Tuesday, February 12, 2013

An Uncommon Paris Agenda

Sooooo you've seen the requisite priceless works of art at the Louvre and the D'Orsay. You've been awed by the Saint Chapelle and Notre Dame.You've trekked out to Montmartre and climbed to the top of the Sacre Coeur, and had your senses assaulted in every way at the Rue Mouffetard market. 

What's next? Here are a few less conventional things to do in Paris. Each are worthwhile in their own way. Monkey commentary included since we were just there again last weekend (yes, you can hate me)......

Take A Boat Ride Along the Canal Saint Martin
Who wouldn't want to take a lovely boat tour through the canals of Paris. If you have seen everything along the Seine, head over to the Canal St. Martin for a boat ride though som non-touristy neighborhoods of Paris. Canauxrama has a good tour from what I have heard. You get a historical commentary as you pass through the locks along the canal. You start the ride at the Parc de la Villette and end near the Bastille. 

Monkey Commentary: It was effing snowing and freezing over the weekend. You can bet your ass I was not on a boat. Maybe in May.

Visit Paris's Most Famous Flea Markets
Paris has feast-for-the-eyes flea markets. The best of which is the Clignancourt Flea Market in the north of Paris. It is the largest flea market in the world, with all manner of furniture, antiques, books, clothes......anything you could want. Here is a decent Paris Flea market website with info.

Monkey Commentary: Yeah so see above about the canal boat ride. I had long underwear on under my clothes the entire weekend (sexy) and I still didn't want to wander around outdoors. Again, the flea markets can wait till May. 

Visit the Musee Marmottan-Monet
Well this was a nice surprise.
The Musee Marmottan-Monet is located in a hoity-toity neighborhood on the west side of Paris. I have a penchant for bite-sized art museums, and this one is perfect. It is located in a stately 19th century mansion with just a few rooms of art, so you don't feel overwhelmed or in a rush to see everything. The museum has quite a collection of Monets, as well as a few noteworthy Cezanne and Sisley paintings - if you are into Impressionism and such. 
Monkey Commentary: I read that this museum was "the best kept secret in Paris", I wouldn't go that far. But still, it was worth the trip. 

Trek Over to the Basilique Saint-Denis,
This random church on the outskirts of Paris is the burial place of nearly all the past kings and queens of France,
including Clovis, Marie Antoinette, and Louis XIV. It was also once the burial place for martyrs from the earliest centuries of the Catholic church, including St. Dennis - who was beheaded. Statures ALL over the church will graphically remind you of said beheading...... Definitely do the audio tour so you get an appreciation of the gruesome details on all the spooky graves that are there.
Monkey Commentary: Too cold inside the church for me to really enjoy at the time, despite the long underwear. It is worth the Metro ride to see all that history though.
Learn About Parisian History at the Musee Carnavalet (and Shopping)
The Musee Carnavelet is smack-dab in the middle of the Marias area of Paris, west of the Place de Vosges.The museum has lots of random bits, furniture, and pieces of art relating to the history of Paris, including the French Revolution - which I know very little about, I realized. Admission is free and the surrounding neighborhood is great for shopping and/or lunch.
Monkey Commentary: The museum had really hot radiators in each room that were waist-high so I could put my legs in full contact of heat as I walked through the exhibits. OK the place seemed not well curated (I wasn't sure what I was looking at most of the time), but they do have a really impressive art collection. Or maybe I was just warm......whatever, this museum is free and located amongst the outstanding boutique shops in the Marais. So definitely worth a trip, if only to shop after gettin' cultured and warmed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My favorite : Longchamps to watch the steeple-chase up close.