Afin de découvrir un Paris authentique, insolite et secret, Absolu Living vous livre la vision de ses clients.
Nos clients ont aimé Paris. Certains d’entre eux ont voulu vous livrer leurs témoignages. Ils vous permettront de découvrir un Paris authentique, insolite et secret. Découvrez ce que Steven, Sean, et Michael ont aimé...
Steven - Pittsburgh - USA
Découvrez Paris en 3 Jours…
City of Romance, City of Light, Paris is truly a place with something for everyone. All world capitals offer visitors unique sights and activities to experience, but no other can do it with the class, culture and charisma as the French capital. The history of the city and its unique way of life blend together to make modern Paris what it is: a source of pride, curiosity and inspiration for its residents and the entire world.
What unique qualities make Paris so special for so many? One allure is certainly the fortune of being the best-preserved city of continental Europe. Centuries of mid-evil, gothic and renaissance architecture treasures were spared the destruction that the other capitals suffered during two devastating wars. Even in modern times, buildings and neighborhoods are preserved and protected to uphold the culture, tradition and special way of life in the city center.
Beautiful on the outside, Paris is a city with an eternal soul on the inside. It is the birthplace of world-renowned creativity and ways of thinking. From language, literature and philosophy to diplomacy, etiquette and culinary traditions: the contributions of French culture are embraced by people the world over.
A short visit to this magnificent city is a daunting task. No matter which way you turn, there is something beautiful to see. No matter how long you stay, from 3 to 365 days you will always find unique and interesting things to do. Allow a bit of history and background to shed some light and the majestic monuments and narrow streets will tell a timeless story.
Keeping in mind the ominous scope of a short visit, here is a three day itinerary which will give you a broad, yet balanced glimpse of the important sights and way of life of one of the worlds most intriguing cities.
A small island in the middle of the Seine is where the first inhabitants would build their settlement. Ile-de-la-Cité was the home of the first Parisians dating from 52 BC. From a strategic view, the river provided a natural protection against invaders. As the city grew beyond the island through the Middle Ages, the necessity of self-defense would inspire the construction of several monumental buildings of central Paris. The Louvre, Chatelet and Bastille were all originally conceived as fortresses. Eventually a wall was built around the city on the route today known as the Grands Boulevards.
The Seine is indeed the lifeline of Paris. It runs straight through the center and divides the city into its two mythical halves, the Right Back and the Left Bank. Just below Pont Neuf on Ile-de-la-Cité is something that every visitor to Paris should experience: a ride on a Bateaux Mouches. These boats provide a one-hour narrated tour with an unforgettable first view and description of the monuments of the center.
After the Bateaux Mouches, it’s time to begin exploring. One of the most stunning and imposing monuments of Paris from any angle is Notre Dame Cathedral, begun in 1163. Have a walk through church’s impressive interior, which is visitable even during mass. From the outside, visitors can climb up the bell towers and get a glimpse at Jacqueline, the famous bell from Victor Hugo’s famous work The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The view from the top of the cathedral is one of a kind. In fact, Paris is filled with monuments with outlooks impressive vantage points. Try not to miss these opportunities, as each presents a unique and timeless perspective.
There are several other monuments of Ile-de-la-Cité which are worth visiting, the time you spend in each place will depend on the length of your stay. Among them are the stained glass masterpiece gothic chapel Sainte Chappelle housed inside the ornate Palais de Justice, which comprised the royal palace of Louis IX from 1226. Also, the Conciergerie is a mid-evil prison where Marie Antoinette was held captive following the French Revolution and before being beheaded at Place de la Concorde.
When you are ready to move on, have a quick tour around the second island of Ile St Louis. Just behind Notre Dame is the Pont St Louis, one of the four bridges serving this tiny, picturesque residential island in the middle of the Seine. A peaceful oasis of calm in the bustling city center, the island is probably the only part of the city served not served the metro.
Just across the river on the right bank is the Marais neighborhood. The word marais in French means marsh, exactly what this empty land was at the time when Henri IV decided to build a royal palace. The arrival of the aristocracy and political figures gave a popular figurative meaning to the swamp. Upon completion, Places des Vosges was meant to be the home of the king and his court, however no royal figure would ever inhabit the ornate square.
The rest of the Marais neighborhood is known for its narrow picturesque streets and hotel particuliers. These private, gated mansions were the family estates of the aristocracy. They all share a similar, three-story U-shape structure, with a large gate separating the street from the interior courtyard. Many have been turned into museums, giving visitors a chance to examine their gardens and architecture. The Picasso Museum is one such example, along with the Musée Carnavalet and the Hotel de Sully. Today, rue des Rosiers is the center of the Jewish neighborhood of Paris and rue Francs Bourgeois is one of the only shopping streets open on Sunday. Rue des Archives and rue de Ste Croix de la Bretonnerie is the center of Gay Paris.
End your first day of exploration with a drink on the terrace of Café Beaubourg. It’s by no means an authentic French café with zinc countertops where locals discuss current events. It is simply an intriguing place to sit and watch the world go by at the crossroads of two busy pedestrian neighborhoods. The café offers a splendid evening view of Pompidou Center/Museum of Modern Art. Opened in 1977, the building’s controversial concept was a structure whose insides form the outside. Each of the tubes on the exterior of the building is color-coded according to what passes inside whether its people, ventilation or electricity. Over time it has become a treasured symbol of the contradiction represents: the juxtaposition of modern and timeless, a colorfully modern glass and metal structure in the middle of one of the oldest parts of the city.
No dinner plans? The top of the museum houses Georges, a well-known restaurant where one can enjoy spectacular nighttime view of the city.
Begin your day with the morning sights and sounds of the Montorgueil neighborhood. Rue Montorgueil is one of the busiest market streets of the right bank. It’s the perfect place to sit and have a café or sample some of the goodies in the nearby bakery and pastry shops. Local residents come here to buy high quality fresh meat and produce from the vendors lining the street. The main road and narrow side streets were closed to traffic in 1991 and the pedestrian neighborhood has become a showcase of urban re-development.
Fittingly, Rue Montorgueil leads directly into Les Halles, the site of the former meat and produce markets of Paris. Today, the surface is a park and garden dominated by the Eglise St Eustache and Bourse du Commerce. Underground it is a shopping center, recreation center and transportation hub.
The remainder of the afternoon can be spent exploring the Grande Axe of Paris, an enlightening walk giving a glimpse of several hundred years of French history. The journey begins with the Louvre, the oldest, largest and most visited museum in the world. Well- known works such as the Venus de Milo statue and the Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece the Mona Lisa are among its treasures. One can devote entire days of exploration within the museum, so if you only have a few days you may want to limit or skip visiting the inside all together. A first time visitor can admire the beauty and appreciate the history the Louvre without setting foot inside.
The Louvre was built as a fortress in the 12th century to defend the city from Viking attacks. It was during the Renaissance that the moat would be removed from the area would be rebuilt to house French monarchs for the next 200 years. The symmetrical interior courtyard or Cour Carré would be the first finished element of the new Royal Palace.
Over the following centuries, the Louvre and its surroundings become a true testament to the evolution of France as a nation. In the times of the monarchy, French kings and their entourage would expand and improve the palace and its grounds with ambitious building projects. Kings lived at the Louvre until Louis XIV abandoned the city center for the more opulent and grandiose palace in Versailles. The building was empty for the most part and housed only the royal printing and academies.
The most modern contribution to the Louvre is the modern glass pyramid in the central courtyard. It opened in 1989 and was one of several building projects commissioned to commemorate the bicentennial of the French Revolution. The functional aim of the project was to create a main entrance to the museum. In the spirit of grandeur, it was also an opportunity President Francois Mitterand to leave his mark on the Axe Historique. When the pyramid was unveiled, Parisians dismissed it as ugly and incoherent. Twenty years later it is revered as an elegant masterpiece, in contrasting harmony with the museum and surrounding monuments. Underground is a similar inverted pyramid. Both capture light and distribute it throughout the new main entry hall, shopping area and food court. (It is not necessary to pay to visit these public areas.)
The Tuiliries gardens in front of the Louvre were a creation of Catherine de Medici. They would be united with the palace as the building extended. The extensive gardens contain fountains and several wooded alleys.
Once the King had been overthrown, the Louvre was opened to the public in a triumphant symbol of the people over the monarchy. However, Place de la Concorde, formally known as Place de la Revolution, housed a darker symbol of the French rebellion: the guillotine. From 1793-1795, over 2,298 “enemies of the people” were beheaded including Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette. Ironically, the latter would be executed just a few steps away from a building where she took piano lessons a few years earlier on the north side of the place, today the luxurious Hotel Crillion.
The name change to Place de la Concorde marked an end to the two years of terror following the Revolution. Concorde means harmony. The idea of harmony only being possible after a period of violent transition is something that will always be part of the French psyche and way of life. No political monument or historical figure stands in Place de la Concorde. The lone obelisk located here was a gift from Egypt. It comes from from the Temple of Luxor and is the oldest monument of Paris.
The fountains in Place de le Concorde were the addition of Napoleon I who was the next significant leader to shape French history. In fact, he was the first to suggest the idea of an historic axis which aligned the major monuments of central Paris. The Axe would begin at Place de la Bastille and continue to the new Arc de Triomphe, constructed to commemorate the victories of his army.
Napoleon’s major contribution to the city was his city architect Baron Hausmann who would transform and modernize central Paris. For hundreds of years, much of the city had been left untouched and unchanged since mid-evil times. Several key elements to which modern Paris owes its beauty, elegance are Hausmannien: tall buildings with uniform facades lining grand boulevards which empty which empty into vast squares. The most famous of these avenues is the Champs Elysées and Place de l’Etoile, which unites Place de la Concorde with the Arc de Triomphe. Today, a stroll down the most beautiful avenue in the world reveals the beautiful buildings of Baron Hausmman which now house luxury goods stores, cinemas and restaurants, a tribute to both French grandeur and modern convenience.
At the end of the Champs Elysees, climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe for one of the most inspiring views of Paris and the impressive axis of the city. A stone spiral staircase leads 50 meters to the top where one can witness the 1500-year journey through French history. Once at the top, look to the east you will be square with the Louvre and Champs Elysées along the path you have just followed. To the north is Montmartre and the impressive Sacré Coeur basilica. To the south, the Eiffel Tower seems close enough to reach out and pick up.
Finally, a look to the west and you will see that the grandeur of the Axe Histoique continues into modern times. Avenue de la Grand Armée leads outside of Paris to the skyscrapers of La Defense, the city’s new business district and post war project of Charles de Gaulle. The modern arch visible among the tall buildings was inaugurated in 1989 under Francois Mitterand during a G8 summit to commemorate the bicentennial of the French revolution.
Begin your final day on the Pont des Arts bridge, which was the first iron bridge in Paris. It was rebuilt in 1984 to accommodate pedestrians and on summer evenings it is a gathering place for parisians and visitors to enjoy a picnic and watch the sun set behind the Eiffel Tower. The bridge is important because it links two of the city’s major museums: the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay on the left bank. Use your last day in Paris to visit the Left Bank and some of the most popular museums of modern Paris.
The Musée d’Orsay is housed a railway station constructed as a terminus for the railways of southwestern France. By 1939 the station’s short platforms had become unsuitable for the longer trains that had come to be used for mainline services. In 1977 the French Government decided to convert the unused station to a museum. The museum was opened by President Francois Mitterand in 1986. It holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914 and is probably best known for its extensive collection of impressionist masterpieces by popular painters such as Monet and Renior.
The Musée Rodin displays works by French sculptor Auguste Rodin. The museum is housed in a hotel particulier which was the sculptor’s residence from 1908 onward. Upon his death, Rodin donated his entire collection (along with paintings by Van Gogh and Renoir that he had acquired) to the French State on the condition that they turn the building into a museum dedicated to his works. Most of the his major works are featured, including The Thinker and The Kiss, and many are on display in the property’s extensive gardens.
The Musée du quai Branly is the most recent of Paris museums. It opened June 2006 and features indigenous art, cultures and civilizations from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. It contains over 300,000 objects and has 10 special exhibits each year.
The path between these museums obviously leads up to the most visited monument in the world, the Eiffel Tower. Originally constructed for the Universal Exposition of 1889,the tower was visited by 6,428,441 in 2005 and more than 200,000,000 since its construction. At the time of its construction in 1887, the tower replaced the Washington Monument as the world’s tallest structure, a title it retained until 1930. The tower is now the fifth-tallest structure in France and the tallest structure in Paris, with the second-tallest being the Tour Montparnasse.
On New Year’s Eve 1999, the Eiffel Tower played host to millennium celebrations. Fireworks exploded from the whole length of the tower in a spectacular display that made it one of the highlights of the celebration worldwide. In 2000, flashing lights and four high-power searchlights were installed on the tower. Since then the light show has become a nightly event, every hour on the hour. The searchlights on top of the tower make it a beacon in Paris’s night sky.
There are 1660 steps (360 to the first level, another 359 to the second). It is not possible for the public to reach the summit via stairs, lifts are required beyond the second platform.
Still have some energy left?
Paris does not end here, of course. Now that you have had an overview of what the city has to offer, use any remaining days to truly discover the charm and treasures of the city’s neighborhoods. Everything looks calm and serene from atop the Eiffel Tower. But the city is a seamless patchwork of small villages inhabited by people of all walks of life. From Bastille to Bercy, Montmartre to Madeleine, St-Germain to Sacré Coeur, the opportunities are endless.
Sean - San Fransisco - USA
Forever (Gay) Paris
Since the era of the jet (and the jet-set), Paris has been the top international tourist destination of the world. The tree-lined boulevards, sidewalk cafés and awe inspiring scenery of this French, Eurpoean and World capital never let visitors down. Plus, the city is a vibrant center of culture, creativity and innovation. With a bit of reflection, could it also be considered as the epicenter of the gay universe? Before protesting with shouts of San Francisco!, Sydney!, London! or New York!, take a closer look and discover the amazing diversity that Paris offers its gay and lesbian visitors.
Undeniably, the city stands out among even the most beautiful and fascinating world capitals. There is an unidentifiable element, or je ne sais quoi, in the ambience and aesthetics of the French capital. Majestic monuments, ornate architecture, and manicured gardens blend together in a mysterious way which never fails to sweep visitors off their feet. Paris is also a city of modern contrasts, where an immense multi-colored glass and metal art museum shares the landscape with a narrow and angular neighborhood which dates to the 17th century . And buried underground in roughly the same area is the largest subway station in the world and the city’s expansive and efficient public transportation system.
Prepare your senses and walk through the streets for a first-hand sample of the idyllic symbols of French life. Fresh morning croissants from the boulangerie, a long afternoon pause in an animated sidewalk café. Good eating and good living are national pastimes and Paris is the center of the (non) activity. And it’s all about French flair and savoir-faire.
After dark, the city transforms into a playground for the imagination. As you’re criss-crossing the city in search of the many sides of Parisian nightlife, catch a glimpse of the symbol international travel itself, the Eiffel Tower. Every hour its calm, watchful glow transforms into an effervescent light show in the night sky, a stunning effect created by the thousands of lights which were attached to the structure to celebrate New Year’s Eve 2000. The beauty and elegance of the spectacle is a true example of French flair and savoir-faire.
If glitter and glamour are not enough to convince you, here are some facts for gay and lesbian visitors. Over the years, Paris has always attracted the most open minds and free spirits. As a result, French culture as a whole is extremely tolerant. “Gay” issues here are almost non-issues.
It was one of the first countries to adopt a comprehensive civil partnership law. The mayor of Paris is openly gay. Et alors? With less division, gay culture here thrives and blends boldly with mainstream trends and everyday life.
Speaking of everyday life- while the language barrier is enough to make some tourists feel like an outsider, gay and lesbian visitors will quickly find that gay Parisians are progressive and internationally minded. The welcome and service in gay owned or gay friendly businesses throughout central Paris reflect this spirit. Whatever you want to see and do while in town, experience Parisian life first hand while you are here. Absolu Living is the leader of gay accomodations in Paris offers over 100 contemporary, full-service flats throughout the Marais and other central neighborhoods. Gay owned and operated, the company’s friendly staff will also be happy to help Paris meet your great (gay) expectations.
Not convinced yet? Come and see for yourself what Gay and Lesbian Paris is all about. As the world’s other fascinating cities become more and more “gay friendly,” just remember:
Gay Paris has been out all along.
We’re the only one which has been Gay all along.
Here are some tips on how to live like a Parisian the next time you are in Paris with the help of gay owned/operated merchants.
Rent an apartment in the center of gay life. …… plug Absolu Living
Michael - Sydney - Australia
Ella Fitzgerald is only one of the many singers who expressed their love for ’The City of Lights’ in the song, ’I Love Paris.’ According to the lyrics, Paris is perfection no matter what season it may be. "I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles, I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles." You know the drill.
But there is truth to the song. Indeed, Paris is a city to love, whether you’re picnicking in the sun on the Champ de Mars, or caught in the pouring rain in Montmartre.
And what better month to visit the city of lovers than in February? Yes, the French do celebrate their own version of Valentine’s Day and there are plenty of things for lovers to do in Paris throughout the entire month. February is a time to be in Paris, whether you’re traveling with you’re admirer or flying solo.
The weather is sometimes unpredictable... rainy, chilly, or sunny, but you can always feel spring just around the corner.
Let’s start off with a long stroll through the Luxembourg Gardens. It’s an enchanting journey, walking past the classic statues, plush gardens, fountains, and the 16th Century Luxembourg Palace. Find yourself a crepe stand and take your snack (preferably a crepe sucre) to the boat pond in front of the Palace. Choose from one of the many chairs and take a seat. On a sunny day the view will keep you sitting for hours as you watch people go by and enjoy the ambience of the Jardin du Luxembourg.
When you’re hungry for something scrumptious, pick yourself up and head on over to Le Marais. This may be the funkiest district in Paris and the best falafel community in the world. Yes, in the world. Once you’ve made your way into Le Marais turn off of Rue Vieille du Temple, onto Rue des Rosiers. You can choose from the competing falafel stands but we recommend, L’As du Fallafel. Take a ticket number from the guy outside and pay less than 5 Euros for the most delicious pocket falafel.
If your scarf isn’t keeping you warm enough outside, then you can take a seat inside and order.
Stick around Le Marais for some vintage spectacular shopping! You can spend hours at Free *P* Star, a vintage store where you can dig for clothing treasures. There are three locations within 2 minutes of each other.
After you rest from your filling lunch and shopping spree, dress yourself up in your best and spend a Friday night at the Louvre. This is maybe the best time to explore the Louvre and meet your favorite masterpieces because the day crowds have shuffled out. It’s a magical experience when you show up around 8PM. Some of the galleries are almost empty and the paintings and sculptures come to life in front of your eyes. It’s romantic if you’re with a special someone and even more romantic when you’re tout seul.
To experience some true underground Parisian nightlife, one must sway to the jazz at Caveau des Oubliettes off of Rue Galande. Every night there is a different theme: swing or blues, you name it. Some of the best jazz artists have passed through this jazz dungeon. It’s cozy and crowded in the downstairs venue where musicians take turns showing the audience how well they can groove with their instruments. The environment is friendly and the drinks keep you dancing to the music. A perfect end to a Parisian day in February. The tunes heat you right up.
You are sure to fall in love with Paris in February, or any month that is. Strolling, Shopping, Eating, Art Going, Jazz Swaying... what more can you ask for?
Fall in love with Paris in February.
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