In the film Sabrina, Audrey Hepburn uttered a line that has been enshrined in cinematic and cultural history: “Paris is always a good idea.” The City of Lights has also been referenced in films including Casablanca, with Humphrey Bogart whispering to Ingrid Bergman, “We’ll always have Paris.”
The truth is, Paris is always a good idea, and the city’s allure is no less dazzling in real life. Here are five reasons why you never need an excuse to visit this magical European capital.
Paris is one of the most romantic cities in the world; all twinkling lights, intimate cafes and picturesque gardens. You can feel l’amour in the very air, making it the perfect stop during luxury cruise holidays for couples who want to add overnight stays to their voyage.
Whether you are celebrating a honeymoon or anniversary, or you are simply enjoying quality time together, there are plenty of opportunities to create unforgettable memories. Look out over the pretty city from the top of the Eiffel Tower, take a boat tour of the Seine and snuggle up in a cosy café enshrined in literary legend thanks to patrons such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.
The Louvre holds some of the most famous works of art in the world, including the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, as well as countless Egyptian treasures. Café de Flore – one of the oldest cafes in Paris – still buzzes with memories of the intellectuals and artists who frequented its tables (Jean-Paul Sartre and Pablo Picasso, to name a couple).
This is just the tip of the cultural iceberg. You can also explore Père-Lachaise cemetery (the resting place of Oscar Wilde), Musée d’Orsay and hidden gems such as Deyrolle; a historic taxidermy shop that is more like a natural history museum.
Paris is a hub for gourmet cuisine and Michelin-starred dining. It goes without saying that you should try iconic specialities such as escargot and duck confit, as well as favourites like croissants, pain au chocolat and macarons (they really do taste better in Paris).
When it comes to restaurants, don’t miss Le Jules Verne, the stunning restaurant poised at the top of the Eiffel Tower; Laurent, located on the achingly stylish Champs-Elysées; and Le Chateaubriand. Skip dessert though, and indulge in a delicious Nutella crepe from a street vendor.
The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, Champs-Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe: Paris is full to bursting with some of the most iconic landmarks on the planet. Queues to step inside some attractions can be long, so try to visit earlier or later in the day.
It may not be as high up your list, but the Sacré-Cœur is a wonderful building nestled high above the streets of Montmartre. The view over Paris is stunning; the perfect place to settle down with a bite to eat. And the sights below ground are no less impressive, though a little more chilling…
The Catacombs are underground ossuaries containing the bones of more than six million people, used to bury the dead when the city’s cemeteries became overpopulated. Get there before the Catacombs open to avoid the queues, and invest in the audio guide to learn all about the fascinating history of these tunnels.
Champs-Élysées is the archetypal Parisian shopping mecca, but don’t discount the city’s other shopping districts and grand arcades.
Le Marais is a melting pot of quirky fashion and vintage shops, with brands like Charlotte Bialas lining the streets. Boulevard Saint Germain is, arguably, even more of a shopping destination than Champs-Élysées, playing host to designers such as Karl Lagerfeld and Christian Dior alongside boutique fragrance shops like Diptyque. The oldest department store in Paris, Le Bon Marché, belies its ‘good bargain’ translation, instead housing designer labels and stunning food shops that are much less frequented by the tourist crowd. The possibilities are endless!
When to cruise to Paris
Paris is a favourite destination of both luxury cruise passengers and those taking the plane, so it can get a little busy. The exception is August, when the French flee the city for beach holidays and peaceful breaks in the countryside. The comparative quiet is lovely, and if you can time your trip to coincide with this time of year, the queues for the sights on your checklist will be much smaller.
What are your favourite things to do in Paris? Do you prefer reading a book in a historic café or seeing as many iconic landmarks as possible? Let us know in the comments, below.