The significance of Paris has changed over the centuries, resulting in a destination that blends historical intrigue with charming romance. It may be known as the 'City of Love' now, but 18th century Paris was a hub for intellect and forward thinking, nicknamed the 'City of Light' for its role in the Age of Enlightenment. Here are some practical travel tips for Paris, to help you experience every side of this extraordinary city.
Daily Parisian life begins with a trip to the local boulangerie for fresh baguettes and buttery, flaky croissants. To sample some of the city's finest, enter the 19th century surroundings of Du Pain et Des Idées on rue Yves Toudic, famous for its bevelled mirrors and painted glass ceiling. Coils of pastry known as escargots, swirled with piquant blackcurrants or rich chocolate and sweet pistachios, sit next to loaves of artisanal bread made from organic ingredients. For dessert, wander to Pierre Hermé on rue Bonaparte; this pâtisserie is renowned for its macarons in tempting flavours that range from traditional rose to innovative mandarin orange, olive oil and cucumber water.
Take in the skyline
Once your hunger has been satisfied, visit the most iconic destination on any Paris itinerary: the Eiffel Tower. You can climb the 1,665 steps to the top if you are feeling energetic, but most people take the lift. Legend has it that seminal French author, Guy de Maupassant, used to eat his meals beneath the tower, as it was the only place in the city where he didn't have to catch a glimpse of his least favourite building. Few share that opinion today, however, and there are usually queues to climb the landmark.
Another unmissable view is from Notre-Dame de Paris' North Tower in the Île de la Cité, an island in the middle of the Seine. It's linked to the rest of the city by several bridges including the famous Pont Neuf, the oldest standing bridge across the river, opened by Henry IV in 1607. When walking up the cathedral's winding spiral staircases, stop to marvel at the fantastical animals and mythical beasts in the Chimeragallery, which connects the two towers.
Explore the city's vaults
After viewing the city from above go below ground to the catacombs, an enduring monument to Paris' past, via the entrance in Montparnasse. Once quarries beneath the city, walls of bones now line these subterranean vaults, moved there during the 18th century. The haunting tunnels have played a pivotal role in key moments throughout history, such as when they were used by members of the French Resistance during World War II.
Visit artistic landmarks
Complete your tour of Paris with a trip to Versailles and its hall of gilded mirrors, or the Louvre, initially built as a fortress by the French kings. The Louvre may be best-known for Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, but this vast gallery also houses many other masterpieces, including the magnificent Hellenistic statues Venus de Milo and The Winged Victory of Samothrace.
If you are planning to buy a home in this captivating and ever-popular city, Engel & Vӧlkers is ideally placed to help you with every stage of the process. Our experienced agents can show you Paris' most luxurious properties, with an office by Jardins du Trocadéro and another opening soon in Le Marais.