Paris’s Most Opulent Bridge: Pont Alexandre III

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Every bridge across the Seine has fascinating history and its own certain charm but the one that gets most votes from camera toting tourists has to be Pont Alexandre III. A graceful arch, loaded with art nouveau sculptures, and anchored by four pillars disguised as works of art, the bridge was built and named for a dual purpose.

pont Alexandre III Paris

The Universal Exhibition (1900’s World Fair) was being staged on either side of the Seine and a structure for transporting visitors between exhibits was part of the plan. That a bridge be constructed bearing the name of Czar Alexander III was a gesture to encourage the development of a Franco-Russian friendship, a sort of counterweight to the growing might of Germany. The first stone was laid by Czar Nicholas II in October 1896, who followed Alexander III to the throne in 1894.

pont Alex III Noworries paris

Day and night the bridge is captivating. Barge and vehicle traffic as well as commentary from the open air tourist ferries amp up the volume. Look both ways for a direct view of Invalides (Napoleon’s Tomb), Petit and Grand Palais and squint for the Champs Elysees. The engineers were instructed to build the Alexandre a certain height for this very reason. The French like to line their monuments up. Take for example, the Louvre, Place de la Concorde, Arch de Triumph and La Defense.

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Tour Number One in your No Worries Paris guides you to this bridge. You might want to linger for more than a few minutes.

Louvre: Apartments of Napoleon III – let’s party!

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Napoleon III Apartments

If you don’t have time to venture to Versailles to see how French royalty lived, take the shortcut to the Louvre’s Richelieu Wing, a place that a lot of tourists miss.

Napoleon III apartments

What you’re seeing was the official residence of the Ministre d’Etat – the chief minister in the government, not the imperial family. Built between 1854 and 1861 by the architect Hector Lefuel, the set of rooms was basically built for partying and entertaining.

Following the model of the Kings of France and of his uncle, Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon III moved his official residence to the Tuileries Palace, where he had a far bigger and opulent suite of rooms on the ground floor of the south wing between he Seine and the pavilion de Horloge, facing the garden. Unfortunately they no longer exist, though all the superb furniture, fittings, and moveable works of art do.

dining room Napoleon III

The Tuileries was just one of many palaces the Emporer and Empress hung out in during the calendar year. At the beginning of May, the court moved to the Chateau of Saint-Cloud, for outdoor activities in the park. In June and July, they moved with selected guests to the Palace of Fontainebleau, for walks in the forest, and boating on the lake. In July, it was thermal baths for a health cure at Plombieres and Vichy, then, after 1856, to the military camp and residence at Chalons-sur-Marne. Then there was September in Biarritz where they occupied a large villa overlooking the sea. Walks on the beach, visits to the mountains, dancing, singing, playing cards, amateur theatricals and charades entertained their guests. November brough another move to the Château de Compiègne for forest excursions, dancing and more games. Scientists and artists, such as Louis Pasteur, Gustave Flaubert, Eugene Delacroix and Verdi, were some of the VIP’s on the guest list.

Let the good times roll. Here’s a map to help you locate this gallery.

map Napoleon III apts

Paris on the fringe

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and if you want to walk the hot spots as well as the city’s fringes be sure to bring along a copy of

No Worries Paris Cover

click here for where to get your copy. Available in print and as an ebook. Look for them also at your local Barnes and Noble store.

Bringing the kids to Paris? Take a sidetrip to Disney

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Disneyland Paris is located a short twenty miles east of the city. The resort covers 4,800 acres and encompasses two theme parks, several resort hotels, a shopping, dining, and entertainment complex, and a golf course. Disneyland Park is the original theme park of the complex which opened in 1992. Walt Disney Studios Park is the second park built in 2002 dedicated to show business, themed after movies, production, and behind-the-scenes.

All you need to know

For park hours, package deals, transportation and places to stay click here

For ticket prices and direct purchase click here

For advice and tips from Trip Advisor users click here

RER Paris to Disneyland Paris
A single one way ticket, a billet Ile-de-France, from central Paris to Disney costs 7,60€ (as of January, 2015). You can buy these tickets from any metro or RER station ticket window or from the automated ticket vending machines (using coins or smart-chip enabled credit cards) within stations. You can start your journey from any Metro / RER station within central Paris (Zone 1) using this one ticket and simply transfer to the RER A train line if you’re not already on it. You don’t need to buy a separate ticket just for the metro portion of your trip. The normal metro ticket t+ will not work for this trip since Marne la Vallée / Parc Disney is in Zone 5.

Free ‘must-see’ exhibits: Paris Magnum photographers

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FRANCE. Paris. ca. 1952. Spectators at Longchamp Racecourse.

Robert Capa © International Center of Photography 1952, FRANCE. Paris. ca. 1952. Spectators at Longchamp Racecourse

MAGNUM PARIS

For 80 years the photographers of Magnum Photos – Cartier-Bresson, Capa, Riboud, Parr, Depardon – have presented their view of the metamorphoses of Paris and its inhabitants. As a sensitive and challenging testimony, Paris City Hall presents 150 images captured by 30 agency photographers through April 21, 2015. Pictured are revolutions and minor conflicts, moments of grace and tragedy, celebrities, great men and the man on the street.

HÔTEL DE VILLE
5, RUE LOBAU
75004 PARIS

Open from Sunday to Saturday from 10am to 6.30pm, metro: Hôtel de Ville

EXPO PHOTO DE MARC RIBOUD

Riboud_China_expo_Paris

Photos of China from Riboud’s first trip in 1957 to his last to Shanghai in 2010. Closes March 12, so hurry.

MAIRIE DU 13E ARRONDISSEMENT
1 PLACE D’ITALIE   75013

metro: Place d’italie

In command of the dough: Pizza Julia Paris

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pizza julia2Fresh, authentic, with an irresistable crust is the only way to describe this award-winning pizza. Don’t be turned off by the restaurant’s facade. A few steps in and you’ll be impressed as well as entertained. Take-out or eat in, your call. Consult your No Worries Paris guidebook for nearby parks where you can chow down. Be sure to bring along plenty of napkins, he doesn’t skimp on the toppings.

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Pizza Julia

43 rue de Charenton
75012 ParisBastille, 12ème
metro: Ledru-Rollin
01 77 19 68 75

Tues: 11:30 – 15:00
Wed: 11:30 – 15:00, 18:30 – 22:30
Thurs: 11:30 – 15:00, 18:30 – 22:30
Fri: 11:30 – 15:00, 18:30 – 22:30
Sat. 11:30 – 15:00, 18:30 – 22:30
Sun: 18:30 – 22:30

Clues to finding the Paris Fashion Week runway shows

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street style Paris

Go to: http://www.modeaparis.com/en/fashion-shows/Schedules/Ready-to-wear.  Click on the designer’s name and the place will be revealed (usually… sometimes the larger fashion houses like Dior keep them secret). Unless you’ve hired a chauffeur, it’s impossible to see them all in one day.

Here’s a rundown for the week.

Fashion Week Schedule

It’s that time again: Paris Fashion Week starts March 4

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fashion week Paris 2015It ends March 11. Here are some useful links.  For a schedule of all the shows go to http://www.modemonline.com/fashion/fashion-weeks/fall-winter-2015/paris/women/fashion-shows

To watch online go to http://www.fashionweekonline.com.

ParisFashionWeek1

Fragonard Paris: An olfactory candy store

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Chanel No. 5 has endured endured for decades. This large illustration of Coco greets you when you enter her boutique on 382 Rue Saint Honoré. But, Fragonard? Not on the tip of everyone’s tongue, even though the company is centuries old. Located in Grasse, they create 76 fragrances, including Arielle, Baroque, Beau Gosse, Belle Cherie, Belle de Nuit, Billet Doux, and Caresse.  Fragonard has a small museum (free admission) just 2 minutes from l’Opera in an elegant Haussmann-style townhouse, where your nose can sniff a symphony of fragrance while you learn the history of perfume. The Napoleon III building was built in 1860 by Lesoufaché, a student of Garnier, and the decoration is entirely of that period. At the end of the tour (one is in English), peruse a gift shop where perfume related items may be purchased at a discount.

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Fragonard  Le musée du parfum
9 rue Scribe, 75009
Open from monday to saturday from 9 am to 6 pm
Open on sunday and holydays from 9 am to 5 pm
Opéra metro station

Some history: The word ‘perfume’ is derived from the Latin per (through) and fumare (to smoke) because, long before the use of modern techniques, the first perfumes were obtained by burning woods, resins, and other complex mixtures. Modern perfumery began in the late 19th century with the commercial synthesis of aroma compounds such as vanillin or coumarin, which allowed for the composition of perfumes with smells previously unattainable solely from natural aromatics.

If you want to delve deeper into this world go visit The Osmotheque in Versailles, the world’s largest scent archive—internationally responsible for the authentication, registration, preservation, documentation, and reproduction of thousands of perfumes gathered from the past two millennia. Exclusive to the collection are rare masterpieces including fragrances by Coty, Houbigant, Roger & Gallet, Guerlain and those personalized and worn by Napoleon (an eau de cologne made during his exile on Saint Helena), Eugenie de Montijo and Elizabeth of Poland. Medieval toilet waters and 18th cendury powders have also been preserved.

Visit their website for tour and public access info.

The Osmotheque
36 Rue du Parc de Clagny, 7800 Versailles
Public transit: Gare de Versailles-Rive-Droite
(follow your nose)

For full perfumery exposure in Paris, visit the first floors of Printemps or Galeries Lafayette, where you can get whiffs of all the contemporary scents and be dazzled by their pretty displays and reps. I have to admit, Chanel No. 5: you’re still my fave.

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The little museum that could: Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson

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“For me the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously. In order to ‘give a meaning’ to the world, one has to feel oneself involved in what one frames through the viewfinder. This attitude requires concentration, a discipline of mind, sensitivity, and a sense of geometry – it is by great economy of means that one arrives at simplicity of expression.” HCB

cartierbressonmuseumHard to get to, with crazy hours, and few Cartier-Bresson prints on view, a visit to this small museum in Paris is a worthwhile outing for serious fans of photography. Opened in 2003, the two floor gallery housed in an art-deco atelier built by Molinié in 1912, hosts three annual shows featuring masters of the medium.

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Cartier-Bresson started a tradition of testing new camera lenses by taking photographs of ducks in urban parks. He never published the images but referred to them as ‘my only superstition’ as he considered it a ‘baptism’ of the lens. He disliked publicity and exhibited a ferocious shyness. Although he took many famous portraits, his face was little known to the world at large. This, presumably, helped allow him to work on the street undisturbed. He denied that the term “art” applied his photographs. Instead, he thought that they were merely his gut reactions to fleeting situations that he had happened upon.

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“We must avoid however, snapping away, shooting quickly and without thought, overloading ourselves with unnecessary images that clutter our memory and diminish the clarity of the whole.” – HCB

Cartier-Bresson's_first_LeicaCheck their website to gain some background on the featured photographer. Cartier-Bresson’s originals are on the upper floor.

Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson
2, Impasse Lebouis, 75014 Paris
Tel : 01 56 80 27 00
contact@henricartierbresson.org   http://www.henricartierbresson.org/en/fondation/

Metro
Gaité, line 13, exit n°1, towards rue de l’Ouest
Edgard Quinet, line n°6, towards rue de la Gaité

Bus: Line 28 and 58 Losserand-Maine stop; Line 88, Jean Zay – Maine stop

Opening Hours
Tuesday to Sunday, 1pm to 6:30pm, and Saturday from 11am to 6:45pm.
Late-night openings: Wednesdays until 8:30pm
Last entry: 30 mins before closing time
Closed on Mondays

Admission
7 € full-price
4 € reduced price: jobseekers, persons under 26 or over 60 years-old
Free admission for handicapped visitors, journalists, Friends of the Foundation and during late-night openings on Wednesdays (6:30pm – 8:30pm)

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