Tuesday, July 27, 2010

La Promenade Plantée AKA Coulée verte - A hidden gem

Paris is not just about the the Champs Elysee, the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre. Paris is also about great parks and interesting walks. One of my new favorites is La Promenade Plantée (AKA la Coulée Verte) which was the idea of a certain Philippe Mathieux and Jacques Vergely, who turned over the former railway track which connected the Place de la Bastille to Varenne-Saint-Maur. The result was a fantastic green space combining wild vegetation and a modern cultured garden of 6.5 hectacres taking you across the 12th district all the way to the Bois de Vincennes (another one of my favorite picnic spots). Underneath the former elevated track are the arcades (Viaduc des Arts), which are now occupied by various specialty boutiques.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fun for the whole family

Paris can sometimes seem daunting if you are traveling with children. After long days wandering around museums and eating fancy French food, why not treat your kids to a fun day or evening out?

The Fête des Tuileries happens every July and August at the Jardin des Tuileries (the big park between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde). The fun, carnival atmosphere has taken place every summer for more than 20 years and will go until the 22nd of August. There are plenty of rides and games (and don't forget the candy floss - aka barbe a papa or cotton candy!) to keep the entire family occupied. You can either pay per ride or get a pass for 28€ which gives you access to all eighteen rides and is good for the entire time the fair is going on. My favorite ride is the carousel which has an amazing view of Paris once you get to the top. Whether you are young or old, its sure that you will have a good time at the fair!

What: Fête des Tuileries
When: 26 June - 22 August
Where: Metro Tuileries or Concorde

photo credits: Stacey Pedersen Photography

Friday, July 16, 2010

Watch a film under the stars!

Whenever Paris starts to get warm and sunny, Parisians flock to terraces and parks to take advantage of the nice weather. Nighttime is no exception. One of my favorite ways to spend a summer evening outdoors is going to the “Cinéma en Plein Air”, or the open air cinema at the Parc de la Villette. As the name suggests, it is an outdoor film festival held during July and August. Every year there is a theme, and this year’s coincides with the fact that this is the 20th anniversary of the festival; the choice of films this year tries to capture the magic, passion, curiosity and rebelliousness of youth (some of the films this year include L'Auberge espagnole (Cédric Klapisch), Cry Baby (John Waters), Juno (Jason Reitman), Les Etrangers (Eskil Vogt), Simple Men (Hal Hartley), Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi), Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona (Woody Allen), and of course Grease (Randal Kleiser)). There is no charge to attend the festival and the films are shown in “VO” which means that the film is shown in the original language it was filmed in, with French subtitles if necessary. The projections start after sundown but most people get there much earlier to have picnics with their friends and to make sure they get a good spot.

What: Cinéma en Plein Air
Where: Parc de la Villette
211, Avenue Jean Jaures
75019 Paris
Metro: Porte de Pantin
Bus: 75, 151, PC2, PC3
When: 17 July – 22 August 2010, at sundown (view sunset times HERE)
Cost: Free

You can check out the entire list of films HERE.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Velib - The freedom to ride at your leisure in Paris - Maybe!

About 3 years ago (my God time has flown by), I wrote about those fabulous bikes that had been popping up all over the city which risked ticking off the conventional bike rental shops a bit due to their convenience in terms of location and ease of use with little or no commitment. The Velib' (click here to read my 2007 post), when it appeared was quickly embraced by many Parisians and more and more Velib' stands have been and are still being built across the city and into the suburbs. But if you have ever come across the stand at the upper part of rue Lepic, you probably have thought, there just aren't enough bikes- but they are trying. A friend once told me a funny story about riding around one night with a Velib only to find that there were no open spots left at his destination so he ended up riding around till he found himself back exactly where he had started. Ha ha!

But back to the subject at hand - One of the questions many tourists have, particularly our non-European guests, is if they can also make use of these fabulous bikes, well the answer is yes and no. It is not that you can't use them - though they were in fact destined for local use, but that you may have difficulty actually getting the machines to give you a pass to rent them. What most US-based credit cards lack is the chip which you will require to be able to use the machines. Without the chip, you will not be able to benefit from the numerous bikes that are available across the city.

So what to do when you still want to feel the wind in your hair and dodge the cars passing by and honking at you? Well before you leave the States you can ask your bank about issuing you a credit card containing a chip - rare but not completely uncommon in the US. Or - and this is where the traditional bike rental shops are great, go into one of the rental shops and rent your bike for the day.

Courtesy of the Paris.fr website, here are a list of a few rental places in Paris - the list is far from exhaustive:

There is apparently also now a Velib application for the iPhone (but you have to have the French App Store). It can tell you where you have available bikes based on your own location or based on an address that you enter in the search field - not that is cool! I just downloaded it to test it out. Here's a pic:

Bonne promenade!

2e arrondissement

Allo Vélo (Rentals, sales and repair shop)

44, rue des Petits Carreaux

01 40 35 36 36

From Monday to Friday (10h-19h)



3e arrondissement

Bicloune (Rentals, Sales)

93, bd Beaumarchais




Vélovia (Rentals, sales & repairs)

24, rue Dupetit Thouars

01 48 04 84 91


Paris Charms secrets (guided tours)

106, rue Vieille du Temple

01 40 29 00 00

06 60 69 26 26



4e arrondissement

Ecox (rental of electric bikes)

23, rue de Rivoli

01 42 71 56 39


5e arrondissement

Au point vélo hollandais (rental, sales and repairs)

83, boulevard Saint-Michel

01 43 54 85 36



Gepetto et vélos (rentals, sales & repairs)

59, rue du Cardinal Lemoine

01 43 54 19 95



Paris Vélo - Rent a Bike (guided tours)

2, rue du Fer à Moulin

01 43 37 59 22


La bicyclette électrique (Rental, sales and repairs)

51, rue Claude Bernard

Monday to Saturday (10:00-7:00 PM)


7e arrondissement

Bike'n Roller (rentals, sales and repairs)

38, rue Fabert

Esplanade des invalides

01 45 50 38 27

City Folies (bike rentals, segway, ettrike)

avenue Gustave Eiffel

06 80 07 18 42

9e arrondissement

Velo Electro (rentals, sales and repairs)

50, rue Saint-Georges




11e arrondissement

Paris à vélo, c'est sympa (Guided tours, repairs and rentals )

22, rue Alphonse Baudin

01 48 87 60 01



12e arrondissement

Belleville Lowrider (rentals and sales)

23, rue de toul

01 44 87 09 66


13e arrondissement

Buzibi (rentals, sales and repairs)

67, rue Croulebarbe

01 47 07 16 75


15e arrondissement

Néo Vélo (rentals, sales and repairs)

27, rue de Cronstadt

01 40 43 93 04



Roulez champions (rentals, sales and repairs)

5, rue Humblot

01 40 58 12 22


Fat Tire Bike Tours Paris (Guided tours)

24, rue Edgar Faure

01 56 58 10 54



16e arrondissement

Klocycle (Rentals & Repairs)

104, rue Lauriston

01 45 53 27 67

Paris Cycles (Rentals & guided tours)

Rond-point du jardin d'acclimatation

01 47 47 76 50

17e arrondissement

Mobicity (rentals, sales and repairs)

48, rue Saint-Ferdinand

01 44 09 01 82


19e arrondissement

Cyclo-pouce (rentals, sales and repairs)

38b, quai de la Marne

01 42 41 76 98



Vélo et Chocolat (rentals & sales)

75, quai de la Seine

01 46 07 07 87

20e arrondissement

Paris bike Tour (Guided tours)

103, rue Villiers de l'Isle Adma

01 53 39 13 14

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

le quatorze julliet - bastille day

Le 14 julliet (also known as La Fête Nationale, or Bastille Day) is one of the most celebrated holidays in France since Benjamin Raspail proposed it in 1880. The day commemorates the storming of the Bastille at the start of the French Revolution on July 14, 1789.

The Bastille was a fortress-prison, which housed many political prisoners, arms and ammunition. Oppressed by the rule of Louis XVI, people of Paris stormed the Bastille to challenge the absolute rule of the monarchy and to try to obtain arms and ammunition to protect the general public. The thing was, there were actually only 7 inmates at the time of the attack (which also meant there weren’t many guards). The commander, Governor de Launay, surrendered when he saw the huge mob outside the fort, which calmed the fighting for at least a little while. But, after some unknown misunderstanding, the fighting resumed and about 108 people were killed. The good thing was that the storming of the Bastille led to the abolition of feudalism and to the proclamation of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen.

The celebrations around Paris start with a military parade on the Champs-Elysées at 10 AM. Get there early if you want to be able to see anything, though! Wandering the streets, you’ll see a bunch of concerts, and picnics, and Parisians lazily wandering the city enjoying their day off. Then its off to the Champ-de-Mars at 10PM to watch the fireworks at the Trocadéro. After that, why not head off to your local fire station where there are free parties – called “le bal des pompiers” that last until the wee hours of the morning?

If you are in Paris this year for the 14 julliet, check out the official website here and make sure to celebrate in style!

photo credits: Stacey Pedersen Photography

Time for a Swim - Pools in Paris

I often have guests asking about pools to take their kids to when in Paris. Each district has its city pool but sometimes the hours can be a tad restrictive if you are here during the school year. During the "Les Grandes vacances" (Summer holiday season), the hours are much more accessible.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cooling down on a Hot Summer's Day

As the temperature is rising and you are trying to find ways to keep cool in the city of lights, why not try going to Paris' aquatic theme park, Aquaboulevard?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hot Summer's Day in the City of Light? Time for Ice-Cream!

After hitting the pavement running, muscling your way through the boutiques and the department stores to catch the latest sale item during the 5 weeks of "Soldes" (Sales), you may be feeling a bit tapped out money-wise or energy-wise but there is always room for ice-cream as far as I am concerned.

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