Secret Paris

Hidden oasis. The Museum of Romantic Life (Musée de la Vie Romantique), at the foot of Montmartre hill in the 9th arrondissement is a hidden gem amongst Paris’s museums. It’s not actually about romantic life as the name may suggest, but rather the artistic era of the Romantics. Nevertheless, it’s a rather romantic place. Once the home of artist Ary Scheffer, over the years it’s been the meeting place of composers, artists and authors, including George Sand, Chopin, Delacroix, Franz Liszt, Charles Dickens and Ivan Turgenev. Accessed through a tiny, tree-lined alley tucked away from the streets, the building stands in a courtyard overgrown with flowers. There’s a shaggy little garden with a small café, giving you the opportunity to sit quietly in this hidden oasis in the middle of Paris. Inside, the home has been left in pretty much its original state, full of paintings and art, plus an extensive collection about the life of female novelist George Sand. It includes locks of her hair and a plaster cast of her arm, as well as Chopin’s hand, the more sensuous body parts reminiscent of their artistic work.

Musee de la Vie Romantique Has A Garden Where You Can Relax During A Hot Summer Day

Wall of love. In the tiny Square Jenan Rictus, just across from the lovely metro stop Abbesses on Montmartre, is Le mur des je t’aime – a black, 40-square-metre wall made from enamelled lava tiles with the words “I love you” covering it more than 300 times, in 250 languages. It’s a pilgrimage place for lovers wanting to enjoy the small park in historic surroundings, who took for “I love you” in their language. From there you can take the shady, steep steps up to the artists’ quarter, but it’s only a mere saunter to the funicular train up to Sacré Cœur.

Le Mur Des Je T’aime

Tiny temple. Away from the crowds, the Buttes-Chaumont Park (Parc des Buttes-Chaumont) is probably the prettiest park in Paris. Playground of Proust’s Albertine, who took excursions to this park earlier last century, it’s a lot more accessible from Paris today than it was then. But otherwise it is unchanged. A famous feature is the Temple of Sibilla (Temple de la Sibylle), a miniature version of an Italian temple that sits atop a steep cliff overlooking Paris, with great views across to Sacré Cœur. The suspension bridge leading to the temple was designed by Gustave Eiffel and stretches across a lake that’s surrounded by grottos and waterfalls, undulating hills that invite picnics, and even views into the Petite Ceinture, an abandoned railway line that is now an overgrown wonderland. Within the park is also one of Paris’s best-loved restaurants and bars, Rosa Bonheur.

Temple de la Sibylle

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