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Montparnasse, Paris - Montparnasse Travel Guide - visiting Montparnasse - Indian Chief Travel
FRANCE  |  Paris, France Travel Guide
Monday, June 17, 2019
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Montparnasse

Fondation Cartier - Cimetière du Montparnasse

In Montparnasse in Rue Campagne-Première and on Boulevard Raspail some old artists’ studios have been preserved which are accommodated in fascinating tiled houses. In between these a spectacular new building designed by Jean Nouvel has been erected to house the Fondation Cartier – the art foundation of the fashion designer Cartier. In the transparent building, constructed around an old cedar tree, frequent exhibitions of modern art take place.

Not far from the main entrance of the Cimetière du Montparnasse (Rue Edgar- Quinet) are some of the most frequently visited graves of the cemetery: those of Simone de Beauvoir (died 1986) and Jean Paul Sartre (died 1980). If you wish to discover the graves of other celebrities such as Charles Baudelaire, Guy de Maupassant, André Citroën, Samuel Beckett, Man Ray, Jean Seberg, or Serge Gainsbourg, you should first obtain a plan of the cemetery (available in the administration building of the cemetery to the left of the entrance).

Bois de Boulogne

At the western city limits is the "green lung" of Paris, the Bois de Boulogne which covers 865 hectares. Once a forest, it was remodeled into a park-like green space, from the 18th century onwards. In 1775 the little palace Bagatelle was built which although it can only be seen from the outside is situated in a beautiful park which also contains the most famous rose garden in France (Roseraie).

To the southwest of the latter you come to the two scenic lakes in the Bois de Boulogne. At the larger of the two, the Lac inférieur you can rent boats and row across to one of the two islands. The nearby xMusée Marmottan exhibits works of the Impressionists, in particular a comprehensive Monet collection.

La Défense

West of the elegant suburb Neuilly-sur-Seine lies the skyscraper district of La Défense, a satellite town which was erected after 1954. Many large French companies have their headquarters here. The main sight of La Défense, the gigantic “triumphal arch” La Grande Arche, marks one end of the central axis of Paris. From the roof of the 110-meter-high “city gate” you can, in good weather, see the Arc de Triomphe. The Grande Arche, was a project initiated by François Mitterrand, and was constructed between 1982 and 1989. It was designed by Danish architect Johan Otto von Spreckelsen. On the south side of the Grande Arche steps lead up to the IMAX movie theater and to the Colline de la Défense where there is an Automobile Museum. In front of it is the district’s large shopping center, Les quatre Temps, with more than 200 shops.

The rest of La Défense is less spectacular but it does provide a record of the development of the skyscraper since the 1950’s: from the first “blocks,” to the black Framatom Tower, with open plan offices for about 20,000 people, and the unconventional buildings of the last two decades, often clad with mirrors; the most attractive of these is the silvery, shining Elf Tower.

Puces de Saint-Ouen

In the northern suburb of Saint-Ouen are the grounds of the xMarché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen where every weekend, including Mondays, the largest flea market in the world takes place. From the last stop of the Métro line no. 4 at Porte de Clignancourt, people throng towards the boundary of the city, at first passing travelling hawkers with all kinds of junk and clothing. It only becomes really “antique” beyond the large highway bridge. There, little booths, practically bursting with all kinds of junk from past times, are lined up in the narrow lanes. Meanwhile more than 150 more reliable antique dealers have now moved their shops into a two-storey market hall, the Marché Dauphine. The Marché Vernaison is another similar "high-class" covered market.

La Villette

La Villette is situated at the extreme north eastern edge of Paris. The modern technology museum Cité des Sciences et de Industrie, in a futuristic steel structure, is one of the top priorities for family excursions. Here the technological developments of the last decades are explained, there are demonstrations and you can carry out some experiments yourself. In front of the Cité a silver sphere is the dominant feature, in which La Géode, one of the first IMAX movie theaters in Europe shows exciting documentary films. Nearby you can go inside a submarine or to the large childrens’playground.

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

A rocky, mountainous landscape in the middle of a lake and various grottoes give the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont in the northeast (entrance at Rue Botzaris and Rue Crimée) the most romantic atmosphere of any park in Paris. The lake is spanned by two slender bridges and you can also take a boat across. On the peak of the “mountain” on the little island – fully in accord with the tradition of the 18th century English garden – there is a miniature antique-style temple, from where the view in all directions is wonderful.

Cimetière du Père Lachaise

East of the center, in the 20th Arrondissement lies one of the most fascinating cemeteries of Paris. In the Cimetière du Père Lachaise a large number of celebrities are buried. Here too you can find the specific graves with the help of a map (available in the flower shops in the vicinity and at the main entrance). What is special about this cemetery is the harmony of the overgrown park and the unusual graves dating from the 19th century. Marked in the plan you will find the 200 most famous graves, such as those of Molière, Frédéric Chopin, Edith Piaf, Jim Morrisson, Yves Montand, Simone Signoret, Oscar Wilde …

Bois de Vincennes

Like the Bois de Boulogne, its counterpart in the west, the Bois de Vincennes has artificial lakes with islands, but also other attractions. In the suburb of Vincennes there is one of the largest medieval royal castles in the Île de France. The Château de Vincennes which has been extensively renovated was used as an alternative residence, both under Charles V who had the defensive wall built in the 14th century, as well as from 1610 to 1617, when Marie de Medici executed the affairs of state for her son Louis XIII, who was still a minor. In the massive residential tower there is now a castle museum. The showpiece is the 13th century Sainte-Chapelle, the architecture of which is modeled on the Sainte- Chapelle of the city center. Here, too, the rose windows are especially beautiful.

Last updated February 10, 2012
Posted in   France  |  Paris
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