Paris: Romance Capital of the World
|The Eiffel Tower, Paris (PhotoDisc)|
Divided into a right and left bank by the River Seine, Paris is a regal city that exudes savoir faire. It is a city replete with bridges, sidewalk cafés, and endless promenades that never fail to reveal some hidden treasure. The famous Parisian flair for the beautiful and dramatic is on display throughout, from the broadest café-lined boulevard to the narrowest cobbled side street. Entire days can beand often arespent in the pursuit of whatever new marvel may lie just around the corner.
Everything about the City of Lightits grand monuments, its cathedrals, its haute couture, art, and cuisineacts as a kind of elixir to the soul. It is truly the capital of the romantic world, and nothing else compares. Go to Paris with nothing but $100 in your wallet and you'll still feel like the richest couple in the world.
Winter, spring, summer or, fall, Paris is an ideal place to stroll. One can easily traverse the entire Rive Droit or Rive Gauche by foot in the span of a single day. Climb (or ride) to the uppermost platform of the Eiffel Tower, and you'll get a eye-catching visual map of where you're going next: hit such major monuments as the triumphant fountain of the Trocadero, the Ecole Militaire, the gardens of the adjoining Champs de Mars, and the impressive Les Invalides. Meanwhile, hop the Metro and walk the hilly streets of Montmartre and take in the sublime vistas of Sacre Couer and its citywide panorama. Then, of course, there's the Arc de Triomphe, window-shopping on the Champs-Elysées, and the posh Place de la Concorde, as well as a visit to Paris's formidable Opera and the cutting-edge shops that dot the arrondissement.
Every trip to Paris must begin with a room. The city is famous for its opulently decorated hotels and you can find luxury in many of Paris' three-star hotels just as surely as you will in stately five-star landmarks.
The universally beloved Four Seasons Hotel George V (31, avenue George V) is one such landmark. Located in the 8th arrondissement (or neighborhood), halfway between the Seine and the glittering Champs-Elysées, the Four Seasons distinguishes itself on the basis of its sophisticated amenities and flawless service.
Those on the prowl for a more affordable yet satisfying option should unpack their bags at Victoria Palace (between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and Montparnasse). This hotel boasts a centrally located yet quiet location on Paris' left bank, rooms that border on the sprawling, and a staff discreetly at your service.
The Parisian art scene is impossible to resist, so head to the Louvre (+01.40.20.53.17, www.louvre.fr), the world's largest museum and home to the famous Mona Lisa. For a taste of expressionism, impressionism, and Modern Art, visit the renowned collection at the gracious Musée D'Orsay (+01.40.49.48.14, www.musee-orsay.fr). And no tour of Paris would be complete without a stop at the Musée Rodin (77 Rue de Varenne, +01.44.18.61.10, www.musee-rodin.fr), where you can pose for photos before such famous Auguste Rodin sculptures as The Kiss and The Thinker.
But of course, there's a reason that Paris is called the City of Light. At night, the town is illuminated by the dancing reflections that emanate from Paris' street lamps, monuments, and architectural wonders. Cruise down the Seine or pick a perch on one of the river's 31 bridges. For something a bit more dramatic, check out the extravagant and sexy cabaret at Lido de Paris (Champs-Elysées, +01.40.76.56.10, www.lido.fr) for a different kind of light show.
But it is in the sidewalk cafés, restaurants, and bars that true eloquence of involvement is found in Paris. Even a simple picnic of fromage et baguette (with accompanying vin rouge, naturally) at the Place des Vosges rivals the most sumptuous dining at any five-star New York restaurant. It is in such elemental pleasures that you'll truly discover your version of Paris and have a lifetime's trove of memories from which to dip.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication