France’s capital city is mentioned in so many travel brochures that you might be starting to think that it’s overrated. Well, I’m here to defend the City of Love’s reputation on behalf of all the foodies, nature lovers, shopaholics, and history nerds out there! I’ve composed a list of five reasons why you must visit Paris at least once in your lifetime, if you’re currently doubting whether the city is really for you.
1 | The Architecture
From the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame, Paris is full of unique architecture. Why would you want to miss out on getting an iconic photo of you touching the tip of the Louvre Pyramid, or seeing the grand, ornate buildings that line the River Seine? My personal favorite is the Centre Pompidou in the 4th Arrondissement. It houses a library, museum, and center for musical research; however, it’s the outside of the building that really interests me. Designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, the Centre Pompidou features exterior elevators and colorful tubes, making it look like a human hamster cage. Where else could you see something as weird and wonderful as that?
2 | The Culture
Whether you’re into painting and photography or music and dance, Paris really does have it all when it comes to culture. The most iconic cultural landmark is the Louvre, home to the famous Mona Lisa painting; however, there’s much more to see in the gallery beyond this well-known piece, including Islamic art exhibitions, and more modern works from the 21st century. Be sure to check before you visit for up-to-date information on current exhibitions.
If you’re more interested in music and dance, don’t miss the Moulin Rouge. Home to the world’s most famous cabaret show, this famous red building, complete with its much-loved windmill, is a must-see while in Paris. Although tickets are pricey, the cost is worth it to see the talented performers, and the home of the cancan dance.
3 | The Shops
If you’re looking for a glamorous shopping experience, look no further than Paris. For designer brands, like Versace and Yves Saint Laurent, check out the area surrounding the Louvre, or the world-famous Champs-Elysées. If you prefer quaint boutiques, head to Le Marais. This district, often known as the Jewish Quarter, is home to smaller shops, selling everything from top-quality clothing to handmade jewelry. The city’s flea markets are also popular, especially for those looking for something one-of-a-kind. The largest of these is the Saint-Ouen Flea Market, where you’ll find vintage clothes, and unique antiques.
4 | The Food
From buttery croissants to melt-in-your-mouth steak, Paris really is every foodie’s dream! If you’re in the mood for something savory, be sure to try French classics, like duck confit, Croque Monsieur, and escargot. If you’ve got more of a sweet tooth, you’ll be spoilt for choice! It seems like every other shop is a bakery, selling eclairs, macarons, or one of my personal favorites, Paris-Brest (choux pastry filled with praline-flavored cream). While there are plenty of chains, the softest, most buttery pastries come from independent bakeries and cafés, and taste best when washed down with a strong cup of coffee.
If you fancy a change from French cuisine, head to Le Marais for the tastiest falafel around. The area has a number of falafel restaurants, but the best, and most popular, is L’as Du Falafel. Not only are the meals extremely reasonably priced for Paris, but the portions are absolutely huge; however, I’d recommend arriving at least thirty minutes before you want to eat, as the queues often stretch outside the door.
5 | The Views
Paris’ most famous viewing platform is at the top of the Eiffel Tower. At nearly 280 meters tall, the two floors of The Top make for unbeatable views over the capital. Despite its popularity, I think there are lots of better and cheaper spots for a fantastic view over the City of Love!
Many people don’t know that as well as admiring the Arc de Triomphe from the streets of the Champs-Elysées, you can also climb to the top of it. From 50 meters above ground, you’ll get spectacular views of the surrounding landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower itself. Alternatively, head to the Montparnasse Tower, where you can take a 38-second elevator ride to the 56th floor to enjoy panoramic views. On the next floor up, you’ll find an open-air observation deck, where you can enjoy a glass of French champagne, while taking in the sights of Paris.
6 | The Nature
If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Paris’ busy streets, look no further than the Tuileries Gardens. Regardless of the season, you’ll love walking through this peaceful space in the heart of Paris’ 1st Arrondissement; however, the gardens really come alive during summer, when fairground rides and ice cream stalls pop up around the park.
Even the city’s green spaces can get a little hectic, so I wouldn’t blame you for wanting to escape Paris for a day! If you do decide to leave central Paris, there’s no better place to go for some nature than the Palace of Versailles. As well as the beautiful building itself, this landmark is home to incredible gardens, stretching eight square kilometers. Along with a huge range of plants and flowers, the gardens host over 50 water features, nearly 400 statues, and around 35 kilometers of canals.