The Gardens of Paris

Among the many beauties Paris has to offer are well crafted and gorgeous gardens scattered throughout the city. Take a tour with your significant other through the romantic Luxembourg Gardens, or stroll through the famous royal Versailles park, take a gander at the Tuileries Gardens while on your trip to the Louvre, among others. These gardens offer a breath of fresh air amongst the hustle and bustle of busy Paris.

Right outside the Louvre lies the Tuileries Gardens. Beautiful, well groomed, and bursting with color during spring time.

The Luxembourg Gardens are often crowded, as they are a Parisian favorite, however they are absolutely worth seeing - especially in front of the backdrop of Luxembourg Palace

Versailles Park is a sight to behold. Perhaps one of the most well layed out and extraordinary gardens Paris has to offer.

The stunning roses at the Bois de Boulogne garden are reason enough to visit

The Bois de Vincennes gardens have a wonderful French countryside sort of feel

Paris Catacombs: A Walk Through the Land of the Dead

Located just below the public square in Paris, Place Denfert-Rochereau, lie the remains of about 6 million people. Opened in the late 18th century, the remains are spread through a series of renovated tunnels and caverns that used to be Paris’ stone mines.

Paris’ graveyards and mass graves began overflowing and causing hazardous sanitary conditions, so in 1786 the transfer of all of Paris’ dead to the abandoned stone mines began, ultimately taking 2 years to complete. Initially, the bones were placed into a well in the area, and then were distributed throughout the mines by workers. For years the mines were simply used as a depository for the bones, with no organization or particular placement to them, however in 1810 Louis-Etienne Hericart de Thury began renovations to turn the depository into a mausoleum.

Besides housing long gone Parisian residents, the Catacombs have a history that is deeply intertwined into the history of France. For instance, the dead from the riots at Place de Greve, Hotel de Brienne, and Rue Meslee all found a resting place in the Catacombs. The French Resistance also used the tunnels during World War II and Nazi soldiers used the Catacombs as an underground bunker.

Today, the Catacombs are open to the public where you can wander the caverns and tunnels and bear witness to a history of Paris’ dead. In this week’s featured pictures we take you into the underground burial site beneath Paris.

The unassuming initial entry into the Catacombs

After following a long gravel corridor you reach the offical entry into the Catacombs

Interesting pattern of skulls make up this wall in the Catacombs

There is definitely no shortage of interesting artwork added to the Catacombs over the years. This picture shows a gargoyle carved into the wall by an urban caver, located in the off-limits area. Picture courtesy of Loupiote.Com

Massive amounts of skulls and assorted bones are strategically placed to form walls throughout the tunnels

A single cross surrounded by Paris' dead

Bones piled high on a tunnel floor

A tiny example of the large amount of interesting graffiti within the Catacombs

If you’re interested in seeing some video footage of the Catacombs:

Our Lady of Paris



Gracing the skies high above Paris, casting its enormous reflection in the ripples of the river Seine, stands the ominously beautiful Notre Dame cathedral. Notre Dame de Paris translates into Our Lady of Paris, and is one of the most magnificent examples of Gothic architecture in the world. With beautiful arched supports and gargoyles dotting the exterior, expertly crafted stained glass filtering in light, a rich history, and playing a starring role in Victor Hugo’s renowned book The Hunchback of Notre Dame, it’s no small wonder the cathedral holds a powerful draw for visitors the world over.

In this edition of This Week In Pictures, we take you inside the Notre Dame cathedral. Enjoy!

The Notre Dame, shown here resting on the river Seine

Rising high above Paris, the Notre Dame certainly demands attention.

Notice the curved support arches that give the Notre Dame an elegantly curved shape

One of the famous Notre Dame gargoyles looking out over the city

Intricate wood carvings tell a story inside the Notre Dame

Stunning and intricate columns and ceilings

Statues of Christian apostles adorning the stone walls of the cathedral

Stained glass featuring the Madonna

Gorgeous and intricate stained glass window

The cathedral looking elegant in the night sky

Take a Cruise Down the Seine River



Taking one of the available cruises down the Seine River gives one of the best views of Paris. Depending on which river boat tour you take, the cruise can last anywhere from 1-3 hours and is a really inexpensive way to experience some of Paris’ extensive beauty.

Tours are offered between March and November and are generally pretty inexpensive, with fares for children starting at only$5.20 and adults at only $10. Sun decks, bars, and even restaurants are found on some of these boats. The boats that have the restaurants generally offer dinner tours as well, which can be especially inspiring – viewing Paris at night is spectacular. Be sure and wear your dinner jackets and ties, men, if you take one of the dinner tours

The Seine river, which flows through the center of Paris, used to be a the main form of transportation for the city and provided added protection. The Seine is such a beautiful river that it has long been revered in the art world and has been the subject of many paintings. When you take a cruise down the Seine, you’ll be able to see beautiful old bridges, old homes gracing the river, and get a unique perspective on historical landmarks such as the Notre-Dame Cathedral.

For more information and to schedule your tour, here are 2 of the most notable river cruise company’s:

Bateaux-Mouche Tours

Phone # 01-40-76-99-99

Website: www.bateaux-mouches.fr

 

Paris Canal

Phone # 01-42-40-96-97

A Look at Monet

Claude Monet was the founder of the French Impressionist style of painting, and is probably one of the most recognizable and memorable painters in history. Born in Paris in 1840, Monet attended art school, studied under great artists, and then set to work identifying his own style – a style that would set him apart and define and inspire artists to this day. Today, we pay homage to this bold and talented artist by taking a look at some of his greatest works.

"Port-Goulphar, Belle-Ile Painting" - Translates to "Rocks at Port-Goulphar, Belle-Ile.

This next series of pictures is of various areas in Monet’s gardens in Giverny, which were precious to him and appeared in quite a few of his paintings.

Monet's "Weeping Willow", painted in 1918.

Monet's "Water Lily Pond and Weeping Willow", painted between 1916 and 1919

Monet's "Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies", painted 1899

Monet's "Nympheas", painted 1915

Monet was also fond of painting his wife and family. This theme is displayed in the paintings below.

Monet's "The Woman In the Green" was of his wife Camille, painted in 1866

Monet's "Jean Monet on His Hobby Horse", painted in 1872

Monet's "Woman With A Parasol", features wife, Camille", and son, Jean, painted 1875

Monet’s paintings were mostly of outdoor scenes. Take a look at some of his most well known below.

Monet's "Argenteuil", painted 1875

Monet's "Rue Montorgueil", painted 1878

Monet's "Street in Vétheuil in Winter", painted 1879

Paris in March 2012

Paris in springtime – plenty to see, do, and eat. There’s also no small amount of local activities and unique Parisian events you can experience during March. Here’s our list of local happenings this month you should check out while in Paris.

Foire du Trone

If giant amusement parks are your thing, this is a must-visit. Held on the lawns of the Pelouse de Reuilly, this fair begins at the end of March and runs until the end of May. It actually dates all the way back to A.D. 957 from when farmers and merchants gathered to trade their goods. Acrobats, ferris wheels, fire eaters, carousels, and much more make this a pretty entertaining hotspot for a few months.

Banlieues Bleues

A jazz festival taking place between March 16th and April 13th that features an assortment of telented musicians from around the world. You won’t want to miss these smooth sounds!

Dancing Through Life

This is a wonderful exhibition that is being held at The Centre Georges Pompidou. It will feature influences shared between dancing and visual arts. Held through April 2nd, seeing the comparison of art and dance is a truly unique experience everyone can enjoy this spring!

Trompe l’oeil

Directly translated into “Tricking the Eye”, this is a show that opened in February of this year and runs until November of 2013. This exhibit has over 400 paintings, sculptures, and textiles that were crafted specifically to trick the eye. It’s being held at the Paris Arts Decoratifs museum.

Festival of the Imagination

Held on the boulevard Raspail and running from March 19th – June 17th, you can come explore cultural revolutions from the world over expressed in dance, music, and traditional displays. This is truly a unique festival for Paris, and anywhere for that matter. Something you won’t want to miss!

Salon Vivre aurement bio et nature 2012 trade show

Paris’s “go green” trade show! This is held at the Parc floral de Paris from March 16th thru March 19th.

La Bonheur Show

Presented by the Lido revue, this is a show that consists of 4 scenes: “La Femme” celebrating women and love, “Paris je t’aime” celebrating Parisian fashion and nightlife, “L’Inde Legendaire” celebrates Shiva and Indian culture, and “Reves d’etoiles” celebrating classic film and cabaret. Catch dinner while watching this unique Parisian show happening from January 1st through March 31st in the Chams-Elysees/Louvre district.

Tim Burton at the Cinematheque Francaise

Tim Burton lovers won’t want to miss this! Held March 7th through August 5th, this is an interesting look at this beloved filmmaker and director’s work through the years. Over 700 drawings, sculptures, models, film excerpts, and costumes featured!

Louvre Museum

The Louvre, originally a palace but now one of the largest and most visited museums in the world, is a must-visit for anyone with a slight interest in art. Some of the museum’s most famous works of art are the Mona Lisa and the Venus of Milo.

Originally a royal palace, the Louvre became a public museum at the end of the 18th century. It is located in the 1st arrondissement, in the heart of Paris.

Venus of Milo, Louvre Museum, Paris

Venus of Milo
There are about 35.000 objects on display, spread out over three wings of the former palace. The museum has a diverse collection ranging from the antiquity up to the mid 19th century. A large part of the collection consists of European paintings and sculptures. Other rooms contain Roman, Egyptian, Greek and Oriental art. There is also a section with ‘Objects d’Art’, where objects such as clocks, furniture, china and tapestries are displayed.

Some of the most famous works of art in the museum are the Venus of Milo, the Nike of Samothrake, the Dying Slave by Michelangelo and of course Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

History of the Louvre
Musée du Louvre

Louvre seen from across the Seine
The Louvre was created in several phases. Originally built as a 12th century fortress, it was converted into a royal palace in the 14th century.

Its current appearance goes back to the 15th century, when the original fortress was demolished and the wing along the Seine river was built. The palace was extended during the 16th century by architect Pierre Lescot, who expanded the palace into a complex with two courtyards. A decade later Catharina de Medici added the Tuileries palace to the west of the Louvre. Construction on the Louvre was halted for some time when king Louis XIV decided to move to the Versailles Palace.

In the 19th century, during the Second Empire, the Louvre was expanded again with the addition of the Richelieu wing.

East Wing, Louvre Museum

East Wing
The Louvre now had four symmetric wings surrounding a large courtyard. This would not last long, as the Communards burned the Tuileries palace in 1871, opening up the west side of the palace.

The collection of the Louvre Museum was first established in the 16th century by King Francis I. One of the works of art he purchased was the now famous Mona Lisa painting. The collection grew steadily thanks to donations and purchases by the kings. In 1793, during the French Revolution, the private royal collection opened to the public.

Louvre Pyramid

Louvre Pyramid

The most recent addition to the Louvre was the construction of the glass pyramid, which functions as the museum’s main entrance. The pyramid was built in 1989 by the renowned American architect I.M. Pei. The glass pyramid allows the sunlight to come in on the underground floor.

The modern addition originally received mixed reviews, as it contrasts sharply with the classical design of the surrounding buildings, but today it is generally accepted as a clever solution which has given the museum a spacious central entrance without the need to touch the historic patrimony.