Hidden Passages

They say the best way to discover a city is to walk everywhere. You'll discover things you never realized was there.

After lunch one day, I decided to wander around the 9th. It soon began to rain and I came across Passage Jouffroy, a little pathway with skylights that connect two main streets through a building. Perfectly made for a rainy day. 

With a wax museum, a vintage bookstore, a tea room, a home decor boutique, an art gallery, as well as a store selling miniature homes and furnishings (from mini tables to kitchen appliances, paintings to little pastries, flower pots to silverware!), this passage had it all. 

 Passage Jouffroy

Passage Jouffroy

At the vintage book store, I found all these great discounted books - on architecture, photography, interior design, food, history, science, short stories, the list goes on. There was even one with full page pictures of Audrey Hepburn for just 10 euros. The perfect addition for our coffee table. :)

As I'm furnishing our apartment right now, discovering new shops is the perfect way to collect things to fill the home. Although our style is more on the minimalist-modern-contemporary side, there's nothing wrong with adding a little bit of rustic vintage to the collection.

 Passage Jouffroy

Passage Jouffroy

 Musée Grévin wax museum

Musée Grévin wax museum

While the passages are not long (though Passage Jouffroy does have this wax museum), there are also many other ones nearby that you can visit along the way, including:

Happy discovering!

Musée Jacquemart-André

I finally stumbled upon number 158 on Boulevard Haussmann, a street full of handsome residences I could only dream of living in one day. Only a small red banner tucked behind the trees indicated signs of this little musée, as if it didn't want to be found. Oh, subtlety, even when being pretentious, has always been such a French thing. 

 a small red banner of the museum

a small red banner of the museum

 path leading to the entrance of the mansion

path leading to the entrance of the mansion

The end of July marks the second month that I've been in the City of Lights. When I haven't been traveling, I've been strolling the streets, getting to know each arrondissement and its personality. Today, apartment affairs took me to the 8th for the signing of dossiers, so I had the opportunity to explore this very proper part of Paris with mostly large office buildings and elegant residences.

In the very French tradition (of secret passages and courtyards), the grand entrance of the mansion was tucked away in the back, led by a path from what one would believe to be very typical French front doors off Boulevard Haussmann. 

Édouard André and wife Nelie were the sole owners of this residence. They had no children, but as passionate and knowledgeable patrons of art, spent their whole lives collecting Venetian, Dutch, and Flemish paintings, tapestry and statues to collect in this home.

 foyer/entry room

foyer/entry room

 green room

green room

The décor and rooms all reflect an aristocrat's life in 18th century France: Édouard was born into a Protestant banking family. Nelie, however, I will let you discover on your own as to where she came from. :)

The home reminded me much of the Newport Mansions in Rhode Island, USA. Unlike art in homes there however, which were bought in entire collections (just to reflect one's wealth), the paintings in Jacquemart-André were a life's worth of work, curated by far more knowledgeable patrons who devoted themselves to art. 

 details on the ceiling of the Salon

details on the ceiling of the Salon

 elegant staircases

elegant staircases

 the two story grand ballroom, 16th century tapestries on the second floor

the two story grand ballroom, 16th century tapestries on the second floor

The first surprise of the mansion came with the sheer size and grandeur of it all. Property is incredibly expensive in Paris, and the fact that this mansion still stands today on one of the most sought after streets is quite incredible (most of the mansions along 5th ave in NYC have long been destroyed to pave way for modern infrastructure). 

And the second surprise? The incredible variety in rooms. I won't spoil it with photos, but from green rooms to libraries, ballrooms to studies, rooms for art collections to actual residential bedrooms, this property has it all. 

Oh, and if you're looking for some afternoon sun. Here are some free benches just in front of the museum. :)

Tips:

1. This is a gem of a museum in Paris. Go during the weekdays to avoid crowds.

2. The visit comes with an audio guide for free, and takes about 1.5 hours.

3. Come early in the afternoon so you can have some afternoon tea in the lovely, parisian, highly-rated café afterwards.

4. Admission: 10 Euros for students/ 12 Euros for others

Top Non-Touristy Tourist Things To Do in Paris!

I've been to Paris now on more than five different occasions for around 2-3 weeks each, mostly during Christmas and in the Spring. My boyfriend, who is from Paris, took me around to see all the touristy spots, but in uniquely French ways that I could have never discovered myself. 

So I wanted to share with you guys a few of my favorite non-touristy tourist scenes in the City of Lights. See the best of Paris, but avoid the crowds and immerse yourself like a true parisian!

 

FOR THE PERFECT VIEW OF THE EIFFEL TOWER

Trocadero Landing. Yes, this is where all the surreal pictures of the Eiffel Tower is taken! Photo credit: http://blogs.ft.com/photo-diary/tag/eiffel-tower/

#1 Tracadero Station landing

Don't go to the Eiffel Tower to view the Eiffel Tower! It's too tall! And who wants to spend 20 euros waiting in a ridiculous line just to go up an elevator and then come down again because it'll likely be too cold or rainy?! Yuck! Not fun!

On the Tracadero Station landing, you'll get a full breath-taking arial view of the Eiffel Tower and its gardens, fountains and pathways with the city's beautiful skyline as a backdrop. Oh, and the gentle breeze from the elevation makes it perfect for cuddling!! Who knew! ;)

Remember that the Eiffel Tower shimmers for ten minutes every hour after sunset! Catch it at the right time and you'll have the perfect picture souvenir! You're welcome!

OR

#2 Floating bars on the Seine

Skip the expensive Seine dinner cruise, and be utterly French when you enjoy a glass of wine on a restaurant/bar on the Seine that has views of the Eiffel Tower. There are many "floating" restaurants, so just walk around and find one that has outdoor seating. Great views and great company for 8 euros. Not bad!

 

FOR A TRUE PARISIAN SHOPPING EXPERIENCE

shopping in Le Marais - December 2013

Just like how you would never actually  shop on 5th Ave New York, don't go to the Champs-Elysees' unless you want to run into the same international brands (LVMH, Hermes, etc.) you see everywhere in the world! Try these quaint shopping neighborhoods instead for a true Parisian experience.

#1 Le Marais

With cobble-stoned pathways and beautiful 18th century homes, Le Marais is filled with boutiques, art galleries, bars and restaurants. Under dim lamps and drizzling rain, you'll feel infinitely Parisian strolling down these streets while you shop your heart out. :)

OR

#2 Rue Mouffetard

Bars, restaurants, shops, and an open market! Yes, open markets with cheese, meats, and bread are what the French are all about. On this street, you'll really understand what it means to be ohhhh so French. 

 

FOR THE PERFECT PARISIAN AFTERNOON

enjoying the sun while people watching in the Jardin des Tuileries :) - May 2012

The French loveee to enjoy their afternoons with a book or glass of wine, and the city is filled with parks and cafés for this very reason. 

#1 Take a walk in the gardens at Jardin des Tuileries and sit on one of the many benches to soak up the sun. Then head to Angelina for their famous hot chocolate and afternoon treats. 

OR

#2 Skip the fancy lunch! Pick your favorite park and buy some sandwich baguettes instead for a simple picnic in the park! You'll find plenty of people lazing around on the lawn enjoying the sun. Yet another great way to people-watch and enjoy Paris with the people you love!

Okay! That's it for now! I hope you enjoyed these tips and feel free to comment below with your favorite non-touristy tourist spots in Paris! <3 Happy sharing!

until next time ;) 

XOXO