Paris; a city of great beauty, culture and romance, not to mention some pretty delicious and bizarre foods.
I have only been to Paris twice, notably as a tourist, so perhaps my favourite places are rather obvious or even a little bit narrow. However, it is a city that certainly – pardon the cheesiness – has my heart, and for that reason I would like to share this list of my favourite places to visit there, in the hope that it inspires you to visit them too or even gain a little insight into some of the charms of this enigmatic place.
So, without further ado, let’s get on with it!
Firstly, my most favourite place to go in Paris is Le Marais. Recommended to me by a friend who lives in Paris, but ‘the dodgy part’, Le Marais is an alluring district in the way that it encapsulates everything Parisian (or at least in my view). Here you can find many of those typically ‘Parisian’ buildings, with their effortlessly beautiful sandy colouring, subtle foliage with the occasional Juliet balcony. Admittedly, these buildings are found in almost every Parisian district, yet the ones I came across in Le Marais were for some reason particularly breath-taking to me.
A quick Wikipedia search tells me that Le Marais is a historic district, containing a variety of important buildings, including the Hôtel de Saint-Aignan, the Hôtel d’Albert, the Hôtel de Sully and the Temple du Maurais. The district is also said to host one of Paris’ main Jewish communities, as well as being a centre of the Parisian LGBT community.
Next, is the Sacré-Coeur. I first visited this spot at the age of fifteen whilst on a school trip. Having not heard of it before I was amazed by the uniqueness of the cathedral’s architecture and also surprised by its appearance. To me it seemed to possess more of an oriental than French quality. The views from the Cathedral are, according to some, and myself included, the greatest views of Paris you can get.
When visiting the Sacré-Coeur for the second time, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the scene in Amélie, when she speaks to a puzzled Nino on the phone, carousel twirling in the background and the hustle and bustle of people passing by.
An interesting feature of this location is the artists’ square in the village centre, where you can purchase artwork and watch pieces come to life on canvas.
Another place that I find is worth the visit it the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore, located on the Seine, close to Notre Dame. Again, I first saw this place in a film – in this case in ‘Before Sunset’, where Ethan Hawke holds a book signing at the store. I was intrigued by this place, firstly because of its role in the film, and secondly because of its seemingly British qualities.
Inside the store are a number of Shakespeare’s works (obviously) along with other great literary pieces. Draped in old ladders, the bookshelves are heaving with all sorts of literature, including an erotic novel section, next to which I (accidentally!) stood to take some photographs.
Your typical estate agent would tell you that the building possesses great ‘character’, due to its low, narrow staircases, and small windows that peer out onto the Seine. Unlike any bookshop I have ever been to before, this place is certainly one of a kind and a worthwhile visit for anyone interested in literature and its history in Paris.
Next on my list of favourite places to visit is not a specific place, but Parisian ‘brasseries’, or cafés, or, more generally, anywhere Parisian that sells coffee or delicious food.
I’m not sure what it is, but there’s just something so appealing about these quintessentially Parisian set-ups that makes me want to visit them all and try every type of delightful dish that I might find there.
One of my favourite lunches in Paris is the ‘croque madame’, or what we may simply call a cheese and ham toastie with an egg, which may sound basic but is an utter dream. This with a coffee and a view of Paris is something I could marvel at forever.
And finally, something that is again more so a feature than an exact place, that I love is, of course, the Seine. Especially in the summer, a stroll along the river – or even better a boat-ride – is the perfect chance to see many of Paris’ great attractions from an exclusive angle. The views include, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and the Pont des Arts. Whenever I walk along the Seine, I love to explore the riverside bouquinistes, watch the tourist scurry by and my head plays an Edith Piaf song in awe of France’s wonderful culture.
So, there it is. A list of my five favourite places in Paris.
I would love to know your favourite places to visit, in Paris or on any other city.