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Welcome 2 France Newsletter February 2011
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This Month's Featured Apartments:

Montparnasse I

At 558 sq ft, this one bedroom apartment makes up for its small size by sleeping two additional guests on a plush sofa bed. The space is also highly efficient with an eat-in breakfast bar, good closet space and a built-in office with a desktop Mac.

Mouffetard - Monge

This one bedroom apartment is a charming pied-a-terre in the Latin Quarter, with luxe touches such as a Tempur-Pedic mattress, custom furniture and original artwork. With housekeeping provided, this is a great getaway for couples.

February Newsletter

Touring the Tower

A surefire way to beat the winter doldrums in Paris is to do something unapologetically touristy. What could be more so than a visit to the Eiffel Tour? According to their official website, 75% of their visitors are out-of-town tourists. Count me in.

Since the 1889 World's Fair in Paris, the date of which coincided with the centenary of the French Revolution's storming of the Bastille, the Eiffel Tour has spiked the skyline of Paris with its stunning skeletal frame.

Towering over the City, like some otherworldly artifact, the Eiffel Tower is a feat of outside-the-box design and immaculate engineering by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923), who was also responsible for the Statue of Liberty on this side of the Pond.

Of course, the French loathed it at first. Many even deigned to agree with British Arts and Crafts designer William Morris who upon visiting the 10,000 ton iron tower said: "Why on earth have I come here? Because it's the only place I can't see it from."

Needless to say, the Eiffel Tower grew on the French, the British and the rest of us. Originally intended to be erect for 20 years, the Eiffel Tower recently celebrated 121 years in existence, standing proud at 324 meters tall with three levels.

Without doubt, the Eiffel Tower today is the most recognizable Parisian icon worldwide.

When visiting, be sure to spend time on the first level participating in the two interactive presentations called Feroscope and Cineiffel that share historic and technological information about the tower. There are food and beverage options on this level as well.

During the winter season, there is also a temporary ice rink on the first tier free to Tour d'Eiffel visitors. The ice rink runs from mid-December through February and is a favorite among young children. Before ascending further, do check out a section of the original spiral staircase that has been preserved.

The second level has several souvenir shops and the fine dining restaurant Le Jules Verne. Other than easy elevator access, there is also the daunting option to climb multiple stairs to the third level, from which panoramic views of Paris are guaranteed to make you gasp with delight.

Apparently on a clear day, one can see Paris stretching up to 40 miles in the distance. Lest we forget the Eiffel Tour is a manmade wonder, there is also a reconstruction of Alexandre Gustave Eiffel's office on the third level, overseeing the City upon which he left his indelible mark.

Visit the Eiffel Tower website for up-to-the-minute details and changes. Booking in advance is recommended.


Buoyant Bercy

In the 1980's, targeted urban renewal on the Right Bank gave Bercy, an abandoned wine-distribution district, vibrant new life as a trendy spot to spend time in again.

Though many of the 200-year-old wine warehouses or chais were destroyed, some of the charming stone-gabled structures have been repurposed to a modern use. Specifically the 41 chais of St. Emilion were rebuilt and reconfigured to collectively form part of a large American-style retail and leisure complex called Bercy Village.

There are cafés and restaurants contained therein, as well as popular high street boutiques, such as Agnes B, L'Occitane and Sephora, all perfect for exploration on a cold February day. Bercy Village also houses a multiplex movie theater, one of the largest in Paris with 18 screens, some of which offer movies in English.

In the area is also Parc de Bercy, a rectangular river-fronting park with walking paths and a small lake. The park also contains the former American Centre building designed by Frank Gehry, which now serves as a Musée du Cinema.

On one end of the park is the hexagonal Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy, a sport stadium which holds 17,000 spectators, and on the other end is the Musée des Arts Forains, a hands-on museum devoted to old fairground equipment.

On the opposite side of the river is the Bibliothèque Nationale Francois-Mitterrand, a modern national library built by architect Dominique Perrault.

Musée des Arts Forains: 53 Ave des Terroirs de France
Palais Omnisports: 8 Boulevard de Bercy
Bercy Village: 28 rue François Truffaut

Metro: Cour St. Emilion, Quai de La Gare

Parlez Vous Français?

If in Paris for any length of time (you can stay as long as you like in one of our lovely apartments), this might just be the perfect month to polish up on your French vocabulary and grammar skills. My favorite spot, where I once fine-tuned my français, is the Alliance Française, a French-language school with courses at every level.

Two other possibilities are the Institut Parisien de Langue, which also offers a useful class in business terminology, and Eurocentres, intensive language courses with an emphasis on communication.

Alliance Française: 101 Boulevard Raspail; Web:; 01-42-84-90-00
Eurocentres: 13 Passage Dauphine; Web:; 01-40-46-72-00
Institut Parisien: 27 Boulevard des Italiens; Web:; 01-42-66-18-08

Calendar of Events, February 2011


April 27-May 1
La Bastille Modern Art Fair
Place de la Bastille,
Place de la Bastille, Metro: Bastille
€8 (open daily)

Art Paris
Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais
3 Avenue du Général Eisenhower, Metro: Champs Elysées Clemenceau
€15; artists and students €10 (open daily)

October 6, 2010-February 20
Monet: Son Musee
Musee Marmottan-Monet
2 Rue Louis-Boilly, Metro: La Muette
€9 (open daily)

February 9-May 23
Cranach Exhibition
Musée du Luxembourg
19 Rue de Vaugirard, Metro: Odeon, Saint-Sulpice
€11; free under 13's (open daily)

April 27-May 1
La Bastille Modern Art Fair
Place de la Bastille, Metro: Bastille
€8 (open daily)

Exhibitions and Other Museums

November 5, 2010-February 20
Writers' Portrait Exhibit
Maison de Victor Hugo
6 Place des Vosges, Metro: Saint Paul or Bastille
Free (Tuesday-Sunday)

Art Paris
Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais
Grande Palais
3 Avenue du General Eisenhower, Metro: Champs-Elysees-Clemenceau
€11 (dates vary)

Printemps du Cinema
Locations vary
€3.50 per screening

Feb 5-6
Paris Manga
Porte de Versailles
Place de la Porte de Versailles, Metro: Porte de Versailles
€10 1-day pass, €18 2-day pass (daily 9:30am-7pm)

Music, Theater and Dance

January 16-February 14
Madame Butterfly
Opera Bastille
Place de la Bastille, Metro: Bastille

January 31-February 24
Opera Garnier
Palais Garnier, Place de l'Opera, Metro: Opera

Festival Chorus
Grande Arche de la Defense
Parvis de la Defense 92940, Train to La Defense
€ Varies


February 4-13
Paris Antiques Book Fair
Halle Freyssinet
55 Boulevard Vincent Auriol, Metro: Quai de la Gare or Chevaleret
€6 (open 11am-7pm)

December 17, 2010-February 17
Ice Skating at Hotel de Ville
Place de l'Hotel de Ville, Metro: Hotel de Ville
Free, €5 skate hire (open Mon-Sat 12pm-10pm; Sun 9am-10pm)

Paris Chopin Festival
Orangerie de Bagatelle, Metro: Porte Maillot, then bus to Bagatelle
€ Varies

March 6
Paris Carnaval
Place Gambetta, Metro: Gambetta
€ Varies

February 5-March 19
Six Nations Championships: France
Stade de France, Metro: Saint-Denis Porte de Paris
€ Varies (dates vary)

Note: the information in the newsletter and calendar are accurate when we publish, but things do change, so it's always a good idea to check before you go.

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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