It doesn’t matter what time of year you step foot in this most romantic of cities, your eyes are going to fizz like bottles of shaken-Pepsi as you try to take in every nook and cranny and mega-touristy-sight. That’s what makes it a Top 5 entry on almost everyone’s bucket list. It’s that place every couple wants to explore on a weekend away, every girl wants to wander around on their own before they turn forty, every family wants to make memories together and every girl squad wants to go for a bit of luxury from dusk until dawn.
The problem is: there’s so much choice. It’s like picking up the menu at a double-Michelin starred restaurant; there’s no way you have the capabilities to make this decision on your own, which is why you’ll a) ask the waitress what she recommends or b) just opt for the chef’s special. That’s Paris. A place with so much to do and see and soak up and enjoy, making it so hard to narrow it down to the essentials while still having an experience that’s as authentically Parisian as the Eiffel Tower.
So, to help you out, we’ve gone made a list of the crème de la crème in this city; places you will have heard of and others that stray off the heel-battered cobbled back streets. It doesn’t matter whether you are planning a long weekend, a month abroad, or even a few visits back and forth; curate the perfect Parisian wardrobe and then visit the essential moments Paris has to offer.
What goes first on the list is never an easy decision to make, but nothing mutters the word Paris quite like the Luxembourg Gardens. Bordered by Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter, these drop-dead-gorgeous Jardins are every Parisians favourite place; somewhere they can stroll with the best friend, lay under the spring sun, enjoy a spontaneous picnic of cold meats and delicious cheeses, and play a spot of boulle. From the basin behind the Sénat to the espaliered orchards and old apiary, the Luxembourg Gardens are the first place you need to visit when you step off the plane at Charles De Gaulle (not Paris Beauvais, as this mad little family’s adventure explains perfectly)
The glass pyramid of The Louvre is as world-famous as the steel structure of the sky-tickling Eiffel Tower. It’s the ultimate spot for all those Paris-explorers wanting to immerse themselves in culture, staring at the centuries worth of art for a little longer than anyone can explain why. There is absolutely no denying it: this is the most incredible art museum in the world, not to mention the largest, boasting moments of wow from every civilisation to ever call this planet home. Yes, you will probably want to see the most famous paintings, such as the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and Winged Victory, but don’t miss out on the other pockets this place has to offer because there is something for everyone. It’s the most amazing place to get lost.
This is as regal as anywhere on earth. Once a modest-ish hunting lodge, Louis XIV spent the equivalent of billions of dollars turning it into the monumental Château de Versailles; Europe’s most famous, most lavish and most grand palace, bar none, and that’s exactly why you need to book a Versailles tour. Explore the impossibly magnificent gardens, soak up the glittering heirlooms and pick your jaw up off the floor as you stroll through the gold-soaked-interior of this enormous palace – a project that wanted to show off the absolute power of the French monarchy at the height of its glory. It was also the first building on earth to have an elevator. A useless fact, but one that’s still pretty cool, especially if you ask your tour guide what it was used for.
The gallery of the Musée d’Orsay boasts one of the world’s largest collections of Impressionist masterpieces, pieces of art carefully created by the likes of Cézanne, Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Degas, Gauguin, and so many more. But what makes this place so wow is the majestic and massive roof of the grand-old Beaux-Arts stations. It’s an absolute must-see space hidden in plain sight, with something for everyone (and a gift shop you can lose an afternoon in for sure).
Fondation Louis Vuitton
There is no other way to say this: The Fondation Louis Vuitton is mesmerizing. It’s a feature that can steal an hour from you without you even realizing, the water flowing and ebbing in the most unnatural of ways. And that’s just part of it. This place emerges from the Bois de Boulogne like a ship with huuuge crystal sails, the entire thing adding to the Parisian skyline with grace, style, flair, and fascination. From Arnault’s infamous private collection to extensive temporary exhibitions, including the mesmerizing light displays of Olafur Eliasson, La Fondation Louis Vuitton is absolutely staggering.
If you’re looking for romantic walks plastered with an ambiance that can’t be described in words, streets more atmospheric than a Coldplay concert, baroque buildings, and high-end shopping, then you need to slip behind the gardens of Notre-Dame gardens and stroll across the Pont Saint-Louis bridge to Ile Saint-Louis. It’s got everything from regal facades to quaint courtyards, 17th-century mansions to pockets of peace and quiet – it’s an island of tranquility in the heart of one of Europe’s most hustling and bustling cosmopolitans. But forget all that history and culture for a half a moment because it’s the handmade ice-cream on sale here that really steal the show. We’re talking about ninety-plus different flavors of all-natural ice-creams and sorbets, with some of the most extravagant and to-die-for flavors you’ve ever heard of; wild strawberries, hazelnut, and white chocolate. Yup. Bertillon is one of the most famous ice cream makers in the world.
Paris is a rarity. It’s a place where you can walk down any backstreet and across any garden and feel your heart flutter like it houses a thousand butterflies, your Instagram going crazy as you spread the love from this most astonishing of places.
See you next time!