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.
Paris comes alive in the summer months, from cultural soirees at Versailles to ultra-modern weekenders in the suburbs. Check out the Peacock Society parties at the Parc Floral de Paris on the 13, 15 and 16 July. These are dance parties for the hip and stylish of the French capital. For the bigger, more well-established festival, head down to the Rock en Seine at the majestic Domaine National de Saint-Cloud. You’ll find Iggy Pop, Massive Attack and Sigur Rós entertaining the crowds, amongst many more, over the Bank Holiday weekend – 27 to 29 August.
By July, summer is in full-swing and open-air parties are springing up in scenic spots across the city. August brings an eclectic mix of al fresco events – from movie screenings to rock festivals and family funfairs. While September’s attractions slow things down a bit, with food fairs and garden shows – plus a soupçon of fireworks mixed in.
Experience the French national holiday festivities, as Paris celebrates Bastille day on 14 July. Enjoy the impressive military parade down the Champs-Élysées. Then at night find the perfect spot to watch the amazing fireworks display around the Eiffel Tower. The firework display will start at around 11pm and will last 35 minutes, gather around Champs de Mars and Trocadéro for a great view. Don't miss the finale of the 103rd Tour De France on the Champs-Élysées on 24 July. After riding for 21 stages and 3,519 km, the lycra-clad cyclists conclude their journey with a sprint finish in the French capital. Enjoy the warm summer evenings at the open-air cinema at Parc de la Villette, which returns this July (dates tbc). This annual festival presents movies from around the world, many of which are in English, within a beautiful Parisian park setting.
Settle down with a picnic and get ready for an evening of glorious al fresco film-viewing, as the Cinéma au Clair de Lune (Cinema by Moonlight) festival takes over some of the capital’s finest outdoor spots with screenings of classic French films, until 14 August. Then Notre Dame Cathedral celebrates the religious festival Fête de l’Assomption (Feast of the Assumption) on 14 and 15 August with two memorable events – an evening river procession along the Seine and parade through the historic Île de la Cité. Get ready for a stellar line-up of musical names, as the Rock En Seine festival welcomes the likes of Massive Attack, Iggy Pop, Foals and Chvrches to the stunning grounds of the Domaine National de Saint-Cloud – from 26 to 28 August. Or from 28 August to 11 October enjoy a feast of family fun, as the Fête des Bois de Boulogne (Bois de Boulogne Festival) brings an array of traditional fairground attractions to the lush setting of Bois de Boulogne.
Starting things off is the sixth annual Paris Design Week, where the biggest names in design come to the most stylish place on earth. Everything from interiors and utensils to skateboards and furniture is on display for your aesthetic pleasure from 3 to 10 September. The annual Le Grand Feu de Saint-Cloud (Great Fire of St Cloud) is the largest pyrotechnic event in Europe, which takes place on 10 September –next to the Eiffel Tower in Saint-Cloud Park. Then, it is the last chance to see the fantastic The Art of Blue Sky Studios on 18 September. Head to the Art Ludique-Le Musée to view a range of distinctive concept art from the Ice Age franchise, Robots and Rio animated films.
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.