Category Archives: Paris par arrondissement

Château de Sceaux

Temperatures in Southern California are rising into the 90s and all I can do is reminisce about fall in Paris last year. Scarves, boots, auburn trees – it all served as a reminder of the season we were leaving and the one we were quickly approaching. There’s been no shortage of change for me this autumn, but as usual it seems the weather has not quite gotten the memo.


When Emilie and I were studying abroad in Paris together, one of our absolute favorite adventures was visiting Château Vaux-le-Vicomte just outside of the city. On our return trip to Paris a year ago, we knew we wanted to set aside at least one day to visit another château in the area. This time, we took the RER out to Sceaux, built for Louis XIV’s minister of finance, Jean-Baptiste Colbert. Most of Colbert’s original estate, however, was destroyed during the French Revolution. The grounds that were originally designed by the famed André le Nôtre were used for crops and all of the contents of the château were sold for the benefit of the nation.


The château as it exists today was restored by the duc de Trévise in the style of Louis XIII. Since 1922, Château de Sceaux has been open to the public living in the surrounding city of Sceaux. It was such a nice, fall day and I particularly loved to see the grounds populated with families and joggers enjoying one of the last few days of nice weather before the rainy season.


Paris Château de Sceaux


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Just another hunting lodge

Like many French castles, Château de Vincennes was originally constructed in the 14th century to serve as a hunting lodge for the monarchy. Louis VII was the first to reside there, and after centuries of royal weddings, deaths, wars, executions, and even a brief stint as the site of Vincenne’s porcelain manufacturing, this château is now an austere reminder of France’s armed forces and military defense.

Being in the presence of such deep and enduring history is almost more than my brain can comprehend. I find myself at a loss, struck dumb by the thought of just how much happened here, how many people lived and died here, and how miniscule my life is in comparison. When this castle was first constructed, society’s greatest worries revolved around avoiding the plague and living under an oppressive monarchy. As I strolled the grounds, I think my concerns were no more significant than choosing the best Instagram filter.

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p.s. for anyone who is curious/interested/aware…only one post remaining in my Paris par arrondissement series. I’m not sure who’s been following along, but if you have been…we’re almost there!

Paris: 20eme arrondissement

I’d like to issue a caveat for anyone just happening along this blog. This post is a continuation of a series I started at the end of last year. I’m slightly ashamed to still be winding my way through the arrondissements of Paris 8 months later, but at the same time I just love Paris so much that it’s worth it to carry this thing through to the end. In case you’d like to peruse the others, you can find them here. Now that we’ve settled that, on to the 20th arrondissement…

Way out on the edge of Paris likes the world-renown cemetery of Père Lachaise. For whatever reason I’d never been able to get myself out there for a visit, but I really think that October was the absolute perfect time to be there. The leaves had all turned a deep orange, foreboding the winter to come. Some of the trees had even begun losing their leaves already, which offered an eerie backdrop to some of the tombstones and crypts. After having ourselves a little picnic lunch on a bench with the Eiffel Tower in view, Emilie and I embarked on a morbid scavenger hunt to find a few notable figures scattered about the grounds.

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Above is the grave of Pierre Abélard and Héloïse d’Argenteuil, forbidden lovers of the 12th century who had a secret marriage and were brutally punished once their rebellion was revealed. Abélard was castrated and Héloïse was forced to become a nun. Yikes. The two would remain separated until their death, when their bones were eventually laid to rest at Père Lachaise in 1817 (though this continues to be a subject of debate, as many speculate that Héloïse is buried elsewhere).

Below, the reason for my 40 page senior thesis. Thank you, Georges, for all the late nights, thrown-out ideas, stress-induced hair loss, and general anxiety during the year we spent together. (But really writing my thesis was not actually that bad…I can even say now that I’m glad to have done it!).

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Above rests the man of the hour, every hour, at Père Lachaise, Jim Morrison. Below are some of the heavy-hitters of the cemetery. The first is Molière, who was orininally transferred here as part of a marketing scheme to increase the overall popularity of Père Lachaise. Upon its opening in 1804, the cemetery was considered too far from the city and as such was relatively obscure. It also was not blessed by the Roman Catholic church, deterring a great percentage of Parisians from being buried there. To amend this, administrators transferred Jean de la Fontaine and Molière onto the grounds. The scheme was a success: the next year saw 44 burials, followed by steady increases each year to come. Eager to rub elbows with the famous (albeit deceased), the cemetery grew exponentially in popularity as Parisians all but clamored to secure a position for themselves in this trendy final resting place. Now, Père Lachaise has an extensive waiting list and people may only be buried if they lived or died in the French capital. There is even a more recent practice of issuing 30-year leases for the grave sites. If a family does not renew at the end of the lease, the remains can be removed to make way for the tomb’s next inhabitant.

So much for resting in peace. At least the following tenants have no reason to fear eviction.

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Tea with Balzac brings this post quite nicely to an end.


Paris: 18eme arrondissement

Paris Refuge des Fondus Montmartre

My Paris blog saga continues with the 18th arrondissement of Paris. We ventured up to the hilltop district of Montmartre twice: once for fondue and again for an autumn wine festival beneath the Sacré-Cœur. No trip to Paris is complete without a night at Le Refuge des Fondus. This cheery (and tiny) fondue restaurant is situated on Rue des Trois Frères just a short jaunt up from métro Abbesses, where the streetlights glisten against the damp cobblestones that once greeted the footsteps of intellectuals like Dali, Monet, Picasso, and van Gogh. The menu here is simple: red or white, meat or cheese. The former refers to your wine options, which is promptly served in baby bottles. If you’re looking for a fine-dining experience, this is not the place for you. But if you want to partake in a boisterous, familial ambiance and cook your own food in boiling cheese, look no farther. Without fail, dinners here end with a side ache resulting from excessive, giddy laughter (and maybe the carbo-load).

Paris Refuge des Fondus Montmartre

Paris Refuge des Fondus Montmartre  Paris Refuge des Fondus Montmartre

Paris Refuge des Fondus Montmartre

Paris Refuge des Fondus Montmartre

Paris Refuge des Fondus Montmartre

We happened to be in Paris in time to experience the Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre, an event which celebrates the tradition of wine-making in Paris and the harvest season. We rode the métro up on the second to last evening of the festival, which also happened to be Emilie’s birthday (huzzah!). After taking Rue Norvins past the iconic Le Consulat and Place du Tertre we found the entrance to the festival on Rue Mont Cenis. White tents housed vendors of the region’s meats, cheeses, and wines, all available for tasting and merriment.

Paris Montmartre

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It bears mentioning that these duck sausages were A) incredibly delicious and B) laced with the spiciest mustard of MY LIFE. On several occasions I literally had to check for a nosebleed. Never have I ever experienced such savage intensity from a condiment. Paris Fête des Vendanges de MontmartreParis Fête des Vendanges de MontmartreParis Fête des Vendanges de MontmartreParis Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre

The evening culminated with a spectacular fireworks show, which we watched from the steps of the Sacré-Cœur overlooking our city.

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Paris: 9eme et 10eme arrondissements

Well, I still have Paris pictures to share with you, interwebs. Is it improper blogging etiquette to be posting pictures that are, at this point, 6 months old? It could be. I set a goal for myself to post about each beautiful Parisian district, though, and post I shall.

We’ve made our way to the 9th arrondissement. This is probably one of the busiest and most hectic areas of Paris. With a total nineteen metro stations, a world-renowned Opera house, and the flagship location of France’s largest department store, the 9th is a swirl of consumerism and commerce. Boulevard Haussmann, made famous by Gustave Caillebotte’s paintings, cuts boldly through this district and bears the hallmarks of Louis-Napoléon’s desire for order and cleanliness. While researching Parisian architectural history I often came across criticisms of Baron Haussmann’s aggressive changes to the city, which many argued were oppressive and socially destructive. While I personally tend to appreciate the modernity that came along with this restructuring, I have to admit that I can understand why critics feel this way whenever I find myself in the 9th. I usually feel rushed and have to just put my head down and brave the crowds and cars to navigate those streets. Just like Caillebotte’s painting, umbrellas are a welcome means of protecting one’s own personal bubble during the rainy season.

…But then there’s the rooftop of Galeries Lafayette…



Below are glimpses of time we spent in the 10th. Given the above images, it’s hard to believe these pictures were all taken during the same season. On the day we ventured to the Canal St-Martin Paris was unseasonably (actually, uncomfortably) warm…but days later it was freezing and rainy.









The Canal St-Martin was originally ordered for construction by Napoleon I in 1802 as a means of bringing fresh water into a city that was increasingly falling prey to dysentery and horrible sanitation. When it was finally completed in 1825 (and funded by a new tax on wine, might I add), the canal was also used to transport grain and supplies. Canal St-Martin isn’t used for much these days. In fact, half of it is covered by the Boulevard Jules-Ferry. What remains is a tranquil, albeit obscure, corner of the city.

I hope to visit the canal again when I return to Paris, but just so I can try a certain restaurant my friend later told me about. It is called Pink Flamingo (uhm, cute!) and you can order a pizza to be delivered to you as you picnic on the canal. How do the waiters know where to find you? Pink balloons. Done and done.


Paris: 8eme arrondissement

Place de la Concorde. Champs-Élysées. l’Arc de Triomphe. La Madeleine. These iconic sites in Paris are all located within the 8eme arrondissement. I could show you pictures of them in all their splendor and glory. But in the interest of sharing something perhaps a little lesser-known and broadening votre connaissance, I’d first like to introduce you to Parc Monceau.


The 8th arrondissement can be a bit overbearing both in stature and wealth, as it is one of the most affluent districts of Paris. It is home to 4 of Paris’s 7 luxury hotels and 3 of the 9 three-star Michelin-rated restaurants in Paris. This arrondissement is really the pinnacle in terms of commerce and consumerism, so it was a refreshing surprise to turn a corner and approach the peaceful and gently-shaded Parc Monceau deep in the heart of a quieter neighborhood. This park, established by Philippe d’Orléans, Duke of Chartres, in 1779, was intended to surprise its visitors with an English-inspired design–one with structures which mimicked buildings of different eras and continents. The Duke employed writer and painter Louis Carrogis Carmontelle to design the gardens, and his opinion was that “It is not necessary for gardens or nature to be presented in the most agreeable forms. It’s necessary instead to preserve the charm that one encounters entering the garden, and to renew it with each step, so that the visitor in his soul will have the desire to revisit the garden every day and to possess it for himself. The true art is to know how to keep the visitors there, through a variety of objects, otherwise they will go to the real countryside to find what should be found in this garden; the image of liberty.”


I can confidently say that this garden was indeed enchanting and I am sorry to have only had the chance to visit once. Carmontelle, good sir, you have succeeded.




Paris makes me happy. Plain and simple.

Although The Duke had envisioned an English garden, Carmontelle saw Monceau as more of a mixture of all times and all places at once, with a miniature Egyptian pyramid, a Roman colonnade, antique statues, a pond of water lilies, a Dutch windmill, an Italian vineyard, an enchanted grotto, and many other homages to fantasy and adventure. Servants would even stroll about the grounds dressed in exotic costumes.

Though a supporter of the Revolution, the Reign of Terror did not spare The Duke, and in 1793 he was guillotined. At this point, the park was nationalized. Just a few years later in 1797, Parc Monceau was the site of the first silk parachute jump, performed by André Jacques Garnerin, who landed in the park after jumping from a hot air balloon.


During the Second Empire, France saw the restoration of the monarchy. This meant the park was returned to the family of The Duke, who sold lots within the park to real estate developers. This brought the construction of luxury townhouses and cut the size of the park in half. The city purchased what remained, which at this point was only the water lily pond, the stream, and the “fantasy” tombs.

Like most of Paris, Parc Monceau did not escape the hands of Baron Haussmann. This was the first public park to be remade by his efforts after being commissioned by Emperor Louis Napoleon to enact a radical transformation of the city, breathing light and air into what was once dark and dingy. Parc Monceau saw two main alleys cut through from north to south, along with widening and paving to allow for carriages to pass through. Haussmann also imported exotic trees and plants to enrich the garden.

Other interesting tidbits:

– Claude Monet and Gustave Caillebotte both have paintings from this park

– Parc Monceau was the site of an uprising during the Paris Commune, when army troops massacred a group of Communards in 1871

– There are 6 private residences situated directly on the park with 24 hour access to the grounds



After Parc Monceau, my partner in all things Paris and I walked back to Charles de Gaulle – Étoile to climb l’Arc de Triomphe. It was a blustery cold day but this is one of my absolute favorite views of the city.



The Arc de Triomphe honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. Inscribed on the inner and outer surfaces of the Arc are names of French victories and generals. Burning in memory of the unidentified dead, the eternal flame at the base of the Arc was the first to be lit in Western and Eastern Europe since the fourth century. It stands alongside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, interred in 1920.

This monument took nearly 30 years to build, but after its completion it saw the passing of both Napoleon’s body in 1840 as it was taken to les Invalides and Victor Hugo’s body in 1885 before being laid to rest in the Panthéon.




And this one’s for you, Emilie…



Paris: 7eme arrondissement

Home. That space between Boulevard Raspail and Boulevard de Grenelle where Napoleon I rests in his enormous tomb and la Tour Eiffel casts a graceful shadow over the École Militaire. Where the Musée d’Orsay and Musée du Quai Branly delight observers with Impressionist paintings and indigenous art. Where I lived on the sleepy and peaceful Rue Saint Dominique for six months during college. The 7th arrondissement will always be one of my favorite (if not most favorite) places in this beautiful City of Lights. Emilie and I lived not more than a mile apart from each other in 2010, and the two of us would agree that there are few reasons to live anywhere but the 7th…as long as you can afford property in this affluent neighborhood.








The 7th arrondissement is highly esteemed as the most aristocratic district of Paris, dating back to the 17th century when nobility started moving out of the Marais to the Faubourg Saint-Germain. It was here that the oldest and most prestigious families built their mansions, such as the Hôtel Matignon, where the French Prime Minister currently resides. This also happens to be on the same street where Emilie lived.


This is the beautiful, green expanse stretching between l’Hôtel National des Invalides and the Seine. One of my favorite parts about living in the 7th was being able to walk past this on afternoon strolls to the Eiffel Tower. Les Invalides is where Napoleon I’s tomb resides and where the Musée de l’Armée showcases the history of the French military.



Pont Alexandre III. Art Nouveau in all her glory. This bridge was built to coincide with the Universal Exhibition along with its close neighbors the Grand Palais and Petit Palais. It is pretty much the epitome of grace and romance right in the middle of Paris.



The Boulevard Saint Germain is one of the true gems of the 7th arrondissement. This was undoubtedly the most important element of Haussmann’s adjustments to Paris in the 19th century. This wide boulevard replaced countless small streets and made way for automobiles and pedestrians alike to easily traverse the 5th, 6th, and 7th arrondissements. For the past century it has been regarded as a highly intellectual and fashionable neighborhood. In the 7th specifically, there are many furniture designers who have set up shop on the ground floors. A particular favorite of mine was always Roche Bobois, which I would walk past every day on my way to class.




Above, the four of us took a break on a stroll through the 7th (which turned into an all-day stroll through the entire city if I’m remembering correctly). This is the Pont de la Concorde, which connects the Place de la Concorde to the Assemblée Nationale, the lower house of the French Parliament. Remarkably, this bridge was constructed during 1787 and 1791. Any French history buff would know that the French Revolution occurred right in the middle of this. Some of the stones in this bridge were actually taken from the demolished Bastille.

One of my favorite residences in the 7th is on Rue de Varenne (just like the Prime Minister). This is the Musée Rodin, a museum which opened in 1919 to showcase the works and life of sculptor Auguste Rodin. Rodin himself actually rented out several rooms on the ground floor of this building (officially the Hôtel Biron) to house his sculptures, and this ultimately became his personal studio. Upon his request, the Hôtel Biron was converted into a museum for his property, archives and the contents of his studio after his death.