Passionate About Paris: February 8th 2012

Welcome to a new post in my weekly blog series, Passionate About Paris.

To visit Paris is to experience a city that will set every sense tingling. Its essence has been captured in paintings, music and writing and its distinctive artistic heritage, instantly-recognisable icons and impressive architecture means that it’s romantic, dramatic and stylish. From the sweeping majesty of Notre Dame Cathedral to the aromas of a bustling street market, a memorable trip is guaranteed.

Whether you’re travelling to Paris for a romantic tryst, or just happen to be there around Valentine’s Day, this week’s Passionate About Paris offers some romantic ideas as well as the usual roundup of info, tips and what’s new.

First up is news of a 20% discount on apartment rentals for readers of this blog travelling to Paris in February or March this year. Naomi Benamy has a selection of gorgeous centrally-located apartments offering a great opportunity to live the local life as detailed in this blog post. Just mention that you saw her details on my blog to obtain the discount. Contact Naomi via her website which has details of her apartments: http://nbenamy-apartments-in-paris.blogspot.com/

Last week’s blog post listed some Valentine’s Day ideas and here’s a few more suggestions for some romantic, memorable places:

The Eiffel Tower of course, but don’t forget these alternatives:                              The Arc de Triomphe (the world’s largest triumphal arch) stands at the centre of 12 radiating avenues in a star-shaped pattern and offers spectacular views of Paris from the roof, down the Champs Elysées, toward the Louvre, Place de la Concorde and the Tuileries Gardens.

The ornate and magnificent Pont Alexandre III over the Seine which leads to Les Invalides (site of Napoleon’s tomb) is a study in gilded figures and statues and is especially memorable at dusk as the ornate lamps lining both sides of the bridge are lit.

The Pont des Arts is another bridge (which is pedestrianised) offering beautiful views of Paris. Look out for the ‘love locks’ adorning it! It’s a really romantic spot located near the Louvre and overlooking the Ile de la Cité.

With the Louvre as a backdrop, the Carrousel du Louvre is an outstanding setting in which to linger, or may be a place for that romantic surprise. Particularly beautiful at sunset and especially so near the glass pyramid, you’ll often hear musicians playing nearby.

The spectacular Musée d’Orsay has a terrace offering stunning views of Paris. Up on level 5 you can find yourself behind—and looking through—the beautiful railroad clocks that are a signature feature of the building, a nod to its past life as a railway station.

The terrace is open on some days, (but does depend on the temperature and humidity). If it’s open, step outside enjoy the wonderful views of Paris. Access is through the restaurant Café des Hauteurs.

The Musée Rodin is home to that sculpture for lovers ‘The Kiss’. Renovation work is due to begin at the museum this spring, but its rose garden and ornamental gardens have thematic walks and bronze statues.

Don’t forget that as in previous years, Valentine-themed luscious freebies are available once you’ve picked up a discount card from the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau, 25, rue des Pyramides (1st arrondissement) in their ‘Paris Romantique’ promotion (from February 1st to 29th)

Pierre Hermé chocolate and pastry shops will be giving away free goodies on presentation of the complimentary gift card. Take them to Pierre Hermé shops in Paris from February 7 to 14, 2012 to receive a tasty gift.

Special gift cards can also be presented at L’Occitane en Provence perfume shops between February 1 and 29 for gifts and discounts.

If champagne is the order of the day, the glamorous and luxurious bar at the Georges V Hotel has red velvet chairs, low lights and crystal chandeliers, frequently with someone tinkling the ivories to create a superb ambience in the cocktail bar.

Shopping for a sparkler? The Place Vendome is the home of expensive jewellery shops, the Parisian equivalent of London’s Hatton Garden.

Other news of interest from Paris this week                                                You may not automatically link Paris with pizza, but this pizzeria is highly recommended and run by is a native Marseillais, winner of France’s Acrobatic Pizza Championship. On Friday nights you can settle down to watch him work wonders with his dough, stretching and spinning it in magical style. The oven-baked pizzas are pretty good too.                                                                                    La Cerise sur la Pizza, 96 rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 11th arrondissement.            Open Monday to Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings; Pizza acrobatics outside every Friday night.

Try brunch with a difference on February 11-12 when La Clique is hosting a weekend brunch extravaganza in the Marais at Le Garage (66 rue de Turenne, 3rd). There’s an organic brunch, kids’ workshops, second-hand clothing stands, music, and dancing. Entry €6 (€1 goes to the WWF). For more info check out the website http://brunchbazar.com/

If you’re following the literary trail of legendary writers including Sartre, de Beauvoir, Camus, Hemingway and Fitzgerald, the cafes of St-Germain des Prés, make an ideal stop to people watch and soak up the atmosphere. This is the area that they frequented – writing, debating and drinking. Now decidedly upmarket, today’s St-Germain des Prés still attracts lovers of literature and antique collectors.

What’s on:                                                                                                                   Check out a very different exposition of alternative art at the Halle Saint Pierre (2 rue Ronsard, 18th, metro Anvers, open daily 10am-6pm; Mondays from 1pm). “Hey! Modern Art & Pop Culture” features over 64 international artists and works from three private collections, curated by the creators of the magazine “Hey!” Entry costs €8 and the café overlooks the leafy hill of Montmartre.

Something quite different is happening at the American Library on 15th February at 1930:  Do you love wine, cheese, and/ or perfume? This may be the evening for you. Panellists share the challenges and rewards of transforming their knowledge and passion into writing books and being the subject of a documentary. They will talk about their favourite wines, cheeses, and perfumes and answer questions from the audience.                                                         American Library in Paris, 10 rue du Général Camou 7th arrondissement. Metro Alma-Marceau or Ecole Militaire

For the girls                                                                                                                   A manicure by the fire                                                                                                        La Belle Juliette offers a pampering manicure and the cost of €20 per person includes hand massage, cuticle care, nail polish application and a glass of detox juice. Open Wednesday to Saturday, 4-8pm and Sunday 5-9pm.                    Booking required 01 42 22 37 22                                                                                     92 rue du Cherche-Midi, 6th arrondissement

For the boys                                                                                                             Yes, it’s still on!                                                                                                                     6 Nations Rugby:  Every February and March, France face their European rivals in Six Nations rugby union internationals at the Stade de France. The championship is the oldest rugby tournament in the world, having existed in one form or another for 120 years. The line up for 2012 is as follows:                            11 February: France v Ireland 8pm                                                                                   11 March: France v England 3pm                    http://www.rbs6nations.com/en/home.php

And finally…. there’s only one way to round off a predominantly Valentine-orientated edition of Passionate About Paris and that’s with the immortal words “We’ll always have Paris” uttered by Bogart to Bergman in ‘Casablanca’ many years ago.

À bientôt!

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