Spectacular Things to Do And See In And Around Paris



Beyond the obvious splendors of the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Sacre-Coeur Basilica, Paris has a wealth of sites and experiences to offer. Some of these treasures, like the covered passage of Galerie Vivienne,  are to be found hidden underneath your nose while you walk the city's charming streets; And others, like the spectacular Chateau Chantilly and its Grand Stables, are to be found just a quick 20-minute train ride away, halfway between Charles de Gaulle airport and Paris city center. 

This season, the Parc Rives de Seine is the popular destination for families and sporty types or even just people looking for a nice outdoor walk along the Seine or a place to picnic by the river. A huge undertaking championed by the current Mayor of Paris, this former roadway has been transformed into a city greenscape for pedestrians and bicycles. The playground areas that dot the terrain have become instant hits with the kids and their parents. Added features are that there are (clean!) toilets along the way as well as fresh, potable water spigots. On warm spring, summer and fall evenings you will find groups of friends enjoying a bottle of wine either picnic fashion or ordering a beer at one of the many food installations here. The newest area of the Parc is on the Rive Droite side between Pont des Arts to down past Pont Louis Philippe (direction Ile St. Louis). And the more broken-in area now is from Musee d'Orsay to nearly all the way to the Eiffel Tower, Rive Gauche. 

Legend has it that one of our American presidents said to his French hosts, "Why have you taken me seven times to Versailles and only once to Chantilly?" The logic of this question becomes eminently and instantly clear once you visit this picturesque village just 20 minutes from Paris. The highlights are the Chateau, once owned by Duke of Aumale, fifth son to France's last king, Louis Philippe. It houses the largest collection of antique paintings outside of the Louvre, including several original Raphaels. Just nearby is the Grand Stables, the largest equestrian center in Europe. Every June Chantilly hosts the Prix de Diane, a much-anticipated horse race and one where all the attendees show up in their finery and fancy hats. This is also a very popular destination for newlyweds for photo-opps and the Auberge du Jeu de Paume offers one of the finest 5-star establishments to be found in the Paris environs, imparting the sense that you are actually staying at the chateau. The fact that Chantilly, famous for its whipped cream and lace, is halfway between Charles de Gaulle airport and Paris is another added plus to be considered as a resting point on your departure from the city. 

In Paris it pays to just wander because many Parisian gems and treasures can be found along a meandering path. The Galerie Vivienne, for example, is one of these gems. Its main entrance is tucked in just behind the Palais Royal and once you enter into this covered passage, you feel yourself instantly transported through time. It's as if the 19th c. city planners first envisioned a covered mall. Though this is certainly the classiest, most ornate covered indoor "mall" you will have ever visited. Storefronts inside here offer things from collectible art to tea and brownies. It's a wonderful excursion and appropriate for the whole family.

One last reassurance when exploring the city: It's difficult to get lost in Paris. The Seine always points you in the right direction. And there is even a boat-bus service, the BatoBus, that you can hop on and off to motor you from the Eiffel Tower to the Notre Dame by riverway, and back again, if you so choose. 

 


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Outside the City


Known as one of the most beautiful chateaus in France, there is, in fact, more here to see than just a 14th c. French chateau. The the 17th c. Le Notre gardens that surround the chateau are accessible on foot or by small, electric golf carts...  Read More


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4th Arondissement - Beaubourg an

The area along the riverfront that was once a thoroughfare for cars, stretching from the Tuileries tunnel to the Henri IV tunnel, is now a pedestrian zone. After much effort by the current Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, this civic attraction has...  Read More


Though not strictly an attraction, the Batobus is more than just river transportation along the Seine. A hop-on, hop-off shuttle between the major Paris monuments easily accessible from the Seine, I often find myself riding the Batobus just for...  Read More


Paris is full of passages. And while, no, these aren't necessarily hidden nor secret passages, they are covered passages. These are nothing if not the predecessor to what we now know as indoor shopping malls. It pays to spend some time...  Read More


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10ème Arrondissement
Choco-Story Paris
Photo courtesy of Musee de Chocolat


Statistics show that in France, the equivalent of 7 kg. of chocolate per year is consumed. So it's no surprise, then, that Paris has its own chocolate museum. This is a fun activity for the whole family and focuses more on the origin and 4000...  Read More


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18ème Arrondissement


The Sacré-Coeur Basilica, also known as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, is blessed with its location in Paris. At the top of a huge hill in Montmarte overlooking the city, large steps cascade down the hill on one side, the basilica's white...  Read More


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5th Arondissement - Latin Quarte

This Roman-style arena was built between the first and the 2nd century A.D. Named after the city's name when it was still under Gallo-Roman rule in that era, the Ar�nes de Lut�ce are one of only two monuments that are still...  Read More


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20ème Arrondissement


Named for Louis XIV's confessor, who once lived in the vicinity, this cemetery was established in 1804. It was planned as a repository for human remains when authorities sought to improve sanitation by moving graves from the center of the city...  Read More


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7ème Arrondissement


This gorgeous architectural gem, completed in the 17th century, is located in the city's Faubourg-St-Germain region. It was created by Louis XIV, the Sun King, as a home for aged soldiers and disabled/ injured veterans. Among its prominent...  Read More


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7th Arondissement - Eiffel Tower

First built in 1780, the parc du Champ-de-Mars is a large green space that stretches from the Eiiffel Tower all the way down to the Ecole Militaire to the southeast. It is a favored place for leisurely strolls, rain or shine. It is also one of...  Read More


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Meet Paige Donner

Paige first arrived in Paris as a young bride in the early 90s, having uprooted herself from her native California.

Paige's latest novel, I'll Take Paris, is available on Kindle and Amazon....  More About Paige

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