Things to Do in Paris - page 4
The world of Parisian cabarets dates back to the late 1800s, but the iconic Crazy Horse didn’t make its debut until 1951. It has been making waves ever since as a way to pay homage to a long-standing part of Parisian nightlife.
Pulling back the curtain on this storied cabaret, patrons can expect an evening of provocative yet sophisticated entertainment. The sultry performances are grandiose; the talented female dancers move across the stage with ease and the colorful lighting plays a major role in the dance numbers.
The cabaret underwent a makeover in 2005, when new management brought in some of the world’s top names to perform, including Dita von Teese and even Pamela Anderson. It's all a bit cheeky, 100 percent classy and a one-of-a-kind show, the original Parisian event.
Located on one of Paris’ two natural islands in the Seine river, the Palais de Justice is among the oldest surviving buildings of the former royal palace. The middle of three impressive buildings on the Île de la Cité (the other two are the medieval Gothic chapel Sainte Chapelle and the former prison the Conciergerie, which is now a museum), the Palais de Justice is notorious for its role during the French revolution, where more than 1,000 people (including Marie-Antoinette) were condemned to death before being imprisoned at the Conciergerie next door and executed on the guillotine.
Because the Palais is still used for judicial purposes today, visitors are not allowed to tour the premises. However, touring the Conciergerie and Sainte Chapelle is a great way to check out the Palais de Justice from the outside. Sainte Chapelle has an impressive collection of stained glass windows, and provides the closest look of the Palais de Justice available to the general public.
Located in the center of Paris in the 2nd arrondissement, Rue Montorgueil is a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood where, within a three block radius, you’ll find some of Paris’s best bites. The market street was once the home of the iconic Les Halles wholesale market, and while that was disbanded in the 1970s, its foodie culture remains in the form of fish and meat markets, restaurants, bistros, food shops, chocolatiers, pastry shops and kitchen supply stores.
For many a traveling foodie, the crowning jewel of the Rue Montorgueil neighborhood is La Maison Stohrer, a patisserie that opened in 1730, making it the oldest still-standing pastry shop in the city.
Opened in 2005, the Shoah Memorial, or Memorial de la Shoah, is a museum located in the Marais, Paris’ 4th arrondissement, dedicated to the 76,000 French Jews deported from France to Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Honoring their memory through a series of poignant monuments and focusing on educating the public about the harrowing truths of the Holocaust, the museum is one of the country’s most moving tributes to its Jewish population.
Exhibits are centered around a number of memorials including the moving Wall of Names, a series of tall stone plinths listing the names and dates of French Jews lost in the war. The Crypt, a huge Star of David carved out of black marble, is a symbolic tomb for the millions of unburied Jews, containing ashes recovered from the concentration camps, and the heartrending Children’s Memorial showcases eerily lit photographs of some of the 11,000 children murdered.
A sea of high-rise office towers and modern skyscrapers encompassing 1.6 square kilometers at the western tip of the city, La Défense is Paris' purpose-built business district -- a modernist showcase of Paris in the 20th century.
La Défense was developed back in the 1960s by then President Charles de Gaulle, in an effort to minimize the detrimental effect of office blocks taking over downtown Paris. Restricting building heights across the city center, the business district was pushed to the western end of the city’s 10km-long Historical Axis, which stretches between the Louvre, the Champs-Elysees and Arc de Triomphe.
A towering district of glass and steel structures and the largest dedicated business district in Europe, La Défense boasts a number of striking buildings, including the GAN Tower -- Paris' tallest skyscraper at 179 meters -- and one of Europe’s largest shopping malls, Les Quatre Temps.
Built by King Louis XIII in 1615, Le Marche des Enfants Rouges (the ‘Market of the Red Children') is Paris’ oldest covered food market, taking its name from a 16th-century orphanage nearby, where the kids were dressed in red. Today, the historic market remains among the top attractions of the Marais district and it’s a lively introduction to Parisian life, with stalls heaped with seasonal produce and a steady stream of locals passing through its doors.
As well as picking up fresh flowers, fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood, the market is a top spot to sample regional produce like cheese, saucisson, foie gras and wine. There are also several street food stalls and food counters to eat lunch, serving a range of different cuisine, from Moroccan couscous to Japanese sushi or fresh oysters.
With its diverse mix of ethnicities and burgeoning art scene, Belleville has made a name for itself as one of Paris’ most fashionably eclectic districts, drawing a hip crowd of young locals, students and creative types. Integrated into Paris in 1860, Belleville started life as a hilltop village, famed for its lively guingettes and surrounding vineyards, and the vibrant neighborhood still retains much of its original character.
Today, Belleville is renowned for its sprawling Chinatown and abundance of international restaurants, quirky bars, independent art galleries and small music venues, while the hillside Belleville Park offers spectacular views over Paris. Additional landmarks include the churches of Saint Jean Baptiste de Belleville and Notre Dame de la Croix, the old aqueduct, the site of the old Belleville funicular and the birthplace of iconic French singer Edith Piaf.
Set on the southern bank of the Seine River, the historic area known as the 'Left Bank,' or 'Rive Gauche,' was once the stomping ground of Parisian artists, writers and philosophers, encompassing six arrondissements of Paris including the popular Montparnasse district. The area is widely known for its famous inhabitants - celebrated artist Pablo Picasso lived on the Left Bank throughout the war years, joined by French artist Henri Matisse, playwright and philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre and poets Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine. Even legendary American writers Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald chose the Left Bank for their Parisian base.
As it was once known as a bohemian domain where creativity flourished, the Rive Gauche is now an affluent neighborhood of middle class homes, shopping boutiques and restaurants, and also encompasses many of the city’s most renowned attractions.
More Things to Do in Paris
French Romantic artist Eugene Delacroix moved into a studio on Rue de Furstenberg on Dec. 28, 1857, and lived there until his death in August of 1863. After his death, a group of painters and art collectors created the Friends of Eugene Delacroix Society (Société des Amis d’Eugène Delacroix) in order to save his former flat from destruction. The society purchased the building in 1952 and donated it to the French government for use as a museum two years later.
Musee Eugene Delacroix opened as a national museum in 1971 and today showcases paintings from nearly every stage of Delacroix’s career (most famously Magdalene in the Desert), as well as his furniture, souvenirs brought back from a trip to Morocco and personal items. A downloadable mobile app in English includes a free guide to the museum collection.
Spread over an incredible 2,400 acres (that's around 3 times the size of New York's famous Central Park), the public park of Bois de Vincennes (Vicennes Wood) has been offering Parisians welcome respite from the urban bustle since the 12th century. Originally designed by Baron Haussman as a royal hunting ground for Louis VII, the collection of lakes and woodlands also form part of the grounds of the 14th-century Chateau de Vincennes.
Earning the nickname of the 'Lungs of Paris,' the park offers a seemingly endless stretch of greenery on the cusp of the city, with a vast network of walking, cycling and horseback riding trails spanning over 32km, as well as a number of attractions. Popular highlights include the Daumesnil Lake, where you can take a scenic boat trip out to the two islets; the Bois de Vicennes Buddist Temple, with its pretty wooden pavilion and towering Buddha statue; and the Lac des Minimes, where a footbridge leads out to the island restaurant.
There are few railway stations more photo-worthy than Gare St Lazare—Paris’ busiest train station. Its iconic architecture, sky-high halls and old-world charm have inspired the likes of impressionist painters Edouard Manet and Calude Monet. With 27 platforms servicing more than 100 million passengers a year, this transport hub will likely be a part of any traveler’s visit to the City of Lights. And while the station’s easy eticket system, pay toilets and well-kept grounds are a delight for travelers, visitors should also plan to spend some time taking in the people, the architecture and the energy that inspired an entire generation of artists.
Visitors shouldn’t let the somewhat enigmatic name fool them into thinking this is a peculiar museum; the Carnavalet Museum is indeed one of Paris’ finest. Initially an idea of Baron Haussmann, who carried out extensive renovation works all around Paris in the late 1800s, the museum retraces Paris’ history all the way from the Lutèce Roman village it once was to the vibrant metropolis it has now become. Located in two 16th-century lavish townhouses – formerly known as Hôtel de Carnavalet (where an icon of French literature, the famous marquise de Sévigné, lived) and Hôtel d’Orgeval – in Le Marais, the architectural setting of the museum is just as captivating at the collection it houses.
One of the oldest streets in Paris, running from Maubert place to the Saint Medard Square in Paris' Latin Quarter, Rue Mouffetard is built along the route of an ancient Roman Road. Today, the pedestrianized street is the lifeline of one of Paris' most atmospheric areas, with tourists flocking to visit its lively street market (open every day except Monday) and soak up the quaint Parisian feel.
The Rue Mouffetard market, close by the apartment where Ernest Hemingway once resided, has roots stretching back to as early as 1350AD and remains one of Paris’ most famous street markets. Stretching along the southern half of the street, the colorful market is characteristic of a medieval marketplace with a medley of stalls lining the cobblestones and cabaret singers often busking on the sidewalks to earn a few extra euros. Food is the main produce on offer and there’s an excellent array of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood.
Legendary for harbouring some of Paris’s most iconic artists and intellectuals, Montparnasse lies on the city’s Left Bank, in the 14th aggrandisement, and remains a popular tourist attraction. Taking its name from the Greek Mount Parnassus, home to ‘the Muses’ (the nine Greek Goddesses of the arts and sciences), Montparnasse was the central hub of Paris’s creativity throughout the 20th century. Home to a vibrant population of penniless artists and grass roots intellectuals, the area was a meeting ground for the era’s burgeoning arts scene. Future icons like Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce were among the immigrants who flocked to the area, along with a number of key French figures, many of whom are now buried in the Montparnasse cemetery. While the golden era might be long gone, the neighbourhood retains much of its gritty charm, with its many traditional cafés and creperies (pancake houses) recreating some of the vibe of historic Paris.
Les Halles began as a central covered food market, nicknamed “the stomach” of Paris for its winding, tightly packed networks of vendors selling, fish, meat and produce for eight centuries. In 1971 the market was dismantled and relocated to the Parisian suburb of Rungis, and in 1979 the partially underground Forum des Halles shopping center and a connecting metro station opened at the east end of the site.
While Paris’s iconic, beloved market exists only in memory, the neighborhood remains a popular destination for both locals and visitors. Points of interest include the sixteenth century Saint Eustache Church (home of the largest pipe organ in France) and the Pompidou Centre, home of the Musee National d’Art.
Also included on the grounds, and until recently under the supervision of the Senate, is the Musée du Luxembourg, France's first public museum. The works originally shown there have since been moved to the Louvre, and today it shows important exhibitions by classic and contemporary artists. It has a constantly changing exhibition schedule, so even repeat visitors can see something new.
Europe has no lack of Picasso museums, but the Musée Picasso in Paris should be at the top of your list. The Hotel Salé, a mid-17th-century home in Le Marais, was renovated from residence to museum, starting in 1968, and since then has developed a world-class collection of more than 3,000 of Picasso's works spanning his entire, prolific career.
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was the outstanding genius of 20th-century art: he painted, drew, and otherwise created from his early youth until his death at the age of 91. Much of his prolific and prodigious legacy can be found in the wonderful Musée Picasso.
The Spanish-born artist spent a great deal of his life in Paris, and while this museum may not hold his big name works, it does offer the most complete overview of his oeuvre, and highlights his playfulness and humor. Tucked away in the chic Marais neighborhood, the museum is housed in the Hôtel Salé, a wonderfully restored 17th-century mansion.
Built from 1969 until 1972, this building was the tallest in France, from the moment it was built up to the year 2011. Tour Montparnasse may not be much to look at from the outside. After all, it shares the skyline with the Eiffel Tower and is in the same city as architectural gems like the Louvre, Notre-Dame, Sacre Coeur and the Panthéon. And the SNCF train station in its foundation doesn't have much to admire, either.
It's not until you get to the 56th observation floor that visiting Tour Montparnasse becomes entirely worth it. The view from the Eiffel Tower is wonderful, sure – but the view from Tour Montparnasse has the Eiffel Tower in it! And on a nice day, the rooftop terrace on top of all 59 floors has a 360-degree view of Paris that is nothing short of breathtaking.
Things to do near Paris
- Things to do in Île-de-France
- Things to do in Versailles
- Things to do in Marne-la-Vallée
- Things to do in Rouen
- Things to do in Reims
- Things to do in Blois
- Things to do in Deauville City
- Things to do in Le Havre
- Things to do in Lille
- Things to do in Dijon
- Things to do in Ghent
- Things to do in Dover
- Things to do in Zaventem
- Things to do in Champagne
- Things to do in Normandy