Paris is certainly jam-packed with some world class museum through which thousands of tourist trudge their way through daily. However a lesser known attraction is the rather intimate Edith Piaf Museum. She was most famous for her warbly voice and those timeless classics ‘La Vie en Rose’ and ‘Non, je ne regrette rien’. This tiny museum is housed in the apartment of a private apartment belonging to a friend of the singer. He has built something of a shrine to her memory as well as written a number of biographies of her life. Here you will find her dresses, gold discs, photos, private letters as well as a giant teddy bear on display. It of course helps if you like the singer herself, but this is a marvelous way to really get close up and personal with this legend.
It is worth mentioning the museum is accessed via four flights of stairs and there is no lift so it may not be suitable for all visitors. You will need to call ahead to gain the door entry code. Quaint huh?
5 Rue Crespin du Gast 75011 Paris
+33 1 43 55 52 72
Google map: bit.ly/QRT8mW
Take the train from the Gare-du-Nord to Auvers-sur-Oise where Van Gogh spent his last three months. Once there - walk up past the church and pretty backstreets to the cemetery where Van Gogh and his brother Theo are burried, taking in fabulous views of the town and familiar countryside. Carry on alongside the iconic cornfields and drop down into the Absinthe Museum (check opening times)before a delicious meal and genuine absinthe at the Auberge Ravoux where Van Gogh lived and worked. A wonderful day out whether into painting or not.
44 rue Callé, 95430 Auvers-sur-Oise
+33(0)1 30 36 83 26
Google map: bit.ly/S6bB9a
Place de la Mairie, 95430 Auvers sur Oise
+33 (0)1 30 36 60 60
Google map: bit.ly/QH1Q10
A little bijou of a museum. Sheltered in a magnificent 18th century hôtel particulier in the Marais, right near the Pompidou Centre, Le Musée de la Chasse boasts wonderful stuffed animals such as a white polar bear standing on its feet ...
The Louvre is well worth every cent of the admission price, but it is best to go in with some idea of what you'd most like to see. I'm an art history enthusiast with the stamina of a hiker, but spending a full day in the Louvre seems unfeasible to me: I'm willing to bet the sheer magnitude of the Louvre's collections will wear anyone's appreciation out in about three hours. Hence, grab a map, try to make sense of it and proceed towards the section that interests you the most. Leave while you're still amazed instead of overwhelmed and bored - and come back for more either in the next afternoon or on your next trip.
As for practicalities, the side entrance in the Richelieu wing is far less crowded than the main one under the pyramid. The Paris museum pass is very handy for skipping the ticket lines. It is also worth noting that not all of the many toilets marked on the map will be in working order, so if you come across one that is, best make use of it.
The first Sunday of the month is free, as everybody knows. Therefore, to avoid the crowds, the best time to go is on the day before - everyone's waiting for the free entry the next day!
We went on the Saturday and had the place to ourselves, apart from the usual crowd that is always gathered around the Mona Lisa. We went again on the Sunday and it was hideously busy. We didn't have to queue though: a nice security guard spotted our pushchair and let us jump the queue! It's a surprisingly child-friendly place, and of course the advantage of the free Sunday is that you can take the kids (they are always free on any day) and you haven't wasted the cost of your ticket if their behaviour is such that you have to leave after five minutes.
The gardens which surround the Musée du quai Branly in Paris are free to enter. They are beautifully designed with lots of nooks and terraces. They even host parts of museum exhibitions such as the current TARZAN! exhibition which has sound effects hidden in the garden - great for kids. You can also view the Eiffel Tower whilst sat eating a lovely chocolate cake in the museum cafe also in the gardens.
musée du quai Branly
37, quai Branly
75007 – Paris
tuesday, wednesday and sunday : 11am . 7pm
thursday, friday, saturday : 11am . 9pm
- metro : Iéna (line 9), Alma-Marceau (line 9), Pont de l’Alma (RER C), Bir Hakeim (line 6).
- bus : line 42 Eiffel Tower stop; lines 63, 80, 92: Bosquet-Rapp stop; line 72 Musée d’art moderne – Palais de Tokyo stop
- river shuttle : Eiffel Tower stop (Batobus, Bateaux parisiens et Vedettes de Paris
Amazing place in the Richelieu wing of the Louvre. There's a nice terrace with a view of the Louvre pyramid. Nice cocktails and club sandwich but you go there for the location not really for the food.
93 rue Rivoli
It is a sprawling park area with amazing outdoor play facilities and a huge children's museum and science museum. You could easily spend 2-3 days just exploring this area. There are theatres and restaurants as well.
'Nuit Blanche' is an annual event in Paris, whereby (so rumour would have it) everything stays open all night for revelry and awe. Imagine touring the Louvre at 2am, followed by a quiet 4am brunch in a streetside cafe watching the crowds walk past, and the carnival-like atmosphere.
It would be great - if it were true!
Last year's was a shambles. The authorities didn't (wouldn't) release guides until the night itself (and then didn't explain how to get them) and most Parisians had no idea what was open, or where.
We joined the crowds milling outside the Louvre (closed), tried the Musee d'Orsay (closed) and settled for a Bateau Mouche - which turned out to provide the long awaited guidebook once you'd bought your ticket.
The boat trip itself was pleasant, during which we could read the guide - to discover few places indeed were open at all, and the promised 'all night opening' of the Metro only applied to certain lines in certain directions.
The only bar we could find open and not crammed with similarly baffled tourists was Australian (not very Parisian). When we finally gave up, we joined the thousands of others equally trying to desperately get a taxi home in the sub-zero temperatures, and ended up huddled in a Metro entrance (closed) for warmth until the hordes had thinned enough for us to try and get back.
It can't be blamed on our being tourists - as we have French friends who live in Paris and who we'd joined to spend the 'event' with!
Hopefully this year's will be better, but I'd definitely check every detail out in advance, just in case!
Escape the culture vultures at the Louvre or Musee d'Orsay - head out to the 16th district for the Musee Marmottan.
There, in a peaceful mansion, you'll find the largest Monet collection anywhere. See the entire range of his work, culminating in the Giverny Nympheas, displayed in a wonderful circular gallery.
Admire works of many other Impressionists, including one of the few women, Berthe Morisot, Manet's sister-in-law. Easy to get to (four buses, metro), opposite a delightful park, near good, cheap restaurants - a day out of Paris, in Paris!
If you are under 26, you can visit the Louvre for free on Friday evenings. In an expensive city, this is more than just helpful euro-pinching.
You can arrive as the setting sun catches the top of the glass pyramid (making for the perfect ‘I heart Paris’ portrait) then dash to all the best bits while everyone is making their way out.
As you stand tête-à-tête with the Mona Lisa, you might finally realise what all the fuss is about.
This little gem which chronicles the lives of George Sand and Chopin is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the capital. Lovely autre epoque atmosphere with a delightful period tea room. Worth discovering.
16 rue Chaptal , Metro St. Georges
If you are tired of traipsing around the Louvre and Quai d'Orsay head for the Rodin museum and garden.
Have a good look around the main house museum then head out to the lovely gardens. At the very bottom you will find some shaded sun loungers where you can catch your breath and even be sketched by the life drawing class that goes there most afternoons.
The baccarat glass museum near metro Chateau d'eau is a gem. Wonderful exhibits and, if you can't afford the original baccarat paperweights (they're expensive!), you can buy fine glassware at discount prices in the shops in the quartier.
I hate wearing glasses but my eyes have a Norman Tebbit-like intolerance of foreign bodies, including contact lenses. But on visiting this museum I felt proud to be a speccie.
Glasses going back 800 years, including some (eg Elton John's) that are positively architectural. You tell me that a museum of contact lenses would look this good!
Musée des lunettes et lorgnettes, Pierre Marly.
Take the metro to Boulogne Pont de St-Cloud, and take a short walk to the Jardin Albert Kahn.
There are very attractive gardens and a little museum which has exhibitions of the photographs and films that he commissioned between 1909 - 1931. This remarkable man sent photographers to remote areas of the world to record the people and how they lived. There has recently been a documentary on television about him and the amazing collection.
It is possible to purchase postcards and posters in the small shop. Unfortunately, the salon de the in the Palm house is not open because the building needs urgent renovation, but there are bars and brasseries next to the metro entrances. This was a fascinating place to visit and is off the usual tourist trail. Highly recommended.
The Carnavalet museum in the heart of the Marais not only has a magnificent collection of Parisian history, from medieval shop signs to stylish art deco exhibits, set in a most beautiful sixteenth century palace but is, unbelievably, free. It is closed on Mondays, and open 10am to 5.40pm.
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.
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com