Great places away from the main tourist grid in Paris

May 3, 2014

After many short trips visiting the must-sees in Paris (Eiffel tower, Centre George Pompidou, the Sacré-Coeur, the Notre-Dame, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, Jardin de Luxembourg, Musée d’Orsay), I started looking for other places worth seeing. Here are some of my favourites:

Although you might have visited it once, this is a place I could visit every week. Not only are there many beautiful temporary exhibitions besides the already huge permanent exhibition, the building itself is so beautiful, I just love wondering around in it. And it is impossible to see and savour all there is to see during one visit. I even recommend choosing one important painter per visit and really take time for its works and the background information. You can combine it with one temporary exhibition per visit. Believe me, it will be more than enough. Address: 1, Rue de la Légion d’Honnuer, opening hours : 9h30 à 18h Tuesday to Sunday, and from 9h30 à 21h45 on Thursdays. For the more popular exhibitions or more popular visiting moments it might be a good idea to purchase online tickets and avoid the queue at the ticket boot. Address: 1, rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris, Métro : line 12, station Solférino, opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday: from 9h30 to 18h and to 21h45 on Thursdays.

The gallery’s appeal lies in part in a pleasing sense of scale — it doesn’t crowd too much together, but gives the works on offer their due. This smaller museum holds the beautiful “les Nympheas” or “Water Lillies” by Claude Monet, which is in fact a series of 250 oil paintings, made in his flower garden in Giverny, and painted during the last 30 years of his life when he suffered from cataract. Many of the 250 paintings are exhibited all over the world in different musea. Monet donated some of them to the French state. the 1920s, the state of France built a pair of oval rooms at the Musée de l’Orangerie as a permanent home for eight water lily murals by Monet. Monet stipulated that the monumental panels be displayed precisely as they are seen today, in twin oval rooms that surround enraptured viewers with his vision. The oval rooms give the paintings a perfect viewing place since you can walk in the middle of them, the painting are all around you, like walking in Monet’s garden. The museum also contains works by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri Rousseau, Alfred Sisley, Chaim Soutine, and Maurice Utrillo, among others. The museum is located on the banks of the river Seine, so combine it with a stroll along the river when the weather is good, or take a rest on the chairs around the basin in the Tuilleries gardens. Address: Musée de l’Orangerie, Jardin des Tuilleries, 75001 Paris. Opening hours: from 9h to 18h every day except Tuesday , closed on the first of May, on the morning of 14 July, and on December 25th. Entrance until 17h15.

About one hour by car from Paris in Giverny,, you can visit Monet’s house and gardens. The gardens, with its floral compositions and nymphéas were the inspiration for the paintings “Les Nympheas”.  For over 40 years, until his death in 1926 , Giverny was the painters home, his site of creation and his masterpiece . A world of senses, of colors and of memories, the house in which the artist and his family lived notably contains his studio-sitting room and his exceptional collection of Japanese prints. The gardens are composed of the Clos Normand, with its flowerbeds, and the Water Garden, planted with oriental vegetation and weeping willows, its Japanese bridge painted green and its waterlilies. A sunny day in spring is obviously the best moment to visit these gardens. The Claude Monet Foundation is open every day from 25th of March to the 1st of November 2016 from 9.30 a.m. till 6 p.m. – last admission 5.30 p.m.

Every time I surf the internet looking for new places to see in Paris or elsewhere I am surprised how little this canal is mentioned as a tourist spot worth seeing in Paris. I think it is mostly known with fans of the film „Amelie Poulain”, but since this is a French film (that was also popular in Belgium), I don’t think many tourists ever heard of it. But the canal is really a place worth visiting. Especially in spring or summer with some good weather this is a great walk outdoors, away from the shopping areas in Paris. The canal runs from the bassin La Vilette (the largest artificial lake in Paris) to the Seine (port de l’Arsenal). The waterway has to bridge a height difference of 25 metres, hence the many canal locks. Construction of the canal was ordered by Napoleon I in 1802, in order to create an artificial waterway for supplying Paris with fresh water to support a growing population and to help avoid diseases such as dysentery and cholera. The entrance of the canal is a double lock near the Place de Stalingrad. Then, towards the river Seine, the canal is bordered by the Quai de Valmy on one side and the Quai de Jemmapes on the other. Along the canal is an unusual hydraulic lifting bridge, the Pont levant de la rue de Crimée. Today, the canal is partly covered: from Rue du Faubourg du Temple to the Place de la Bastille. The different locks and the typical iron bridges give the canal a very authentic look. The canal is bordered with artsy café’s and restaurants, and trendy shops. At the top side of the canal you have an art project called Point Ephémère, in an old industrial building Point P. It offers working space to artists in residence, they organize concerts and exhibitions and there is a bar-restaurant, while they also organize art interventions in the city. In the spring and summer, locals flock in droves to the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin to picnic and strum guitars. On Sundays, the Quai de Valmy and Quai de Jemmapes, are reserved for pedestrians and cyclists only —perfect for renting a bike and seeing the city from a fresh angle. Metro: Gare de L’Est (Lines 4 & 7) From gare de L’Est it is a nice walk through the park: Jardin Villemin to Quay de Valmy to start your walk along the canal towards the top.

Another less known museum, in private hands, is the pinacotheque. I saw an exhibition on Modigliani in 2012 here: Modigliani, Soutine and the Legend of Montparnasse. As an initiative of Marc Restellini, the pinacotheque opened in 2007, and quickly made a name for itself over the years. It receives international temporary art and history exhibitions. Past exhibitions included apart from Modigliani; Edvard Munch, Van Gogh, Tamara de Lempicka, Jackson Pollock, among others. I check their website every time I visit Paris in case an interesting exhibition is going on. There is also a permanent collection at 8, rue Vignon but I never visited it since it was under renovation when I visited the Modigliani exhibition. You see works that you don’t get the chance to see on other occasions, since they often work with private collections. The fact that the museum is small in scale makes it very attractive since in larger museums you often feel sorry that you cannot bring up enough energy to see all the works properly. Here you can in an hour or two enjoy one exhibition at a relaxed pace, and still feel energized to do something else on your day in Paris.
Address:Pinacothèque 1, 28, place de la Madeleine and 8, rue Vignon 75008 Paris The Museum is open daily From 10:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. (exhibition halls closed at 6:15 p.m.) Admissions stop at 5:30 p.m. The Pinacotheque de Paris is open until 9 p.m. every Wednesday and Friday (exhibition halls closed at 8:45 p.m.) Admissions stop at 8:00 p.m.

Another wonderful museum is the ethnographic museum Le Quai Branly, and this for many reasons. It has a great permanent and interesting temporary exhibitions on ethnicity all around the world. The building itself is conceived very smartly and outside is a great hanging vertical garden. You find al kinds of ethnic daily and artistic objects and textiles from around the world, and the thematic temporary exhibitions are very informative and well arranged. It is a wonderful place to wander around for a few hours, especially on a rainy day. It is located very close to the Eiffel Tower on the banks of the river Seine. Address: 37, quay Branly, Metro station: Alma-Marceau – line 9 – directions : Pont de Sèvres / Mairie de Montreuil – place d’Alma, Iéna line 9 – directions : Pont de Sèvres / Mairie de Montreuil – place Iéna, Ecole Militaire – line 8- directions : Balard / Créteil-Préfecture – 85, avenue Bosquet, Bir Hakeim 1 – line 6 – directions : Nation / Charles de Gaulle-Etoile – 1,Boulevard de Grenelle Opening hours: Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday from 11am to 7pm, ticket office closes at 6pm, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11am to 9pm, ticket office closes at 8pm



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