Step off the beaten path that leads to Jim Morrison’s grave at Père Lachaise and head instead to the lesser-known, yet extraordinary Montparnasse Cemetery. Locals bring metro tickets to leave on Serge Gainsbourg’s grave in honor of his song “Le Poinçonneur des Lilas (The Lilas Ticket Taker).” Nearby rest the poet Baudelaire and eternal lovers Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. A married couple by the name of Pigeon share a tomb that is as surprising as their family name. Susan Sontag opted for a minimalist grave, while artist Niki de Saint Phalle chose a rainbow-colored mosaic cat for the grave of her assistant Ricardo. Brancusi’s The Kiss sculpture stands at the head of his grave. Stop at a guardian’s kiosk when you enter the tranquil space and ask for a map of the luminaries who have made this their eternal resting place.

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The Best View in Paris

Forget the Eiffel Tower, the city’s modern eyesore - the Montparnasse Tower - offers the most unobstructed view of every Paris landmark of interest. Go straight up to the top viewing deck or stop in to the newly renovated Ciel de Paris restaurant on the 56th floor for a Millefeuille or cocktail with a breathtaking view.

A brief but stunning taste of spring in Paris

Spring is often slow to make an appearance in Paris but there is hardly a more magical time of year when it does. Cherry blossoms sprout boldly, lifeless parks become verdant expanses for loafing and picnicking, and spirits rise as sunshine makes its anticipated return. Given how fickle the weather is, however, it’s best to come equipped for the unseasonable. Warm scarves and socks and versatile layers will get you through the bouts of wind and rain. The season escapes before you’ve even gotten comfortable so aim for April/May for a taste of le Printemps in Paris.

Headstones of the Rich and Famous

Second only to Père Lachaise cemetery in size, this graveyard is the resting place of many internationally acclaimed artists, authors and statesmen. They include singer/songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, playwrights Eugene Ionesco and Samuel Beckett, photographer Man Ray and most notably, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, who share the same gravesite. Rue Émile Richard divides the cemetery into two parts; the larger section is where the majority of the famous folks are buried. Be sure to pick up a laminated map at the main entrance on Boulevard Edgar Quinet to more easily navigate the cemetery.

French lunch (or dinner) on the cheap in Paris

These is no doubt that Paris is a city full of amazing restaurants, but if you are visiting for any certain length in time it can start to have an impact on your wallet! What I like to do is to find the nearest “farmers” market in the neighborhood I am staying at in the morning and shop for a picnic (bread, cheese, charcuterie, fruits, olives...) and then eat at a nice restaurant for lunch (the menu is cheaper than dinner) and then for dinner I can picnic on what I bought at the market either in a park or near the Seine - its lovely and makes your food budget go a long way!

Unusual Paris: Montparnasse Cemetery

You may think we have a sort of taste for the macabre, but after visiting the Montmartre cemetery we decided to repeat the experience and explore another monumental cemetery of Paris, the Montparnasse one. We actually ended up there quite in a random way, after trying to get into the Catacombes de Paris and giving up due to a massive, incredibly long queue (eventually we would then end up leaving Paris without ever visiting the catacombes despite several attempts). Montparnasse area was not far away and we thought about having a walk around to explore the neighborhood but then, reading the guide we got tempted by this ancient cemetery! And if Montmartre cemetery had a Gothic fascinating atmosphere, Montparnasse is surely not less charming with its sculptures and bizarre decorations, illustrious tombs and large airy spaces filled with trees and flowers.

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