Build one of these destinations into your itinerary and you will not be disappointed
As anyone even a bit familiar with Paris will know, it is a world heavyweight champion when it comes to keeping visitors amused. There is something in this city for everyone, young or old; you just have to go out and find it. To make this easier, Elite Traveler has chosen from the many options on offer to compile our list of top picks. Some are better-known than others some are slightly further afield, but all are equally worthwhile.
NOTRE-DAME DE PARIS
One of the oldest buildings in Paris, Notre-Dame de Paris is a gothic masterpiece and a must-see for all visitors.
The cathedral’s cavernous interior abounds in sculptural marvels and sublime architectural features, such as the famous Rose windows, two enormous circular stained glass panes on the transepts. Outside, flying buttresses support the mass of the building, which lies right beside the Seine on Ile de la Cité, among beautiful gardens. Ascend to the towers for spectacular views of the city, or take in a concert of relaxing choral music in the evening.
+33 (0)1 4234 5610
6 Parvis Notre-Dame, Place Jean-Paul II, 75004
PUCES DE SAINT-OUEN
Officially the world’s largest permanent art and antiques market, the Puces de Saint-Ouen is a great option for travelers wanting a break from the boutiques of central Paris.
Encompassing 1,500 arts and antiques stalls, this labyrinthine market is open every Saturday, Sunday and Monday and sells everything from authentic period furniture to Art Nouveau, Art Deco and design collectibles of all sorts. Vintage clothes also line some of the market’s passages, tantalizing visitors with their intricate needlework and glamorous style. Famous faces seen at the Puces include Sharon Stone, Julia Roberts and the Osbornes, proving that antique can be just as cool as new.
140 Rue des Rosiers, 93400 Saint-Ouen
Housed in an impressive former railway station on the left bank, the Musée d’Orsay showcases mainly French art from 1848 –1915.
Inside its Beaux-Arts exterior lies the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world by painters such as Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Gauguin and Van Gogh. Among these are classic works such as Degas’ The Ballet Class, Monet’s Saint Lazare Station and Renoir’s Dance at le Moulin de la Galette. Vastly less crowded than the Louvre, its neighbor across the Seine, its open spaces and well-planned distribution of pieces allows for a slow and full appreciation of the masterworks on show. Arrange a private viewing with an accompanying lecturer to enhance your visit, or hire out the museum’s restaurant or one of the galleries for a private event.
The Pompidou Center cuts quite a dash in Paris on account of its modernity.
Possibily the ‘newest’-looking building in the city, bar the futuristic towers of La Défense, it emerges from the rooftops of traditional Haussmannian buildings like a giant Lego construction, defying tradition with its cheerful red, white, blue and green colors. Lego it is not, however; it houses several important public bodies including the public information library and the National Museum of Modern Art. Artworks showcased in the museum include pieces by Picasso, Warhol, Kandinsky, Kapoor and countless others. Book a private visit or reception in one of the museum’s impressive halls to take in the artwork in your own time.
Marc-Antoine Chaumien (Deputy Manager)
+33 (0)1 4478 1233
Place Georges Pompidou, 75004
Housed in the Hôtel Biron, a gem of Parisian rocaille architecture, the Musée Rodin, with its pretty grounds and elegant summer cafe, is a beautiful alternative to the bigger museums in the city.
Dedicated completely to the works of Auguste Rodin, who donated his creations to the state in 1916, the museum is filled with his sculptures, sketches and ceramics, including impressive pieces such as Le Penseur (The Thinker), and the Gates of Hell, inspired by Dante’s Inferno. Visit during the early morning to catch the museum at its quietest, and in spring to see the gardens’ rose borders bursting with chiffony blooms in myriad hues. For a private tour, contact Solene Vandangeon.
+33 (0)1 4418 6110
79 Rue de Varenne, 75007
In 1932, Paul Marmottan bequeathed his private mansion to the Académie des Beaux-Arts, who turned it into the Musée Marmottan.
Years and many generous bequests later, the museum is now the Musée Marmottan-Monet, combining numerous pieces by the artist Monet with artwork by Renoir, Morisot, Daumier, Sisley, Degas, Manet and Pissarro. Monet’s works number 136, including the renowned Soleil Levant and Promenade à Argenteuil. The museum is also the resting place of his letters, photographs, sketchbooks, and personal mementos, many of them donated by his son, and as a result the largest and most important collection of his works. To arrange a private tour, contact Catharine Dantan of Agence Dantan, who will help you liaise with the museum for the ultimate visit.
CHÂTEAU DE VAUX-LE-VICOMTE
The inspiration for the Château de Versailles, this stunning privatelyowned castle from the time of the Sun King is one of the most beautiful examples of its kind.
Set among acres of gardens adorned with dazzling geometric topiary and majestic fountains, it offers visitors a glimpse of the aristocratic lifestyle of olden times. Make like the elite of yesteryear with a carriage drive around the grounds followed by some bubbly at the castle’s champagne bar. Alternatively, come on a Saturday evening to watch as more than 2,000 candles are lit inside the castle and grounds to recreate the atmosphere of the famous party given by the minister to the young Louis XVI in 1661. The castle is also available for parties, weddings and even a private tour with the owner, organized upon request.
Jean Charles de Vogüé
+33 (0)1 6414 4255
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, 77950, Maincy
This fascinating museum near Parc Monceau is little-known to non-Parisians, and all the better for it.
Within its well-concealed walls (the museum is hardly visible from the street) are Renaissance treasures by Donatello and Della Robbia, 18th century French art and works by the Flemish masters, all in a series of ornately-decorated rooms. The building’s staircase, winter garden, private apartments and reception areas have also been lovingly preserved, and feature original frescos by Tiepolo. Even if you don’t make it into the museum itself, the museum café is a must – its range of delicious fine pâtisserie and restorative teas are just the antidote to mid-morning or mid-afternoon hunger pangs. To experience the museum’s splendor in a more intimate manner, or to arrange a reception or dinner, contact Ludivine Alexis, who can advise you on the options available.
Ludivine Alexis, Events Manager
+33 (0)1 4562 1640
158 Boulevard Haussmann, 75008
MUSÉE DU LOUVRE
This enormous museum, situated on the Right Bank and covering an area of over 652,300 square feet, is the most-visited art museum on the planet.
Masterpieces by da Vinci, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Michaelangelo, Delacroix, Raphael, Caravaggio and many others embellish its walls, and it also houses a vast collection of prehistoric objects from eras such as the Etruscan, Roman, Greek and Mesopotamian. The building is an artwork in itself, too: originally a 12th century fortress extended by François I and later Louis XIV, it is a sumptuous example of high-Renaissance architecture. The entrance via the glass pyramid is in sharp contrast to its surroundings, but nevertheless a unique way to enter. Opportunities for private events at this palatial location are numerous, and can be arranged through the Louvre events team, headed by Nathalie Cuisinier.
Nathalie Cuisinier (Events Manager)
+33 (0)1 4020 5389
34 Quai du Louvre, 75001
PLACE DES VOSGES
There are certain spots in Paris that just can’t be beaten when it comes to visual harmony, and Place des Vosges is one of them.
Comprised of an elegant garden quadrangle enclosed by wonderfully-preserved Henri IV-era houses with high slate roofs, it is where the chicest of Right Bank Parisians come to stroll. Make sure you observe the Queen Pavilion on the north side and the King Pavilion on the south side, and if you have time, visit the home of Victor Hugo, ths famous author of Les Misérables. In the high cloister-style arches beneath the houses are independent art showrooms, fashionable tea rooms and gourmet restaurants, all brimming with the beautiful people of the city. Visit after an afternoon of shopping in the trendy Marais area or in the early evening during summer, when the sun is going down over the rooftops in a flood of rose and amber colors.
12 Rue de Birague, 75004