Les Arènes de Lutèce: Paris’ Gallo-Roman amphitheatre.

Les Arènes de Lutèce: Paris’ Gallo-Roman amphitheatre.

One of Paris’ most important archeological remains of the Gallo-Roman era, les Arènes de Lutèce was built in the first century AD. It is believed that this amphitheater could seat up to 17000 spectators and was the stage for both theater and gladiatorial combat. After the barbaric invasions which took place during the 3rd century AD, the arena became a cemetery that was later filled in completely. It wasn’t until 1869, during the opening of Rue Monge, that the arena was discovered. Without the determination of Victor Hugo and a few others to save it from destruction, les Arènes de Lutèce might have fallen forever into oblivion!

Whether you go there for a pétanque game, to sunbath, draw, practice your ball-juggling, eat or rest, there will always be room for you to sit down and contemplate how much time has passed while enjoying a moment of peace in the heart of a busy city. Also, just like in all of Paris’ parks there’s free Wi-Fi at les Arènes de Lutèce.

Arènes de Lutèce
49 Rue Monge
75005 Paris
Metro: Place Monge, Cardinal Lemoine

Dec-Feb: 8am-5.45pm (9am on the weekend)
March: 8am-7pm (9am on the weekend)
April: 8am-8.30pm (9am on the weekend)
May-August: 8am-9.30pm (9am on the weekend)
September: 8am-8.30pm (9am on the weekend)
Oct-Nov: 8am-7.30pm (9am on the weekend)
Closing time’s around sunset basically!

Alexander Calder at Beaubourg: his Parisian years (1926-1933).

Alexander Calder at Beaubourg: his Parisian years (1926-1933).

During his first five years in Paris, Calder created and showed one of his most important works, the miniature Calder’s Circus. It is back in Paris for the first time since 1970. The figures and objects made for the Circus led Calder to make his first sculptures that used only wire, as seen in his series of animal figures and portraits of well-known personalities (Kiki de Montparnasse, Josephine Baker…) Calder’s encounter with Mondrian lead to a shift in his work: his paintings and wire sculptures turn to abstraction. It is the beginning of his mobiles: linear metal construction, simple geometrical shapes and colored spheres or motifs in sheet metal. Displayed over two levels, this show gathers over 300 sculptures, paintings, drawings, toys, photographs and films. It is the first show to be wholly devoted to Alexander Calder’s years in Paris.

March 18 - July 20, 2009
Alexander Calder at Centre Pompidou
Place Georges Pompidou
75004 Paris
Metro: Rambuteau

M-Sun: 11am-11pm
(Ticket window closes at 10.30pm)
Closed on Tuesday

Le Refectoire: French bistro food.

Le Refectoire: French bistro food.

Le refectoire means refectory. The water glasses are the same ones that French kids drink out of in the school cafeteria (the ones that have a number at the bottom.) The dishes served overall are traditional bistro food, sometimes with a twist such as the hachis parmentier (a ground beef-mash potato dish) made here with boudin noir sausage instead of beef. It would have been perfect if served a bit warmer. The hamburger comes with bacon, cheese and avocado and is served with good fries. The place gets very busy around lunch time and quickly empties as people go back to work. Le Refectoire is open all day every day of the week, the wine is cheap and good, there’s free WI-FI, the atmosphere is nice, the servers are very friendly and the few tables on the sidewalk (I’m not going to call it a terrasse) get a lot of sun. You might even get the unsolicited company of the house cat.

Le Refectoire
80 Boulevard Richard Lenoir
75011 Paris
Metro: Richard Lenoir, Saint-Ambroise

M-Sat: 8.30am-12am (lunch: 12pm-2.30pm
dinner: 8pm-11pm)
Sun: 11am-4pm

Le Jardin du Petit Palais: the Petit Palais museum’s café.

Le Jardin du Petit Palais: the Petit Palais museum’s café.

Here’s a café with a lovely terrace overlooking a lush patio, where you can have a bite at any time during the museum’s opening hours. It serves breakfast and lunch. It is open to anyone, with or without visiting the museum. If you want to get away from the busy avenue of the Champs-Elysées, and relax while enjoying free Wi-Fi, this is the perfect spot. It is right across the street from the Grand Palais and a stone’s throw away from the Seine river. Entrance to the Jardin du Petit Palais is through the mosaic-tiled garden.

Le Jardin du Petit Palais
Musée du Petit Palais - Musée des Beaux-Arts de la ville de Paris
Avenue Winston Churchill
75008 Paris
Metro: Champs-Elysées - Clémenceau

Tu-Sun: 10am-6pm
Closed on Monday