I love the Marais. Its winding streets, its aura of history, its diversity, its range of experience, and the palimpset of eras overlaid from the Middle Ages onward. If there’s anything you want to do, you can do it there. In one short day, I ate Middle Eastern food, met a Copt from Egypt (a Christian, whose language is actually phonetic ancient Egyptian), bought an Asterix book (or two), wandered for hours, and fit right in.
You can do the same, whether you’re travelling low-budget or maximum luxe.
To explore the Marais from the peace of cyberspace, try:
This site features history, art, restaurants, events, festivals, just everything.
And, to make it easier to follow along, download their free and gorgeous map at:
One thing to note: The Marais actually covers two arrondisements: the Third and the Fourth.
And thanks to Eye Prefer Paris for the tip.
If you want to stay in the Marais on your next trip, I do strongly suggest checking out your hotel, bed and breakfast, or apartment quickly. I was looking for an apartment in April and found most of the affordable ones with some promise of quiet are already completely full for April and most of May.
Next: where to buy vintage leather by the kilo . . . .
A quick note on a new fun newsletter: Focus on Style, produced by Sharon Haver.
A very upbeat, very fun site with lots of links to street style during Fashion Weeks and beyond, Red Carpet looks, runway fashion, and (most fun of all) how the rest of us can adapt elements of those styles.
And, if you sign up, right now, she is offering a free ibook: Passport to French Chic.
I just signed up and will be reviewing the book when it comes.
In the meantime, Fashionistas, check it out!
P.S. What is the French for Fashionista?
Following up on the Louvre post, I have spent some time tracking down Paris Museum Pass options. I like to be organized and have as much done before a trip as I can. Less time in line means more time having fun, wandering around, eating French chocolate, yearning over shoes on the Champs Elysee, and so forth.
With that in mind, there are several options for getting the Paris Museum pass organized before you leave. I checked out two key sites:
This is the official site to obtain the Paris Museum Pass. There are 2, 4, and 6 day options, at 39, 54, and 69 euro, respectively. You can arrange to have the pass shipped to your home or delivered to your hotel or to the Central Paris Tourist Office at 25 rue des Pyramides in the first arrondisement. There are, however, substantial charges for this service, from about 12 euro to 24+ euro.
The second site is intriguing:
This is actually a full-service website that will help organize tours, special activities (Eiffel Tower plus Dinner Cruise) and many, many more. Their Museum Pass prices are higher than the Paris Museum Pass site,, at 45.90, 65.90 and 79.50 euro, for the 2, 4, and 6 day passes. They also state there are no taxes or charges for services. I would like to believe that includes delivery to your hotel or apartment in Paris.
And there’s a very intriguing Privilege Discount card, which includes a 1 euro discount on an adorable train that goes to Montmartre several times per day. It looks rather like a toy train, but it is covered. It reminds me of the trains at Versailles. Montmartre is some distance out from the center of Paris and can require a lot of legwork, so this could be fun. Other discounts include 20% of the espace Dali in Montmartre and 20% of the Aquarium in the Trocadero Gardens (who knew?)
Plan ahead and save money and time, which can then be devoted to food and shoes.
Why is everyone so crazy-scared of the Louvre? All the articles I have read (and I have ready plenty) jabber on and on about how big, how labyrinthine, and overwhelming the Louvre is.
I concede the Louvre is big and it is confusing. It’s also gorgeous, full of wonders, and allows easy in-and-outs so you can break whenever you need to.
Herewith the last word on the Louvre:
The Louvre is wonderful – as in full of wonders.
And it is actually easy if you follow a few simple tips:
1. If you’re going to be in Paris for a few days, get the Museum Pass. And where, you ask, do I do that? One easy option is the the Tabac at the underground mall at the Louvre. Take the Metro Palais Royal-Musee du Louvre stop. Take the exit to Musee du Louvre- Le Carrousel du Louvre. You will walk right past the Tabac. I checked and it has a range of passes and no extra charge – and short or no lines.
2. Prepare: good walking shoes, protein for breakfast or lunch. There’s coffee, tea, and pastry available all over outside the Musee itself. There are options inside, as well, but few and far between.
3. As noted, if you’re taking the Metro, use the Metro Palais Royal-Musee du Louvre stop.
4. Where do you get into the museum itself? From the Metro Palais Royal-Musee du Louvre, follow the signs to the underground mall, Carrousel du Louvre. It’s huge and puts you right in the middle of the action. Sometimes there are fashion shows there, as well.
5. Other entrance options: (a) the Pyramid. It’s gorgeous and you experience the courtyard, but the lines tend to be huge. (b) There was an entrance at 99 rue de Rivoli, under a red awning that was closed in late 2012. It may have re-opened. It was quick and easy, bypassing the lines at the Pyramid.
If you do choose the Pyramid entrance for its beauty or because that happens to be where you end up, look at the courtyard. Before it was a museum (thank you Napoleon), the Louvre was a functioning palace, which means it was full of people socializing and seeking advancement. Carriages, horses, footmen, women in lovely dresses, servants everywhere – imagine the scene. And remember, only nobles of a certain class could have their carriages in the courtyard.
6. Pick up the free Plan/Information at the Information Desk under the Pyramid. All those hours of quacking like a duck practicing French in the car paid off when I asked for a copy and the clerk gave me the French version.
7. Now, stop and acclimate. The noise can be deafening. There are crowds everywhere and so many options you can get dizzy. This is especially true if you, like me, are from a small town. If you have coats and bags, you can check them. However, the coat check (vestiare) and the bag check (bagagerie) are separate. You can stuff your coat into your bag, of course. Having lightened the load, proceed.
8. If you haven’t been, you are probably going to want to collect the greatest hits: the Venus de Milo, the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory of Samothrace, and other classics. The Denon Wing houses most of these. You can use the Plan, take a tour, or rent to AutoGuide. Be warned – they won’t let you have the AutoGuide after about 3 p.m. At least, that was my experience.
9. Having gotten the requirements out of the way, what next? Now comes the fun. Take pot luck – just dive in to a gallery and see what happens. My next post reveals what we found this way – something we never knew about.
10. Plan for your exit about a half hour before you actually need to be out, unless you have the AutoGuide. The key word: “sortie”. Look for it. Follow it. Be prepared to retrace steps. Have no fear.
11. Final general recommendation: if you are in town, go when the Louvre is open at night, one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had. Seeing the light change through the pyramid, from the wonderful Paris blue sky to l’heure bleu and on to night, with golden lights everywhere, while surrounded with the world’s great art – priceless!
See, the Louvre is easy, it’s fun, and when you’re on a break, you can drink designer tea at Mariage Freres and pick up the most expensive cookie in the world at Laduree. (SRSLY, 5+ euro for a macaron?)
Clouds. Dreamy things. Django Reinhardt recorded 13 versions of his big hit: Nuages. Clouds in French. Art and clouds go together.
It just so happens that there’s an exhibit of art concerning clouds called Nuage in Arles, a name associated with art and a place well worth exploring for a few days. The exhibition runs from May 16 to October 31.
What was interesting is that the museum made its point with huge clouds seeming to flow from windows. As the sun set, the clouds were illuminated in the interior with a rather purple light, which gave an eeriness to the glow.
This picture was taken about a half hour early, but I felt the people in the picture more than made up for the eery glow.
The exhibit is at the Musée Réattu – 10, rue du Grand Prieuré in Arles, just down from the cute and inexpensive (for Arles) Hôtel du Musée