To visit Paris is to visit one of the greatest cities in the world. In fact, many would say that a visit to Paris serves as a crash course in how to live. People don’t rush lunch. Children are doted upon. Hairdressers are always busy. And although you can’t take Paris with you, when you return home, that sense of how to live will linger.
Stroll along the banks of the Seine and take in the view of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Notre Dame. Stand on the Arc de Triomphe to see the leaf-lined avenues of the city spread out before you. Lose yourself in the narrow streets of Montmartre and challenge yourself at the modern Centre Pompidou.
Indulge yourself in culinary ecstasy. From light and flaky croissants in the morning to a rich slab of foie gras in the evening, Parisians love food. From the neighbourhood bistro to the Michelin-starred restaurant, dining out in Paris is a joy. For the genuine foodie, Paris is the holy city. For the art lover, Paris is the holy city. For the lover, Paris is the holy city. And it doesn’t stop there.
Paris is rich in literary history too. Inspire yourself by sipping coffee in the cafés that entertained Hemingway, Sartre, Camus and Simone de Beauvoir. Track down clues from bestselling thriller The Da Vinci Code, from the glass pyramid of the Louvre to the church of St Sulpice. Roam around Notre Dame looking for Esmeralda and keep a watchful eye out for any one of the Three Musketeers.
Haggle over antiques in flea markets across town, climb the steps to the cube some call a modern monstrosity in the zone called La Defence. Party til dawn in the city’s pulsing nightclub scene and laze away afternoons in the grassy tranquil parks. Shop for spices in open air markets and scrub and soak your cares away in the magnificent hammam in the Paris Mosque.
Shop for fashion in the homeland of Coco Chanel and drown in designers on the classy Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Tiptoe around the Palace of Versailles and imagine life in the time of Marie Antoinette.
Celebrate the city’s scientific side at Marie Curie’s old office and think about milk at the Louis Pasteur Institute. Fill your mind with the music of Edith Piaf and the marvel of Rodin’s sculpture The Kiss. Test your stomach with the freshest steak tartare and turn people-watching into a game known as “spot the baguette”.
Above all else, take the time to enjoy life. The rest of France may consider life here to be a crazy, fast-paced, wretched way to live – but to the rest of the world it’s a sweet, soothing tonic.
Beauty. Romance. Good food. Fine manners. A city seduced by lanterns, awash with culture and alive with innovation and the ability to surprise. Its nickname may be the City of Lights rather than the oft-confused City of Love. But regardless of convention, Paris is a city to love. And one to return to again and again.