Across the river from my apartment on the Ile St Louis is the oldest area of Paris, the Marais. One of the oldest and most charming of the structures there is the Hôtel de Sens, a late medieval palace from 1475 which could easily fill in for Cinderella's castle.

The garden side faces a main street and even in the blustery winter weather was a place you want to spend an afternoon. The palace now houses the Forney arts library since 1961. This organization dates from the late 19th century and was created to promote artistic craftsmanship among the city's workers and is naturally open to the public.