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Unusual Paris

"Unusual, adjective. Different from others of the same type in a way that is surprising, interesting or attractive". The scene has been set… Even though Paris is a large city, rich with its mixture of inhabitants & seeped in history, the "unusual side" is a personal taste. The following propositions correspond to my idea of "unusual"   but knowing that I have not included short lived plans (my friends still remember an incredible underground (secret) restaurant which I discovered in Belleville), certain artistic squats or too "Rock & Roll" (trips on the old train track around Paris www.balladine.net/article-16652835.html). 

The Flea Market (Clignancourt)

Now last but not least as we say, I have kept the best for the end. On the Richter Scale this Market gets the drum roll ! And the good news is that it is just two minutes away from the flat. Imagine for one moment the biggest Antique Market in the World with 2500 antique dealers located in 3 hectares displaying the rarest, the   craziest & the most unusual furniture and objects. Here you will find some very subjective propositions allowing you to miss nothing: design, the 30’s, Louis XV, stuffed zebras, airplane engines & even cinema seats and of course a musical break at a bar well known for it’s live Gypsy Jazz music!!

The Catacombs

Let’s make things clear! Visiting the Catacombs means walking around a communal burial ground of the remains of 6m Parisians. Not very glamorous… but this visit deserves the detour as it is a fantastic discovery of Paris’ history, the building of the quarries &   some underground chef d’oeuvres. I highly recommend you to take the guided tour otherwise you will miss out on some precious information.
More info:
www.catacombes.paris.fr

Discover Paris in a 2CV Citroen

As you have surely understood I have a certain weakness for the 2CV and I am far from being the only one! For several years now a young team full of ideas propose several trips around Paris: Paris Eternal, Paris Gardens, Paris Cinema, Crazy trips etc. Imagine yourself in the back of an old CV convertible, being driven by a   guide & chauffeur looking like a street urchin taking pictures on the Champs Elysées. Great stuff!! It costs for 1 car (3 passengers) 58 EUR for 30 minutes, 78 EUR for 45 minutes & 158 EUR for 1h30.
More info:
www.4roues-sous-1parapluie.com

The Museum of Fairgrounds

This unknown museum hosts a superb collection of old fairground equipment & attractions from the period 1850 / 1950. Completely restored young & old will have great pleasure in trying them out: wooden horses, merry- go- rounds and waiter races. Lots of emotion, patina, magic & beauty and the observation that these apparently old & antiquated attractions take us straight back to our childhood. The visits are by appointment only & it is necessary to sign up for one of the guided tours.
  For your information the museum is situated next to Bercy Village. An area once used as wine & alcohol depots which has been renovated & turned into restaurants & boutiques. Finally the very nice park of Bercy is just two minutes walk away.
More info: www.arts-forains.com

Deyrolle

Since 1888 Deyrolle has been the most famous taxidermist & natural history shop in Paris. Halfway between a museum and a curiosity shop it allows you to take a fascinating voyage in time amongst its natural science collections. You will discover stuffed birds, multi-coloured insects, incredible sea shells, snake skeletons & other exotic animals.   During my last visit a full-sized mounted giraffe was being sold for 25 500 EUR, a lion for 29 000 EUR & some enormous trapdoor spiders at 200 EUR. No need for me to insist but I definitely recommend this visit which can then be extended by eating an excellent pastry at the "Patisserie des Reves" (www.lapatisseriedesreves.com) or "l'Epicerie du Bon Marché" (www.lagrandeepicerie.com).

Click here for some photos
For more info: www.deyrolle.com

Dinner – Cruise on the Seine

Comfortably installed on this Riverboat from the year 1939 you will see passing before your eyes the Notre-Dame, L’ile de la Cité, The Invalides & the Eiffel tower… An atmosphere apart in a neat décor with musicians accompanying you at your table. Two hours in which to dream & why not make a romantic declaration.   Count 67 EUR per person and only one departure time per day. You can find less expensive elsewhere but it is like the difference between your favourite shop and the supermarket.
More info: www.calife.com

The Galleries

It’s raining and you don’t want to spend the day in the museum so why not discover the "Les Passages de Paris". I thoroughly recommend it. Dating from the end of the 19th century these glass covered alleys are a little like a Souk. An atmosphere very Parisian and really authentic. An excellent way to cross Paris away from the   cars and the noise and why not eat in one of the numerous little restaurants very lively during the day.
Don’t miss out on this website as it is the only one which gives a printable map of the routes to take.
More info: www.passagesetgaleries.org

Crazy bars

Back to the 21st century… L’Urgence Bar says it all: The bar for "the ill" next to the Medical School in St Germain. You can clink glasses in a hospital atmosphere (x-rays at the bar, anatomy boards in the toilets, waiters dressed as firemen and drinks served in Baby bottles) and the bill comes as a social security form!! A small dance-floor which fills up very quickly, cocktails at 10 EUR complete the successful formula!
For something completely different the "Ice Bar" where the
  temperature stays at minus 10. And I am not joking! Everything is made of ice the chairs the glasses & the curtains. Atmosphere to say the least… cold with neon lighting & flashy colours. The entrance is not cheap (38 EUR) but for this you can drink for 30minutes as many of the choice of 4 vodka based cocktails as you can. Fortunately the metro is not far.
More info: www.urgence.bar.com and
www.kubehotel.com

The "Galeries Lafayette" department store

Hey Bertrand! Since when has the "Galeries Lafayette" been unusual?
A little moment of weakness with this selection? What nonsense! Everything is under control. I just wanted to share with you 2 interesting events...

1// Fashion shows

The store organises every Friday at 3 o’clock (except in August) a fashion show with professional models. Aimed more for a (rich!) international clientele the show lasts 25 minutes and allows you to discover the latest fashions. It is free but you have to reserve a place.
More info here


  2// Panoramique terrace
Surprising as it may be there exists a 7th floor of this store dedicated to fashion, with a very large terrace open to the public offering a superb view of 360° of the capital and it is possible to have a drink when the weather permits. The difference between this one and the terrace of the “Printemps” department store next door is that this one is much bigger and it is easy to find a seat. A little anecdote is that on January the 19th 1919 a small plane actually landed on this terrace, making this the first ever landing to be made on a building. It also picked up a 25 000 francs reward offered by the management of the store for a challenge made 10 years earlier to achieve this exploit.

My pictures of the terrace

The Galeries Lafayette Store, 40 bd Haussmann, 75009 Paris, open during the usual store hours.

Cruise on the Saint Martin Canal

Paris has 2 waterways: the Seine with the famous Bateaux Mouches and the Saint-Martin Canal. One is the Motorway and the other is the Country Lane… On the Canal don’t be in a hurry it takes 2h30 from Bastille to Parc la Villette a distance of only 9 km. The children and Lovers will adore it: locks, moving bridges, footpaths, 100 year old trees, preserved riverbanks and of course   the famous “Hotel du Nord”. A really nice way to discover the other side of Paris full of greenery & very relaxing. Please note one daily departure each way at 9h45 & 14h30 (reservation obligatory from October to March) & one extra boat from June to September.
More info: www.canauxrama.com/saint-martin.htm

Conservatoire Citroën

If you love classic cars, the “Conservatoire” Citroën is the place to go. This private collection of 370 vehicles, inaugurated in 2001, is located in a building of the Aulnay production plant (between Paris and Roissy Airport). Don’t expect a conventional museum, because this is just an atmospheric carpark… but what a carpark!! Tractions, 2CV, DS, SM, CX, half-track and helicopter, models and prototypes, rally cars and other unusual cars like the “James Bond” 2CV or the 2CV “petition” (covered with signatures of fans asking   Citroën not to stop its production). Click here for some pictures.

The “Conservatoire” is not open to the general public. It can
only be visited 2 weeks per month (Monday to Friday, 10am to 12am or 2pm to 4pm, entrance: 4 euros). Access is normally reserved for collectors, members of clubs, journalists and Citroën employees (children under 12 are not admitted). But I have arranged with Citroen to be able to make booking requests for my guests. Let’s go now!!