Archive for June, 2011

The World War I and II museum is part of the enormous Invalides army museum (129 rue de Grenelle, metro Tour-Maubourg, Invalides, or Varenne). It’s 8 euros to enter, but free if you are a European resident under 26 or a gendarme (and also probably for senior citizens and disabled people). A gendarme handed me his barely used ticket as he was leaving, but I later saw that it would have been free for me anyway. Saved a wait in line, though! The ticket grants access to many, many rooms filled with objects and documents that serve as reminders of France’s military past. Included among them is Napoleon’s tomb:

The area devoted to the two Great Wars of the 20th century includes propaganda from France’s colonial pursuits in Africa and Indochina, weapons and uniforms, footage of Hitler addressing crowds and Russian military posters of the Cold War.


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The Far East martyr’s room at the Foreign Missions of Paris (128 rue du Bac, metro Sèvres-Babylone) is accessible via the crypt of a large church. This free museum exhibits clothing worn by the Christian martyrs of China and Tibet, who died during a wave of persecutions from 1830-1840. Check out these sweet shoes:

Also displayed are Christian symbols concealed beneath the appearance of everyday objects from Japan.

This is a representation of the Virgin Mary, disguised as a Buddhist statue

There is so much to be explained here, from battle paintings to missionary’s Japanese prayer books (see above) that there are seemingly countless drawers underneath the displays containing long descriptions of the artifacts.This place is worth a visit for anyone interested in religion and history, especially given that it’s free and not crowded (at all. I had the place to myself).

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Buttes Chaumont

The Buttes Chaumont public garden is the most beautiful park in Paris! Everything I said about parc montsouris applies, but at 61 acres, this treasure of the 19th arrondissement (metro Buttes-Chaumont or Botzaris) is much larger and boasts beautiful cliffs, bridges and waterfalls. The flora of the English and Chinese gardens and the majestic views, especially of Montmartre, are impressive.  Here is the outside of the Italian restaurant Pavillon Puebla found inside the park:

For more photos, click here.

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Located at the Université René-Descartes (12, rue de l’Ecole -de-Médecine, metro Odéon) in an impressive, scholarly-looking stone building, the history of medicine museum presents the chronological and thematic development of surgical tools and medical appliances. It costs 3.50 euro to enter, 2.50 for students.

Although the museum is just one long room, there is a lot of information displayed behind those glass cases. Learn about 11th century Egyptian alchemists, 18th century dentures, and Pasteur’s vaccination experiments. Also, you can check out some scary-looking ancient syringes and urology instruments.

Dr. Eugene Doyen (1859-1916)

Here is a book and some specimens of nature’s little mutants.

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Musée Pasteur

I was thrilled to visit the Louis Pasteur museum (25, rue du Docteur-Roux, metro Pasteur) after having taking a class on the history of medicine, that focused on some of Pasteur’s breakthroughs (thanks for the rabies vaccine and for making milk and wine safe to drink, Louis!) The entry fee is 5 euros, 3 for students. They offer guided tours at 2:00pm, 3:00pm and 4:00pm. The tour was wonderful, starting in his lab where you can see the test tubes he used to conduct experiments. There is a detailed written guide that walks you through each display in the lab.

Then there is a tour of Pasteur’s apartment where he spent the last 7 years of his life. It has remained largely the way the family left it, in the French decorative style of the late 19th century. The tour guide explains the portraits, prized possessions and gifts that Pasteur had accumulated over the years. There I learned that Pasteur was also a talented painter, who probably could have gone to school for art rather than chemistry!

The visit finishes up with a look at the crypt where Mr. and Mrs. Pasteur are buried. Pretty elaborate, huh?


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