Paris is a city of superlatives. One of the most visited cities of all, it has some of the world’s most recognizable monuments such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre – the most visited art museum in the world – but more than anything else, it expresses an inborn vocation for style. In every area of life, Paris offers the very best, from food and wine to bakery products, biscuits, perfume, jewellery, art, cinema and much more. Paris is not just a single city, but a collection of districts each of which has its own character, with corners of quiet countryside such as Village Saint Paul and Promenade Plantée, and other unique settings such as Village de Bercy, Place Vendome and Place des Vosges. The canals have acquired their own identity with a whole range of bars, restaurants and live music venues. Museum experiences are becoming ever-more varied, with new arrivals comprising Grand Musée du Parfum, the Albert-Kahn Museum, and the audiovisual experiences of Atelier des Lumières, which take their place alongside other favourites such as the Rodin Museum with its lovely gardens.
Cities built on rivers have their own special character, and this is true above all for Paris. The river Seine is a constant point of reference, dividing the city into Rive Droit to the north – traditionally the area of business, large department stores and politics – and the Rive Gauche to the south, more about art, culture and universities. You can choose from the districts of Paris according to your interests, with Champs-Élysées offering upscale shopping and dining, the colourful Latin Quarter with its ethnic restaurants and fascinating shops, the chic intellectual character of St. Germain-des-Près, the bohemian atmosphere of Montparnasse and Montmartre, the post-modern industrial aesthetic of Parc de la Villette with the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, and many others. You can pay your respects to former residents and visitors to Paris such as Molière, Balzac, Proust, Amedeo Modigliani, Oscar Wilde, Chopin, Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, Michel Petrucciani and many others at the Père Lachaise cemetery.
The most romantic city in the world, Paris continues to inspire literature, films and poetry more than any other. One of the most recent poems was written by none other than President Emmanuel Macron, in response to another poem about the Eiffel Tower written by a British schoolgirl.
“On a trip to Paris one day, little Sophie
Met a giant lady lighting up the night sky.
‘What’s your name, you magical monster?’
‘My many visitors call me the Eiffel Tower..’
10 unusual sights in Paris
In the Ville Lumière, City of Light, there is also a city of darkness, underground Paris. The Catacombs are a popular visit (buy tickets in advance to avoid queues), but there is much more to the world lying below the Parisian streets, with at least 130 abandoned tunnels and much more besides. In Gare de l’Est there is a World War II bunker that preserves maps and other artefacts from those times. It is open on Heritage Days, this year (2019) on 21 and 22 September. Saint-Martin metro station was closed in the late 1940s, and it preserves the 1930s ceramic tile decorations. The Carrières des Capucins museum is a disused limestone quarry that can be visited with a torchlight tour in French, revealing underground highlights running back to the 18th-century. The Paris Sewer Museum enables you to visit 500 metres of the city’s vast network – 2,417 km – of sewers. The oldest date back to around 1370. Tours start on the left-bank side of Pont de l’Alma Bridge, near the blue sign reading “égouts de Paris.” Closed during winter, the tours are due to begin on 26 March 2019. Read more at the Freetour website.
2. Harry’s New York Bar
Some cocktails have a place of origin, such as the Sbagliato, created by mistake at Bar Basso in Milan. The Bloody Mary saw the light at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, a venue founded by American jockey Tod Sloan in 1911, and brought to fame by his barman Harry MacElhone. Enjoy a drink in good company: Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel, Rita Hayworth, Humphrey Bogart and the Duke of Windsor were amongst the regular visitors here. Open every day from midday to 2am, closes at 3am on Fridays and Saturdays.
5 Rue Daunou, 75002 Paris
Tel. +33 (0)1 42 61 71 14
3. Colonnes de Buren
This contemporary work of art in the courtyard Cour d’Honneur at Palais Royale comprises 260 black and white striped columns. They were installed by artist Daniel Buren in 1985, with the official title “Les Deux Plateaux”, an expression of the link between street-level and underground Paris, between past and present, or present and future. The columns are made from white Carrara marble from Italy, and black marble from the Pyrenées.
Le Palais Royal
8 Rue de Montpensier, 75001 Paris
4. The Conciergerie Clock
The oldest public clock in Paris is a fine gilded timepiece on the clock tower of the Conciergerie, on the corner between Quai de l’Horloge (the street’s name celebrates the clock) and Boulevard du Palais. Dating back to 1371, it is surprisingly modern, with an hour hand with a fleur-de-lys at its tip, and a minute hand ending in an arrow. A Latin inscription reads “Machina quae bis sex tam juste dividit horas, justitiam servare monte legesque tueri”, which translates as “This mechanism that divides time into 12 identical hours helps to protect justice and defend the law.” The great watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet, founder of the eponymous brand, set up his own workshop on Quai de l’Horloge in 1775. You can see another device that the Parisians used to set their watches from 1796, in the gardens of Palais Royal. The “Petit Canon” was a miniature cannon, fired at midday every day. The original cannon was stolen in 1998, but an exact reproduction was installed in 2002, and it is fired at midday every Wednesday.
5. Nicolas Flamel’s house
Built in 1407, this is possibly the oldest house in Paris (51 Rue de Montmorency), built by Nicolas Flamel who, according to legend, discovered the secret of the philosopher’s stone and so was capable of turning lead into gold. It is now the location of a hotel and restaurant.
Auberge Nicolas Flamel
51 Rue de Montmorency
Tel. +33 (0)1 42 71 77 78
6. Caves Legrand
Galerie Vivienne was one of the first covered shopping arcades in Paris. Its construction began in 1823, and, with its lovely decorations and mosaic floors, it quickly became a popular venue for Parisian shoppers. Towards the end of the 19th century, Champs Élysées became the most important shopping area, but the Galerie survived. Caves Legrand, which opened here over 140 years ago, is a delightful wine shop with a bar hidden away at the back, where wines are served by the glass and can be accompanied by culinary specialities. You could finish with a fine cognac or calvados. The authentic interiors make this an unforgettable experience.
Legrand Filles et Fils
1, rue de la Banque
Tel. +33 (0)1 42 60 07 12
7. Passage de l’Ancre
At 223 rue Saint-Martin (or at 30 rue Turbigo, at the other end), you can enter Passage de l’Ancre, a 70-metre plant-filled lane provides an unusual contrast to the monumental parts of the city. An oasis of peace and colour, with some unusual shops including Pep’s, specializing in umbrellas. The Passage is closed at weekends.
Passage de l’Ancre
223 rue Saint-Martin
8. Musée des Arts et Métiers
Musée des Arts et Métiers is a charming, eclectic museum documenting invention over the centuries. Exhibits include Foucault’s pendulum, which demonstrates the rotation of the earth, the original version of the Statue of Liberty by Auguste Bartholdi, some early aircraft including the 1897 bat-like Avion III powered by two steam engines, and the world’s first car, the steam-powered vehicle built by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot in 1770. There are timepieces by great watchmakers such as Ferdinand Berthoud and Abraham-Louis Breguet. Small, peaceful, and beautifully housed in a former monastery, it is a pleasant and fascinating place to visit, with no queues. The Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-6pm, open until 9.30pm on Thursdays, closed on Mondays. It is celebrated by the Arts et Métiers metro station, whose walls are clad in riveted copper to evoke the Nautilus submarine of Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.
Musée des Arts et Métiers
60 rue Réaumur
9. Canal Saint Martin
Canal Saint Martin, brought to fame by the film Amélie, offers a completely different view of Paris, with a more peaceful, hip, local vibe. It’s pleasant for a walk above all in the early evening, and there are lots of cafés and restaurants. Arguably the most attractive parts are from Pont d’Amélie northwards, with venues that include the bar Chez Prune, 36 rue Beaurepaire; Artazart design bookshop, 83 Quai de Valmy; Philou bistrot, 12 avenue Richerand; La Cantine de Quentin, 52 rue Bichat; Paname brewery, 41 bis Quai de la Loire. An alternative way of visiting the canal is by a barge tour, offered by two companies, Canauxrama and ParisCanal.
10. Boggi Milano in Paris
We at Boggi Milano are proud to be a part of this magnificent city, with three boutiques, one aptly located on Boulevard des Italiens, one on Boulevard Saint Germain, and one on Rue Marbeuf. We look forward to seeing you there.
112 Boulevard Saint Germain
Tel. +33 01 463 306 68
Open Monday – Saturday 10am-8pm
38 Boulevard des Italiens
Tel. +33 1 402 299 82
Open Monday – Saturday 10am-8pm
8 Rue Marbeuf
Tel. +33 (0)1 45 63 01 60
Open Monday – Saturday 10am-7pm