Monday, November 28, 2005

Paris Bits & Pieces

Some observations for visitors to Paris

All lovers of art and haters of lines should invest in a Paris Museum Pass which provides free, unlimited priority access to over 70 museums including the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, the Musee Rodin, the Musee national Picasso and the Chateau of Versailles. It is hugely and perversely satisfying to saunter past the long lines, flash your card and slip inside. One, three and five day passes are available. There are lots of places to buy a Museum Pass: at any museum or monument involved in the program, at major Metro stations and at any FNAC store in the city. Cards can also be purchased in advance over the internet from a huge range of providers, just enter Paris Museum Pass into your search engine.

1 day pass for EUR 18
3 day pass for EUR 36
5 day pass for EUR 54

Unfortunately, these passes will not get you into any special or temporary exhibitions. To cut the line for special exhibitions, buy your tickets in advance at any FNAC store located throughout Paris. If you understand rudimentary French, you can buy your tickets over the internet which can be collected at any FNAC saving even more time.

With that said, I want to warn NoCrowds readers from the useless indignity of purchasing tickets in advance for block buster exhibitions at the Grand Palais. I saw 2 shows there recently and in each case, the experience was lousy although the exhibitions should have been fabulous. Even with your timed ticket, you wait outside in a line of irritated fellow ticket holders. The number of people inside the exhibition space is ridiculous. It is almost impossible to see the canvases. The rooms are hot and claustrophobic. I won’t be going back regardless of what is on offer.

Speaking of crowds and museums, for years, I have struggled to find a good place to eat lunch near the Musee d’Orsay. One senses that most places too close to the museum can be sloppy and expensive and not much worried about serving up a good meal. After seeing a terrific temporary exhibition of Russian art at the Musee d’Orsay recently, my husband and I discovered a good value, good food, good experience restaurant on rue de Bellechasse which is confusingly named “Le”. It is a small space but had an appealing atmosphere. I had the lunch formula for EUR 15 which was well prepared and satisfying. Service was good. The place was filled with Parisians who obviously enjoy a well priced, well prepared lunch in a neighbourhood not known for it. “Le” is now my post Musee d’Orsay hangout.

20, rue de Bellechasse
75007 Paris
Reservations: 01 47 05 11 11

Speaking of restaurants, my friend Glenn, an American in Paris who offers lovely apartments to rent at Paris Apartments Rentals has recently posted his top ten restaurants for visitors to Paris. Check it out and add your own.

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