I have long had a love affair with Paris. I first visited the city at the age of 12 on a school exchange. Unable to speak a word of French, I was paired with a lovely French girl called Magali, who remains one of my oldest and dearest friends.
Paris is a sensory experience – bustling streets and crazy traffic, with the sound of car horns and animated locals chatting in a language I love. In the morning Paris is full of the smells of freshly brewing coffee and patisseries baking their breads. By lunchtime the waiters are outside cafés clearing tables and pouring carafes of red wine, while the diners are entertained by the sound of an accordion. A cliché I know!
I see Paris through rose-coloured glasses. I see its beauty in stark mid-Winter, the rains of Spring and the crowds of Summer – long live ‘La vie en rose’! So here’s my guide to a perfect Parisian day. I hope you enjoy it….
I would take an early morning stroll up the cobbled streets to the Sacré-Coeur Basilica. Beautiful both inside and out, this white church is set on top of Montmartre Hill and the views over Paris are incredible.
I would then visit a café in nearby Montmartre – the fabulous artists’ quarter – and enjoy a stroll around this colourful cobbled square, watching the artists at their easels.
Next I would amble along the banks of the River Seine. The Cathedral of Notre Dame looks especially lovely with the pink blossoms of Spring.
Then I would find time for some window shopping… (The French have a wonderful expression for this ‘lèche-vitrine’ literally meaning ‘window licking’!) ‘Les Galeries Lafayette’ is a ‘regal’ shopping centre; complete with a stained glass domed ceiling. Here you can admire the designs of the famous Parisian fashion houses; and you can also venture out onto the roof to enjoy views of the Eiffel Tower and The Opera House.
Before dinner, (ideally along the Champs-Elysées), I would head to a bar for a glass of good wine, perhaps overlooking the Louvre gallery and the glass pyramid, which are both beautifully lit at night.
From here you can also see the Arc de Triomphe lit up and the Eiffel Tower shining in the distance.
Ahhh, I need to get back there again soon! I must give Magali a call…