Category Archives: monuments

ephemeral garden and everlasting myth around Paris town hall

At the edge of Marais area‘south part, Paris Hôtel de Ville is nowadays offering us two kind of dream, one on each side of the building.

On Town Hall’s eastern side, a free temporary exhibition is dedicated to Grace Kelly, princess of Monaco.

Anyone who has seen her entrance in Hitchcock‘s Rear Window (except Jim Stewart, performing the main character) can understand why Grace Kelly became a Hollywood myth, and consequently a prince’s bride.

There is a huge line in the afternoon, so I would suggest to go in the morning if you don’t want to wait too long.

You’ll still have stars in your eyes while walking on rue de Rivoli towards Town Hall square.

There, you can take an ecological and dreamy journey.

A quiet green pond reflects Town Hall’s front.

People rest in the sun close to a wooden cabin.

and luxuriant plants almost hide the traffic of one of Paris most crowded areas.

Les années Grace Kelly, Princesse de Monaco Hôtel de Ville salle Saint-Jean Metro Hôtel de Ville, everyday except Sundays  10/19, free entrance (last entrance 18).  Up to August 16.

Le jardin éphémère, Parvis de l’Hötel de Ville, Metro Hôtel de Ville, free entrance everyday 9/21, up to August 17.


Summer coming in Paris : enjoy opera outdoor

June in Paris, season of outdoor opera in gorgeous settings.

This year, it’s Jacques Offenbach‘s les contes d’Hoffmann (Hoffmann’s Tales)

This week it takes place in Paris Jardin du Luxembourg, and the scene is set in front the Senat Palace.

If the weather is fine (and it’s definitely better to go on a warm evening) you can take a walk in the garden and buy a ticket on the spot, close to the Senat and the rue de Vaugirard in front of Odeon theater entrance. It starts at 21.15 and runs on June 12,13 and 14. Price : 89 euros (“Carré d’or”), 67, 57 and 39 euros.

Then it will take place in Parc de Sceaux, in front of the castle on June 26, 27 and 28, and it’s a beautiful location too. I was there last year for die Zauberflöte and it was delightful. But this year, weather is a bit hectic theses days, so you’d better check weather forecast before booking in advance, calling 0892 707 920 (from France only).

From July 12 to September 14 takes place in Parc de Sceaux the Orangerie Festival, indoor classical music concerts, every Saturday and Sunday evenings, interesting to combine with a walk in this beautiful garden. Informations on :

Reservation : FNAC and

After Sceaux, les contes d’Hoffmann will travel in other places in France, up to September

All information and reservation on :

Jardin du Luxembourg 75006 Paris, RER Luxembourg, main entrance Boulevard Saint-Michel, south entrance rue Auguste Comte, east entrance rue Guynemer, north entrances on rue de Vaugirard. Open everyday sunrise to sunset.

Parc de Sceaux RER B station Parc de Sceaux. Open everyday from sunrise to sunset. All information on

Paris”Grand Siècle” 3 : musée Carnavalet

Musée Carnavalet is close by place des Vosges and hôtel de Sully, at the corner of rue de Sévigné and rue des Francs-Bourgeois, a very popular shopping area too, as you can see:


Hotel Carnavalet is originally a beautiful Renaissance town house, (mid sixteenth century) transformed a hundred years later (circa 1650) by François Mansart, famous French “Grand Siècle” architect. It became the Parisian home of Madame de Sévigné (best known for the letters she wrote, mostly to her daughter).


The entrance is on rue de Sévigné, in a courtyard with a statue of king Louis XIV. The musée Carnavalet is dedicated to Paris history.


It is formed by two buildings, hotel Carnavalet and hotel Peletier de Saint-Fargeau, built at the end of seventeenth century. The beautiful “à la française” garden can be seen at the gate on rue des Francs-Bourgeois.


If you go inside, you can wander at ease throughout centuries.


Just follow the corridors at random, it’s more fun.



On first floor you pass from one building to the other, then follow these stone heads example, look at the ceiling.


There is no rush, sometimes you’re on your own, and it’s really unusual.


But you’re not really alone, just look through the window : children circle Louis XIV.


Don’t miss “l’escalier de Luynes”, a most beautiful staircase with a “trompe-l’oeil” on the wall.


And leaving, have a look through the window to a small inner garden, with king Henri IV riding on the back wall.


Musée Carnavalet (Paris history), 23 rue de Sévigné, Métro Saint-Paul, tel 33(0)1 44 59 58 58, everyday but Monday 10 to 18, free entrance except for temporary exhibitions. –

A walk in Paris around Palais Royal and place des victoires

Walking around Palais-Royal garden, you’ll meet several smaller and more simple pedestrian passages than Galerie Vivienne or Galerie Colbert, like the tiny passage de Beaujolais, leading from rue Montpensier to rue Richelieu.


Down on rue Richelieu, at it’s crossing with rue Molière stands a typical nineteenth century style monument, carved by Louis Visconti and dedicated to the most famous French play writer, the Fontaine Molière.


Up rue Richelieu, the National Library is being renovated, and in front its upper floors wear a light veil.


The courtyard is not under scaffolding, and if you go in, you can visit a photo exhibition called “Trinity, historical and political photos taken by Carl de Keyser between 1991 and 2007.


And leaving the courtyard, you see a huge fountain across the street.


The ” Fontaine des quatres Fleuves“, another work by Louis Visconti, looks even larger for it stands in the middle of a small garden, the square Louvois .


Going back south, at the end of rue des Petits-Champs, you can’t miss king Louis XIV proudly riding a horse in the middle of place des Victoires.


All around this circular place, and the streets leading to it, every step you make you meet a fashion shop window.


Going down rue Croix des Petits-Champs, you will find the elegant Galerie Véro-Dodat, where the “Fetish” exhibition by David Lynch took place last fall.


But on place des Victoires, you can also take the small and quiet rue Notre Dame des Victoires.


Oddly enough, it is dedicated both to the Virgin and to (French) victorious battles. It looks a bit stern outside, but quite baroque inside.


With side altars all glowing with candles.


And looking up, you’ll see a small virgin statue above the shops of the houses built in front of the church.



The latter is protecting a shop window filled with orchids.


The place, though, is called place des Petits Pères, and from there, you can see Galerie Vivienne third entrance, on rue de la Banque.


Bibliothèque Nationale site Richelieu, 58 rue de Richelieu 75002 Paris Métro Bourse. Temporary exhibition : Carl de Kayser, Trinity, up to April 13, everyday except Monday 10-19, Saturday 12 -19, price 7 euros.

Virtual visit on :

News from Paris Palais-Royal

Daniel Buren got really angry this winter about his Palais-Royal columns deterioration and the state’s reluctance to start any restoration. He went so mad that he threatened to remove and destroy his creation.

At this point, last January, Christine Albanel, who is in charge of cultural issues, came to him and promised that restoration works would start within a month.


So I came back to Palais-Royal this February, and guess what ? Mrs Albanel kept her word.


Buren’s columns are not the only modern installation in Palais-Royal.


The two fountains by Pol Bury are less controversial. On sunny days, the metal balls reflect the garden’s classic columns.


And it’s also fun to play with your own reflection.

Behind the colonnade, the gates open on the proper Palais-Royal gardens and its classical statues.


People sit in the winter sun


Girls chat by the classical fountain


And on a side row, Gaïa, Mother Earth, is watching the place: it is the last remain of an exhibition of modern sculpture on mythological themes by a young Greek artist, Vana Xenou.


You can go in or leave Palais-Royal gardens by the side arcades, west on rue Montpensier.


Going up rue de Montpensier, you will find the Palais-Royal theater, playing mostly comedies. Now showing, up to March 1, a play (in French) by Woody Allen “Puzzle”. It’s a lovely eighteenth century theater.


and next to it, on rue de Beaujolais, the Grand Véfour restaurant.


It also offers a beautiful eighteenth century setting.


And it is one the best Paris restaurants, 3 stars on guide Michelin and 18/20 on Gault et Millau, two major French guides for hotels and restaurants. Of course, it’s also quite expensive. 88 euros (lunch only), large menu 268 euros, carte about 200/220 euros.


Jardins du Palais-Royal, colonnes de Buren and fontaines de Pol Bury : enter place Colette, Metro Palais-Royal.

Théâtre du Palais- Royal, 38 rue Montpensier 75001 Paris, tel 33(0)1 42 97 40 00. Tuesday to Friday show at 20.30, Saturday 17 and 21. Programs, reservation and virtual visit on :

Restaurant le Grand Véfour 17 rue de Beaujolais Metro Palais-Royal, tel 33(0)1 42 96 56 27, fax 33(0)1 42 86 80 71. Closed Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday, April 10 to 17, all August and December 24 to 31. Reservation, all information and visit on :

Paris Montagne Sainte-Geneviève 2 : on top, the Panthéon

Should you leave place de la Contrescarpe by rue Descartes and take a left on rue Clovis, or should you take a right place de l’Estrapade on rue Clotilde, you’d get to the same point. It’s only natural, since Clotilde was king Clovis wife. It’s on top of the hill, place du Panthéon. Here is a view from rue Clotilde :


The building of Panthéon was decided by king Louis XV to replace the ruined church of Sainte Geneviève and architect Jacques Germain Soufflot had its foundations laid in 1758. But it was completed only in 1789, after Soufflot’s death, and French Revolution had begun : this was no longer going to be a church, but a mausoleum for great Frenchmen.


Here is Voltaire‘s grave and statue in the crypt.

The name “Pantheon” comes from Greek “all the gods”, and on the building’s pediment you can read : “Aux grands hommes la patrie reconnaissante”. It’s a major example of neo classical style.



The view from Pantheon’s steps on rue Soufflot going down to Luxembourg garden and Eiffel Tower in the distance:


Next to the Panthéon, on its right, a beautiful eighteen century house : l’hôtel des grands hommes.


It’s name refers of course to to great men buried opposite, but also to some of its customers. André Breton and Philippe Soupault stayed there testing “automatic writing” and “les Champs Magnétiques” were written here . Besides, its a still a nice place to stay.

Behind Pantheon, on the left, an actual church : l’église Saint-Etienne du Mont.


It’s a spectacular composite building, mixed of flamboyant gothic and early baroque style, and it’s really worth coming in.


It has a magnificent mid sixteen century jube:


and beautiful stained glass windows, as well as one of the most ancient organs.


And from Saint-Etienne du Mont, you can start coming down.


And going down Montagne Sainte-Geneviève why not stop for a glass of wine, and may be some oysters at “Les Pipos“.


It’s a sympathetic genuine place which interior setting hasn’t change for ages.


Les Pipos : 2 rue de l’école polytechnique 75005 Paris, tel 33(0) 1 43 54 11 40 , closed on Sunday. Virtual visit on

Hôtel des Grands Hommes : 17 place du Panthéon 75005 Paris, tel 33(0)1 46 34 19 60, for prices, reservation and more information :

Panthéon : open everyday 10 to 18 (last visit 17h15) price 7euros 50, tel 33(0)1 44 32 18 00 or 33(0)1 44 32 18 01. For a virtual visit, and more information :

The nearest subway station to place du Panthéon : RER B Luxembourg

Past and Present in Paris Arènes de Lutèce

The “arènes de Lutèce” are one of the oldest remains in Paris, Lutèce being the former name of the city. In the “gallo-roman” times, these arenas were the stage of gladiators and wild animals contests as well as theatrical productions, and could seat 17 000 spectators.

They are located just down below the “Sainte Geneviève Mountain” a historical “old Paris” area on south bank. Nowadays, it still is a significant place in the neighborhood social life. People use the steps for quiet reading or chat.


And the stage is peacefully shared by children playing ball,


and elder children playing bowls.


It’s also surrounded by a garden, and a playground for smaller children and you can see glowing in the distance a modern ruin, the skeleton tower of Jussieu University – which was built with asbestos.


In the lovely and peaceful rue des Arènes, there is a cute pure 1925 style house.


And a gate opening on imposing steps that lead to the antic arenas.


Arènes de Lutèce : entry 49 rue Monge, rue des Arènes and square Capitan. Metro Monge. Open daily from sunrise to sunset.