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Paris, City of light

FIVE BRIGHT IDEAS FOR SEEING PARIS

Take a photo tour

Combine the pleasure of a guided three-hour walking tour with a mini-photography workshop.

Randy Harris, an award-winning American photographer now living in Paris conducts individuals or small groups on day or evening walks in various parts of Paris. I chose a daytime tour in the heart of Paris so our destinations included the Louvre, the Palais Royal, Place de la Concorde, the Eiffel Tower, and the cemetery in Passy where Debussy is among the “residents”. My fellow tourist was equipped with a Sony digital camera and a couple of lenses. I carried a Lumix point and shoot. Randy shared his favourite viewing spots with us and in three hours we learned a lot about framing, perspective, colour and use of reflections. Randy is knowledgeable about every type of camera and is happy to give pointers and tips. You’ll have a great time – and come away with Paris photos you’ll be proud of.

Early booking is essential either online at www.phototoursinparis.com or by telephone: 06 40 14 84 49 (calling from within France) +33 6 40 14 84 49 (calling from outside France).

Go sipping on the Seine

Here’s a relaxing twist on the usual scenic boat ride on the river Seine. O-Chateau offers a champagne cruise that combines a late afternoon sightseeing opportunity with an introduction to champagnes. The boat leaves from a dock at the foot of the Eiffel tower. Participants on this tour do their viewing from a private glassed-in cabin in the prow of the boat attended by their own sommelier. During the hour-long cruise, he introduces three varieties of champagne – a dry and medium, and a rose. Explanatory remarks
are kept to a minimum, so you can enjoy the view. But your sommelier does stand by to answer any questions. And he keeps the samples flowing.

For details of these and other wine-themed tours, and to book, visit:www.o-chateau.com.

See the city from a 2CV

This eccentric automobile has become almost synonymous with Paris. Your driver will tootle you about from sight to sight in true Parisian style. On a fair day or a pleasant evening, the open roof adds to the fun. Tours last two to three hours, but all-day tours are available as well.

See the website for details: www.parisauthentic.com

Be a dinner guest in a private home

There are two versions of this increasingly popular “insider” experience. The first puts the accent more on interaction with your hosts than the food, while the second offers a gourmet dinner in the company of other dinner guests. Volunteer Parisian hosts welcome you to join them in their home for a meal, which will be provided by a catering service. (You choose the menu in advance.) Hosts are not paid for their service but enjoy meeting visitors from other parts of the world, and sharing their enthusiasm for their city. You have a chance to specify the area of Paris you wish to visit and the agency tries to match the age and interests of guests and (English speaking) hosts.

For details, visit  viator.com

 

NEW LIGHT ON THE LOUVRE

When you’re looking for “something new” in Paris, the Louvre Museum may not be the first place you check out. But the venerable institution has been stirred and even shaken by contemporary art curator, Marie-Laure Bernadac, who welcomed modern art into the home of the Mona Lisa. One example: the dazzling  ceiling in the Salles des Bronze,  conceived by American artist Cy Twombly . It’s an immense blue “sky” enlivened with spheres and seven white cartouches inscribed with the names of ancient Greek sculptors. It was the third permanent addition to the Louvre commissioned by Mme Bernadac. Anselm Kiefer’s monumental wall painting flanked by modern sculptures was unveiled in 2007. In 2009, the French artist Francois Morellet decorated the twin-spiral Lefuel staircase with seven opal and frosted glass windows. The juxtaposition of ancient masterpieces and contemporary art, Mme Bernadac believes, benefits both the old and new works.
Bypass the ticket queue with a Louvre pass.

Buy it online at: http://paris.conciergerie.com/pass/louvre_museum_pass.php

The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays.

“McLOUVRE”

Yes, a McDonald’s has opened in the Louvre. I can report no harm has been done. McDonalds is in fact only one of 45 shops and restaurants in a handsome shopping mall, the Carrousel du Louvre, located deep under the Louvre’s glass pyramid. With its own entrance from the Rue Rivoli, the Carrousel is open seven days a week, from 10:00 to 20:00. Also in the Carrousel: a dramatic Apple shop with a glass spiral staircase linking its two levels. Shop attendants will install a Louvre-guide application on your iPhone free of charge.

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