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Who doesn’t have a little nostalgia for those “drive in” days? The days where you used to sit in your car and watch movies on a huge screen under the stars… Well, in Paris, it’s still possible!

While you may not be able to just drive in like in the old days, you can do even better by setting up a picnic with friends on a large grassy lawn and enjoy a selection of recent and past films with the larger Parisian community. Every year,  Paris’s Parc de la Villette celebrates cinema by hosting “Cinéma en Plein Air” – an occasion to watch FREE screenings of movies by directors such as Martin Scorsese, Pedro Almodovar, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Gus Van Sant, and many more!

Having already gone several years in a row, I never cease to marvel at the simple pleasure of watching a movie in a lively outdoor setting. My only suggestions to first timers are the following :1) make sure someone in your party arrives on the early side to stake out a spot, and 2) bring some warm clothing to wrap up in if the temperature drops during the film.

Lounge chairs are available for rent for 7 euros each, or you can rent 5 chairs for 20 euros. Films begin showing on July 19 and run through August 21 and the actual movie starts when the sun sets!

Schedule of films can be viewed here: http://www.villette.com/ressources/documents/2/2337,livret_cinemavillette2011small.pdf

Parc de la Villette

221, Avenue Jean Jaures

75019, Paris

Metros: Porte de Pantin (5), Porte de la Villette (7)

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© Institut de France – Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris

Having recently seen Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” and re-lived the magical rich layers of culture that Paris possesses, I decided right then that I was going to wake up from my daily grind and end my “cultural education” hiatus. When on my way to work the following day I saw the poster for the current Caillebotte exhibit, I said to myself, “Okay, Daniella, let’s start here.”

The Caillebotte exhibit is currently on display at what was unexpectedly the most magnificent hôtel particulier I have seen. Dating back to 1875, it was the demeure of Edouard André and his wife Nélie Jacquemart. The couple was passionate about art, and thus the museum now houses one the most ravishing private collections of art in Paris. While I originally went to see the Caillebotte exhibit, I ended up spending most of my time exploring the hotel and the private collection than the exihibit itself.

@ Parisbestlodge

The Jacquemart-André museum bings to life the luxury and lifestyle of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and includes an extaordinary staircase designed by Henri Parent, the biggest rival of Charles Garnier, architect of the Opera Garnier. Wandering throught the rooms, and spending time in the courtyards or café, you forget that you are in the heart of Paris, and a five minute walk from the famous Champs-Elysées. You tend to feel a bit like Cinderella, and can just imagine a carriage pulling up and picking you up to go to the next ball.

While I do highly recommend the Caillebotte exhibit to those interested in impressionist art and its juxtaposition against photography, a new technology at the time, the museum itself is worth a visit any day of the week, special exhibit or not. It is definitely my new favorite museum in Paris!!

To get a little taste of the extravagance, here is link to the museum photo galleries: http://www.musee-jacquemart-andre.com/fr/jacquemart/607-galerie_photos/

Musée Jacquemart-André

158, bd Haussmann

75008 Paris

Tél. : 01 45 62 11 59

http://www.musee-jacquemart-andre.com/

Ourcq Canal

Not too long ago, I was enjoying an afterwork picnic on the banks of the Ourcq canal with some friends. As I gazed at the moss green water, I contemplated what it must have served as back in the day…perhaps a way to transport goods into the city? Where does it start?

That’s when I decided it might be worth exploring…exploring by bike. The following weekend, along with a friend, I rented a bike for a day at 20 euros (see here) and set out to ride up the Ourcq canal for as far as I could go.

The Poudrerie Forest

With no cars and a paved bike path the whole way, I rode approximately twenty kilometers to discover, to my suprise, grassy lawns, flowers, fishermen, kayakers, and a peaceful forest (Le Parc National Forestier de la Poudrerie).

Not only was I getting some serious exercise, but I really felt like I was outside of Paris on an adventure. Once we got out of a slightly industrial zone just north of the Parc de la Villette, it was just a long tree-lined rode along the glistening Ourcq canal. When we came across the Poudrerie forest, we pedaled on some trails through the forest and found ourselves the perfect picnic spot facing a large pond with a small island in it. Very picturesque!

Fishermen along the canal

While the Ourcq canal continued on without us, its source still a mystery, we vowed that the next bike ride would start off from where we started. We’ll get to the end someday!

All in all, if you want an outdoor, sporty day trip outside Paris for cheap, cycling up the Ourcq would definitely be up your alley. Just make sure you bring a picnic and som sunscreen, as there is hardly anything along the canal, and you are exposed to the elements. However, if you make it to the Poudrerie forest, there are some small snack shops, and one in particular that is inside a building that ressembles small castle.

Here is site (in French) with a good map and some background information: http://www.aufildelourcq.org/loisirs/promvelo.php

Happy cycling this summer!!

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