Explore Paris - An Exclusive Guide
A perfect day in... Paris, France
Paris is, quite simply, one of the most romantic cities in the world, and you can’t help but fall head over heels, thanks to its heady mix of spellbinding architecture, fantastic food and must-visit cultural spots.
What to see in Paris
It may be obvious, but the Eiffel Tower is one of the world’s greatest landmarks for a reason. Start your trip with a visit to this awe-inspiring structure, marveling at its soaring heights from below before scaling its 324 meters. Head to the top in one of the charmingly old-fashioned elevators, where you’ll be greeted with breathtaking views over the City of Light. Make sure to book your tickets ahead (they can be purchased online up to two months in advance). Top tip? Opt for the stair ticket, a surprisingly little-used option. The 704 steps will take you to the second floor, where you can then catch the elevator to the top. Walk down for some blissfully peaceful, largely tourist-free views.
There are so many wonders to explore in Paris, it’s impossible to take them all in one visit, but a great way to get an overview of the city – and see many of its main sights in one fell swoop – is on a cruise along the Seine on the popular Bateaux Mouches. To make it special, book onto one of their dinner cruises, where you’ll glide down the river and dine on scallops and châteaubriand as you get your fill of some of the city’s most beautiful buildings twinkling in the evening, including the Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre.
Paris on foot is also a fun way to explore the city, which is made up of 20 arrondissements (or municipal districts), each with its own charm and character. From picking up one-off finds at chic concept stores in Le Marais, to exploring the steep, winding alleyways of Montmartre – capped off with epic views at Sacré-Coeur – you never know what you’ll discover on your strolls.
As you walk, you’ll notice just how green Paris is – the city has over 421 parks and gardens. The 17th-century Jardin du Luxembourg is one of the loveliest, spread across 22 acres and home to the beautiful Medici Fountain. Here, you’ll find Parisians strolling with their dogs and hanging out by the picturesque lake, where children come to sail their wooden boats before taking in a puppet show at the Théâtre du Luxembourg. For something a little more ornate, head to the Jardin des Tuileries. Sandwiched between the Place de la Concorde and the Louvre, it was designed by André Le Notre, the man behind the gardens at Versailles.
What to do in Paris
When it comes to art, nowhere rivals Paris. There’s an enticing gallery or museum on practically every street corner, but if you only have time to visit a few, start with the Louvre. Spread across over 650,000 square feet and home to nearly 35,000 objects, it’s easy to get lost exploring its cavernous halls. You may struggle to get close to the Mona Lisa or the Venus de Milo thanks to the jostling crowds, but there are plenty of other wonders to see, including thousands of Egyptian antiquities and Medieval treasures.
Just across the river sits the Musée d’Orsay, housed in a stunning Belle Époque former train station and home to one of the world’s finest collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, with works from Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh. To get the most out of your visit, book a guided tour, where you’ll get an overview of the museum’s key highlights and unmissable pieces. For something completely different, head to the Fondation Louis Vuitton, with its space-age Frank Gehry architecture and roster of contemporary exhibitions.
Paris is, of course, also synonymous with shopping. You’ll find high-end brands and upmarket boutiques – Chanel, Balenciaga and Hermès, amongst many others – on and around Rue Saint-Honoré in the first arrondissement. Galeries Lafayette is the cream of the department store crop, particularly during the holiday season with its grand Christmas tree displays. For one-off trinkets, make a beeline for the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, one of the largest flea markets in the world. Open Friday to Monday, there are over 1,500 stalls to explore, selling everything from antique furniture and paintings to vintage clothes and quirky bric-à-brac.
What to eat in Paris
As the capital of haute cuisine, Paris offers plenty of fine dining options, from the triple-Michelin-starred Épicure at Le Bristol to La Tour d’Argent overlooking the Seine, where the signature dish is the canard à la presse (pressed duck). For a quintessential Parisian brasserie, you can’t beat La Coupole in the 14th arrondissement, where everyone from Jane Birkin to Henry Miller has come to feast on gigantic seafood platters and beef tartare.
Paris is renowned for its baked goods, and rightly so – you’ll find a boulangerie selling freshly-baked baguettes and croissants on almost every street corner. Two of the best in the city include Du Pain et des Idées, which has been open since 1875, and family-run Poilâne, famous for its large loaves of country bread and punitions, their signature shortbread cookies.
For sweet treats, there’s nowhere better than Angelina, on Rue de Rivoli, which has been serving up elegant pastries and moreish hot chocolate (claimed to be the best in the city) since 1903. The long wait in line for a table in its grand, gilded dining room is definitely worth it.
For more information, go to parisinfo.com
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