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Welcome 2 France Newsletter August 2010
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August Newsletter Highlights

· The Petit Palais, a Cool and Quiet Respite in the City
· Visit the Musée de la Musique for Sights and Sounds
· Favorite Walks around Paris
· Best Views of Paris
· Calendar of Events for August
· Looking Ahead to September and October

This Month's Featured Apartment

Tour Eiffel de Luxe

This huge two-bedroom apartment - with its stunning views of the Eiffel Tower - couldn't feel more Parisian. It has been fully renovated by an architect and yet still retains its Haussmann-era style.

August, 2010

Many Parisians take their vacations in August. If you wander out of the tourist areas, you might find you have the city to yourself, a delicious feeling. Where do you find the Parisians who are still in town? At Paris Plage, of course, the temporary "beach" the city installs on the Seine every summer.

The Petit Palais, a Quiet Respite in the City
August is a good time not to go to the Louvre unless it's your first visit to Paris. The halls are crowded and it's hard to get up close to the pictures you like. Instead, it's a good time to explore some lesser-known museums.

One of my favorites is the Petit Palais. Set near the Seine and across from the equally impressive Grand Palais, this small museum often hosts special exhibitions. This month, for instance, is the last time you can see the show which displays the history of Yves St. Laurent's fashions.

But when there's not a temporary exhibit, I love to spend some quiet moments in the Petit Palais. Its permanent art collection isn't famous for the big names in Impressionism; you'll find those at the Musée D'Orsay, Musée Marmottan and the Orangerie. But they do have a nice collection of 17th century Dutch and Flemish paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens and Ruysdael, as well as the French painters Poussin and Claude Lorrain.

The collections also include quite a bit of jewelry and artifacts from the ancient classical world, as well as Renaissance and Art Deco pieces. I always find something to discover there.

But what keeps drawing me back to the Petit Palais is the building itself. Like its sister the Grand Palais, the museum was constructed for the 1900 Universal Exhibition; it was designed by Charles Girault and is a splendid example of the highly decorative style popular at the time. The entrance is framed in dramatic wrought iron, a theme carried through on the curving northeast marble staircase. That staircase alone is worth a trip. Many of the floors feature Italian mosaics, and murals on the walls glorify the city of Paris.

At the heart of the museum is an open courtyard, planted with a garden that looks almost tropical. You can pick up a sandwich or cold drink at the little café and sit outside in the warm sun.or under the shady portico. It's a quiet retreat where you won't find many tourists (unless, of course, there's a very popular special exhibit). Best of all, entry is free to the permanent collection.

Petit Palais
Avenue Winston Churchill, Metro Champs Elysées-Clemenceau or Concorde
Free for permanent collection; exhibitions vary (closed Mondays)

Visit the Musée de la Musique for Sights and Sounds
Especially in August, you might want to wander away from the tourist areas of Paris and into other neighborhoods. Well worth a long-ish Metro ride is the Cité de la Musique, a performance and museum complex located in the 19th arrondisement, part of the Parc de la Villette, which used to be the slaughterhouse district before urban renewal.

The concert program at the Cité de la Musique, like much of Paris, goes on holiday in August, but you can still visit the music museum. Even if you can't play a note or carry a tune, there's plenty there to interest you. The museum features musical instruments of the Western world from the 17th century to the present - including more than one Stradivarius violin, beautiful harpsichords and pianos, lutes, classical guitars and saxophones made by Adolph Sax. The exhibits often note famous musicians who used these instruments, including Frederic Chopin, Django Reinhardt and Frank Zappa.

An audio guide comes with the entrance ticket. And, naturally, because this is a shrine to music, you're able to listen to many of the actual instruments playing music of their periods. A final section is devoted to world music, both the sounds and instruments.

A delightful aspect of the museum is that you might turn a corner and encounter a live musician. When I was there recently, my friend and I were the only audience for a jazz musician wailing on a saxophone. We sat and listened for ages.

The building itself is well worth seeing if you enjoy contemporary architecture. It was designed by Christian de Portzamparc, the only French architect to win the Pritzker Prize. After your visit, you'll want to visit the Harmonia Mundi bookshop, which is also well-stocked with CDs and DVDs. You can have lunch or dinner at the Café de la Musique, or walk to a number of other restaurants just down the street.

Musée de la Musique, Cité de la Musique
221 avenue Jean Jaures, 19th, Metro Porte de Pantin
€8 (closed Mondays)

Favorite Walks around Paris
One of the delights of spending a full week or two in your Paris apartment is that you have time to walk around the city and discover places you never knew existed. These little discoveries often become the places you want to go back to, long after you've seen all the monuments and churches.

I like to pick a destination on my city map and amble there, just taking my time and poking into any little interesting shops or patisseries along the way. Getting there isn't so much the point as enjoying what you find and observe along the way. Some of my favorite walks through the city include:

From the Place Madeleine east along the rue du Faubourg St. Honoré (which soon becomes simply the rue St. Honoré) to the Palais Royale at rue de Richelieu. You'll pass some of the city's most stylish stores and several luscious chocolatiers.

Along avenue Daumesnil, from the Bastille to the Bois de Vincennes. Along the way are artist's shops and home décor stores - and then in the Bois you can watch men play pétanque.

Along the Left Bank of the Seine, starting from across from the Ile de la Cité to the Jardin des Plantes, one of my favorite large parks. On the other side of the Jardin is the Grande Mosquée and its tearoom.

Down either of the two permanent food market streets, rue Cler in the 7th arrondisement on the Left Bank, or rue Montorgeuil in the 1st, near Les Halles. Go hungry and take a big shopping bag.

From the Centre Pompidou to the Place des Vosges, through the crowded and narrow streets of the Marais.

Along the banks of the Canal St. Martin, from rue du Faubourg du Temple to as far north as my feet last, perhaps up to the Bassin de la Villette. Or, even better, take the Canauxrama boat up the canal.

But if you'd like some narration along with your walk, you couldn't do better than to show up for a two-hour tour with Paris Walks. Every day the company offers several different walks in the city, and you never have to make a reservation. Just show up at the designated starting point with €12 in your pocket.

I'm typically skeptical of walking tours, but I knew Paris Walks had found the right ratio of walking to talking when my friends who live in Paris began raving about the walks they've enjoyed. The tour of the sewers of Paris is often fun for kids (avoid the warmer months), and you can develop a great feel for Montmartre or the Pere Lachaise Cemetery, for instance, with their walks. You can find the month's calendar at

Best Views of Paris
The problem with going up in the Eiffel Tower to get a view of Paris is that your view necessarily excludes the most iconic object in the Paris skyline, the tower itself. If you want a view that includes the Eiffel Tower, try these places:

Le Café Déli-cieux

On the roof of the department store Printemps Maison (warning, there are several Printemps buildings clustered together; you want Printemps Maison) is a casual, self-serve café with outdoor seating.
The food's okay, but the views of Paris are spectacular - with no lines and all for the price of a cup of coffee.
Printemps Maison
64, boulevard Haussmann, Metro Havre-Caumartin

Centre Pompidou
The architecture of this contemporary art museum is inside-out, so the escalators run outside the building in glass-enclosed tubes. So a simple ride up to the galleries gives you a panoramic view of the city. On grey days, you can see the whole weather system reaching across the sky. And at the end, you get to enjoy the artworks in the museum. The Centre Pompidou often gets short shrift by visitors, but it's a very interesting museum - and it has a quirky gift shop with lots of fun trinkets to take back home.
Centre Pompidou
Place Georges Pompidou, Metro Rambuteau, Hotel de Ville, Chatelet
€12 (closed Tuesdays)

Tour Montparnasse
That ugly slab of black that mars the Paris landscape to the south is the Montparnasse Tower. How to see Paris without it? Go up to the 56th floor of the tower itself, out onto the open-air observation point. You can see all the way to the white façade of Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre. The tower's open in the evenings, too, if you'd like to see the lights of Paris. A visit will cost you €11, but at least you don't have to look at the Tour Montparnasse.
Tour Montparnasse
33, avenue du Maine, Metro Montparnasse - Bienvenue

Sacré-Coeur Basilica
The gleaming white Sacré-Coeur is a fairly new church in Paris, having been completed in 1914. More importantly to those of us seeking a fabulous view of Paris, it sits atop the Butte Montmartre, the highest hill in the city. It can be an exhausting climb up the hill (there's also a funicular you can take part way), but the views are worth it. You get a wide-open view of the city from the steps of the basilica. Die-hards can go even higher up into the dome, which is open to visitors.
Basilique du Sacré-Coeur
35, rue du Chevalier de la Barre, Metro Anvers, Abbesses, Lamarck - Coulaincourt

Note: all the times and fees we've quoted in this month's newsletter were accurate when we published, but things do change, so it's always a good idea to check before you go.

Sheila Campbell, Washington, DC Blog:
This is my last monthly newsletter for Welcome2France, as I need more time for my other writing pursuits. I've thoroughly enjoyed giving you my thoughts about Paris, and I leave you with this one: If you haven't yet booked a holiday apartment with Welcome2France, don't hesitate any longer. Paris is waiting, in all her glory.

Do you have a favorite place in Paris you'd like to tell us about for the newsletter? We'd love to hear your suggestions. Just click on and give us your ideas.
(Please address all other inquiries to

Calendar of Events, August, 2010

Through August 1
From El Greco to Dalí: Great Spanish Masters from the Pérez Simón Collection
Musée Jacquemart André
158, Blvd Haussmann, Metro Miromesnil or St. Philippe du Roule
€10 (open every day)

Through August 16
Works from 1st - 6th Century Gandhara, Pakistan
Musée Guimet
6, place d'Iéna, Metro Iéna
€8 (closed Tuesdays)

Through August 22
Body and Décor: Rodin and the Decorative Arts
Musée Rodin
79, rue de Varenne, Metro Varenne or Invalides
€10 (closed Mondays)

Through August 22
Willy Ronis Photography Retrospective
La Monnaie de Paris
11, quai de Conti, Metro Odéon
€7 (closed Mondays)

Through September 9
Meroe, Empire on the Nile
Musée du Louvre, Metro Musée du Louvre or Louvre Rivoli
€9 (closed Tuesdays)

Exhibitions and Other Museums

Through August 29
The World of Yves St. Laurent
Petit Palais
Avenue Winston Churchill, Metro Champs Elysées-Clemenceau or Concorde
€11 (closed Mondays)

Through October 10
The Story of Contemporary Fashion, Volume 1: 1970 - 1979
Musée des Arts Décoratifs
107 -111, rue de Rivoli - 1st Arrondissement, Metro Palais Royale - Musée du Louvre
€8 (closed Mondays)

Through November 30
Animal (animal themes and materials in the decorative arts)
Musée des Arts Décoratifs
107 -111, rue de Rivoli - 1st Arrondissement, Metro Palais Royale - Musée du Louvre
€8 (closed Mondays)

Music, Theater and Dance

Through August 8
Summer Stages at the Parc de la Villette (Sunday World Music Concerts)
Parc de la Villette, Metro Porte de la Villette, Corentin Cariou or Porte de Pantin

August 4 - 22
Moonlit Cinema Festival
Various Outdoor Locations

August 7 - September 26
Classique au Vert (classical music concerts every weekend at 4pm)
Parc Floral de Paris - Route de la Pyramide
Bois de Vincennes, Metro Chateau de Vincennes

August 15 - September 5
Arenes de Montmartre Festival (Italian commedia dell'arte street theatre)
Various locations in Montmartre


Through August 3
Official Summer Sales Season
Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, Bon Marché and most other stores.

Through August 20
Paris Plage ("Beach" on the Seine)
Near the Pont Neuf, Metro Pont Neuf
Free, open all day every day

August 29
Fete de Ganesh Indian Parade
Temple Sri Manicka Vinayakan Alayan (service at 9am, parade 11am - 3pm) last year
72, rue Phillippe de Girard, Metro: La Chapelle

Through October 11
Jardin des Papillons - Butterfly Garden
Bois de Vincennes -Parc Floral
Route de la Pyramide, Metro Chateau de Vincennes

A Look Ahead for September and October, 2010
September 9 and various other dates, Richard Wagner's The Flying Dutchman at Opera Garnier
September 19 - 20, Heritage Days (many buildings usually closed are open to the public)
October, France Reading Festival
October, International Contemporary Art Fair, Grand Palais
October 11 - 17, Restaurant Tasting Week
October 28 - November 1, Salon du Chocolat

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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