In the springtime, the autumn, the winter (when it drizzles) or the summer (when it sizzles!), this romantic city seduces every moment of the year.
No matter the season, Paris has a timeless familiarity, with more recognisable landmarks than any other city in the world. The graceful wrought-iron spire of the Eiffel Tower, the broad span of the Arc de Triomphe standing sentinel above Paris’ most glamorous avenue, the Champs-Élysées, the gargoyled Notre Dame cathedral, lamplit bridges spanning the Seine and art nouveau cafes spilling onto wicker-chair-lined terraces are indelibly etched in the minds of anyone who’s visited the city – and the imaginations of anyone who hasn’t (or at least not yet). But despite initial appearances, Paris’ cityscape isn’t static: there are some stunning modern and contemporary icons too.
Paris’ dining is also iconic: France’s reputation for its cuisine (the French word for ‘kitchen’) precedes it. Whether you seek a cosy neighbourhood bistro, a secret supper club or a triple-Michelin-starred temple to gastronomy, you'll find every establishment prides itself on exquisite preparation and presentation of quality produce, invariably served with wine. Enticing patisseries, boulangeries (bakeries), fromageries (cheese shops) and crowded, colourful street markets are perfect for packing a picnic to take to the city’s parks and gardens. And a host of culinary courses – from home kitchens through to the world’s most prestigious cookery schools – offer instruction for all schedules, abilities and budgets.
Parisians are synonymous with style and fashion shopping is the city’s forte. Paris remains at the forefront of international fashion trends, and browsing emerging and established designer boutiques and flagship haute couture houses is a quintessential part of any visit. You’ll also find uberhip concept stores, quirky home and garden shops, and resplendent art nouveau department stores, along with a trove of vintage shops and flea markets, atmospheric bookshops (including the distinctive green-metal bouquiniste stalls lining the banks of the Seine), some adorable children’s wear and toy shops, art and antique dealers, venerable shops selling state-of-the-art professional cookware, and, of course, gourmet food and wine shops galore.
With an illustrious artistic pedigree – Renoir, Rodin, Picasso, Monet, Manet, Dalí and Van Gogh are but a few of the masters who lived and worked here over the years – Paris is one of the great art repositories of the world, harbouring treasures from antiquity onwards. In addition to big hitting museums like the world’s largest, the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay’s exceptional impressionist collection, and the Centre Pompidou’s cache of modern and contemporary art, there are scores of smaller museums housing collections in every imaginable genre, and a diverse range of venues mounting major exhibitions through to off-beat installations.
Why I love Destination
By Catherine Le Nevez
Paris’ grandeur is inspiring but what I love most about the city is its intimacy. Its quartiers (quarters) are like a patchwork of villages, and while it’s one of the world’s major metropolises – with all of the culture and facilities that go with it – there’s a real sense of community at the local shops, markets and cafes that hasn’t changed since my childhood. Yet because every little ‘village’ has its own evolving character I’m constantly discovering and rediscovering hidden corners of the city.