Secret Paris Attractions To See On Your Cruise
Paris expert Natasha Edwards, a resident in the city for more than 20 years, reveals her favourite lesser-known attractions to experience in the city. Keep these in mind when your next cruise holiday includes this iconic French city on its itinerary. Princess Cruises and Cunard are just two of the many companies that give you an opportunity to explore Paris.
This is one of my favourite Paris churches, both for its architecture, which is an endearing mix of renaissance and gothic, and as an insight into Paris's history: it is home to the shrine of Saint Genevieve, patron saint of Paris, who saved the city from invasion by Attila the Hun in 451. Inside is a magnificent 16th Century stone rood screen, possibly designed by Francois I's architect Philippe Delorme, and a massive baroque pulpit.
The ornate neo-gothic shrine, transferred here when the adjoining abbey church of St Genevieve was demolished in 1807, is surrounded by ex-voto plaques. Combine this visit with the Pantheon on the same square.
Fondation Le Corbusier
The modernist houses and studios of the 16th arrondissement were one of my great discoveries when I first moved here. They are a reminder that for all its heritage, Paris is also one of the birthplaces of modern architecture.
Corbusier designed these two adjoining villas in 1923-25. Here you find all of his five principles of architecture (stilts, reinforced concrete, roof terraces, strip windows, ingenious built-in furniture), with a fascinating play of volumes and a use of colour that goes far beyond the white box cliche. The foundation also runs Corbusier's apartment-studio at 24 rue Nungesser et Coli, open on Saturdays.
Jardin des Serres d'Auteuil
Also known as 'the municipal gardener', these elaborate, late 19th Century greenhouses were built to cultivate plants for municipal parks. The ensemble is grouped around a magnificent central tropical greenhouse, filled with steamy palms, an aviary and pools of Japanese carp. Other greenhouses are devoted to orchids, azaleas, succulents and ferns, while the formal gardens contain many rare trees.
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Parc Des Buttes-Chaumont
Of all the parks created in the 1860s by Baron Haussmann and his engineer Jean-Charles Alphand, this is the one that I find the most Romantic with a capital R, with its lake and fake crags, bridges, waterfall, giant cedars and unlikely palm trees. There's even a cave, with fake stalactites.
Pony rides and playgrounds make it great for kids. The rolling lawns are pleasant for sunbathing or a picnic, although you can also eat at the trendy bar/restaurant/nightspot Rosa Bonheur. Climb up to the Temple de la Sybille, modelled on the temple at Tivoli, for a superb view over Paris.
Musee Marmottan-Claude Monet
This Second Empire villa is one of Paris’s secret gems, with its wonderful array of Empire furniture and the world’s largest collection of works by Claude Monet, most of them donated by the artist’s family. Among the paintings are Monet’s Impression, Soleil Levant, which gave its name to impressionism. I adore Monet's vibrantly coloured late canvases of his water garden at Giverny, as well as Berthe Morisot's affectionate paintings of children.
Other impressionist painters on display include Pissarro, Renoir, Manet, Degas and Caillebotte. Don't miss the Sevres porcelain geographical clock, either, which shows when it is midday around the world.
This little-known museum built around Antoine Bourdelle's studio and apartment gives an insight into Montparnasse in its artistic heyday. While not a major sculptor, Bourdelle is interesting in art history, as he was an assistant of Rodin and teacher of Giacometti.
He specialised in monumental sculptures, including the frieze for the Theatre des Champs-Elysees and an equestrian monument to Argentine general Alvear. Another gallery shows how he endlessly reworked the head of Beethoven in different moods.
At the rear, a row of studios includes those of Bourdelle and Eugene Carriere, left in atmospherically dusty state. Montparnasse is still littered with artists' studios – look out for the big north-facing windows.
While hundreds queue for the Sainte-Chapelle a few doors up, far fewer visit the Conciergerie, yet both were part of the medieval palace of the Capetian kings. With its two impressive vaulted halls, it is one of France's finest secular gothic structures but for me it is also the sight that best evokes the French Revolution.
After the monarchy moved to the Louvre, the Conciergerie became a prison and hundreds passed by here on their way to the guillotine. Refurbished prison cells show how conditions varied according to status, from communal cells with straw on the floor to furnished individual cells for the privileged. The cell where Marie-Antoinette was imprisoned is now a chapel.
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This article was written by Natasha Edwards from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.