The Priory is a former hospital dating from the end of the 17th century. It was later used as a religious retreat. In 1913 the painter, Maurice Denis, who was deeply religious, as well as being a leading theorist of Post Impressionism, acquired the building and its grounds.
The Priory now houses a small but good collection of French art from the period 1880 to 1940, including Symbolism and Post Impressionism, especially the work of the Pont Aven artists and the Nabis.
The gardens are very beautiful and show sculpture by Bourdelle and Maillol. It's a quiet and contemplative sort of place except when the primary schools are in for an afternoon of art.
2 Rue Maurice Denis, 78100 St Germaine-en-Laye, west of Paris. Metro/RER from Chatelet to St Germaine-en-Laye. Then 10 minute walk through the town. There is said to be a bus but I never saw it.
A very relaxing place. There are Parisians who go there to take a nap, and you won't pay more than a euro to enter the garden.
77, rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris (VIIe); tel: 01 44 18 61 10;
Métro (13): Varenne, Invalides ou Saint-François-Xavier;
R.E.R (C): Invalides;
Bus: 69, 82, 87, 92;
This walk crosses the east of Paris from the Bastille to the Bois de Vincennes. You are transported to a space in total contradiction to the urbanity surrounding you. This walk provides a breath of fresh air, but unlike a park, this is a narrow-ish walk-way surrounded by trees and plants that takes you up on viaducts and above buildings (only one storey up) and sometimes in tunnels, for a distance of 4.5 km.
In addition to providing you with some greenery, it allows you to journey among the trees, instead of among cars (as there are numerous access points along the way), and to see houses and apartment blocks in a way that is impossible from street level.
From the Avenue Daumesnil to the Bois de Vincennes (access by staircases and lifts along the way)
Métro : Bastille (Lignes 1,5, and 8)
The famous cemetery where many artists rest is worth the visit, and not just for the mandatory pilgrimage to Jim Morrison's grave. The bloated monuments, the peaceful atmosphere and the shade of the trees will appeal to art lovers as well as romantic souls in search of a serene place in the middle of busy Paris.
It’s not easy to escape the crowds in Paris, especially between April and September. Try the Canal St Martin, particularly on Sundays when the roads either side are pedestrianised. You won’t escape the bobo Parisians, granted - but there'll be very few tourists.
Parks are not Paris's strongest point, but the Buttes Chaumont is a down-to-earth alternative to the altogether more bourgeois (and crowded) Luxembourg. Located on a rocky hill in the 19th arrondissement in north-east Paris, it also gives views of much of the city, including the Sacre Coeur.
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