Paris - What to do!
Posted on 28 September 2015
Considered to be one of the most romantic cities in the world and only a short train ride away from London, it makes Paris perfect for a short break.
The city centre is ideal for visiting on foot (or bicycle), with every turn revealing a famous landmark, a cosy café, a smart boutique or a busy boulevard.
Now where to start? The soaring Eiffel Tower, the mammoth Louvre Museum, the cathedral of Notre-Dame?
All are worth seeing but for us we like to meander through the cobbled streets and absorb the cities atmosphere. There is so much to do and see in this wonderful city that sometimes it is best to let the city show you the way! Wonder into that secluded museum and rummage through the old book store.. you never know what you might find or what will inspire you..
Our top areas to visit in Paris are:
A magical quarter in the third and fourth arrondissements, full of aristocratic stone mansions that can only truly be appreciated on foot. Follow the rue des Francs-Bourgeois, the perfect source for unusual gifts, and peer into the Cour d'Honneur, the astonishing main courtyard of the Archives Nationaux. Then take a detour along rue de Sévigné, where the Musée Carnavalet and some quirky fashion boutiques are located. Cross lovely place des Vosges and walk through the two courtyards of the Hôtel de Sully. Or join an organised group with Paris Walking Tours (+33 1 48 09 21 40).
CHATEAU DE VERSAILLES
78008 Versailles (+33 1 30 83 78 00; www.chateauversailles.fr)
The queen, or king, of all palaces in the world, Versailles was built in 1623 by Louis XIII, the father of Sun King Louis XIV. The Château was enlarged and rebuilt by kings before the 1789 revolution, and in the post-revolution by the Napoleonic emperors. Versailles is the home of a massive and beautiful park, and the Hall of Mirrors, in which the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919. Don't miss the Grand Apartment of Louis XIV, a true tribute to the King of Kitsch. Château de Versailles is reached by train from Montparnasse or Gare Saint-Lazare, or by bus from Pont de Sèvres. Open Tues-Sun
Our top restaurants in Paris are:
CAFE DE FLORE
172 boulevard St-Germain, 75006 Paris (+33 1 45 48 55 26)
The legendary hangout of Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir is still the place to experience Parisian café society. It remains multigenerational, international and a steady favourite with writers, artists and film directors. With its understated 1930s style, slightly tongue-in-cheek service and ability to take on a new feel at different times of the day, it's suitable for anything from a business breakfast to a nightcap
9 rue de l'Eperon, 75006 Paris (+33 1 44 41 00 09)
If Yves Camdebord's Le Comptoir du Relais is full - which it invariably is - don't fret. A short walk away is this new bistro, a little treasure trove of raw brick, chalkboard menus, wooden beams and hearty terrines. The menu is impressive value for this part of town (€28) and generally features classics (scallops with cauliflower purée, for instance) as well as more adventurous dishes such as marinated mackerel with Mediterranean vegetables and Parmesan sablé, and flavoursome oxtail, beef cheeks and pressé de veau (a kind of terrine) with a puy lentil salad. There is game in season - at reasonable supplements - and all dishes are executed with an accomplished grace. This is chef's food which, along with a short but reasonably priced wine list (with many bottles under €20), explains why L'Epigramme is a popular chef's haunt.
Our top park in Paris is:
JARDINS DU LUXEMBOURG
15 rue Gît-le-Coeur, 75006 Paris (+33 1 42 34 23 62; www.senat.fr)
The park's green metal chairs provide an ideal perch from where to observe a perfect microcosm of Paris society - residents, tourists, students and dragueurs ('flirts'), early-morning joggers, children at the boating pond, dog-walkers, chess, boules and tennis players - all set against the backdrop of the French senate.