The largest country in the European Union by area, France is well-known around the globe for a culture which celebrates everyday luxuries. Whether you’re admiring world-class art and architecture in Paris, watching chic passersby at a quaint village bistro, sunning yourself on the Riviera or wandering through fields of lavender in Provence, an undeniable joie de vivre will permeate your stay in France.
BASICS /// Flag: 🇫🇷 // Capital: Paris // Currency: euro // Languages: French (and regional languages)
Capital "city of lights" filled with art, architecture, fashion, food and other delights.
SEEThe greatest hits of Parisian arts and architecture: The Eiffel Tower, of course, particularly when it's night and it's twinkling. You don't need to go to the top; you can get great views of Paris from the Arc de Triomphe, Sacré Coeur or Notre Dame, which you should also see. Must see museums: Musée du Louvre and Musée d'Orsay - go more than once if you can, both are much more rewarding when you can wander and discover at a relaxed pace. Musée National Picasso: Housed in a beautiful old building in the Marais; home to an extensive collection of Picasso paintings and sculptures. Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris / Palais de Tokyo: Neo-classical looking buildings housing modern and contemporary art. Head here for a shot of the new and a break from all the historic sites. Centre Pompidou: Fantastic modern art collection and often puts on blockbuster exhibitions. Side notes: the building itself is worth seeing - its insides are on the outside - and the view from the top floor is wonderful. Musée Rodin: A quiet oasis of a museum featuring sculptures by Rodin. Musée de l’Orangerie: A small museum of impressionist works. Worth a visit for the room of Monet's monumental Water Lilies canvases. Espace Dali: Small museum featuring sculptures and engravings made by Dali. Grand Palais: Enormous, glass-ceilinged exhibition space. Check to see what events are on in advance. Sainte-Chapelle: A gothic chapel featuring stunning wall-to-wall stained glass.
DOTake a stroll. Paris is the home of the flâneur, after all; it is best experienced by walking and wandering. A few ideas:
- Promenade Plantée: A glorious urban oasis; Paris's version of NYC's High Line (i.e. a garden built on an old railroad track). Walk back along the Viaduc des Arts to window shop at artisan workshops.
- The Seine: Admire the view from its countless bridges.
- Passages Couverts: Covered passages scattered throughout the city with bars, restaurants and shops.
- Canal St. Martin: Aka the other body of water in Paris that’s not the Seine. Take a stroll here for a glimpse of Paris off the tourist trail.
- La Défense: Largely a business district, but an interesting stroll to see the modernist counterpart to the Arc de Triomphe.
EATAngelina: A teahouse and patisserie renowned for its hot chocolate. Pink Flamingo: Pizzeria with unusual creations. Grab a pie and eat it along Canal St. Martin. L’Epigramme: Classic French cuisine from a daily blackboard menu in a cozy, romantic setting. Candelaria: Taqueria in the Marais by day; bar at night. L’As du Fallafel: The best falafel in Paris. Don’t worry, the permanent line outside moves quickly. Get yours to go and eat it while strolling around the Marais.
SHOPShakespeare & Company: Independent bookstore along the Seine with extensive English titles. Merci: Concept store with clothing, homewares, books, etc. A place to get lost in. Try the adjoining café while you're there. Centre Commercial: Outpost for great independent brands. Frenchtrotters: Stocks a good selection of independent brands; has a house line which captures the elusive French-girl-cool.