Behind the Doors of the French National Assembly

Journées du Patrimoine (European Heritage Days) is a wonderful event that takes place over a weekend in September. During the weekend, many buildings and monuments are open to the public and often for free. While many standard tourist destinations are open for free or reduced entry (such as the museums), what makes this weekend extra special is that many sites only allow entry to the general public over these two days of the year.

I recommend taking advantage of these exclusive openings, or at least going to places that are difficult to see during the year. Start planning right now - Les Journées du Patrimoine is this weekend, September 20-21!

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After Christmas Special: Le Musée des Arts Forain

Nestled in the Bercy neighborhood of Paris lies an unexpected surprise - the largest museum in Europe featuring fairground art. Le Musée des Arts Forain is Jean-Paul Favand's private collection and can normally only be viewed by appointment. However, there are a handful of days that the collection is open to the public (with an admission fee). This year it was open during the Journées du Patrimoine (European Heritage Days) and will also be open from December 26, 2013 - January 5, 2014.

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When a Hôtel is not a Hotel

If you are like me, an initial visit to France can leave you quite confused what the meaning of the word hôtel denotes in French. I felt encouraged my first short vacation to Paris when I seemed to be picking up on a few French words. I got off the line 1 metro stop at Hôtel de Ville, looked in amazement at the building in front of me, and turned to my husband asking, "Wow, how much do you think it costs to stay there?" Then I looked across rue de Rivoli and saw a department store called BHV (Bazaar de l'Hotel de Ville). And a little later I found that many museums in the Marais neighborhood are housed in hôtels. It appeared that the French just called anything a "hotel" in the city.

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