Romantic, stunningly beautiful and nicknamed the ‘City of Lights’, Paris, with its elegance, charm and culture, captures every visitor’s heart. Home to the world’s fashion centre, great art galleries and museums, exclusive shopping streets, iconic landmarks, magnificent palaces, Michelin-starred restaurants and luxury hotels, the city offers quintessential French living in all its glory. There’s no better place on earth for the holiday of a lifetime or the celebration of a special occasion. The heart of historic Paris is bisected by the slow-flowing River Seine, with its sophisticated Right Bank given over to the city’s most famous street the Avenue des Champs Elysees, along with the Place de la Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe. In complete contrast is the bohemian Left Bank, the haunt of artists, writers and philosophers in an earlier era. Hemingway, Picasso, Sartre, Matisse, Toulouse Lautrec, Gauguin and more drew their inspiration from its laidback ambience.
You could spend weeks checking out the attractions in the French capital, such is the scope and depth of sights here. They are spread far and wide and can mostly been accessed by Metro. The Eiffel Tower, Louvre museum and Arc de Triomphe are all world famous and must-dos.
- Eiffel TowerConsidered a monstrosity by swathes of architects of the day is Paris’ top sight, the lofty Eiffel Tower. This iron behemoth is somewhat of a symbol of the country and has a wonderful setting on the Seine. Views are naturally amazing up top, as is the restaurant, if you can afford it.
-The LouvreThis must-do art museum is the world’s most famous art repository, containing as it does Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and pieces by Rembrandt, Titian, Rubens and co. Also on site are fine sculpture and furniture collections and the modern pyramid out front has become somewhat of a draw in itself. The former royal palace is huge and needs good planning to avoid burnout.
-Arch de TriompheThis massive arch sits proudly on the Champs-Élysées and was the brainchild of one Napoleon Bonaparte. The neoclassical arch hails from the early 1800s (of the battle of Austerlitz fame) and rises a whopping 50m or so above the Parisian traffic. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is under the arch. Be sure to see it by night when it is beautifully it up.
Eating and drinking and shopping nearby
For traditional French cuisine, nothing beats L’Espadon at the Ritz Hotel on Place Vendome, although L’Epicure at the Hotel le Bristol comes close. Asian cuisine is also a favourite, with Japanese restaurants all over the city. Paris has numerous bars in all arrondissments (districts), where French beer and wine can be enjoyed, and there’s also a good club scene. Shopping is a major draw, particularly for fashion in the Fauberg Saint-Honore and Marais areas. The Champs-Elysees, with its great choice of hotels, such as the Hotel Park Lane Paris, is good for Chanel, Dior and Louis Vuitton. Other spectacular hotels in the area the Hotel San Regis and the Paris Marriott.
Getting to Paris is straightforward, whether by air, rail or road. Charles de Gaulle International Airport receives flights from all over the world, while Orly International Airport offers flights from European cities and Beauvais Airport is the hub for Ryanair. The city’s six mainline stations receive trains from across Europe, including the Eurostar from London, which terminates at the Gare du Nord. Self-driving trips from the UK and other major European cities can be done via motorways and autoroutes, although driving in the city itself can be frustrating due to the high volume of traffic, lack of parking spaces and winding medieval streets.