Destination Paris Ile-de-France
Perhaps you are already acquainted with the quarters of Paris, Ile-de-France, in which abound some of the most beautiful of historic buildings, the most famous avenues, and a wealth of timeless heritage which you just cannot miss… You should also venture into those quarters which reveal to you more intimately a bustling metropolis where there is always something new to discover.
From the very trendy, cosmopolitan Canal Ssaint-Martin to the innovative architecture of the 13th arrondissement (district); from the new splendid museums of the west of the capital to the creative, bubbling North-East of Paris… Paris Ile-de-France reveals multi-faceted – and indeed sometimes surprising – aspects.
La Villette and the neighbourhood provide visitors with a huge area for culture, relaxation, and light-hearted family entertainment. The MAC/VAL (Val de Marne Contemporary Art Museum) exhibits the best in modern creativity at the border of Paris. A few steps from the numerous cafés and shops in Rue Montorgueil, the latest fashion designers display their wares in the streets of Haut Marais…
In a more discreet setting, restaurants recreated by France’s top designers open their doors to you, as do the bars and clubs which are held in high esteem by Parisians in Belleville and Montreuil. A few metro or RER stations away, you can applaud live bands in Montreuil, savour the smell of spices at the Saint-Denis market, enjoy the new attractions at Disneyland Resort Paris, visit Auvers-sur-Oise or rediscover Versailles.
GOING OUT IN PARIS
Musée du quai Branly
5 April to 24 July 2011
Situated on the banks of the Seine at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, the Musée du Quai Branly showcases the Arts and Civilisations of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. From 5 April to 24 July 2011, immerse yourself in the world of art and culture from the Dogon lands of Mali, with more than 330 exceptional works from collections throughout the world, gathered together for the first time in France. Behind the great diversity of the shapes and colours of these objects from everyday life and with sacred connotations – statues, masks, cave paintings – the Dogon exhibition reveals the history and wealth of an astonishingly creative art originating from one of Africa's most fascinating cultures.
OTHER THINGS TO SEE…
|Manet, the Man who Invented Modern Art
Nef du Grand Palais
|Food design, aventures sensibles
Le Lieu du design
|Jazz Festival at Saint-Germain-des-Prés
||Némo Festival – Digital Arts
Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain
Discover Paris Ile-de-France
For those in any doubt of the Louvre’s contemporary credentials, fear not – the largest museum in the world is refusing to rest on its laurels and in this sense, reflects the neighbourhood around it. In Ieoh Ming Pei’s famous pyramid within the Louvre, itself a work of modern art, visitors can gaze on contemporary pieces in temporary and permanent exhibitions. The über-stylish boutique Colette has set up shop in the neighbourhood on the Rue Saint-Honoré and has yet to meet its match. This is a place where art and fashion come together – a fact not lost on the powers within the Musée des Arts Décoratifs which has recently undergone a welcome facelift. With the regeneration of Les Halles, city planners are seeking to continue a long string of architectural wonders including the Tuileries, the Louvre, the Palais Royal and Beaubourg, in the hope of raising the area to the stature of its prestigious neighbours. This is the nerve centre of Paris which sees thousands of people from the surrounding areas in transit every day in the underground station complex. Outside, just a few metres away, people go looking for the Parisian eating experience à l’ancienne in the Rue Montorgueil, a pedestrianised street packed with café terraces and eateries. Even here, the latest trends are never far away. Just watch the passers-by.
The Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Élysées are all very impressive, but there is more to the west of Paris than this opulence and grandeur. Contemporary design has also made its mark, embodied by the view of La Grande Arche de la Défense. Modernity is even evident on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées itself, where car showrooms compete with imaginative flair and Citroën’s three-dimensional glass façade bearing the double-chevron logo dazzles, as do the luxury brands that call the Avenue home (the opening of the Louis Vuitton boutique created a major stir). Centres of creativity continue to mirror this ostentation and are often imposing (the Palais de Tokyo, the Musée du quai Branly, the Nave of the Grand Palais...), although some are more low-key with luxury and discretion their watchwords. The neighbourhood is a chic evening destination where visitors revel in the history steeped in former bordellos and boathouses or the stylish comfort of hotel bars. This is definitely the place to see and be seen.
Surely one of the neighbourhoods to undergo the most dramatic makeover in recent years, the Canal Saint-Martin has prompted a sea change in fashions with an endless string of hip venues springing up on its banks. It’s easy to lose count of the cafés, restaurants and shops that have emerged in the wake of the Bar de la Marine, Chez Prune and Antoine et Lili, which are almost starting to seem a little old-hat these days if not for the hordes of new devotees who flock to them. One trait of this trendy yet grass-roots area is the way it consciously plays with the imagery of the canal and sets new trends. The bar-restaurant Hôtel du Nord, a nod to the famous film by Marcel Carné with the impish Arletty, is a perfect example. Whilst Parisian trend-setters currently have their sights set on the east, this is by no means limited to the canal. Pockets of activity are emerging in the multi-cultural areas around the Gare du Nord and the Gare de l’Est and on the Grands Boulevards, which are popular haunts for nightowls. Slowly but surely, the map of trendy spots in Paris is being redrawn.
It’s had some tough acts to follow, but the Left Bank has moved on from the time when Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir called the shots in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Nowadays, cultural life revolves less around literary figures (there aren’t even that many bookshops here any more) and focuses more on secret, less well-established places such as galleries hidden away in the courtyards of town houses. Likewise, while exploring the shopping streets around Sèvres-Babylone you’ll stumble across the EDF Foundation’s free, eco-friendly exhibition centre, the Espace Électra. The Galerie des Gobelins and the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation are also similarly tucked out of sight. Art dealers, publishers and shoppers rub shoulders in the bistros and cafés, joined by students in between classes or having an evening drink. The neighbourhood has many “bistronomic” eateries (like gastropubs), which have been doing well in Paris recently. To the south, Issy-les-Moulineaux joined the technological revolution in its infancy, so it’s not surprising to find Le Cube there, a venue dedicated to digital creativity.
This flourishing neighbourhood was still undergoing huge changes just a few years ago. The Bibliothèque Nationale de France paved the way by relocating to the site of the former railway line. Indeed, the sheer scale of the redevelopment works underway in the area stretching from the Gare d’Austerlitz to the Boulevard Masséna, and bordered on either side by the River Seine and the Rue Chevaleret, is reminiscent of Haussmann’s extensive modernisation of Paris in the 19th century. Each area has been entrusted to different urban planners, such as Christian de Portzamparc and the landscape architect Thierry Huau, who took on the challenge of the Masséna-Nord neighbourhood, near the new university campus. You can still see relics from the area’s past resembling an industrial wasteland, such as the old railway cold-storage buildings (Les Frigos) converted into artists’ studios. Of course, the Seine adds to the neighbourhood’s charm with music venues on board boats moored to the river banks and a new footbridge across to Bercy. The Crédac centre nearby in Ivry-sur-Seine and the MAC/VAL museum in Vitry have also done their part in spreading contemporary art around the city.
The decision to build a modern opera house for everyone to enjoy in the Bastille area was part of an attempt to rejuvenate the eastern side of Paris. Mission accomplished! Bastille was one of the first neighbourhoods to be described as “trendy”, with its lively areas such as the Rue de Charonne and Rue de la Roquette. There is no shortage of places to go out, have a drink, eat dinner, listen to music and dance. Try Les Disquaires for dancing and Unico for dining. However, this ever-changing cultural revolution hasn’t destroyed the everyday life of this down-to-earth residential area. Take the fiercely loyal customers who frequent the Market d’Aligre for example, or the otherworldly Rue Paul-Bert, which has succeeded in preserving its villagey feel. Adding to the local flavour is the Promenade Plantée, an open, partly elevated garden walkway, which weaves its way gently to the city gates. Eastern expansion is still in full effect. Montreuil, a real hotbed of artists, is experiencing an influx of new talent in search of a more cosmopolitan culture, among other things, as well as being attracted to the area’s friendly atmosphere.
Le Marais has more going for it than its central Parisian location. It is also a hub of all things cool, setting and following design and fashion trends. Whether it’s down to the co-existence of the gay and Jewish communities, the incredible number of art galleries or the cascading boutiques, this historic district is constantly reinventing itself. The Upper Marais ("le haut Marais"), which begins behind the Musée Picasso, is undergoing the sort of transformation only Paris can inspire. The buildings undergoing renovation are legion and designers are investing in property, often opening beautiful, innovative spaces. So far, the balance between old and new has been maintained. The district is still studded with places that are simultaneously of-the-moment and timeless. This is embodied by Open Café, a famous gay bar on the corner of Rue des Archives and Rue Sainte-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie, the Rue du Trésor (for its terraces sheltered from the traffic) and the Rue des Francs-Bourgeois (for the Sunday window shopping), not to mention the chic Place des Vosges.
Off the well-trodden tourist trail, Belleville and Ménilmontant exude a young and arty feel that is refreshingly unpretentious and well worth investigating. This involves a steep climb up streets named after past luminaries before you are immersed in the atmosphere unique to the neighbourhood. This villagey part of the capital is a place to party or relax: the city centre seems far away and residents often say they are “going down” to Paris. You have a real sense of his-tory when wandering around the buttresses in the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont or exploring narrow, winding streets, before heading onto the buzzing Boulevard de Belleville and the Oberkampf district. This old working-class neigh-bourhood, where Édith Piaf was allegedly born on a pavement in 1915, has beenadopted by immigrants from North Africa and China. Now the bobos (“bourgeois bohemians”) are moving in and hoards of artists have set up here. A host of bars has also opened, reflecting the mood of this swinging, bohemian area.
Thanks to the current urban regeneration project, north-eastern Paris is undergoing a transformation. Prior to the construction of the Stade de France sports stadium in Saint-Denis, Parisians barely ventured into this district other than to visit the Saint-Ouen flea markets. A few years earlier, a trendy bar-hotel like the Ice Kube would have been unimaginable in a working-class area like La Chapelle. So things are changing. Often community-based, centres of creativity and dissemination are integrated into urban culture and breathe life into the neighbourhoods. Le Café Culturel in Saint-Denis, for example, is a springboard for slam artists, Mains d’Œuvres in Saint-Ouen is a centre of exploration and discovery open to the public, while L’Olympic Café and Le Lavoir Moderne Parisien are the enfants terribles of the Goutte d’Or district. Next door, Montmartre may seem overrun, but there is more to it than tourist crowds. Designers, galleries, bars and live-music venues have made space for themselves and continue to feed the bohemian party spirit of La Butte.
La Villette and its surrounding areas have changed the geographical layout of Paris and created a new way to experience the city’s culture. The Parc de la Villette is in the 19th arrondissement, sandwiched between the 18th arrondissement, Pantin, Aubervilliers and La Plaine Saint-Denis, and endows the north-east of Paris its reputation as a creative and vibrant area of the city, its formerly working-class urban landscape dotted with its artists’ contemporary creative offerings. Although still chaotic at times, it is an up-and-coming district. Various music and film festivals are held in the park. Don’t miss the open-air summer film festival showing mainstream and independent films, which doubles as one huge picnic. The park is basically a scaled-down version of La Villette: a spot where relaxation, leisure, culture and entertainment converge. Finally, a few landmarks to help you get your bearings: the Grande Halle and the Cité de la Musique are on the park’s south side, close to the Porte de Pantin metro station. The Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie is to the north, close to the Porte de la Villette. The Canal de l’Ourcq runs through the centre of the park. Now it’s time to see it for yourself!
Paris isn’t the only place to find centres of creativity and promotion of the arts. There are a number of contemporary art hotspots surrounding the capital. Often offering the unexpected, like the Cyclop, the Villa Savoye or the Dubuffet Foundation, they are generally accessible by public transport.
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Useful InformationTRAVELLING IN PARIS ILE-DE-FRANCE
The ‘Carte Paris Visite’ (pass)
This is a single ticket which can be used on all of the networks for the Metro, RER (Regional Express Railway), Bus, Tramway, SNCF (French rail) suburb trains, Funiculaire de Montmartre (Montmartre Funicular), Montmartrobus, Noctilien and the Optile bus network, according to the zones chosen. Transport service to and from the airport possible. Valid for 1, 2, 3, or 5 days and according to zones.
>Tourist Information Points (Paris and CDG – Charles de Gaulle), Metro, RER and SNCF stations.
Forfait loisirs Transilien (Transilien Leisure Package)
Combined ticket for SNCF trip (return) + entry to the Château de Versailles (Palace of Versailles), Château de Fontainebleau (Fontainebleau Castle) or the Château d’Auvers (Auvers Castle) and France Miniature in high season.
> SNCF Stations
Métro / RER / Bus
Metro: 5.20 a.m. > around 1.15 a.m. (2.15 a.m. on Fri, Sat, and the eve of a Bank Holiday).
RER: 4.45 a.m. > 1.30 a.m.
Bus: 5.30 a.m. > 8.30 p.m. (12.30 a.m. for certain lines).
Bus Noctilien: 0.30 a.m. > 5.30 a.m.
Single call number from a taxi stand telephone in Paris: 01 45 30 30 30
Shuttle on the Seine. 8 stops between the Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower) and the Jardin des Plantes (Botanical Garden).
> Port de la Bourdonnais (Bir Hakeim Metro station) - 0 825 01 01 01 (0,15€/min)
Self-service bicycles, 24H/24H, 7/7. Ideal for a short trip (free if less than 30 minutes).
> Many stations in Paris.
Paris Museum Pass
Unrestricted, direct access to historic buildings and museums’ permanent collections. Options of 2, 4, or 6 consecutive days (€30, €45 or €60).
> Tourist Information Points (Paris and CDG Charles de Gaulle), Office du Tourisme de Paris (Paris Tourist Office), relevant museums and historic buildings.
Excursions, tourist visits to Paris and around the capital, by coach or minibus.
2, rue des Pyramides (Pyramides, Opéra Metro stations)
01 44 55 60 00
214, rue de Rivoli (Tuileries Metro station)
01 42 60 30 01
27, rue Taitbout (Chaussée d’Antin La Fayette Metro station)
01 56 03 56 81
33, Quai des Grands Augustins (Saint Michel Metro station)
01 53 10 35 35
Regular tourist coach routes - tours with commentary in several languages
01 42 66 56 56
4 tours to discover Paris. Pass of 1 or 2 consecutive days. Many stops: Opéra, Musée du Louvre (Louvre Museum), Musée d'Orsay (Orsay Museum), Notre-Dame, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Champs-Elysées, Arc de Triomphe, Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower), Bastille, etc.
Les Cars Rouges
01 53 953 953
This is a tour lasting 2 hours 15 minutes. Ticket valid for 2 consecutive days. Many stops: Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower), Musée du Louvre (Louvre Museum), Musée d’Orsay (Orsay Museum), Opéra-Galeries Lafayette, Champs-Elysées-Etoile, Grand Palais, etc.
Boat trips, cruises, dinner-cruises.
Bateaux Parisiens (at the foot of the Tour Eiffel - Eiffel Tower. Bir Hakeim, Trocadéro Metro stations)
0 825 01 01 01 (0,15€/min)
Vedettes de Paris (at the foot of the Tour Eiffel - Eiffel Tower. Bir Hakeim Metro station)
01 44 18 19 50
Canauxrama (Port de l’Arsenal, Bastille Metro station - Bassin de La Villette, Jaurès Metro station)
01 42 39 15 00
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