Crêpes, cafés and culture in Paris

If you’re in the  need of a little convincing to indulge on a whirlwind trip to Paris-once travel resumes-this sumptuously tempting list of Parisian wonders is for you.

CHARMING CAFES AND RESTAURANTS

Along the cobbled streets, decadent avenues, authentically unspoiled neighborhoods and the typical tourist areas too, cafes are in abundance-brilliantly, so. In Paris, cafes line the sidewalks, so much so that you often have to zig-zag along the middle of outdoor seating plans to navigate along the streets. Umbrellas and awning covers shelter the seats narrowly, with heaters hanging lowly for winter nights over the indifferent patrons. Each bistro oozes warmth and coziness, smelling strongly of the decadent French cuisine and fresh bread, while the French eagerly chatter amongst their company in tightly packed chairs and booths. Whether you’re yearning for a casual bakery with the prized Parisian pastries and breads, world-class dining in seated restaurants, little diners with comfy booths, crepe from the innumerable crepe stands along busy streets, or a brightly colored macaroon, Paris has it all.

MAGICAL MUSEUMS: MORE THAN ART

Even if you’re not an art fanatic and usually don’t care for museums, strolling in the famous museums, like the opulent Louvre and modernist Musée d’Orsay, is a fun, relaxing and enjoyable experience with more to offer than art.

Both offer extraordinary architectural feats, with the most notable being the glass-tiled pyramid entrance to The Louvre, and the ornate central ceiling in Musée d’Orsay. Again, you don’t need to usually appreciate the arts to oak up timeless strolls amongst some of the most historical and detailed art in the world. Besides countless galleries with marvelous art — including Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa housed in The Louvre — the museums offer countless photo opportunities, restaurants, and The Louvre offers a shopping complex.

THE CHAMPS-ELYSÉES

Whether it’s the notable Arc de Triomphe — a landmark and attraction in its own right — at the end of the street, or the countless shopping opportunities, Champs-Elysées remains one of the most beautiful shopping avenues in the world. Now a mixture of global chain stores, luxurious hotels, bustling bistros, trendy boutiques and malls, Champs-Elysées can be unbearably busy and has lost its original attractiveness. Still, a walk along the artisan avenue is a memorable experience, allowing you to marvel at Paris city-life and find thrill amongst the excited throngs on one of the most famous avenues.

If you’re craving a culinary treat whilst shopping on the avenue, The Ladurée branch situated on Champs Elysées remains one of the most visited patisseries, with beautiful age-old French inspired décor, and is the best place to sample a macaron. Lines of people often queue here for a while in order to place an order inside, but it’s worth the wait.

NOTRE-DAME

Although partially destroyed by the devastating fire in April 2019, the main heart of the gothic-styled church and bell towers remain intact. Entry remains limited, but a complete outdoor view and appreciation of the landmark is possible and cherished. Standing over the blockades in front of the church, a minute can be spent soaking in the architecture, people watching, and remembering the classic tale of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. 

FINALLY, THE EIFFEL TOWER

Despite being a rather over-worked and age-old addition to the list, no rough Paris guide list is complete without mention of Gustave Eiffel’s masterpiece-The Eiffel Tower. However much you may loathe having heard of and seen the Eiffel Tower’s pictures, a trip to this glitzy French capital isn’t quite complete without appreciating a world-famous landmark that frames the entire city and stands guard elegantly over its people. Place du Trocadéro is the go-to viewpoint to soak up the Eiffel’s presence-with the famous carousels at the end of its gardens, souvenir sellers hustling on its turf and photographers busy at work on photoshoots, and a bridge away from the Tower itself. 

This beloved European favourite can be counted on to be open for business as soon as travel resumes, and awaits to welcome you to marvel at its delights.

Happy Travels 🙂

(Also published in thesouthafrican.com)

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