Escape to the city of style and romance on Paris city breaks.
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Think of Paris and what comes to mind? The majestic Eiffel Tower against a sapphire sky? Romantic boat trips on the Seine? Fashionable folks enjoying coffee and croissants at a chic café? Well, Paris has all of this and much more…
The aptly-nicknamed ‘City of Light’ is a shining beacon of style, culture and culinary invention. Explore the eclectic areas of this captivating city on Paris holidays. Stroll down the famous Champs-Élysées, stopping to take in the iconic Arc de Triomphe and stunning Notre-Dame Cathedral. See the enigmatic smile of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre and priceless Picassos at the Pompidou Centre. Indulge in luxury shopping at the world-class Galeries Lafayette department store or browse for bargains at a flea market. In the evening, dine on exquisite French cuisine at a Michelin-starred restaurant or sip champagne at a trendy rooftop bar while gazing at the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower.
Catch a concert or experience the excitement of the Paris marathon, in April. The summer sun begins to shine through in May and June, with days at the races, jazz in the park and the start of festival season.
Soak up the atmosphere and cheer on the runners when the 40th Paris Marathon takes over the streets of the capital on Sunday 3 April. Find your spectating spot along a route that takes in some of the city’s most iconic sights – including Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Arc de Triomphe. Then don’t miss the breathtaking stage spectacular that is Shen Yun , at the Palais des Congrès de Paris from 15 to 17 April. Prepare to be enthralled as the celebrated Shen Yun Performing Arts company presents a dazzling display of classical Chinese dance against an awe-inspiring animated backdrop. Or enjoy a perfect marriage of music and art, when the splendid Musée D’Orsay hosts ‘Apollonaire Musicians’ – a series of concerts complementing the museum’s exhibition dedicated to the poet Guillaume Apollinaire. The concerts will feature music by French composer Francis Polenc, who was inspired by Apollinaire. From 19 April to 24 May. Or bring your kids along to ‘Galloping Sundays’ at the Auteil Hippodrome throughout April, where little ones can ride the carousel and go treasure-hunting as well as enjoying the thrilling racing action.
Start the month with a trip to the Louvre, where throughout May you can see the fantastic exhibition Founding Myths: From Hercules to Darth Vader. The show asks what a myth is and how they are represented in different cultures and mediums. Then, on 17 May, Elvis Costello takes his solo show ‘Detour’ to the stage at Parisian favourite L’Olympia – expect classics galore from the New Wave impresario. Get ready for the races at the Grand Steeple Chase de Paris, one of the longest steeplechase races in the world. Taking place at the grand Hippodrome d’Auteuil on 21 and 22 May, this is one race not to be missed. The last week of the month sees the St Germain des Prés Jazz Festival in the city. Due to be another amazing event, as it was last year, with lots of world-class artists gracing the stages over a few selected venues between 20 and 30 May.
Soak up the sights and sunshine in the company of thousands of cyclists, during the Fête du Velo on Sunday 5 June. Hire a Vélib bicycle at locations all over Paris and pedal your way to the centre of the city for an enormous picnic celebration. Then the Champs-Elysées Film Festival calls discerning movie fans to this superb showcase of independent French and American cinema. New and established film-makers are given the chance to exhibit their talents in the iconic setting of the Champs-Elysées, from 7 to 14 June. From movies to music… The Fête de la Musique, or World Music Day, celebrates all manner of musical genres with a series of free concerts at locations across Paris. Soak up the party atmosphere during this unique city-wide event, on 21 June. The money saved at the free Fête de la Musique will come in handy when it’s time to hit the summer sales in late June… Paris is one of the shopping capitals of the world, and now is the time to take advantage.
Immerse yourself in culture and indulgent retail therapy in the heart of Paris. Visit the beautiful Place de la Concorde or head to the Place de Vendôme for high-end shopping. See the Mona Lisa and many more priceless artworks and antiquities at the world famous Louvre. Next door, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs celebrates decorative art. Admire the ornate architecture of the Notre-Dame Cathedral and Palais Garnier, then rest your weary feet in the gorgeous greenery of the Jardins de Tuileries.
Take a stroll down the 2km Champs-Élysées, one of the most famous streets in the world and a thriving hub for shopping and entertainment. A huge array of boutiques, eateries and cinemas await on this attractive tree-lined avenue. When night falls admire the dramatic perspective of the Champs-Élysées carving a path of light from the beautiful Place de la Concorde to the illuminated Arc de Triomphe. The luxurious Four Seasons George V hotel is ideally located for exploring this area.
Explore meandering streets crammed with boutiques, bars, cafés and clubs in lively Montmartre. Take in fabulous panoramic views from the dome of the stunning Le Sacré Coeur Basilica. Soak up the ambience at the charming Place du Tertre and admire works by the great surrealist artist at the Espace Dali. Be sure to reserve tickets for a cabaret show at the famous Moulin Rouge club, and stay at the nearby 3-star Chat Noir hotel.
Immerse yourself in culture in the chic Left Bank area of Paris. Visit stunning historic landmarks including the majestic, neoclassical Le Panthéon. Admire the wonderful architecture of Les Invalides and wander around its museums. Browse the designer boutiques or relax with a coffee in upmarket Saint Germain-des-Prés. Escape the urban throng at the gorgeous Jardin du Luxembourg. Climb to the top of the Montparnasse Tower for magnificent views and see the Eiffel Tower, in its illuminated glory, by night.
Art lovers will be in their element browsing the many galleries of the Le Marais quarter. Indulge in delectable cake with afternoon tea in the Jewish Quarter. See the glinting gilded figure atop the towering July Column at Place de la Bastille. Visit the final resting places of Chopin, Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison at the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise in Belleville. Admire breathtaking views from the stunning Parc de Belleville. For thriving nightlife, make your way to hip Menilmontant.
Writer Aurelia d'Andrea picks ten of the best restaurants for herbivores in the City of Light.