Christmas is blossoming in Paris

The Christmas season has arrived upon Paris ! As every year before the Winter Holidays, the capital is transformed, decorated and shines with a thousand lights, following the rythm of the countdown to Christmas day. This perticular time in the Parisian life makes the city a different world that awaits only to be discovered by visitors. The Paris advent calendar is filled with tremendous decors and folklore that will enchant the eyes of little and big children. If you are sensitive to the winter charm of the effervescent and illuminated capital, you only have to go and discover it ! Here is an overview of what Paris has to offer during this Christmas season...

The Christmas season has arrived upon Paris ! As every year before the Winter Holidays, the capital is transformed, decorated and shines with a thousand lights, following the rythm of the countdown to Christmas day. This perticular time in the Parisian life makes the city a different world that awaits only to be discovered by visitors. The Paris advent calendar is filled with tremendous decors and folklore that will enchant the eyes of little and big children. If you are sensitive to the winter charm of the effervescent and illuminated capital, you only have to go and discover it ! Here is an overview of what Paris has to offer during this Christmas season...

 

City lights

 

When the Christmas season is coming, the city of Paris dresses up in many lights and decorations. They go from simple festive lights along the big and average-sized streets of the capital to massive and sometimes impressive light installations. To make your eyes enjoy the most beautiful of them, here are a few neighborhoods you should visit this time of year.

 

  • The Eiffel Tower : all year long, but especially around Christmas time, the emblematic tower of the French capital puts on its party dress. The thousands of light bulbs that dress it and that go on and off at different rythms make a meeting with the tall Iron Lady magical.

  • The neighborhood of Saint Germain des Prés : just a few steps away from Hotel du Danube, the Saint Germain des Prés square and church are transformed too. The clever lightings and decorations give an almost enchanted aspect to the unique charm of the neighborhood. Take the time to sip on a hot cup of coffee on one of the heated terrasses on the square and enjoy the pretty lights in the dark wintery afternoon.

  • The Grands Boulevards : the Boulevard Haussmann, known by shopping lovers from around the globe, offers without a doubt the most impressive light installations of Parisian Chritsmas time. The facades of the two department stores that make this neighborhood famous (the Printemps and the Galeries Lafayette) are covered on several stories with gigantic and lace-like patterns, made of thousands of light bulbs. And to add to the fairy atmosphere, both department stores compete with creativeness and extravagance in making tremendous decorations for their many shopping windows. For those of you who are not afraid of crowds, a nice walk along the sidewalk that goes along them (from Chaussée d'Antin-Lafayette to Havre-Caumartin, line 9) turns into a contemplative ramble !

 

Christmas markets

 

And for those of you who love Christmas markets, know that Paris is full of them at this season ! Here is a brief overview of the many you can chose from, so you can pick the neighborhood you would like to do your Christmas shopping in.

 

  • Avenue des Champs Elysées (Paris 8°) : from November 14th, 2014 to January 4th, 2015

  • Montparnasse (Paris 15°), place Raoul-Dautry : from the 4th to the 31st of December, 2014

  • Le Village de Noël de Montmartre (Paris 18°), place du Tertre : from December 5th, 2014 to January 4th, 2015

  • Alsacian Christmas market at Gare de l'Est (Paris 10°) : from the 4th to the 19th of December, 2014

  • Place Saint Sulpice (Paris 6°) : from the 1st to the 24th of December, 2014

  • Place Saint Germain des Prés (Paris 6°) : from December 6th, 2014 to January 2nd, 2015

  • La Défense (Courbevoie) : from November 20th, 2014 to December 28th, 2014

  • « Gourmand » Christmas salon, Place de la Bourse (Paris 2°) : from the 19th to the 22nd of December, 2014

  • Les fééries d'Auteuil, 40 rue Jean de la Fontaine (Paris 16°) : from the 6th to the 14th of December, 2014

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Paris underground : visit the Catacombs

Are you looking for an unusual experience, far from the famous and crowded touristic attractions during your stay in the French capital ? The idea of taking a walk six feet under does not scare you ? Then you will certainly enjoy a little trip in the thick of the Catacombs of Paris !

Are you looking for an unusual experience, far from the famous and crowded touristic attractions during your stay in the French capital ? The idea of taking a walk six feet under does not scare you ? Then you will certainly enjoy a little trip in the thick of the Catacombs of Paris !

 

What are the Catacombs ?

 

The Catacoms of Paris are an underground circuit of more than 2 kilometers, situated approximately 30 meters underground (twice as deep as the metro!) in the 14th arrondissement. By entering – guided, of course – this maze of underground passages, you will discover quarries more than two centuries old. A large part of these garners the bones of more than six million Parisians. These bones have been thoughtfully arranged in a kind of theatrical decor, and provide the place with a surreal atmosphere (though 100% authentic). It is an astonishing journey that, as it takes you along in a tremendous underground Paris, will make you wonder about the frailty and the odd insignificance of the human life.

 

A bit of History

 

The History of the Catacombs of Paris began in 1785. In the XVIIth century, as a city with a large population and a long History, Paris suffered a serious sanitary crisis due to an overload of its cemetaries. Some in particular, such as the « cimetière des Innocents » in the center of the city, had garnered the corpses of dozens of generations of Parisians for almost a millenium ! On November 9th, 1785, the Council of State decided to move the remains from these crowded cemetaries to a place that is further away from the population. As it was supposed to be renovated to consolidate the mined public roads, the quarry « de la Tombe-Issoire » was picked. It underwent some adjusting works, and a well was built inside of it to dump the bones into. The place is benedicted and consacred on April 7th, 1786, and for the two years that followed, processions regularly took place at dusk – along with religious ceremonies – to transfer the bones from the cemetaries to the quarry. The Catacombs continued to host the bones from Parisian cemetaries until the middle of the XIXth century, especially during the great Haussmann roadworks in Paris.

 

But the ossuary that makes the Catacombs of Paris famous was not always staged as it is nowadays. At first, the bones used to simply be piled up. But pretty soon, the Catacombs aroused the curiosity of famous people (of which François the First of Austria and Napoleon the Third). Around 1810, Héricart de Thury (the then General inspector of the Quarries) had an idea to organize the ossuary as such (on the front only!), so to create a highly theatrical decor, embellished with features and inscriptions that truly stage the mere idea of death.

 

Practical information

 

The entrance of the Catacombs is situated on 1, Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. At the end of the route, the exit will be a few hundred meters away, on rue Rémi Dumoncel (closest metro stops : Alésia or Mouton Duvernet)

 

The Catacombs are open from tuesday to sunday, from 10 a.m to 8 p.m (last entry at 7 p.m).

 

Rates

 

Full rate : 10€

Reduced rate : 8€ (for youngsters under 26 and holders of the Paris Pass Famille)

 

Due to the unusual settings, potential visitors should take a few elements into account. Here are the conditions and accessibility information detailed on the website of the Catacombes de Paris :
Visitor numbers are restricted to 200 at any time. Admission may be delayed for a short time during busy periods.
Distance covered: 2 km.
Duration of the tour: 45 minutes.
No toilet or cloakroom facilities available.
130 steps to go down and 83 steps back up to street level.
Temperature: 14°C.
The tour is unsuitable for people with heart or respiratory problems, those of a nervous disposition and young children.
The Catacombs are not accessible for persons with reduced mobility.
Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult.

 

How to go from Hotel du Danube ?

 

The Catacombs are easy to get to from the hotel, you will simply have to take the metro. It is a direct and short metro ride (less than 10 mn).

 

Take a left (on rue Jacob) when you get out of the hotel, then second on the right (rue Bonaparte). You will get to Saint-Germain-des-Prés after only a few meters. The metro station will be right behind the church on your left. Take line 4 in the direction of Mairie de Montrouge until Denfert-Rochereau station. Get out and you are right at the entrance of the Catacombs (for guidance on the big square, follow the signs!).

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Nuit Blanche in Paris : Saturday October 4th, 2014

Next Saturday, October 4th of 2014 will be the thirteenth edition of the Nuit Blanche (litteraly « the alnighter ») ! Signed this year by José-Manuel Gonçalvès, director of the cultural center « le Centquatre » since 2010, the Nuit Blanche is an annual event that broadcasts Art in the museums, galleries and streets of the French capital. It hosts exhibitions and animations that last the whole evening, until midnight, two o'clock, and even until dawn for the more nocturnal or courageous of you.

Next Saturday, October 4th of 2014 will be the thirteenth edition of the Nuit Blanche (litteraly « the alnighter ») ! Signed this year by José-Manuel Gonçalvès, director of the cultural center « le Centquatre » since 2010, the Nuit Blanche is an annual event that broadcasts Art in the museums, galleries and streets of the French capital. It hosts exhibitions and animations that last the whole evening, until midnight, two o'clock, and even until dawn for the more nocturnal or courageous of you. A nice opportunity to put your Saturday night to good use and discover artists and places that are particularly on trend in the Art scene today, and why not even make some tracking to prepare for the FIAC (International Contemporary Art Fair) that will take place in Paris at the end of October. Have a few gulps of a nice cup of coffee in one of the many Parisian terrasses in the soft indian summer air, and you are good to go !

 

What to do ?

 

The 6 special routes

 

The Art director of this 2014 edition of the Nuit Blanche José-Manuel Gonçalvès has imagined six routes of different styles, spread from the center to the south of the capital. He has thought this edition as a grand artistic hike. Those in a hurry will pick their favorite option between these, but you can always decide to go for a nocturnal Parisian expedition and go from one route to the other as you desire.

 

1 – Les futurs composés (« The composed futures »)

Hôtel de Ville / BHV (4°)

This exhibition will broadcast the work of 3 artists (Tsai Ming-Liang, Hicham Berrada & Motoï Yamamoto) revolving around the theme of the construction of new worlds. Playing on the line that separates natural and supernatural, they make room for contemplation and daydreaming in urbanism.

 

2 – Ceux que nous sommes (« Those we are »)

Sainte Geneviève library / Panthéon (5°)

There again, 3 artists are broadcasted (Antony Gormley, Imran Qureshi & Johann Le Guillerm) and will use various Art forms (performance, sculpture, installation) to question what it means to be human. One will particularly appreciate the incongruity of the pieces within their context.

 

3 – Open musée street-art (« Street-art open museum »)

Austerlitz train station / Cité de la mode et du design (Fashion and design center) / Old Masséna train station (13°)

Mixing contemporary and numeric Art within the streets of the 13rd arrondissement, this route will help you realize that Street Art is definitely not dead !

 

4 – Je perf', ils perf' … Nous dansons (« I perf', they perf' … We're dancing »)

Georges Brassens park / Petite Ceinture / André Citroën park (15°)

Those who like performances and installations will particularly enjoy this route. Having fun and defying the laws of physics, the artists will show hypnotic dances and atypical installations. The cherry on top ? The performances are interactive : everyone can join in on Jeff Mills' choregraphies.

 

5 – À la lumière des arbres (« The light from the trees »)

Montsouris park (14°)

In the Montsouris park, artists will give trees a minute of glory by projecting tremendous lights and colors on them, creating a magical atmosphere.

 

6 – Ascensions magnétiques (« Magnetic ascensions »)

Montparnasse tower / Necker hospital (7°/15°)

There, you will find a selection of gigantic pieces that give an impressive physical presence to numeric, and inside of which you will be able to wander freely.

 

A few other options

 

What makes the Nuit Blanche unique is not only the « official » part of the event, but its « off » part. Various museums, galleries and cultural centers are free to join the feast and offer special animations and exhibitions, performances, or perhaps just open their doors for longer than usual … and for free ! Here is a miscellaneous selection of ideas to keep you occupied during the night, picked from the many « off » plans of the Nuit Blanche.

 

  • Une plongée en apesanteur (« Gravity diving ») at the Piscine des amiraux (18°) : isn't a swimming pool a very interesting place to broadcast projections of dancers and acrobats ? Do not miss ! (open from 7 p.m to 2 a.m)

  • Max Papeschi musical exhibition at the Point Éphémère (10°) : do you ever feel like listening to live music while visiting an exhibition ? On top of the exhibit devoted to the Italian artist, the Point Éphémère is offering a concert, DJset and a choregraphic happening (open until 2 a.m)

  • « Nocturne » at the Centre Pompidou (4°) : until 10 p.m (free entry)

  • The Grand Palais by night (8°) : until midnight (free entry)

  • And for kids … the Bal des petits (« Bal of the little ones ») at the Centquatre (19°) : a bal especially made for our younger ones... while the grownups enjoy the Nuit Blanche elsewhere ? (from 7 p.m to 12.30 a.m)

 

Transportation

 

For the Nuit Blanche, the RATP (Parisian Transportation Service) is going to leave two metro lines open all night on saturday. Line 14 will be open from one terminal to the other (as in daytime), and line 4 will be open between Châtelet and Mairie de Montrouge (south section). Moreover, on top of the usual « Noctilien » lines (night bus), you will be able to hop on lines N01 (interior bypass) and N02 (exterior bypass). More information here : http://www.sortiraparis.com/arts-culture/balades/articles/65663-nuit-blanche-2014-a-paris-les-transports-en-commun

You can get a daily Pass for 1€70 and hop on and off as you wish for the whole evening and the whole night.

 

Otherwise, as usual in the Parisian night-time, you can always use the vélib' (public bicycle service) and taxis, and of course, your feet, that might still be the best way of enjoying tremendous nocturnal views in the capital for the more contemplative and/or fit of you !

 

Where to grab a bite during the night ?

 

Your best option probably is the food trucks that will be installed all around the city, close to the various points of interest of the Nuit Blanche. Some restaurants, bars and cafés will also stay open for longer than usual (some of them all night). Here is a selection of some of the places to grab something to eat according to the 6 different « routes » of the Nuit Blanche (source : http://www.sortiraparis.com/hotel-restaurant/restaurant/articles/65680-nuit-blanche-2014-les-food-trucks-et-restaurants-ouverts-en-nocturne )

 

« Les futurs composés » route :

La Comète : 6 rue des archives, 75003 Paris

« Ceux que nous sommes » route :

Le requin chagrin : 10 rue Mouffetard, 75005 Paris

Loulou Burger : 90 bv. Saint-Germain, 75005 Paris

Le Polly Maggoo : 3 rue du Petit-Pont, 75005 Paris

La Gueuse : 19 rue Soufflot, 75005 Paris

L'innévitable : 22 rue Linné, 75005 Paris

« Open Musée Street Art Contemporain » route :

Gare Messéna : accès boulevard Masséna
4 Food Trucks : Black Spoon, TRISK'AN, Le Canard Huppé, After Eleven

Le Nuba : 36 quai d'Austerlitz, 75013 Paris

Le Wanderlust : 34 quai d'Austerlitz, 75013 Paris

Le 72 : 72 rue du Chevaleret, 75013 Paris

Yuman : 70 rue du Chevaleret, 75013 Paris

Kumukera : 113 rue du Chevaleret, 75013 Paris

Les Bottes de 7 lieues : 2 rue Duchefdelaville, 75013 Paris

« Je perf', ils perfs',... Nous dansons » route :

Parc André Citroën : 6 rue de la Montagne de la Fage, 75015 Paris,
Foodtrucks, etc, le village : Cantine California, La Brigade, Bugelski, Breizh Truck, El Taco, Camion Bol, Caravan Shop,  T-Truck, Le Boudoir des Cocottes.

Petite Ceinture :
5 food trucks : Le réfectoire, Mozza & Co, Le tricycle, Fifi la Praline, Classico Argentino

Le Diplomate : 252 rue de la Convention, 75015 Paris

« À la lumière des arbres » route :

Le Fleurus : 10 bv. Jourdan, 75014 Paris

« Ascensions magnétiques » route :

Le Milou café : 10 rue du Maine, 75014 Paris

Brasserie à St-Malo : 2 rue d'Odessa, 75015 Paris

La Tour de Nesle : 114 rue de Sèvres, 75015 Paris

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Come sail and discover Paris

Paris, capital of romanticism. Its monuments, its History, its majestic avenues and little tangled streets, its museums, its parks, its shops... So many unforgettable things to discover. Some say that the city's major charm comes from the fact that the Seine is going through it. The river separates Paris into two banks (Rive Droite in the North and Rive Gauche in the South), and into two islands in its center (Île de la Cité and Île Saint Louis). But above all, this opens magnificent viewpoints on the architecture of the capital. Take the time to stop in the middle of one of the many bridges connecting the two banks, and you will enjoy breathtaking views on some of the most beautiful parisian monuments. In the cold morning breeze or at sunset, the light sparkles on the surface of the water and gives the landscapes a very romantic note.

Paris, capital of romanticism. Its monuments, its History, its majestic avenues and little tangled streets, its museums, its parks, its shops... So many unforgettable things to discover. Some say that the city's major charm comes from the fact that the Seine is going through it. The river separates Paris into two banks (Rive Droite in the North and Rive Gauche in the South), and into two islands in its center (Île de la Cité and Île Saint Louis). But above all, this opens magnificent viewpoints on the architecture of the capital. Take the time to stop in the middle of one of the many bridges connecting the two banks, and you will enjoy breathtaking views on some of the most beautiful parisian monuments. In the cold morning breeze or at sunset, the light sparkles on the surface of the water and gives the landscapes a very romantic note.

If you are someone who likes to take the time to contemplate the beauty of the capital under different angles, you will certainly enjoy an opportunity to travel for a little while on a boat along the Seine, just for the sight of it, or perhaps long enough to have a meal or enjoy a show on board. A few companies offer excursions on the river, with different formulas, long or short, that will ravish all tastes and budgets. Here is an overview.

 

A cheap and flexible option : the Batobus

 

The Batobus is a shuttle service as many others, only this one does not take roads, but the Seine. Aboard a boat, semi-covered with glass, you will sail around Paris from one point of interest to another whilst enjoying the tremendous view on the bridges and monuments of Paris. The main advantage of this formula that will ravish travelers with a tight schedule and budget stands in the fact that it gives you total freedom. The boats make a circle circuit on the Seine and stop – as a bus would – at 8 differents stations across the city. A new boat comes every 25 minutes. After having bought your ticket (for 1 or 2 days, or even for the whole year if you are a resident), you will be able to hop on and off the shuttle as you please. A good way to move around Paris in between museum visits and shopping trips without missing on the sight of Parisian landscapes !

 

Practical information

 

The company's website : http://www.batobus.com

Timetable :

From 10 a.m to 7.30 p.m from September 8th to April 10th

From 10 a.m to 9.30 p.m from April 11th to September 8th

Prices :

1-day pass : 16€ for adults and 7€ for children below 16

2-days pass : 18€ for adults and 9€ for children below 16

 

For a sightseeing cruise

 

Some companies such as Les Vedettes du Pont Neuf or Les Bateaux Parisiens offer sightseeing cruises, with which you will sail along the Seine and discover the wonders of Paris.

 

Les Bateaux Parisiens

 

Departing from the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame, you will leave for a one-hour cruise on a boat, equipped if you so desire with an audioguide that will point you to the points of interest and their history (available in 13 languages). The company's best feature ? Cruises especially made for children, that offer a fun yet educational show, animated by two actors !

 

For more information : http://www.bateauxparisiens.com/croisieres-promenades-paris.html

Prices : between 13 and 15€ per person

 

Les Vedettes du Pont Neuf

 

With this company also, you will be able to enjoy a unique view on Parisian architecture along the water during morning, afternoon and even evening cruises. The company's best feature ? You can also enjoy classical music concerts during some of the evening cruises !

 

For more information : http://www.vedettesdupontneuf.com/croisieres/

Prices (current promotion) : between 9 and 10€ for adults, and 5€ for children between 4 and 12

 

A meal on water

 

The Bateaux Parisiens, and the famous Fly-Boats company also offer cruises that will allow you to combine the pleasure of the eyes with that of the taste buds, by enjoying lunch or dinner along the water. As a bonus, and according to the formula you choose, you can also benefit from different shows on board, from a musical animation to a full cabaret show.

 

Bateaux Parisiens :

From 57€ for lunch on board, and from 69€ for dinner

Possibility of a musical animation

For more information : www.bateauxparisiens.com

 

Bateaux Mouches (Fly-Boats) :

The Fly-Boats offer prestigious formulas for an unforgettable romantic dinner.

From 55€ for lunch on board, and from 99€ for dinner

Possibility of enjoying a Crazy Horse show

For more information : http://www.bateaux-mouches.fr

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