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Russia in Paris

Take advantage of the sudden fall chill to enjoy a bit of Russian culture in the French capital. If you were too afraid of the lines to venture out for the Journées du Patrimoine, you can still find your way into the swanky Russian Ambassador’s residence, the Hôtel d’Estrées (79 rue de Grenelle, 7th) for the exposition “Arts et Traditionas en Russie: de Pierre Le Grand à Nicolas II“.

This 18th-century hôtel particulier with formal French garden was built by Robert de Cotte (Louis XIV’s architect) for the Duchess d’Estrées, and acquired by the Russian government in 1863. All of the Russian emperors stayed here through the 1917 revolution, when it became the official Soviet Union embassy, the in 1977 it became the residence of the Soviet, and now Russian, ambassador.

The exposition highlights a very bling-bling collection of art, historical objects, silver, and even Tsar Nicolas II’s throne. The setting is reminiscent of Versailles (without the crowds). Open to the public September 18-19 and September 25-26, from 10am-6pm. Can’t make it? Check out the video tour here.

If you’re a Tolstoï fan, there’s a free exposition on “War & Peace” (Guerre et Paix) at the Dialogue Franco-Russe (120, avenue des Champs-Elysées, 8th), with artworks commemorating the 200th anniversary of Napoléon’s historic (and tragic) Russian campaign, as well as the history of Franco-Russian relations. Open Monday-Friday 10am-1pm and 2-5pm. Note that this is all in French (and possibly Russian), so if you only read in English, it’s going to be a quick visit! 

Finally, if you’re in the neighborhood you might as well also visit the beautiful Cathédral St Alexander Nevsky (12 rue Daru, 8th), the largest Russian orthodox cathedral in Paris. Individuals can visit outside services on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday from 3-5pm. Although we’re not officially in Russia, I would not recommend any spontaneous punk rock performances.

Photo by Secrets of Paris intern Henry Chan.

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