France Virtuelle

France Virtuelle: Summer 2023

Happy Summer! For those of us dealing with the crazy heat and storms that are plaguing large portions of the northern hemisphere, I hope you and yours are doing ok!

As you may have noticed, I had to take an unexpected break away from PGB. Unfortunately I, like many others, was impacted by the layoffs that swept through the tech world in late spring. But never fear, a new contract was found and I’m finally back on track with everything! Barring dealing with a sweaty, sweaty summer. My cat, who loves to nap under blankets, has been liberally using the “temperature paw” method of staying comfortable.

Picture of author's cat, with paw poking out from under a blanket to stay cool
Like mother, like daughter. I also stick my foot (or sometimes knee) out to cool off!

Summer In The City

Since tourism season is upon us, I wanted to focus this installment of France Virtuelle on just enjoying the city. From the comfort of home and not among the throngs of tourists. Though if you tackled Paris or Europe at all this summer, let us know how it was in the comments!

Practical Tips

Let’s start with Jay Swanson, who has relaunched his “20-in-20” series with a fresh look and fresh ideas. In the series, he goes through all 20 arrondissements, pointing out his favorite places in each. Frequently he brings along his sweet dog Cooper, who quietly and adorably steals the show.

I chose the 19th from the ones he’s released so far (his current as of writing is the 11th). I think a lot of us—me included—aren’t as familiar with the 19th as we are with some of the other more central and touristy districts. Plus, Cooper. 🐶

Walking Around

Seriously, is it a France Virtuelle without ART VISION? 😉

I try to limit myself to only one or two of his videos but each of these really stood out.

Le Marais Around the Old Temple Area

This one and the next I thought were great for getting a little bit lost the quartiers they explore. They both wander off the beaten path and we get see the side streets in areas that are otherwise quite well-touristed.

Plus, I love Le Marais for its history, especially the medieval and early modern. The Temple area is particularly rich with history and the nooks and crannies time has left in the city’s design. There were definitely some new spots for me in this video and it’s a great look at the neighborhood vibe of Le Marais!

Palais Royale & the Opera Garnier

Next, we skip over to the area around the Palais Royale and the Opera Garnier. Again, he wanders through some spots that I have never explored. Admittedly, I have spent less time in the area around the Opera than I have in Le Marais. And when I’m there, it’s usually quite targeted. Either hitting the grand magasins or going to the Opera Garnier (for a tour, performance, or just the gift shop, it’s always worth it!).

Sadly, the opera house itself is currently wrapped in scaffolding and giant ads while she gets cleaned up for the Olympics. But you do get a giant Timothée Chalamet shilling for Chanel, so all is not lost. We also have a giant Anne Hathaway and Zendaya shilling for Bulgari. Luxury advertising is oddly fascinating, isn’t it?

Bastille Day

One more from ART VISION.

He camped out near pont Alexandre III to get a great framed shot of the bridge and the Eiffel Tower for the Bastille Day fireworks.

I’ve set this to (hopefully) start when the show begins (at 35 minutes, just in case). But if you want to watch the sunset and the Eiffel Tower come “on,” you can watch from the beginning.

I enjoy that we get to see the full show, as if we too were sitting along the Seine!

Olympics Prep

Speaking of celebrations, we are one year away from the 2024 Paris Olympics! Setting the scandals aside, it looks like it is going to be epic!

Admittedly, I’m not a huge Summer Olympics person. Sorry, 30+ years in the Mountain West means I’m a Winter Olympics gal. But it seems like this is going to be an incredible event!

I am excited about the new sports, including skateboarding (finally!), break dancing (aka “breaking”–so cool!), and surfing (dude!). The surfing will take place in Tahiti, which is technically part of “France” as one of its overseas territories.

To get you ready, we have the always informative and charming couple Les Frenchies. They’ve brought us a great video on what to expect and how to prepare for the Olympics.

Are you interested in attending? Do you already have tickets?

Museum Moment

And to round things out, we have a lovely look at the Musée Carnavalet from new YouTuber Allons-y Charlie.

We start with a quick look at the place des Vosges before heading into the museum itself. The shots of the courtyards from the upper floors are particularly stunning, but the whole video is a lovely walk through the museum and the neighborhood.

Before we start, one quick note about the assertion in the video that the Musée Carnavalet is the oldest museum in Paris. This is technically incorrect. (As The Tim Traveller likes to warn you: pedantry ahead!).

Using the definition of a museum as a space to exhibit historical and cultural objects, I believe the Louvre is the oldest public (not private collection) museum in Paris. It opened under the Revolutionary government in 1793. The Carnavalet opened in 1880.

Using the definition of “oldest building now being used as a museum,” this goes to the Musée de Cluny, since it is in a late medieval building (built 1485 to 1510), with bonus Roman-era building attached. (If you know of a museum displaying historical objects or art that is in an older building, let me know!). The Carnavalet was built 1548-1560.

However, it does have one “oldest” claim that seems to be legit: it is the oldest museum in the Paris Musées stable of museums. These are the city-run museums, which are all free (thank you, Paris!). And the wording of the claim on the Carnavalet website, “The Carnavalet-History of Paris Museum is the oldest City of Paris museum,” can definitely lead to confusion!

Pedantry aside, kick back and enjoy this gorgeous video!

Summer Plans?

Do you have any summer or early fall plans to head to Paris? Have you already been this summer? Let us know in the comments what you are excited about or what awesome experiences you had!

À bientôt!


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Image Credits

Cat’s Paw: Author’s personal collection (and cat), ©2023 Michelle Keel

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