15 ways to allure you to the beautiful city of Paris

In Europe, France, Mini Breaks, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, World Travel by Janis10 Comments

Style, elegance, charm and culture, Paris has it all.

I can imagine it now, I’m gazing out of the window of a bustling street-side café, savouring a smooth glass of Burgundy. Almost lost in my thoughts that drift across the tiny wooden circular tables, with the enchanting tones of soothing French accents all around.

The Metro station of Cité, on the Île de la Cité, with its beautiful art deco decoration, including railings signage and lighting.

The Metro station of Cité, on the Île de la Cité

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Yes, it has to be the alluring boulevards of Paris. Without a shadow of a doubt, this captivating city and the stylish Parisian ethos is one I will never tire of.
 
The history, the architecture, the culture, the cuisine and of course the wine. I fell in love with Paris the first time we visited, nearly 20 years ago.

The side view of the Palais Garnier, home to the Paris Opéra with a gilded gold statue to Charles Garnier in front of the classic architecture.

The side view of the Opera

Like all cities, it has its good and its bad. However, I think I will always struggle to find anything that would deter me from returning. Here are a few reasons why I love the city sooo much.

Montmartre

Montmartre is a fascinating district of Paris to stroll around, full of character day and night. Although the main reason to visit here is the incredible Sacré-Cœur Basilica.

The white stone of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Paris set against a deep blue sky.

Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Monmartre

The Sacré-Cœur is so synonymous with Paris’s skyline and can be seen from miles around. It’s a beautiful sight and sits elegantly at the highest point of the city. The views from here are stunning, you can see all across the rooftops of the city stretched out below.
 
Prior to heading back down, you must take a stroll through all the little lanes by the Sacré-Cœur. The bustling cobbled streets are full of cafés, boutiques and street artists.

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Moulin Rouge

The other nearby treat is the Moulin Rouge, the birthplace of the can-can. The original red windmill that is so iconic to Paris was unfortunately destroyed by a fire in 1915.

A Black, white & red image of the roofline of the Moulin Rouge focusing on the bright red mill that takes centre stage.

The Moulin Rouge

Not to be defeated the music hall was rebuilt and reopened in 1921.

It has been frequented over many years by the rich, famous and infamous.

For a great evening’s entertainment full of feathers and fun why not grab yourself a seat at the "Féerie" show?

Catch a show?

Good to know

The Sacré-Cœur is open every day and is free to visit, the nearby metro to the Basilica is Pigalle. The closest metro to the Moulin Rouge is Blanche.

Eiffel tower

Or the Tour Eiffel as it is known locally.

Now when we talk of icons, the Eiffel Tower just shouts Paris as no other monument can.

The magnificent structure was built in 1889 for the World’s Fair and stands 324 metres (1,063 ft) high.

Looking upwards to the  Eiffel Tower on a bright day in Paris

The Eiffel Tower

I appreciate that the queues can be long; however, you really should head to the top, you won’t be disappointed. Since its opening, over 250 million people have visited this national treasure, and the views are staggering.

With this ticket not only will you gain priority access to the 1st and 2nd levels, you’ll be able to reach the summit.

Make it easy

Canal Saint-Martin

I knew it wouldn’t be long before I slipped in a boat trip. Although this one is slightly different, as we are cruising the Canal Saint-Martin, passing through locks and swing bridges.

I must admit I didn’t realise until our last visit that you could take a canal boat trip in the heart of Paris.

So, when we met up with my parents in the city of love, we headed to Port de l'Arsenal for a delightful 2 ½ hour trip with Canauxrama.

The canal winds its way through quieter parts of Paris, ones that you may never have discovered.

Passing under elegant wrought-iron footbridges, all the while learning about the history of the canal and the surrounding districts.

Looking along the Canal Saint Martin towards a lock before the waterway heads underground the streets of Paris

The Canal Saint Martin

The choice is yours

We picked up the canal trip from Port de l'Arsenal and were dropped off at Bassin de la Villette. However, you can embark on the journey in reverse if you wish.

Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe stands elegantly proud at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. Inaugurated in 1836 this impressive monument is dedicated to those who fought and died for France. Beneath the Arc lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, with the eternal flame burning in memory of those who died during the two World Wars who were never identified.

A close-up shot of the Arc de Triomphe in the centre of Paris's infamous roadabout taken on a bright day with bright white clouds scattered across a blue sky.

The Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe is located in the middle of one of the maddest roundabouts on the planet, where twelve avenues converge.

Luckily there is an underpass to reach the monument, at the end of the Champs-Élysées and Avenue de la Grande Armée.

If you fancy skipping the queues before heading to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, then buy your ticket here.

Skip the queues

A little knowledge

The monument is free to visit on the 1st Sunday of the month, from 1st January to 31st March and from 1st November to 31st December.

Champs-Élysées

Just a short hop from the Arc de Triomphe and we’re along the stylish tree-lined Champs-Élysées.

I adore it along here; I remember during our first visit to Paris we stopped at a street-side café and I was bowled over by the most delicious profiteroles I have ever had.

Promenading the Champs-Élysées is a must for every visitor.

Now every year when I watch the final stage of the Tour de France, it evokes wonderful memories.

A view up the Champs-Élysées in Paris from the Place de la Concorde towards the Arc de Triomphe.  At this end of the wide Parisien boulevard, the road is traditionally tree-lined.

The view along the Champs-Élysées

Place de la Concorde

Place de la Concorde is at the eastern end of the Champs-Élysées. If you stand in the centre of this bustling Parisian square and look west, you’ll catch a breath-taking view of the tree-lined Champs-Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe.

A close up of the Fountain of River Commerce and Navigation in the Place de la Concorde with the Obelisk of Luxor in the background.

Place de la Concorde

Place de la Concorde is the largest square in Paris and was constructed in 1772. Although it’s a pleasant place to be now, it does have a bit of a sordid past. As it is here during the French Revolution that a guillotine was erected, and the executions of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were performed.

Further reading

If you've yet to discover the beautiful architecture in Paris, and the pleasure of strolling along the River Seine at sunset, then you're in for a treat.

I find DK Eyewitness travel guides invaluable, they're extremely informative, easy to follow, and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.
 
We used a previous version of this book to plan our Paris adventure, now you can grab the revised copy.


Strolling les jardins

While visiting Paris, you must take time to sit and watch the world go by. What better place to do this than at one of Paris’s many gardens?

Looking across the boating pond in the Jardin du Luxembourg towards the Palais du Luxembourg.

Palais du Luxembourg in Le Jardin du Luxembourg

My favourite was Le Jardin du Luxembourg, with a delightful pond in the centre. Children were setting sail to their little boats, guiding them along with a stick. Families and friends out and about passing the time of day and enjoying a picnic.
 
The other garden I enjoyed resting my weary feet was Jardin des Tuileries, just by Place de la Concorde and the Louvre.

Relishing the Café culture

As I mentioned, relaxing in a street-side café in the heart of Paris, watching the world scurry by in front of you, just shouts Paris to me.

A street scene in Montmartre outside Le Consulat on a bright sunny day with people enjoying lunch at tables outside the restaurant.

Café culture in Montmartre

A small cafe in Paris, typical of France's capital.

A Parisien Cafe

Recently I was chatting to my brother about Paris, and he has similar memories of when he visited with my sister-in-law. His immediate thoughts went to the moment they were sitting outside a Montmartre café, and the two of them sipped on Champagne and got lost in the moment.
 
This, to me, is what travelling is about, you’ll always have those moments that bring a smile to your face.

Have you seen?

If you’re travelling through France keep a lookout for 12 of France’s incredible UNESCO World Heritage Sites, you may want to add some of these to your trip.

Visiting a museum

I love visiting art galleries; however, the problem that I have is that I spend hours upon hours there. Then if the weather is fine, I don’t want to be inside, so quite often there has to be a compromise.

The outside of the Louvre from the corner of the pond with a fountain in front of the pyramid. It's a bright day in Paris, and suprisingly it's quiet in the Napoléon court in front of the museum.

The Louvre

Although when it comes to The Louvre or the Musée d'Orsay, it’s all or nothing, as I can’t cut corners when visiting them, they are incredible. How can you resist the enigmatic smile of The Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo in The Louvre? Or the crowd filled scenes by Renoir and the stirring pieces by Van Gogh at the Musée d'Orsay. Certainly not me.

The ornate gilded clock inside the Museum D'Orsay against the backdrop of the glass and iron lattice framework, a throwback to when the building was a railway station.

Inside the Museum D'Orsay

Strolling along the Seine

If you love exquisite architecture and the bustling sounds of Parisian life, then take a stroll along the banks of the River Seine, you will be in your element. Best of all, it is free to do.
 
With the elegant skyline stretched out before you, and the enchanting boulevards leading off into the distance, you’ll get wholly immersed in your dreamy thoughts.

The view along the River Seine, on a bright day in Paris, from Pont Neuf towards the Pont au Change with the impressive Supreme Court on the right-hand side sitting on the Île de la Cité.

The view along the River Seine from Pont Neuf

Dotted along the banks are locals selling all types of works of art, the iconic little green riverside huts with their shutters flung open tempting you with antique novels, and rare editions of comic strips. It’s all such a wonderful experience.

The historic Shakespeare and Co bookstore with the cast iron Wallace fountain, providing free drinking water to all in Paris

Shakespeare & Company

If you are a bit of a book worm, then have a mooch around the Shakespeare & Company book shop. I remember when I first visited Paris (pre-smartphone glory days), and I bought a tiny old French/English translation book, I still actually have it.

Take to the river

Another way to appreciate Paris’s riverside architecture and at a more sedate pace for your feet is to take to the river and enjoy a Seine River cruise. If it’s been a long day, then there is no better way to enjoy the sights and the waterways of Paris.

A pleasure boat on the Seine heading between the Île de la Cité and the Île Saint-Louis with the impressive architecture of Paris  as a backdrop.

A boat trip on the Seine

To be perfectly honest, why not grab a Batobus riverboat shuttle service ticket for a couple of days and you can then hop-on and hop-off where you wish.

Take to the water

Something to make your travels easier?

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Sweet and Savoury

You’d find it quite a struggle to discover a nation that produces cakes and bread quite like the French. The stylish patisseries are full of meticulously made delicacies, all laid out in precision formality in the shop windows. Choux pastry is my weakness, who doesn’t love a profiterole?

An elegant woman passing by I traditional artisan boulanger pâtissier on side road in Paris.  The front of the art deco styled shop is panelled in wood with 2 large windows displaying chandeliers inside, there is a deep burgundy canopy covering the upper portion of the store.

Artisan Boulanger Patissier

Then there are the boulangeries with the continuously prepared fresh bread. I can see why the locals head out every day, to grab a baguette to accompany their evening meals. The smell of freshly baked bread is irresistible.

The Paris Islands

The Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis are two captivating little islands in the middle of the Seine. They are such a pleasure to stroll around, wandering through the narrow-cobbled lanes, peering in the boutique windows. Then contemplating which flavour crème glacée to indulge in from the next ice cream parlours.

A pretty little auberge on the Île Saint-Louis in the centre of Paris.

Auberge de la Reine Blanche

The Île de la Cité is also the home to beautiful medieval Notre-Dame. Unfortunately, in April 2019 a devastating fire swept through the cathedral. This striking Lady is now going through an incredible restoration project, which is hoped to be completed by 2024.

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Père Lachaise Cemetery

I would not be doing justice to myself if I left Père Lachaise Cemetery off of the list.

J'adore strolling through a cemetery and Père Lachaise is fascinating.

The history, architecture and incredible stories that lie behind the headstones is absorbing.

A collection of family mausalems at a junction in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris

Père Lachaise Cemetery

It’s not just the famous that have intriguing tales to tell, it is the tiny little graves that you find nestled behind the ramshackle of others.
 
Hop on this very reasonably priced 2-3 hour guided tour of Père Lachaise. You’ll find out even more than you’d hoped for.

Cemetery tour

Inspired to visit Paris?

If I could return tomorrow, I would, so, grab your bag and make a weekend of it.

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About the Author

Janis

Janis, the co-founder of Our World for You, was born in London and raised in Kent and the Isle of Wight. Along with Gary her partner, they have been travelling part time since 1995. In 2016, they decided that enough was enough with the 9 to 5, so armed with the knowledge and experience that they had gained on their adventures, that they wanted to inspire others to travel the world near and far.

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Comments

    1. Author

      There are a few dotted around, Tuileries near the Louvre is lovely and so is Champ de Mars near the Eiffel Tower. There are also a few smaller squares too which are really pleasant.

  1. I adore Paris and your photos are beautiful. I am hoping to get there this year with my youngest as she missed all our adventures. I am also hoping to stay on Ile de la cite as I love the vibe of the island – so different to the rest of Paris, yet dead in the heart of it. Lovely post!!! #Farawayfiles

    1. Author

      Thank you very much. Paris is an incredible city and there is so much to see. Ile de la Cite will be a lovely district to stay in and like you say it is so central. Have a wonderful time and I hope your daughter enjoys it too.

  2. I cannot understand how I have never got to Paris! Every time we look at going, we end up somewhere else! My son went for New Year and made me jealous, now this post has fuelled it further. I think I may have to add it to my list for this year!

    1. Author

      You really should, it is a beautiful city and so pleasant to stroll around. I appears to get criticism at times, if you are visiting as a tourist it’s wonderful, I’m sure you’ll want to stay for longer.

    1. Author

      Oh, that will be fun, you’re almost a local then. Not too sure if any of my tips will help, have a wonderful time.

  3. This is such fabulous post. I so want to go back to Paris, I haven’t been for so long. I remember my first trip with my school when I was about 12 and I was absolutely an totally captivated. In fact I think my love of travel stems from that first trip to Paris so many years ago. I love the idea of the canal and i’m desperate to visit Shakespeare and co. #farawayfiles

    1. Author

      Thanks Angie, writing the post has really made me want to return too. Paris is such a beautiful city, the canal trip was something a little different and a lovely way to relax and see a few different spots of Paris.

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