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Welcome 2 France Newsletter April 2009
Hello !


* The Hotels of Paris
* Calendar of Events - April , 2009
* May, 2009, Paris Events - A Look Ahead

As a starter, an exciting new offer from Welcome 2 France!

Like Paris is called the "City of Light," beautiful Saint Martin in the Caribbean is known as "The Friendly Island."

Technically a part of France, yet not far from the U.S. coast, this wonderful, English-speaking paradise (where dollars are accepted everywhere) is a haven for American tourists who want to enjoy duty-free designer shopping, water sports, world-class spa treatments, and of course those pristine waves and miles of magical beaches.

Being a part of France, this exciting island features the inimitable "French touch" in all things, in an intoxicating blend of European and Caribbean flavors that envelop the senses with every step.

Sophie from Welcome2France is in Saint Martin now, finding the very best in accommodations for her treasured customers.

Just give the next link a click to learn more about the first of our St Martin luxury beachfront suites:

Saint Martin - The Cliff D4


One of the serendipitous finds one cannot miss seeing in Paris are the numerous mansions present in so many arrondissements. These huge elegant homes are magnificent sights. They are called "hotels".

In Paris, the word "hotel" can mean a building full of rooms to rent for the night(s) or a "Hotel Particulier", a mansion. It is this type of hotel that has fascinated me during each visit here. A "Hotel Particulier" are those huge, palatial, private, town houses you see just about all over Paris.

About the time of the Renaissance, these fancy compounds were "de rigueur" for those wealthy enough to afford them. When first built, each lot of land was walled in by the owner in order to keep the noise, filth, stench, and riff-raff of Parisian streets away from their homes.

The houses were usually set well back on the lots which allowed the front "yard" to be paved with stones or bricks so that carriages could easily come and go. These courtyards had to be quite large to enable, not only a carriage and team of horses to enter, but to also have room to turn around and exit through the very tall gate in the wall.

Many times, the houses had wings making a "U" shaped home with the courtyard in the center. Great attention to decoration and detail was paid to the facades facing this courtyard since it was the first thing a visitor would see of the Hotel Particulier.

Each one, I'm learning, has a fascinating background story. We'll cover the history of a few of them in this issue - all once occupied by very interesting Parisians - from a spy to an alchemist to queens, kings and famous writers.

You just never know, as you stroll by the ornate gates who once lived there and what interesting lives they lived there.

51, rue de Montmorency. 3rd Arrondissement. Metro= Rambuteau.

The home of Nicolas Flamel was built in the 1400's and, some say, is the oldest house standing in Paris. Born in 1330, he was highly educated for his time and became very wealthy by buying and selling ancient manuscripts. He used his wealth to build this mansion which he turned into an Inn to feed the homeless and starving poor of Paris, in exchange for their prayers.

He was also a scribe and an alchemist. Legend says that he discovered the secret of the Philosopher's Stone (which could turn base metal into gold and give its owner immortality) in one of the old manuscripts and used his alchemy skills to create the Stone.

Flamel is featured in the JK Rowlings' book, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone", in Victor Hugo's, "Hunchback of Notre-Dame" and in the movie, "The DaVinci Code".

His immortality was given credence when a thief dug up his grave in search of gold only to discover it empty. Some say Flamel faked his own death and went on to live forever.

The ground floor of his home today is the Auberge Flamel Restaurant.

1, rue Figuier. 4th Arrondissement. Metro= St-Paul.

This is one of Paris' few remaining medieval mansions having been built in the 15th century. The house was built for the Archbishop of Sens in 1475.

Marguerite-de-Valois lived here after King Henry IV divorced her. She had an enormous fig tree (for which the street was named) cut down to allow her carriage to pass.

One can almost imagine Queen Margot's sadness over falling from grace as she stared out the beautiful leaded glass windows and walked the turrets of her forlorn home.

The city of Paris bought and restored it in 1916. The ornately decorated courtyard is open to all in the afternoons, and the building now houses the Bibliotheque Forney .

62, St-Antoine. 4th Arrondissement. Metro= St-Paul

The Duc de Sully built his mansion in Renaissance style in 1634. He was King Henry IV's Minister of Finance. A bookstore and the elegant courtyard is open to the public which is a useful shortcut, via a small gateway, directly into Place des Vosges. The hotel houses governmental offices today.

47, rue des Rosiers. 4th Arrondissement. Metro= St-Paul

Beaumarchais who lived from 1732 to 1799, was a spy. He sold arms to the Americans during our War of Independence and, in order to do so undetected, he ran a business from this mansion as his cover.

As is true of most of the Hotel Particuliers, the front doors are very impressive. These have intricately carved monsters' heads. Perhaps Beaumarchais used them to intimidate anyone snooping into his affairs.

Beaumarchais wrote " Le Mariage de Figaro" while living here. The play is considered to be a sly hint at the upcoming French Revolution because its theme revealed the excess privileges of the nobles. Apparently, he was a man who believed in freedom of the people and wasn't afraid to write about it, or to help implement it.

17, quai d'Anjou on Ile-St-Louis in the Seine. 4th Arrondissement. Metro= Sully-Morland.

The Duc de Lauzun built this house in the 1600's. The Duc was one of King Louis XIV's best friends, that is until he had the nerve to ask the king's permission to court and marry the Duchesse de Monpensier. Some believe that the king was outraged because he had plans to marry her off to another in order to further his political interests.

Whatever his reason, poor Lauzun was tossed into the Bastille Prison. The king could do this without a trial, just on his whim. It took awhile, but the Duchesse eventually convinced her cousin, the king, to let Lauzun out which he did.

They were wed secretly and moved into this home in 1682. Love prevailed.

Later, the house was occupied by the poet Baudelaire who wrote "Les Fleurs du Mal" while living here - when he wasn't smoking hash and entertaining in a most intemperate manner.

Today, it is generally closed to the public, except when art exhibitions are staged. It is now state-owned and used for lavish receptions. Check with the Tourist Office for events.

77, rue de Varenne. 7th Arrondissement. Metro= Varenne

Built in 1730 for the Duc de Biron, but better known now as the Musee Rodin. In 1904, the French government, in its on-going effort to enable, and encourage, French artists in their craft, turned the old house into a state-owned set of studios for artists to rent.

Rodin lived here the last nine years of his life, until his death in 1917. He never paid rent, so in exchange for it he donated his works to France. After his death, the Musee Rodin was created.

You can view his works in chronological order through the rooms. There are two rotundas filled with natural light, one displays "The Kiss" and the other, "Eve".

Camille Claudel, his model and mistress, has one room dedicated to her works.

It is a nice surprise to see a few Van Gogh and Manet paintings here, which once belonged to Rodin.

Outside is enough sculptural pieces to fill yet another museum. The garden is beautifully landscaped and is one of the largest private gardens in Paris. It is put to very good use to display "The Thinker, the "Burghers of Calais" and the magnificent "Gates of Hell". There is a nice little cafeteria and restrooms in the garden, as well.

From the walled garden you can see the Eiffel Tower and the Dome of Invalides.

57, rue de Varenne. 7th Arrondissement. Metro= Varenne.

The mansion was begun by the Prince of Tigny in 1722, but he soon ran out of money and sold it to the Count of Matignon who completed it in 1725.

From the street, you see an impressive and, unique to the day, portico decorated with two columns on each side.

The house was later purchased by Anne Franchi, a dancer, who was the mistress of several important men, including a duke , the Emporer Joseph II of Austria, and a Scottish banker with whom she returned to Paris. They refurnished the Hotel and became the center of high society.

In 1808, the house was owned by Talleyrand who was known for hosting four dinners a week for 36 guests each night. Imagine the expense of that! The Hotel passed from Talleyrand to the French royalty and in 1815, Louis XVIII, traded it for the Elysee Palace.

The new owner, Louise of Orleans, turned it into a nunnery. Several owners ensued, all wealthy beyond belief, who added and decorated it even more.

It has been home to the French Prime Minister since 1935. The huge garden behind the mansion complex stretches all the way to Rue de Babylone and is the largest private garden in Paris.

39, rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honore. 8th Arrondissement. Metro= Miromesnil.

The Marquis de l'Ancenis had this beautiful mansion built in 1720. It's most famous inhabitant has to be Pauline Borghese, Napoleon's sister, who was the social butterfly of Paris from 1803 to 1814.
In 1814, the Duke of Wellington, bought it for the British Government with the permission of King George III. It became Great Britain's first permanent embassy and has been such for over 150 years.

4, rue Lobau. 4th Arrondissement. Metro= Hotel-de-Ville.

One would never guess it to see this magnificent city hall of Paris today, to learn that it started out as a "common house" for Parisian merchants. It rested on piles on Place de Greve, the first city harbor of Paris.

It became such an important building that King Francois I built a beautiful Renaissance "hotel particulier" in 1533 to the delight of the merchants. It wasn't finished until Louis XIII
was on the throne in 1628.

Sadly, the building was burned down during the Paris Commune of 1871. A close replica was erected in 1882 to replace it. Our word, "strike", as in labor disputes, comes for the French "Etre en greve", to be on strike. Place de Greve was the meeting place for the unemployed seeking work, which
evolved into "being on strike" to settle labor issues.

The square is quite famous, also, as the site of many infamous executions, especially for royal assassins. Some areas are open to the public via 1, rue Lobau. Since 9-11, tighter security has been enforced.

There are many, many more "hotels particulier" in Paris. These are just a few of which I have learned the back-story. Much of my information comes from speaking with someone in charge in each one who is very willing to put up with my almost non-existent French and proudly tell me what they
know about them. I am amazed at the knowledge the French have of their history and their willingness to share it.

Today, many of the Hotels are museums, government offices and embassies. So, go to Paris, wander the rues, and wonder about each.

A special note: Watch your back if you are in France on April 1st. The French love to slap a fish on the back of someone unaware of April Fool's Day, French-style. They call it "poisson d'Avril" or April Fish!



Until April 4
"Pavillon des Arts et du Design" - Modern art and design fair
Jardin des Tuileries
15,00 Euros

April 11 - 19
"Salon des Realities Nouvelles" - Abstract & Comtemporary Art
Parc Floral de Paris in Bois de Vincennes
Route de la Pyramide - 12th Arrondissement
2,50 - 5,00 Euros

Until April 12
Antoine et Manuel, Un Duo Graphistes - Graphic Artists
Musee de la Arts Decoratifs
107-111, rue de Rivoli - 1st Arrondissement
€6,50 - 8,00

Until April 13
Petit Dessein - Cartoon Exhibition
Musee du Louvre
99, rue de Rivoli - 1st Arrondissement
€6,00 - 9,00; Free with entry ticket to museum

April 26 - 30
"Festival of Modern Designs" - 40 galleries exhibiting
2, rue du General Foy - 8th Arrondissement
5,00 - 10,00 Euros

All of April - May 3
"Warhol TV" - Videos made by Warhol
La Maison Rouge
10, bd de la Bastille - 12th Arrondissement
4,50 - 6,50 Euros

All of April - May 11
Asger Jorn Exhibit - Danish artist
Pompidou Centre
Rue Saint-Martin, Place Georges Pompidou - 4th Arrondissement
9,00 - 12,00 Euros; Under 18: Free

All of April - May 11
David LaChapelle Retrospective - American surrealist photographer
Hotel de la Monnaie
11, quai de Conti - 6th Arrondissement
Please see website for more information

All of April - May 24
La Fabrique des Reves - Giorgio de Chirico
Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
11, avenue du President Wilson - 16th Arrondissement
Please see website for more information

All of April - June 21
De Sienne a Florence - Italian pre-Renaissance art
Musee Jacquemart-Andre
158, bd Haussmann - 8th Arrondissement
€7,50 -10,00; Under 7: Free

All of April - September 15
Suzanne Valadon et Maurice Utrillo - Mother and son's art
La Pinacotheque
28, place de la Madeleine - 8th Arrondissement
€7,00 - 9,00


Until April 30
Atmosphere - Le Climat Revele par les Glaces - Climate changes & the Polar ice caps
Musee des Arts-et-Metiers
60, rue Reaumur - 3rd Arrondissement
€3,50 - 5,50

All of April - May 17
Name or Number - Works by German artist, Ulla von Brandenburg
Le Plateau
Place Hannah Arendt - 19th Arrondissement

All of April - June 29
Jazz Century - 1000 objects relating to Jazz
Musee du Quai Branly
37, quai Branly - 7th Arrondissement
€6,00 - 8,50

All of April - August 16
Epidemik - History of epidemics
Cite des Sciences
30, avenue Corentin-Celtou - 19th Arrondissement
€6,00 - 8,00


April 1 - 2
"Metallica" - in concert
Palais Omnisports de Paris - Bercy
8, bd de Bercy - 12th Arrondissement
63,50 - 67,50 Euros

All of April - June 29
"Jazz Century" - 1000 collectible objects on display
Musee du Quai Branly
37, quai Branly - 7th Arrondissement
6,00 - 8,50 Euros


"Grande Chase aux Oeufs" - Grand Easter Egg Hunt
Galeries Lafayette department store
40, bd Haussmann - 9th Arrondissement

"Nuits des Planetes" - Night of star-gazing
62, av de l'Observatoire - 14th Arrondissement

April 1 - 5
"Pavillon des Antiquaires" - Antique Fair
Jardin des Tuileries
Esplanade des Feuillants, facing 234 rue de Rivoli - 1st Arrondissement

April 3 - 5
"Salon Mondial du Cirque" - World Circus Trade Show
Porte de Versailles
Hall 6 - 15th Arrondissement
8,00 - 12,00 Euros; Under 6: Free

Until April 4
"Paris Fait sa Comedie" - Paris Comedy Festival
Various venues
12,00 - 50,00 Euros

April 5
"Marathon de Paris" - Paris Marathon
Avenue de la Champs-Elysees - 1st Arrondissement

Until April 10
"Festival de l'Imaginaire" - Festival of the Imagination
Maison des Cultures de Monde
101, bd Raspail - 6th Arrondissement
Various costs

April 10 - 13
"Easter Services" - Sunday Mass & Vendredi Saint (Good Friday)
Notre-Dame Cathedral
Place du Parvis de Notre-Dame - 4th Arrondissement

April 12
"Paris-Roubaix Race" - Cycling
Paris to Roubaix, France
Free to watch

April 17 - 19
"Paris Bike Days" - Latest innovations in cycling
Parc Floral de Paris in Bois de Vincennes
Route de la Pyramide - 12th Arrondissement
5,00 - 8,00 Euros; Under 3: Free

Until April 19
Jo'burg - Photographer Guy Tillim
Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson
2, impasse Lebouis - 14th Arrondissement
€3,00 - 6,00

April 23 - 26
"Jules Verne Adventures" - Festival of films, documentaries and shorts
Le Grand Rex
1, bd Poissonniere - 2nd Arrondissement
5,00 - 40,00 Euros

April 30 - May 10
"Foire de Paris" - Interior design expo
Porte de Versailles
15th Arrondissement
9,50 - 12,00; Under 14: 7,00

All of April - May 3
Warhol TV - His Film Archives
La Maison Rouge - Fondation Antoine de Galbert
10, bd de la Bastille - 12th Arrondissement
€4,50 - 6,50

All of April - June 30
Chroniques Parisiennes Photo Exhibition - 70 photos of Parisian Life
Eiffel Tower
Champs-de-Mars - 7th Arrondissement
Free with entry ticket to Tower

All of April - December 29
Grande Ecurie - Grand Stables of Versailles
Chateau de Versailles
Avenue Rockfeller - Versailles, France

Contemporary Music Festival:

Web Flash Festival:

Saint Germain Jazz Festival:

Festival of Short Films:

Great Paris Steeplechase:

May K1 World Kickboxing Grand Prix:

Belleville Artists' Open Workshops Days:

May 7 - 17
Bastille Antiques Fair:

May 14 - 24
Director's Fortnight (Paris' answer to the Cannes Film Festival):

May 16
Night of Museum Openings:

May 24 - June 7
French Open:

May 27 - 31
Villette Sonique Music Festival:

May and June
Le Carre Rive Gauche Antique Fair:

Jean E. Arnevick, Olympia, Washington, U.S.A.

We highly appreciate our readers help in making this newsletter as interesting and helpful as possible.
If you have any comments or suggestions, they are quite welcome on our

Comments and Suggestions Page

Thank you for your interest and best regards,

The Welcome 2 France team
Tel. 1 (650) 267-4328
(free local call number in U.S. or Canada)

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