Paris Must-Sees: Top Tips for Spring

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Notre Dame

Photo by Steve Sampson.

Happy Birthday, Notre Dame!

This year, on Palm Sunday (March 24), Parisians will greet a sound unheard since before the French Revolution. That date is the debut of “Marie,” the new six-ton bell in Notre Dame‘s South Tower. Named for the Virgin Mary, patroness of the cathedral, she is one of nine new bells created to mark the landmark’s 850th anniversary. That’s eight and a half centuries on the Paris must-sees list.

In a yearlong program of special music, these bells will be the stars. All were cast in the Royal Foundry at Eijsbouts, Holland, by technicians working from the research of French musicologists. Marie was named after the bell she replaced—one of nine that were melted into cannonballs during the 1790s.

The new bells join Notre Dame’s 13-ton, 330-year-old Emmanuel bell. Emmanuel is a Paris monument, rung to celebrate the end of World War I, the liberation of Paris—and in sympathy with America on 9/11. Don’t miss a chance to hear it during the celebrations.

Women behind the Seams

Musée Galliera

Photo: Musée Galliera.

After four years of renovation, next fall sees the reopening of Musée Galliera. The official Paris guardian of fashion history, the Galliera is home to clothing worn by women from Mary Antoinette to Audrey Hepburn. Since taking charge of it, director Olivier Saillard has staged splendid extramural shows on Madame Grès, Balenciaga and Comme des Garçons. Now, in “Paris Haute Couture” at the Hôtel de Ville, he presents a history of the finest French fashion. Starting with the Victorian Englishman who invented couture (Charles Frederick Worth), it showcases 100 pieces from names such as Poiret, Lanvin, Vionnet, Chanel, Molyneux, Rochas, Schiaparelli, Balmain, Carven, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent , Courrèges and Jean Paul Gaultier.

Musée Galliera

Photo: Musée Galliera.

The catalog was published for Christmas and fashion fans have been drooling since. This comprehensive expo will cover couture’s entire evolution, from 1890 to 1960, and looks like the year’s least missable show. Leading up to it is another Galliera tribute, “Mannequin” (Model), at les Docks—Cité de la Mode et du Design. This is a look at fashion from the model’s vantage point, a show that traces style through the women used to sell it. Over 100 photographs, augmented by videos, spin its story of anonymous faces, runway stars and supermodels.

“Paris Haute Couture,” through July 6, 2013; “Mannequin,” through May 19, 2013

Musée Galliera

Photo: Musée Galliera.

Art A Go-Go

L'Espace Musées

Photo: l’Espace Musées.

Hoping to see Rodin’s famous sculpture The Kiss? Don’t head to the Musée Rodin, head for the airport! Here, in Satellite S4 of Terminal 2E, you’ll find the latest Paris must-see: l’Espace Musées. Inspired by partnerships in Amsterdam and Toulouse, the ADP (Aéroports de Paris) opened a 250-square-meter exhibition space of their own. The stylish spot is welcoming over 1,500 visitors a day, most of them art lovers traveling to or from Asia or North America.

Must8

Photo: l’Espace Musées.

With airport waiting times that average two and a half hours, it’s a plus to check out. Currently showing is “Rodin: Wings of Glory,” which includes crowd-pleasers such as The Kiss and The Thinker. The exposition remains open until early summer, says its curator, Serge Lemoine. Formerly head of the Musée d’Orsay, Lemoine has big plans for the future. Assisting him is a heavyweight team, which includes cochair of sales and auction firm Artcurial, as well as stage designer Hubert Le Gall.

Related Links

Notre Dame

“Paris Haute Couture”

“Mannequin”

Les Docks—Cité de la Mode et du Design

L’Espace Musées

Editor’s note: To tour Paris in style, consult some of our many Paris tour partners.

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