For me, Paris’s modesty lies in the art of capturing a fleeting experience of life within its bustling urban metropolis. Whether it is gourmet, fashion or art — Paris is undoubtedly one of the most popular cities and one of my favourites.
A stroll in Paris and a medieval cobblestone street go together like a horse and carriage. You can’t have one without the other. I loved strolling down the Left Bank with cobblestones aglow in the setting sun. Here’s where you can find the oldest tree planted in 1601; Hemingway once sat here. I loved experiencing ‘Old Paris’ in Montmartre with its quaint village-like atmosphere and little cafes that line its cobblestone streets.
Where fashion sells
Paris, for me, stands for eclectic fashion. While Avenue des Champs-Élysées is one of the most uber-glam markets of the city, in order to really shop in Paris these days means to think beyond couture-lined boulevards and packed high streets. I loved visiting Colette which offers a never-ending assortment of fashion, high-tech, arts, streetwear and beauty. The good finds can also be found in emerging shopping neighbourhoods like North Marais, Jamini, La Tresorerie, Les Halles, which I visited on my first trip.
Since I dig vintage old-fashioned ambience, the Galerie Vivienne was an elegant delight. The covered passages, which date back to the 19th century, where the city’s first malls were built, beneath their vaulted ceilings of glass and wrought iron, had so much to offer in terms of unusual and antique merchandise.
Paris is a walkable city and I had to ditch the taxis and the metro in order to truly experience the city. The centre of Paris is only a couple of miles wide but the maps are ubiquitous, and the rewards for me for taking to the streets on foot include world-class window shopping, observing flirtatious exchanges in sidewalk cafés, and walking off that extra croissant. I gave a shot to the free walking tours that will familiarise you with the city.
Bois de Boulogne is where I did some boating, horse racing, a trail along the woods followed by a picnic with my family.
I am a big nature lover and buildings in Paris have their facades transformed into luscious green gardens to escape the feel of an asphalt jungle, which I love. A few of these beautifully landscaped man-made gardens were in Pershing Hall Hotel and BHV Home, where I had the privilege of staying in. In fact, I have always believed that Paris is one city you never book yourself a cheap hotel since you don’t want to miss the Parisian atmosphere in the city centre. I have stayed at Le Bristol, Le Meurice and Le Mandarin Oriental as well during my visits.
Over a hot cuppa
For me, eating out in Paris is, maybe, 15-20% more expensive than in New York. A lot of Michelin-starred chefs have abandoned the rigid confines of haute-cuisine restaurants to open convivial bistros that serve up simpler but outstanding meals. Piege and Clover are my personal favourites. For my sweet cravings, I visited Jacques Genin and Hugo & Victor for a sampling of the city’s best treats from some of the country’s most talented chefs. In the evenings, I loved sipping on my hot chocolate at Angelina on Rue de Rivoli, and macarons from La Durée in Champs Elysées.
For meetings, I always opted for Café Flore and Café Procope for its spirited vibe.
To experience Paris at its best, one has to witness the city at night. Many times, I have taken the night cruise from one of the nearby ports and it’s safe to say that those were the best 30 minutes of my trip. It’s rather difficult to describe the experience.
Paris possesses a rich and attractive cultural scene with festivals, expositions, performing arts, art shops, literary evenings and 250 museums happening all year round. Paris reinvents itself and moves forward with much of the energy of the city’s artistic life existing beyond the centre. Since my mother is quite a patron of the fine arts, we visited Monet’s famous murals in the Musée de l’Orangerie, The Musée Marmottan, which is home to the world’s largest collection of Monets; and the Musée Rodin, housed in a luminous villa with a lovely garden, which is undoubtedly one of the most romantic places in all of Paris.
If you have braved the long line to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower and thought it was worth it, then do yourself a favour and go to the Tower of Montparnasse. No queues at all, and it affords some breathtaking views you will never get from the Eiffel. This is a ritual for me as one can see the whole city in all its shining glory, and the exceedingly huge number of couples around you reminds you why Paris is called the ‘city of love’.
Every nook and corner of Paris speaks volumes about the rich culture, history, art and architecture of France. The experience of the fashion metropolis is truly one of a kind. It’s a city of light you can keep falling in love with.