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By all means, swoon over its romantic potential but don’t forget that when it comes to business, Paris packs a punch. With world-class fashion designers, art museums and sporting championships, Paris represents a modern, thriving capital that bursts with innovation, edgy design and a love affair that never ends with elegance and great food. If you crave baguettes, art deco street signs, macarons and the voice of Edith Piaf, then you’ve come to the right place. Sip coffee over a copy of Le Monde and watch the (well-dressed) world glide by. Then see what else Paris gets up to in these 21st-century days.
Our top five sights
The controversial icon of Paris looks at its best when lit up at night.
The Mona Lisa takes pride of place in this former royal palace with inverted glass pyramids and a starring role in a Hollywood thriller.
Basilique du Sacré-Coeur
Whimsical church domes in the enchanting area of Montmartre, with one of the best views of Paris from its steps.
Find world-famous sculptures The Thinker and The Kiss among the manicured lawns of this 18th-century mansion.
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
A legendary cathedral with stained glass windows to impress even the uninterested.
Our top five activities
Where better to learn how to rustle up a three-course gourmet dinner than in the capital of a country devoted to food? Lessons take place across the city.
Despite its inland status, the beach comes to Paris each summer with its Paris Plage project. Grab a deckchair and join in.
Overdose in romance by rising above the city, champagne in hand, in a hot-air balloon.
Mingle with society at the world-famous Hippodrome de Longchamp racecourse and take a flutter on the horses.
Enter the hammam at the beautiful La Mosquée for a high-temperature sauna followed by a scrub with black soap. Emerge relaxed and rejuvenated.
Our top five events
Making up one quarter of a Grand Slam in the world of championship tennis, the French Open at Roland-Garros takes place throughout the months of May and June.
July: Paris Cinéma
The stylish and the chic gather together over a two-week period to celebrate French and international cinema.
July: Bastille Day
The story begins with a prison break, ushers in the French Revolution and ends with the words liberté, egalité, fraternité (freedom, equality and brotherhood). Enjoy the fireworks every 14 July.
July: Tour de France
After 3,360km of arduous cycling through the countryside, villages and mountains of France, it all ends here: the final showdown on the Champs-Élysées.
Welcome in the New Year an hour earlier than you would back home and see Paris dressed up in its festive party clothes.
For luxury and glamour, shop between Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré and the resplendent Champs Élysées, home to the world’s top fashion houses. For boutiques, head to the Marais in the 4th arrondissement and for traditional French cheese, don’t miss the Marché Beauvau in the 12th or Place Maubert in the 5th. North African culture flourishes at Marché Barbès in Boulevard de la Chapelle. France’s favourite department store remains Le Bon Marché (24 rue de Sèvres, 01 4439 8000) although don’t overlook Printemps (64 boulevard Haussmann, 01 4282 5884) and Galeries Lafayette (40 boulevard Haussmann, 01 4282 3456).
Food & Drink
For a knockout Paris experience, dine at Le Jules Verne (5 avenue Gustave Eiffel, 01 4555 6144), a Michelin-starred restaurant 125m above the earth and within the Eiffel Tower itself. Lower-key affairs include critics’ favourite Le Bistrot Paul Bert (18 rue Paul Bert, 01 4372 2401) and Le Miroir (94 rue des Martyrs, 01 4606 5073) in Montmartre. Brasserie Flottes (2 rue Cambon, 01 4260 0084) has bar seating, perfect for solo diners, plus Parisian specialties like onion soup and crusty baguettes. Find pain au chocolat and croissants in patisseries (bakeries) city-wide.
While the Moulin Rouge (92 boulevard de Clichy, 01 5309 8282) no longer has a bohemian vibe, it is still alive and (ahem) kicking. Meanwhile, Café de Flore (172 boulevard Saint-Germain, 01 4548 5526) thrives after dark with the literary ghosts of de Beauvoir, Camus and Sartre. For live jazz, visit Caveau de la Huchette (5 rue de la Huchette, 01 4326 6505); for techno and dance, try the Rex Club (5 boulevard Poissonière, 01 4236 1096); and for a classical evening out, visit the sumptuous Opéra Garnier (8 rue Scribe, 01 4001 1789).
Accommodation in Paris
Anywhere within walking distance of the Seine or the narrow streets of Montmartre grants you instant access to the city’s charms. Many of the grandest hotels reside in former mansions, such as the Hotel Le Bristol (112 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 01 5343 4300) and the elegant Hôtel de Crillon (10 place de la Concorde, 01 4471 1500) which occupies a former royal palace. The Sofitel Paris (15 rue Boissy d'Anglas, 01 4494 1414) prides itself on its business facilities, while lower rates can be found on the edges of the city in and around La Défense.
Located 14km south of Paris, Paris-Orly is the closest airport to the city centre. From here, taxis take up to 30-40 minutes to reach the city centre and, depending on traffic, cost €30-€50. Alternatively, travel by train on the RER Line B, which takes around half an hour.
Paris Orly Airport Information
CityJet Flight Routes
Amsterdam to London City
Amsterdam to Avignon
Amsterdam to Brive - Dordogne Valley
Amsterdam to Perpignan