg

Oldest Bank: Crédit Municipal de Paris in 55 rue des Francs-Bourgeois, 75004

Crédit Municipal de Paris

Oldest Library: Bibliothéque Mazarine in 23 Quai de Conti, 75006

Bibliothéque Mazarine

Oldest Bookshop: Librairie Galignani in 224 Rue de Rivoli, 75001

Librairie Galignani

Oldest Piano Shop: Fournitures Generales Pour Le Piano in 85 rue Pascal Paris, 75013

Fournitures Generales Pour Le Piano

Source: Linus Magnusson

Oldest Fashion House: Lanvin in 22 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008

Many of Paris’ fashion houses started out as small stores which w

Lanvin

Oldest Kitchen Appliances Store: E. Dehillerin in 18-20 Rue Coquillière, 75001

E. Dehillerin

Oldest Art Store: Magasin Sennelier in 3 Quai Voltaire 75007

Magasin Sennelier

Oldest Candle Shop: Cire Trudon in 78 Rue de Seine, 75006

Candles, candles everywhere!

Cire Trudon

Oldest Cinema: Studio 28 in 10 Rue Tholoze, 75018

If Studio 28′s facade looks familiar although you’ve never seen it in person, chances are, you’ve seen Amelie a couple of times in a row.

Studio 28

Oldest Committee: Comité Champs-Élysées

Comite Champs Elysees

Source: Autoplus.fr

Discovering the Wonders of Rue Cler on Foot

A View of Rue Bosquet

This week, we look at the tiny, quiet and cobbled streets of Rue Cler in the 7th arrondissement. This market street is home to a number of tiny French cafes and shops which native Parisians frequent especially during seasons that call for al fresco dining and a little sightseeing. For tourists, there are plenty of attractions and dining destinations in this street that can make your vacation more memorable.

Why stay in rue Cler?

For one thing, rue Cler is within proximity to a number of beloved French restaurants, such as Le Bosquet, a French café with al fresco dining so you can see Parisians walk by while enjoying your French onion soup, La Maison du Sushi Rive Gauche, where you can find French-Japanese fusion cuisine and behind it is a smaller bistro called La Taverna that serves delicious Italian meals. Staying in a comfortable Paris apartment near these restaurants means you can skip cooking and have a seasoned chef prepare your meal instead.

La Maison du Sushi Rive Gauche

La Maison du Sushi Rive Gauche

La Taverna

La Taverna

Le Bosquet

Le Bosquet

Rue Cler is not just a street for food enthusiasts though. Smaller streets and paths that intersect it are also home to a variety of tourist attractions: the Eiffel Tower, for example, is just 5 minutes away from rue Cler and rue Bosquet. The grand attraction and the garden that surrounds it is reachable on foot or via Velib. If your interests incline towards French’s military history, the French Army Museum in Invalides is but 7 minutes away on foot.

Upon reaching the Army Museum, you can easily reach other attractions like Napoleon’s Tomb (Le Tombeau de Napoleon) located along avenue de Tourville, Musee de Plans-Reliefs, Musee de l’Ordre de la Liberation, and Musee de Histoire Contemporaine.

Le Tombeau de Napoleon

Le Tombeau de Napoleon

Located right across this complex of museums is the smaller Rodin Museum where you can still find the legendary French sculptor’s studio along with a few of his unfinished work.

Since the 18th century, rue Cler has been home to masters of gastronomy, the arts, fashion, and culture. This bustling street’s reputation still hasn’t changed; if anything, it has only gotten better.

If your dream accommodations in Paris consist of living in an apartment near the Eiffel Tower while staying far from the noise and fanfare that frequent it, your best compromise is staying in rue Bosquet, rue Cler or along Champs de Mars. It is only 5 minutes from the Eiffel Tower and far from noise.

A View of Rue Bosquet

Paris Christmas Markets of 2013: Where to Go, What to Expect

Gare de l'Est

Christmas markets are very common across Europe, but to tourists, seeing a Christmas village appear in the middle of a busy metropolis such as Paris can be puzzling. How can one city accommodate so many Christmas markets and life-sized Christmas villages? The secret is in the location: most Christmas markets and Christmas villages in Paris today are situated in open, often not-crowded places. La Defense, for example, commands quite a handful of visitors during the off season. Since it is off the tourist path, tourists find it difficult to gauge just how vast the land around La Defense is, but visiting during the Holidays and seeing La Defense find room for hundreds of stalls, over 350, should be enough to tell you that La Defense has enough room for holiday merrymaking.

As we noted in our newsletter for the month of December, three of the busiest and biggest Christmas markets to visit are in La Defense, Champs Elysees, and Trocadero. Even outside of the holidays, these three locations are frequented by tourists; evidently, the visits tend to increase over the Holidays and New Year’s.

However, if what you are looking for are smaller Christmas markets that are equally enjoyable as the Christmas Markets in La Defense, Champs Elysees, and around the Eiffel Tower, try the following locations:

Where to go: Montparnasse Christmas Market
Dates open: 15 December 2013 – 4 January 2014
What to expect: Alsacian treats and other provincial French delicacies. Wine is also sold by some vendors in the area.

Montparnasse Christmas Market

Located just right in front of Tour Montparnasse, this 40-stalled Christmas Market is perfect for a small, intimate shopping. Since it is not so crowded or jampacked with tourists and natives, you should be able to easily navigate through the crowd of people without having to worry about dodging hundreds of visitors every time. Many people are starting to realize that the Christmas Market in the Montparnasse area offers quite a variety so expect a bit of a crowd build-up nonetheless.

Where to go: Notre Dame Cathedral
Dates open: Second week of December
What to expect: arts, crafts, classic French cuisine served during the holidays

The Notre Dame Cathedral is a popular tourist attraction, but the equally interesting Christmas Market in the area has often been overlooked. In recent years, the Notre Dame Cathedral Christmas Market carried some simple arts and crafts, but this time around, the market here will add French mulled wine, chocolates, delicacies, and other French favorites. La Defense will carry similar items so if you find it too tiring to take the metro to La Defense, the Notre Dame market should be a good alternative.

Where to go: Republique
Dates Open: 7 December 2013 – 15 December 2013
What to expect: a carrousel, some community games anyone can participate in, waffles, musical entertainment

A newly renovated square was recently opened in Place de la Republique. If you want to see the changes first or spend your holidays at the Christmas market here (which is opening for the first time), make sure to schedule a visit. The Republique Christmas Market will only consist of 50 vendors, but the selection will be varied. Games, mascots, tents, and gourmet cuisine are just a few things you should expect in this area.

Where to go: Gare de l’Est
Dates Open: 29 November 2013 – 14 December 2013
What to expect: Mostly Alsatian

Gare de l'Est

The location itself hints at what you should expect Christmas markets in this area will be selling: mostly Alsatian goods like wine, pretzels, and other delicacies from the eastern side of France. Because the Christmas market is located within the train station grounds, expect a bit of a crowd when shopping for some Alsatian-made goodies.

Other Christmas Markets to Visit:

Maison de l’Alsace (in Champs Elysees)
Open from 24 November 2013 – 23 December 2013

Place Vendome
Open from 1 December 2013 – 31 December 2013

Saint-Sulpice, 75006
Open from 1 December 2013 – 24 December 2013

Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés, 75006
Open from 15 November 2013 – 6 January 2014
One of the longest running Christmas markets in Paris

Place de la Nation, 75011
Open from 1 December 2013 – 24 December 2013

Montmartre, 75018
Open from 6 December 2013 – 5 January 2014

10 of the Most Beautiful Libraries in Paris

Bibliothèque de la Sorbonne-3

There is no doubt about it: when it comes to intricate architecture and well-decorated buildings, Parisian structures always take the cake. Paris is the birthplace of so many architectural revolutions, an example of which would include the Hausmann renovations.

Aside from popular chateaus in and around Paris, Parisian libraries also portray the talent of French architectures of yore. You can see these displays of art by visiting ten of the most beautiful libraries in Paris.

Bibliothèque de la Sorbonne

Bibliothèque de la Sorbonne is the largest library in Paris today. You can visit it, as a school visitor to the University of Sorbonne in 47, rue des Écoles, 75005. The library houses books relating to Medicine, Pharmacology, Law, and Letters.

Bibliothèque de la Sorbonne-2 Bibliothèque de la Sorbonne-3 Bibliothèque de la Sorbonne-4 Bibliothèque de la Sorbonne-1

Richelieu Library

Located a few blocks away, in the 2nd arrondissement, is another library known for its oval reading room, one that may remind you of the oval office in the White House. The Richelieu Library was opened to the public in 1868, making it one of the oldest centers for learning in Paris.

Richelieu Library-3

Richelieu Library-1

Richelieu Library-2

Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal

In the beautiful Marais district, you will find this library dedicated to military history and all things related to the French Arsenal. Of course, there are several sections of the library dedicated to other topics. Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal in 1 rue de Sully, 75004 is the ideal destination for all those interested to learn more about France’s military history. The library itself is houses in a military building.

Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal-1 Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal-2

Bibliothèque historique de la ville de Paris

 Most libraries in Paris contain collections of manuscripts and other works of art by French writers and philosophers. The Bibliothèque historique de la ville de Paris, for example, houses works pertaining to Paris as written by French writers. You can learn more about Paris’ history from this library than from anyone else.

Bibliothèque historique de la ville de Paris-1 Bibliothèque historique de la ville de Paris-2

Bibliothèque Marguerite Durand

For avid supporters of women’s rights, Bibliothèque Marguerite Durand in the 13th district may be a good place to get some R and R and to browse over works by popular women’s rights supporters and writers. The library and vast collection of novels and magazines found here were started by Marguerite Durand.

Bibliothèque Nationale de France

Located not too far away from the Marguerite Durand Library is another large repository of books and knowledge. One of the largest libraries in Paris today, the government-run library houses works from all over the world as well as valuable collections by French writers, most of whom are natives of Paris.

American Library in Paris

It has become more difficult for foreign exchange students to find books and other works of art in the English language, but the American Library in Paris has always supplied this need. Opened in 1920, the library is where you can find a vast collection of creations in the English language, as well as in French.

Bibliothèque Sainte-Barbe

Bibliothèque Sainte-Barbe was only founded in 2009 but it has become a top favorite for tourists and locals alike. The library’s modern interior and smart furnishings make it a top hit among architecture students as well as enthusiasts of modern interior. Aside from its interior, which has left many Parisians impressed, the Bibliothèque Sainte-Barbe is also where you can find one of the widest collections and categories of books.

Bibliothèque Mazarine

The oldest library in Paris yet would have to be Bibliothèque Mazarine in the 6th arrondissement. It is believed that construction on the library began as early as the 1600′s; others insist that Bibliothèque Mazarine was built prior these years. Either way, being Paris’ oldest library must be enough recognition for this landmark.

Médiathèque Musicale Mahler

It is uncommon to hear musical instruments in a  library but the Médiathèque Musicale Mahler has managed to bend this rule time and again. In fact, the Médiathèque Musicale Mahler is not just any ordinary library: it is a library dedicated to musical instruments. Expect to hear some violins and clarinet whenever you are visiting.

Foxes in Paris

Foxes in Paris

It has been awhile since Ylvis’ comical tribute to foxes was released on Youtube, but the joy of hearing this unconventional pop song never gets old. Foxes are indeed sly and mysterious creatures, they’re not difficult to find, but spotting them in the urban might come off as a little unusual. Just last year, tourists reported seeing a dozen or so of these feline-like red beasts in Jardin du Luxembourg.

You might not see them prowling the city this year due to the local government’s efforts to control the fox spillage into Paris, but you can still visit them, in their comfy home in Paris’ zoos.

Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes is one of the most widely visited zoos in Paris. It might be far from the usual tourist path: no gilded buildings, towering structures, or Renaissance-era statues adorn the area, but if you’re here to see rare leopard cubs, a variety of birds, or to simply find out what sound foxes make in reality, take your tykes with you to Jardin des Plantes along the Seine.

While we’re in the topic about foxes, did you know that Fantastic Mr. Fox, the humorous stop-motion film, was also filmed by director Wes Anderson in Montparnasse, Paris?

Castles in Paris: A Walk Down Post-Renaissance France

Château de Pierrefonds

Although today’s title suggests that there are enchanting fortresses and castles in Paris, truth is, there are none. What Paris has, however, are mansions, palaces, and chateaus which were built during the post-renaissance years. While they do not look like medieval castles which we often associate former kingdoms like France with, they do give visitors and tourists a peek into the French aristocratic way of life.

The more popular chateaus near Paris include the famed Chateau de Versailles, home to Louis XIV and his wife, Marie-Antoinette, and Château de Vincennes, which served as a prison and execution site during the Great World War and the second World War that followed. If you are visiting Paris for the first time, it may be wise to schedule a trip down to these more popular destinations, but if you’re not interested in shuffling past throngs of tourists, try the smaller chateaus, instead.

Château de Pierrefonds

Château de Pierrefonds

When we think of a castle, we immediately picture tall towers and a well-fortified estate with a nearby moat. Château de Pierrefonds in Compiègne and just north-east of Paris matches this image very well. The exterior of Pierrefonds closely resemble a military fortress because it actually served as a defense military base from the 5th to 15th centuries. AlthoughChâteau de Pierrefonds had been badly damaged by war, it was renovated in the 19th century and now looks like a medieval castle with post-renaissance features.

Château de Pierrefonds

You might have also seen Château de Pierrefonds on the silver screen. This structure was used in Merlin (BBC) and The Man in the Iron Mask (1998).

Château de Compiegne

Château de Compiegne

Another grand destination to visit is Chateau de Compiegne, a real castle turned royal residence in Compiègne, France. The exterior of this chateau was designed with Louis XIV’s preferences in mind making it one of the most elegant and most beautiful homes in France today. Beautiful gardens and unlimited greenery from all sides give this chateau a very magical feel.

Château de Compiegne

Although Château de Compiegne may not be as popular as Versailles, it still commands a healthy amount of visitors daily so make sure to schedule your trip to this chateau properly.

Château de Rambouillet

Château de Rambouillet

It’s impossible to not fall in love with Château de Rambouillet. Although it is much smaller than the royal chateaus in Vincennes, Versailles, and Fontainebleau, what Château de Rambouillet lacks in size, it makes up for through its surroundings. The beautiful garden and small pond located near the structure makes it look like a mansion from afar, but the details on the exterior of the chateau do suggest otherwise.

Château de Rambouillet

It may be difficult to schedule a visit to the chateau since it serves as the summer vacation home for France’s presidents, but it is often open on the months of April, September, and October.

Château de Langeais

Château de Langeais

Aside from Château de Pierrefonds, another palace that matches our usual description of a medieval castle is Château de Langeais. This medieval fortress has withstood so many invasions and has served as a temporary military base during the world wars that occurred in our century, but it still stands proudly today as a tourist destination. If you want to see a medieval-era structure, Château de Langeais may be a good choice. To make your trip more exciting, join the Anne of Brittany Tour where you get to dress as a lady-in-waiting or a page-boy and have your tour guide dress up in medieval garb.

Château de Langeais

For parents or more sophisticated visitors, you might want to taste the wines and spirits brewed here by experienced hands. The nearest vineyard, La Herpinière, has been the source of most Château de Langeais wines and the mastermind behind it is professional wine-maker, Christophe Verronneau.

“Hidden” Nature Parks in Paris

La Petite Ceinture

It’s almost difficult to believe that in a very populous and popular city, there are still a few places that have been kept secret to the rest of the world. There are plenty of museums and galleries in Paris which are hounded by visitors all year round and the influx of tourists will definitely increase during the summer season.

For the quieter and simpler folk who prefer to mingle in parks and landmarks that are less crowded, we highly recommend visiting hidden nature parks in Paris.

Defining “hidden

Hidden, in this context, refers to a place that is not frequented by a lot of tourists and the existence of such a place is only known to the natives. Paris has a lot of museums, restaurants, patisseries, and parks that fall under this category, but just because they are off the beaten path does not mean they should be ignored.

If anything, hidden places like these should make your trip to Paris even more exciting. For the summer season, these parks can serve as your reverie from the crowds of tourists who will most likely be in Paris’ more popular locations.

La Petite Ceinture

La Petite Ceinture

The image of this abandoned railway in Paris has been making its rounds on the internet in awhile, but not a lot of people are aware that the little belt railway is found right between the 16th and 17th arrondissements in Paris.

Chemin de fer de Petite Ceinture, today, is a landmark to railway enthusiasts and lovers of all things old and abandoned. A number of Parisien are fighting to make this little railway a protected landmark in France.

This abandoned railway commands quite a number of loyal visitors mainly because of the railway’s surreal and nostalgic effect. The wood-and-metal railway and the low entryway are all remnants of Paris’ military past. The railway, in fact, was created to make the transfer of weaponry a faster process.

Parc André Citroën

Modern buildings, open greenhouses, and a hot air balloon are the most common features of Parc Andre Citroen, a sprawling 14-hectare property in the 15th district of Paris. Parc Andre Citroen is frequented only during the humid months, but the crowd build-up will not be as hectic as in other, more popular parks in Paris.

Parc André Citroën with Greenhouses

The public park is home to 8 themed gardens named after colors. On both ends of the park are two grand structures which serve as public greenhouses and, as many call it, a comfortable resting area.

Parc André Citroën

Aside from the gardens, Parc André Citroën is known for its dancing fountains. From time to time, especially during hotter days, you can find a few Parisiens in their best swim suit trying to cool off in this area.

Jardin du Musée Guimet / Jardin du Musée de la vie Romantique

There are plenty of mansions in Paris that have been kept from public view mainly because they are private property, but there are also mansions in Paris which are open to the public and yet, not a lot of people take the chance to relax and see the beauty of nature in these hidden gardens.

Two good examples of such “hidden” gardens are Jardin du Musée Guimet and Jardin du Musée de la vie Romantique.

Located right within proximity of one of Paris’ neighborhoods is Musée Guimet in the 16th district (6 Place d’Iéna, 75116). The museum houses a variety of artwork and cultural pieces from different countries, mostly Asian, but what the museum also keeps from public view is this cozy Japanese-Buddhist garden at the back:

Jardin du musée Guimet

Source: François Grunberg

The garden serves as a very comfortable and secret reprieve from the busy world outside. Stay here if you want to think and ponder about the simpler things in life.

If you seek the appeal of a home garden, you might like the Jardin du Musée de la vie Romantique terrace underneath age-old trees.

Jardin du Musée de la vie Romantique

The garden comes complete with lawn tables and chairs, as well as an umbrella and it makes for the ideal location for a small get-together or simply, as a place where you can chat with friends.

You can find Jardin du Musée de la vie Romantique in 16 Rue Chaptal, 75009.

Time Capsules in Paris: Historical Apartments in Paris You Can Visit

Historical Apartment in Paris

Believe it or not, many of Paris most popular landmarks and tourist spots were built long before France became a republic. In fact, the Louvre was once a fortress, and later, one of the many homes of the deposed king, Louis XVI before it became what it is today: the world’s most visited museum. Some restaurants in Paris were built in the 15th century, others in the 17th and are still operating today. Le Procope, for example, is known as the city’s oldest restaurant and it first opened its doors to the public in 1686!

If you have always wanted to see how the French (or the Parisien, in particular) lived during the 16th to the early 20th century, nothing beats the idea of visiting historical mansions located across Paris.

Marthe de Florian and Her Apartment Lost in Time

Not too long ago, news came out about a stunning apartment in Paris that was left by its owner during the onset of World War II and has been untouched and undisturbed by time. In 2010, the apartment that was seemingly lost in time was re-discovered by an auditing company and was reintroduced to the world.

Among the treasures in the apartment once owned by Madame Marthe de Florian is an unknown and uncharted painting by Giovanni Boldini. Thought to be a portrait of Marthe de Florian herself, this painting was never officially listed in the list of paintings prepared by Boldini’s wife sometime in the 1890′s. It may be assumed that Mrs. Boldini herself might have never known about the painting’s existence nor of Mme de Florian’s.

CORRECTION-FRANCE-ART-AUCTIONS

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The interior of Mme de Florian’s home accurately shows the interior of most 19th century apartments. Seen here are more paintings, vases, and even, plastic flowers!

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Taxidermy pieces were commonly found throughout Mme de Florian’s apartment. It was common to have taxidermy in one’s home back in the day; in fact, having a few as home decor was a sign of affluence. Was Mme de Florian affluent? Absolutely! She was a socialite and an actress.

Mme de Florian's Apartment

Unfortunately, Marthe de Florian’s home is not open to the public and it is owned entirely by her estate (others say it was sold). Although the exact location of her apartment is unknown, it is believed to be located in the 9th district, near Quartier Pigalle. This is a common site for luxury apartments in Paris so you can always rent one nearby!

Apparently, well-preserved 19th century apartments are quite common in Paris; if you have always wanted to visit Marthe de Florian’s apartment but can’t, there are still a few alternatives within the vicinity.

The Elegant Home of Nissim de Camondo

Not to far off from the de Florian apartment is an elegant home once owned by a French banker and his family, the affluent Camondo’s. The story behind Musée Nissim de Camondo and how it came to be can be a bit heartbreaking: the museum which you can see today was once the private home of Moise de Camondo, a French-Jewish banker who bequeathed this stunning mansion patterned after the Petit Trianon, a chateau in Versailles to his only son, Nissim de Camondo.

During the Great War, instead of leaving Paris, Lt. de Camondo joined the French army and was killed on duty, on 1917. To honor his son, Moise de Camondo turned the mansion into a museum and ordered that everything in it would be preserved in their original, pristine condition.

Copyright Les Arts Décoratifs

Copyright Les Arts Décoratifs

table - Les Arts Décoratifs -  Jean-Marie del Moral

Copyright Les Arts Décoratifs

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You can visit Musee Nissim de Camonodo at 63, rue de Monceau, 75008. It is open from Wednesdays to Sundays, from 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM. The admission fee for adults is €7.50 and €5.50 for children. For more information: www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr

Studio of Antoine Bourdelle

Preserved homes turned into museums are a common theme here in Paris. For many deceased sculptors and masters of art, their homes or rented studios in Paris are often transformed by the local government and turned into public landmarks: the studio of Antoine Bourdelle is one perfect example of this practice.

Musée Bourdelle is now an art museum but from 1885 to 1929 (44 years!), it served as Bourdelle’s own workshop. After his death, the Bourdelle estate bequeathed the workshop to the government, rebuilt the building where the studio is now located, and was expanded by several architects in the 1960s. A great portion of the museum is not vintage or historical, but if you join the educational tour that occurs here regularly, you will be given a chance to see Bourdelle’s studio.

In fact, Bourdeller’s workshop has not changed. Here is Bourdelle in his workshop in an undated picture…

Bourdelle's studio

Copyright bourdelle.paris.fr

And here is the workshop today, complete with the parquet floors and all of Bourdelle’s unfinished work:

Copyright bourdelle.paris.fr

Copyright bourdelle.paris.fr

But of course, not all sculptors and painters have the honor of having their former homes turned into shrines (of sorts) and a memorial that houses their work; and most definitely, not all homes of renowned individuals in Paris were turned into public attractions.

The memory of the singer and actress Edith Piaf, for example, lives on in the letters and pictures which are stored in an apartment owned by an author and biographer in the 11th arrondissement.

Musee Edith Piaf

Despite being a private museum run by the Friends of Édith Piaf Association, tourists flock the pied-a-terre-turned museum to see fan letters, decor, vinyl souvenirs, and pictures which were given to and owned by Edith Piaf. If you are a fan of the ‘La vie en Rose’ songstress, you may need to reserve before visiting the museum.

Musee Edith Piaf

Not all historical homes today are used to host French masterpieces. If you want to see how Asians in Paris lived in the early 20th century, this unusual building in the 8th district should be the perfect example.

Mr. Loo’s Almost-Forgotten Pagoda in Champs-Elysees

It’s hard to miss this red building with oriental external features as you walk the entire stretch of Champs-Elysees. The Pagoda Paris, as it is known today, was once the home of Mr. Ching Tsai Loo who emigrated from China in the 1900′s. The building served as Mr. Loo’s workplace, office, and residence, but when he died in 1957, the Pagoda closed down only to reopen 50 years later!

Pagode Paris

An unknown private investigator now owns Pagoda Paris, but instead of demolishing the structure or using it for other purposes, Pagoda Paris is now one of many Chinese museums in France.

Pagode Paris

Copyright PagodaParis.com

Pagode Paris

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There are plenty of historical mansions in Paris which you can visit; some for free, others with a fee. Many of these historical mansions have been preserved in their original condition with the intention to teach the later centuries about life in the past.

While we are in the topic of time capsules, there is one mansion outside Paris, in particular, which was built for this very purpose.

Mantin Mansion in Moulins, Central France

Also known as the Mantin Mansion, this kingly home was once owned by the Mantin family. Its last known owner, Louis Mantin, bequeathed the property to the local government and explicitly stated in his will that his home was to become a museum 100 years after his death. Louis Mantin had no children or a wife when he died; perhaps leaving the home to the government seemed like a very smart decision.

The mansion is not without its quirks and odd features. Like most affluent families, Mantin had a wide collection of taxidermy. Seen here is a piece unofficially named as “Dueling Frogs” and it is one of the most popular and unusual pieces found in Mantin’s collection.

Copyright Jérôme Mondière

Copyright Jérôme Mondière

Although Louis Mantin lived in the 18th century, he did own plenty of 15th century pieces, as well as a painting of a French noble who is believed to have lived in the 15th or 16th centuries.

Copyright Jérôme Mondière

Copyright Jérôme Mondière

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Copyright Jérôme Mondière

Copyright Jérôme Mondière

Looking to stay in mansions and apartments in Paris that look as good as these? Our Champs Elysees – Faubourg Saint Honore II apartment located in the 8th district has all the makings of an elegant French home. A well-preserved spiral staircase,  a common attribute of 17th century buildings, leads you straight to the front door of this pied-a-terre. Book today!

Delicious Pastry Destinations

Pastry Shops in Paris

In a city known for its gourmet offerings, Paris is generously lined with pastry shops in all directions which are for you to visit this spring. It doesn’t matter if you are in Paris for only 24 hours or even 3 days. If you want to make your trip to Paris worthwhile, it’s important to visit the restaurants, cafes, and patisseries that have given Paris its reputation as a gourmet capital.

Stohrer’s

Our list begins with the oldest and probably, the most popular patisserie in Paris: Stohrer’s in 51, rue Montorgueil, 75002.

Cakes, desserts, cupcakes, crepes– name any sweet creation and you can find it here, prepared by some of Paris’ most talented chefs. Stohrer’s was established in 1730, by Nicolas Stohrer, Polish by birth, and served as the official pastry chef of Marie Leszczynska who later became the wife of King Louis XV of France.

Stohrer's

Aside from bread and pastries, Stohrer’s has explored other dishes and now serves full meals every so often.

 La Bague de Kenza

If you are looking for unusual hole-in-the-wall establishments or pastry chefs that are truly out-of-the-ordinary, we highly recommend visiting this Algerian pastry shop in 106 rue Saint-Maur, 75011.

La Bague de Kenza

La Bague de Kenza is the place to be if you want to acquaint yourself with Algerian pastries in a neat, French environment. The pastry delights here are prepared with dates and other fruits, a diversion from the usual way French pastries are prepared.

Des Gâteaux et du Pain

It’s not uncommon for tourists to visit Paris only to go binge-eating on delicious pastries. In fact, many Parisians themselves confess that, from time to time, they visit Des Gâteaux et du Pain, located in the distant 63 boulevard Pasteur, 75015 just to order a croissant.

Des Gâteaux et du Pain

Claire Damon of Des Gâteaux et du Pain commands quite a group of loyal customers who have all been drawn to this elegant, fairly-popular pastry shops due to her interesting and creatively-prepared pastries. If you consider yourself an enthusiast of pastry creations that not only taste good but look good as well, this is the patisserie to visit.

It isn’t hard to find a pastry shop in Paris– you can hurl a pebble at any direction and it should land on a landmark patisserie. It doesn’t matter how much you plan to spend on a plate either, what matters is that you enjoy your meal!

Secret Gardens to Visit in Paris

Louvre Gardens

The parks and public gardens in Paris will be jam packed and crowded with tourists and natives who will most likely be out and about to make use of the cool springtime breeze. If you want to steer clear from busy parks, make your way to some of Paris “secret” gardens.

As you probably know, Paris is home to hundreds of parks and garden courtyards where beautiful variants of flowers and plants thrive. They are often a hit during the spring seasons to tourists and Paris’ natives.

Jardin Catherine-Labouré
29, rue de Babylone
75007, Paris

3913

Jardin Catherine-Labouré is known to be a relaxing venue for a stroll, but within the park grounds is a garden where grapevines and berries are found. Since it is open to the public, you can visit anytime you like.

Hotel Dieu
1, place du Parvis Notre Dame
75004, Paris
33-1-42-34-82-34

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Part hotel, part hospital, and part cultural establishment (it is the oldest hospital in Paris, after all), Hotel Dieu’s courtyard garden boasts several statues, a vast variety of flora, and wide pathways for a stroll.