Sunday, April 1, 2007

Frommer's Guide to Paris (France) - Part 1: Walking Tours


Discovering the City of Light and making it your own has always been the most compelling reason to visit Paris. If you're a first-timer, everything, of course, will be new to you. If you've been away for a while, expect changes: Taxi drivers may no longer correct your fractured French but address you in English -- tantamount to a revolution. More Parisians have a rudimentary knowledge of the language, and France, at least at first glance, seems less xenophobic than in past years. Paris, aware of its role within a united Europe, is an international city. Parisians are attracted to foreign music, videos, and films, especially those from America, even though most French people violently disagree with the political dictates emerging from George Bush's Washington.

Though Paris is in flux culturally and socially, it lures travelers for the same reasons it always has. You'll still find classic sights like the Tour Eiffel, Notre-Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, Sacré-Coeur, and all those atmospheric cafes, as well as daringly futuristic projects like the Grande Arche de La Défense, the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie, the Cité de la Musique, and the Bibliothèque François-Mitterrand. And don't forget the parks, gardens, and squares; the Champs-Elysées and other grand boulevards; and the river Seine and its quays. Paris's beauty is still overwhelming, especially at night, when it truly is the City of Light.

The Best Walks:

The best way to discover Paris is on foot. Our favorite walks are along the Seine and down the Champs-Elysées from the Arc de Triomphe to the Louvre. In this section we highlight the attractions of Montmartre, the Latin Quarter, and the Marais. For more walking tours in the City of Light, see Frommer's Memorable Walks in Paris.

Walking Tour #1: Montmartre.

Striding a hill atop Paris, Montmartre used to be a village of artists, glorified by masters such as Utrillo, painted, sketched, sculpted, and photographed by 10,000 lesser lights. Today it's overrun by tourists, building speculators, and nightclub entrepreneurs who moved in as the artists moved out. But a few still linger. And so does much of the village-like charm of this place. Of all the places for wandering the cobbled streets of old Paris, Montmartre, especially in its back streets and alleyways, gets our vote. The center point is the Place du Tertre, where you can head out on your journey of exploration. Gleaming through the trees from here is the Basilica of Sacré-Coeur, built in an oddly Oriental neo-Byzantine style. Behind the church and clinging to the hillside below are steep and crooked little streets that seem -- almost -- to have survived the relentless march of progress. Rue des Saules still has Montmartre's last vineyard. The rue Lepic still looks -- almost -- the way Renoir, the melancholic Van Gogh, and the dwarfish genius Toulouse-Lautrec saw it.

Start: Place Pigalle (Métro: Pigalle). Finish: Place Pigalle.

Time: 5 hours, more if you break for lunch. It's a 4km (2 1/2-mile) trek.

Best Time: Any day it isn't raining. Set out by 10am at the latest.

Worst Time: After dark.

Soft-white three-story houses and slender barren trees stick up from the ground like giant toothpicks -- that's how Utrillo, befogged by absinthe, saw Montmartre. Toulouse-Lautrec painted it as a district of cabarets, circus freaks, and prostitutes. Today Montmartre remains truer to the dwarfish Toulouse-Lautrec's conception than it does to Utrillo's.

Before all this, Montmartre was a sleepy farm community with windmills dotting the landscape. The name has always been the subject of disagreement, some arguing it originated from the "mount of Mars," a Roman temple at the top of the hill, others asserting it's "mount of martyrs," a reference to the martyrdom of St. Denis, who was beheaded here with fellow saints Rusticus and Eleutherius.

Turn right after leaving the Métro station and go down boulevard de Clichy; turn left at the Cirque Medrano, and begin the climb up rue des Martyrs. On reaching rue des Abbesses, turn left and walk along this street, crossing place des Abbesses. Go uphill along rue Ravignan, which leads to tree-studded place Emile-Goudeau, in the middle of rue Ravignan. At no. 13, across from the Timhôtel, is the:

1. Bateau-Lavoir (Boat Washhouse)

Though gutted by fire in 1970, this building, known as the cradle of cubism, has been reconstructed by the city. While Picasso lived here (1904-12), he painted one of the world's most famous portraits, The Third Rose (of Gertrude Stein), as well as Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. Other residents were van Dongen, Jacob, and Gris; Modigliani, Rousseau, and Braque had studios nearby.

Rue Ravignan ends at place Jean-Baptiste-Clément. Go to the end of the street and cross onto rue Norvins (on your right). Here rues Norvins, St-Rustique, and des Saules collide a few steps from rue Poulbot, a scene captured in a famous Utrillo painting. Turn right and go down rue Poulbot. At no. 11 you come to:

2. Espace Dalí Montmartre

The phantasmagoric world of Espace Dalí Montmartre (tel. 01-42-64-40-10) features 300 original Dalí works, including his famous 1956 lithograph of Don Quixote.

Rue Poulbot crosses tiny:

3. Place du Calvaire

Here you find a panoramic view of Paris. On this square once lived artist/painter/lithographer Maurice Neumont (a plaque marks the house).

From place du Calvaire, head east along rue Gabrielle, taking the first left north along the tiny rue du Calvaire, which leads to:

4. Place du Tertre

This old town square is tourist central. All around the square are terrace restaurants with dance floors and colored lights, while Sacré-Coeur gleams through the trees. The cafes overflow with people, as do the indoor and outdoor art galleries. Some of the "artists" still wear berets (you'll be asked countless times if you want your portrait sketched). The square is so loaded with local color that it can seem gaudy and inauthentic.

Take a Break--Many restaurants in Montmartre, especially those around place du Tertre, are unabashed tourist traps. An exception is La Crémaillère 1900, 15 place du Tertre, 18e (tel. 01-46-06-58-59). As its name suggests, this is a Belle Epoque dining room, retaining much of its original look, including many paintings. You can sit on the terrace opening onto the square or retreat to the courtyard garden. A full menu is served throughout the day, including a standard array of French classics. Go any time daily from noon to 12:30am.

Right off the square fronting rue du Mont-Cenis is:

5. St-Pierre

Originally a Benedictine abbey, this church has played many roles: a Temple of Reason during the Revolution, a food depot, a clothing store, and even a munitions factory. These days, one of Paris's oldest churches is back to being a church.

Facing St-Pierre, turn right and follow rue Azaìs to:

6. Sacré-Coeur

The basilica's Byzantine domes and bell tower loom above Paris and present a wide vista. Behind the church, clinging to the hillside, are steep, crooked little streets that have survived the march of progress.

Facing the basilica, take the street on the left (rue du Cardinal-Guibert); then go left onto rue du Chevalier-de-la-Barre and right onto rue du Mont-Cenis. Continue on this street to rue Cortot; then turn left. At no. 12 is the:

7. Musée de Vieux Montmartre

Musée de Vieux Montmartre (tel. 01-46-06-61-11) presents a collection of mementos of the neighborhood. Luminaries like Dufy, van Gogh, Renoir, and Suzanne Valadon and her son, Utrillo, occupied this 17th-century house, and it was here that Renoir put the final touches on his Moulin de la Galette .

From the museum, turn right, heading up rue des Saules past a winery, a reminder of the days when Montmartre was a farming village on the outskirts of Paris. A grape-harvesting festival is held here every October. The intersection of rue des Saules and rue St-Vincent is one of the most-visited and -photographed corners of the butte. Here, on one corner, sits what was the famous old:

8. Cabaret des Assassins

This was long ago renamed Au Lapin Agile. Picasso and Utrillo frequented this little cottage, which numerous artists have patronized and painted. On any given afternoon, French folk tunes, love ballads, army songs, sea chanteys, and music-hall ditties stream out of the cafe and onto the street.

Turn left on rue St-Vincent, passing the Cimetière St-Vincent on your right. Take a left onto rue Girardon and climb the stairs. In a minute or two, you'll spot on your right two of the moulins (windmills) that used to dot the butte. One of these, at no. 75, is the:

9. Moulin de la Galette

This windmill (entrance at 1 av. Junot) was built in 1622 and was immortalized in oil by Renoir (the painting is in the Musée d'Orsay). When it was turned into a dance hall in the 1860s, it was named for the galettes (cakes made with flour ground inside the mills) that were sold here. Later, Toulouse-Lautrec, van Gogh, and Utrillo visited the dance hall. A few steps away, at the angle of rue Lepic and rue Girardon, is the Moulin Radet, now part of a restaurant.

Turn right onto rue Lepic and walk past no. 54. In 1886, van Gogh lived here with his brother, Guillaumin. Take a right turn onto rue Joseph-de-Maistre and then left again on rue Caulaincourt until you reach the:

10. Cimetière de Montmartre

This final resting place is second in fame only to Père-Lachaise and is the haunt of Nijinsky, Dumas fils, Stendhal, Degas, and Truffaut, among others.

From the cemetery, take avenue Rachel; turn left onto boulevard de Clichy; and go to place Blanche, where stands a windmill even better known than the one in Renoir's painting, the:

11. Moulin Rouge

One of the world's most-talked-about nightclubs, Toulouse-Lautrec immortalized the Moulin Rouge. The windmill is still here, and so is the cancan, but the rest has become an expensive, slick variety show with an emphasis on undraped females.

From place Blanche, you can begin a descent on:

12. Boulevard de Clichy

En route, you'll have to fight off the pornographers and hustlers trying to lure you into sex joints. With some rare exceptions, notably the citadels of the chansonniers (songwriters), boulevard de Clichy is one gigantic tourist trap. But everyone who comes to Paris invariably winds up here.

The boulevard strips and peels its way down to where you started:

13. Place Pigalle

The center of nudity in Paris was named after a French sculptor, Pigalle, whose closest brush with nudity was a depiction of Voltaire in the buff. Toulouse-Lautrec had his studio right off the square at 5 av. Frochot. Of course, place Pigalle was the notorious "Pig Alley" of World War II. When Edith Piaf was lonely and hungry, she sang in the alleyways, hoping to earn a few francs for the night.

Walking Tour #2: Quartier Latin.

Over the Seine on the Left Bank, the Latin Quarter lies in the 5th Arrondissement and consists of streets winding around the Paris University, of which the Sorbonne is only a part. The logical starting point is place Saint-Michel, right on the river, with an impressive fountain. From here you can wander at leisure, getting lost as you make the discovery of a warren of dogleg alleys adjoining the river -- rue de la Huchette, rue de la Harpe, rue St-Severin. Each generation makes discoveries of its own, and everything is new again. End up by strolling along Boulevard St-Germain, lined with sophisticated cafes and some of the most avant-garde fashion shops in Paris.

Start: Place St-Michel (Métro: St-Michel). Finish: The Panthéon.

Time: 3 hours, not counting stops.

Best Time: Any weekday from 9am to 4pm.

Worst Time: Sunday morning, when everybody is asleep.

This is the precinct of the Université de Paris (known for its most famous branch, the Sorbonne), where students meet and fall in love over café crème and croissants. Rabelais named it the Quartier Latin after the students and the professors who spoke Latin in the classroom and on the streets. The sector teems with belly dancers, restaurants, cafes, bookstalls, caveaux (basement nightclubs), clochards (bums), chiffonniers (ragpickers), and gamins (kids).

A good starting point for your tour is:

1. Place St-Michel

Balzac used to draw water from the fountain (Davioud's 1860 sculpture of St-Michel slaying the dragon) when he was a youth. This was the scene of frequent skirmishes between the Germans and the Resistance in the summer of 1944, and the names of those who died here are engraved on plaques around the square.

Take a Break--Open 24 hours, Café le Départ St-Michel, 1 place St-Michel (tel. 01-43-54-24-55), lies on the banks of the Seine. The decor is warmly modern, with etched mirrors reflecting the faces of a diversified crowd. If you want to fortify yourself for your walk, opt for one of the warm or cold snacks, including sandwiches.

To the south, you find:

2. Boulevard St-Michel

Also called by locals Boul' Mich, this is the main street of the Latin Quarter as it heads south. This is a major tourist artery and won't give you a great insight into local life. For that, you can branch off onto any of the streets that feed into the boulevard and find cafes, bars, gyro counters, ice cream stands, crepe stands, and bistros like those pictured in movies set in Paris in the 1950s. The Paris Commune began here in 1871, as did the student uprisings of 1968.

From place St-Michel, with your back to the Seine, turn left down:

3. Rue de la Huchette

This typical street was the setting of Elliot Paul's The Last Time I Saw Paris (1942). Paul first wandered here "on a soft summer evening, and entirely by chance," in 1923 and then moved into no. 28, the Hôtel Mont-Blanc. Though much has changed, some of the buildings are so old, they have to be propped up by timbers. Paul captured the spirit of the street more evocatively than anyone, writing of "the delivery wagons, makeshift vehicles propelled by pedaling boys, pushcarts of itinerant vendors, knife-grinders, umbrella menders, a herd of milk goats, and the neighborhood pedestrians." (The local bordello has closed, however.) Today you see lots of Greek restaurants.

Branching off from this street to your left is:

4. Rue du Chat-qui-Pêche

This is said to be the shortest, narrowest street in the world, containing not one door and only a handful of windows. It's usually filled with garbage or lovers or both. Before the quay was built, the Seine sometimes flooded the cellars of the houses, and legend has it that an enterprising cat took advantage of its good fortune and went fishing in the confines of the cellars -- hence the street's name, which means "Street of the Cat Who Fishes."

Now retrace your steps toward place St-Michel and turn left at the intersection with rue de la Harpe, which leads to rue St-Séverin. At the intersection, take a left to see:

5. St-Séverin

A flamboyant Gothic church named for a 6th-century recluse, St-Séverin was built from 1210 to 1230 and was reconstructed in 1458, over the years adopting many of the features of Notre-Dame, across the river. The tower was completed in 1487 and the chapels from 1498 to 1520; Hardouin-Mansart designed the Chapelle de la Communion in 1673 when he was 27, and it contains some beautiful Roualt etchings from the 1920s. Before entering, walk around the church to examine the gargoyles, birds of prey, and reptilian monsters projecting from its roof. To the right, facing the church, is the 15th-century "garden of ossuaries." The stained glass inside St-Séverin, behind the altar, is a stunning adornment using great swaths of color to depict the seven sacraments.

After visiting the church, go back to rue St-Séverin and follow it to rue Galande; then continue on until you reach:

6. St-Julien-le-Pauvre

This church is on the south side of square René-Viviani. First, stand at the gateway and look at the beginning of rue Galande, especially the old houses with the steeples of St-Séverin rising across the way; it's one of the most frequently painted scenes on the Left Bank. Enter the courtyard, and you'll be in medieval Paris. The garden to the left offers the best view of Notre-Dame. Everyone from Rabelais to Thomas Aquinas has passed through the doors of this church. Before the 6th century, a chapel stood on this spot. The present church goes back to the Longpont monks, who began work on it in 1170 (making it the oldest church in Paris). In 1655, it was given to the Hôtel Dieu and in time became a small warehouse for salt. In 1889, it was presented to the followers of the Melchite Greek rite, a branch of the Byzantine church.

Return to rue Galande and turn left at the intersection with rue St-Séverin. Continue until you reach rue St-Jacques, turn left, and turn right when you reach boulevard St-Germain. Follow this boulevard to rue de Cluny, turn left, and head toward the entrance to the:

7. Musée de Cluny

Even if you're rushed, see The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries and the remains of the Roman baths.

After your visit to the Cluny, exit onto boulevard St-Michel, but instead of heading back to place St-Michel, turn left and walk to place de la Sorbonne and the:

8. Sorbonne

One of the most famous academic institutions in the world, the Sorbonne was founded in the 13th century by Robert de Sorbon, St. Louis's confessor, for poor students who wished to pursue theological studies. By the next century it had become the most prestigious university in the West, attracting such professors as Thomas Aquinas and Roger Bacon and such students as Dante, Calvin, and Longfellow. Napoleon reorganized it in 1806. The courtyard and galleries are open to the public when the university is in session. In the Cour d'Honneur are statues of Hugo and Pasteur. At first glance from place de la Sorbonne, the Sorbonne seems architecturally undistinguished. In truth, it was rather indiscriminately reconstructed in the early 1900s. A better fate lay in store for the:

9. Eglise de la Sorbonne

Built in 1635 by Le Mercier, this church contains the marble tomb of Cardinal Richelieu, a work by Girardon based on a design by Le Brun. At his feet is the remarkable statue Learning in Tears.

From the church, go south on rue Victor-Cousin and turn left at rue Soufflot. At the street's end lie place du Panthéon and the:

10 Panthéon

Sitting atop Mont St-Geneviève, this nonreligious temple is the final resting place of such distinguished figures as Hugo, Zola, Rousseau, Voltaire, and Curie.

Walking Tour #3: Le Marais.

Very few cities on earth boast an entire district that can be labeled a sight. Paris has several, including the vaguely defined maze of streets north of Place de la Bastille, known as Le Marais, or "the marshland." During the 17th century, this was a region of aristocratic mansions, which lost their elegance when the fashionable set moved elsewhere. The houses lost status, but they remain standing and restored today, as the once-decaying Marais has been gentrified. Today it's one of the most fashionable districts in Paris, home to funky shops, offbeat hotels, dozens of bistros, hot bars, and "gay Paree."

Start: Place de la Bastille (Métro: Bastille).

Finish: Place de la Bastille.

Time: 4 1/2 hours, with only brief stops en route. The distance is about 4.5km (2 3/4 miles).

Best Time: Monday to Saturday, when more buildings and shops are open. If interiors are open, often you can walk into courtyards.

Worst Time: Toward dusk, when shops and museums are closed and it's too dark to admire the architectural details.

When Paris began to overflow the confines of Ile de la Cité in the 13th century, the citizenry began to settle in Le Marais, a marsh that used to be flooded by the Seine. By the 17th century, the Marais had become the center of aristocratic Paris, and some of its great hôtels particuliers (mansions), many now restored or still being spruced up, were built by the finest craftsmen in France. In the 18th and 19th centuries, fashion deserted the Marais for the expanding Faubourg St-Germain and Faubourg St-Honoré. Industry took over, and once-elegant hotels deteriorated into tenements. There was talk of demolishing the neighborhood, but in 1962 the community banded together and saved the historic district.

Today, the 17th-century mansions are fashionable once again. The International Herald Tribune called this area the latest refuge for the Paris artisan fleeing the tourist-trampled St-Germain-des-Prés. (However, that doesn't mean the area doesn't get its share of tourist traffic -- quite the contrary.) The "marsh" sprawls across the 3rd and 4th arrondissements, bounded by the Grands Boulevards, rue du Temple, place des Vosges, and the Seine. It has become Paris's center of gay/lesbian life, particularly on rues St-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie, des Archives, and Vieille-du-Temple, and is a great place for window-shopping at trendy boutiques, up-and-coming galleries, and more.

Begin your tour at the site that spawned one of the most celebrated and abhorred revolutions in human history:

1. Place de la Bastille

On July 14, 1789, a mob attacked the Bastille prison located here, igniting the French Revolution. Now, nothing of this symbol of despotism remains. Built in 1369, it loomed over Paris with eight huge towers. Within them, many prisoners, some sentenced by Louis XIV for "witchcraft," were kept, the best known being the "Man in the Iron Mask." Yet when the revolutionary mob stormed the fortress, only seven prisoners were discovered. (The Marquis de Sade had been shipped to the madhouse 10 days earlier.) The authorities had discussed razing it, so the attack meant little. But what it symbolized and what it unleashed can never be undone, and each July 14 the country celebrates Bastille Day with great festivity. Since the late 1980s, what had been scorned as a grimy-looking traffic circle has become an artistic focal point, thanks to the construction of the Opéra Bastille on its eastern edge.

It was probably easier to storm the Bastille in 1789 than it is now to cross over to the center of the square for a close-up view of the:

2. Colonne de Juillet

The July Column doesn't commemorate the Revolution but honors the victims of the July Revolution of 1830, which put Louis-Philippe on the throne after the heady but wrenching victories and defeats of Napoleon Bonaparte. The winged God of Liberty, whose forehead bears an emerging star, crowns the tower.

From place de la Bastille, walk west along rue St-Antoine for about a block. Turn right and walk north along rue des Tournelles, noting the:

3. Statue of Beaumarchais

Erected in 1895, it honors the 18th-century author of The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro, set to music by Rossini and Mozart, respectively.

Continue north for a long block along rue des Tournelles; then turn left at medieval-looking rue Pas-de-la-Mule (Footsteps of the Mule), which will open suddenly onto the northeastern corner of enchanting:

4. Place des Vosges

This is Paris's oldest square and once its most fashionable, boasting 36 brick-and-stone pavilions rising from covered arcades that allowed people to shop no matter what the weather. The buildings were constructed according to a strict plan: The height of the facades is equal to their width, and the height of the triangular roofs is half the height of the facades. In 1559, Henri II was killed while jousting on a spot near the Hôtel des Tournelles; his widow, Catherine de Médicis, had the place torn down. The current square was begun in 1605 on Henri IV's orders and called place Royal; the king intended the square to be the scene of businesses and social festivities and even planned to live there, but Ravaillac had other plans and assassinated Henri 2 years before its completion in 1612. By the 17th century, the square was the home of many aristocrats. During the Revolution, it was renamed place de l'Invisibilité, and its statue of Louis XIII was stolen (and probably melted down). A replacement now stands in its place.

In 1800, the square was renamed place des Vosges because the Vosges département (an administrative unit) was the first in France to pay its taxes to Napoleon. The addition of chestnut trees sparked a controversy; critics say they spoil the perspective. Even though its fortunes waned when the Marais went out of fashion, place des Vosges is back big-time. Over the years, the famous often took up residence: Descartes, Pascal, Cardinal Richelieu, courtesan Marion Delorme, Gautier, Daudet, and Mme de Sévigné all lived here. But its best-known occupant was Victor Hugo (his home, now a museum, is the only house open to the public).

Place des Vosges is the centerpiece of many unusual, charming, and/or funky shops. At 20 place des Vosges is one of the best of these:

5. Deborah Chock

This shop (tel. 01-48-04-86-86) sells reproductions of the colorful and contemporary paintings of Deborah Chock, who is noted for the pithy phrases on the background of her paintings that reflect insights from the worlds of poetry, philosophy, and psychoanalysis. Use it as a debut before you explore the many other art galleries in the neighborhood. The staff is English speaking and well versed in the currents of the Paris art scene.

Take a Break--Two cafes hold court from opposite sides of place des Vosges, both serving café au lait, wine, eaux de vie (brandies), sandwiches, pastries, and tea: Ma Bourgogne at no. 19 (tel. 01-42-78-44-64), on the western edge, and La Chope des Vosges at no. 22 (tel. 01-42-72-64-04).

Near the square's southeastern corner at 6 place des Vosges, commemorating the life and times of a writer whose works were read with passion in the 19th century, is the:

6. Maison de Victor Hugo

Hugo's former home is now a museum (tel. 01-42-72-10-16) and literary shrine. Hugo lived there from 1832 to 1848, when he went into voluntary exile on the Channel Islands after the rise of the despotic Napoleon III.

Exit from place des Vosges from its northwestern corner (opposite the Maison de Victor Hugo) and walk west along rue des Francs-Bourgeois until you reach the intersection with rue de Sévigné; then make a right. At no. 23 is the:

7. Musée Carnavalet

This 16th-century mansion is now a museum (tel. 01-44-59-58-32) devoted to the history of Paris and the French Revolution.

Continue to a point near the northern terminus of rue de Sévigné, noting no. 29 (now part of the Carnavalet). This is the:

8. Hôtel le Peletier de St-Fargeau

The structure bears the name of its former occupant, who was considered responsible for the death sentence of Louis XVI. It's used as offices and can't be visited.

At the end of the street, make a left onto lovely rue du Parc-Royal, lined with 17th-century mansions. It leads to place de Thorigny, where at no. 5 you'll find the:

9. Musée Picasso

The museum occupies the Hôtel Salé, built by a salt-tax collector. You can visit the museum now or come back at the end of the tour.

Walk northeast along rue Thorigny and turn left onto rue Debelleyme. After a block, near the corner of rue Vieille-du-Temple, at 108 rue Vieille-du-Temple, is a particularly worthwhile art gallery (among dozens in this neighborhood):

10. Yvon Lambert

This gallery (tel. 01-42-71-09-33) specializes in contemporary and sometimes radically avant-garde art by international artists. The art is displayed in a cavernous main showroom, spilling over into an annex room. An excellent primer for the local arts scene, it provides an agreeable contrast to the 17th-century trappings all around you.

Continue north for 2 short blocks along rue Debelleyme until you reach rue de Bretagne. Anyone who appreciates a really good deli will want to stop at 14 rue de Bretagne:

11. Les Iles Grecques

This deli (tel. 01-42-71-00-56) is the most popular of the area's ethnic take-out restaurants, a perfect place to buy picnic supplies before heading to square du Temple (up rue de Bretagne) or place des Vosges. You'll find moussaka, stuffed eggplant, stuffed grape leaves, olives, tarama (a savory paste made from fish roe), and both meatballs and vegetarian balls. It's open Monday from 4 to 8pm and Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 2pm and 3:30 to 8pm.

After you fill up on great food, note that at the same address is:

12. Hier, Aujourd'hui, et Demain

At this shop (tel. 01-42-77-69-02) you can appreciate France's love affair with 1930s Art Deco. Michel, the owner, provides an array of bibelots and art objects, with one of the widest selections of colored glass in town. Works by late-19th-century glassmakers such as Daum, Gallé, and Legras are shown. Some items require special packing and great care in transport; others can be carted home as souvenirs.

Now walk southeast along rue Charlot to no. 10 at the corner of rue Pastourelle, where you'll be tempted by the fabrics of:

13. Dominique Picquier

Looking to redo your settee? This stylish shop (tel. 01-42-72-39-14) sells a wide roster of fabric (50% cotton, 50% linen) that stands up to rugged use. Most patterns are based on some botanical inspiration, like ginkgo leaves, vanilla pods and vines, and magnolia branches. Most cost 46€ ($53) per meter (3 1/4 ft.), although some particularly plush velvets can go as high as 128€ ($147) per meter.

Nearby, at 9 rue Charlot, adjacent to the corner of rue Charlot and rue du Perche, is the Marais's large experimental art gallery, the:

14. Passage de Retz

Opened in 1994, this avant-garde gallery (tel. 01-48-04-37-99) has about 630 sq. m (6,781 sq. ft.) of space to show off its highly amusing exhibits. It has shown Japanese textiles, American abstract expressionist paintings, modern Venetian glass, contemporary Haitian paintings, and selections from affiliated art galleries in Québec.

Walk 1 block farther along rue Charlot, turn left for a block onto rue des 4 Fils; then go right on rue Vieille-du-Temple to no. 87, where you'll come across Delamair's:

15. Hôtel de Rohan

The fourth Cardinal Rohan, the larcenous cardinal of the "diamond necklace scandal" that led to a flood of destructive publicity for Marie Antoinette, once lived here. The first occupant of the hotel was reputed to be the son of Louis XVI. The interior is usually closed to the public except during an occasional exhibit. If it's open, check out the amusing Salon des Singes (Monkey Room). Sometimes you can visit the courtyard, which boasts one of the finest sculptures of 18th-century France, The Watering of the Horses of the Sun, with a nude Apollo and four horses against a background of exploding sunbursts. (If you want to see another Delamair work, detour to 60 rue des Francs-Bourgeois to see the extraordinary Hôtel de Soubise, now housing the Musée de l'Histoire de France)

Along the same street at no. 47 is the:

16. Hôtel des Ambassadeurs de Hollande

Here, Beaumarchais wrote The Marriage of Figaro. It's one of the most splendid mansions in the Marais and, despite its name, was never occupied by the Dutch embassy.

Continue walking south along rue Vieille-du-Temple until you reach:

17. Rue des Rosiers

Rue des Rosiers (Street of the Rosebushes) is one of the most colorful and typical streets remaining from Paris's old Jewish quarter, and you'll find an intriguing blend of living memorials to Ashkenazi and Sephardic traditions. The Star of David shines from some of the shop windows; Hebrew letters appear, sometimes in neon; couscous is sold from shops run by Moroccan, Tunisian, or Algerian Jews; restaurants serve kosher food; and signs appeal for Jewish liberation. You'll come across many delicacies you might've read about but never seen, such as sausage stuffed in a gooseneck, roots of black horseradish, and pickled lemons.

Take a Break--The street offers a cornucopia of ethnic eateries that remain steadfast to their central European, Ashkenazi origins.

Take a left onto rue des Rosiers and head down to rue Pavée, which gets its name because it was the first street in Paris, sometime during the 1300s, to have cobblestones placed over its open sewer. At this "Paved Street," turn right and walk south until you reach the St-Paul Métro stop. Make a right along rue François-Miron and check out no. 68, the 17th-century:

18. Hôtel de Beauvais

Though the facade was damaged in the Revolution, it remains one of Paris's most charming hotels. A plaque announces that Mozart lived there in 1763 and played at the court of Versailles. (He was 7 at the time.) Louis XIV presented the mansion to Catherine Bellier, wife of Pierre de Beauvais and lady-in-waiting to Anne of Austria; she reportedly had the honor of introducing Louis, then 16, to the facts of life. To visit the interior, apply to the Association du Paris Historique on the ground floor.

Continue your walk along rue François-Miron until you come to a crossroads, where you take a sharp left along rue de Jouy, cross rue Fourcy, and turn onto rue du Figuier, where at no. 1 you'll see the:

19. Hôtel de Sens

The structure was built between the 1470s and 1519 for the archbishops of Sens. Along with the Cluny on the Left Bank, it's the only domestic architecture remaining from the 15th century. Long after the archbishops had departed in 1605, the wife of Henri IV, Queen Margot, lived here. Her new lover, "younger and more virile," slew her old lover as she looked on in amusement. Today, the hotel houses the Bibliothèque Forney (tel. 01-42-78-14-60). Leaded windows and turrets characterize the facade; you can go into the courtyard to see more ornate stone decoration -- the gate is open Tuesday to Friday from 1:30 to 8:15pm and Saturday from 10am to 8:15pm.

Retrace your steps to rue de Fourcy, turn right, and walk up the street until you reach the St-Paul Métro stop again. Turn right onto rue St-Antoine and continue to no. 62:

20. Hôtel de Bethune-Sully

Work began on this mansion in 1625, on the order of Jean Androuet de Cerceau. In 1634, it was acquired by the duc de Sully, once Henri IV's minister of finance. After a straitlaced life as the "accountant of France," Sully broke loose in his declining years, adorning himself with diamonds and garish rings and a young bride, who's said to have had a thing for very young men. The hotel was acquired by the government just after World War II and is now the seat of the National Office of Historical Monuments and Sites, with an information center and a bookshop inside. Recently restored, the relief-studded facade is especially appealing. You can visit the interior with a guide on Saturday or Sunday at 3pm and can visit the courtyard and the garden any day; chamber-music concerts are frequently staged here.

Other Great Walks In Paris:

Ile St-Louis. A footbridge behind Notre-Dame leads to another enchanting island in the Seine, a world of tree-shaded quays, town houses with courtyards, and antique shops. This smaller and more tranquil of the Seine islands has remained much as it was in the 17th century. Over the years many illustrious French have called St-Louis home, none more famous than Voltaire. Sober patrician houses stand along the four quays, and the fever-beat of Paris seems a hundred miles away. This is our favorite real estate for wandering in all of the city.

Ile de la Cité. "The cradle of Paris," where the city was born, is actually an island shaped like a great ship in the middle of the Seine. Home to France's greatest cathedral, Notre-Dame, it invites exploration and wandering. Home to French kings until the 14th century, Cité still has a curiously medieval air, with massive gray walls rising up all around you, relieved by tiny patches of parkland. The island is home to Sainte-Chapelle and the Conciergerie. After these stellar attractions, save time for wandering about and discovering Cité's secrets, such as the square du Vert Galant.

Les Halles. Emile Zola called the site of the great marketplace "the belly of Paris." That market has moved on to more modern quarters today, but the charm and enchantment of this district of Right Bank Paris remain. Le trou (the hole), site of the former marketplace, was filled with an underground shopping mall known as the Forum des Halles. The old streets of Paris, in spite of the long-gone market, are still left to explore and get lost in as you wander about. Somewhere in your walk, drop in to visit Eglise de St-Eustache, former stamping ground of Richelieu, Molière, and Mme. De Pompadour.

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