If you are a fan of architecture Paris should be on the top of your list for a visit. Everywhere you turn you see beautiful buildings that have been there for hundreds of years. I can spend the whole day walking ( and eating) around the different arrondisments in Paris and still be thirsting for more the next day. I never tire of seeing all that Paris has to offer. Below I have listed a few of my favorite sites, museums, shops, and restaurants.
The Louvre was built as a fortress in the 12th century and then converted into a royal palace in the 14th century. It’s current appearance goes back to the 15th century when the original fortress was demolished and the wing along the Seine was built. During the 16th and 17th centuries the palace was extended and the Tuileries palace was added to the west of the Louvre. In the 19th century the Richelieu wing was added. It became a museum of art in 1793- The MET in New York was opened 79 years later in 1892.
The pyramid was built in 1989 by renowned American arichitect I.M. Pei. The modern glass entrance not only brings light to the ground floor, it also adds a wonderful modern element to the historic background which is the Louvre.
Musee Marmottan, originally built as a hunting lodge in the 16th arr., is now a small museum that holds the world’s largest collection of Monet paintings. This is by far and away my favorite museum. The home itself is stunning from the hand laid floors designed in intricate patterns, the paint colors on the walls, the drapes, the moldings, the decorative painting, and the antiques are all stunning. Then you get to view the art!
A brief history:
Originally a hunting lodge for the Duke of Valmy, the house at the edge of the Bois de Boulogne was purchased by Jules Marmottan in 1882 who later left it to his son Paul Marmottan. Marmottan moved into the lodge and, with an interest in the Napoleonic era, he expanded his father’s collection of paintings, furniture and bronzes. Marmottan bequeathed his home and collection to the Académie des Beaux-Arts. The Académie opened up the house and collection as the Museum Marmottan in 1934.
Though originally a showcase for pieces from the First Empire, the nature of the museum’s collection began to change with two major donations. In 1957, Victorine Donop de Monchy gave the museum an important collection of Impressionist works that had belonged to her father, Doctor Georges de Bellio, physician to Manet, Monet, Pissaro, Sisley and Renoir, and an early supporter of the Impressionist movement. In 1966, Claude Monet’s second son, Michel Monet, left the museum his own collection of his father’s work, thus creating the world’s largest collection of Monet paintings.
Jacque Carlu, then curator of the museum, built a special exhibition space for the Monet collection in a lower level of the museum. Inspired by the hall designed for Monet’s Water Lilies murals in the Musée de l’Orangerie, the large, open room allows visitors to see a progression of Monet’s work, as well as to view his canvases both up close and from afar. One of the most notable pieces in the museum is Monet’s Impression, Sunrise (Impression, Soleil Levant), the painting from which the Impressionist movement took its name. The painting was stolen from the Musée Marmottan in 1985, but recovered five years later and returned to the permanent exhibit in 1991.
Best Vintage Clothing/ Accessories Shopping: Les 3 marches de Catherine B has more hermes and chanel vintage pieces than you could dream of. I found beautiful handbags, scarves, and jewelry.
The most fabulous garden shop with a stunning display of taxidermy on the 2nd floor: Le Prince Jardinier/ Deyrolle
Prince Louis Albert de Broglie knows a thing or two about cultivating one’s garden—it was tending the one at his château near Tours that inspired him to create a shop that caters to the gardening art de vivre. In addition to offering handsome tools and other accoutrements, this store specializes in the kind of gear—country-chic jackets, aprons, and natural fiber bags—that has a life well beyond the garden. ” Your garden is beautiful, your tools should be as well”.
The enthusiastic response allowed the prince to twice rescue Deyrolle on the second floor of his shop: Founded in 1831, this unrivaled cabinet of curiosities—part taxidermy shop, part museum—was saved from bankruptcy by de Broglie in 2001, only to be gutted by fire in 2008. When Deyrolle’s space rose from the ashes in late 2009 ( there is a Phoenix on display!), “naturalized” circus animals had returned to the floor, as had other curios of the natural world, from boxes of mounted butterflies and iridescent insects (Yves Saint Laurent was a collector) to assorted crystals, shells, a polar bear, beautiful butterflies and bugs displayed in shadow boxes and bell jars as if in flight, as well as various species of roosters.
Le Prince Jardinier: http://www.princejardinier.com/
The Marais District: The oldest district in Paris has fabulous shopping, people watching, and dining. It is a mix of SoHo and the West Village.
Favorite spot for lunch– Chez Janou. The chocolate pudding is a MUST
Antique Hunting in The Marais: Between the Seine and the Marais the village of Saint-Paul has many shops to choose from.
Au Bon Usage – 21 Rue Saint Paul- a connoisseur of Thonet Furniture
Aux Trois Singes – A decorative shop with all the beautiful odds and ends to fill up a bookshelf of curiosities. Must-have traditional garden objects such as a beautiful watering can with the blue paint rusted off in the most perfect way. You will also find amazing one of a kid pieces for your New York terrace or country home.
Aside from the Marais district you must go to one of the local flea markets in Paris. I have found many treasures for clients and for myself.
Les Puces de Saint-Ouen – found in Clignancourt. This is a huge flea market (largest in the world) and can take days to wander through. It is best to get there early as many of the goods are picked through after lunch. I like to start on the left side from the the top of Rue des Rosiers with Marché Malassis which sells furniture and objects from the 18th and 19th centuries. Marché Dauphine is next and has a bit of everything. You will find art, furiture, books, vintage clothes and jewelry. Next up are Marche Serpette and Marche Paul Bert which both have a wonderful selection of mirrors, art, antique luggage, hardware, and kitchen goods.
Marche Vernaison holds many stores but the Moments & Matieres stand has amazing pieces that are perfect for propping clients homes for photo shoots. Old silk fabrics, beautiful colored rope, lamps, beaten up chairs from the 18th century, coral, pedestals, a tailor’s dummy, a plaster bust of napoleon, skulls, shells, and apothecary bottles.
2 of my favorite dinner spots:
1. Email ahead, way ahead, to get a reservation at the hottest table in Paris, Hidden Kitchen. The 10 course meal is served in the chef’s home ( a young couple from Boston, MA). You will be one of 16 guests and the location is emailed to you the week before your dinner. Below are images of my favorite courses.
2. When your stomach gets a bit tired of all the butter and cream try the best Italian restaurant in all of Paris, Le Cherche Midi. Two brothers own and run this marvelously quaint spot. We started with a huge rucola and parmesan and a plate of the assorted meats for the table. The mozzarella de buffala is flown in twice weekly from Naples. For the main course, I had to try a pasta and went with the home-made ravioli pomodoro with basil and ate every last bite. The pasta with white truffles was also, as you can imagine, amazing. With only a few tables be sure to make a reservation a few nights in advance.
22 Rue Du Cherche Midi, 6th Arr.
This was just a taste of all we saw and did in Paris. I hope you found it inspiring and helpful for your next visit.