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Posts in ‘Things to do in Paris’

Luxembourg Gardens

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Luxembourg Gardens; Credit - Grant Glendinning If you are looking for a chess partner; want to soothe your nerves, then take a stroll past lovely flowering plants and shrubs; lounge at an open-air café while sipping coffee; give the kids a pony ride; get away from your office for a quiet lunch break, then the gorgeous Luxembourg Gardens is just the place for all these activities. The gardens have fountains, sculptures, ponds, tennis courts, a marionette theatre, playgrounds and food kiosks.

Jardin du Luxembourg, to give its proper name, sprawls in the 6th Arrondissement, the heart of Paris, on the Left Bank of the Seine. It is bounded by Rue de Vaugirard, Boulevard St. Michel, Rue Auguste-Comte and Rue Guyneme. The second largest park in the city it is the official gardens of the Luxembourg Palace, the home of the French Senate.

The Palace and the Gardens are the child of Marie de Medicis’ grief at the assassination her husband, Henri IV. Not wanting to live in sorrow at the Louvre, their home, after his death she bought the (now called) Petit-Luxembourg Palace in 1611.

She then set about building a new one to resemble her childhood home in Florence – the Palazzo Pitti. She also commissioned several gardeners, notably Tommaso Francini, to design and create a park in her beloved Florentine style. 2,000 elm trees were planted amidst several terraces. Francini then built the beautiful Medici Fountain – the centre of a grotto.

When work first started the garden was only eight hectares. Then in 1630, Mme. Marie purchased more adjoin land and engaged Jacques Bovceau to carry on the work. He laid out a series of squares along an east-west grid that was marked at the east end by the Medici Fountain. He added borders of flowers and hedges in front of the palace, an octagonal basin with a fountain facing (what is now) the Paris Observatory.

Work was completed in 1625 but the present size of the Gardens was reached in only 1790.  This additional land was confiscated from the Carthusian monks by leaders of the French Revolution. Jean Chalgrin, architect of the Arc de Triomphe, carried out restoration work on the derelict gardens. He preserved and incorporated the old vineyards and formal French style gardens of the monks.

In the mid to late 1800s, many statues, sculptures and new boulevards were added. The Medici Fountain was rebuilt and moved to its present location. A scale model of the Statue of Liberty, built by Bartholdi, became a new resident. The garden also acquired a marionette theatre, greenhouses, an apiary and an orangerie.

The Jardin du Luxembourg now has hundreds of statues, monuments and fountains; acres of flower beds, trees and shrubs. It has changed much since Marie de Medici’s original plan but one thing has always remained – serenity. The gardens have always been an oasis amidst Paris’ turbulent history and everyday life. It is true sanctuary in every sense of the word.

Admission to the Luxembourg gardens depends upon the time of the year.

Opening times: Between 7:30am and 8:15 am.
Closing times: Between 4:45pm and 9:45 pm.
 

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Top holiday destination: France

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In second place of Britain’s top 10 favourite holiday destinations is France. The rivalry between France and Britain became once again very clear during the Rugby World Cup but now that is all behind us, here are ideas to explore la belle France.

Holiday destination 2: France

eiffeltower-liamParis Landmarks
If you enjoy Paris sightseeing, there are plenty of things to do in the gracious capital city of France.  The Eiffeltower is a landmark you literally cannot miss when visiting Paris.  Tour the Eiffeltower and have a peek behind the scenes with our special Paris tour.

moulin-rouge-by-torfoAt night enjoy the splendour of illuminated Paris safely from a coach, which will then drop you off at the infamous Moulin Rouge for an evening of glitz and glamour. Alternatively, see the city of light during an evening cycling tour with an English speaking guide. Cycle passed Paris highlights as the Notre Dame, The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and the Champs Elysees. After the tour you will take a cruise on the Seine and sip some of France’s excellent wine.

VersaillesYou also have to make time for a cultural trip to Versailles from Paris and admire the beauty of the Palace while you explore Versailles at leisure. Lastly for the romantics among you, we offer a private portraits in Paris tour, where a photographer will lead you through the historic Latin Quarter and make portraits of you and your loved one to remember this  magical moment in Paris.
nice-dalberaNice and the French Riviera
People looking for milder climates should visit Nice in Southern France. Take a city tour of Nice and discover landmarks like the Promenade des Anglais, Old Town and Russian Orthodox Cathedral.
Take off from Nice and tour the French Riviera, where you will visit the most glamorous places on earth. Revel in the old glory of Monte Carlo, admire the beauty of Antibes and touch down in Cannes, known for its film festival.

vineyard-by-crabchickWine Tours in France
We also offer a few wine tours that wine connoisseurs might enjoy: take the wine road through Provence tour with tastings at Chateau Saint Martin and Chateau Font du Broc. Enjoy wine tasting tours in Bordeaux, the largest and most famous wine region in the world or you can take a wine tour in Lyon, which lies in the Beaujolais region.

In Avignon, the wine tour consists of  tasting the most prestigious red wine in the Rhone valley in the winery founded in Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  You can also explore the city St Remy where Vincent Van Gogh painted his Starry Night.

starry-night1Cultural reference: Van Gogh’s paintings and the Da Vinci Code
Vincent van Gogh used to live in the Provence and let the landscape inspire his paintings not only in St Remy but also Arles one of the bigger cities in France.
A Van Gogh tour from Marseilles is also available, and after visiting the landmarks you can participate in a regional olive oil tasting Of course France is also associated with great French food: the Belzier tour offers you seafood and wine of the Languedoc. Also in the Languedoc area, lies Rennes le Chateau, a medieval town and discover how the stories and the religious conspiracy theories influenced the story of  The Da Vinci Code.

With its scope of possibilities for city break to beach holiday or culture weekend – no wonder that France stays a popular holiday destination for Britain.

Photo credits Flickr: Eiffeltower by liam!!-Moulin Rouge by Torfo- Versailles by Renata Barros- Vineyard by crabchick – Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh ;-)

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Paris Vacation Apartment Rentals – Advantages for Family Vacations

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Nowadays, a wide selection of vacation accommodation options for family holidays are available. No longer are families obligated to pile into small hotel rooms, or pay astronomic prices for suites. Paris, especially, offers an enormous selection of vacation rental apartments ranging from comfortable studios to large luxurious lofts that are perfect for family vacations. Whatever size or price range, you will find a vacation apartment that suits your family’s needs. If you are thinking about renting a vacation apartment in Paris for your next family holiday here are some advantages:

Cost effective Renting a vacation apartment is one of the most cost-effective options for family holiday accommodations. In Paris, where hotel prices are extremely high, prices for vacation apartments are generally less expensive than booking multiple hotel rooms. In addition, the amount of additional space that you get with an apartment compared to the price paid makes this type of stay much more economical. Plus, all vacation apartments have fully equipped kitchens, so savings from cooking some meals at home can also be factored into overall cost savings.

Comfort Vacation apartments are more comfortable for families than other accommodation options. Even if you rent a studio, the size of the space is generally larger than an average hotel room in Paris, or any other big city. In some apartments, children often have their own bed, or even room. There is always a dining area and, as mentioned above,fully equipped kitchens where you can make homemade meals. Vacation apartments include all the comforts of home.

Practical Families with small children must consider their special needs when looking at holiday accommodations. Vacation apartments offer practical solutions to meet these needs such as a calm place to have naps without the worry of housekeeping knocking on the door or to prepare special meals that only mom can make! In addition, a kitchen offers the freedom for midnight feedings and an apartment provides space for playing.

As you can see, vacation apartment rentals are one of the most practical and cost-effective accommodation options for families traveling to Paris.

About the author

Donna has lived in Paris for over ten years and has traveled extensively throughout the world with her family. She recommends booking a vacation apartment for your next trip to Paris.

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May 6th: happy birthday Eiffel Tower, 122

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Eiffel Tower, Paris

Eiffel Tower, Paris

The Eiffel Tower is 122 years old!

Ok, yes, there are more important events today in the world, but it’s nice to learn a few interesting facts about the Tower on the anniversary of its opening to the public, during the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1889.

Leaving aside the controversy and the uphill battle that such an iconic building has had to go through during the 2 years of its construction, 122 years later we have to admit its success is unparalleled.

Less known facts and figures:

- it took 199 workers 2 years, 2 months and 2 days to put it together (hundreds more worked in the factories where the parts were produced);

- these workers managed to fix together some 2.5 million rivets…  remember Charlie Chaplins’s “Modern Times”?

- when opened in 1889 it was reaching a height of 312 meters, and it’s now at 324 thanks to TV and radio antennas;

- there are actually 116 TV and radio antennas installed on the top…

- the architect Mr Gustave Eiffel had planned to built its private apartments on the top of the tower, today the 3rd level platform, at 274 meters. But as the elevators did not get installed in time, walking the stairs up to “home” did not turn out to be a great idea.

- the tower is extremely resistant to winds, with its top oscillating of just 12 cm (5 inches) in strong winds.

- no one knows exactly the number of steps to get to the top… the number goes from 1665 to 1802. Anyone wants to go and count?

Here’s a list of all tours and tickets to see the Eiffel Tower, including a private behind the scenes Eiffel Tower tour of the areas not open to the public (very limited tickets available).

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Customer review: Paris Opentour Hop-On Hop-Off Bus

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I cannot reccommend the hop on hop off tour bus enough! It was so convenient educational and took away all the stress of trying to find my own way. I had 4 teenagers with me, but many had small children. Make the most off your holiday and enjoy the time instead of stressing out of how to get where.
I am going to Rome next year and will certainly be booking the bus tour there. Value for money & stress free!!
Great shopping at Sacre Coeur!, Kids didnt want to go originally, ended up having to return the next day because the views were amazing!

Sajdah, United Kingdom

Sajdah booked: Paris Opentour Hop-On Hop-Off Bus

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Magical Paris Tours

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City of lights, romance, and fine dining, Paris has consistently attracted guests from far and wide, all yearning to experience the splendour of the magical city. Paris is home to so many spectacular landmarks, museums, cobblestoned streets and charming cafes that there is never a shortage of things to do and places to see in the inspiring French metropolis. Paris tours ensure that you see as much of the beautiful city as you can so that as the sun sets over the Eiffel Tower at the end of each day, you’ll know you took in as much of the wonder as you could!

Paris is a city that is not only one of Europe’s current desirable vacation spots, but one with a rich and fascinating history and culture. The beautiful Notre Dame, the cathedral where Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself emperor in 1804, has been standing since 1345, while the magnificent Eiffel Tower has towered above the city as a national symbol since the 1889 Exposition Universelle, a world’s fair marking the 100 year anniversary of the French Revolution. The Louvre, the most visited art museum in the world, is home to some of the world’s most renowned work, including the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and Liberty Leading the People. These iconic landmarks and more are all incorporated into tours that enable you to explore the sights as well as gain a wealth of information about some of the world’s most renowned places.

Paris tours range from activities such as climbing the Arc de Triomphe to champagne tasting on the Seine, and perfume making with an intimate group in a workshop setting. All encompassing Paris tours guarantee that visitors see all the main attractions that Paris has to offer–stroll up and down the glamorous Champs Elysees in style, climb the bell tower of Notre Dame, and ascend the Eiffel Tower for breathtaking views of what many deem to be the most amazing city in the world. Cruise along the glistening waters of the Seine as you pass artists and vendors and take in the enticing aromas of warm crepes and fresh baguettes, all while experiencing spectacular views of landmarks you’ve only dreamed about! Paris boat tours, walking tours, bus tours, and even segway tours are available so that you can experience the magical city by whatever method of transportation you please.

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Versailles Palace Tours.

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Visiting the French capital of Paris is something which many people strive to do in their lifetime. But why not think outside the box and aim to see some of the finer things located in the regions around Paris; for example, the Palace of Versailles.

Versailles Palace tours are somewhat popular, with people coming from far and wide in the hope to see one of the grandest palaces in the western world. History fans are also drawn in by the pull of the Versailles Palace as so much has previously happened on these grounds. After all, it is one of the places that sparked enough controversy during the French Revolution to play a significant role in it. continue reading

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Discover the Moulin Rouge Paris.

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blog-picRoll up, roll up! The prancing Moulin Rouge girls are calling all Parisians and visitors alike to come see their breathtaking dancing. Despite the numerous attempts to recreate this famous cabaret club, nothing else quite compares with the exquisite Moulin Rouge Paris.

It takes some skill to become a Moulin Rouge dancer, with all the acrobatic high-kicks and elaborate twirling. Only the best dancers are selected and only after vigorous training are they finally allowed to take to the stage and perform with the rest of the glamorous Doriss girls.

But it is not only the beautiful girls that take centre stage at the Moulin Rouge Paris. The costumes, made of feathers, rhinestones and sequins, attract their own audiences, and small ponies and snakes which grace the performance only add to the allure of the world’s most famous nightclub.

The Moulin Rouge Paris was built in 1889 in Pigalle, the Red Light District of Paris. It has always had a certain amount of fame, originally creating a sense of stigma as the courtesans lifted their skirts to reveal their undergarments to the viewing men. Nowadays the stigma has been replaced by a touch of inspiring glamour, especially after the 2001 film which starred Nicole Kidman as leading lady, Satine, who lived in an elephant and was admired by every man in Montmartre.

The Moulin Rouge Paris has had its own fair share of inspirational people pass through the doorways of its entrance; for example, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, the famous 19th century artist who used the Moulin Rouge as the setting for many of his pieces. Toulouse-Lautrec was famed for his night-time antics, the Moulin Rouge Paris being one of his most favoured hang-outs. A place where he could spend the evening drinking alcohol and dancing with beautiful girls; who at the time used the same area as the spectating men to wow the audience with their sensational moves.

For an evening cram packed with history and glamour, be sure to experience the Moulin Rouge Paris.

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See The Grand Palace of Versailles with Versailles Tours

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blog-picture2 Versailles, once the capital of the Kingdom of France, is now famous for the grand palace situated there. The Palace itself is steeped in history, and Versailles tours are the best way to discover the stories and facts behind what happened there.

The Palace was transformed from a royal hunting lodge and the royal court and government was moved there by King Louis XIV in the 1682. The Palace subsequently grew in size and in luxury. One of the grandest rooms is the Hall of Mirrors, which was used as a meeting place in the 17th century. Seventeen impressive mirrors line this room which faces out onto the stunning gardens. Other magnificent rooms include the Kings Grand Apartment, the Kings Chamber and the Royal Chapel. Versailles Palace tours ensure that the whole of the Palace is seen, and in depth knowledge is given about everything in which they signify.

It is not only the rooms of the Palace which aim to impress. Versailles tours also encourage garden visits as they are equally spectacular. Water features are ample, with the Grand Canal and numerous fountains and groves all adding to the wonders of these beautiful gardens. Walks are plentiful with sculptures and the orangerie lining the way. The relaxing atmosphere of the garden is perfect for picnicking on a hot day.

Also pay a visit to Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet; the private place where the former queen of France used to escape from the stresses of the palace. Also see the Grand Trianon, a group of buildings where Louis XIV escaped the palace with his mistress Madame de Montespan.

Versailles holds so much history to it. And there is more to Versailles than just this grand Palace; it is also a prosperous city too. Let Versailles tours help you discover the wonders of this brilliant place.

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See everything with Paris hop on hop off bus tours.

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blog-picture1Paris is filled with some extraordinary famous landmarks and monuments which everyone should aim to explore at least once in their lifetime. The intricate designs provide a pathway into the city’s deep and meaningful past, and show how rich in culture and glamour the French capital has always been. The Paris hop on hop off bus is a great way to discover as much of Paris as you can in a short time. Just simply use the pass for the desired number of days and explore the best of Paris to your hearts content.

The Eiffel Tower winds high above the city, giving amazing 360 degree panoramic views of the picturesque capital. It is the most iconic landmark in Paris, and it is impossible to visit this breathtaking city without experiencing the Eiffel Tower. Its steel exterior was shunned by Parisians at the time it was built due to its ugliness, but now draws in visitors from far and wide. It houses three floors and two restaurants, in which visitors can either climb or take a lift to dine on the scrumptious food, or simply peer out over the most spectacular views of the French capital.

The Notre Dame is one of the most famous cathedrals in the Western world. Great novels have been set here, with Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, hiding away from the world in the bell tower. However, there is so much more to this beautiful cathedral than works of fiction. The cathedral was fully completed in 1345, after almost two centuries of construction. Many historic figures held coronation celebrations in the Notre Dame, such as Napoleon I and his wife Josephine.

The Paris hop on hop off bus stops right outside these attractions and more. Be sure not to miss a thing with the Paris hop on hop off bus.

Image courtesy of Flickr

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