Paris has always held great romantic allure for travellers and has been a byword for style, glamour and romance since pleasure-seekers started to visit Paris for weekends in the 19th century. Everyone is familiar with Paris through films, paintings and songs to the accordion celebrating everything about it from its bridges to its womenfolk. In the 19th century Baron Haussmann created a grand defensive plan for Napoleon III, with boulevards punctuated by imposing monuments. The idea was to prevent more uprisings in Paris and stop Parisians from creating barricades as the new boulevards were so wide. The dignified uniformity of Haussmann’s grey-roofed, cream shuttered houses compounds the sense of cohesion the plan created.
Finding Your Way Around Paris
The geometrical layout and long vistas make Paris an easy place to get your bearings. Stand amid a non-stop whirl of traffic at the Arc de Triomphe and you can see far along the main axis: in one direction is the modern arch of La Defense, while in the other you look past the obelisk in the Place de la Concorde to the Jardin des Tuileries, where old ladies toss crumbs to plump pigeons within sight of the Louvre, one of the world’s biggest and best art museums, ensconced on the north bank of the Seine.
Where To Go in Paris
Paris has a multitude of areas from which to choose. Students traditionally hang out in the Latin Quarter on the Left Bank, so-called because studies were originally in Latin. The once seedy area around Bastille has shaken off its past to become one of Paris’s trendiest night spots with its myriad bars and restaurants. The older quarters of Paris such as Le Marais and Montmartre are warrens of picturesque old streets. Night views of Paris (notably from a river boat, the top of the Eiffel Tower and from the steps in front of Sacre-Coeur) are part of the experience too. Strangely, the high season often finds Paris rather empty and low key during the mass exodus south.
Paris Main Attractions
Most monuments in Paris are on the Right Bank, while the islands in the middle of the River Seine are where Paris began and offer some of the best architecture. Paris’s Left Bank is more laid-back, traditionally popular with artists and the Bohemian crowd. Unmissable freebies include Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Notre-Dame and Sacre-Coeur. There are reduced entry fees on Sundays to the Musee d’Orsay, the Musee Rodin and the Louvre (all of which are free on the first Sunday of the month and cheaper on other days after 3pm).
Paris is an ideal location for a leisurely stroll as there is very little traffic in comparison to other major cities, and many of its streets and avenues afford excellent glimpse of Paris’s romantic culture.
As one the world’s top tourist destinations, Paris enjoys a broad spectrum of hotels. The choice of accommodation ranges from family-run boutique hotels to the world-renowned international chains. Rooms are in high demand all year round, so it is advisable to book early.