Paris is likely to end up as markontour’s most visited metropolis of 2015, although I suspect the city has won greater accolades. I just wish I had more time to explore on my regular work trips, not least because there must be more museums per square mile in central Paris than anywhere else on Earth. Let’s call this Paris guide work in progress and I look forward to further investigation.
Museums & places of interest
In the year of COP 21 I regularly come to Paris City Hall for meetings and it is hard not to be distracted by the extraordinary opulence of this ‘people’s palace’, designed after the French revolution to give the new republic a venue to rival Versailles. In room after room murals depict post-1789 progress and no doubt provide a pictorial history of France if only I ever had the time to stop and study.
A short walk from City Hall this medium-sized museum offers a cracking gallery devoted to the Paris Commune, a fine line in seventeenth century shop signs (see above), and the philosophers’ chair in which Voltaire died, arguing with Rousseau to his last breath.
What an unexpected pleasure this place was! Freaky African masks, exquisite Berber jewellry and, for the hot chocolate lovers, a whole selection of Mayan mugs designed for the beverage this ancient south American civilisation wrongly believed to be the drink of the gods. Ah, if only they knew that celestial beings prefer a good pint of Burton ale.
Taking over the sculptor’s former house and studio, the Musee Rodin is a fine place to spend an afternoon. Most of the pieces are staged outside in the garden, including the incredible bronze of six Calais burghers who sacrificed themselves to save the town from the wrath of the King of England, captured by Rodin on their way to be executed (see below). Obviously Le Penseur captivates the biggest crowds, but am I allowed to admit that my favourite moment was finding Van Gogh’s ‘Portrait of Pere Tanguy’ upstairs in what would once have been a bedroom?
Ambassade d’Auvergene, 22 Rue du Grenier Saint-Lazare
According to the photos and other memorabilia that lines the walls, this place has been here forever. Proper rustic fare including an impossibly rich signature chocolate mousse big enough to fill three of my stomachs.
Vivant, 43 Rue des Petites Ecuries
Incredible food in tiny portions are served in this narrow, chic side-street restaurant. Not one for vegetarians sadly, but the trout and beetroot starter was one of the finest fish dishes to enrich my palate.
Bars and music
Point Ephemere, 10th Arrondisement
A river-side collective-run music venue and bar that serves Thai street food, alongside a combined table- tennis and gallery area. It reminds me a lot of Dalston’s wonderful Passing Clouds nightclub, not least because we saw an incredible Afro-beat band here.
By day this place appears to be a kind of hipster library/cafe, but at night it hosts indie gigs (based on my incredibly small sample of forthcoming shows and one actual concert) in an acoustically impressive box for a few hundred people.