A glimpse of what the City of Lights has to offer
by: Joy Calvar
Paris is perhaps, one of the most loved cities of all time. People from all over the world come to this romantic city to explore its enchanting beauty. Truly, many have fallen in love with its cobblestoned streets, artsy museums, historical buildings, and even heart-warming people.
Paris will never fall short of things to offer its tourists and visitors. So if you are either a first-timer or a frequent visitor of Paris, The City of Lights will surely captivate you and will charm you to keep coming back for more.
Paris is full of amazing landmarks that has awed many a traveler from all over the world. Its most famous landmark, the Eiffel Tower, has left a distinct mark on the history of Paris and has been the trademark of the city since its construction. But aside from this world’s most famous tower, Paris offers other amazing landmarks that every tourist should to see.
A visit to the Hotel de Sens will immediately transport you back to the 15th century as it is considered as one of the city’s only remaining structures from the medieval period. This well-preserved city palace was once the home of Queen Margot. Today, aside from being one of the three remaining medieval residences in the city, this gothic-renaissance architectural masterpiece houses the renowned Forney Art Library.
Located in the Ie de la Cite, the oldest section of Paris, is the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral. This gothic and Roman-styled Catholic Church gained its popularity through French author Victor Hugo’s classic, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. It was heavily damaged during the French Revolution and most of its religious imagery was destroyed. However, an extensive renovation was done in the 19th century, which restored the cathedral to its former glory. Today, Notre Dame Cathedral stands as one of the key symbols of Paris.
Another beautiful landmark you shouldn’t miss is the Champs-Elysees. Considered as the most famous avenue in the world, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées stands two kilometers long and 70 meters wide. It stretches from the Place de la Concorde until the Place Charles da Gaulle. This elegant, tree-lined avenue is one of Paris best districts for shopping and going out with hundreds of fashion stores, movie theaters, and restaurants to explore.
Dominating the avenue of Champs-Elysées is the Arch of Triumph, another famous landmark in the city. This majestic arc was raised over the command of Napoleon Ier, as a tribute to his soldiers. Until today, this 50 meter-high, 45 meter-wide, and 22 meter-thick war memorial is highly symbolic to the French. It is also open for the public to experience! High above the roof of the monument is a viewing deck that offers a panoramic view of the city. It is such a breathtaking view that the 268 steps going up will be worth it! Here’s a tip, since the Arch of Triumph is one of the few attractions in the city that is open even until at night, you can plan your visit after you have explored the city in the day.
Aside from its breathtaking landmarks, the City of Lights has also many different museums where the creative masterpieces of some of the world’s greatest artists are displayed and exhibited.
Of course, the very mention of Paris automatically brings the Louvre Museum to mind. The Louvre is one of the most popular and historic museums in the world. Its over 380,000 art pieces, which are divided into eight departments, include the famous Mona Lisa, The Code of Hammurabi and the Regent Diamond. With all these masterpieces, it is not impossible to be overwhelmed and even experience a sense of burnout. So before visiting the museum, do some online research on the key pieces that you want to see. Also, another option would be to participate in a guided tour of the museum.
Musee D’Orsay is another famous museum in Paris. This Impressionist museum, located on the Left Bank, exhibits the best works of neoclassicism, romanticism, impressionism, and expressionism. The structure of Musee D’Orsay was originally a railway station back in 1900s. It is known for displaying the paintings of famous painters such as Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Gaugin. Aside from paintings, the museum also exhibits other forms of art such as sculptures, engravings, photographs, and even films.
If you like avant-garde art, Palais de Tokyo Museum is the perfect museum for you. Opened to the public in 2002, Palais de Tokyo Museum is one of the relatively newer museums in the city. It is also considered the largest contemporary arts exhibition place in Europe with its land area of 22,000 square meters. This “anti-museum” offers “unorthodox, ambitious” contemporary art. No wonder it has a reputation for being off-beat, lively, and rebellious ̶ the reason why it is mostly visited by younger people. After a day (or night) of viewing its funky exhibitions, you can head down to the museum’s restaurant for a taste of some French-Asian cuisine.
There is no denying the fact that Paris is the world capital of fashion. Every fashionista will confirm that Paris really is a shopper’s dream. From the finest luxury brands of recognized creators to on-the-way up designers, there are simply dozens upon dozens of shops and places that you shouldn’t dare miss!
Shopping in Paris is both an easy and difficult task ̶ the former, if you already know where to find the brand you are looking for, and the latter because it could be overwhelming to visit so many places in so little time. Either way, shopping in Paris can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you should grab!
Start shopping at Paris’ first department store, Le Bon Marché. Designed by Gustave Eiffel in 1852, this luxury department showcases superb collections from men and women fashion wear to books and home wares.
Faubourg Saint-Honoré district is another place to put on your list of shopping places. This quaint shopping district is said to be the pulse of Paris design and fashion. Part of the Louvre-Tuileries neighborhood and just a few blocks from the Opera Garnierand, Saint-Honoré fashion district is where you can find classic designs like Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Hermes, and Versace.
It is best to end your day of shopping at Paris’ largest flea market, Saint-Ouen. Located at the northernmost part of the city, this market is an absolute shopping stop. Drop by this district for the best deals in antique furniture, vintage clothes, shoes, and many more.
For the love of cheese
Another thing that Paris is famous for is cheese. That is the reason why you’ll see cheese shops on almost every corner of the city. Because of its long history in Paris, cheese has become part of every Parisian table.
One of the most prominent cheese shops in the city is Barthelemy. Founded by cheese expert and author of “Guide to Cheeses of the World”, Roland Barthelemy, this cheese shop has long become a favorite stop for locals, celebrities, Michelin-starred restaurants, and the Elysee Palace. This quaint fromagerie offers over 200 regional cheeses, so tourists and visitors will have a variety to choose from, like the Epoisses and Mont d’Or that have been aged to perfection.
Another cheese shop that you shouldn’t miss is the Fromagerie Cantin. This shop was opened in 1950 by Christian Cantin, the founder of France’s Cheese Merchants Guild. Cheese lovers can enjoy the shop’s 150 varieties of cheese (including raw milk cheeses) from local farms in France. Not only that but it also offers a daily two-hour cheese tasting class for visitors and guests to further explore and appreciate the delicious world of cheese.
Cremarie Quatrehomme’s cheeses are also a must try. This fromagerie offers 200 varieties of local and international cheese from England, Italy, Belgium, and Spain. Don’t go home without sampling the shop’s best-sellers Reblochon, Fleury, and Beaufort from Houte-savoie!
After a day of day sight-seeing in Paris, you know you deserve a little treat. Have a great meal at Da Rosa, a quaint café located along Rue De Seine. Famous for its ham selections (they carve the meat right in front of you!) that are from Italy and Spain, Da Rosa also offers a wide selection menu. One taste of their melt-in-your-mouth Iberico ham and you’ll surely keep coming back!
You might also want to dine at one of the world’s leading gourmet and food specialty shops, Fauchon. It offers diners an impressive selection of food which can be taken home in cozy packaging. Try Fauchon’s crusty baguettes and sweet Madeleine paired with one of the shop’s coffee for an afternoon break. Don’t forget to take home the shop’s bestseller, Fauchon tea, which is available in different flavors.
Your Parisian dinner will be perfect at Hediard, a famous gourmet restaurant. Apart from its impressive menu, Heidard offers an extensive variety of wines from its wine cellars so diners have an option to pair their dinner with great-tasting wines. Located at La Madeleine, this cozy restaurant is also famous for its 20 minute coffee roast, tea, and sweets.
As soon as you’re done strolling along the City of Light’s winding streets, taking in the breath-taking views, and visiting exquisite shops and historic museums, you’ll discover that Paris is enchanting almost everywhere, at any time, even ‘in the summer, when it sizzles’ and ‘in the winter, when it drizzles’, as Cole Porter put it.