Exploring Paris

Quite the city - there is no lack of beautiful and interesting things to see and do.


Exploring Paris

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by rufusni on July 17, 2007

Paris is such a vibrant city that it is a pleasure to be in. I love visiting Paris as there is no limit to the new experiences to be had in the city.

The city has a long history right back to a Celtic tribe, the Parisii, to the Romans, the influence of the monarchy, the Revolution, the World Wars, all have left their mark on the city. The architecture of the city is varied and rich from the Gothic splendour of Notre-Dame and Sainte-Chapelle to the Pompidou Centre and La Defense, from narrow medieval streets, to grand square to wide avenues of Haussmann's schemes. The city is full of museums and galleries from the famed Louvre to the Cite des Sciences, bursting with art work from medieval to contemporary. Never mind all the shops from the exclusive designers to hypermarkets. Or then again the food - from sitting drinking coffee at a cafe, to an ethnic restaurant or a bistro, of course a visit to a patisserie, and then again the delicious bread.

Paris is crammed to the brim with history, culture, architecture, art, food, fashion, gardens,... it's full to overflowing! I found Sainte-Chappelle stunningly beautiful with its bright stained glass. The Louvre has numerous reasons to be acclaimed as one of the greatest museums, with too many treasures to ever be bored. Other sights I found less inspiring like the Pantheon and Sacre-Couer but they too are part of Paris' history.

There is no reason to be bored in Paris! However, Paris is too good to pack a visit with lots of sights to run between. Paris needs to be drunk in - and that needs time - time wandering around with no purpose, time sitting with a drink at a cafe watching the world go by, time sitting on a bench in a square or garden - time to become intoxicated on Paris.

I probably enjoyed Paris most when I wandered away from the beaten tourist tracks. Often a few streets away from those sights you can discover gems of Paris, or simply enjoy the unique atmosphere that Paris has. My favourite spot that I found on my last trip was Canal St Martin, which was a delightful cool green haven on a blazing hot sunny day. ${QuickSuggestions} If you are planning to visit a lot of museums and monuments, there is a museum pass available. This also helps you to skip ticket queues in the museums and could be a good time-saving and money saving investment. Details on cost and all the museums and monuments included can be found on the official Paris tourism website at http://en.parisinfo.com.

Paris has so many not-to-be-missed sights so prioritise what you really must see. For example do you want to go up the Eiffel Tower to say you've been up it and thus spend quite a long time in queueing for the lifts or would you prefer to use the queueing time elsewhere and possibly go up another building (Sacre Coeur, Tour Montparnasse, Notre-Dame) which has the advantage of being able to see the Eiffel Tower? ${BestWay}

To experience Paris means walking lots. However, it is a large city and has a fantastic metro system that is fast and efficient with lots of lines and there is nearly always a metro station a short walk away. Lines are numbered and coloured, but you will need to know the direction of travel that is the station at the end of the line, but it is very easy to pick up a metro map. You can buy a carnet of individual tickets or a travel pass which allows unlimited journeys, which you feed into the machine and then is shot out again. Make sure you keep your ticket for the entire journey as often tickets are checked on the way out of metro stations. There is the Paris Visite pass for unlimited journeys for 1, 2, 3, or 5 days and you can choose one of two travel zones either zones 1-3 which covers the city centre and the entire metro system, or zones 1-6 which is the Paris area and includes Charles de Gaulle airport. There is also a children's version of this. Details of transport in Paris can be found on RAPT website: www.ratp.info/informer/anglais.

Traffic in Paris is crazy, so if on foot watch out while crossing roads, but if you have a car try keeping driving in Paris to a minimum - it's not worth the hassle if you can avoid it.

Paris has three airports - Roissy Charles de Gaulle and Orly are the main airports and have a variety of links into Paris including trains and buses. The third is Beauvais which is further out of Paris and is used by a few cheap airlines like Ryanair, because of this transport links are limited to a bus link to the city which takes more than an hour.

Paris is the centre of the large French train network with links across the whole of Europe, and the express train services - TGV -are a great way to travel across France as they are comfortable and efficient.


Citea La Defense Place Charras

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by rufusni on August 7, 2007

The main reason I booked this place was a special offer, and as I was travelling alone an apartment seemed a good idea. I booked to stay only for a few nights but I think many people live here on short term leases, not that this posed any problems. However, this means that there are few facilities in the hotel. I arrived to find I had been upgraded for free to a larger apartment which is was good. It consisted of a largish room with a double and single bed, a table and kitchen chairs. There was a small kitchenette off the room with a fridge, small cooker and some simple crockery, pots and pans, designed to allow for simple meals. The bathroom was adequate but quite small, but the extraction system wasn't great. The most pleasant thing about the room were the large windows that open inwards that had a great view over Paris, including the glittering Eiffel Tower.

The hotel is a good ten - fifteen minute walk from the metro in La Defense- but it is a pleasant walk through a park walkway. The area around the hotel is quite residential. The hotel is set across the street from a small park that has a good playground, which is busy well into the evening. Around the corner are quite a few shops including bakeries, grocery, and so on and several restaurants very close by. The area seems to be quite safe, I felt quite comfortable here even after dark. However, La Defense is the closest metro station, and as La Defense is the financial district, it can be a little eerie and empty in the later evening/night-time, so as I was by myself I tended to head back to the hotel by about 9pm at the latest.

There are advantages to the hotel but its location is a fair walk from La Defense which is at the end of a metro line, so it can take a while to get into the centre. It really depends what you are looking for whether this hotel will suit you are not.
Citea La Defense Place Charras
1, rue de Bitche
La Defense, France, 92400
+33 (1) 56 37 72 00

Hotel Moulin Vert

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by rufusni on August 8, 2007

This is a small 2 star hotel on a quiet side street in the 14 arrondissement. I very much enjoyed my stay here. My hotel room could have done with a little updating, especially the small bathroom. But the room was clean and pleasant enough for a small hotel in Paris. The room was at the back of the hotel and with a small courtyard and surrounding buildings - so the room was slightly less light than the rooms at the front.

The hotel has a small lift which is useful, but during most of my stay I tended to use the stairs. My booking included breakfast in the hotel, in the small breakfast room in the basement. The room tended to get quite busy, and you may have to share a table with another guest. The breakfast was quite adequate and although not a spread it fairly set me up for the day with coffee, orange juice and croissants. The best thing about the hotel was the staff, they were very helpful and polite, and balanced out the less than perfect room decor. They were great when I had problems contacting several people in Paris.

The hotel is set on a quiet sidestreet in a residential area with a nice playpark just opposite the hotel. There are several restaurants and bakeries around the area and several grocery shops - including a late night one on the street opposite. The hotel is between two metro lines and its about five minutes to the both stations - Pernety on line 13 and Alesia on line 4. Its also about 15 minutes from Denfert-Rochereau RER (there is also a metro station here on line 13) which has a direct train to Charles de Gaulle airport. Although in the 14 arrondissement the metro links mean you can be in the city centre quickly, plus getting the chance to see another side of Paris.

I quite enjoyed my stay at this hotel, the area felt quite safe and although the hotel may not be top-notch it is warm and welcoming and I thought reasonable good value for money.
Hotel Moulin Vert
74 rue du Moulin Vert
Paris, France, 75014
+33 (1) 45 43 65 38

Sainte-Chapelle (La)

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by rufusni on July 17, 2007

Tucked into the Palais de Justice on Ile de la Cite, this 13th century church is a gem that many people miss. It was built as a royal chapel for Louis IX to hold various relics he had acquired including Christ's crown of thorns. The chapel has two levels - the lower level was to serve as a parish church for the palace but the upper level was reserved for the royal family. The unknown architect of this Gothic building in the rayonnant style designed the structure as to maximise the size of the windows.

The upper chapel seems to have walls of stained glass held up by fine pillars. The rich colour of the stained glass is magnificent and photos cannot convey its splendour as the colour of light splashes across the chapel. The pictures windows is in depicts scenes from the Bible and there are also carved wooden sculptures of the apostles.

This is such an amazing example of Gothic architecture and stained glass - more stunning than its near neighbour, Notre Dame. It is beautiful and worth taking time to admire the stained glass - there are seats around the edge of the chapel to sit and admire in silence. Unfortunately, its difficult to capture the colour of the glass in your own photos unless you are carrying around amazing camera equipment, so its worth picking up some postcards of the chapel. I have to say I spent quite a bit of time sitting and admiring the detail of the windows, which are incredibly elaborate and simply divine.

The church is within the Palais de Justice complex and consequently there is a security screening, which I had to queue to get through for a few minutes, but there wasn't a huge queue. Tickets cost 6euro (there are also reduced tickets for students, teachers) but is also part of Paris Museum Pass.

Sainte-Chapelle
4 boulevard du Palais
Paris, France, 75001
+33 (1) 5340 6080

La Defense

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by rufusni on July 17, 2007

La Defense has become the financial district in Paris, as the city planners refused any more tall buildings in the city centre. However, it's an interesting place to catch the metro out as there are fewer tourists out here and less crowds. The open space is a pleasant change from the famed narrow streets in the centre, and there are lots of sculptures spotted across the main plaza.

The most distinctive element is the Grande Arche de la Defense which is twice the height of the Arc de Triomphe and four times that of the Arc de Triomphe de Carrousel which lie in a line that create the grand axis of Paris. It is possible to go up the arch, however, the views of Paris are good at its base so save your money.

There is also a large shopping centre - Quatre Temps, which is one of the largest shopping centre in Europe with over 250 shops over several levels. The complex also has a cinema and several restaurants. Auchan, a hypermarket is a giant supermarket selling food, clothes, stationary, homewares, and anything else you can imagine, and it has cheap prices and is a great place to pick up some gifts to take home like jams, biscuits and other french specialities. The shopping centre is were many Parisiens come to shop so its a good chance to see life in. Its also a good place to pick up bargains in what can be an expensive city. The shopping centre open from 10am to 8pm with the hypermarket being open from 9am to 10pm, and the restaurants and cinema remaining open to 11pm.

La Defense is at the end of metro line 1, with two stops - Esplanade de la Defense and La Defense. The la Defense metro station is part of a larger transport complex with buses and RER trains as well in this large station, which has several shops, cafes, and bakeries.

The area can provide good hotel options sometimes with good deals, but note the address as some can be further out of La Defense into places like Coubevoie. plus there are plenty of places to eat as well. However, in the later evening when the shopping centre closes and the offices have emptied, it can become a little eerie and quiet with less people about.
Défense
Parvis de la Defense
Paris, France, 92800

Sacre-Coeur

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by rufusni on July 17, 2007

This white basilica is visible from its hill perch across Paris and has become a distinctive element of the Paris skyline. Its construction was the result of a private agreement of two businessmen during the Prussian war, that if France was spared they would build a church. Work began in 1875 and was completed in 1914 but the Great War delayed its consecration until 1919. There is a continual adoration of the blessed sacrament in Sacre Coeur that has been going on for over a hundred years.

Entrance into the basilica is free, but they are very strict on dress code, so be careful of what you wear or you maybe refused admission. Equally as there is prayer going on continuously silence is enforced and no photography is permitted. However, there are so many tourists wandering around that the sense of this being a place of prayer is lost. (If you are looking for space to pray in peace try St-Pierre de Montmartre which is just around the corner.) It is possible to climb the dome of the basilica and have great views over Paris, but this costs 5 euros and if you wander round the area you'll get many equally good views if you are trying to save money.

Since this basilica is at the top of Montmartre Hill, its a fairly steep walk up here if you walk up from the metro, but there are buses and funicular which will avoid most of the climb. However, there are steps just in front of the basilica, which to get a good picture of the basilica must be negotiated.

Basilica du Sacre Coeur
35, Rue Du Chevalier-de-la-barre Rue De La Bonne
Paris, France, 75018
+33 (1) 53 41 89 00

Place des Abbesses

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by rufusni on July 18, 2007

This square is easily reached as it has its own metro stop. The square itself is quite pleasant with several cafes where to sit and sip and enjoy the surroundings. Having just been up to Sacre-Coeur, which is a steep walk from here, I thought a cup of coffee was necessary, as well as a nice place to sit and rest my weary feet. It was a good place to people watch without too many tourists hanging around. There is a church on the square St-Jean de Montmartre, which was built at the start of the 20th century using reinforced concrete. The church is a beautiful red-brick building in an art noveau style, with beautiful detailing on the building including some lovely mosaics around the door. Its a beautiful centre piece to the square. The square's charm is added to by one of the green Wallace fountains gushing out water and also the metro entrance which is one of Art Nouveau ones with its green railings and orange light that were designed by Guimand. Just off the square there is also a small park - Parc Jehan Richis which is a pleasant shady corner of green but it attraction is the 'Le mur des je t'aime' or the wall of I love yous. This wall of enamelled blue tiles has engraved in over 300 languages the words 'I love you'. A nice romantic place to stroll to!
Montmartre

Paris, France

Musée du Louvre

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by rufusni on July 18, 2007

Famed across the world, this museum housed in the former royal palace is incredible - you could spend weeks wandering around this place and still not see everything. Never mind that the building itself is beautiful and some of the rooms that have been restored to their former glories are so elaborate and rich. There was a fortress built here in 1200 by Philippe-Auguste, with some of the walls now visible in the underground part of the Louvre, but the palace was started in mid-15th century by Francois I, and was enlarged many times after this. After the revolution, in 1793, part of the building was opened as a museum exhibiting art work that the royal family had accumulated, including La Giocanda (the Mona Lisa). But in 1981 the Louvre museum was enlarged and a new entrance added - the glass pyramid designed by IM Pei.

There are several entrance - the glass pyramid , but generally the quicker option is the underground access which is accessible from the metro. Details of opening times and the collection are on the museum's website www.louvre.fr/llv/commun/home_flash.jsp but note it is closed on Tuesdays.

There are so many exhibits and sections that it's worth planning what you want to see - is seeing the Mona Lisa very important? Or Greek sculpture? There are three wings - Denon, Richelieu, and Sully each with different collections and very large, so don't expect to cover the entire museum in a visit. If you want to see the major tourist draws like the Mona Lisa be prepared for huge crowds, or come early or late in the day to avoid the worst crowds. But don't miss the many other incredible pieces in rushing to see those that are must see- otherwise you'll miss out on see something that you will find that speaks to you. I ended up in medieval artifacts gallery the last time I visited by accident, and saw intricate embroidery that was so fine and beautiful and I fell in love with them quite unexpectedly. Don't just look at pictures, sculpture, and artifacts for their history but take time to just enjoy them, to look closer and discover what you feel about them. Honestly, I remember very little except for items that I took time to reflect on for myself. The Louvre is just so full of exquisite pieces that you'll find something that intrigues you, and that is what makes this museum so special. So take time to enjoy!

Musée du Louvre
99, rue de Rivoli
Paris, France, 75001
+33 (1) 40 20 51 51

Cathédrale Notre-Dame

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by rufusni on July 18, 2007

This Gothic cathedral is built on Ile de la Cite, on the site of an earlier cathedral. It was started in 1160 and was completed in 1345. It was badly damaged in the Revolution with the Kings Gallery above the doors being mistaken for kings of France rather than kings of the Old Testament. It had major restoration work started in the 1820s after a campaign involving Victor Hugo.

The Gothic design is evident in the flying buttress at the far end of the cathedral, as these allowed larger stained glass windows and the high vaulted ceilings. There are two beautiful rose windows - with the Mary at the centre and Jesus in the other. There is also an intricately carved and painted Chancel screen depicting scenes from Jesus' life.
Entrance to the cathedral is free, but you can buy candles to light and there is also a book to include prayer requests. It is open everyday until 7pm.

It is also possible to climb the towers - there is a separate entrance outside at the side of the cathedral. It is a long climb up narrow stone spiral staircases, and is quite tough going. However, there are great views of the city and the opportunity to see gargoyles up close and personal. I've been up several buildings in Paris, but this is probably my favourite, the views are great as well as the chance to see the architecture up close. It cost 6 euros and there is often a long wait to go up, but I think its worth it.

The cathedral just has an amazing wow factor with the large square in front of it and the incredible carved stonework especially the fine work around the doors. Yet inside is equally amazing with its soaring ceilings and elaborate and rich decoration. The grand Gothic architecture gives this the sense of being a great cathedral, unfortunately the hordes of tourists snapping photos detract from the atmosphere of prayer in this place. Its definitely worth coming here early before the tour buses descend to miss the crowds.

Just directly behind the cathedral is Square Jean XXIII which is a delightful formal garden with a fountain and rows of trees with good views of the flying buttress of the cathedral. There are lots of benches and it's a pleasant place to take a rest or have a picnic lunch. There is a bandstand and I was lucky to have a jazz band playing the last time I was there.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame
6, place du Parvis-de-Notre-Dame
Paris, France, 75004
+33 (1) 42 34 56 10

Arc de Triomphe

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by rufusni on July 18, 2007

This arch lies at the centre of the east-west axis from Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel to Grande Arche de la Defense. The Arc de Triomphe was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 but problems ensued and Napoleon's demise delayed its completion until 1836. The arch is 50m tall and is covered with bas-relief and statues depicting victories. High up is a row of shields which bare the names of victories that Napoleon had in Europe and Africa.

Napoleon after the victory in the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805 had promised that his soldiers would return home under triumphal arches - but this was only realised after WW1. And then in 1920 the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was placed at the base of the arch and also an eternal flame to commemorate the dead of both World Wars. This arch lies in the centre of a very busy roundabout, known originally as Place d'Etoile because there are 12 avenues radiating out from here, (though it is now Place Charles de Gaulle). To reach the arch safely there are several subways under the road. It costs about 8 euros to climb to the top of the arch - but there is a narrow stone staircase to climb. However, there are good 360 degree views around Paris but I think there are better views to be had.

There is a metro station here with 2 lines crossing here. The arc also lies at the top of the Champ Elysees, probable the city's most famous thoroughfare, and as such worth a walk down. The major detraction is that it is a busy road with a lot of noisy traffic. There are plenty of places to have a coffee and say that you did so, however its not exactly the most pleasant atmosphere - and the cheapest option is to do so with one of the fast food restaurant who do have canopied areas at the front.

Arc de Triomphe
Place Charles-de-gaulle
Paris, France, 75008
+33 (1) 55 37 73 77

Institut du Monde Arabe

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by rufusni on July 31, 2007

On the bank of the Seine is an incredible modern building that houses the Institut du Monde Arabe. The Institut was founded in 1980 by France and 20 Arab countries to foster cultural links between the Islamic world and the West.
The building itself was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, and one of the aims of its design was to combine the spirit of traditional Arab architecture with modern materials and technology. One element of this is one side of the building which has an intricate geometrical design of Islamic influence based on moucharabiyahs - carved wooden screens found on the exterior of buildings in many Islamic countries. However, this geometric metal wall is actually made up of panels that are reactive light screens which control the amount of light entering the building. Each panel has 21 irises which open and close dependent on sunshine levels, and so the overall design alters depending on light levels. This feature is quite spectacular!

The building houses several different sections including a library,  but there is also a beautiful display of Islamic art work. The display of artwork seems quite unusual to Western eyes because of what the Islamic religion permits to be portrayed, so there is quite an emphasis on geometric designs. There is a wide array of ceramics, sculpture, and rugs.

The top floor of the Institut has two restaurants - Le Ziryab - has panoramic views over the Seine, and a self-service café that with very reasonable prices. My price range meant that Le Ziryab was out of my price range but I tried the self-service café for lunch - which was average - and given that you are in Paris there are better options. Whether or not you eat here, it's possible to come out onto the roof and have great views over the Seine. Back downstairs there is a bookshop and also a shop across the outside courtyard which sells items of Arabic influence.

This is an interesting place to visit that may not be on the usual tourist trail but if you want to see something different, then this is a good place to try out. The Institut is open Tuesday- Sunday from 10am to 6pm. Further details can be found on the Institut's website at www.imarabe.org.

Institut du Monde arabe
1 rue des Fossés Saint-Bernard
Paris, France, 75236
+33 (1) 4051-3838

Panthéon

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by rufusni on July 31, 2007

This is a huge grand building in a neo-classical style that was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. It was intended as the Church of Ste-Genevieve, who is the patron saint of Paris. It was built by Louis XV after he prayed to Sainte Genevieve while ill then he recovered and wished to honour the saint. Work began in 1764, but when it was completed in 1790, the revolution was in full swing and consequently it was named the Pantheon and became the burial place for the great men of Paris. Napoleon did return the building to the Church in 1806, and was handed back and forth several times, until it was finally settled as a civic building in 1885.

The usage of this building is clear from the inscription above the entrance which reads "Aux Grands Hommes la Patrie Reconnaissante" which translated is "To great men the grateful homeland." The crypt under the church is full of tombs of the great men of France. It is covered in marble and consequently it is lovely and cool - and a pleasant break from the stifling heat of Paris in summer. The crypt has tombs of many famed Frenchmen including Victor Hugo, Emile Zola, Voltaire, and Alexandre Dumas. However, history was made in 1995 when the first woman was added to the crypt, along with here husband - Marie and Pierre Curie. There was also an exhibit in the crypt about the Curie's lives and work.

I was disappointed as the replica of Foucault's pendulum, an experiment that showed that the earth rotated, had been temporarily taken down. It normally hangs from the dome inside the pantheon. The rest of the interior is quite grand but I didn't find it especially interesting.

The Pantheon is open daily with times varying on the time of year: from April to September: 10am - 6.30pm and from October to March: 10am - 6.15pm. There is an entrance fee but it is included on the Paris Museum Pass.

Considering all the other sights and museums I have seen in Paris, this is probable one of which I would rank low on my priority list of going to visit. If you are in the area, do visit but otherwise think whether this should be on your to-see list or not.

Pantheon
Place Du Panthéon
Paris, 75005
+33 (1) 44 32 18 00

Musee d'Orsay

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by rufusni on August 2, 2007

The Musee d'Orsay is housed in a former train station which had to close in 1937 as the platforms were too short for newer trains. It remained empty and was saved from demolish threats after the outcries over Les Halles destruction. So in 1986 this museum opened dedicated to artwork from between 1848 and 1914.

The building itself is quite beautiful and is a perfect backdrop for the stunning artwork inside. What was previous the platforms area is an incredible light and airy space that soars upwards. The gallery is housed over three floors. The platform area on the ground floor is the late 19th century, middle floor is Art Nouveau and painting from late 9th and the top floor. The Impressionist gallery tends to be the busiest part with painting by many of the great artists of this period. However, the gallery is well laid out, so I never encountered any real sense of it being crowded, probably aided by the blank white backdrop to the artwork.

There is a pleasant terrace area beside the cafés which is nice to get a breathe of fresh air and some pleasant views over the city. There are two cafés - the lower one looks lovely, but I just wanted a drink so I picked the self-service café on the mezzanine level. Both cafés have views through the clock face of the building.

It's worth reading up a bit before you go the Musee D'Orsay but not necessary. The museum has a light and fresh atmosphere and has made good use of the space of the former train station. It's a pleasant place to visit and admire the artwork on display without having to tax the brain too much. There are many famed pieces of artwork here, like Monet's waterlilies or Gauguin's Tahitian artwork, but also many other less famed but spectacular works which are probably more incredible due to their unfamiliarness. You could spend a few hours here and cover a fair amount of the artwork with time to linger over a few favourites.

There is an RER stop right at the museum or there are some metro stops not that far away. The Musee d'Orsay is included in the Paris Museum Pass, otherwise a ticket is 7.50 euros, or concessions 5.50 euros, and under 18 are free. It is closed on Mondays, and it opens from 9.30pm to 6pm the rest of the week with late night opening on Thursday.
Musee d'Orsay
62, Rue De Lille
Paris, France, 75343
+33 (1) 4049-4994

Musée Rodin

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by rufusni on August 2, 2007

I very much enjoyed visiting Musee Rodin the last time I was in Paris. The museum is made up of a house - Hotel Biron and the surrounding gardens. Rodin lived here from 1908 to 1917, and in return for having a state-owned apartment and studio here, he left all his works to the state. Rodin is acknowledged as the great 19th century French sculpture.

The house exhibits work by Rodin in a chronological order but also work by Camille Claudel, who was his pupil and mistress. The house also exhibits works that Rodin collected such as paintings by Van Gogh, Monet and Renoir, as well as some pictures by Rodin himself.

The collection in the house itself is interesting, but I actually enjoyed the gardens more. My views may have been influenced by the fact that it was very hot when I visited, and the house was a bit warm and stuffy.

The gardens are scattered with numerous sculptures including Rodin's most famous work 'The Thinker', and the dramatic 'The Gates of Hell.' These are the largest pieces of Rodin's works and look stunning in their settings, at least 'The Thinker' has lovely surroundings in which to ponder. The gardens are a reasonable size, with lots of nooks and crannies to explore. At the furtherest end of the garden is a lawn with sun loungers, a great place to relax. There are numerous seats around the garden to either bask in the sun or to chill in the shade. There is also a pleasant cafe in the grounds, perfect to have a drink and relax in this tranquil haven in the city.

If you are visiting Les Invalides, this is a great spot, that is close by to come and relax and see some incredible sculpture, and grab a coffee in tranquil surroundings that make you nearly forget that you are in the centre of Paris. I loved the gardens here, and it would be somewhere on my list to go back to in Paris, but I'd probably skip the house next time even if it is quite interesting.

Tickets to the house and gardens are 5 euros, and to the gardens only 1 euro, and is included in the Paris Museum Pass. The Museum is closed on Mondays. Opening hours vary on season from April to September 9.30am-5.45pm and October to March 9.30am-4.45pm. Further details can be found on the musuem's website at www.musee-rodin.fr
Musee Rodin
77, Rue De Varenne
Paris, 75007
+33 (1) 44 18 61 10

Jardin du Luxembourg (Le)

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by rufusni on August 5, 2007

Jardin du Luxembourg is a large park and garden on the Left Bank that is a popular place to come and relax in Paris. The gardens belong to the Palais du Luxembourg which was built between 1620 and 1631.

The palace was built for Marie de Medicis, the widow of Henri IV, influenced by the Palazzo Pitti in her native Florence. However, she never lived here, as by its completion she had been banished, but it remained a royal palace until the revolution. Since the revolution it has been used in many ways including as a prison, and in World War II it was headquarters for the Luftwaffe. Now the palace is home to the French Senate, and not open to the public. It does, however, present a stunning backdrop and centre to the gardens.

The park is laided out formally around the palais, with an octagonal pond -the grande bassin, being a centre piece of the gardens setoff by beds of colourful flowers. There are also several fountains in the garden. The fontaine de Medicis dates back to 1624 and is in an Italian grotto style, but was moved from its original position in the garden and altered including adding the sculptural figures. The sculpture by Ottin shows Polyphemus Surprising Acis and Galatea, from Greek mythology. The fountain is at the end of a long pond and its shade is due to the overhanging trees, making it a a cool corner of the gardens.

There is lots of space in the gardens to come and relax. There are lots of benches and chairs to come and chill out and read a book either in the sun or in the shade of the many trees in the park. It can get very busy at weekends as there are so many attractions to bring children to including a playground and carrousel. Also there is a cafe in the grounds which is handy.

I found it a great place to come and spend an hour and simply to relax. The royal heritage of the gardens is clear in the grandeur of the gardens, they are simply a stunning place to come and escape the Paris traffic. I found it a great place to have a picnic lunch on the Left Bank. It's a lovely place to escape and relax.
Jardin du Luxembourg
Boulevard Saint-Michel
Paris, France, 75006
33 (1) 42 34 20 00

http://www.igougo.com/journal-j67360-Paris-Exploring_Paris.html

©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009