With its architectural icons, tree-lined boulevards, palaces, parks, and world-class art, opera, theatre, gastronomy and shopping – and inherent Bohemian spirit – the beautiful City of Light has something to offer every traveller.
From flaky, freshly-baked pastries and delicately scented macarons in a backstreet boulangerie to decadent Michelin-starred fine dining, Paris truly has it all when it comes to gastronomy. Despite misconceptions, it’s not all cuisses de grenouille and escargot, although you can certainly find these world-renowned delicacies if you seek them.
Historic charm and one of the best wine cellars in Paris: Complete with original wooden beams and a historic stone-walled cellar to dine in, La Truffière – which finds its home in an old 17th-century shepherd’s house – offers exquisite cuisine together with one of the largest wine lists in Paris. Try the surprise degustation featuring decadent courses laced with black truffles, such as hot souffle with black truffle honey and ricotta ice cream.
Michelin-starred decadence in the Eiffel Tower: Although it’s currently closed for renovation until spring 2019, Le Jules Verne is a restaurant worth the wait for any foodie who loves their destination dining. Located on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower, this restaurant-with-views offers Michelin-starred dining by Alain Ducasse in one of the most breathtaking locations in Paris.
Futuristic with views: Where the well-heeled and arty crowd of Paris come to see and be seen, Georges, located on the rooftop of the Pompidou Centre, is a fine restaurant in which to finish the day after taking in an exhibition. Tuck into tom yam chilli sea bass, silver cod, mushroom ravioli and foie gras, all served with a side of city views.
Whether you’re looking for a civilised pre-dinner aperitif in a classy hotel or to lose your inhibitions to live music while fueled on absinthe, Paris has the drinking hole for your needs.
Absinthe and dancing: Reminiscent of a speakeasy from the roaring twenties, Lulu White offers the night owls of Paris live music inspired by the culture of New Orleans together with an absinthe-inspired cocktail selection – if you dare.
The cocktail bar du jour: Much like its sister bars in London and New York, this mecca of mixology has become the go-to in Paris for those to whom ‘pina colada’ is a dirty word (or two words). The now-iconic Experimental Cocktail Club has a frequently-changing menu of innovative cocktail creations using unexpected ingredients.
Mexican taqueria with cocktails: The cocktail bar of Candelaria has been a frequent feature on the world’s best bar lists since it opened its doors in 2011, thanks to its artful craft cocktail creations such as La Pata Sola (Four Roses small batch bourbon, Fernet-Branca Menta gum syrup, passion fruit mousse and orange bitters) and Pombero (Absolut vodka, green chartreuse, Galliano, lemon and green peas).
Image: Hotel Monte Cristo
Accommodation in Paris is varied and plentiful. Even if you don’t have a champagne budget for all-out grandeur, you’re sure to find hidden gems in the form of quirky, stylish boutique hotels within easy reach of the city’s attractions.
Five-star and fabulously located in a historic building: The boutique Hôtel Balmoral Champs Elysées offers discreet luxury in a typical Haussmann-style building dating from the 19th century. Situated just 100 metres away from Paris’ world-famous Champs Elysées and Arc de Triomphe, guests at the Hôtel Balmoral Champs Elysées are ideally located to experience the best of Paris with the metro station just minutes away giving guests easy access to the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Marais District, River Seine, Notre Dame Cathedral and many more iconic attractions.
The hotel has won Luxury Design Hotel at the World Luxury Hotel Awards in 2017, and was recently renovated by Interior Design Architect Michel Jouannet who wanted the feeling of a ‘home away from home’ style apartment but with all the contemporary elegance of a Parisian hotel.
Unique and boutique: Hotel Monte Cristo Paris is one of the few hotels in Paris to have a swimming pool, an unexpected quirk of this arty new boutique hotel whose interiors are inspired by The Count of Monte Cristo, a celebrated work of literature by the 19th-century French writer Alexandre Dumas.
Fun and fashionable: Paris is world renowned as a fashion capital and the boutique Hotel Dress Code has its fun with this sartorial theme, taking inspiration from the fashion houses of Paris for its décor, from the houndstooth of Dior to the vibrant orange of Hermes.
By all means spend a couple of days ticking off the city’s most iconic must-sees (the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre Museum, Notre Dame), but be sure to allow time to immerse yourself in the Parisian way of life, visiting weekend flea markets, catching the latest art exhibition and soaking up the bistro and café culture.
Take a balloon ride followed by dinner in a castle: They say Paris is the world capital of romance, so when in Rome… take a balloon flight followed by a gastronomic experience at Château d’Esclimont, a castle that looks like something out of a fairytale book, bookable through French Adventures.
Gaze in awe at the grandeur of Versailles: Once the official royal residence of France and today a museum of French history, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Palace of Versailles may not be a revolutionary recommendation but that doesn’t make it any less of a must. Marvel at the sheer opulence of the famed Hall of Mirrors and the perfectly-preened 800 hectares of grounds.
Shun the romantic for the gothic: Far from the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower in the depths of the city’s murky underbelly are the Catacombs of Paris, a labyrinth 20 metres underground decorated with the bones of more than six million Parisians, which were relocated between the 18th and 19th-centuries when many graveyards were closed due to health concerns.
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