Paris Encore

Been there, done that, got the T-shirt during your first trip to Paris. Of course, you just have to come back to Paris for more. “We’ll always have Paris”, you know.

Paris has a lot more than Seine cruises and Eiffel Tower views. Discover quaint neighborhoods of old Paris, hidden museums, open arenas as you take a map and just wander the streets.

Here’s the secret Paris, the one you probably missed on your first whirlwind trip and the one that’s definitely worth exploring.

  1. Nicolas Flamel’s Paris

    Harry Potter fans can instantly recognize the name. This legendary 14th century alchemist’s home on Rue de Montmorency is the oldest stone house in the city, housing the Auberge Nicolas Flamel which serves some of the most delectable dishes in all of Paris. Flamel designed his own tombstone, which can be found at the Musee de Cluny.image

  2. Musee du Vin

    A heady break for tired travelers, the Musee du Vin (Wine Museum) is for oenophiles. Displaying historical wine-making artifacts from the time of the Romans, to mini-Bacchus figures, viticulturists’ tools, a barrel-maker’s workshop, and other equipment, this museum also hosts wine tasting sessions.

    A place where mineral springs flowed alongside an abbey till the 18th century, the Wine Museum is on Rue des Eaux – Water Street.image

  3. Cabaret Au Lapin Agile

    The Au Lapin Agile (Nimble Rabbit) cabaret in Montmarte, once the hangout of dubious types as well as art luminaries such as Picasso and Matisse, keeps the old world atmosphere alive today, and gives you an insight into Bohemian Paris.image

  4. Paris of The Da Vinci Code

    While the Louvre Museum, Jardins des Tuileries and L’arc du Carrousel are Da Vinci staples for visitors, the Saint-Sulpice of the Paris Meridian fame, the Gare St Lazare and finding the Rose Line insignia are for harcore fans revisiting the city. Saint-Sulpice, a huge Baroque church with beautiful Delacroix frescoes in the Luxembourg Quarter, was turned into a Temple of Victory during the French Revolution. It has a gnomon line on the floor, which is the fictional Rose Line of the book, though it does not have any historical, real-world significance. Discover the Holy Grail on this Movie Tour of Paris. Of course, there are 135 Arago bronze disks marking the erstwhile Meridian before the one in Greenwich was canonized, and they are obscured in a large area, so chancing upon one serendipitously as you wander around Paris can be a great joy.image

  5. Arenes de Lutece

    Even locals may not know about this, so you definitely need a map to return in time to Historical Paris.

    Modern day Paris got its name in the 4th century AD from the Parisii, the Gallic tribe. Our site dates back to the times when the city was called Lutecia, after the Romans invaded it in 52 B.C. under Emperor Julius Caesar. Built at the end of the 1st century AD by the Romans, the 25000 sq ft amphitheater could hold about 16,000 spectators. During the next century, gladiator fights and other gruesome sports (e.g. offering early Christians for lunch to beasts of prey) were held for the benefit of the local Roman population. With the fall of the Roman Empire and rise of Christianity, such sports fell into disrepute and died down. The arena was demolished during the barbarian invasions of 280 A.D., and the site later became a cemetery. In the late 12th century, the ruins were buried under a large rampart built to defend Paris. They remained forgotten until 1869 when they were unearthed to the greatest surprise of all historians. Later on, in 1883, the site was repurchased and rehabilitated under the guidance of French novelist Victor Hugo. A further rehabilitation project began in 1916 which unearthed the site completely.image

    Today in a quiet and empty corner of the Latin Quarter, the arena may not be a grand vision, but stands as a reminder of the historical past of Paris.

  6. Musee de la Magie

    The underground Museum of Magic is a testament to all that is wacky in Paris. Displaying artifacts from the history of magic, this museum can be tacky, but justifies its entry price if you’re in the mood for just some strange.

  7. Marche St Quentin

    A food market dating back to the 19th century, this is a favorite local shopping ground for cheese, wine and all things good.

  8. The Botanical Gardens

    The Jardin des Plantes (Botanical Gardens) is actually a collection of individual gardens, with several old structures, including the Botanical School and the Magny Mansion (built in 1650). The Botanical Gardens are a huge site with an enormous variety of species. The Rose Garden (La Roseraie) alone has some 170 species of roses! Between the Otter Basin and the Cuvier alley is the Alpine Garden, 40,000 square ft of mountain flora, from places as diverse as the United States, China, Japan, the Balkans, Morocco, the Caucasian mountains, Spain, and the Himalayas! There are some really old trees as well, such as an 18th century Pistachio tree, a17th century acacia from the United States and an 18th century Lebanese cedar.image

Tours for Movie Buffs

If you’re the person who quotes Fight Club in casual conversation and shares “One does not simply (walk into Mordor)” memes, dreams about visiting Middle Earth and studying at Hogwarts, then you should definitely have a bucket list of movie locations to visit.

Our top 10 recommendations on movie tours for the avid cinephile –

  1. Los Angeles – The home of Hollywood has to be top of the charts. LA may be a multiethnic sprawl with state-of-the-art entertainment facilities downtown, Bohemian culture in Venice Beach area and a multitude of artists, poets, writers and musicians in the suburbs, but there’s bits of movie magic all around. This City of Angels is difficult to navigate for tourists, so you can take the Hollywood Movie Location Tour (5 star rating: Highly Recommended – 11 reviews) to experience first-hand the city’s deeply rooted cinematic culture, showcasing the best movies – Sunset BoulevardChinatown, L.A. Confidential, Back to the Future, Pretty Woman, Grease, The Aviator and Terminator, to name a few.
    Alternately, you could try the Hollywood – Behind the Scenes Walking Tour (5 star rating: Highly Recommended – 13 reviews) to discover landmarks such as the Walk of Fame, Blossom Room – site of the first Oscars, Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre and many more.
  2. New Zealand – With breathtaking landscapes, from towering mountain peaks and glaciers to volcanoes, bubbling mud springs, lush green fields and rolling hills, New Zealand was the obvious choice for Middle Earth and the Shire in Lord of the Rings. Join a Small-Group Tour: The Lord of the Rings Hobbiton Movie Set Tour from Auckland (5 star rating: Highly Recommended – 42 reviews), see the Green Dragon Inn, Bilbo Baggins’ house and lunch at The Shire’s Rest Cafe. Alternately, from Rotorua you can visit Hobbiton as part of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ Hobbiton Movie Set Tour ( 4.5 star rating: Recommended – 20 reviews), or pass by the Ithilien Camp, Isengard, Forest of Amon Hen and Lothlorien with the Glenorchy Movie Locations Tour: The Lord of the Rings (4.5 star rating: Recommended – 12 reviews) from Queenstown.
  3. Hawaii – Hawaii’s dramatic landscapes have been the setting of countless movies based in a different world, such as Jurassic Park, Godzilla, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Lost series. The Kauai Movie Sites Tour (4.5 star rating: Recommended – 14 reviews) through sparkling turquoise bays, white sandy beaches along the Pacific, lush forests and plunging waterfalls highlights the movie locations on the Kauai island, with lunch at Tahiti Nui where The Descendants was filmed. If you’re on Oahu, take the Small-Group Oahu TV and Movie Locations Hummer Tour (4.5 star rating: Recommended – 48 reviews) to see where Karate Kid II, 50 First Dates, Pearl Harbour and Lost were filmed.

  4. London – This is your chance as a muggle to discover the world of magic, from Diagon Alley to the Leaky Cauldron, by a black taxi Private Tour: Harry Potter Black Taxi Tour of London (4.5 star rating: Recommended – 132 reviews). 007 fans, find out more about your favorite MI6 agent  as you go around Central London with the James Bond Film Location Tour (4 star rating: Recommended – 2 reviews).
  5. Paris – Synonymous with art and home to poets and philosophers, Paris has been the subject of numerous movies that have tried to capture the artistic free-thinking spirit of the City of Romance. Join an expert guide on a cinematic exploration of the quaint neighbourhood of Montmarte, the setting of Amelie, Moulin Rouge and Midnight in Paris, with the sublime Sacre Coeur Basilica in the background as part of the Paris Movie Tour of Montmarte. For a coach tour through locations of 50 major movies and TV series such as The Da Vinci Code, The Bourne Identity, Ratatouille, Taken and James Bond, hop onto the Paris Movie and TV Locations Tour.
  6. Barcelona – A vibrant city famous for its architecture, Barcelona is also the perfect destination to unwind. Discover Barcelona like Vicky and Cristina with the Barcelona Movie Locations Walking Tour, ending at the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Palau de la Música Catalana.
  7. New York – The quintessentially cosmopolitan way of life in NYC has inspired several film and TV series writers to use the Big Apple as the setting for their scripts. Let a local actor guide you around Manhattan as part of your New York TV and Movie Sites Tour (4.5 star rating: Recommended – 298 reviews), showing you the the locations from Spider Man, Woody Allen’s Manhattan, I am Legend, Friends, Ugly Betty and others. Central Park, considered NYC’s lungs, where you can stroll along its leafy boulevards and paddle in ponds is the site of several scenes from movies such as Serendipity, When Harry met Sally and The Avengers, which you can discover during the Central Park Movie Sites Walking Tour
  8. Chicago – The Windy City is the heart and soul of America’s Midwest, with one of the most recognizable skylines in the US comprising landmarks of American architecture such as the Sears Tower. See sites of movies such as My Best Friend’s Wedding, The Untouchables and Transformers 3, and get a whiff of the history of the city’s famous neighbourhoods such as Gold Coast, Old Town and Lincoln Park as part of the Chicago Film Tour (4.5 star rating: Recommended – 21 reviews).
  9. Austria – Watch the hills come alive with the Sound of Music in Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart, with The Original Sound of Music Tour (4.5 star rating: Recommended – 866 reviews) through Mirabell Gardens, Hellbrunn Castle, Nonnberg Abbey – the oldest convent in German-speaking Europe, and Mondsee Cathedral. Discover Vienna In the Footsteps of ‘The Third Man’ (4.5 star rating: Recommended – 14 reviews) through the places where Harry Lime lived, via the Old Town, along the Danube Canal and imagine the Vienna of post World War II times.
  10. Mumbai – The list would remain incomplete without a mention of Bollywood, its musicals, rom-coms and suspension of reality. For an intense Bollywood experience, spend almost an entire day with the Bollywood Studio Tour of Mumbai, understanding the history of Indian cinema, touring the Film City where you can see live shoots, and end your day by watching a movie at Eros, a cozy theatre in South Mumbai. For a casual introduction, just stroll along the Walk of the Stars, ride a rickshaw past celebrity homes and watch a typical Bollywood film at a local theater.

Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile atop the hill of Chaillot in the heart of Place Charles de Gaulle in Paris, is the acme of the Champs Elysées avenue, forming the backdrop for an impressive urban portfolio in Paris. The last leg of the Tour de France race also finishes here.

Dedicated to the glory of all French Armies, it commemorates the triumphs of Napoleon I, under whose decree it was commissioned. Construction began in 1806 based on the design by Jean Francois Chalgrin (which is inspired by the Arch of Titus template) and was carried on after his death by L. Goust, J. N. Huyot, and G. A. Blouet consecutively, who brought the arch to completion in 1836, 30 years after it was started.

Carved around the top of the Arch are the names of major victories won during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic periods. However the names of less important victories, as well as those of 558 generals, can be found on the inside walls. There are bands of ornamental stonework on the upper third of the structure. At the bases of the Arc’s pillars are four massive relief sculptures honoring The Triumph of 1810, Resistance, Peace and the Departure of the Volunteers, which is commonly known as La Marseillaise. On the day the Battle of Verdun started, the sword carried by the figure representing the Republic broke off from La Marseillaise. The relief was immediately hidden to conceal the accident, so that it would not be interpreted as a bad omen.

One can climb the 280 steps on the narrow, winding stairway to the top of the Arc De Triomphe to enjoy the views of the city. Inside the arch, at the top, there is a small museum on the historical past of the arch and a souvenir shop. If you walk around, you can see all the twelve avenues that make up the “star”. In the mid-19th century, Baron Haussmann established a program to develop and modernize Paris. The 12 arterials radiating from the Arc de Triomphe were part of this plan for the formation of a series of major boulevards intersecting at monuments.

Since 1920, the tomb of France’s Unknown Soldier has lain underneath the arch. Its eternal flame honors the dead of the world wars, and is rekindled every evening at 6:30pm. On every Armistice Day, the President of the Republic lays a ceremonial wreath on it. On July 14, Bastille Day or the French National Day, a military parade begins at the arch and proceeds down the Champs Elysées. For main occasions of state, and on national holidays, a huge French tricolor is draped from the vaulted ceiling inside of Arch, illuminated by red, blue and white lights.

One of the most significant symbols of Paris, this incredible arch is an essential element of this City of Art.