Chateau de Versailles: get there before 9

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A few tips about beating the crowds. You will be utterly disappointed if you arrive late . . . you could find yourself waiting in line for hours. I like to arrive early and normally take the day to visit the Palace and immediate surrounding gardens and fountains. The estate is vast and I’d recommend seeing the rest (Grand Trianon and gardens of the Grand Trianon, Petit Trianon, Queen’s hamlet, French and Anglo-Chinese gardens, French pavilion, temple of Love…) on a separate visit. More on that in an upcoming blog.

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A little history: The site began as Louis XIII’s hunting lodge before his son Louis XIV transformed and expanded it, moving the court and government of France to Versailles in 1682. In the 1670s Louis XIV built the Grand Apartments of the King and Queen, whose most emblematic achievement is the Hall of Mirrors designed by Mansart, where the king put on his most ostentatious display of royal power in order to impress visitors.

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Tickets cost 15 euros and are best bought online before getting there. Ticket in hand, head directly for entrance “A”. An audio-guide in 11 languages is included in the price of the ticket.
The Grand Apartments of the Palace are most crowded from 10am to 3pm. The halls can be jammed, stuffy and visitation is at a snail’s pace. It can be a real turnoff. The first Sunday of months from November to March, admission is free. It’s also free to those under 26 who are residents of the European Union, school children, and teachers assigned to a French establishment.

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Versailles is closed on Mondays, January 1, May 1 and December 25. Hours are 9- 6:30. To get there:

RER C
To get to the palace of Versailles, make sure to buy a “Paris – Versailles Rive Gauche” ticket (zones 1-4) (T+ ticket is not valid for this journey).

SNCF Trains
Arrive at Versailles Chantiers station from Paris Montparnasse
Arrive at Versailles Rive Droite station from Paris Saint Lazare

Train schedule on www.transilien.com

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If you are a museum junkie and have all the time in the world get a Paris Museum Pass.
More information at the Versailles homepage. Definitely worth a visit.

Easter in Paris

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Some of the world’s best chocolatiers reside in Paris. Here are a few good addresses:

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To celebrate Easter, Fauchon has drawn inspiration from Douanier Rousseau’s best works of art to create the collection. Drawing on the beauty and exoticism of the peacock, products are decorated with different shades of color. This ‘Peacock Egg’, a handmade creation, is made entirely chocolate.

Fauchon
24-26, place de la Madeleine, Paris 8e – Métro Madeleine
www.fauchon.com

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The Maison du Chocolat plays on different levels to create their Easter collection of mischievous rabbits, straight out of Wonderland. With eyes bigger than their stomachs and grinning from ear to ear, these rabbits dressed like chefs are all chocolate.

La Maison du Chocolat
225, rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, Paris 8e
www.lamaisonduchocolat.com

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The chocolatier has decided to entertain us with some amusing gourmet creations. For this 2014 edition, pigs, toads, and sheep all made from chocolate take center stage.

Patrick Roger
http://www.patrickroger.com
118, boulevard de Saint-Germain, 75006

Easter Brunch
The Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme offers a special brunch. Starters are Brazilian prawns, sushi and maki, or Vitello with pine nuts. For the main meal, choose from Carnaroli risotto with lemon zest, saddle of suckling lamb or an organic omelette with morel mushrooms (as a main course). For dessert, choose something chocolaty from the Extravaganza dessert buffet.
Price
Starters/desserts from the buffet, choice of main meal and a glass of champagne Laurent Perrier 2004: €125
Prestige menu includes a glass of Grande Cuvée champagne Krug: €165

Easter brunch, Sunday 20 April and Monday 21 April 2014
Restaurant Les Orchidées, Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme
5, rue de la Paix, Paris 2e – Métro Opéra
http://paris.vendome.hyatt.com

Don’t forget mass at Notre Dame. Here’s the schedule:

Easter Sunday 20 April 2014
8.30am. Mass celebrated at the main altar
9.30am. Laudes
10am. Gregorian Mass
11.30am. International mass
12.45pm. Mass celebrated at the main altar
4.30pm. Great Organ
5.45pm. Vespers
6.30pm. Mass

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
Place Jean-Paul II – 6, parvis de Notre-Dame, 75004
www.notredamedeparis.fr

The Paris boutique hotel list: hip vs charm

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Wrap up in a soft white monogrammed robe, pop the champagne and unwind in your cozy boutique hotel room after the long flight to Paris. The following are all well located with chez this chez that dining just around the corner. They range from ultra-mod Phillip Stark to chintzy French provincal plush. Scroll through our suggestions, click through to their home pages, then move on down to Trip Advisor for their reviews. You can book directly (most staffers speak some English and you’ll bypass the middleman fee) or price at Expedia, Travelocity, Kayak, booking.com or hotels.com. Do your homework, you’ll be rewarded $$$.

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Location is everything and all of these get our stamp of approval. Of course you know to book well ahead of your departure for the best deals. Price usually equates to the size of the room. Don’t be shocked at how tiny some are, especially the bathrooms. Most are ideal for short getaways when you can afford to spend a little more. Twenty to fifty dollars more per night can buy you a lot more room, amenities, charm and sometimes a free petit dejuner. Why you’re visiting Paris, non?

Dauphine Saint Germain Hotel
36 Rue Dauphine, 6th, 1-866-599-6674
http://www.dauphine-st-germain.com
Romantic and picturesque without being overly cute.

Hotel Le Six
14, rue Stanislas, 6th
http://www.hotel-le-six.com/en/
Known for its accommodating staff.

Hôtel Sublim Eiffel
94 boulevard Garibaldi, 15th
+33 1 4065 9595, Métro: Sèvres Lecourbe.
Doubles from €189
Steam room, fireplace bar, metro map carpeting, Paris kitsch
sublimeiffel.com

Hotel Design de la Sorbonne
6 rue Victor Cousin, 5th, +33 1 4354 5808, Métro: Cluny-La Sorbonne
Doubles from €165
Pizzaz, designer colors, in room computers.
http://www.hotelsorbonne.com/en/

Hotel Bonaparte
61 rue Bonaparte, 6th, +33 1 4326 9737, Métro: Mabillon. Doubles from €130
Rooms feature 19th-century architectural elements such as stone fireplace mantels and moulded ceilings.
http://www.hotelbonaparte.fr

Petit Belloy St Germain
Notre Dame and the Louvre are less than 15 minutes away.
1 rue Racine, 6th, +33 1 4326 8713, Métro: Cluny-La Sorbonne. On special now from €129

http://www.hotel-petit-belloy-saint-germain.com/en

Hotel du Cadran
10 rue du Champs de Mars, 7th, +33 1 4062 6700, Métro: Ecole Militaire. Doubles from €119. Modern, can be noisy. Opening soon, their very own chocolate bar.

http://www.cadranhotel.com

Hotel 7 Eiffel
17bis Rue Amélie, 7th
Phone:+33 1 45 55 10 01
Marble bathrooms and Fragonard toiletries. In summer the rooftop terrace is open to guests.
www.hotel-7eiffel-paris.com

Hôtel Du Prince Eugène
247 Bd Voltaire, 11th. For a change of pace, take a walk on the hip East Side.
http://www.paris-hotel-princeeugene.com

Hotel d’Angleterre Saint Germain des Prés
44 Rue Jacob, 6th. A solid choice, popular with Americans

http://www.hotel-angleterre-paris.net

Le Fabe Hotel
A Left Bank find (Montparnasse), somewhat out of the way but clean, well priced.
113 bis rue de l’Ouest, 14th, +33 1 4044 0963, Métro: Pernety.

http://www.lefabehotel.fr/en/

Villa Saint Germain des Prés
29 Rue Jacob 6th, +33 (0)1 43 26 60 00. Popular, great reviews.

http://www.villa-saintgermain.com

Hotel Sezz
6 Ave. Frémiet, 16th, +33 1 56 75 26 26
Designer WOW. Right Bank. Murano-glass fixtures in the lobby. No front desk, instead a team of personal assistants to guide you. Champagne bar, campy, chic.

http://www.hotelsezz.com

Paris Metro: A spectacular station

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Cluny-La Sorbonne. The metro station where you’ll find yourself dallying intrigued by the artful mosaics. Line 10 runs from Boulogne to Pont de St. Cloud and Gare d’Austerlitz.

The station was opened in 1930 with the extension of line 10 from Odéon to Place d’Italie (now on line 7). It was a ghost station between 1939 and 1988 (deemed too close to other stations), then reopened to connect with the new St-Michel – Notre-Dame RER station and give access to the Boulevard Saint-Germain.

A huge bird by stained-glass artist Jean Rene Bazaine dominates the ceiling. Surrounding the piece are sprawling signatures of Latin Quarter writers, poets, philosophers, kings and statesmen like Moliere, Robespierre and Marie Curie. Spend some time gazing at the ceiling. How many can you identify?

Pop up and you’ll find yourself at the Cluny Museum which is partly constructed on the remains of Gallo-Roman baths dating from the 3rd century known as the Thermes de Cluny. A good 3-hour visit will satiate Medieval History fans.

To see where this metro station is located in the grand scheme of things click here: RATP.

A morning walk through Place du Tertre

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Un petit tour. Some of the characters along the way.

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A touristy place, not without color or authenticity. Best to visit early, then take the train back down to the metro or continue your walk down to Sacre Coeur for a magnificent view of Paris.

Feeling rosy: Au Nom de la Rose florists

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In 1913 Gertrude Stein wrote the line of poetry “A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose”. In 1991, just a few blocks away (4, rue de Tournon) from her home off the Jardin du Luxembourg, Au Nom de la Rose made her words come to life.

Walk into a shop and you’re enveloped in Tango, Piaget, Papa Meilland scented roses. They use over twenty varieties, some from their own bushes in the Nimes region, others from one of the last garden rose producers in Hyeres and as far away as Ecuador and Kenya. The concept is theirs alone and they’re expanding their franchise all over Europe. Thankfully, you can order their fragrant products online or drop by one of your neighborhood shops for a truly rosariffic experience. Their small bouquets make the perfect gift for your dinner party hostess.

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47, bld Saint Germain, 5th arr
Tel: 01 40 51 02 02

4, rue de Tournon, 6th arr
Tel: 01 46 34 10 64

50, rue du Cherche Midi, 6th
Tel: 01 42 22 84 84

1, bld du Montparnasse, 6th
Fax: 01 40 56 02 03

46, rue du Bac, 7th
Tel: 01 42 22 22 12

51, rue Cler, 7th
Tel: 01 44 18 98 01

150, rue du faubourg Saint Antoine, 12th
Tel: 09 50 60 36 65

5, rue de Lourmel, 15th
Tel: 01 45 79 01 01

285, rue de Vaugirard, 15th
Tel: 01 48 42 22 22

81, rue Lecourbe, 15th
Tel: 01 53 86 92 30

7, avenue Mozart, 16th
Tel: 01 45 25 03 03

188, avenue de Versailles, 16th
Tel: 01 42 24 48 48

112, avenue Victor Hugo, 16th
Tel: 01 45 53 53 00

24, avenue Mac Mahon, 17th
Tel: 01 45 74 40 80

Rue Montorgueil-Les Halles: No egg-stuffed waffle tacos coated in syrup here

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Closed to traffic, this 3-block street in the center of Paris boasts some of the best bakeries (Stohrer, Boulanger de Monge), gourmet cheese and chocolate shops, historic restaurants, late-night cafes, and kitchen supply establishments. Etienne Marcel, Les Halles or Sentier metro stops will get you there. Check out the map on page 80, Walking Tour Five of your No Worries Paris guidebook and you’ll see what else to explore in the surrounds.

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It’s the true center of Paris, before 1970, the sprawling home of the now dismantled Les Halles covered market. Sniffing and tasting your way down you’ll see old storefront vestiges remain. I’m certain you’ll want to return to this vibrant quartier more than once. A good excuse is Jean Charles Rochous Chocolatier (at no. 15) for silver boxes stuffed with heavenly dark chocolate truffles (best in Paris), great gifts for friends.

No Taco Bell crunch wraps, Cinnabon Delights, I-Hop cheesecake stuffed pancakes, Krispy Kreme sloppy joe sandwiches, but if you want to cheat, there’s a small Starbuck’s at one end.

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