The P?re Lachaise Cemetery (Boulevard de M?nilmontant, M?tro: P?re Lachaise), is the final resting place for a veritable Who's Who of France. Both beautiful and serene, what really makes P?re Lachaise unique is the emotional and reverential crowd that visits the graves. Jim Morrison's tomb is the sight of a constant vigil, replete with candles, constant strains of Doors classics, and fans who appear to have taken a short break from their normal Deadhead/groupie routine. Gay playwright Oscar Wilde's tomb, erected by an admirer, is remarkable for its etched Deco design and moving tribute on the back. Note the lipstick stains left by adoring fans who've kissed the stone in his memory. Be sure not to miss the monument containing the ashes of opera diva Maria Callas, as well as the side-by-side graves of powerhouse lesbian literary couple Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas.
If you linger too long (and a full day, with picnic, is not overdoing it), you may experience another side of P?re Lachaise: It becomes a notorious cruising area for men who are known to lurk behind the graves of their favorite celebrities.
There is so much to see and do in Paris that we won't even try to offer comprehensive coverage here. The slim green Michelin Guide is the most comprehensive, accessible look into French history and culture. Paris Access offers a fun, funky view of Paris organized by neighborhood. Paris Walks, by Alison & Sonia Landis, covers five unique walks around the city. Some of our subscribers have used, and been quite satisfied with, the services of a personal guide, Antoinette Azzurro, owner of Paris Personalized, who helps visitors discover "the true Paris" in style.
As far as our favorite sights (and this is as subjective as it gets), we say don't leave Paris without visiting the Mus?e d'Orsay (1 rue de la L?gion d'Honneur, 7e; +33-1-40-49-48-14) -- the best Impressionist show on earth -- and the Mus?e Picasso (H?tel Sal?, 5 rue de Thorigny, 3e; +33-1-42-71-25-21), a great view of his art and his life. Naturally you should stop by the Louvre (34-36 Quai du Louvre, 1e; +33-1-40-20-53-17; 8-13 EUR) with its I.M. Pei pyramid entrance, the re-opened Mus?e de l?Orangerie (Jardin de Tuilleries at Place de la Concorde, 1e; +33-1-44-77-80-07; www.musee-orangerie.fr; 7.50 EUR) and its neighbor the Jeu de Paume (Jardin des Tuileries at place de la Concorde, 1; +33-1-47-03-12-50).
Also a must is the definitive Rodin Museum (H?tel Biron, 79 rue de Varenne, 7e; +33-1-44-18-61-10); the Mus?e Jacquemart-Andr? (158 blvd Haussmann, 8e; +33-1/-5-62-11-59; 9 EUR), the best decorative arts museum; the Eiffel Tower (Champ-de-Mars, 7e; +33-1-44-11-23-23); Op?ra Garnier (place de l'Op?ra, 9e; +33-1-72-29-35-35), and, bien s?r, N?tre Dame (6 place du Parvis Notre Dame, 4e; +33-1-42-34-56-10). Check out the Maison de Balzac (47 rue Raynouard, 16e, +33-1-55-74-41-80; 2-4 EUR), a fine, old house in Passy that is now a literary museum devoted to his life and work.
Paris, the city of light, is also the city of parks. Two oft-overlooked green gems are le Parc Bercy (Metro: Bercy), a peaceful refuge from Paris's hubbub in the 12th arrondissement and le Parc Andr? Citro?n (located along the Seine in the 15e), a joyous celebration of Paris' obsession with technological achievement.
We could stroll the streets of Paris until our feet ached and still not tire of its romantic promenades. If you're with someone you love, take his or her hand and a camera, and head for the gorgeous Luxembourg Garden, or the Tuileries, or the banks of the Seine, around the charming streets of Montmartre, down the Champs-Elys?es or Boulevard St. Germain des Pr?s, and underground, if you're so inclined, through the remarkable sewer system, Les Egouts (Pont de l'Alma, 7e; +33-1-53-68-27-82) or the skull-lined Catacombs (1, avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 14e; +33-1-43-22-47-63).
Paris is chockfull of studios presenting gay artists and gay-aesthetic works. Au Bonheur du Jour (11 rue Chabanais, 2e; +33-1-42-96-58-64) sports a wide variety of homoerotic works. Images by the Baron von Gloeden to those by Voinquel, not to mention the sublime athletic bodies shot by Bruce Weber.
Galerie Yvon Lambert (108 rue Veille du Temple, 3e; +33-1-42-71-09-33): the charismatic Yvon Lambert divides his time between New York, Avignon, and Paris. This gallery has become a must for all fans of contemporary art. Photographs, videos, and installations are housed under a glass roof.
Devoted to young artists and contemporary work, Galerie Baumet Sultana (20 rue Saint Claude, 3e; +33-1-44-05-40-08-90) includes paintings, photography, sculpture, and other diverse mediums. Another gallery that targets young and just-starting-out artists is Galerie La Ferronnerie (40, rue de la Folie-M?ricourt, 11e; +33--1-78-01-13-13), located near the very hip Oberkampf area. This gallery features all traditional mediums and also installation and video art.
Galerie Thierry Marlat (2 rue de Jarente, 4e; +33-1-44-61-79-79) is devoted to modern and contemporary photography. Call ahead to make a viewing appointment.
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Paris: Where to Stay
Paris: Where to Eat
Paris: Where to Meet/Play