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 that you can rent at the entrance. The Grand Stables are just across the way and, as the largest stables in Europe, the size of a castle. They were first built for Louis-Henri de Bourbon, the 7th Prince of Conde. The Chateau itself was inherited by the Duke of Aumale, the 5th son of King Louis-Philippe who established the Musée Conde here and opened its doors to the public in 1898. It houses the largest collection of antique paintings outside of the Louvre and includes the famous "Three Graces," by Raphael. The Chateau's Reading Room houses 19,000 of the 60,000 books in the collection.
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 now been established and is already attracting large numbers of bicyclists, pedestrians, riverfront businesses such as barges serving bbq, beer, soft drinks and more. You can either start at Hotel de Ville and head East toward the Bastille which is a shorter walk but will take you along the stretch where the eateries are, often packed with people on the weekends. Or you can head West, still along the Seine, towards the Pont des Arts which will take you along some of Paris' most beautiful sites such as the Concegerie, the Pont Neuf and Ile de la Cite. It's a win-win and either way will leave you refreshed.
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 the sheer pleasure of seeing the city from a different perspective. And while the Bateaux-Mouches and the other wonderful dinner and cocktail Seine river cruises are experiences many rave about (rightly so), this little Batobus-that-could offers the same views at a fraction of the price, dinner and cocktails not included (of course). The eight stops it makes as it amiably motors along the Seine are : the Eiffel Tower, the Musée d'Orsay, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Notre Dame, Jardin des Plantes, Hôtel de Ville, Louvre and Champs-Elysées. Honestly speaking, where you embark and disembark are in areas that make not just the named monuments accessible, but whole neighborhoods where much then becomes walking distance.
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 discovering the passages of Paris. There are many. Some of the best ones are in and around the Bourse and Grands Boulevards ; the historical centers where the city's commerce once took place. Galerie Vivienne is one of the most beautiful and is still resplendent with quaint, if quirky, little boutiques. Jean-Paul Gaultier's boutique assures that this tucked away passage will not be forgotten, and Cave Legrand, the exquisite wine shop, gives you all the more reason to go. Bring a book so that when you stop at A Priori Th�, you have a good excuse to dawdle and simply sit and soak up the time and history of your surroundings.
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 years of historical relevance of the food that was once revered as divine. The Grands Boulevards location of Choco-Story puts you in the center of a lively shopping and cafe district which comes alive in the evenings with all its theaters as well. A couple of nice perks: there is an audio guide provided free, you just have to download it onto your smartphone from the APP. And seasonal ateliers (workshops) are offered for the holidays such as Easter and Christmas. One last secret - you are allowed to taste all the chocolate you want while touring the museum, except for the sculptures of course!
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 domes looming up in magnificence behind them. Head inside the Sacré-Coeur to experience this sacred Catholic cathedral, built in 1876. With its high point at the top of the Montmarte hill plus its gleaming white stone exterior, Sacré-Coeur Basilica is an amazing sight to behold from a distance as well, and views of it can be seen from many different points in Paris.
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 standing from that early historic time of the city, nearly 2000 years ago. It had been completely covered over and only in 1883, after the demolition of the Daughters of Jesus Christ Convent, that a third of the amphitheater was uncovered. Author Victor Hugo was one of the prominent citizens who headed up the preservation committee to save this archaeological site. The amphitheater was built initially to accommodate 17,000 spectators. Today you can still see the stage and wings where the actors stood when performing in front of the assembled crowd.
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 to its outskirts. Now park-like in its appeal, Pere Lachaise is a much-desired place to be buried. Within its bounds are the graves of Moliere, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Chopin, Edith Piaf, Sarah Bernhardt, Marcel Proust, and other famous figures. The very first burial at the cemetery however was Adelaide Paillard de Villeneuve, a five-year-old girl who was the daughter of a bell-boy. Her grave no longer exists today because it was a temporary concession. Stately trees and beautiful memorials add to the cemetery's present-day calm. METRO: Pere Lachaise, Philippe Auguste
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 features are a sweeping esplanade, a series of gardens, and a striking domed church, where Napoleon I and other military heroes are interred. One of those military heroes is Turenne, one of the most famous marshals of France, whose tomb was installed in 1800 under the Dome. It wasn't until 1840 that Napoleon I's body was transferred to this site under the direction of King Louis-Philippe. The Emperor passed away on St. Helena in 1821. Also at this location is the Mus�de l'Arm� an outstanding art and military history museum, with extensive armament collections. METRO: Invalides, Latour Maubourg
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 the best places in the city to stretch out a picnic blanket and dawdle the afternoon hours away over a shared baguette, some French cheese and other treats. The freely accessed public space frequently hosts national and international events such as fireworks for Bastille Day, White Yoga Day and even at the turn of the last century, was the site of the Universal Exposition. It also hosted the reception and a gigantic banquet for the marriage of the Duc d'Orl�ans in 1837.