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Montparnasse - Alésia

Catacombes of Paris Catacombes of Paris

Fall is the perfect time to experience the gothic charm of Paris. The gray skies and cool temperatures bring out the city’s ghoulish side. If you want to get spooked, head underground to the Catacombs, a centuries’ old subterranean cemetery. This sprawling bone museum is far more frightening than even the most grotesque gargoyle of Notre Dame.

At the end of the 18th century, Paris was overcrowded and so were its cemeteries. In an attempt to solve the growing real estate and public health problem, city officials decided to utilize the abandoned network of limestone quarries underneath the city. In 1786, workers began painstakingly transferring the bones of the deceased into the underground tunnels. By 1860, some six million departed Parisians found their final resting place in the caverns of the Catacombs. Read the entire story here…»

 

Photo of the Foundation Cartier in Paris Photo of the Foundation Cartier in Paris

Sure, a trip to Paris would be incomplete without a tete-a-tete with the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, but there are more intimate ways to peruse the art world in the French capital. While the halls of Paris’ most renowned museums are teeming with foreign tourists and twinkling flashbulbs, dozens of galleries in the city draw Parisians out of cafes and into the modern art world. Among all of the galleries currently shining in the city of light the Fondation Cartier is one of the brightest. This season, the 14th arrondissement organization turns its focus towards the ideas of native identity and of being rooted, and uprooted. Native Land, Stop Eject confronts the consequences of globalization, where native peoples are constantly threatened with exile and where massive migration has greased the wheels of modernity. The extensive mixed-media exhibit fills its halls with art-loving Parisians and out-of-towners in the know. New York Habitat apartments are filling quickly this winter, but travelers can still find dozens of available apartments in the 14th arrondissement that fill their artistic tastes. Read the entire story here…»

 

Photograph of Patti Smith singing by Diago Oliva Photograph of Patti Smith singing by Diago Oliva

Patti Smith is a modern rock legend. However like many musicians, Smith’s creativity doesn’t begin and end with the strumming of a guitar–it travels to the tip of a poetic pen, lense of a inquisitive camera and table of a cluttered drafting board. Smith will always be known more for her music than anything else–she’s a member of the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame–nevertheless Paris’ Fondation Cartier has found enough merit in her diverse creative pursuits to dedicate an exhibit to her vast artistic conceptions. New York Habitat has dozens of accommodations in the 14th arrondissement, the same quarter as the modern-art gallery, with many still available for this spring/early summer.

Designed by–you guessed it–Jean Nouvel, the Fondation Cartier is one of those rare ultramodern buildings that melts seamlessly into the landscape of Haussmannian Paris. The Patti Smith exhibit, titled “Land 250″ for the name of one of Smith’s vintage Polaroid cameras, focuses as much on her personal pursuits–drawing, photography, poetry–as her professional life. Ms. Smith draws heavily on her own inspirations for the exhibit, presenting photos taken by Constantin Brancusi, reading poetry from Virginia Woolf, and displaying a rock from the river where Woolf committed suicide. Running until June 22nd, the Fondation Cartier is holding a “Nomadic Nights” series to run in conjunction with the Smith exhibit. Organized by Smith herself, the series allows visitors to peruse the exhibit while rocking out to a band or listening to an insightful discussion–all with the hope that the two aesthetic forms will productively illuminate each other. Act fast, tickets are being gobbled up and must be purchased in advance at the F.C. ticket booth or FNAC store. The Fondation Cartier is located at 261 boulevard Raspail, in the lovely  14th arrondissement of Paris. The closest metro stations are Raspail and Denfert Rochereau. Read the entire story here…»

 

Of all the lively quarters in Paris the one with the most English-literary history and tradition is Montparnasse. Five cafés, all situated on a corner of the Boulevard Montparnasse, retain the feel, charm and look of the Lost Generation of Paris. When Hemingway, Ezra Pound and F. Scott Fitzgerald first moved to Paris they took small flats on the rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs, a few blocks from the mythic cafes. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda were notorious drinkers and regulars in many Montparnasse cafés as were Gertrude Stein, James Joyce and Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises characters Jake and Robert Cohn. New York Habitat has Montparnasse accommodations that will make it easy to add your name to the list of famous café patrons.

Photo of the La Rotonde Pub: Montparnasse, Paris, France Photo of the La Rotonde Pub: Montparnasse, Paris, France

We fittingly end our literary café crawl on the Boulevard Montparnasse, making stops at La Coupole, La Rotonde, Le Dome, Le Select and La Closerie des Lilas. Exiting at Metro Vavin our first cocktail break will be at La Rotonde, of which Hemingway said, “No matter what café in Montparnasse you ask a taxi driver to bring you to from the right bank of the river, they always take you to the Rotonde.” The café is a renovated old-world gem, serving excellent meals and reasonably priced glasses of wine and cocktails. Next stops are La Coupole, Le Select and Le Dome. All the cafés have similar menus and are filled with Parisians grabbing after-work drinks. The food is quite good but, of course, the biggest draw is a dining room filled with the ghosts of Josephine Baker, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Pappa Hemingway. Read the entire story here…»