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!

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

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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!

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He even has his hard hat!

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Doing her thing….

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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!

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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.

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“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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La Jeune Rue

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Paris is full of farm fresh produce markets, butchers and fromageries, but there are only a few places where you get the feeling of quality combined with community infused in local farmer’s markets of French villages outside of the capital. Investor Cédric Naudon took it upon himself to create such an environment in Paris, where the best of design and gastronomy combine for a quintessential Parisian experience: quality and aestheticism in all things. Naudon purchased and redesigned, in collaboration with renowned creatives including chefs, artists and industrial designers, a collection of 20+  store fronts in Paris’ 3rd arrondissement that will be home to a group of artisanal  entertainment, design shops, and food stores.

Located on rue Vertbois, the zonehas been dubbed La Jeune Rue. Opening in two rounds, the first this spring and the second later this fall, the shops are clustered together on the main street and will span down the cross street, rue Volta, and up rue Notre Dame de Nazareth.

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Wishing to expand from his first restaurant endeavor, Le Sergent Recruteur, on the Île Saint-Louis, the project of La Jeune Rue snowballed from the one envisioned restaurant into a few, then a collection, and now a small movement. The buzz began at the beginning of the year with an exploratory press event in January and will certainly continue as visitors discover and return to see the new openings throughout the year.

Here is a list of locations and collaborators so far:

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Check it out for a special and uniquely Parisian adventure around the corner from the Marais!

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Video: Paris, city of lights

Paris has never looked better, more modern, and more exciting than in this video by Benjamin Trancart. The city of lights refers not to the twinkling sparkle of the city, but to the brilliant minds that brought a wave of ideas & thinking amongst the French philosophers. Trancart’s video shows us both of these sides of the city of lights.

 

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le Heures Heureuse de Paris


Les Heures Heureuses

Take a culinary tour Paris by visiting participating restaurants in the Happy Hours of Paris! By picking up a passbook at this list of locations, including the town halls of each arrondissement and at the Hotel de Ville, you have access to 2 euro samplings of specialties from about 285 eateries around the city.

“Prepare your route to sample small bites during l’apéro, for 2 euro!” They announce on the homepage.

L’apéro is short for l’aperitif, which refers to a gathering around cocktails and small bites before dinner time. The ‘Happy Hour’ lasts from 6pm-8pm and will extend through Saturday for a full day, 11am-11pm at the Cité de la Mode et du Design near gare d’Austerlitz. 

 

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To navigate the site: Here you have a list of all the neighborhoods (arrondissements)  with the number of participating eateries:

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And when you click on the neighborhood you want to explore, you’ll see a map showing you the locations of each restaurant:


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Like these, near our Haute Marais apartments centered in the map above.

Finally, You’ll be able to click through each of the participants to check out what they’re offering. You’ll see the sample in bold type, at the center of the page like here below: “Mousse de burrata à la truffle et gelée de champignons” So you can see they’re pulling out all the stops to impress you, and hopefully you discover a new place to go back to and try more of the menu!Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 9.11.02 AM

 

Bon Appétit!

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An Oldie but Goodie

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The Paris by Arrondissement has been somewhat phased out now that we all have GPS in our pockets, but if you are ever lost in Paris with no battery in your smartphone, this is the book you want to have on hand.

The books have been updated with improved (though less beautiful) graphics, a narrower binding and new glossy cover, but there is something nostalgic about both the idea of a map and the look of these pages that feel worth sharing.

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Vintage maps leave us nostalgic for a less digital age, especially maps of Paris, where just walking around leaves you nostalgic for another time.

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Festival of Bread!

It’s hard to come to France and not marvel over the delicious bread at every meal, but not all baguettes are created equal. The artisanal process of creating the perfect baguette is one of great pride, which one can appreciate the first time you bite into a perfect, weightless combination of crispiness and doughiness.

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To see how it’s done, and to celebrate the craft and emblematic symbol of French culture, get out and explore during the festival of bread! The Fête du Pain, celebrated across all of France, will take place from the 8-18th of May, planned around the national day honoring Saint Honoré, the patron saint of bakers, May 16.

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In Paris, the square in front of Notre Dame will be the site of a great tent under which artisan bakers, or boulangers, will give demonstrations on how to create the perfect loaf. In addition to the traditional main land French breads, this year’s special focus will be the traditional breads of Réunion, a French island east of Madagascar. There will be presentations, tastings, and activities all through the day, so stop in and see what you can discover…and taste!

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While the festival is going on at Notre Dame, boulangeries all around Paris will be celebrating with their own tastings, demonstrations and activities from the 12th-18th of May. Be sure to ask your local boulangerie about their agenda and participation and join in on the festivities!

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baguettes / Jarkko Laine via Flickr CC License By

 

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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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Paris Has a New Zoo

After closing its doors in 2008 because of deteriorating conditions for animals and visitors, Paris’ zoo in Bois de Vincennes has reopened with a new name, a new look and a new philosophy. Since it’s original construction in the 1930s, the zoo has now been completely rebuilt. The 65 meter high Grand Rocher remains the only familiar element of the landscape. Renamed the Parc Zoologique de Paris, the zoo has reestablished itself as a place for the education and research on biodiversity.

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With over 1000 animals, and 180 different species, the zoo is divided into five different bio-zones mimicking the natural landscapes of Patagonia, Sahel-Sudan, Europe, Madagascar, and the Amazon. Animals are grouped by natural habitat rather than by species, and many even cohabit within each zone.  Think much less concrete, and much more vegetation, many fewer walls, and much more open space.

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There is an interactive area for each of the five regions to educate visitors on the different parts of the world represented by the animals in the zoo. Visitors can learn about ecosystem hierarchies and environmental conditions, including those that are endangering certain species in each zone.

With 40% more green space than in the old zoo, there are upwards of 170,000 plants, and 870 plant species in the landscaping. Zoo officials worked hard to diminish the sense of captivity, using false rocks and lots of plant life to mask the barriers and functional elements of the park.

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The animals had been moved to zoos across Europe during the construction, except for a group of giraffes that remained on site. Bringing in almost all new animals post-construction, it took a year and a half to carefully adapt the animals to their new habitats in the zoo. Each animal has some element of the park designed just for them, whether it’s special trees for the birds and monkeys, or the lion, currently in his own separate habitat, with his heated rock to stretch out on for afternoon naps.

Parc Zoologique

April 12 was the official opening of the Parc Zoologique de Paris, after close to 170 million euros invested in its recreation. The zoo is open every day, and is accessible by metro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Street Artist JR at the Pantheon

One of the greatest things about Paris is how often art and culture cross your path without needing to enter a museum. The city goes to great lengths to decorate the pedestrian corridors with photography installations and sculpture, often telling a story by linking contemporary works with their historical settings. The Center of National Monuments (CMN)(http://www.monuments-nationaux.fr/en/) has coordinated one such opportunity by enlisting photographer and street artist JR to create a massive installation at the Panthéon.

Street artist JR

Street artist JR

The Panthéon, resting place of France’s most celebrated writers and thinkers, is beginning a long term restoration of it’s dome. A focal point in the skyline of the city, the dome will remain covered in white screens that wrap the scaffolding for the first phase of the restoration. Rather than renting the dome out as ad space, as you can now see on building facades throughout Paris, they are taking the opportunity to communicate their own message by reinforcing the historical and social symbolism of the building through art.

The Pantheon

The Pantheon

 

JR was an obvious choice for such a project for the CMN who deliberately sought out a cultural solution more appropriate for the integrity of the building than the very commerical luxury brand ads which are currently wallpapering the scaffolding on the Place des Vosges.  JR is known for the humanitarian message of his black and white portraits which he installs in large format, covering expansive architectural surfaces around the world. He has previously decorated Paris’ pont Louis-Phillipe with his “Women Are Heroes” installation in 2009. For his installation at the Panthéon, JR continues his “Inside-Out” project (http://www.insideoutproject.net/en), which amasses portraits from the community that he uses to create a montage. Through the month of March, JR traveled around France with his photo truck, inviting people to have their portraits taken, and participate in the Panthéon piece.

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For many people who have never visited the Panthéon, this fun and participative installation will bring a new kind of visitor to the site. And so for every scaffold you see around Paris covered with an Apple or Dior add, consider visiting the Panthéon for an example of how, in Paris, culture is still given the best seat in the house.

The installation will be inaugurated on April 22, 2014.

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