I still heart Paris
Hotels in Paris, like virtually everything else in the city, are a lesson in elegance. A city that has grown under rule and revolution, it carries an unrivalled sense of style.
Paris has always attracted visitors. The Romans came and conquered the city and throughout medieval Europe, the Sarbonne, ‘the university of Paris’, attracted scholars and artists to develop and hone their skills and ideas; many of these buildings can still be found in the city’s fifth and 13th districts today.
The grandeur of the French nobility and upper echelons of the class system played out their merriment until the revolution gave birth to a more modern and enlightened city, and country, as a whole.
Then, throughout the late 19th century, the city’s ‘golden age’, there was the more recent touches added that helped shape the Paris that exists today. Its most famous resident, the Eiffel Tower, was erected, more parks were put in, the streets were illuminated with an extensive system of (now iconic) lamps, and the first sections of the impressive metro system were built. Most of this is still very much appreciated in 21st century Paris.
Most things in the French capital come with an added bit of panache, regardless of what it is that interests you. For sporty types, the clubs sides of Paris Saint Germain (PSG) and Stade Francais, that play football and rugby respectively, come with a regal sense of class and showmanship.
Stade Francais’s eccentric and wealthy owner decks his side out in psychedelic pink kits, and despite PSG’s relatively short history, they are France’s most supported and popular club.
When the club sides make way for their national teams, it is Paris’ impressive stadia that play host. And when the summer brings an end to the rugby and football season, the world’s best tennis players come for the only Grand Slam to be played on the instantly recognisable clay courts at Roland Garros, home of the French Open.
For those who want a more traditional experience in Paris, a chance to see the incredible artwork that is housed there, the list of museums and galleries is about as extensive as they come.
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There are a few things that can be done to make this process a little easier. Firstly, most museums are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so don’t head off in the morning without checking only to find closed doors in front of you. Secondly, the most popular places come at a price and involve lengthy queues; the answer is then to purchase a Paris Museum Pass.
These passes can be for two, four or six days (a two day pass costs €35, roughly £30); you don’t have to use them from the exact day you buy them but once you do they run for consecutive days. With all this in mind it is worth working out what you want to see and how much time you are willing to take. With that information, buy a pass that suits you and you should be able to do the rounds and skip the queues quite freely.
Many come to Paris for the fashion. There are of course the major fashion houses of Chanel, Hermes, Christian Dior and Givenchy, but there are also plenty of little boutiques where you can still find beautiful pieces that cost a little less.
March hosts Spring Paris Fashion Week, but there is plenty to see throughout the year, and the fashion hotspots become incredibly busy during Fashion Week. There is plenty of elegance and style on show on a day-to-day basis, and much to take in, learn and admire about what Parisians wear, and their demeanour that goes along with it.
For lovers of food it is easily possible to pay a lot of money for not very good dishes; but only if you stick near the tourist attractions of Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre and alike.
Try to find places that are tucked away from the main strips and once there order from the fixed menu, rather than the al a carte. With a little effort you’ll be able to find fixed menus that serve three or four courses of sophisticated French cuisine for around €30 or €40 (£25 or (£34). This should include a bottle of wine.
Whatever you do, you’ll find yourself wrapped up in chic Parisian life. Every head turn brings with it something pretty, quaint or sexy to see; there is a pride Parisians take in looking and feeling good and you’ll no doubt end up feeling the same.