We had been walking past this enormous complex for years speculating about when it might re-open, wondering if we’d ever get to visit it one day. Imagine our surprise and delight when we saw the enormous posters announcing its re-opening in the metro stations on our first day back in Paris! It was still closed on our earlier visit in April, with no hint as to when it would re-open. This is arguably the most important, and certainly largest, of the numerous new projects in the city that have been completed since COVID hit. No longer dark and rather gloomy, the newly renovated library buildings are a triumph of light and welcoming spaces. There’s such a wealth of wonderful new sights to discover in Paris, and the historic Bibliothèque Nationale de France is surely the jewel in the crown!
This district of Paris is one of the most historic and fascinating in the city. Nowadays, it’s known for hip boutiques, quirky art galleries, great cafes, restaurants and fresh food, a couple of delightful squares, and some of the best museums in the city. Although its origins were far from auspicious, it’s a place we always head to for all these attractions and much more. It’s an enticing melange of ancient and traditional plus contemporary and slightly quirky, making it one of the most interesting areas in Paris.
There are dozens of outdoor markets in Paris, at least two in each of the city’s 20 arrondissements. Probably the largest, and many argue the best, is the fantastic Marché Richard-Lenoir—more commonly called the Marche Bastille, held Thursdays and Sundays along the grand Boulevard Richard Lenoir, just north of the Place de la Bastille. The focus is the wonderful range of foods grown by local area farmers, quite a few of which are certified organic growers. As though that were not enough of an attraction, there are beautiful flower stalls, and vendors with a wide range of merchandise, ranging from small kitchen gadgets to African artefacts and fashion. Most of the crowd will be eager local shoppers with shopping trolleys and dogs in tow, rather than hordes of tourists.
In the last two posts, we have looked at two outstanding Paris museums, relatively little-known to visitors, both located in the 8th arrondissement, one just around the corner from the other. They are both close by the Parc Monceau, one of the most interesting and beautiful parks in the city, at the junction of Bvd. de Courcelles, rue de Prony and rue Georges Berger. The neighbourhood is a quiet, discreetly elegant, mostly residential area with impressive mansions of the Haussmann or the neo-classical styles, typical of the Second Empire of Napoleon III. Covering about 8.20 hectares, Parc Monceau is a peaceful haven for locals, yet where comparatively few visitors visit.
The Musée Cernuschi is relatively unknown to most visitors to Paris. Located on a quiet, leafy street that leads up to the beautiful Parc Monceau in an ultra-exclusive area of the 8th arrondissement, it’s just around the corner from the Musée Nissim de Camondo. The Cernuschi is an Asian art museum, mostly specialising in works from China, Japan, and Korea. These are objects collected by Henri Cernuschi, and displayed in a small mansion that used to be his home. He was one of the first collectors in France to amass such a vast and important collection of Asian art.