Paris Travel Tips

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What is the Pompidou Center?

Pompidou Center

The Pompidou center houses the Musee National d'Art Modern, the city's modern art collection. Situated in the Beaubourg district, the building itself is a site to marvel. Built to maximize interior space, all of the air conditioning ducts, elevators and escalators are on the outside of the building and painted in primary colors. Rotated annually according to different themes, the collection housed inside spans the period between1905 to the present, with many contemporary disciplines and artists represented in its permanent collection. Dadism, Surrealism, Abstraction, Expressionism and the School of Paris are all represented among others.

Outside is the Piazza Beaubourg, a popular locale for street performers and other entertainment. Adjacent to the building on the south side is the Place Igor Stravinsky with its gazing pool filled with modern sculptures and created by Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely.

The Pompidou center is especially wonderful to visit during the warmer months of the year simply for the outdoor entertainment. The street performers and gazing pool make it a great place to stop and relax during your Paris tour to take the city in.

The Pompidou center is open Wednesday through Monday 11:00am-9:00pm. Regular admission is usually 10 Euros.

   
What is Tour Montparnasse?

Tour Montparnasse

The Tour Montparnasse is an imposing 56 story skyscraper built in the 1970s to revitalize what was once seen as a decrepit inner city area; it is a must-see on any Paris tour. The tower is 209 meters high built from curved steel and smoked glass and dominates the skyline in the area. Although it stands out on its own and, to some, ruins the view, it affords probably the best panoramic views of Paris. The ride to the 56th story takes a mere 38 seconds. The 56th story houses a bar and restaurant as well as interactive videos that provide information and history. There is also a terrace up above the bar that must be climbed to by stairs.

On a clear day one can see up to 25 miles, even catching a glimpse of Chartres cathedral. Inside the panoramic bar there are maps that label the buildings giving meaning to the sights. When you finish viewing all of Paris from the sky, the Galleries Lafayette is directly adjacent the tower.

To ascend the lift to the bar and restaurant in the top of the tower it costs 9 Euros. The tower is open April through September 9:30am to 11:30pm; October through March, Sunday through Thursday 9:30 to 10:30, Friday, Saturday and days before public holidays 9:30 to 11:00.

   
What is the Louvre?

Musee du Lourve

The Musee du Louvre contains the largest and arguably most important art collection in the world. The collection is vast and requires one to set viewing priorities when visiting. It covers European painting from 1200-1850, European scultpure from 1100 -1850 as well as Oriental, Greek, Egyptian, Etruscan and Roman works. The main entrance to the paris museum is a huge glass pyramid centered in the main courtyard of the palace, designed and built by the controversial architect I.M. Pei.

The palace is divided into three main wings: The Sully Wing, the Denon Wing and the Richelieu Wing. The most famous pieces at the Louvre are Leonardo da Vinci‘s “The Mona Lisa,” which is housed in the Denon Wing, the statue of Venus de Milo, also housed in the Denon Wing, and the Marly Horses housed in the Richelieu Wing in the Cour Marly.

The museum is open Wednesday through Monday, 9:00am to 6:00pm. On Wednesdays and Fridays the museum remains open until 9:45pm. It is closed on January 1st, May 1st, August 15th, and December 25th. Admission is 9 Euros, free for those under 18, and free on the first Sunday of the month. There is a reduced entry fee after 6:00pm Wednesdays and Fridays.

   
What is Sacre Coeur?

Sacre Coeur

The Basilique du Sacre Coeur was built from 1875 to 1914, in the wake of the Franco-Prussian war. Built from a type of stone that whitens with age, the exterior of this dominating church is best viewed from the popular Square Willet to the south of the façade.

Two features of this Paris church not to be missed are the bronze statues of Joan of Arc and St. Louis by Hippolyte Lefebvre, and the mosaics on the walls and ceiling. The mosaic of Christ and the Sacred Heart worshipped by the Virgin is the largest in the world.

Sacre Coeur is a destination stop for many Paris tours, and a must-see if you're planning your Paris tour on your own. To reach the church one must ascend to the second highest point in Paris either by the stairs in Square Willeteor by the Funiculaire, which runs every five minutes and takes one metro ticket. There is also a bus that runs every 12 minutes from Pigalle.

The Basilica is open daily for masses and prayer from 6:00am to 11:00pm. The dome and the crypt can be visited daily from 9:00am to 7:00pm (6:00pm in winter).

   
What is the Moulin Rouge?

Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge means red windmill in English. The Moulin rouge in Paris is just that, a red windmill located in the city's red-light district. The exterior of the Moulin Rouge was the subject of several paintings by the famous painter Toulouse Lautrec. The Moulin Rouge and its culture were also the subject of a 1952 book by Pierre La Mure and two Academy Award nominated films.

The Moulin Rouge was originally built in 1889 by Joseph Oller and has remained a popular Paris tourist destination since it offered visitors a dinner-and-a-show experience that can't be beaten.

The Moulin Rouge is often considered the home of the Can-Can, a dance that is still performed in the theater on a nightly basis. In its early years the Can-Can was used as a revealing dance performed for individual male clientele at the Moulin Rouge. With the popularity of music in Europe however, the Moulin Rouge eventually made a transition from “Gentleman's Club” to a more traditional theater and nightclub.

A show is performed at the Moulin Rouge nightly. Shows typically will run at the theater until they decide to switch to something else, which can often happen without warning. If you want to see a particular show at the theater book your tickets as soon as possible. Shows at the Moulin Rouge often sell out. Show tickets can also be very expensive but will often include dinner.

   
What is Versailles?

Versailles

Versailles is a wealthy suburb of Paris and a travel destination for many people on a Paris vacation. You can often book tours of Versailles through the same places you book a traditional Paris tour.

Tours of Versailles will take up to an entire day because there is so much to see and do in the area. The most famous destination of a tour of Versailles is the Chateau de Versailles, where the French Monarchy lived up until the French Revolution. The Chateau is often referred to as simply Versailles or the Palace of Versailles to English speakers. Versailles was the center of power in Ancien Regime France and still remains today in excellent condition.

The Chateau is rich with history and is filled with a great deal of art dating deep into France's history including Marie-Antoinette's Chinese Vases, the carriage used for Charles X's Coronation and Louis XVI's “butterfly” cabinet.

Tickets can be purchased in advance from Transilien and FNAC.

   
What is the Musee Rodin?

Musee Rodin

The Musee Rodin is housed in the Hotel Biron located on Rue de Varenne in the 7th Arrondissmont (district) of Paris. Auguste Rodin lived and worked in the 18th century hotel for nine years and, before his death in 1917, he donated all of his works to the nation so that they would be exhibited here. Close to 500 of Rodin's sculptures are on display in the paris museum, including his most famous masterpieces, “The Gates of Hell,” “The Thinker,” “The Kiss,” and his statue of the Honore de Balzac. The gardens that surround the hotel contain many more of Rodin's works as well.
The hotel itself, was built from 1728 -30 by Jean Aubert and was purchased by the Duc de Biron, Gontaut. The hotel changed ownership many times until in 1820 the widow of the last owner sold it to a religious community which was eventually removed in 1904. Rodin saved the building from being demolished.
The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30am to 5:45pm, April through September. October through March the museum closes one hour earlier. The gardens remain open another hour after the museum closes. The museum is closed on January 1st, May 1st and December 25th. To see the museum, temporary exhibits and garden, the cost is 9 Euros.

   
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