Audrey Hepburn’s character in the 1954 film Sabrina utters the iconic line “Paris is always a good idea”, which has subsequently become a phrase readily adopted by Francophiles all over the world. Paris is in fact one of those rare places that will enchant visitors all-year-round and here are ten reasons why.
1. Picnics by the Seine
There simply isn’t a more romantic place in the world to have a picnic than the banks of the Seine. Source delicacies from a neighbourhood market, stop by the local boulangerie for a freshly-baked baguette, pair that with a selection of French cheese and, of course, bring a bottle of wine.
2. Pâtisserie perfection
A quick sojourn to Paris would be incomplete without sampling pastries from the city’s finest pâtisseries. You are truly spoilt for choice with beautiful pâtisseries in every arrondissement, so head to Rue de Bac where you can find many of the premium stores all along the same street. Other sweet highlights include macarons from Laduree, eclairs from L’éclair de Génie, l’escargot from Du Pain et Des Idées and an indulgent hot chocolate from Angelina.
3. People watching at sidewalk cafes
There are cafes located along the Boulevard St-Germain, namely Café de Flores and Les Deux Magots, renowned for once being the rendezvous of the famous French philosophers and intellectual elite such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Albert Camus. Cafes all over the city offer first-rate sidewalk seating, these charming spots are ideal for ordering a coffee and simply watching the world go by.
4. Shopping spree
Whether you want to gather bric-a-brac from the largest flea-market in Europe with some of the most opulent antique stalls imaginable, source delicious delicacies from an extraordinary épicerie like Le Bon Marché or spoil yourself with a shopping spree of high-end design – Paris is certainly the place. Rue Saint Honore is a wonderful street to begin by visiting the original concept store Colette, then take time to appreciate boutiques with inspiring interior design such as Hermes Rive Gauche or make the fashion pilgrimage to the original Chanel on Rue Cambon.
5. Meander around markets
Weekly markets are still part of Parisian local life and a most charming experience for visitors. Stalls brimming with fresh produce, loads of quality French cheese, scrumptiously scented baked goods and bunches of brightly coloured flowers. Ordering from the friendly vendors is also a great way to practice your French. Marche Bastille is one of the biggest markets with bountiful food-stalls sprawling up Boulevard Richard Lenoir or peruse Marche des Enfants Rouges Paris’ oldest indoor markets hidden within the backstreets of the Marais. Amongst the labyrinth of food vendors, the Moroccan stall is particularly enticing with a colourful display of fruit and nut studded tagines, piles of cous cous and jewel-like sweets.
6. The Eiffel Tower
For first timers to Paris, the Eiffel Tower will inevitably make your heart skip a beat. This iconic sight is truly emblematic of Paris and it will be just as magnificent as you had imagined, although don’t worry about getting too close and caught up in the tourist hotspots. It’s just as easily admired from afar – the Eiffel Tower decorates the Parisian skyline and its steely-grey elegance is a picturesque backdrop to many Parisian streets.
7. Picturesque streetscapes
Parisian streets are so incredibly scenic you could easily imagine that you are walking along a film set. Whether you are sitting at a cafe, meandering around on foot or riding a bicycle – taking time to appreciate the streets of Paris is a quintessential experience. Each neighbourhood has it’s own character and wandering around is a delightful way to get acquainted with the ‘City of Light’. Some of my favourite streets for exploring are Rue de Bac, Rue des Martyrs, Rue Lepic, Rue de l’Abreuvoir, Rue Montorgueil, Rue Crémieux and Rue des Rosiers.
8. Glorious gardens
When you need some respite from strolling around the picture-perfect streets, there are so many gorgeous gardens to enjoy. Jardin du Luxembourg is one of the best with 25 acres of grounds and a central pond used by children to sail toy boats, Jardin des Plantes is an enchanting botanical garden, Place des Vosges is a beautiful historical square in the fashionable Marais, Tuileries is the chic promenade between the Louvre and Place de Concorde, Parc de Belleville boasts sweeping views and Parc des Buttes–Chaumont is one of the city’s hidden gems.
9. Cultural capital
Although Paris is a relatively small city, culture can be found in almost every side-street, nook and cranny. Even wandering along the Seine you’ll discover second-hand booksellers lined up along the banks and musicians performing to appreciative onlookers. There are numerous cultural highlights: art galleries are in abundance so get lost in the Lourve, admire some of the greats in Musee D’Orsay or if modern art is your thing spend an afternoon at Centre Pomipodou. Watch classical ballet at Palais Garnier, opera at Bastille or catch a film at Cinemateque Francaise. If you’re exhausted after a day of cultural exploration, rest awhile with a good book in the literary sanctuary of Shakespeare and Co.
10. Paris is ALWAYS a good idea
Paris is adored by visitors all-year-round. Whether it’s the spring flowers in bloom at Monet’s Garden, long summer days spent cooling down with a Berthillion ice-cream and sun-baking at Paris Plage, the crunch of autumnal leaves along the cobbled streets of Montmartre or a romantic dusting of snow blanketing the city whilst ice-skaters glide around at L’Hôtel de Ville. It’s always magical, and to quote Audrey Hepburn, Paris is always a good idea.