Paris in the spring... No other city has had such a long love affair with writers, poets and artists. The beauty of Paris is that it is so easy to stroll between the sights, drinking in the magnificent architecture, breathing in the history and being seduced by one of the most stylish cities on earth.
Beck Piper investigates...
What to eat?
French cuisine has been elevated to the status of a religion over the years by gourmet food lovers. French classics include: confit de canard, [slow cooked duck roasted in its own fat] foie gras
[literally fat liver- produced by force feeding geese until the liver becomes engorged. Bad news for the goose, but a delicacy for the French], cuisses de grenouille [frogs legs], escargots [snails] and the list goes on and on. Indulge in croissants and other toothsome delicacies for breakfast, taste one of the many cheeses France produces, in fact throw away your diet and eat as much as you possibly can, eating is the French past time!! My French friend practically had a coronary at the thought of a sandwich for lunch, so resign yourself to the fact you will leave Paris twice the person you were.
What to drink?
Coffee. There are few pleasures greater in life than an expresso on a crisp, sunny spring morning in a French cafe with a view to Notre Dame. Wine. It would be a crime to come to France and not taste the wine. So many of the great names originate in France. Try rich fiull bodied reds from Bordeaux, sublime whites from the Loire Valley and genuine Champagne. Do not be afraid to live a racier life by drinking wine at lunchtime!! For those with a stronger liver, France also offers Calvados, Armagnac. Adopt the most civilized of French customs and enjoy an aperitif before dining. Old favourites include Kir (dry white wine and creme de cassis), Pernod/Ricard (an aniseed falvoured spirit mixed with water.)
Where to shop?
Les Champs Elysees is the most famous stamping ground for shoppers with miles of retail therapy. Check out Sephora, a feast of cosmetics and pefumes exquisitely laid out over 120 square feet. Haute couture can be found on the Rue Faubourg St Honore, where big names and big price tickets go hand in hand.
Where to chill out?
The city has two souls bisected by the Seine. The Rive Gauche or Left Bank is a haven for writers, intellectuals and artists. The other side is home to famous names such as the Champs Elysees, Bastille, etc etc...
A walk by the Seine on a sunny Sunday morning is a great way to catch many of the tourist sights including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay etc
What to see?
A rather grotesque stopping off point for tourists happens to be Pere Lachaise, the cemetary which hosts such auspicious names as Jim Morrison, Moliere etc. Do not miss art galleries such as the Louvre, Le Musee d’Orsay, The Pompidou Centre, and the Centre du Photographie. There are always cultural and artistic events on so check out what hip and hot in Paris at timeout.com.
Where to stay?
Accommodation can be quite an issue especially in the summer. Good locations for hotels include Bastille, Marais. It may well be better to try lastminute.com which can offer hotel rooms around the city for all budgets. Those with more dash than cash should check out MIJE, which offers very inexpensive rooms in two historical buildings in the Marais quarter.
It is not a lie that you will get on better in France in general if you can speak at least a few words of French. Making an effort at least will endear Parisians to you and melt that exquisitely practised exterior of sang froid. As with any large city, be aware of pickpockets. The red light district is in Pigalle, so exercise caution at night time.
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