Travel Guide for Paris
First visits to Paris can be as daunting and disorienting as they are enchanting. It's often hard to know where to begin: what should you be prioritizing on your first days of sightseeing and exploring in the capital? It's just so easy to get drawn down charming little cobbled streets and old passageways, or to feel overwhelmed by the endless list of city museums and monuments suggested in your guidebook.
Most of the city is, of course, worth seeing and exploring. But especially if you're a first-time visitor to the French capital, there are a few tourist attractions that you'll likely want to really focus on when you arrive.
Long considered the paragon of style, Paris is perhaps the most glamorous city in Europe. It is at once deeply traditional – a village-like metropolis whose inhabitants continue to be notorious for their hauteur – and famously cosmopolitan. The city’s reputation as a magnet for writers, artists and dissidents lives on, and it remains at the forefront of Western intellectual, artistic and literary life.
The most tangible and immediate pleasures of Paris are found in its street life and along the banks and bridges of the River Seine. Cafés, bars and restaurants line every street and boulevard, and the city’s compactness makes it possible to experience the individual feel of the different quartiers.
Paris’s architectural spirit resides in the elegant streets and boulevards begun in the nineteenth century under Baron Haussmann. The mansion blocks that line them are at once grand and perfectly human in scale, a triumph in city planning proved by the fact that so many remain residential to this day. Rising above these harmonious buildings are the more arrogant monuments that define the French capital.
You can move easily, even on foot, from the calm, almost small-town atmosphere of Montmartre and parts of the Quartier Latin to the busy commercial centres of the Grands Boulevards and Opéra-Garnier or the aristocratic mansions of the Marais.
The city’s lack of open space is redeemed by unexpected havens like the Mosque and the place des Vosges, and courtyards and gardens of grand houses like the Hôtel de Soubise. The gravelled paths and formal beauty of the Tuileries create the backdrop for the ultimate Parisian Sunday promenade, while the islands and quaysides of the Left and Right banks of the River Seine and the Quartier Latin’s two splendid parks, the Luxembourg and the Jardin des Plantes, make for a wonderful wander.
Parks and Gardens
Whether you live in France or you’re just visiting the capital, if you want to lie on the grass, walk in the woods or reading under a large tree, whatever you’re planning to enjoy your day, it is possible.
Parc Monceau: With the ruins of the temple of Diana, her weeping willow and status, the park that Claude Monet painted five times, is one of the most elegant and romantic in the city.
Garden of Tropical Agronomy: Located in the Vincennes Woods, it is a place out of space and time. It looks almost abandoned with its greenhouses ruins and monuments reproducing those of French colonies. A unique place, not to be missed!
Saint-Gilles-du-Grand-Veneur Square: Located in the Marais, this is almost a secret, because it is difficult to find! This is, obviously, part of its charm. Once arrived in this area away from city noises, we discover an intimate place that offers a view over many roses species! This is enough to make it one of the top romantic spots in France …
Garden of the Romantic Life Museum: In the middle of the greenery and roses, the Musée de la vie Romantique has a lovely little courtyard where it is good to relax before or after a visiting the museum, or if you are just passing by the neighborhood. There is also a coffee-shop where you can treat yourself with a cup of tea served with delicious french cakes.
Tuileries Gardens: This is the oldest and prestigious French garden of Paris, which houses three museums (Louvre, Orangerie, Jeu de Paume), but also long pathways, ponds with boats for children and many sculptures.
Jardin des Plantes: Botanical large long garden with greenhouses, specialized gardens and a menagerie. It is a place for nature lovers, not only because it is walking, but we discover species of plants and flowers, through educational guidance.
Luxembourg Garden: This one is located in the heart of the capital, created by Marie de Medici. It is one of the famous city garden, where you can find water points, a central pool, bushes, lawns, statues, tennis courts, and many other things. It is just the perfect garden!
Place des Vosges Garden: The lawns from the former Royal Palace of Paris are very pleasant, surrounded by trees, houses and red brick porches.