Thursday, February 17, 2011

19 things NOT TO MISS in Paris

Source: Rough Guide to Paris (12 ed. February 2010)

1. NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL - mighty gothic cathedral with its exquisite rose windows and soaring nave, is an awe-inspiring sight

2. BRASSERIES - exquisite belle epoque interiors, enormous platters of seafood, perfect steaks and bustling white-aproned waiters. The city's traditional brasseries offer an authentic slice of Parisian llife.

3. EIFFEL TOWER - the closer you get to its radical structure, the more exhilarating and less familiar the Eiffel Tower feels

4. PUCES DE ST-OUEN - it's easy to lose track of an entire weekend morning browsing the acres of fine antiques, covetable curios and general bric-a-brac at St-Ouen, the mother of Paris's flea markets

5. SUNDAYS IN THE MARAIS - the twin attractions of "le brunch" and the chance to do some designer shopping make a relaxed Sunday to visit to the Marais a must in every trendy Parisian's week

6. VAUX-LE-VICOMTE - Paris is ringed by splended chateaux, all easily reachable on a day-trip. Versailles may be the grandest, but Vaus-le-Vicomte is built on a more  charming, inviting and human scale - and is far less crowded.

7. ART-HOUSE CINEMAS - with everything from old Hollywood classics to avant-garde international cinema, Paris is one of the world's best cities to catch a film on the big screen.

8. PASSAGES - nineteenth century arcades are gradually being restored to their former glory and are a fertile hunting ground for curios and one-off buys.

9. PERE-LACHAISE - pay homage to Chopin, Oscar Wilde or Jim Morrison - just some of the countless notables buried in what is arguably the world's most famous cemetery.

10. SITE DE CREATION CONTEMPORAINE - if you're tired of galleries that feel like mausoleums for the dead art of the past, make for this chic, Bohemian gallery, which showcases the exciting work of contemporary artists.

11. JARDIN DU LUXEMBOURG - the oasis of the Left Bank. Students hang out on the lawns , old men play chess under the trees and children sail toy yachts around the pond.

12. POMPIDOU CENTRE - the Pompidou's radical "inside-out" architecture still draws the crowds, but don't miss its fine modern art museum inside, with significant works by Matisse, Kandinsky and Picasso.

13. PLACES DES VOSGES - a superb architectural ensemble, the elegant Place des Vosges is lined with arcaded seventeenth-century buildings and has an attractive and popular garden at its centre.

14. MUSEE JACQUEMART-ANDRE - this sumptuous Second Empire residence, built for the art-loving Jacquemart-Andre couple, is preserved more or less intact, complete with its fabulous collection of Italian, Dutch and French masters.

15. LEFT BANK CAFES - the cafes of St-Germain and Montparnasse may have swamped writers, artists and existentialists for fashionistas and glitterati, but they remain gloriously Parisian institutions.

16. MUSEE RODIN - elegance matched with passion. Rodin's powerful works are shown off to their best advantage in the sculptor's beautiful eighteenth-century mansion.

17. SAINTE-CHAPELLE - the glorious interior of the Sainte-Chapelle, with its almost entirely stained-glass walls, ranks among the finest achievements of French High Gothic.

18. HAMMAM AT THE PARIS MOSQUE - steam-baths, or hammams, are among the city's better-kept secrets. At the Paris mosque, you can bathe, have a massage, then drink mint tea in the tiled courtyard.

19. THE LOUVRE - if the brilliance of the Louvre's art collection doesn't bring you to your knees, the sheer scale of the place will.

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