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Welcome 2 France Newsletter April 2011
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This Month's Featured Apartments

Marais - Temple Penthouse

This contemporary three bedroom/three bathroom apartment is located in a historic building circa 1642 in the trendy Marais. With 1938 square feet, the light and airy split-level comfortably caters to six. It also has a private terrace and elevator access.

April Newsletter

Basilica of Sacré-Coeur

Being in Paris during the Holy Week and Easter Celebrations is a culinary must for anyone with a sweet tooth-food vendors and venues audaciously compete for customers with their goodies-but it's also a wonderful opportunity to indulge one's spirituality and visit some of the City's historic churches.

The Basilica of Sacré-Coeur, which rises above Paris like enormous swirls of meringue, is a landmark that is impossible to miss and a must-see. After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, the church was commissioned atop Montmartre, a sacred hill since ancient times. The basilica was dedicated to the cult of the Sacred-Hearts, hence its name.

Architect Paul Abadie (1812-1884), fresh off restoring the 11 AD St-Front Perigueux in the Dordogne, designed the Sacré-Coeur in the Romanesque-Byzantine style. Though consecrated in 1891, the church was finally completed in 1914 and only elevated to its basilica status in 1919, after delays associated with World War I (1914-1918).

Today, the Château-Landon stone from which the basilica is built whitens with age, lending the Sacré-Coeur the permanent pearly glow of moonlight. After ascending the steps up the hill, two statues -Joan of Arc and St Louis- greet the visitor at the front entrance. Both statues are by the renowned sculptor Hippolyte Lefèbvre (1863-1935). Then a pair of bronze doors, embossed with vegetal designs, grandly open into a somber but spacious interior.

Take note of the intricate mosaics by Luc-Olivier Merson (1846-1920), including the largest mosaic in the world above the altar. The Sacre-Coeur is also home to the world's heaviest church bell, the Savoyarde, weighing in at 19 tons. The high altar is a bronze reproduction of the altar at Cluny in Burgundy.

It is possible to climb into the 83 meter-high dome, which rises above the join of the Greek cross that forms the nave. From this height, one can enjoy a bird's-eye view of both the interior and the exterior. Allegedly, the outside views from the Sacre-Coeur compare to none other than those from the Eiffel Tower.

Pl. du Parvis-du-Sacré-Coeur
Metro: Anvers or Abbesses
Hours: 6:00AM-10:30PM daily
Admission: Free to basilica, small fee for access to the dome and crypt

Roi de Patisserie

There's a reason celebrities, such as Catherine Deneuve, are regulars at Gérard Mulot's original boulangerie/patisserie in the heart of fashionable St-Germain-des-Prés. Not only does it carry exceptional every day bread and breakfast basics-the likes of brioche, croissant and pain au chocolat-Gerard Mulot also specializes in the very best of pastries, tarts, cakes, chocolates and macaroons.

Especially during Easter, the famous shop's window displays lure customers in with delectable artful creations, like Easter Eggs decorated with edible sugary pansies and so on. My personal soft spot is the Easter Bells, hollow chocolate bells filled with tiny treats. Why bells? Parisians tell their children that on Good Friday all the City's church bells fly off to the Vatican and return on Easter Monday to ring in the Resurrection.

The story of Gérard Mulot is equally fantastic. Mulot learned his trade hands-on as a fourteen-year-old apprentice baker in his native Lorraine. He later took Paris by storm, buying a small bakery in 1975 in St-Germain-des-Pres and transforming it into a gourmet's paradise.

Debuting a chocolate collection in 1980, Mulot has since opened two more shops in Paris: one with an emphasis on chocolate, the other a boulangerie/patisserie that opened 2007 in the Marais.

Mulot is known for his fruity creations, with their exquisite appearance, perfect taste and seasonal flair. Try his rustic rhubarb clafoutis in winter and his sophisticated pineapple, mint, cherry, raspberry or blackberry macaroons in spring.

The French have an expression for window-shopping-leche-vitrines-that means licking-the-windows; if you can walk by one of the Gérard Mulot shops and not do so, you must be a saint. I for one am a mere mortal and I'll be waiting in line to order a little something sweet.

Gérard Mulot Saint Germain

76 rue de Seine
2 rue Lobineau
6th arrondissement

Gérard Mulot Glacière

93 rue de la Glacière
13th arrondissement

Gérard Mulot du Marais

6 rue du Pas de la Mule
3rd arrondissement

A Stroll in the Park

I don't know about you, but in the springtime, I obsess over what flowers bloom first, then next, sort of like the order in which fruits make their seasonal appearance at market. To me, nothing heralds the nuances of spring and the countdown to summer than the march of various blossoms.

On a sunny day in April, one of my favorite places to go flower-spotting is the Parc Floral de Paris in the Bois de Vincennes. The park was built in 1969, when the naturally flat-terrain was gently contoured and planted with 3000 species of plant. Two lakes were also created, one with an Indo-Chinese pagoda. There are majestic trees and many themed gardens, including water gardens, providing an easy alternative to trekking to Giverny for aqua flora.

The park is also delightfully family friendly, especially for active young ones. For kids there is a playground, along with tropical fish and reptile displays. Whether chasing children in the cypress-lined walkways, or enjoying the tulips alone, the Parc Floral de Paris is always a pleasure.

  Parc Floral de Paris
Rte de la Pyramide
Bois de Vincennes
Metro: Château de Vincennes

Hours: Daily 9:30AM-7:00PM or dusk
Admission: Free

Calendar of Events, April 2011


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

Festival of Modern Designs
Rue du Général Foy, Metro: St Augustin
€12 (time varies)

March 25-July 11
Caillebotte Brothers Exhibition
Musee Jacquemart Andre
158 blvd Haussmann, Metro: Miromesnil
€10; under 7 free (open daily 10:00am-6:00pm, Monday until 9:30pm)

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

March 8-July 17
Romantic French Gardens Exhibition (1770-1840)
Musee de la Vie Romantique
16 rue Chaptal, Metro: Blanche or Saint Georges
€7 (Tues-Sun 10am-6pm)
Web: Musee de la Vie Romantique

Japan Expo
Parc des Expositions Paris-Nord Villepinte, RER: B3

Music, Theater and Dance

April 20-May 18
Tosca by Giacomo Puccini
Opéra Bastille
Place de la Bastille, Metro: Bastille

June 16-Jul 16
Cosi Fan Tutte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Opéra Garnier
Place de l'Opéra, Metro: Opera

The Bolshoi Ballet
Palais Garnier
Place de l'Opéra, Metro: Opéra
€5-180 (times and programs vary)

Paris Chopin Festival
Orangerie de Bagatelle
Orangerie de Bagatelle, Metro: Port Maillot, then bus to Bagatelle
€ (time and programs vary)

June 21
Fête de la Musique in the Musee d'Orsay
Musee d'Orsay, Metro: Solferino
€ Free

Paris Chopin Festival
Orangerie de Bagatelle, Metro: Porte Maillot, then bus to Bagatelle
€ Unknown at this time

Musiques et Jardins Festival
Les Trois Baudets, Metro: Blanche or Pigale
€ Free-10 (Tues-Sun)

Classique au Vert
Parc Floral de Paris
Rte de la Pyramide, Metro: Chateau de Vincennes
€5 (weekends only)

Festival Ile de France
Different locations
€5-25; some free


French Wine Fair
Palais de la Bourse/Palais Brogniart, Metro: Bourse Grands Boulevards
€ (times and dates vary)

Paris Model Show (model planes, cars, trains, boats and figures)
Porte de Versailles
€ (Time and cost varies)

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

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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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