No Worries Paris takes you on visually stunning walks to the monuments of the city as well as its hidden villages and parks. Sit back with a glass of Bordeaux and let your fingers do the walking. Then lace up those urban hikers and take off into the endlessly artful cityscape.
My aim this day was to visit the gardens of the Biblioteque Nationale and walk the new dramatic bridge over to Park Bercy. I was happily detoured an hour by this sensational exhibit.
The globes pictured were designed in Paris by Venetian cosmographer Vincenzo Coronelli and represent the earth and the heavens. Exceptional in size, they have been part of the Biblioteque Nationale de France since the 18th century yet remained rarely shown until their permanent installation in 2006.
Having been entrusted by Louis XIV to the Royal Library, and thus taken out of his palace, the globes escaped destruction at the time of the French Revolution. I now had a chance to see the world such as it was in 1680, at the height of the Sun King’s glory.
Scientific objects as well as symbols of power, these 2-ton, 13 foot diameter globes, are the most monumental works in the library collection. Portrayed are large and magnificent insects attracting attention to the wealth of the East and West Indies, pearl-fishing, the cinnamon of Ceylon and the resources of far-off Japan, silver, furs, bird feathers, and the mines of New Spain.
Certain lands are portrayed as inhospitable: North Africa is inhabited by more or less dangerous animals and Brazilians are portrayed in scenes of cannibalism, drawn directly from the accounts of Amerigo Vespucci.
The Four Continent globe is crowned by an architectural decor. Europe and Asia are represented by women. Africa, surrounded by unfriendly animals, is looking at Europe whose eyes are oriented toward America.
The Celestial globe is an invitation to travel through the sky amidst the constellations such as they were on the day of the birth of Louis XIV. The very special style of the figures or the constellations are painted in different shades of Gauloise blue. The name of each constellation is written in four languages: French, Latin, Greek and Arabic. The comets are often represented with the date of their discovery and, more rarely, with the name of their discoverer. Sometimes, a golden tail indicates their direction. Spotlights made it difficult to photograph and time is needed to relish all the details.
This is why I travel.
Bibliothèque Nationale de France Site François-Mitterrand
Quai François Mauriac, 75013 Paris
Take the meteor metro
An after dinner walk along the Seine on a Saturday. Lights, camera, where’s my tripod? Crowds queing into Notre Dame for a concert, story-swappers in twos and threes along the river banks, tourist bateaus interrupting the scene with their rude spotlights, Hotel de Ville lit up like a birthday cake. A sparkling jewel, the city puts on yet another face.
Be sure to get home early enough to plan the next day with your No Worries Paris guide.
From this square you get an extraordinary view of the Tour Eiffel. Turn around and behind the extravagant wrought iron fence you’re in for a surprise. Art Nouveau gone mad, a masterpiece, you make the call. Jules Aimé Lavirotte was the architect of this flamboyant structure constructed in 1899. A whimsical turret, a sampling of many styles of balcony, doors, ceramic textures, swirly ironwork – but does it all meld into one eyepleasing facade? Hmmmm. To his credit his artistic work brought him acclaim among his contemporaries, and won him the Concours de Façades de la Ville de Paris on at least two occasions:
Other examples of Lavirotte’s work can be found at:
151 Rue de Grenelle, 7th arrondissement (1898)
134 Rue de Grenelle, 7th arrondissement (1900)
29 Avenue Rapp, 7th arrondissement (19011
12 Rue Sedillot, 7th arrondissement (1899)
Ceramic Hotel, 34 Avenue de Wagram, 8th arrondissement (1904)
169 Boulevard Lefebvre, 15th arrondissement (1906)
23 Avenue de Messine, 8th arrondissement
6 Rue de Messine, 8th arrondissement (1907)
The shrubs and flowers are still in full color along this long walkway high above Paris. Make way for the weekend joggers! The Promenade plantée is an extensive green belt that follows the old Vincennes railway line beginning just east of the Opéra Bastille with the elevated Viaduc des Arts. Follow it all the way to Jardin de Reuilly and you’ve got a free pass to the perfect picnic bench. More neighborhood things to do and see in your No Worries Paris guidebook.
Here’s a map:
Although blooms are now fading, a walk through the Bagatelle is still inspiring – a time travel jaunt through a jangle of rose ropes and cone shaped conifers. It’s always quiet and there are plenty of benches to contemplate nature and read some Francoise Sagan or Balzac. Bus directions in your No Worries Paris guidebook.
“The only misplaced curiosity is trying to find out here, on this side, what lies beyond the grave.” — Colette
Hours: Tuesday hours 8:30 am–12:30 pm, 2:00 pm–5:00 pm
Address: 16 Rue du Repos
The most exclusive address for a million former Parisians is Père Lachaise Cemetery opened in 1804. It’s the city’s largest greenspace (119 acres) within the Boulevard Peripherique. It receives two million visitors each year from among the living.
Permanent residents: Francois Poulenc, Heloise and Abelard, Camille Pissaro, Cherubini, Chopin, Breguet (yes the watch guy), Lalique (the glass guy), Michel Petrucciani, Auguste Comte, Champollion, Samuel Hahnemann, Gustave Dore, Jim Morrison, Moliere, La Fontaine, Murat, Antoine Parmentier, Sarah Bernhardt, Balzac, Delacroix, Merleau-Ponty, Georges Melies, Edith Piaf, Bizet, Marcel Proust, Apollinaire, Isadora Duncan, Simone Signoret, Richard Wright, Auguste Blanqui, Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas, Modigliani, Edith Piaf, Colette, Oscar Wilde.
Official Guide Map
Blink going down the rue des Archives and you’ll miss the sign of this unstodgy private museum where you’ll trip the light fantastic. The ceiling of one room has been covered in owl feathers in a work called The Night of Diana, rooms have names such as Room of the Boar, Salon of the Dogs and Cabinet of the Wolf, an alcove is dedicated to unicorns and a collection of gold dog collars throughout the ages is displayed alongside 17th-century portraits of Louis XIV’s pets. A small white version of the Scottie dog sculpture Puppy by contemporary American ceramic artist Jeff Koons is also part of the mix.
The museum includes an array of weaponry from the 16th through to the 19th centuries, hundreds of trophies and taxidermied animals from Europe, Africa, Asia and America. These include a polar bear, lion, tiger, cheetah, fox, rhinoceros, bison, water buffalo and many birds. In the Room of Trophies, Le Souillot, a wall-mounted animatronic albino boar head by contemporary French artist Nicolas Darrot, speaks to museum visitors in French. There’s a hunting lodge coziness to the place where guards take pleasure in opening drawers filled with artifacts and children are given special attention.
It’s been characterized by the Smithsonian magazine as “one of the most rewarding and inventive in Paris.” To quote a visitor: “it all makes you think about hobbies, prestige, the meaning of life, nature, domination, death, social class, art and our relationship to animals and life around us. There is the amazing and the prosaic, jokes and tricks and strange juxtapositions of materials. The stuffed lions and disassembled owls are especially haunting. The gun that shoots around corners is one of the many jokes displayed alongside the rare the beautiful and the serious.”
Duck in some afternoon. The admission is around 6 euros and it’s closed on Mondays. The No Worries Paris guidebook has more for you to see a few doors down.
Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature
60 rue des Archives, 3rd Arrondissement
The small scale makes the Marche aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves a unique weekend shopping outing. The market occupies two avenues in the 14th arrondissement of Paris: av. Sangnier and BC. Georges Lafenestre. Open 7 to 2 p.m. It takes place every Saturday and Sunday of the year, holidays included. There are over 380 professional vendors hawking vintage clothing and furniture, fixtures, tableware, glassware and silverware, fabric, antique jewelry, cameras, phonographs and radios, books and old papers, coins, medals and militaria, paintings, drawings and engravings; photographs and postcards, curios, toys and folk art, religious objects, oriental and African arts. Whew! I’m a regular and it never disappoints.
Visit Paris’s historic City Hall and take in the Paris Haute Couture exhibit in the Salle Saint-Jean which ends July 6. It’s free. About a hundred masterpieces from the Galliera Museum will be showcased: Doucet, Lanvin, Patou, Chanel, Rochas, Jacques Heim, Dior, Gaultier, Lacroix, Alaia, Balenciaga, Gres, Courreges, Schiaparelli, Balmain, Molyneux, Carven to name a few.
A little history about the elaborate building:
Ever since 1357, the City of Paris’s administration has been located at the same location where the Hôtel de Ville stands today.
1533: King Francis I decided to endow the city with a city hall which would be worthy of Paris, then the largest city of Europe. Building work was not finished until 1628 during the reign of Louis XIII.
1835: on the initiative of Rambuteau, préfet of the Seine département, two wings were added to the main building and were linked to the facade by a gallery, to provide more space for the expanded city government.
1871: The Paris Commune chose the Hôtel de Ville as its headquarters, and as anti-Commune troops approached the building, Communards set fire to the Hotel destroying almost all extant public records from the French Revolutionary period. The blaze swallowed the building from the inside, leaving only an empty stone shell.
1873-1892: Reconstruction of the interior. Some 230 sculptors were commissioned to produce 338 individual figures of famous Parisians on each facade, along with lions and other sculptural features. Rodin produced the figure of the 18th-century mathematician Jean le Rond d’Alembert, finished in 1882
Open every day from 10am to 7pm (except Sundays and bank holidays)
Hôtel de Ville
Salle Saint-Jean, 5 rue de Lobau, Paris 4th arrondissement
Metro stop: Hôtel de Ville