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    Hidden sights of Paris

    Paris is the perfect destination as it’s not only reachable easily and comfortably all year with direct lines from Budapest Airport, but it also contains a lot of sights you wouldn’t even think about. They say that the uniqueness and beauty of Paris is in its exceptional diversity. After seeing all the mandatory sights, had a romantic stroll at the bank of the Seine, and abraded the picturesque cobblestone streets of the Montmartre, it’s time to get to know the surprising and secret places of Paris.

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    Butte Bergeyre


    Butte Bergeyre is a little hill-sized micro-quarter in the 19th district of Paris, East from the Buttes Chaumont Park. If you’re seeking a really tranquil place, this is it. There’s only a winding street and a few dozens of houses covered in fox grape in narrow, cobblestone streets. The hill got its name after a 19th century French rugby player, Robert Bergeyre, and it not only gives a wonderful sight on the city, but you also find here the last grape plantation remained in Paris. This is a perfect place to forget that you are in one of the busiest capitols of the world. A lot of Paris residents don’t even know about the existence of Butte Bergeyre.

    But how did a grape plantation get to Paris? Montmartre and its area was once famous for its grape, or we can rather say that Montmartre became an entertainment quarter thank to the grape. In the 15th century, the residents of Montmartre had to sell their fields due to lack of money, and these fields were mainly bought by grape-growing agriculturers. The town started developing in entertainment parallelly with the appearance of grape, or more the wine. Beside the vaults, numerous places with music and dance (today’s cabarets) were opened. The merchants of Paris were not happy about this, and tried to make action to get rid of as much grape plantations and vaults as possible, as the little town meant competitors to them. For today, only a little plantation remained, as a monument.

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    La Chapelle Expiatoire


    There is a little, but beautifully planned gothic chapel most of the tourists visiting Paris do not know anything about. A peaceful place in the heart of the city, reminding us a really decisive era of France.  La Chapelle Expiatoire – the penance or remorse – chapel, in the center of Paris was designed by architect Pierre Fontaine in 1816. Louis the XVI., executed in 1793, and his wife Marie Antoinette rested in a mass grave in St. Madeleine graveyard which stood here until 1816, together with some 3000 other victims of the French revolution. The royal couple’s bones were exhumed and transported to the St. Denis royal mausoleum in North-Paris, but the monument was erected at this place. The marble statue of the king and the queen stands under the chapel’s dome. Walk into the yard of the chapel in the spring, when roses bloom like in the garden of Marie Antoinette, in the Petit Trianon of Versailles. 

    La Petite Ceinture

    petite-ceinture_parizsimage: Thomas Claveirole/cover image:

    While walking out of the center of Paris, you can find special places. There’s an abandoned train line with bridges and tunnels, which intercept, or rather surround the city. Most of the train line once playing a leading role in the life of Paris, has been reconquered by nature for today, creating a special atmosphere for the continuously decaying industrial establishments. More and more parts of it are being utilized for different urbanization projects, which can be visited; they created feasters from old train stations, and they also established educational paths.
    The 32-kilometer line named “Chemin de fer de Petite Ceinture”, opened in 1869 was originally used for freight traffic, but with the expansion of Paris, it transformed into a suburban train soon, carrying a big mass of people commuting. In the first decades of the 20th century, the starting metro constructions overtopped it, so regular passenger transport stopped by 1934. Some passages of the line were still used for freight traffic until 1990, when train traffic stopped irrevocably.

    Hôtel-Dieu de Paris

    hoteldieu-de-parisimage: crossine0

    At Ile de la Cité, neighboring the Notre Dame cathedral lies Hotel-Dieu, the very first hospital of Paris, which is the oldest in the world operating still. Hotel Dieu founded by St. Landry, the bishop of Paris has been reconstructed many times since its foundation (651), and it was the only hospital of Paris until the renaissance. Until 1781, it consisted of 1 building only, which had 25 rooms serving 2500 patients. By the end of the century, due to the quickly diffusing miasmal diseases caused by overcrowding, Hotel-Dieu was moved to different districts, and ordered to keep only one, or maximum two persons on a bed – over the previous practice, when up to six people jostled on the same bed. A part of it today operates as a hotel.
    This architectural masterpiece in the heart of Ile de la Cité is a unique place with its beautiful gardens, it is the emblem of solidarity and love, and not only for those living in Paris.

    Jardin des Plantes – Dodo carousel

    dodo-menage_korhinta_parizsimage: RuTemple

    Carousels are the vivifiers of happy, carefree childhood and loud laughter. You can meet wonderful carousels in Paris, the less known of them is the Dodo Manege. On the left bank of the Seine, in the Botanic Garden (Jardin des Plantes) stands the Dodo Manege, the most special carousel of Paris, and probably the entire world. Instead of horses or horse carts known from the classic carousels, here you can ride on endangered, or extinct animals, like the Dodo exterminated by humans on Mauritius, from which the carousel’s name comes. But we can also get on the back of a pouched wolf, triceratops, glyptodon, panda or gorilla too. The inventor of the carousel finished in 1992 was a scientist, who wanted to attract attention this way on the accelerating extinction of species of the Earth, and the decrease of biological diversity.

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    Jardin du Panthéon Bouddhique


    The Guimet Musem in Paris is the Asian Arts’ Museum, possessing the biggest Asian collection of Europe. Jardin du Panthéon Bouddhique Japanese garden can be found behind the museum, and it’s undoubtedly the biggest “zen” area in Paris. On 450 square-meters, stone bridges among giant bamboos, and little ponds bring the ambient of the Land of the Rising Sun. The nearly 250 artworks exhibited here is a special opportunity to explore the centuries-long history of Japanese culture, art and lifestyle. The garden pavilion regularly hosts Japanese tea ceremonies. The park can be visited free of charge every day (except Tuesdays), between 9:45 am – 5:45 pm.

    Les passages couverts de Paris – Passages of Paris

    galerie_vivienne_parizsimage: blieusong

    In the 19th century Paris, some 150 covered pedestrian streets, so called passages allured shoppers, like forerunners of today’s shopping centers. The covered shopping streets saved the aristocratic, wealthy shoppers from the adversity of weather, and beside shopping, they became the scene of social life with their wonderful cafés. By today, only around 25 passage remained in Paris. One of the most special is the Palais-Royal, its wooden arcade for example was made in 1786, it was among the first ones. The eponym of Passage Moliere was Théatre Moliere, which used to present the scenes of the famous French dramatist. The theatre still exists, but today it operates with the name Maison de la Poésie. The most opulent of all is “Galerie Vivienne”, which spreads a classic Paris ambient with its mosaic floor and gold-plated glass dome roof. It’s worth to walk through some of them to feel the legendary, turn of the century ambient of Paris. List! 

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    Institut Du Monde Arabe (IMA)

    institut-du-monde-arabe_parizsimage: bea & txm & alan

    In the heart of the Latin quarter at Saint Germain Boulvard, Institut Du Monde Arabe opposite to Saint-Louis island is not a secret place of Paris, but a multifunction cultural center with library, museum, auditorium, and restaurant. But few people know that the terrace of the institution designed by Jean Nouvel can be visited for free, and it’s worth looking around from here, as it has one of the best views on Paris and the Notre Dame. It can be a suitable alternative instead of the more-or-less mandatory viewpoints like Montmartre, or the Montparnasse tower block.

    Balloon de Paris

    ballon-de-parisimage:  *_*

    Would you like to see Paris from even higher? Instead of the Eiffel Tower’s third floor (which is barred anyway), visit Parc André-Citroen, where you can admire the 360-degree panorama of Paris from a real hot air balloon, from 150 meters high. Balloon de Paris is the biggest engrossed hot air balloon of the world. The balloon, beside entertainment, serves academic purposes as well, as the air quality of the city is measured here. The balloon’s surface is covered with electroluminescenic foil, which changes its color according to the air quality data measured every hour; with green signing excellent air quality, and red marking big smog. The balloon operates only when weather conditions are good.

    Rue de Rivoli 59.

    rue-de-rivoli-59image: *** Fanch The System !!! ***

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    Rue de Rivoli is one of the busiest shopping streets of Paris. Those who would not certainly like to buy something should still walk through it. Rue de Rivoli 59 grasps something else opposite to McDonald’s and H&M, and it’s a refreshing sight among the cloth and shoe stores. The building called “Chez Robert Electron Libre” lies between the Louvre and Hotel de Ville. In 1999 three artists, Kalex, Gaspard and Bruno (they used the name KGB for fun) simply occupied the house that was abandoned for 15 years then. After an ejection and other jural difficulties, they managed to accord with the major, the city purchased the building and the artists created a modern, flourishing arts studio out of it. Now 20 artists work in the building permanently, and 10 temporary places are free to apply for a 3-6 months’ duration.

    The building is under continuous change not only on the inside, but its façade is being renewed from time to time; sometimes balloons and ribbons, sometimes a huge carved face welcomes the passers-by. The bohemian decorations, the whale of junk, the preparing statues and paintings, and the steeping smell of paint helps to get an insight on the process of creating. Rue de Rivoli 59 can be visited free of charge every day (except Mondays) between 1 and 6 pm.

    Copyright © 2017 Világutazó. All rights reserved.

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