Paris in the springtime

Paris is an old favourite, but that doesn't take away from its charm. Whether you're a first-timer or are back for more, here are a few suggestions to make you fall in love with Paris this spring.

Why go?

Paris is the world’s most romantic cliché, but this is one place where the reality outstrips the myth. Tree-shaded boulevards, bridges illuminated by wrought-iron lamps and wicker-chair-lined café terraces lend the city charm, while the grand public monuments add grandeur to remind you that this is one of the most beautiful cities on earth.

Every corner of Paris is a story in itself – in some arrondissements (districts), that means a boutique-by-boutique contribution to what is the fashion capital of the world, while elsewhere it’s an idea of sophistication as intangible as it is unmistakable.

Things to do

The Eiffel Tower is beautiful from any angle, while the views from its three platforms enable you to literally have Paris at your feet.

Ranking alongside the world’s most famous tower as an icon of Paris is the Musée du Louvre, arguably the world’s most important, and certainly the largest, gallery for fine art.

On a smaller scale, the Musée d’Orsay is an astonishing collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and art nouveau masters housed in a renovated former railway station.

Beyond that, Paris’s sights read like a roll-call of urban masterpieces. And even if you manage to find the time to stroll through the Jardin du Luxembourg or along the Champs Élysées; explore Île St-Louis and its tearooms; look for the ghosts of French luminaries past along the Boulevard St-Germain or in the Cimetìere du Père Lachaise; climb up to the gargoyles of the Cathédrale de Notre Dame de Paris or the Basilique du Sacre Cœur in Montmartre, you’ll still barely have scratched the surface.

Where to stay

Paris’s near 80,000 hotel beds are largely occupied on any given day, so book as far ahead as you can.

The reasonably priced Hôtel de Blois is a gem. Rooms are comfortable and the location close to St-Germain is terrific.

Light-hearted and loads of fun, the boutique Mayet Hôtel has bright murals and a penchant for primary colours and oversized clocks. The rooms may be a little small but the location’s great.

Designer hotels are a Paris speciality, and the luxurious Hôtel Sezz, with its modern decor, is close to the Eiffel Tower.

The extravagant Hôtel Costes spawned a lounge-music revolution and has become a byword for Paris style. Staying here is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Where to eat and drink

Michelin-starred restaurants rub shoulders with bistros offering pared-down food by big-name chefs.

Brasserie Bofinger is brasserie dining in art-nouveau grandeur. The food is sublime, as is a seat under its glass cupola.

The elegant 116-year-old Comptoir de la Gastronomie serves treats such as caviar and truffles.

The modern French cuisine is on a par with the views at Le Jules Verne, situated on the second level of the Eiffel Tower. Try the pan-seared veal with creamed spinach.

La Tour d’argent opened in 1582. The Silver Tower’s pressed duck still mesmerises, as do its views over Notre Dame.

Baudelaire and Jean-Paul Sartre both imbibed at La Closerie des Lilas, where Hemingway wrote The Sun Also Rises.

How to get there

The two main airports are Aéroport Roissy Charles de Gaulle and Aéroport d’Orly – both have rail connections to Paris.

This article was originally published in March 2011 and was republished in May 2013.