On our last trip to Paris we visited some places never visited on our previous trips. Paris really surprises you time and time again and there are so many beautiful places to see, that you should never wonder if you should plan a trip again!
Although La Chapelle is located close to the Notre Dame basilique we have never visited this church before. It is less famous than the Disney featured basilique, but more than worth a visit. And we were not alone, there was a queue to get to the ticket booth. We came late in the afternoon on a Saturday and I am sure if you arrive early in the morning or at lunch hour on a weekday, it might be a lot more quiet. You can get a combined ticket for La Chapelle and the conciergerie, which became the first prison of Paris in 1391, and where Marie-Antoinette was also imprisoned before being beheaded. We took only the ticket for the church which costs 8,50 euro. The churches glass stained windows are under restoration until the end of 2014, as well as the rosette above the main entrance, but they do this in phases so there is still more than enough to see to be really impressed. And you are impressed when entering this sacred place. The chapel on the main floor has beautiful glass stained windows that match the painted ceiling beautifully. You then climb to the first floor where the huge vertical glass stained coloured windows give rise to oohs and aaahs. The windows are only coloured with the four primary colors, but the sunlight makes the colors mix, which results in a much broader aray of colours. I advice to visit the church preferably when the sun shines, since it will ‘enhance’ the experience of the colours of the huge windows, which really seem to reach towards heaven. You don not need hours to visit this place so just hop in when you are in the neighborhoud, you cannot be disappointed.
When you come out of the church and are hungry for something sweet, turn right and head to Bertillon, Paris’s most famous ice-cream maker, to get a refreshing scoop of ice-cream.
MINI PALAIS – LE GRAND PALAIS
In need for a bite and looking for a dining experience in an eclectic environment with a great view? If you visit le Grand Palais for some exhibition, and you get hungry, le Mini Palais is a great experience. Especially if the weather is good and you can sit on the terrace, with a great view of the Petit Palais and the Seine. You sit under huge columns, with beautiful mosaics on the ceiling. It gives you a feeling of being very lucky to sit here. The menu is not very big, the prices not very low (but considering you are just next to the Champs Elysee, correct),and the waiters are prompt. The wine (we took the white chardonnay) very good and you get this little bread when waiting, a wonderful freshly bakes still warm brioche (mmm). You also get some tasty olives. We both took fish, after asking our neighbour if the beef tartare was good, but he answered a bit unsure (and did not finish his plate!). We were both very happy with our choice, the fish fresh, the vegetable accompaniments tasty and well prepared. We took a coffee to finish our meal that gave us a very good feeling.
JAZZ MANOUCHE ON A FRIDAY EVENING
We were looking for a place to listen to jazz in Paris online, when we found this bar close to Gare du Paris Nord, where they play jazz in the style of manouche (gypsy jazz a la Django Reinhardt), and where you can have a good steak while listening to the (free) live band. Afterwards enthusiasts are welcome to play with them, in a improvisation session. I arrived with the Thalys around 8:30 PM, and we decided to have our dinner at Le Bouquet du Nord just around the corner and enjoy the hopefully good live music. We were not disappointed. The restaurant is simple but decent in a typical French brasserie style. We both ordered an rum steak which was good (but nothing extra-ordinary) and inexpensive, with a glass of red wine. The usual musicians started playing around 9 PM. They are really good musicians, who play Django’s music with enthusiasm. There are two guitar players and violinist. We listened for about an hour, in which we also enjoyed our dessert (crème brulée and tarte tatin, classics prepared in a classic decent way) and a coffee. This place is a real find, and not overrun by tourists yet. Le Bouquet du Nord, 85 rue de Maubeuge, 75010 Paris.
The museum has been in renovation since 2012, and will be finished by the end of 2014 I guess. It was on our bucket list for some time, but we never managed to visit it until now for some reason. There was quite a queue outside, people with a Paris Museum pass can get in immediately, and I think it is advisable to get an online ticket to get priority entrance. We didn’t, so had to queue for about 15 minutes. We enjoyed the double exhibition Rodin-Mapplethorpe in the entrance building. We then strolled the into the gardens, which are a bliss on a sunny day. I really like the marble statues on one side of the villa. In the garden, the visitor discovers the ensemble of Rodin’s monuments in bronze: The Gates of Hell; the celebrated Thinker; the Monument to Balzac, France’s literary genius of the 19th century; and The Burghers of Calais. There is an outside terrace where you can have a drink or take lunch which is nice but nothing out of the ordinary. I preferred the benches and the lounging chairs in the back of the garden, and would take a sandwich next time and eat it out there instead. The villa is nice, but I was not blown of my feet by the statues shown here. I guess many of the better work is strewn across museums around the world and in Paris (Quai D’Orsay for one). And some rooms could not be entered because of the renovation works. So a ticket for just the gardens in case you do not come for the extra exhibitions, can be enough on a sunny day (just 2 euro). The permanent collections and the temporary exhibition are free for children under 18 year, youth under 26 years from EU countries, French teachers; and for all every first Sunday of the month. Musée Rodin, 79 rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris.