The mighty ‘Roland Garros Stadium’, named after a French war hero aviator from World War I is the only tennis stadium hosting a Grand Slam event that’s not named after tennis great. It was built back in 1928 and has been the home of the French Open since it’s inception as the ‘French Internationals’ in 1925. French tennis players held sway on the world stage in the interwar years winning the Davis cup for five years straight beating the Americans time and time again on their home soil. Understandably tennis was cancelled for the five years of World War II, but after hostilities ceased there was no stopping the parade of big servers and heavy hitters demolishing their rivals on center court.
In 1968 the ‘French Internationals’ became the first of the ‘Opens’ when amateur and professional players competed in the same tournament. The three tennis events that make up the Grand Slam or, The Majors are; Wimbledon that follows the French Open in July, the US Open in September, and the Australian Open that kicks off the tennis calendar in January of each year.
All these tournaments are played to the same rules; Five grueling sets for the men and three for the women with tie break to decide the last set, but all have their own flavor being played on different surfaces; synthetic Rebound Ace in Australia, grass at Wimbledon, a fast, hard cement surface in the US, and the unmistakable slow red clay courts at Roland Garros. It is the nature of how the ball plays on this surface that results in the longest rallies in international tennis with the players often making dramatic slides to reach the ball. This makes for real edge-of-the-seat, heart-in-the-mouth entertainment for the nearly 15,000 spectators around centre court.
The city of is Paris known variously as the City of Light, the City of Love or the City of Glamour, and a trip to Paris is a dream for many. A stay at either of these amazing villas will take your dream into the realms of the sublime. To make some sense of this sprawling city it is good to know that it is organised into municipal areas known as arrondissement, each of which has it’s own local flavor.
Paris Villa 1032
This villa is a four floor townhouse with lift. Located in Le Marais which is part of the chic 4th arrondissement where you will find some of the city’s major historical sites such as the world famous gothic Notre-Dame Cathedral.
As soon as you step through the door of the traditional four-story Parisian home that is Villa 1032 will you leave the rest of the world behind and step straight into France. You are immediately surrounded by uniquely French interior design with chandeliers, traditional furniture and gilt framed French artwork that is both cozy and grand at the same time, a style that dazzles but never looks like it’s trying too hard. The dining area has a real candle chandelier hanging under a traditional beamed ceiling, and there is also a delightful study where you can keep up with your business interests without being cut off from the rest of the house.
Outside on the ground floor, there is a delightful conservatory and courtyard finished with cobblestones and traditional planting.
Both these areas have outdoor dining options to that allow you to take full advantage of the beautiful late spring weather. Also downstairs there is an indoor pool and fully equipped gym.
Sets of bi-fold doors open up to the two sumptuous main bedrooms. Each of these rooms are decorated in a rich masculine style with gilt furniture and brocade covered walls – unmistakably French! The other two bedrooms are completely different in style and outlook.
One, upstairs at the top of the house echoes sun filled French country houses of the south and is decorated in the popular Provincial style with white walls filling the room with light. The other is features a delicate, feminine French Empire style in green and gold with touches of pink.
There’s a lot to see in the area around this villa. The Marais, one of the city’s oldest quarters, was a royal favourite under Henri IV and Louis XIII but fell into ruin after the French Revolution and had it’s fortunes revived as late as the 1960s. It is the only area in the city that preserves the narrow, winding mediaeval streets of pre-renaissance Paris.
Nearby is the National Museum of Modern Art, the Centre Georges Pompidou. Here you will find 50,000 works of painting, sculpture, architecture and other media in the collection. Two floors are given over entirely to the major 20th century movements such as cubism, surrealism and pop art.
The Hotel de Sens is a little-known but beautiful medieval residence in the 4th arrondissement. Built between 1475 and 1519 it was originally home to the archbishops of Sens. King Henri IV’s wife Queen Margo lived there while she indulged her eccentric and lavish tastes. Today the residence houses an arts library.
This part of town is also the home of the old Jewish quarter where you will find delicious Middle Eastern and Yiddish/Eastern European specialties such as felafel and Yiddish cakes and pastries.
When you think of Paris, you think of shopping. Head over to the 2nd arrondissement where you will find beautiful covered arcades or galleries. The area is around rue Cadet abounds with these charming arcades that were the precursors of the modern department store. One of the best is Passage Vivienne, or Galerie Vivienne an original, glass roofed arcade that is lined with many specialty shops such a tailor, cobber, restaurants, a confectioner and bookstore.
However, the best way to maximize your shopping time and minimize the stress of getting around Paris is to book yourself into a shopping tour. Imagine being taken to all the places only known by a local and have a personal shopper in tow! Contact the organizer with what you want to achieve on the tour and a personal schedule will be arranged to make sure that your Paris shopping dreams come true.
However much you love shopping, Paris offers so much more. If you’ve never been to Paris before – or even if you have – a great way to orient or re-orient yourself soon after arrival is to book into a Paris in One Day tour. Starting at 9:30 am, the morning is spent seeing all the major landmarks including The Louvre, the Champs-Elysées, Notre-Dame Cathedral. You will then enjoy lunch at one of the restaurants on the Eifel Tower. The afternoon takes you to Versailles and the day finishes with an evening dinner cruise on the River Seine departing from the base of the Eifel Tower.
Other tours you could take include a day tour taking in the splendour of the grounds surrounding the fabulous Palace of Versailles by bike where you will see Marie Antoinette’s country garden and enjoy a picnic by the Grand Canal. Another great tour is to set aside a day to visit Père Lachaise Cemetery. Buy a map and stroll around this amazing place to see the final resting places of some of the famous people buried there: Oscar Wilde, Frederic Chopin, Honoré de Balzac, Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein and Countess Marie Walewaska who was the mistress of Napoleon.
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Some times the 15th arrondissement is described as a little dull, but when staying at Villa 1033 it is so close to the border of the 7th arrondissement that you need to be prepared for the wow factor as soon as you see the inside of the villa.
If your greatest dream was to go to Paris, then waking up in this apartment each morning you will need to pinch yourself to make sure you’re not dreaming. Lying in bed in this apartment, the first thing you will see each morning out of the bedroom windows of this penthouse is the most unmistakable icon that Paris has to offer – the Eiffel Tower!
Most living spaces in Paris are tiny; in fact it’s not unheard of for people to live in apartments that are no more than 10 square metres. Staying here in Villa 1033 you are utterly, utterly spoilt with 300 square metres of top-of-the-range luxury penthouse apartment to call you own.
This apartment is a world away from traditional Parisienne décor and architecture with sleek modern lines decorated in white-on-white accented with glass, leather and blond wood. The casual living area transforms itself with flick of a switch sliding the roof open and allowing Paris to fill the room.
The modern stainless steel kitchen with it’s impressive bench space and state of the art appliances will inspire you to break out your inner French cook and take advantage of the bountiful fresh produce from the local markets. Even the main bathroom is so very French – you to sink back in the large bath and look out over the Eiffel Tower.
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Paris is one huge shopping experience, so it can be difficult to know where to begin. One of the main shopping districts is Boulevard Saint Germain that is conveniently located nearby in the 15th arrondissement. Stroll up towards the intersection of Rue du Bac and Boulevard Paspail for home décor, fashion boutiques and gourmet food. Also tucked away near the intersection of these two streets is the mecca for shoe lovers from all over the world the Christian Louboutin store on Rue de Grenelle not far from Villa 1033. Turn the other way down the boulevard and into the neighbouring streets, eventually you will find the fabulous department store Bon Marché which is the oldest department store in the world. The 15th also boasts one of the best patisseries in the city Pierre Harme on the rue de Vaugirad where you can sample all the delights of French patisserie.
The 15th is the area where one of the most famous landmarks that is known all over the world came into being. It was here in the late 19th century that Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi worked on the Statue of Liberty, a gift to the people of the United States of America that now graces the entrance to the harbor in New York City. A copy of the famous statue can be seen at the Grenelle gate.
Tucked away up in the north east of the city in the 10th arroindessment you will find the quirky and charming Canal St Martin. If you’ve seen and loved the 2001 film Améile you will recognize this area from its character filled streets and the iron bridges that span the canal. Give yourself a day to take a walking tour along this little known gem.
A trip up the steep hill of Montmarte – the Mount of Martyrs – may seem like a too much effort, but there is a quick and easy way to get up there on the Montmarte Funicular, a type of railroad that will take you up to the top. Once there you will be able to wend your way down the hill at your own pace taking in detours through the twisting lanes. Start with a tour of the famous Basilica of Sacre-Coeur, Make sure you go past the Moulin Rouge which was the icon of the Belle Époque, the Beautiful Age forever captured in the art of Toulouse Lautrec and the many other famous painters who lived in this area at the turn of the 20th century.
Another famous Paris landmark is the Champs-Élysées. This boulevard in the 8th arrondissement runs between the Place del la Gaulle and the Place del la Concorde and is the hub where the Bastille Day parade that takes place each year on 14 July. Along this sweeping boulevard you will find theatres, luxury shopping and many café’s and bistros.
The Arc De Triomphe at the end of the Champs-Élysées was originally built to commemorate those who fought and died in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic war and now houses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Memorial Flame. Be careful trying to get across the many lanes of traffic circling the Arc as it is renown as one of Europe’s most crazy traffic spots!
Apart from shopping and famous landmarks France is also deservedly worlds famous for it’s superb cuisine. During your stay why not hone your kitchen skills and take a series of cooking classes. One of the best schools is la Cuisines Paris. This school specializes in all teaching you all the technical skills you will need to master French cuisine. You will be taken through baking and pastry, preparing classic bistro lunches, and be taken on tours such as a cheese and wine, and a patisserie tour. You will be shopping like a native after taking their tours of famous food districts such as Les Halles.
You could spend the rest of your life in Paris and still not eat your way through all the amazing restaurants, bistros and cafes that the city has to offer. But a couple of places you should surely visit include Le Procope – the oldest café in Paris which first opened its doors in 1686. Here you will be eating in the same rooms as some of the greatest minds in French letters such as Voltaire, Rousseau and Victor Hugo and they have also served foreign luminaries such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.
Another place worth visiting for the real French dining experience is La Rotonde in Montparnasse. Established in 1911, this is where Picasso ate and Hemingway described in The Sun Also Rises. Most Parisian restaurants offer much the same menu in much the same kind of atmosphere, so it’s worthwhile taking a detour to this historic brassiere where you will enjoy a typically Parisian dining experience with the locals.
Another thing Paris is known for is art galleries and museums and is home to the best-known museum and art gallery in the world is in Paris – The Louvre. Here you will find such iconic art works as DaVinci’s the Mona Lisa included in the 35,000 item collection that includes something from every just about period in history from Egyptian, Roman and Greek and on into the Medieval and modern time. However, be warned that the crowds can be huge with long waiting times just to get in the door. A good idea is to join a tour on one day that will take you around all the most popular exhibits, and then set aside another day to go back and look around at the lesser-known pieces at your leisure.
If you want to get off the beaten track and you are interested in natural history head off to the The Museum of Comparative Anatomy and Palaeontology in the Jardin des Plantes. Here you will see a staggering collection of reconstructed animal skeletons from all around the world that was brought together in the late 19th century. Outside in the gardens is an amazing historical collection of plants from far and wide that were first brought together as a royal garden in the 17th century.
If your taste runs to the macabre, then you might like to visit the The Catacombes. Descending more than 20 meters below the bustling streets of modern Paris you will be immersed and surrounded by more than 2000 years of French history. This labyrinth houses the remains of around 6 million Parisians that were transferred here in the late 18th century from an above ground cemetery that had been operating for nearly a thousand years.
After a visit to the catacombs, you might be in need of a little light entertainment, so a visit The Museum of Carnival Arts will be in order. This museum is not open to the general public, so you will need to visit the website to join an already scheduled tour, but it is well worth the effort to organize. You will be taken back in time to an age where entertainment meant a visit to carnivals and the circus, or to the theater and the music hall. Here under one roof is an amazing collection old carnival attractions and games from days long gone by – you can take a ride on a carousel of horses and another made up of old-time bicycles.
Another lesser-known museum to visit in Paris is the Army Museum that has an impressive collection of military history and houses the tomb of Napoleon I. This museum is divided up into two sections – ancient and modern, but the most interesting is the Département Ancien with it’s extensive collection of medieval armour for soldiers and their horses and beautifully made historical weapons such as the sword owned by King Francis I.
So, come to Paris in the springtime for the Paris Open and book in to stay in either one of these outstanding villas. Organize yourself some tours, then branch out and explore on foot. Eat and drink in the cafes and bistros, shop in the amazing department stores and beautiful shopping arcades, pause on the bridges crossing the Seine to take in the beautiful vistas in every direction. It is guaranteed that when you leave, you will leave a part of your heart behind for you to reclaim on your next visit. You can be sure that once you have been here one visit to this magical city will never be enough!
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