A land of poets, painters and pure romance, Paris is one of the world’s most beloved cities. Stroll the shady tree-lined streets of the Champs-Elysées. Sip café au lait at a sidewalk bistro as a mime captivates passers by. Smile back at the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. The scintillating highlights of Paris are known and revered across the globe. From museums to monuments, gardens to esplanades, art to architecture, high fashion and finance to haute cuisine, it’s no wonder that this capital of France is regarded as one of the most romantic, stylish and exciting cities in the world.
Accommodations in Paris are as plentiful as cheese in France! Luxury hotels range from grand palaces, like the Hotel Plaza Athénée off the Champs-Elysées to the historic Royal Monceau near the Arc de Triomphe. Economy hotels, bed and breakfasts, backpacker accommodations, business and vacation apartment rentals guarantee there is something available for every budget. Wherever you choose to lay your beret and especially if you are a first-time visitor, don’t miss the city’s most famous highlights.
The Eiffel Tower
Built in 1889 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, the Eiffel Tower stands 900 feet tall and houses three observation decks, all offering spectacular views of the city. In the evening, the immense steel structure sparkles like a Christmas tree with a dazzling hourly light show. The brilliant display reflects on the velvet black waters of the River Seine, and is most magnificent when seen from a romantic dinner cruise. The river divides Paris in half, with the Rive Gauche (Left Bank) sitting to the south, and the Rive Droit (Right Bank) to the north. The Eiffel Tower is among many of the city’s illustrious sights perched on the banks of the Seine.
Though there are more than 80 museums within the Paris city limits alone, The Louvre is the jewel in the crown of French culture. Located on the Right Bank in the heart of the city, it is not only a central landmark but also one of the most visited art museums in the world. Among its 35,000 classic and modern masterpieces are the graceful statue of Venus de Milo and da Vinci’s mysterious Mona Lisa.
Perhaps the most famous cathedral in the world, Notre-Dame is on the Ile de la Cite where the River Seine forks, and is one of the iconic examples of architecture in France. One of the first Gothic cathedrals ever built, it took almost 200 years to construct. The cathedral is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, hence the name, Notre Dame (Our Lady).
Avenue des Champs-Elysées
The Champs-Elysées is an enormous boulevard known as la plus belle avenue du monde (the most beautiful avenue in the world). Lined with trees and towering streetlamps, cinemas, cafés and luxury specialty shops, it has also experienced an influx of global chains such as Gap, Sephora and The Disney Store. Stretching for 1.25 miles, the prestigious avenue ends at the imposing Arc de Triomphe, built by Napoléan to honor his victories. Visitors can enjoy panoramic vistas of Paris from the monument’s rooftop, and at its base is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Picture this: Matisse, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec. Renoir, Monet and young Picasso. Impoverished artists painting their hearts out. Today, Montmartre, on the Right Bank, and Montparnasse on the Left, remain centers of intellectual and artistic enlightenment. The district of Montmartre is on a hill of the same name, and accented by the Sacré-Cœur Basiclica, a gorgeous church and the subject of many a Parisian cityscape. Meander through the streets to see young, local artists at work. They set up their easels daily and create magic for visitors to enjoy… and possibly purchase. Montparnasse, while still a center for the arts, has also become a high-octane hot spot for nightlife.
In Paris, shopping is an art to be savored and enjoyed as much as a meal in one of the city’s stellar restaurants or a visit to one of its world-class museums. Fearlessly fashionable? Peruse Yves St. Laurent, Louis Vitton, Coco Chanel and Christian Dior.
Dining in Paris. Need we say more? The French invented haute cuisine. From casual sidewalk cafes to the most elite eateries, every morsel melts like butter – a key French ingredient – in your mouth.
Paris is replete with and renowned for its nightclubs and sizzling cabarets. The Moulin Rouge is a traditional favorite; see Cancan dancers in colorful costumes on its historic stage.
Like fine wine and cheese, Paris only improves with age. And, ooh la la! The time is ripe. Plan your Dream Vacation in Paris today!
Author: Lisa Codianne Fowler, Grand Getaways Lisa Codianne Fowler is an award-winning travel journalist, travel video host and travel radio co-host. She’s covered cities from St. Petersburg, Russia to St. Petersburg, Florida; ridden bum boats in Singapore and swum with sharks in Tahiti. An active Grand Getaways member, she has contributed feature articles from destinations across the globe.