Category Archives: Active & Outdoors

Passageway to the old world of Hotel de Sully

You’ll know from our post on the secret rose garden that we love the hidden passageways and short cuts that make navigating Paris like a architectural treasure hunt. One more connecting promenade that we fall in love with over and over again is the Hotel de Sully. Although with more conspicuous entrances, passing between Rue du Faubourg Saint Antoine and the Place des Vosges, it is rare that this verdant park ever feels crowded.




A certain refuge from the busy avenue that goes from Bastille down to become rue de Rivoli, the passageway from Faubourg Saint Antoine is quite imposing and feels like maybe you’re not allowed to go through there. This is one of the main reasons I credit for the minimal foot traffic, especially from the street side. From the park side, however, what you see is light coming through the doorway under the otherwise shaded arcades that encircle the place des Vosges.





You’ll see some gorgeous architectural details throughout. But do take your time to look at all the doors. They are all heavy and wooden, carved in and outfitted with giant sculpted door knockers. The picture below is the underside of a stairway next the the small bookstore between the stone courtyard and the garden.


If ever you are looking for a beautiful backdrop for family photos, or for a quieter place to enjoy a sandwich from Paul or Miss Manon (both near the Hotel de Sully entrance on rue Faubourg Saint Antoine), you’ll find it here.







Just as beautiful in the fall, as in the summer, the ivy wall turns all shades of fiery red and orange.


Definitely add this to your list of must sees on your Marais walking tour. Or take a look at our nearby apartments and make this part of your daily commute.

Marais Place des Vosges apartment

Marais Vosges apartment

Marais Saint Paul Loft


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Picnic at the Movies

In one of Paris’ northern parks, la Villette, the lawn transforms on summer evenings into a picnic ground with blankets spread out facing the big white screen of the open air cinema. Each summer, La Villette selects a summer’s worth of films around a certain theme, this year being adolescence and the nostalgia of childhood.

Cinema-Plein-Air-BD-1©-Pierre-Emmanuel-RastoinLa Villette borders the canal as it makes its way towards the periphery of Paris. It is worth getting there a little early, while it is still light out and before all the best spots are taken, to walk around and enjoy how diverse Paris is once you get out of the central areas. When you’re looking for a spot to get comfortable, it’s good to know you can also rent folding chairs for 7 euros a piece.Outdoor-Cinema

Ranging from comedy to drama and romance, movies like Carrie and Lolita are lined up with more cult classics like Fame and American Graffiti, and then even more recent films like Moonrise Kingdom and 17 Filles. A great mix of old and new, French, American and other nationalities, you’re reminded that going to the movies can be a cultural experience, and in this case, a memorable Parisian experience.

Here is the full program. Descriptions are in French, but you’ll recognize most of the titles.

And if you bring a wine picnic, don’t forget your cork screw!

Metro: Porte de PantinCinema-Plein-Air-Affiche©-Ill.-Audrey-Spiry,-Graph.-Marie-Vic...

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It’s Nice To Ride a Bike In Paris

To get lost in Paris is the best way to discover it. Normally, on foot, this is a great way to see the city. Exiting a metro station or starting from your apartment rental in the Marais (just picture it!), you wander the windy streets of the oldest part of the city, or turn off onto a smaller street from one of the Haussmannian-lined boulevards in the 8th or 9th arrondissement. Hours go by, and you realize you’ve walked halfway across the city. It’s a great adventure, and your feet will remember every step of it!

So to give your petits pieds a rest, to cover more ground, and even get into some of the quieter neighborhoods away from the busy tourist areas, it’s nice to ride a bike in Paris.


Paris à vélo c’est sympa is a bike tour and rental company in the 11th, just outside of the neighborhood called the Haute Marais (pronounced oat ma-rey), takes the approach of immersing their customers in an experience as a Parisian local. You’ll go through parts of the city that you might not otherwise think to go to. And while exploring, you’ll learn about local habits and customs and stories that will add dimension to your understanding of Paris and it’s people.


Some of their tours will also take you on more central routes. The founder is a bicycle enthusiast who fell in love with Paris from the seat of a bicycle, so you can be sure to find that same passion and enthusiasm from all of the tour guides at Paris à Vélo.



If you have a bike trip planned taking you out of Paris and into the French countryside, you can also make Paris à Vélo your point of departure and terminus. They rent bikes by the day and for longer periods depending on what you have planned.

Here’s where you can find them.

Paris à vélo c’est sympa!
BICY s.a.r.l.
22 rue Alphonse Baudin
75011 Paris

Tel. +33 (0)1 48 87 60 01
www.parisvelosympa.comScreen Shot 2014-07-01 at 12.31.52 PM

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Toy Box En Plein Air

One of the greatest things about the re-constructed Place de la République is this:R de Jeu Republique 1

A kid’s haven in the middle of the city, this alternative to a traditional park is like a communal, open air living room with a never ending toy box, holding everything from chalk to legos to tricycles, out and available for imaginations to run wild. The layout is totally open, making it feel inviting and free like a back yard, just full of other young friends to play with!


The “R de Jeu,” as it is called, is open every day but Monday, all through the summer months.


You can see all the layers of activity: human-sized (ok, little-human-sized) connect four, kitchenette, cup chairs…plus they boast 600 different games, which you can access in the red bodega at the center of the play zone (you can see it in some of the shots here).

And of course,  there are chairs and tables for parents to sit and relax!


He even has his hard hat!


Doing her thing….


If you’re traveling with young kids or just want an amusing diversion on your way to the Canal Saint Martin, make sure you pass this way!



Where: Place de la Republique

Metro: Republique

More information on the official website here

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The Wall of Love

The Pont des Arts is a common pilgrimage for those in love when visiting Paris. Couples affirm their love by attaching a lock to the chain-link walls of the bridge and throwing the key into the river Seine. But there is a lesser known celebration of love hiding in a tiny little park at the top of rue des Abbesses in Montmartre: The Wall of Love.Love-wall-in-Paris

Le Mur des Je T’aime was an idea from Frédéric Baron who wished to hear “I love you” spoken in the native languages of 80 countries on his list while traveling, but never did travel from Paris. Instead, he collected the words from neighbors, shopkeepers and embassies in as many languages as he could in a collection that would eventually, through the collaboration of calligraphist Claire Kito and Muralist Daniel Boulogne who fell in love withthe project, be shared with the public in the form of the tiled wall we know today.


“I love you” is written in over 300 languages and is written about 1,000 times on the wall. The scattered red marks represent the “pieces of a broken heart, those of a humanity which is too often torn apart and which The Wall attempts to reunite.” A beautiful sentiment, no? It’s not just for the love between a couple, like at the Pont des Arts, but love amongst all people. That is something worth celebrating!

The wall is located in the Square Jehan Rictus, just behind the exit of the metro Abbesses in Montmartre.



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Secret Rose Garden

Every now and then, walking through the small side streets of Paris, you’ll notice mysterious passageways. People will walk purposefully in and out, and you might wonder where it comes from or where it leads, but how often do you actually walk through?

One such entranceway is tucked in a corner of the tiny U-shaped street, rue des Arquebusiers, and by glancing through the iron gates, you’d never expect what can be found if you venture through…

Secret Garden Arquebusiers Entrance


This beautiful rose garden is the smallest park in the 3rd arrondissement, but it is also the most peaceful. Perfect to take a break and sit amongst the flowers, watch the sparse traffic of locals passing through the adjacent square, and appreciate a silent, stolen moment.

Square Saint-Giles Grand Veneur Pauline Roland

The garden’s name is a mouthful, despite its small size: Square Saint-giles Grand Veneur Pauline Roland. The name combines references to the rue Saint-Giles, just south of park, L’hôtel du Grand Veneur, the beautiful hotel particuler attached to the garden, and also for feminist and activist Pauline Roland.

L’hôtel du Grand-Veneur, was built in the 17th century for Hennequin d’Ecquevilly, the captain in charge of planning royal hunts for the king. The garden as it exists was not constructed until 1988, so was not a part of the original house it sits next to.

Sectet Rose Garden Secret Rose Garden Bloom

Secret Rose Garden 2 Secret Rose Garden Secret Garden Rue Villehardouin Entrance

You might otherwise never go down the tiny rue Villehardouin except in exiting or in search of this wonderful secret garden.

Hopefully this encourages you to be curious visitors, as the streets of Paris are perfect for wandering and you never know what you’ll find. When in doubt, follow someone who looks they know where they’re going, because chances are they’ll lead you somewhere unexpected.

Wandering and getting lost is the best way to discover Paris!



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