(M: Saint-Paul, Hôtel de Ville, Bastille)
January Scholar participants resided in the Grand Hôtel Jeanne d'Arc in the Marais. This quartier has seen centuries of history and changes; it was declared a historical monument in 1962. Many ethnic groups now reside there, the most famous of which being the Jewish street Rue des Rosiers, as well as the homosexual section. This quartier is dotted with little magasins (stores),pâtisseries (pastry shops), and brasseries (bars). It also houses la Place de la Bastille, l'Eglise de St-Paul, and la Place des Vosges.
"The Marais was our quartier, our homebase. It was always alive; there were always little streets to explore or designer stores with huge SOLDES signs up to browse through or little squares to sit in. After spending two weeks there, I still didn’t feel like I had even “discovered” a fraction of it. I loved the history that was there, and all the changes the area had gone through over the years.
"One day I dragged Orlando to la Rue des Rosiers with me, which is the heart of the Jewish quarter. It is lined with bakeries and kosher restaurants, and though he isn’t a big pastrami fan, we did find a really good falafel restaurant. Another afternoon I was lucky enough to stumble on the interconnecting, cobbled courtyards of the Village St-Paul; they were connected by passageways, and surrounded by a charming bunch of workshops, galleries, and antique and craft shops. It was great to discover something on my own that most guidebooks don’t even bother to mention, yet that I really enjoyed. Hidden jewels like that are all over the Marais; it’s just a matter of getting out on your own feet and finding them." (SC)
Le Quartier Latin
(M: St. Michel, Cluny-la-Sorbonne)
This very elegant part of Paris is home to the Panthéon, and is a very popular hangout for students who attend La Sorbonne or another area university. This busy quarter is also teeming with lively meeting places, full of bookstores, cafés, movie theaters, and clubs, as well as the St. Etienne-du-Mont Church.
(M: Anvers, Abbesses)
The famous church of Sacré-Cœur crowns this hilly quartier of Paris. It is probably
the most splendid little neighborhood in Paris, retaining a village atmosphere. Montmartre is inseparable from art; Van Gogh, Picasso, and Dali painted here in years past, and today painters often make portraits at la Place du Tertre down the street from the Sacré-Cœur.
"Montmartre rivals the Marais as my favorite quarter in Paris. Stephanie and I explored this sacred section of Paris for a few days. It is a very classy part of town, yet it also possesses that homey feeling. It is not over-industrialized, but reflects the rich and lively culture of Paris. The Sacré-Cœur (Sacred Heart), is a picturesque church built on the apex of a hill. Painters thrive in this section of Paris. We also happened to visit the cemetery at Montmartre. Personally, I'm not a big fan of cemeteries or crypts, but I found that the tombstones were very ornate, large, and beautiful. Altogether, Montmartre is a rather, quiet village - a relic of earlier French culture." (AN)
The modern art museum Centre Georges Pompidou is at the heart of the Rue Beaubourg. The museum, a colorful example of modern architecture, stands out in this generally classic French street. A few blocks down from the Rue Beaubourg, you can shop at the underground Forum des Halles shopping center, a former open-air food market.
Ile de la Cité
Ile de la Cité is the home of Notre Dame, one of France's most famous tourist attractions. Paris began as a modest village on this island, and has since expanded to the grande ville that it is today. Ile de la Cité is now dotted with severalpâtisseries, brasseries, and elegant restaurants, along with the historic Conciergerie and Sainte-Chapelle.
"Ile de la Cité is one of Paris’s smallest quartiers. But as Caglar and I discovered when we spent a day in the island, it is full of interesting things to do. If you’re unfamiliar with it, Ile de la Cité is where you will find the famous Notre Dame Cathedral. It is also home to several of Paris’s most common attractions. One of my favorites was the Conciergerie: an enormous prison dating back to the 14th century, and famous for housing those who would be guillotined during the French Revolution. The Sainte-Chapelle, although under restoration, was also an impressive building, with unequaled stained glass windows and gothic-styled ceilings. We also found two “hidden treasures” in the surrounding square of the Notre Dame: the Hôtel Dieu, and the Mémorial à la Déportation. The Hôtel Dieu, currently a hospital, was built in the 7th century and is an architectural marvel. If you can somehow get in without having to visit a patient, I highly recommend it. I suggest you start a tour of the island from the historic Pont Neuf and continue along the little streets until reaching the other tip at the Mémorial à la Déportation, which commemorates the French Jews sent to concentration camps during the Nazi occupation." (OJ)
(M: Esplanade de la Défense)
La Défense is the business district of Paris, full of towering skyscrapers and la Grande Arche, an enormous hollow cube large enough to contain Notre Dame. It also is the home to a building that looks like a Double Kresge.
"Walk through Paris and you’ll see block after block of charming old buildings, but where are the skyscrapers? Take the Métro just beyond the city limits to find la Défense, Paris’s ultra-modern business district. The buildings are all steel and glass, twisted into fascinating spaces that are anything but rectangular. The pièce de résistance is the la Grande Arche, an immense square ring built in 1989 to commemorate the bicentenary of the Revolution. Stand in front of it facing Paris, and you’ll notice not only a fastastic panorama of the city, but also a clear, distant view of l’Arc de Triomphe. The deliberate juxtaposition of these two structures is an interesting tribute to both France’s past glory and future prosperity." (TK)
(58, Boulevard de Courcelles, M: Monceau)
The charming Chartres Pavilion welcomes you to this picturesque park. It is dotted with Roman pools, Corinthian columns, and gothic statues enveloped by shrubbery.
"I visited this park twice during the trip. The first time, Orlando and I jogged there, thanks to a suggestion from Sophie. The park was beautiful. It wasn't as big or hilly as le Parc des Buttes Chaumont, but it was very nicely landscaped. There was a small pond with some ruined Roman-like columns on one side of it, and statues litter la pelouse (the lawn). There were a fair amount of other runners there, and crowds of children on the playground.
"I went back with Josh and Caglar a few days later, and the time we spent there ended up being two of my favorite hours during the entire trip. It was a beautiful day, sunny but still chilly. Caglar and I took naps, until an official-looking lady came over and asked if I was okay and said I couldn't put my feet on the bench. Then I walked around. Since it was nice weather, there were a lot of people out, the majority of which were little babies with their parents or nannies. Those babies were the cutest: bundled up, rosy-cheeked, French-speaking babies. Parisians dress well, so of course their babies were dressed wonderfully too, and it was great just to watch them wander and waddle all of the pathways, with their mothers following close behind. I bought some hot chocolate from a stand there, and just strolled around, drinking and taking pictures of all the babies. I was so happy, just being there. On this trip, it was the simple things that made me the happiest, and this was one of them." (SC)
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
(Rues Botzaris, Manin, M: Buttes-Chaumont, Botzaris)
Le Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is a beautiful, hilly park encompassing a lake, waterfalls, and a towering cave. At the apex of a little Roman-style temple in the park, one has a gorgeous view of Montmartre and St. Denis.
"If you want to do something completely original and anti-touristy in Paris, go jogging. It is a great way to see parts of the city that you wouldn’t normally see (and to burn some of those calories!). On our second day in Paris, Stephanie, Andy, and I decided to take a jog over to the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. It is a beautiful park dating back to the 1860’s located in the north of Paris (10th arrondissement). The park is adorned with beautiful trees, bridges, and especially waterfalls. If you hike up the hilly slopes, you’ll get an amazing view of Paris, Montmartre, and St. Denis. Visiting the park was definitely a highlight of my trip. If you want to visit and don’t feel like jogging (it was more than 10 miles there and back to our hotel!), there is a Métro stop called Buttes-Chaumont that will take you there. Enjoy!" (OJ)