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Oldest café in Paris, Café le Procope.

Cafe le ProcopeLooking for some history at Paris? Than you should definitely check out Café le Procope. It’s the oldest cafe in Paris. Unfortunately not the cheapest. In 1686 Francesco Procopio dei Coltell (what a mouthful) opened here a coffee house.  Franceco was one of first ice cream sellers in Paris, even before Bertillon! It was a novelty that did well at the court of Versailles. The royal families were real trendsetters in that time. First the tea, now the ice cream. Not very surprising.. they had more than enough money for delicacy.

The cafe got more popular cause the opening of Académie Française. Académie Française is an official institution in the French language. Along with four other academies they form the Institut de France. Café le Procope became a popular theater bar. The restaurant proudly hang some pictures of celebrities who had visited the restaurant in their window. Celebrities like Napoleon, Robespierre, Balzac, Dalton and Victor Hugo. The best stories are being told about this cafe. I don’t know if it’s true but, there seems to hang a hat of Napoleon (one of the many). He has ever left it behind as a deposit.

The place where the cafe is located is called ”Cour de Commerce St. André” (see photo).  At number 12 is the guillotine invented.

You can find the entrance to this legendary place at Boulevard St. Germain, across the statue of Danton and metro Odeon.

A historic place in Paris. What for kind of interesting conversations took place here? What do you think?

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The 14th of July, Quatorze Juillet!

14th of JulyIt was on top of my ‘to-go-list’ this year and I made it! The 14th of July in Paris. In French also known as Quatorze Juillet and in English known as Bastille Day. I got one word for this experience, AMAZING. The Parisians certainly know how to organize a national holiday. Let me tell you about my experiences of Quatorze Juillet.

First, Paris kicked the day off with a military procession on the Champs Élysées. The military and all police forces were present. President Hollande placed a wreath at the Arc de Triomphe and then he drove towards to Place the la Concorde. Then we had to wait for a long time and just when I almost lost my patience, the magic happens! Here I was waiting for… the French Air force!! Nine fighter jets flew above the Champs Élysées with the colors of the French flag (see picture). After that many other aircraft’s and helicopters followed. There also was a privet jet, I wonder who was inside?

Then all police forces went their own direction. We were lucky and saw an impressive helicopter demonstration near the Air France building. There were fun activities everywhere. During this holiday, many local stores were open, it wasn’t a problem to score something to eat. 

At night there was a concert with many famous French names. I remember that I was in my hotel room for a while and watched the French news. I saw some live TV about the Eiffel Tower and some information about the upcoming firework. It was a funny thought that I was not so far away from that tower. I was ready for some firework!

The firework was truly amazing, they did a really good job. The only dark side for me, were all those people! The reason they all came to see this  firework is because, the Parisians don’t have any firework during New Year’s Eve. So, everyone is there at the 14th of July. It became too overcrowded and for a good spot at Trocadero, you had to stand there before dark. Firework at Trocadero won’t be a problem if you tolerate big crowds, don’t mind a bit of eye poking and love to get squished like a banana in a smoothie! Normally, I try to avoid big crowds and hide myself somewhere quiet. But this time, I just had to be there. And believe me, it was worth it!

Last thing: I just wan’t to give you the advice of leaving the firework a bit earlier. This because all metro-stations that are near by, are closed. The nearest metro-station is the one at the Champs Élysées. So, if you want to avoid all those people in your metro, make sure you leave a bit earlier. That’s the only way to increase your chances for a relaxed ride back to your hotel. That or rent a bike!

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10 facts about the metro in Paris.

IMG_3659Traveling by subway is more than normal to us all. It’s a fun place to watch people, read the newspaper or listen to some street musicians. While you’re using the metro, did you know the following facts about the metro in Paris?

1. The first metro line was opened in 1900 just after the Paris World Exposition.
2.  Paris has the sixth most used Metro in the world. The Paris metro transports more than 1.5 billion people each year!
3. The Paris metro runs more than 600,000 miles per day. That’s circa 10 times around the earth.
4. One metro ticket can be used in all metro lines. As long as you stay underground you can travel all day long in the Parisian metro. Fun for a day, you will discover a lot of things!
5. Big dogs aren’t allowed in the subway, only small dogs are tolerated.
6. The Paris metro is after London, Glasgow and Budapest the forth oldest metro in Europe.
7. There is only one metro station named after a woman, named Louise Michel, who was a socialist.
8. Each metro stop in Paris has a theme. Mostly these are some historical figures. If you pay attention and Google all those metro stations, you will learn a lot about the Parisian history.
9. There is one metro station that looks like a submarine! 
10. Metro station ”Abbesses” lies 40 meters underground and is the deepest metro station in Paris. And Louis Vuitton has a messenger style bag in the Monogram Canvas line named after this station.

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Did you know?

That the first chip-stand stood on Pont Neuf and the original ”Pommes de Neuf’‘ aren’t the small french fries we know today? No, the real Pommes de Neuf are much bigger and taste more like potato’s. You can’t buy them at cafeterias because they are only served at the more classy restaurants. Now do you know!

What do you prefer, French fries or Pommes de Neuf? 

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The 20 districts of Paris!

Map of the Arrondissements of Paris from Wikipedia.When a Parisian wants to know where you’re staying in Paris, they always ask for a district, also known as an ‘Arrondissement ‘. So, when you’re visiting Paris, make sure you know in which district you’re staying. Paris is big, and the 20 districts make it well-organized for everyone.

Since January the 1st in 1860, Paris has 20 Arrondissements. Previously there were ”only” 12 Arrondissements in Paris. The earlier districts were joined with the new parts of Paris, like the 18th district of Paris, Montmartre.

The 20 districts in Paris, all have their own city hall (in French also known as Hôtel-de-Ville) and a city ​​council to keep Paris in a good balance. Across all 20 districts, Paris has 350 police offices! Each district is further divided into, mostly 4, neighborhoods (in French also known as Quartiers). Popular Quartiers are for example: Quartier Latin, Quartier des Champs-Élysées and Quartier Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois.

If you are interested in all the names of the 20 Arrondissements of Paris, well here they are! I’ll try to take a closer look on a different district once a week.

1st Arrontissement of Paris  –  Louvre
2th Arrondissement of Paris – Bourse
3th Arrondissement of Paris – Temple
4th Arrondissement of Paris – Hôtel-de-Ville 
5th Arrondissement of Paris – Phantéon 
6th Arrondissement of Paris – Luxembourg 
7th Arrondissement of Paris – Palais-Bourbon
8th Arrondissement of Paris – Élysée
9th Arrondissement of Paris – Opéra
10th Arrondissement of Paris – Enclos-St.Laurent 
11th Arrondissement of Paris – Popincourt 
12th Arrondissement of Paris – Reuilly 
13th Arrondissement of Paris – Gobelins
14th Arrondissement of Paris – Observatoire
15th Arrondissement of Paris – Vaugirard 
16th Arrondissement of Paris – Passy
17th Arrondissement of Paris – Batignolles-Monceau
18th Arrondissement of Paris – Butte-Montmartre 
19th Arrondissement of Paris – Buttes-Chaumont
20th Arrondissement of Paris – Ménilmontant

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Why Coco Chanel belongs to Paris.

Rouge Chanel, Rue de RivoliI took this picture somewhere near Rue the Rivoli. I don’t know why, but this lady caught my eye. She is chic, stylish and elegant. Properties where Coco Chanel was known for. I’m not always totally up-to-date with the latest fashion trends, but I’m more interested in the history of french designers, like Coco Chanel, and what’s left of it today.

Coco Chanel is an icon, she is historical and fascinating. I did some research and maybe I can enjoy the fashion lovers with this little post about Coco Chanel and here life/career in Paris.

Her childhood wasn’t easy. Her father left her at an early age and sent her, with her two sisters, to an orphanage. The Romanesque purity of this ascetic world, would be the inspiration for her austere style and her preference for black and white (which are also my favorites ). She stared making her own clothes, and in the evenings she sang at a cafe for soldiers. She was called ‘Coco’, because she always sang the song ”who saw Coco in the Trocadero?” Coco was different, she dressed like no one else and wore clothing inspired by menswear. She started designed exotic hats and other clothing, which were quickly appreciated by the wealthier women.

And then her prince on a white horse came along. English, rich and well educated. His name was Boy Capel. Boy helped Coco to become Chanel. With his encouragement she decided to open her first clothing store in Paris. Then in Deauville and Biarritz. Coco Chanel launched a whole new century of fashion. She shorted the dresses, showed the ankles, dumped the corsets and cut the hair. Nowadays, we are still thankful for that!

At Rue Cambon number 31, Coco Chanel opened the first couture house in Paris in 1981. She became the queen of fashion. Despite the fact that her business was going great, there was a tragic accident between. It was Boy Capel who died in a car accident. She lost the man of her dreams. Coco was broken. The strong woman as she was cried, but said some historical words: ‘either I die as well, or I finish what we started together’ And she did… Thank you Coco for all the amazing clothing and inspiring stories you left behind. We will blogging about you for many more years!

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The history of cabaret and the 3 ‘moulins’ in Paris.

Moulin le RadetWe all know the Moulin Rouge. A tourist highlight, with a big commercial touch. But where does the Moulin Rouge come from? Or rather, where do the cabaret shows come from? I mean, the Moulin Rouge wasn’t the first windmill in Paris. No, there are two other windmills in Paris. And at one of them starts the history of the famous (dance) cabarets In Paris! The name of this windmill is ‘Moulin du Gallette’

In 1844, four men from the Miller-Debray family were involved in a fight with Cossack’s, who had occupied Montmartre. Three brothers were killed, but the oldest brother survived. But, because of his serious injuries, he wasn’t able to work anymore. So, he turned his windmill into a ballroom and served with the drinks a cookie, ‘une Galette’ The cookie was a huge success and that for him a reason to name the windmill…Moulin de la Galette! The cookie is still made​​! Moulin de Galette became a popular place for festivals, party’s theaters and more. Moulin Le Radet and Moulin de la Galette are the only two remaining windmills of thirty who first stood on the hill Butte-Montmartre!

The three brothers of the Miller-Debray family are buried at Cimetière du Calvaire (the smallest cemetery of Paris). And on their grave stands a red windmill (which isn’t so red anymore). The red color symbolizes the many blood during the fight. The famous cabaret, the Moulin Rouge owns his name to this little red windmill. Moulin du Galette is now privately owned and not open for visitors :( It’s also a bit hard to find/photograph because you have to look up!

And then, last but not least, the third windmill of Paris, Moulin le Radet. That’s the one you see on the picture. You can find this windmill in the same street, more or less hundred meter before Moulin du Galette. It’s a bit confusing because, in front of Moulin le Radet stands a Bistro named ”Moulin du Galette” (That’s in honor of Moulin du Galette) Of course a nice idea, but I think that 65% of the tourists gets confused and don’t know, which windmill is the right one. Fortunately, you read this post, and now you know exactly which ‘moulin’ is the right one!