Voyages-sncf.com has joined forces with Accor Hotels, Galeries Lafayette and the CRT Paris-Ile -de-France to celebrate the #ParisWeLoveYou campaign, promoting Paris as one of the world’s top tourist destinations with its host of attractions and sites.
With so much going on, there’s never been a better time to visit Paris this season and in this third newsletter of four, we take a closer look at art galleries, museums and exhibitions.
For the love of architecture …
The neo-classical Palais de Chaillot on Trocadero Square was built for the Universal Exhibition of 1937. It houses three major museums, one of which is the Architecture and National Monuments Museum – a celebration of the wonderful architecture for which Paris is renowned with a huge section on Baron Haussmann who really shaped the modern city as we know it today with those wide sweeping boulevards.
Entrance is €8 (approx £6.50) per person.
In the know:
Eat & Drink: The hopefully soon to reopen Café Carlu with sweeping views over to the Eiffel Tower. It’s said to be re-opening this spring after a major refurbishment.
Don’t Miss: Take a Parisian architectural walking tour. There are many to choose from – this, for instance, by Context Travel, is a small, curated group of up to six people from around €92 per person – City Invented: Haussman & the Making of Modern Paris.
Visit an inspirational village, close to Paris
Just a few kilometres from the centre of Paris by train from the Gare du Nord, Auvers-sur-Oise is a idyllic village much favoured by artists such as Van Gogh, Pissarro and Cézanne. With ivy-clad walls, stone houses and surrounded by wheat fields, this little paradise on the banks of the Oise River has remained unaltered since the nineteenth century.
In the know:
RER: Take the train from Gare du Nord to Auvers-sur-Oise
Eat & Drink: Eat as Sous La Porche with menus from €15 (approx £12) per person
Don’t Miss: Whilst here, visit the workshop-museum of the impressionist painter, Charles François Daubigny, which also houses works by his friends such as Corot. If inspired by your visit, back in Paris, check out the Normandy – the open air studio exhibition on until 25th July. It features 40 works of the impressionists that used the region as a source of inspiration – think Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Boudin and Gaughin.
Musée d’Orsay: Railway station turned museum
This former railway station on the Left Bank of the Seine now houses art collections from the 1848 – 1914 period. The building was constructed for the Universal Exhibition of 1900 and is considered an artwork in itself. Since it was opened, 30 years ago there have been around 10 million visitors to the museum to gaze at the works of the Impressionists – Manet, Degas, Monet, Cézanne, Renoir, Sisley, etc and post-Impressionists – Van Gogh, Gauguin, Seurat, the Douanier Rousseau….. Talking of Rousseau, there’s a temporary exhibition – Rousseau Archaic Innocence Exhibition on until 17th July. For lovers of Barbie, her roaming exhibition is sited here until 18th September.
Entrance is €12 (approx £10) per person
In the know:
Metro: Rue du Bac / Assemblée Nationale
Eat: In the Café Campana or the Restaurant du Musée d’Orsay in the museum
Drink: Enjoy people watching at popular cafés such as Les Deux Magots or the Café de Flore on the Left Bank.
Don’t Miss: The ‘bouquinistes‘ of the Quai d’Orsay – the famous antiquarian booksellers along the banks of the Seine that cause the river to be called the only river in the world that runs between two bookshelves!; Palais Bourbon – seat of the French National Assembly and Les Invalides – remembering the military history of France and where, under the Dome des Invalides, Napoleon Bonaparte is buried.
Walk in the footsteps of the Sun King
The Château de Versailles is probably the most famous castle in the world and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site for over thirty years. Originally built as a hunting lodge for King Louis XIII, it was Louis XIV who expanded and transformed it and moved the court here in 1682 until the Revolution of 1782. Mansart’s Hall of Mirrors and the Grand Trianon, the King’s Grand Apartments and the amazing gardens of Le Nôtre are not to be missed. The Petit Trianon and the Queen’s Garden’s reveal the more personal side of Marie-Antoinette where she only allowed visitors by personal invitation.
Entrance to the Château starts at €15 (approx £12) per person
In the know:
RER: The Versailles Château Rive Gauche station is the closest to the Palace (a 10-minute walk). Accessible from the centre of Paris (Champs de Mars, Invalides, Musée d’Orsay, etc.), it is part of Line C of the RER regional train system.
Eat & Drink: The Veranda of Gordon Ramsay: yes – the British Chef is now cooking in a palace. A garden oasis, steps from Versailles, dine regally at the Michelin-starred restaurant or enjoy a more relaxed vibe at the Brasserie La Veranda.
Don’t Miss: On Fountain Show and Musical Gardens days (weekends between April and October), you can visit certain groves that are usually closed in Le Nôtre’s Gardens. Les Ecuries – by Mansart: these were used to house the carriage horses of the kings and is now the base for the Academy of Equestrian Arts and the Coaches Gallery. There are equestrian shows on weekends.
There was a small settlement in Saint Denis to the north of the city but it came into prominence when the martyred body of the first Bishop of Paris and patron saint of France, Saint Denis, was interred in 250 AD. His grave became a shrine and pilgrimage centre and the Basilica became one of the most important sites of pilgrimage in France. The Basilica kept its connections with French royalty until the the last king – Louis XIII – was buried here, after which its importance dimmed.
In recent years however, its fortunes were revived with the building of the national French sports stadium – the Stade de France – where some of the UEFA 2016 soccer tournament will take place. The group stages kick off at the State de France on 10th June with hosts France playing Romania and will end with the final on 10th July. By the by, Beyoncé will be trilling here on 21st July. Visitors can also do a stadium tour, walking in the footsteps of Yannick Noah, One Direction, Jonny Wilkinson and Zinédine Zidane for just €15 (approx £12) per person.
In the know:
Metro and RER: Line D or Metro line 13 Porte de Paris for the stadium and Basilique Saint Denis for the church.
Eat: A TripAdvisor hit seems to the the Pâtisserie Lannois
Don’t miss: Musée d’Art Moderne – with more than 10,000 exhibits, this represents the most important collection of 20th and 21st century art in France.
About voyages-sncf.com: Voyages-sncf.com is a subsidiary of the French National Railway Company SNCF and an expert in railway travel to Europe and French destinations. It is a key player in the European tourism industry employing up to 1,000 people across its European business. In 2015, the group sold 78 million tickets with annual sales revenue of €4.2 billion, across more than 30 countries. Voyages-sncf.com comprises 15 websites in 8 languages, mobile sites and apps and an integrated call centre service.
About SNCF: Present in 120 countries, SNCF is a world leader in mobility and logistics. Its total workforce of 250,000 generated revenue of €32.2 billion in 2013, with over 25% of sales from markets outside France. A public sector group dedicated to public service, SNCF builds on its foundations in rail to offer a broad range of services, delivering seamless door-to-door mobility for transport and logistics operators, passengers and the regional and local governments that are its organizing authorities. www.sncf.com