April 14, 2021
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Paris is one of our favorite destinations, and we’ve written before about our favorite things to see in Paris, as well as about our favorite neighborhoods and favorite memories.
Did you know that our Paris culinary tours and cooking vacations are also cultural vacations? Some of the itineraries include tours of local sites, and all of them include free time to explore sites on your own. Plus, we can add in, on request, any cultural tours that interest you. Want a tour of the Eiffel Tower? No problem. Of the Louvre? We’ve got it covered.
Here we will count down 6 of our very favorite cultural sites to see, and why we think they are not to be missed.
I have a fondness for gardens in general, or any cultural site that keeps me outside, and the Jardin du Luxeumbourg is a prime example. Its formal gardens are beautiful, and its size impressing, as it likes on 25 hectares. But what is most fascinating about it for me is the people watching. Here Parisians come to relax, to study, to play, to listen to (and make) music. Stroll through it or sit and stay a while – on a nice day you’ll find it positively intoxicating.
Perhaps it is my fondness for outdoor cultural sites that makes me also enjoy visiting cemeteries, but Pere Lachaise is worth seeing even if cemeteries are not normally your thing. It is aesthetically striking, with its tree-lined and mausoleum-lined paths and its ornate graves. But the real draw are the famous people interred here: Frederic Chopin, Honoré de Balzac, Molière, Jean de la Fontaine, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Amedeo Modigliani, and even the Door’s Jim Morrison. (See this visual history of his gravesite to understand how it has become a cultural site in its own rite). Plus, it is an easy walk to Pere Lachaise from one of our favorite cooking classes in Paris. So no excuses not to go!
This small museum located in a beautiful old building and its grounds is another example of a wonderful site lying just around the corner. Again, the outdoors space is part of what draws me back here, beautiful gardens peppered with masterpieces by Auguste Rodin: the Three Shades from his Gates of Hell work, the Burghers of Calais, and The Thinker. Inside you will find more works by Rodin as well as by other artists whose work he collected.
We’ve mentioned before that this is one of our favorite sites in. Paris. Finished in 1248, this beautiful small chapel was built for Louis IX as part of the royal palace on the Ile de la Cité. It is considered the highest example of Rayonnant architecture, which was a type of gothic architecture that featured decoration through pinnacles and window work, giving the buildings a light, airy openness. Rayonnant, in fact, means “brilliant” or “shining,” and if you stand in the upper level of the Sainte-Chapelle on a sunny day it will be perfectly clear why, as it seems like every spare surface there is lined with exquisite, shining stained glass.
Perhaps here we are getting predictable, as surely the Louvre is on everyone’s list of things to see in Paris, but as the largest museum in the world it really does have something for everyone. The trick, in my mind at least, is to accept that you are never going to see all of it, not even if you return time and time again. Pick the art that you enjoy, and then dedicate yourself to that section of the museum.
Again, here we are perhaps being predictable, but how can the Eiffel Tower fail to be our number one thing to see? It is perhaps the most iconic monument in the world, a symbol of Paris, and at the time of its construction (finished in 1889 for the World’s Fair) an architectural masterpiece. Even though we’ve all seen pictures of the Eiffel Tower, it is somehow fresh and even more impressive in person. Make sure you ascend it, as it gives you great views of the inner iron latticework as well as unparalleled views of Paris from the top.
Want to learn more about our 6 sites not to miss in Paris? Watch the video:
We hope you make it to Paris soon and that you can visit our favorite places in Paris. Each of these can be seen during our culinary tours of Paris, or visited on your own after our one-day-cooking classes in Paris.
Contact us to start planning!
By Peg Kern
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