Home to more than ten million, Paris is the centre of European commerce and a cosmopolitan world capital. It is unique, the world capital of fashion and art, a city that offers so much more than just the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Champs Elysees. The City of Lights is home to the greatest museums, exclusive experiences in its parks, gardens, cafes, concert halls and its grand boulevards. And the back streets are what makes Paris that much more exciting – the city’s restaurants, the famed gourmet food stores, and the bakeries are experiences to be savoured. With so much to do, planning for Paris can be a daunting affair, but it doesn’t have to be, here are our suggestions
What better way to get your bearings in a new city than discovering it on foot. It might be tempting to take the metro, but walking along the Seine, along the boulevards is a great way to get introduced to the charm and beauty of Paris. Tag along on a walking tour, there are several of them that operate in the city on a daily basis. The best part is there are several free walking tours, but please do remember to tip your guide once they have taken you through the city’s charming neighbourhoods. The Montmartre, the Marais, and the Latin Quarter are best explored on foot, but, for neighbourhoods and arrondissements, you really need to consider a convenient Paris taxi.
The must sees
The one breathtaking site that no one ever misses, and you shouldn’t either is the Eiffel Tower, the iconic monument built by French engineer Gustave Eiffel for the World Exhibition of 1889. If you have time, ride the elevator to the top but do remember that the queues can be long. However once at the top, the views over the city make up for the time you have spent waiting to get up there.
Take a walk along the Avenue des Champs-Elysees, and visit the adjacent Arc de Triomphe that Napoleon built for himself. The exquisitely restored Grand Palais that hosts grand exhibitions is at the other end of the avenue. And a landmark not to be missed along rue Lepic, past Van Gogh’s old house is the Sacre Coeur basilica, a Byzantine-styled structure which again offers great views.
Take a cruise on the Seine and watch graceful Paris slip by. The ride takes you past some of the city’s most famous landmarks and you can hop-off and hop-on all day long. The stops include Eiffel Tour, Champs Elysees, Musee d’Orsay, Louvre, and Saint-Germain-des-Pres.
When in Paris, a visit to a museum is a must. With over a hundred of them, you are spoilt for choice. The Musee d’Orsay, the Louvre of Mona Lisa fame, Musee Carnavalet and the Passage des Panoramas are some of the most visited ones.
Off the beaten path
Venture off to the far reaches of Paris, and explore the authentic and ‘real’ Paris. The Marche Aligre in the Bastille area has the liveliest market in the city. Take a sip from a wide array of wines at some of the legendary wine bars around and head off to Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, an oasis of green frequented by the locals and known for the towering rock that rises from the middle of a lake. In the evening, head to the suburb of Saint Ouen, Paris’s flea market or you visit the Bois de Boulogne that’s modelled after London’s Hyde Park. Take a day trip to the gardens of Versailles or alternatively head to the little village of Giverny and visit the Monet House and Gardens where Claude Monet, the father of the Impressionist art movement, built his home.
The foodie’s paradise
The capital of gastronomy as it is also known, Paris offers a vibrant mix of cuisines from across the world. Besides the famous French bistros, you could pick anything from Lebanese to Japanese at the food hall in Marais. For meatballs that melt in your mouth, you could head to a new restaurant called ‘Balls’. If you are a connoisseur of Mediterranean cuisine, visit the Chez Jeanette and the Cafe des Musees is where you can savour classic French dishes. Paris has unrivalled food options, and the best way is to check them out using some of the popular food apps available to find the best gastronomic delights in Paris.
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