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Six things to do before leaving Paris.

Quirky things to do

How often do they tell me that the thing to do in Paris is to visit the Catacombs and the Sewers ? Why would I want to look at the remains of 6 million dead  Parisians in a  former stone quarry or  visit Les Egouts de Paris and see what the Parisians have just had for Lunch ? No,  I leave that to the Beavis and Butthead generation of goth teenagers who get some kick out of doing this ,and who think that  it is novel ,yet are following an old ghoulishness derived from the 19th century.   I prefer to seek out the unusual, the little known Museums ,the best food or drink producers that have made Paris famous. Here is my Insider’s List:    

1. Jacquemart-André Museum, 158 Boulevard Haussmann, 8th District, Nelly Jacquemart painted a portrait for  the rich banker Mr André, it took a long time,they fell in love and married, she then gave up painting and spent his money on buying exquisite art. Now there’s a story . The house is open everyday  from 10 till 6pm. There is an excellent Restaurant/Tearoom in the house.

2. Camondo Museum, 63 rue Monceau,8th district, Moses Camondo was a rich banker who adored everything to do with Marie Antoinette and thought the late 18th century was the epitome of civilized taste, so he got his architect to build a replica of Le Petit Trianon (Marie Antoinette’s little hidey hole at Versailles) in the middle of Paris. Tragically his son was killed in the First World War and his entire family liquidated at Auschwitz in the Second World War. Open Wednesday-Sunday 10-5.30pm.

3. Absinthe sent the artists cuckoo-mad. Bitter wormwood and a spoonful of sugar. Vincent Van Gogh  and Gauguin indulged heavily. By World War One the French Government banned the sale of Absinthe fearing the troops would  run riot. Now it is back in town at Vert d’Absinthe,11 rue d’Ormesson,in the 4th district. See www.vertdabsinthe.com

4. Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate ! Jean-Paul Hévin has 3 shops full of it in Paris. He is a Chocolatier at 231 rue Saint Honoré in the 1st district, 3 rue Vavin in the 6th, and 23bis Avenue de la Motte Picquet in the 7th district. See www.jphevin.com    

5. Ladurée, patissier,chocolatier,confiseur, tea room and restaurant and the best macaroons in Paris –small, round ,crunchy, soft centred macaroons made from crushed almonds,sugar and egg whites in an array of bright colours: light pink,deep pink,purple,green,yellow with raspberry,blackcurrant,pistachio,lemon and chocolate flavours packaged in a light green box with a ribbon- an excellent  light souvenir or original gift from Paris. Ladurée has shops at the following locations: 75 Avenue des Champs Elysées, 16 rue Royale- both in the 8th district and  21 rue Bonaparte in the 6th district. See www.laduree.fr    

6. Cave Augé,116 Boulevard Haussmann,8th district, metro Saint Augustin, one of the best wine shops in Paris to find a top Bordeaux or Burgundy and right down to little known small domain wines at reasonable prices from 6 euros up.