Fontainebleau

Travel 55½ km in a southeasterly direction from Paris, and you’ll reach Fontainebleau, a commune which actually covers a larger area than Paris itself. So it’s pretty big. Fontainebleau is known for its forest, and its château which has been developed over the centuries by successive French kings.

Le Louvre

One of the must-see attractions in Paris is the Musée du Louvre, noted for its huge collection and iconic glass pyramids. Several people recognise the pyramids from the 2006 film ‘The Da Vinci Code’. based on the book by Dan Brown. Apparently, the film company paid the Louvre $2.5million for the privilege of filming in its galleries!

Château de Maisons-Laffitte

To mark one year to the day that I first ventured to France, I thought I’d share some photos and history from the town where I lived: Maisons-Laffitte. It sits about 20km to the north-west of Paris, and is a great little town! I have already posted a few photos from walking out and about in the park, but I’ve not really said much about it… Until now!

Kensington Palace

The second day of our London trip (we’re back-tracking a bit here…) started with a visit to Kensington Palace. I’d never visited Kensington Palace before, not that I can remember at least; and our hotel was just around the corner which didn’t hurt!

Montmartre

Sat out in the 18th arrondissement is Montmartre, a district of Paris which used to be just outside the city walls back in the day. Montmartre took its name from Mons Martis, or the Mount of Mars, so technically Montmartre is the name of the hill, but it has given its name to the entire area. The district has been occupied since Roman times, and later, in the Middle Ages, it became home to a monastery founded by King Louis VI. The monastery incorporated an existing church, Saint-Pierre de Montmartre, which is one of the oldest surviving churches in Paris, dating back to the 9th century.

Domaine de Chantilly

Roughly 40km north of Paris, you’ll find Chantilly, a commune that was once part of the historic Valois region. In May, I took a trip up to Chantilly for a plant festival in the grounds of the château, combining it with a nosey into the building itself. What I didn’t realise at the time was that the castle is now the home of the Musée Condé, which has one of the best collections in France.

Musée d’Orsay

It’s one of the most well-known museums in Paris, and in fact, the world. Its collection is housed in an old train station, the Gare d’Orsay, which was finished in 1900 and was built for the Universal Exhibition in the same year. So really, the station was a work of art in and of itself.

Musée des Arts et Métiers

With over 80,000 objects in their collection, the Musée des Arts et Métiers is a pretty important one. It is an industrial design museum, which houses the collection of the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers. The Conservatoire was founded back in 1794 with the task of preserving the most important scientific instruments and inventions. It is even thought to be one of the oldest technical and industrial museums in the world!

Notre-Dame

To finish up this tour of the Île de la Cité, we headed to the Notre-Dame, one of the most famous cathedrals in the world. The first stone of this spectacular structure was laid way back in 1163 by either Bishop Maurice de Sully, or Pope Alexander III, no one really knows. It was built to replace the existing Parisian cathedral, Saint-Etienne. Bishop Maurice de Sully had it torn down as it wasn’t ‘worthy’ of the city, and so he began works on Notre-Dame. Well that’s the story anyway. Archaeological excavations suggest there was a huge structure there before construction began on the cathedral as we see it now.