Valentine's Day in Paris
Paris is not only the most beautiful city to visit in the world, it is also unparalleled for romance and beauty. For Valentine’s Day this year, why not rediscover love through the age by taking a tour of the famous lovers in art and sculpture at the Louvre? You’re in for an unforgettable and romantic experience.
Most visitors to the Louvre take the time to admire the Venus de Milo, but you’ll want to look at her with new eyes on this trip. Venus—or her Greek counterpart, Aphrodite—was the immortal goddess of love and beauty. This graceful sculpture was carved around 100 BCE, and its unknown sculptor believed in appealing to Aphrodite for help with matters of the heart. Share a kiss with your sweetheart in front of this monument to love, and reap the rewards of Aphrodite’s favor.
Aphrodite was not the only god in charge of love in the ancient world. Her son, Cupid (also known as Eros) was the young man who shot love arrows at unsuspecting couples, making them fall helplessly in love with each other. Cupid also fell for a woman—the beautiful mortal Psyche, of whom his mother was jealous. The sculpture Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss by Antonio Canova depicts the moment when Cupid saves his beloved from an endless sleep caused by Venus. The elegant lines of this tender scene will move any art lover and anyone who has ever fallen in love. Read the entire story here…»
Pont des Arts, Paris photo
When you visit the Louvre on your next trip to Paris, take the time to walk around the neighborhood, from the Palais Royal square to the Pont des Arts. Too many tourists come for the art and ignore the museum’s surroundings. It would be a huge mistake to leave without setting foot on the Pont des Arts, a pedestrian bridge that is mentioned in countless popular songs. It takes strollers over the Seine, from the Louvre to the West Bank, with stunning views of Notre Dame and the Pont Neuf. The setting is so beautiful that many Parisians spend their summer evenings there, with picnics, wine and guitars. The Pont des Arts is a destination in itself, not just a handy way of crossing the river. Read the entire story here…»
With so many breathtaking cathedrals in Paris, it’s hard not to want to see them all. But touring from one to the next can definitely lead to “cathedral-fatigue.” One chapel that is sure to awe even the weariest of travelers is the divine Sainte-Chapelle.
Located in the heart of Paris on the Ile-de-la-Cité, Sainte-Chapelle is an architectural gem and a national historic monument. Its delicate skeletal structure, ornate vaulted ceilings and brilliant stained glass windows make it perhaps the best example of the French High Gothic style.
The 1st arrondissement cathedral’s 6,000 square feet of stained glass is a staggering site. Each window reads from left to right and from top to bottom, telling the story of the Old Testament and the Passion of the Christ – with 1,113 biblical scenes depicted in all. While the chapel was all but destroyed during the French Revolution, nearly two-thirds of the windows are authentic.
Commissioned by King Louis XI in 1241, the cathedral was built to house precious Christian relics, including Christ’s crown of thorns, a piece of the true cross and more than thirty other relics that the king purchased from the Byzantine Empire. In fact, King Louis XI paid almost three times more for the relics than he did the construction of the cathedral. Today, what remains of the relics are housed in the nearby Treasury House of the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
While located in the middle of Paris, Sainte-Chapelle isn’t very noticeable from the street. The cathedral is tucked away within the Palais de Justice, and to enter you must turn left at the palace’s main entrance gate. The cathedral is open daily from 9 am – 5 pm, but closed on Christmas and New Years Day. Read the entire story here…»
Paris is a photographer’s delight. For every cliché snapshot of the Eiffel Tower there is a stolen image of another corner of this photogenic city. And for every realist picture of a lover’s embrace on a Parisian quay there are moments and angles of abstraction found in the French Capital. It is truly difficult to catch this city on a bad day. It is always posing with a seductive grin, waiting to again be immortalized by both amateurs and professionals alike. No matter how many photos of Paris we see, the city continues to beckon us from afar. And anyone who has been lucky enough to gaze onto the beauty of the City of Light knows that a picture doesn’t lie.
Not only does Paris photograph particularly well, but Parisians have a true love affair with the art of photography. The city produced the street photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, a father of modern photojournalism and a man who produced much of Paris’ iconic imagery. Paris also was the home of Robert Doisneau whose photograph Le Baiser de l’Hotel de Ville has been immortalized countless times on posters and magazine pages the world over. Perhaps a reason for the prominence of French photographers has been the way in which photography is treated. Parisians take photography seriously as a visual art and there are dozens of galleries around the city that cater solely to the work of camera and subject. The Paris Photo event, held every year since 1997 is a celebration of the city’s love of artistic photography. The 2009 event will highlight the Arab and Iranian photography scene yet will represent the work of 500 international photographers. The Paris Photo event will take place from November 19-22 in 2009 at the Carrousel du Louvre, in the 1st arrondissement. Read the entire story here…»
Earlier we learned about Le Jardin Du Luxembourg; a Top Parisian Park.
As we make our way into summer, you’ll want to spend more and more time outdoors on your next Parisian vacation. We here at New York Habitat are going to be highlighting some of the great outdoor parks and gardens in Paris so that you’ll already have some places in mind before you go. These spots are all great for strolling, picnicking, or just sitting and people-watching, a favorite pastime of Parisians!
This week, we’ll be looking at le Jardin des Tuileries. Located in the 1st arrondissement, this park is actually located at the western edge of one of Paris’s most visited sites: le Louvre! The garden used to be bound within the Tuileries Palace, which was part of the larger structure that we know as le Louvre, but the western side was destroyed in the late nineteenth century. The garden area itself was first designed in the seventeenth century by the renowned French landscape architect, André Le Notre. Evidence of his work can still be seen in the alleyways that run throughout the garden. Le Jardin des Tuileries is a wonderful place to sit and relax, especially by the large fountains in the park, after a long day at le Louvre, but it also contains two small museums itself, including le Musée de l’Orangerie, which contains Monet’s famous waterlillies. Read the entire story here…»
Photograph of the Louvre in Paris
Visiting the Louvre is at the top of the list for any first-time visitor to Paris. Quite easily one of the world’s finest museums, the Louvre, is known almost as much for its architecture and history as for the artwork it houses. While the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo draw plenty of attention on the inside of the building, I.M Pei’s pyramid and the beautiful architecture of the former royal fortress provide the photo opportunities for guests waiting patiently in line. Indeed, located in the 1st arrondissement, the Louvre has an impressive history, and one that has played a central role in the story of Paris. New York Habitat’s apartments also play a role in the fabric of the city, and guests are invited to engage the city by staying in an authentic Paris apartment.
The Louvre dates back to the late 12th century, when it was built for French royalty. The grounds remained property of the throne until 1793 when the Musée du Louvre was born as a public institution. However, the Louvre museum has not been immune from outside events. In 1939, on the eve of Nazi occupation, concerned Frenchman evacuated the Louvre’s collections, except for the heaviest pieces which were too obtuse to transport. For the next 6 years works were shuffled between Chateaus in the south of the country in order to keep them from falling into enemy hands. This summer, the museum will be displaying its history during WWII by presenting some 40 photographs of the Louvre taken by both professionals and amateurs between 1939 and 1947. The photographs offer a unique view on the life of one of France’s icons during the country’s most trying moments. Read the entire story here…»
Photo of a ferris wheel in Paris
Let’s face it, the French know how to throw a party with class. While modern carnivals often conjure images of bright neon lights, greasy friend dough and tacky water gun stands, in France they are decidedly more refined. After all, the ornate French carousels are the envy of amusement festivals the world over. For years, the French have morphed amusement and art and the Tuileries Festival is a great example of just that. As always, New York Habitat has dozens of apartments in Paris, steps from the annual garden festival.
Running until August 24th, the Tuileries Festival takes place on the banks of the Seine, in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. The central location is ideal for both first-time and seasoned Paris tourists. Visitors can spend hours gawking at centuries-old artwork in the halls of the Louvre only to emerge among the festive atmosphere of a neighborhood carnival. All of the carnival staples will be there; the barbe-a-papa (cotton candy), bumper cars and costumed revelers that are not so foreign to vacationing Americans. The view from the top of the Ferris wheel is arguably the most romantic, and temporary, views in the city. The Tuileries festival is filled with real Parisians, the city residents often lost among the tour groups and gift shops of Paris’ central districts. Read the entire story here…»
As discussed in an earlier post, the life and death of Marie Antoinette is something that captures the imagination. The story of the frivolous queen being sent to death by her own subjects has been played out time and time again in literature, film and theater. Visitors that still have a yearning for more Marie after a visit to the Grand Palais’ Marie Antoinette exhibition need not worry, Paris is the city where the history of Marie Antoinette’s rise and fall took place, and her lasting impression is everywhere. New York Habitat has dozens of Paris rental accommodations near the gardens where Marie spent her youth, the prison she stayed while awaiting execution and the square where the guillotine finally struck down royalty.
Don’t feel too bad for the headless queen yet; visitors must first visit the grounds of Versailles to understand the causes for the public outrage and the queen’s eventual execution. Versailles can be a daunting place to visit, the grounds of the main Chateau are massive, attempting to visit the interiors and gardens of Versailles in one day is quite a feat. Instead of wearing yourself out with a marathon visit, guests should spend a full day focusing on Marie Antoinette’s life at Versailles. Save the long lines at the main castle for another day and continue on to the Petit Trianon, a neoclassical chateau on the Versailles grounds was the private domain of Ms. Antoinette. Marie sought refuge from the demands of royalty here, forbidding anyone to visit without her personal invitation. The cube-shaped chateau is rather small in comparison to the other castles in Versailles, however when viewed in the context of the late 18th century–a time of great hardship for France’s commoners–the scale and opulence of the building is quite staggering. Read the entire story here…»