There are places in the world where the past and the present meld to create an aura so voluptuous it is difficult not to get caught up in the passion. Paris – a place that revolutionized our conception of the city and of urban life. Although many believe Paris began to morph into the city it is today in the 19th century, it was actually much earlier.
A City of Firsts
At the dawn of the 17th century, Paris was just crawling out of its medieval past, but in 100 years, its metamorphosis into the mythic city we know today, was complete. Paris is a city of firsts: the first to eradicate its fortifications – inviting people in, rather than keeping them out. Urban planning instituted new kinds of streets including the boulevard. It had the first public parks, earliest sidewalks and stand-alone bridges. It became a mecca for entertainment from the opera to ballet and for all the avid shoppers – Paris is the city that invented recreational shopping. Parisians also had the earliest public transportation and street lights and was also Europe’s first extensive walking city.
You can still visit many areas in the city which will give you an inkling of the past, yet can be enjoyed in today’s contemporary ambiance. Following are some places you may want to visit that marry the old and new of Paris that are a departure from most-visited sites like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.
Parisian pastries are buttery, sweet and fresh and there is no better place to give yourself the gift of the best croissants in the world than in Paris. Get your fill of sweets at Pâtisserie Stohrer – the oldest bakery in the city. In the 2nd arrondissement, the building is classified as a historical monument. Established in 1730, the bakery is one of the most majestic, embodying true French charm. Made with great finesse, the pastries are stunning and it’s impossible to walk by. It is an ode to the delights offered by this wonderful place! The specialty is “puits d’amour,” a round cake filled with creamy custard. But take it from us, everything is delicious!
Apart from being the birthplace of the Can-Can, Moulin Rouge is a Parisian institution. It is still the most popular cabaret experience in the city. This living legend was built over decades. For more than 120 years, the Moulin Rouge has been one of the integral nerve centers of Montmartre. The venue was founded by Joseph Oller and Charles Zidler who wanted a place dedicated to entertainment. At its beginning, the Moulin Rouge would throw champagne-filled parties during which famous dancers performed, attracting and inspiring international artists like Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Auguste Renoir. A disastrous fire destroyed the Moulin Rouge in 1915, but a new venue would come a decade later featuring actress-dancer-singer Mistinguet who also became co-director of the cabaret. When Mistinguett left the theatre, its 1,500 seats were turned into a dance club during the Second World War and featured performers such as Edith Piaf and Yves Montand. Renovations took place in the 1950s at which time the cabaret’s soul was recaptured with numbers including Charles Trenet, Charles Aznavour and Bourvil. Today, Féérie and the show’s 80 artists retrace the Moulin Rouge’s history night after night. Revues are divided into several scenes guests watch while dining. Here is an interesting tidbit: The 2001 film, Moulin Rouge, featuring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, was an accurate historical account of events that occurred at the club between 1899 and 1900.
Get Some Sunshine and R&R
When the city’s hum becomes a little too loud, you might wish to step out of its realm for a while and head to Cannes on the ethereal French Riviera. The spectacularly contemporary Villa Valera is the ideal choice for a luxurious time while exploring this fantastic area. This residence is one of the finest luxury homes in Cannes. This refined home boasts unobstructed panoramas stretching from Cannes Bay and the Esterel Mountains. With room for 14 guests, there is plenty of space for entertaining. Spend time around the heated infinity pool while indulging in a bottle of wine from the home’s wine cellar. Indulge in the therapeutic bubbles of the hot tub beneath a magical starry night sky and the scintillating lights of Cannes below.
The Pink House
The Maison Rose in Montmartre, was opened in 1908 by Germaine Pichot and has been frequented by several generations of artists such as Picasso, Modigliani, Edith Piaf and Albert Camus. Today, the intimate, welcoming restaurant serves delicious French and Italian cuisine. The pink color of the old house is contrasted by magnificent climbing ivy, its green shutters overlooking the paved street make it a picturesque scene worthy of a classic painting. Located at the crossroads of the streets Saules Cortot and Abreuvoir, the Pink House has become an unmissable photo stopover and a lovely place for lunch.
The Countryside in the City
It’s hard to imagine a rural countryside vibe in the midst of bustling Paris, but it’s there nestled in the 20th arrondissement near the Porte de Bagnolet. This district is called Campagne à Paris and if you have the steam to climb to this mini-village on the city’s heights, you really should visit. When you get to the top, you’ll forget you are in Paris by strolling along the small cobbled streets with their colorful brick houses and gardens decorated with wisteria and roses and by the utter silence. This area is now mainly inhabited by the upper class and most definitely a hidden gem.
A Carousel for the Children
There are many carousel rides in Paris, but the Dodo carousel in Jardin des Plantes (which is also worth your time) is special. It’s designed around the theme of extinct and endangered animals. Established in 1992 with the aim of drawing attention to endangered species, the merry-do-round is populated by dinosaurs and horned turtles and other creatures no longer on the planet or which are in danger of becoming extinct. The carousel is next to the Museum of Natural History. It’s an ideal way to help youngsters become aware of history.
Paris is nothing less than magical and that is exactly how your vacation should feel! We invite you to reach out to an LVH client relations associate who will begin planning your holiday right away. We will build a customized itinerary for you to include only those experiences for moments that will make lasting memories. Let us know what your likes are and we will take it from there. Our prime concern is always your vacation happiness!