The best of Paris: Art

The smaller gems - like Musee Cognacq-Jay - can be the most powerful

It is often said that you can't mention Paris without the word "art" somewhere in the same breath. It is, perhaps, the most influential in the Western world - all of the greats like Cézanne, Monet, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec (and so, so many more) explored what it means to live, feel and be in Paris on canvas. It is the reason why I, as an Art History aficionado, chose the city for my time abroad. To be surrounded by the most magnificent work every day is a feeling I cannot put into words, even now.

Everyone comes to Paris with usually one end goal in mind: the Louvre. The former Palais Royal hosts more than 9 million visitors a year - and they all want to see Da Vinci's Mona Lisa up close. While understandable, as the Louvre hosts some of the world's most important work in all of human history (and a selection of Delacroix that never fails to astound me at the sheer magnitude and power), there is also a lot of art in Paris that might fall lower on the priority list.

I guide you through some of Paris's smaller, less world-renowned museums that are worth the time and investment. You never know - you might just run into something that will definitely take your breath away.

Musée Picasso

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WHERE: 5 Rue de Thorigny, 75003 (3ème arrondissement)

WHEN: 10:30AM - 6PM, except openings at 9:30AM on weekends

HOW MUCH: 12.50€ - free for exceptions

HOW TO: Line 8, Saint-Sébastien - Froissart

CONTACT: instagram

Located in the heart of Le Marais, Musée Picasso opened its doors in 1985 to much fanfare by the city of Paris. It hosts one of the greatest collections of Picasso's work in the world - over 5,000 that include 3,700 works on papers, sculptures, and paintings - from all of his periods. The museum does a spectacular job of curating his lifetime, focusing on his many lovers, muses, and contemporaries. Not only does it display some of his most important work (like 1904's La Celestine of his blue period as well as the 1937 portrait of Dora Maar), but the Hôtel Salé it inhabits is a particularly beautiful landmark of Paris. If you're not crazy about Picasso - check it out just for the high-beam painted ceilings and sculpture garden.

Musée National Gustave Moreau

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WHERE: 14 Rue de la Rochefoucauld, 75009 (9ème arrondissement)

WHEN: 10:00AM - 5:00PM

HOW MUCH: 6€ - free for exceptions

HOW TO: Line 12, Trinité d'Estienne d'Orves

CONTACT: Official website

The most special thing about Musée National Gustave Moreau is that the artist once inhabited it. The space was originally Moreau's studio, before he decided to turn it into a gallery displaying his own work and living in an apartment on the first floor. The collection consists of more than 1,200 paintings and 5,000 drawings, unfinished or not, in the very space Moreau created them. It is a breathtaking display - one that breathes life into the room with every piece you examine. As a lover of art history as well as a lover of those who lived it, I can't think of a more magical place to be.

For more former-studios-turned-museums in Paris: try Dali's Espace in Montmartre, Musée Rodin, and Museée Delacroix.

Musée Cluny

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WHERE: 6 Place Paul Painlevé, 75005 (5ème arrondissement)

WHEN: 9:15AM - 5:45PM, closed on Tuesdays

HOW MUCH: 8€ - free for exceptions

HOW TO: Line 10, Cluny - La Sorbonne

CONTACT: Official website

One of the last remaining medieval structures in Paris, the Musée Cluny (also known as Musée national du Moyen Âge – Thermes et hôtel de Cluny) hosts a variety of artifacts from the medieval past. It is home to six of the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries, which are a sight to behold in themselves. It can be compared to stepping inside a time machine, one that instantly teleports you to a Paris long gone but with fragments still remaining. Admiring the stained glass, tapestries and gardens are a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Musée Cognacq-Jay

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WHERE: 8 Rue Elzevir, 75003 (3ème arrondissement)

WHEN: 10:00AM - 6:00PM


HOW TO: Line 1, Saint-Paul

CONTACT: Official website

Hidden inside a courtyard of Le Marais, Musée Cognacq-Jay is a bit on the smaller side when it comes to museums - but what awaits inside is plenty. The museum's collection was formed between the years of 1920 and 1925 by Theodore-Ernest Cognacq and his wife Marie-Louise Jay, focusing on exquisite fine art and decor that consists of up to 1200 pieces in total. It ranges from fine furniture to ceramics to paintings by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Sir Thomas Lawrence and Hubert Robert. Best part: it's free - you get to immerse yourself in the ultimate of Parisian decor at no cost whatsoever.

If you like our Paris series, stay tuned for the next installment: daytrips. This time, we take you out of the city for just a minute (up to an hour away) and show you some of the most beautiful towns France has to offer.

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Three Things to Consider When Planning Your Vacation

There are plenty of things to consider when planning your vacation. Make sure you have all your bases covered by the time you buy your plane ticket!

Going on vacation is wonderful after months of stress and work. There's just one last hurdle before hopping on that plane: planning.

There can be an overwhelming number of things to consider when planning your vacation (COVID-19 not least), but putting them in an itemized list helps. Here's a quick cheat-sheet for you to get a jump-start on that.

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Remember Your Budget

If you make a budget, which you definitely should, stick to it. Don't spend more than what you can afford when you start vacationing. Vacations are meant to be relaxing, so saddling yourself with debt will only dampen the fun of your trip. How much are you spending on living accommodations, food, activities, travel? How much are you setting aside in emergency funds in case something happens?

Plan for the Length of the Trip

Are you going out of town for a few months, or do you only have a week off? How much time you have can affect where you can go and how much you can enjoy it. If you only have a week and a half for a trip, then it's best not to go somewhere that's a 16-hour flight away. Half the trip is going to be spent on planes, and the other half will be spent being jet-lagged.

Trip length can also affect how you have to deal with your home while you're away. If you're away for long periods of time, do you need to hire people to cut your grass? Do you need to hire house sitters or babysitters? There are even things to know if you need to board your dog. Keep all these in mind for extended vacations.

Consider the Weather

You never want to ruin your vacation by heading somewhere beautiful in its offseason. Depending on the time of year, most activities could be canceled due to weather restrictions. Some places are ideal for winter trips, and other destinations are made to be enjoyed during the summer heat. Plan accordingly, and don't show up in a swimsuit when it's 50 degrees outside.

That rounds up the basics, but there are plenty more things to consider when planning your vacation. Give yourself wiggle room if any unique considerations pop up in your planning process.

There has never been a better time to learn a language than right now. While we can't really travel, we can still get ready to explore the world and other cultures through film, music, and food. But the key to all of this is language. It can be hard getting started on your own and so we found the perfect solution: Rosetta Stone.

We've been loving hunkering down and digging into Rosetta Stone, a language learning app with many different languages, the best lessons, and an affordable subscription. It's flexible and made to work for you, no matter what level you're starting at. Jump back into French without dusting off your highschool books or pick up Mandarin with a clean slate.

Thinking about Rosetta Stone for your language lessons? Here are the answers to your most pressing questions:

What languages do they offer?

With Rosetta Stone, you can choose from 25 different languages including Spanish, Arabic, and Japanese. When you get the Unlimited Languages subscription you gain access to all 25 and can switch between languages. While you may be intensely learning German, you can take a break and pick up some conversational Korean — all in one app.

What are the features?

What makes Rosetta Stone's lessons really work are the incredible learning features.

Phrasebook will teach you short, useful expressions that are sure to come in handy during your travels, letting you see the practical application of what you're learning. Seek & Speak brings the fun back into learning by having you do a scavenger hunt for everyday household items and taking photos of them to get the translated name. Even in an app, Rosetta Stone turns any environment into a classroom.

TruAccent is a speech engine within the program that provides instant feedback on your pronunciation so you know if you're on the right track. You'll grow more confident about speaking aloud and it's like having an accent coach in the room with you.

How long does it take every day?

Rosetta Stone's lessons are bite-sized, so all you need is 5 -10 minutes a day to sneak in some practice and work towards your language goals. Of course, you can do more if you want but there's no regimented schedule or pressure to speed ahead.

How does it compare to in-person classes?

With the Rosetta Stone app, your learning is within your control and designed to move at your pace. The app will tailor to your particular interests, strengths, and weaknesses! Plus, with the recent explosion of online classes, most people have fallen away from in-person instruction anyway.

Rosetta Stone brings you expert teaching, fun engaging lessons, and a multitude of language options all on-the-go. Take your classes whenever and wherever works best for you, conveniently on the app.

Is it suitable for all levels?

Absolutely. When you first start, the app allows you to choose a study plan based on your experience level. So, if you're a beginner you can start from scratch and those with some proficiency can advance to where they're comfortable.

How much does it cost?

The Unlimited Languages plan works out to be $7.99 a month and grants access to all 25 languages, cheaper than Netflix. You get an education at a great value and the best part is no ads while you learn!

We look forward to our Rosetta Stone lessons and highly recommend it to anyone eager to learn a new language or even brush up on an old one. This program makes learning fun, practical, convenient, and most importantly affordable.

Say bonjour, to the go-to language learning app and have the world right at your fingertips!

Update: The folks at Rosetta Stone are extending a special offer to our readers: Up to 45% off Rosetta Stone + Unlimited Language Access!

Like so many out there I haven't been traveling. With everything going on these days I've been staying home, which I love, but it does have me itching to travel. The international section of Netflix just isn't satisfying my travel bug like it used to (trust me, if it's been recommended I've watched it).

I was looking for another way I could travel without leaving home so I did the rounds of take-out food: Chinese, German, Italian, and Mexican. This was fun and tasty but a pricey way to explore the world.

A friend of mine suggested taking a prepping approach to travel and try Rosetta Stone: a language learning program that offers an annual plan with access to 24+ languages.

I've always wanted to learn a new language but have had trouble committing. I was a bit wary about starting Rosetta Stone but ultimately decided to give it a shot.

The Unlimited Languages plan works out to be $7.99 a month for 12 months (what a deal). While I was determined to learn Spanish in anticipation of my dream trip to Spain, this plan allows me to switch to any of the other 24+ languages.

I was excited to get started and use the app. I figured with all of the extra time I had until I could actually go on my trip, I'd aspire to be near fluent by the time it happened.

Jumping right in, I took a ton of lessons through their app and really binged the language. I loved the focus on conversational language, phrases, and vocabulary but after about a week I had burned myself out a bit.

I ended up pulling back and doing 10-minute lessons a day. This was manageable and easy to incorporate into my schedule whether it was by doing a lesson over my morning coffee or winding down right before bed. Learning in bite-sized amounts helped me digest the information and really process what I was being taught.

After a couple of weeks, I was getting really comfortable with Rosetta Stone and was actually enjoying the learning process… even though I wasn't a big fan of language when I was in school. What really set this experience apart for me was the Phrasebook and Seek & SpeakⓇ features.

Phrasebook teaches short, useful expressions that I know will come in handy on my trip. Seek & SpeakⓇ definitely brought the fun back into learning for me, as it has you do a scavenger hunt for everyday household items and take photos of them. Once you do this it gives you a translation of each item (I've never enjoyed looking for cucumbers in my fridge before).

Watching so many telenovelas I knew how important the accent is (in any language) but difficult without an in-person instructor. Rosetta Stone realizes that too and uses TruAccentⓇ. The speech engine within the program gave me instant feedback so I knew that my pronunciation was on the right track and it made me more comfortable speaking aloud.

Rosetta Stone turned out to be a great choice for me. Now I'm daydreaming about traveling and feel like when the time comes I'll be ready to. I'm so confident in my learning that I've branched out and have done some lessons in Italian and French! I'm thinking, after Spain… maybe Rome and Paris? My destinations list is endless now!

Honestly, with Rosetta Stone, I feel more inspired than ever to travel and all this inspiration is happening right in my home. I can't wait to take what I've learned on the road but until then the preparation is still incredibly fun and useful.

Update: The folks at Rosetta Stone are extending a special offer to our readers: Up to 45% off Rosetta Stone + Unlimited Language Access!