Also known as the City of Lights, Paris is not only one of the most-visited, but also the world’s romantic city. It dazzles and seduces first time visitors, as well as all those who keep coming back for more of the charm, the romance, the shopping, sightseeing, haute cuisine and the magic that Paris has to offer.
Every one of its twenty arrondissements (districts) has its own special flavor and countless attractions for the visitor. From the world-famous Louvre Museum in the 1st arrondissement, to the white church of Sacre Coeur on the hill of Montmartre in the 18th arrondissement or the liberal and artsy 13th district, if time allows, you should try to see them all.
Paris’ number one icon is of course the Eiffel Tower, which is situated right on the banks of the Seine River. Designed by and named after Gustave Eiffel, this iron lady stands over 300 meters tall and is therefore the city’s tallest building. Crossing the river from the Eiffel Tower will lead you to the 8th district, home to the glamorous Champs-Elysées. Even if your budget doesn’t allow you to shop at Louis Vuitton and Chanel, this beautiful avenue is still a great place for people watching, window-shopping and stopping at one of the more moderately priced shops. At one end of the Champs-Elysées you will see the famous Arc de Triomphe standing smack in the middle of the Place Charles de Gaulle. On the other end, you will arrive at the Place de la Concorde, where you will find two beautiful, ornate fountains, all well as an obelisk, which was a present from the Egyptian government back in 1836.
Another famous landmark is the beautiful Cathedral of Notre Dame, which is situated one the Isle de la Cité, one of the two islands in the Seine River. Also situated right by the Seine River is the beautiful Musée d’Orsay, where you can marvel at some of the world’s most impressive paintings by artists like Monet, Manet or Gaugin. Other well-known museums include the modern Centre Pompidou, the Grand Palais, as well as the gigantic Musée du Louvre.
To take a break from all the sightseeing and walking, you should do as the Parisians do. Enjoy a croissant and a café au lait in one of the many cute little cafés, which you can find almost at every corner of the city, or take a stroll in one of the numerous parks. Among the most beautiful, are the Parque de Monceau, the Jardin du Luxembourg, and of course the Jardin des Tuiléries, situated right beside the Louvre Museum.
Many people come to Paris just to shop. The city is one of European’s fashion capitals, the Paris Fashion Show being one of the most important events of the year. Don’t miss the big department stores on Boulevard Haussmann, the most important ones being Printemps, and of course the Galeries Lafayette, which boasts a beautiful, ornate dome. Good restaurants are available all throughout the city. Go to the Latin Quarter, or take a stroll down Rue Mouffetard to find one that suites your taste.
For those with more than a few days to spare, day trips can provide a welcome change to the city itself. Disneyland, the Castle of Versailles, the Loire Valley, or even London are easily accessible from France’s capital city.
Paris is an ideal travel destination year-round. The most pleasant time to visit is perhaps during spring, when temperatures are rather mild and the city isn’t too crowded. If you book your flight to Paris in July or August, prices for accommodation can be quite high, and many Parisians will have left the city, only to return in September.
© Salsa-Trips, Rico Jochen Anderer