Things to Do in Paris - page 3
Located in the 2nd Arrondissement, the Galerie Vivienne is one of the most iconic covered passages in Paris. Built in 1823 in a neoclassical Pompeian style, the 176-meter long passage features an elegant canopy, mosaic tile floors, paintings and sculptures depicting trade-related scenes and a rotunda with images of goddesses and nymphs. The arcade was originally home to a variety of shops, including tailors, cobblers, wine shops, confectioners and bookstores and enjoyed a great deal of success due to its prime location near the Vanel de Serrant Hotel. While many of its most prestigious shops eventually moved elsewhere, the passage was reborn in the 1960s.
Today, it offers a sophisticated and cozy shopping experience, with shops ranging from clothing boutiques to grocery shops to the old Jousseaume bookstore, one of only two original stores remaining. The other, the Legrand Filles and Fils delicatessen, existed before the gallery was even built.
One of only two Seine islands in Paris (the other is the neighboring Île de la Cité), Île Saint-Louis is a tranquil oasis in the city center. Among the first parts of the city to be organized by modern urban planning works during the 17th century, the island is known for its scenic quays, elegant residences, and unhurried pace.
Fontaine Saint-Michel was sculpted by Gabriel Davioud in 1860 and gives its name to the square where it’s located, Place Saint-Michel. The monumental fountain, located between boulevard Saint-Michel and Place Saint-Andres-des-Arts was commissioned by Baron Georges-Eugene Haussmann as part of Napoleon III’s plans to bring more light and air to the city of Paris.
The fountain depicts the archangel Michael vanquishing Satan, a controversial political symbol at the time hinting at Napoleon vanquishing the revolutionary fervor of the neighborhood. Unlike many of Paris’s fountains, Fontaine Saint-Michel was made from various colors of materials, including red and green marble, blue and yellow stone, and bronze. Place Saint-Michel is a popular meeting spot among both the city’s youth and foreign visitors.
One of Paris’s most beloved cabarets, Au Lapin Agile has been delighting audiences in Montmartre for decades. The title translates to “The Nimble Rabbit” from French, originating from a painting of a rabbit jumping out of a hot frying pan. The small theater was once a hotspot for bohemian Parisian artists such as Picasso, Modigliani, Toulouse-Latrec, and Utrillo. Picasso helped to make the space famous with his 1905 painting of “At the Lapin Agile.”
The iconic pink cottage cabaret drew in some of Paris’s most eccentric characters, many of which carved their names into the original wooden tables that still remain today. Having opened in 1860, the Paris institution has long been a source of evening revelry, good food and drink, and French song and dance performance. It continues to be an authentic venue for all three today.
Wine may be an essential part of the Parisian mystique, but only one vineyard remains in the city: Clos Montmartre, whose origins date back nearly a century. A small plot located in hilly Montmartre, the vineyard grows pinot noir, gamay, and other grapes, which it harvests annually and makes into coveted wines.
Built in 1653 by Cardinal de Richelieu, the impressive La Sorbonne building in Paris’ Latin Quarter (Quartier Latin) houses classrooms for several universities, including the University of Paris. In addition to a historic library, the Sorbonne campus—the intellectual heart of the student-filled district—features a chapel and an airy courtyard.
There are plenty of galleries and museums in Paris dedicated to individual artists. But the Dalí Paris is more than just paintings on a wall. In a style befitting Salvador Dalí's surreal school of art, it is a full-immersion experience. There is music playing, usually a big no-no in the more hallowed halls of art; there are sculpture versions of his paintings, giving visitors a chance to rethink these famous pieces; and there's even a full roster of children's events that welcome a new generation to get to know Dalí better. There are also some videos and other multimedia exhibits that take you into the mind of this brilliant artist.
Your entrance fee also covers the museum's neighbor, Galerie Montmartre, which features works by today's artists.
Built as a presidential monument to Jacques Chirac, the Quai Branly Museum (Musée du Quai Branly) is a museum in Paris that feature thousands of artifacts from indigenous cultures across the globe. In addition to permanent and temporary exhibitions, the museum houses a library, lecture hall, garden, rooftop terrace, and two cafes.
Housed within a building designed by renowned Canadian-born American architect Frank Gehry, La Cinematheque Francaise museum trace the history and technology of film from its infancy through its Hollywood glory days and into the modern age, including magic lanterns, cameras, iconic costumes, props, movie posters and cult objects. Classic film clips accompany many of the displays, and an on-site theater screens several films daily from its huge archive.
Highlights of the museum collection, particularly for the die-hard movie buff, include Mrs. Bates’s head from the Alfred Hitchcock thriller Psycho, the robot from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and a camera that belonged to the Lumiéres brothers. Temporary exhibits often feature a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a particular film.
A key element of Paris’ skyline, the Montparnasse Tower (Tour Montparnasse) stands in monolithic, modern contrast to the Hausmannian boulevards below. Debuted in 1973, the tower was France’s tallest building for decades; its stark look has caused controversy since its unveiling. Even still, there’s no arguing with the panoramic views visitors can glean from its observation deck.
More Things to Do in Paris
Held in an intimate underground venue, the Crazy Horse cabaret’s provocative yet sophisticated burlesque-style show celebrates femininity and specializes in the art of seduction, with a series of elaborately choreographed routines performed by highly trained dancers wearing custom-made red-soled Louboutins, bob wigs, bright red lipstick—and often little else. Avant-garde artist Alain Bernardin established the venerated Crazy Horse de Paris in 1951.
One of Paris’ liveliest markets, the Marché d’Aligre, located in the 12th arrondissement, includes an open-air portion and a covered portion (which is sometimes referred to as the Marché Beauvau). Open six days a week, this popular market sells everything from fresh produce, cheese, and meat to antiques and housewares.
Place Dauphine is an iconic public square wedged between lavish townhouses on the western tip of Ile de la Cité in Paris. The square was the second project of the “royal squares program” instigated by Henri IV – the first one being what is now known as Place des Vosges – and was named after his son, soon-to-be Dauphin of France Louis XIII. To this day, it remains one of the most prestigious areas in the city.
The square’s – which is actually triangular in shape – westernmost corner connects to Pont Neuf, linking the right and left banks of the Seine River. Although the houses surrounding Place Dauphine were built in the early 1600s, only two have preserved their original features, i.e., the two located on either side of the narrow entrance leading to Pont Neuf. Nowadays, the oddly three-sided square is popular with both locals enjoying apéro and photographers searching for a quintessential Paris atmosphere.
Open since 2010, Choco-Story Paris is a delectable museum dedicated to the history and production of chocolate. Learn about chocolate’s Maya and Aztec origins, watch chocolatiers at work, admire chocolate sculptures, and enjoy plenty of tastes along the way. Workshops are also hosted on-site for those who wish to make their own treats.
One of Paris’ top literary landmarks, Shakespeare and Company is an English-language bookstore in the Latin Quarter opened in 1951 by George Whitman. It was named after a bookstore founded in 1919 by Sylvia Beach, famous for hosting luminaries including Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein.
A UNESCO World Heritage site and one of France’s largest châteaux, the magnificent Château de Fontainebleau boasts a rich resume of royal inhabitants, including Henry IV, Louis XV, and Napoleon. Built in the 12th century, the palace displays a remarkable variety of architectural styles, all set within 130 hectares (321 acres) of parks and gardens.
The grandiose Château de Vaux-de-Vicomte is one of France’s most impressive architectural landmarks. Designed by the same architects behind the Palace of Versailles, the palace is a Baroque masterpiece surrounded by manicured French gardens, decorative moats, and traditional drawbridges.
Once a port for industry and trade, the Bassin de la Villette is now a Parisian hub for travelers looking to explore the arts and culture that make the City of Lights so unique. A popular youth hostel, three-star hotel, famous restaurants and plenty of live performance venues draw travelers to Bassin de la Villette, where it’s possible to escape the hustle of Paris streets and relax into the scenic waterway.
While this destination is worth a visit any time of year, the summer’s month-long Paris-Plage festival is among the best reasons to make a stop. Seaside banks become almost resort like as local rolls out deck chairs and floating wooden cafes pass by selling strong coffees and warm pastries. Public picnic areas and classic dance floors draw locals and tourists out of doors to pass summer nights swaying in the ocean breeze.
First opened in 1895 by Theophile Bader, Galeries Lafayette is a department store in Paris that houses luxury fashion brands including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Christian Dior. In addition to a stained glass dome ceiling and rooftop terrace with views of the Eiffel Tower, Galeries Lafayette features weekly fashion shows on Friday afternoons.
When it was founded in 1750, the Musée du Luxembourg was the first museum to be open to the French public. Back then, it was housed in a wing of the Palais du Luxembourg. Today, it occupies an adjacent, standalone building in the Jardin du Luxembourg. It has no permanent collection, but showcases several temporary exhibitions each year.
Architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, better known as Le Corbusier, made this weekend retreat outside Paris into a modernist masterwork. From the facade to the concrete columns, Villa Savoye exemplifies Le Corbusier’s ‘Five Points of Architecture,’ and it’s included among his other finest achievements on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Paris’ business district is home to office buildings and other high-rise structures, developed in this area just outside the city limits so as not to ruin central Paris’ historical landscape. Not many visitors make it out to La Défense, but those who do are rewarded with modern art and architecture that provide a new perspective on the city.
- Things to do in Île-de-France
- Things to do in Marne-la-Vallée
- Things to do in Reims
- Things to do in Blois
- Things to do in Deauville City
- Things to do in Lille
- Things to do in Dijon
- Things to do in Dover
- Things to do in Brussels
- Things to do in Bruges
- Things to do in Zaventem
- Things to do in Luxembourg City
- Things to do in Horley
- Things to do in Champagne
- Things to do in Normandy