We are never at a loss for things to do in Paris. The more we go, the more I learn about interesting spots in the glorious City of LIght to add to my “to do and see” list. While I have “must dos” on every trip like the Marais, Place Vosges, Ile Sainte Louis and Saint Chapelle concerts, it is great fun to check out some new spots.
Let me share some recent discoveries with you.
Discovery #1: Deyrolle
When I mentioned to Kathy, my friend and traveling companion, that I wanted to visit a shop not far from the lovely cafe in Saint Germain where we savored delicious Chevre Chaud salads, she probably thought I would take her to some trendy fashion boutique.
Hah! Surprised her. We went to one of the most unusual stores in Paris. A taxidermy shop. Sounds crazy but it was fun. The small retail space on the street level at 46 Rue du Bac almost looked like a garden goods store, but, wow, what you see when you make your way up the winding stairs, Oh My.
Lions and tigers and lots of surprises.
This museum-like store is 175 years old and has drawn curio seekers and collectors to view its stuffed animals and butter fly collections for a very long time.
Discovery #2: The Jardin des Plantes
The Jardin des Plantes has been on my “go to” list forever. This large park in the 5th Arrondissement doesn’t get the attention that Luxembourg Gardens does. The problem is that it is a bit out of the normal tourist track. One really needs to make a plan to go there……but it is well worth the trip and I will go back.
Jarden des Plantes was planted in 1635 as a medicinal herb garden for the king. It’s quiet and charming and has a very different “feel” than many of the Paris parks. What a lovely spot for a stroll.
Discovery #3: La Coupole
We had dinner one night at La Coupole in the 14th Arrondissement in an area called Montparnasse, made famous in the 1920s. While I sat in our group of six chatting about the fun things we had done that day, part of me was zooming back in time when this grand cafe opened in 1927. It held 450 people and had a dance hall in the basement.
The jazz age frescos surrounded us and using my imagination I could visualize Picasso, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and many other artistic and literary luminaries ensconced in booths, debating the issues of the day while consuming vast amounts of Absinthe. I understand that painters like Salvador Dali strolled from table to table trying to sell their work.
Oh, what fun it would be to go back in time…..but the good news is that marvelous eatery hasn’t been torn down and replaced with a Starbucks. You can get a feel for what this was like in the 1920s where you might have an intellectual conversation or started or ended an affair. All was possible in Paris.
Discovery #4: Passage du Grand Cerf
Most people know about Champs Elysees and Avenue Montaigne and maybe the fashion boutiques in the Saint Germain area. But I wonder how many discover the Passages. They are hard to find but we try to search one out on each trip…..they are retail therapy at its best and certainly interesting.
At the end of the 18th century, town planners in Paris created a labyrinth of hidden passages across Paris. Over the years many fell into disrepair or were demolished, but if you know where to look you can still push back a doorway and walk into a fabulous belle époque arcade, a glittering art nouveau galerie or an ancient courtyard.
Only about 20 still exist and on this last trip we sought out Passages du Grand Cerf. I have also enjoyed Galleries Vivienne. Next trip Passage des Panoramas is on my “to find” list.
Discovery #5 Musee Jacque-Andre
A Grand Rapids friend told me about this museum not too far from the Arche De Triomphe on Blvd. Haussmann and I’m so glad she did. I love visiting old house/palace/castle/villa museums and Musee Jacque-Andre did not disappoint.
It was crowded the rainy day we were there as they were hosting an exhibit that I think every one in Paris wanted to see, but I still got the sense for what it must have been like to live in a grand Belle Epoch mansion. Beautiful.
And while we didn’t get to eat in the tea room, I’d go back to savor a meal in this charming spot. It looked like a lovely alternative to the many sidewalk cafes along the boulevard. Please add your Paris Discoveries in the comment section below for DesignDestination readers to enjoy.