Whether you love Paris in the springtime or in the fall, now is the time to book a trip to one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It’s best enjoyed between April – September when the weather is warm and the pavement cafes are buzzing with people. It’s quick and easy to get to and it’s a mecca for museums, shopping, food, wine and all the finest things in life. Full of joie de vivre? Here are our tips on how best to enjoy France’s capital.
WHERE TO STAY From grand old hotels to quirky hostels, options for accommodation in Paris are many and varied. Keep costs down by booking in to the charming Hôtel De La Porte Dorée. This quaint, three-star bolthole is located in the 12th arrondissement. Rooms are individually decorated in a chic-yet-traditional French style and service is friendly, personal and accommodating.
CULTURE VULTURE Home to some of the world’s most famous museums and art galleries, Paris is pure bliss for art fans. Whether you’re joining the crowds to see the Mona Lisa or soaking up modern art at the Pompidou Centre, there is more to see than you could possibly enjoy in a single visit to the city. However if you’re looking for something a little different, check out one of Paris’s smaller museums, devoted to a single subject. The Musée Du Parfum, for example, is a museum which explores the wonders of scent.
RETAIL THERAPY There’s no doubt that Paris is the fashion capital of the world, and if your pockets are deep enough, it’s paradise. From Chanel and Saint Laurent to Dior and Jean Paul Gaultier, some of the best designers in the world can be found on its shopping streets. It’s also famous for its flea markets, where you’ll find charming, quirky antiques at excellent prices. They take place on different days depending on location so plan ahead.
WHEN TO GO August is the month when Parisians clear out of the city and flock to the beaches and countryside for their summer holidays. Why? It’s stiflingly hot. Avoid the hottest months at all costs and go instead in the spring or autumn, when the evenings are warm and the daytime weather is mild enough for wandering the streets and getting lost down quaint alleyways.
WHERE TO EAT The French would tell you that when it comes to food, no one does it better. And they’d probably be right. Fans of Michelin-starred dining experiences are spoiled for choice, and there’s a traditional bistro on practically every corner. We find ourselves returning again and again to Bouillon Chartier, which has been going strong for over 100 years. The dining room is beautiful, the waiters zoom around in long, white aprons and simple, hearty mains cost around ten euros.
SEE THE SIGHTS Don’t bother with the Eiffel Tower. There. We said it. Sure, it’s beautiful and iconic, but you can enjoy the view from afar, and there’s no need to join the hordes of tourists to go up it. For a big-ticket sight that’s worth the trip, go to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré Coeur. Perched atop a hill in Montmartre, the views of the city are breathtaking and the gleaming white church is spectacular.
OFF THE BEATEN TRACK Unbelievably, for a big world city, Paris still has eight working vineyards. If you’d like to check one out, head to Butte Bergeyre, a small neighbourhood on a hill in the 19th arrondissement. The small, discreet vineyard clambers up the hill and only produces 130 half-litre bottles a year. Most of the city’s vineyards open in September for the Fête des Jardins. Visitors can stroll among the vines and sample the wine.
TAKE THE KIDS Paris can be a really child-friendly city, as long as you do your research in advance. From museums to parks, there are plenty of great spots to keep the little ones amused. The Jardin d’Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne offers pony rides, puppet shows, obstacle courses, a farm and an aviary with over 200 birds. When temperatures soar, Jardin-Plage is a lifesaver; it’s a top spot for big and little kids to cool off with water-themed activities.
HOW TO GET THERE Easyjet and Air France fly nonstop from Edinburgh to Paris from as little as £70 return.
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