10 Most Beautiful Places to Enjoy Sunsets in Paris
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These Spots Are Unforgettable at Dusk
The American writer John Steinbeck once described the time around dusk in this way: “It is the hour of pearl—the interval between day and night when time stops and examines itself.”
Since Paris is by far one of the globe's most photogenic cities, it's not surprising that the dusky hours here are strikingly beautiful, especially in certain areas. Sunset is a wonderful time to stroll around the city, either alone, lost in thought and contemplation, or with friends, taking in the breathtaking landscapes made all the more dramatic by dusky light.
Whether it's a romantic walk or a solitary amble you're after, here are 10 of the most beautiful places to take in the sunset hour.Continue to 2 of 11 below.
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The Banks of the Seine and the Ile St Louis
There's a good reason why so many artists, from the Impressionists to the Expressionists, have chosen the Seine River as a subject for their paintings. The Paris riversides, or quais in French, afford some fantastic scenery, and at dusk, the light is particularly haunting.
So whether you elect to take a stroll on the left bank or the right bank, charter a sunset boat tour of the Seine, or set up a picnic on the island known as the Ile St Louis, few places in the French capital are as perfect for reveling in the dusky hours than along the city's riverbanks.Continue to 3 of 11 below.
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Notre Dame Cathedral
The iconic Notre-Dame Cathedral, especially at sunset, will make your heart flutter a bit. There's something enduringly awe-inspiring about the 12th-century Gothic cathedral, not least because it's an astonishing feat of human achievement even by today's standards.
Paris may be a modern metropolis, but witnessing the dramatic spires and towers of Notre Dame glowing against the dusky sky whisks us back in time, to a medieval Paris that's never entirely gone away.Continue to 4 of 11 below.
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Jardin du Luxembourg
Paris counts many ornate and lovely parks and gardens within the city limits. But for us, the Jardin du Luxembourg remains my favorite spot for a sunset stroll– with the Tuileries running a close second.
Especially during the autumn months, a walk at dusk in these formal gardens affords stunning skies filled with an especially pearly sort of light and combined with the crisp fall air, it's the perfect way to clear your mind and invite in some inspiration. Countless famous writers have done the same.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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Place du Panthéon
Also in the Latin Quarter, and just across the street from the Jardin du Luxembourg, the Place du Panthéon is another unbeatable spot for sunset views over the city. On a clear night, you might see Notre-Dame Cathedral's towers and spires, and many other landmarks, from the hilly vantage point outside the historic mausoleum, dedicated to the great minds of France.
Nearby: The Place de la Sorbonne, outside the iconic university, is another beautiful spot at dusk. Enjoy a drink on one of the terraces lining the square.Continue to 6 of 11 below.
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Top Floor of the Centre Georges Pompidou
Next up in the inventory of ideal dusk-hour spots is the rooftop of the Centre Georges Pompidou. While accessing the top-floor viewing area does require a ticket to the onsite National Museum of Modern Art, or a reservation at Georges, the onsite restaurant, it's well worth the panoramic views over Paris.Continue to 7 of 11 below.
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The Narrow Little Streets of the Marais
The Centre Pompidou lies right at the boundary of the old right-bank neighborhood known as the Marais, a cosmopolitan area that's coveted by fashionistas and hipsters but also has historic roots as a Jewish neighborhood and, more recently, a gay-friendly one.
In addition to its fantastic shopping, restaurants, street food, and nightlife scene, the Marais is also one of my favorite places at sunset. The architecture here is some of the oldest in Paris since the neighborhood was spared being razed and refashioned by the architect Haussmann in the nineteenth century.
As a result, a feeling of old Paris is still very much alive here. Gorgeous old hotels particuliers (private mansions), Renaissance and medieval-era houses are especially otherworldly at dusk when the light hits them in a way that reminds you: This can only be Paris.Continue to 8 of 11 below.
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The Backstreets of Montmartre
Heading sharply northward from the old Marais, another neighborhood that affords some of the most memorable sunsets is hilly, throwback Montmartre.
Sure, going to take in the panoramic views from outside the Sacré Coeur is a fine thing to do. It also happens to be very crowded in that particular spot. Explore the tiny, winding little streets behind the famed old basilica, including Rue de l'Abreuvoir and Rue des Saules, for a sunset-hour walk you won't soon forget. Stop and have a drink on a terrace in the summer, then take in an old cabaret show somewhere nearby. The tourists don't venture back here in quite the same swarms, so it's generally fairly peaceful.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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Canal St Martin and the Bassin de la Villette
A preferred haunt of young, in-the-know Parisians, the banks of the Canal St Martin and, further northeastward, the Bassin de la Villette, are fantastic places to stroll at dusk.
Take a leisurely walk around sunset along the banks of the canals, from metro République or Louis-Blanc up toward Jaures or Stalingrad (a map will be essential), before ducking into one of the area's many cool bars and restaurants for drinks and/or dinner.Continue to 10 of 11 below.
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The Top Floor of the Institut du Monde Arabe
Designed by renowned architect Jean Nouvel, the Institut du Monde Arabe (Institute of the Arabic World) has one of the nicest rooftop terraces for viewing the city. It's well worth the detour– especially if you enjoy a good, strong cup of traditional mint tea.Continue to 11 of 11 below.
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Esplanade du Trocadero (Dusky Views of the Eiffel Tower)
Last but certainly not least, and heading firmly westward for once, the Esplanade du Trocadero at the exposition space known as the Palais de Chaillot is another fantastic spot for dusky views over Paris.
As you can see from the photo, the esplanade is famous for its straight-on views of the Eiffel Tower.
The Top 10 Nightclubs in Paris
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Where to Dance the Night Away
Unlike Berlin or London which are reputed for their excellent nightlife scenes, decent nightclubs in Paris are rather hard to come by. They tend to come with a lot of hype, high cover charges, excessive posturing and, sometimes, bouncers who can be rather unpleasant– or even discriminate unfairly. I've separated the wheat from the chaff to come up with a list of the top 10 Paris dance clubs- not necessarily always the most well-known of the lot, or the ones with the flashiest facades– but the ten actually worth forking out a few euros for to dance the night away. Once you've browsed and bookmarked this list, peruse our guide to the top nightlife districts in Paris for more ideas on how to live the nightowl's life in the city of light. You might also want to check out our guide to LGBT nightlife/ gay and lesbian bars and clubs in Paris.
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Sitting on a converted barge floating on the Seine, Batofar is one of those Parisian clubs that has managed to stay fresh and relevant through the years, with crowds consistently showing up to line up outside. The lightship sways every evening till the early hours to beats of underground hip hop, rock, electro, techno, and dubstep. When you need to rest your feet and catch a bit of fresh air, check out the fantastic view from the club's bridge.
Read Related: What to Do in Paris at Night?
Address: Facing 11, Quai François Mauriac
Metro: Bibliotheque Francois Mitterand or Bercy, 13th arrondissement
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Featuring low ceilings, mirrored and tiled walls, and a distinctively 1930's-style decor, Chez Moune caters to the Parisian branché (fashion-conscious hipster) crowd. DJs mainly spin trendy electro-rock tracks and beats here. Unlike the majority of Parisian nightclubs, this one is free, so expect a big queue outside filled with young 20-something's looking to stay up until dawn and through the petit matin (early morning hours).
Address: 54, rue Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, 9th arrondissement
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Dark and imposing on the outside while featuring a lush art deco labyrinth behind its mysterious doors, the Chacha Club offers the style of a private club, minus the onerous and elitist membership requirement. The hottest electro, pop, and techno DJs of the moment take over the posh dining room at midnight, while those seeking a bit of calm can escape into the in-house recording studio, fumoir, or the giant posh bathroom, complete with a huge claw-footed tub.
Address: 47, rue Berger, 1st arrondissement
Metro: Chatelet-les-HallesContinue to 5 of 11 below.
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Blending a traditional Celtic pub style with a “micro-club” ambiance, this hipster hotspot in the Grands Boulevards neighborhood features indie, electro-pop, and punk music spun by well-known musicians and DJs until 6 am. Crammed and cozy, with a majority of anglophone dancers, the club also serves as the spot for after-show parties for crowds spilling out from the nearby (and legendary) Olympia concert hall.
Address: 12, rue Feydeau, 2nd arrondissement
Metro: Bourse or Grands Boulevards
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Featuring sunken dance floors and an international crowd often in search of a mood-altering experience, the Rex Club easily recalls the big techno-grunge clubs of London. The music here is usually bass-heavy house and electronica, while crowds don't start pouring in until well after the metro has closed. The bouncers here are known to be temperamental and grouchy at times, though, so come dressed the part (avoid jeans and t-shirts) and make sure to toe the line when in line.
Address: 5 boulevard Poissonnière, 2nd arrondissement
Metro: Bonne Nouvelle or Grands Boulevards
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Le Social Club
Located in the smack center of the Grands Boulevards club scene, not far from the Rex Club (see #5), this electro venue boasts some of the hottest acts from the French and international DJ scene. Designed in a self-proclaimed “retrofuturist” style, the 500-person capacity club is housed in the same building that used to print George Clemenceau's “L'Aurore” newspaper. The music tends to be eclectic, but house, techno, disco, electro, and similar genres usually end up reigning.
Address: 142, rue Montmartre, 2nd arrondissement
Metro: Grands Boulevards
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Set beneath the stately Pont Alexandre III, this may be the only club you'll ever set foot in that's literally nestled under a bridge. A stylish, “BCBG” (yuppie) crowd, usually with champagne bottles at close hand, dances to DJs and live bands while taking in iconic, sparkling views of the Seine at night. While live bands are all over the genre map, DJs tend to stick to sets of house, electro, and disco beats.
Read Related: Best Rooftop Bars in Paris
Address: Port des Champs-Élysées, under the Pont Alexandre III
Metro: Champs-Elysees Clemenceau or InvalidesContinue to 9 of 11 below.
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Once housing the most expensive brothel in Paris, this small and exclusive lounge for 150 people serves as the “it” place for the international jetset crowd. Featuring original 1920's decor intact, including tiles painted with nude women, tasseled lamps, and red walls, the dance floor at Le Baron is one of the most packed in Paris. With some of the world's most beautiful people in attendance, befriending a regular still serves as the best way to get in.
Address: 6, avenue Marceau, 8th arrondissement
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Heading over to the much grittier northeast, the next nightclub we can't get enough of is La Bellevilloise. Once the home of Paris' first workers' co-operative, this off-the-beaten-path club/art space/restaurant boasts dance floors on two levels. The club regularly hosts live DJs or bands playing rock, reggae, and every indie genre in between.
The downstairs level frequently hosts an 80's theme night, while you can catch your breath on the upstairs lounge, which includes a lovely terrace. A favorite among the indie-rock set who eschew the mainstream scene of Grands Boulevards and the ostentatious bling of the western clubs. Avoid if you dislike faint fogs of patchouli and sweat.
Address: 19-21, rue Boyer, 20th arrondissement
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La Machine du Moulin Rouge
Following a substantial makeover in 2010, this three-floor club and live music venue near Pigalle and Montmartre has reinvented itself with a dash of decadence. The main dance floor, dubbed “La Chaufferie”, once served as the Moulin Rouge's boiler room. Though the old pipes remain charmingly intact, the more recent Alice in Wonderland-themed decor allows for a memorable dancing experience, with room for 800 hipster types to let loose to techno and electro DJ sets.
Address: 90 boulevard de Clichy, 18th arrondissement
Metro: Place de Clichy
Top French Wine Tours, Regions and Wine Routes
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Top French Wine Tours, Tips and Wine Routes
One of the best reasons to visit France is the wine. The world's second largest wine producer, taken over by Italy in 2015, France's range of wine types, flavours and tastes is as diverse as the various wine regions in France. Here are some of the top regions, plus suggestions of tours, sights and routes.
There are six main wine regions: Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Loire Valley, Provence and Rhone Valley. Also worth considering are some of the smaller regions like the Jura.
Recommended Wine Tour Companies
The best wine tours are designed to give you an insight into the terroir, the process that makes a particular wine special and a tasting to help you recognise the quality of the wine. One of the best companies doing this for individuals and small groups is Exclusive France Tours, run by the knowledgeable Marie Tesson. Their tailor-made tours can do what others cannot. So you can meet the top wine producers on their estates which are normally closed to the public, go with them around their vineyard then taste their very best. And this is often with wine producers who reserve this for their friends and business associates only. If you are a wine connoisseur or aspire to be one, this will be the experience you will never forget.
Exclusive France Tours is a specialist in Burgundy, Champagne, Bordeaux, the Loire Valley, Alsace and the Rhône Valley and their tours take in the best, as well as top hotels and attractions.
- Wine Tours of Bordeaux
- Wine Tours of Champagne
- Wine Tours of the Loire Valley
- Wine Tours of Alsace
- Wine Tours of the Rhône Valley
Exclusive France Tours: Tel.: +33 493 218 119.
Here are more companies involved in wine tourism.
- Arblaster & Clarke, based in Britain, offers a wide range of expert-led tasting and vineyard walking breaks, including Champagne weekends. Tel.: +44 (0)1730 263111
- Grape Escapes, based in Britain, is another top expert company with tours all over France. Tel.: +44 (0)845 643 0860
- Headwater is another well established company with good walking and cycling tours in wine regions. Tel.: +44 (0)1606 828307.
- Inntravel is known for its gastronomic emphasis and has good walking and cycling breaks. Tel.: +44 (0)1653 617000.
- Susi Madron's Cycling for Softies based in Britain has gentle cycling holidays through top wine regions. Tel.: +44 (0)161 248 8282.
Rue des Vignerons mobile app
Book a wine tour through this young company which works with award winning and recommended wineries in the main wine regions. Many of the wineries are organic and biodynamic and they run from big names, through co-operatives to family-owned estates. They have just launched an app, free on iPhone and Android which allows you to book tours up to 30 minutes before they begin.
Click here for the linkContinue to 2 of 10 below.
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Wine Tourism in Alsace
Bordering Germany and the Vosges mountains in the west, Alsace is rather different from the rest of France, both in its architecture and in its character. It’s one of the top wine-producing regions with plenty of vineyards to visit.
This is the area for those fruity, fresh and aromatic white Riesling and Gewurtztraminer wines. They also produce a sparkling Crémant d’Alsace, the second most popular sparkling wine in France after Champagne.
Wine Tours through Alsace
Take the self-guided Alsatian wine route which runs from Thann near Mulhouse in the south through Eguisheim and Riquewirh up to Marlenheim near Strasbourg. It runs for 105 miles (170 kms) through the hills of the Vosges mountains.
Or book a day tour from Strasbourg which will take you along the Alsace Wine Route and passes through little villages like Dambach-le-Ville, Ribeauvillé and Mittelbergheim. You see and taste at four different wineries.
Grape Harvest Festivals
Every major village along the Alsatian Wine Route holds its own wine festival, usually at the end of September or the beginning of October when the harvest is in. Taste wines, try local foods, watch performances and see traditionally dressed people parade through the street.
Barr, the capital of Alsatian wine in the Bas-Rhine region, holds a well known, 3-day festival with a Queen elected for the event. They have new wines and grands crus on each day of the festival and as well as the usual merry making, hold concerts and a big fleamarket.
Read more about Wine Festivals in Alsace
Read more about Walking along the Wine Paths in Alsace
Alsace Tourist Office
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- Check out special wine tours of Alsace with Exclusive France Tours
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Wine Tourism in Bordeaux
Bordeaux is one of the great wine-producing areas with a historic past in which the British played a vital part. The wine regions circle the city from Médoc in the north to the best known (and prettiest) village of St-Émilion, through Entre-Deux-Mers in the east, and south to Sauternes.
Visiting the vineyards
In each major village, ask at the local Maison du Vin for a list of vineyards which you can visit, then taste and buy.
Bordeaux itself is one of France’s great wine cities. In June 2016 the city opened La Cité du Vin which is where you should start for an immersion into the whole world of wine.
This extraordinary building, called the Guggenheim of Wine, takes you through the world’s vineyards, not just those of France, with some pretty nifty exhibits along the way. It’s very high tech but done in such a way that you concentrate on the story that unfolds, with historic characters taking you back to the past, demonstrations on wine making, talks with chefs and wine growers. You end with a wine tasting at The Belvedere, a huge space which looks over this part of Bordeaux which is renovating fast.
And when you've done that, there are countless wine bars to try, and around the city, numerous top châteaux to visit.
Read all about Wine Tourism in and around Bordeaux
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- Check out bespoke and small group wine tours in Bordeaux with Exclusive France Tours
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Wine Tourism in Burgundy
Burgundy is another of the great French wine regions, centering around Beaune. With the tradition of winemaking 1,000 years old, they know a thing or two about producing top wines and there are 100 Appellations d’Origines Controllées, or designated wine areas. The area lies along the Saône River, running around 100 miles from near Dijon to Lyon.
Burgundy produces 15 million cases of wine a year, mostly white, but also red, plus Crémant de Bourgogne, a sparkling wine made by the Champagne method.There are five major regions in Burgundy: Chablis, Côte Chalonnaise, Mâconnais, Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune, the last two grown in Côte d'Or. All qualities of wine are produced here under the AOC label; the best being Domaine de la Romanée-Conti which is one of the most expensive French wines you can buy.
The Burgundy Tourist Office produces good self-guided tours of the major wine routes.
Another option is the organised trip, Côte de Nuits Region with 2 visits. The tour lasts three hours.
If you’re in Burgundy, stop in Beaune which has been at the heart of the wine trade for centuries. There are caves (wine cellars) to explore and wine shops with a good range of Burgundies to try and buy. The Ecole des Vins (School of Wines) offers wine classes for the serious. They also offer good itineraries through the vineyards.
Each year the most famous wine auction in the world takes place in aid of the Hospices de Beaune in the historic building itself. Called La Vente des Vins, and over three days from November 18th to 20th, the charity auction is run by Christie’s Auction House. Anybody can buy but in reality it’s the professionals and very wealthy collectors who participate. The auction is also the reason for one of the great wine festivals, where the famous names of Burgundy open their cellars and vineyards to offer some spectacular tastings which you have to book in advance. You can book for the auction from Christie’s at +33(0)1 40 76 83 68 or by e-mail at [email protected] but reservations are limited so book early. More about the Hospices de Beaune wine activities.
If you want to make a weekend of it, book the Arblaster & Clarke Burgundy Celebration Tour. It takes you to Beaune for the weekend and the festival that includes street performances, parades, a gourmet village and half-marathon around Beaune. 5 star accommodation and good meals at different wineries, and visits with Andrew Jefford, a well known wine writer are included, as well as rail from London.
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- Check out specialist wine tours of Burgundy with Exclusive France Tours.
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Wine tourism in Champagne
Champagne, the queen of drinks, is expensive when exported but go around the different, smaller houses and you’ll find lovely, individual vineyards producing small quantities of good Champagne at very reasonable prices. There are two main regions in Champagne: around Reims and Epernay and around Troyes in the Aube where my favourite Champagne producer is Drappier.
Visit a Champagne House
If you're in Reims, visit one of the top, international Champagne houses for a tour; Pommery is a great one.
There’s plenty of choice also in Epernay, where you can stroll along the main street of lovely 19th-century mansions owned by the great names. There’s also a spectacular 3-day Festival of Champagne at Christmas
The Rue des Vignerons company which books tours has a particularly good selection of Champagne houses to visit. Check out their Champagne information here. You can book direct or better still, download their app and you can book up to 30 minutes before the tour which is great if you're not sure of times and places.
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- Check out special individual and small group wine tours in Champagne with Exclusive France Tours
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Wine Tourism in the Loire Valley
The Loire is a top wine region, stretching along the famous Loire river valley in central France to the west. It’s best known for its white wines, particularly for Sancerre produced in Centre Loire. Touraine produces Chenin Blanc and Vouvray plus red wines from Bourgueil and Chinon. Anjou-Saumur produces Savennieres and Coteaux du Layon, Saumur and red Saumur Champigny; Pays Nantais near the Atlantic produces Muscadet.
Many visitors come for the glorious castles and palaces that stand beside the river; others come for the gardens that range from the delightful kitchen gardens to grand affairs with formal parterres and parks. But it’s also a region that is great for wine lovers, and being such a popular region, many of the vineyards have been welcoming visitors for decades.
For local wine tours, go to the tourist office in each town.
If you’re in Sancerre in the eastern Loire, go first to the Maison des Sancerre, 3 rue du Méridien, 00 33 (0)2 48 54 11 35, housed in a gorgeous 14th-century house with a view over the vineyards. You can learn more about the wines and see a film show (adult €8). It’s open March to November 1.
Check out Vineyards in Pays de la Loire
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- Check out specialist wine tours of the Loire Valley with Exclusive France Tours
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Wine Tourism in Provence
Once regarded as the poor relation of wine-producing regions, today Provence has some top quality vintages. The best known appellation is Côtes de Provence, with rosé predominating. Bandol is another well known appellation. Also look for the light Côtes de Luberon and Côtes du Ventoux. Elsewhere look for Gigondas from the Dentelles, and the famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape, between Avignon and Orange.
Try the Provence Wine Tasting Small Group Day Tour from Avignon
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- The expert company, Grape Escapes, does a 2 or 3 night Hidden Gems' break at the 4 star Château de Mazan all through the year, individually arranged. It includes some meals and winery trips and is in the Ventoux.
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Wine Tourism in the Rhône Valley
The Rhône valley wine region runs from Lyon to Orange in Provence, so some wines from here fall into Provence wines. The Rhône valley is a wonderful sight, where the vineyards dot the countryside and climb up the steep slopes. It’s one of the oldest wine regions in France, producing wine since around 600 BC. It’s a large region, divided into north and south. In the north, Lyon is the main city for Beaujolais, a young wine celebrated each year throughout France, and the rest of the world. The wine might not be great, but the parties on the third Thursday in November are great fun.
The southern region’s most famous wine is Châteauneuf-du-Pape and this is also the area for the well-known Beaumes-de-Venise and Gigondas.
I went on a great day out from RV Rhônea, formed from cellars operating in Beaumes-de-Venise and Vacqueyras in the gorgeous Dentelles region. We went in a 4×4 off the roads and through vineyards that cling to the steep slopes. Small terraces are filled with healthy vines; you turn a corner and get views of the rugged Dentelles de Montmirail, a small chain of there are two main co-operatives. It's a wonderful drive past little villages and your picnic is in a vineyard with a view of the Dentelles.
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- More information on wine tours in the Rhone Valley, vineyards, major events and wine trails.
- Book this Rhone Valley Tour from Avignon
- Check out special wine tours in the Rhone Valley with Exclusive France Tours
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And the Jura Wine Region
The Jura is an excellent wine region, but not as big as the others so it can get overlooked if you're planning a wine vacation. But don't ignore it; it's a beautiful region in the east of France between Burgundy and Switzerland, and has some unusual wines including the Vin Jaune which is fermented then stored for 6 years and 3 months. Also try Vin de Paille, a sweet wine made after the grapes have been stored on straw or left hanging from rafters.
More about the Jura Wine Region.Continue to 10 of 10 below.
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Wine Tourism in and around Paris
Paris is full of wine bars where you can stop and take a glass at any time of the day.
Try the unusual private Left Bank Wine Tasting and Walk, which combines walking in the pedestrian-friendly Left Bank of Paris with two wine tastings. One of the tastings is during a stop at a Parisian wine bar. The 3.5-hour tour also visits the Panthéon, resting place of the bodies of Voltaire, Rousseau, Mirabeau, Marat, Victor Hugo and Emile Zola.
To learn more about the wines of France in an easily digestible way, visit the Les Caves du Louvre, just two minutes from the Louvre itself. In once-royal 18th-century cellars beneath the pavements of the 1st arrondissement, this new venture takes you on an amusing, inter-active lesson. Or go by yourself having downloaded the app. Check out the website for more information.
10 Best Chocolate Shops and Makers in Paris
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High-Grade Bars, Creamy Ganaches, and Perfect Pralines
As one of the great culinary capitals of the world, Paris counts an honorable roster of artisan chocolate-makers among its residents: cocoa experts who bring genuine artistic flair to their chocolates and concoct the finest in both traditional and eclectic recipes.
Dark chocolate is a real specialty among French chocolate artisans, as are ganaches: chocolates made with cream, yielding rich, silky, intensely creamy centers.
One word of advice: A surprising number of these chocolate maestros have their flagship boutiques in and nearby the Saint-Germain-des-Prés district, making a self-guided tour of the area's best shops entirely possible. Get off at metro St-Germain or Odéon, both on line 4 of the Metro, and get your best chocolate testing tastebuds ready…Continue to 2 of 11 below.
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Chocolate Maestro #1: Patrick Roger, Cocoa Iconoclast
The award-winning and famously quirky chocolate maker Patrick Roger opened a flagship store in the St. Germain neighborhood a few years ago, expanding from his original base is in the south Paris suburb of Sceaux. As good at tradition as he is at innovation, Patrick Roger won the title of best French artisan (meilleur ouvrier) in 2000. He is well-known by food connoisseurs like David Lebovitz for his rochers (featuring a contrast of smooth praline filling and crunchy hazelnut flecks), ganaches, or dark chocolate complemented by flavors like lime or hot pepper. Don't miss his seasonal, and always whimsical, store windows featuring all-chocolate polar bears and other sculptural creations.
Address: 108, Blvd. St. Germain, 6th arrondissement
Tel.: +33 (0)1 43 29 38 42Continue to 3 of 11 below.
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Chocolate Maestro #2: La Maison du Chocolat
Opened in 1977 by Robert Linxe (who was once referred to as a “ganache magician”), La Maison du Chocolat has several stores in Paris, and the house's world-renowned chocolates can also be ordered online. For those of you who aren't crazy about bitter chocolate, this is your shop– La Maison du Chocolat never uses more than 65% cocoa in their confections, to avoid a bitter flavor. World-famous for their ganaches, this shop also specializes in truffles, mendiants (slices of chocolate topped with dried fruit) and bars with fruit or herbal notes.
Address (Flagship Store): 225, rue du Faubourg St. Honoré, 8th arrondissement
Metro: Place des Ternes
Tel.: +33 (0)1 42 27 39 44Continue to 4 of 11 below.
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Paris Chocolate Maestro #3: Michel Chaudun
The former head of La Maison du Chocolat, Michel Chaudun is, hands-down, one of the world's best artisan chocolatiers. Known for his whimsy as much as his mastery of the classics, you can expect to find anything from simple dark or milk bars and truffles to chocolate crafted to look precisely like sausages, couture bags or vintage heels at his flagship shop near Invalides.
Chaudun is also a talented chocolate sculptor– he once cast a chocolate mold out of performance artist Laurent Moriceau, which was then devoured by spectators at the Palais de Tokyo. This shop is simply de rigueur for chocolate lovers.
Address: 149 Rue de l'Université, 7th arrondissement
Tel.: +33 (0)1 47 53 74 40Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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Chocolate Maestro #4: Jean-Paul Hévin
Another renowned chocolate artisan is Jean-Paul Hévin, whose chic boutique and upstairs tearoom in the heart of the Rue St Honoré fashion district merits a visit. At the boutique, high-grade solid chocolate bars and beautiful chocolate pastries lie in the counter in addition to a large collection of ganache and whimsical chocolate sculptures. Hévin has a particular talent for using Asian-inspired ingredients such as ginger and green tea. His macarons are also renowned.
In the tearoom, we recommend trying one of Hevin's signature gourmet hot chocolates; and his chocolate cakes are also sublime. See more about Jean-Paul Hévin in our guide to the best hot chocolate in Paris.
Address: 231 Rue Saint Honoré, 1st arrondissement
Metro: Tuileries or Pyramides
Tel.: +33 (0)1 55 35 35 96Continue to 6 of 11 below.
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Chocolate Maestro #5: Michel Cluizel
Michel Cluizel chocolates have been renowned since the mid-20th century when Michel Cluizel first opened a family-run shop in Normandy. One of the rare chocolatiers to process their own carefully-selected cocoa beans, Cluizel's chocolates are known for their distinct, balanced flavors. At the famous store near the Tuileries Gardens and the St. Honoré fashion district, visitors can indulge in delicious dark or milk bars, each produced from a distinct blend of cocoa beans in Cluizel's chocolaterie. Whole cocoa beans can also be purchased at the shop.
Address: 201, Rue St. Honoré, 1st arrondissement
Tel.: +33 (0)1 42 44 11 66Continue to 7 of 11 below.
07 of 11
Chocolate Maestro #6: Christian Constant
Christian Constant has two shops in Paris, one close to the Luxemburg Gardens. His chocolate is rated by food critics worldwide as some of the world's finest, and he is particularly applauded for delicacies like raspberry ganaches, chocolate-covered orange peel, chocolates with spicy or herbal notes, or his famous “palet d'or”, confected from fresh cream and dark chocolate. Christian Constant also offers a dazzling selection of cakes, pastries, and five– count 'em, five– decadent varieties of hot chocolate.
Address: 37 rue Assas, 6th arrondissement
Metro: St. Placide or Rennes
Tel.: +33 (0)1 53 63 15 15Continue to 8 of 11 below.
08 of 11
Chocolate Maestro #7: Joséphine Vannier
This is a lesser-known gem of an artisan chocolate shop nestled in the fashion-conscious Marais district on the right bank. Offering a dizzying array of creations, from chocolate masks, mini-grand pianos and all-chocolate replicas of vintage ads, to classics like crispy nougatine, truffles, or nutty mendiants, the Joséphine Vannier shop is guaranteed to seduce adults and kids. Vannier is also well-known for elaborate and artistically inspired Easter eggs and other creations in chocolate, like this sculptural egg creation dedicated to surrealist Salvador Dali and his famed melting clocks.
Gourmet ice cream is also served here, including a flavor called “Groove”, described on the shop website, cryptically enough, as “pipes of Sri Lanka”. Only a visit will unveil the mystery…
Read more: David Lebovitz asks “Who is Josephine Vannier?”
Address: 4, rue du Pas de la Mule, 3rd arrondissement
Tel.: +33 (0)1 44 54 03 09Continue to 9 of 11 below.
09 of 11
Chocolate Maestro #8: Pierre Hermé
Undoubtedly the world's most celebrated pastry chef, Pierre Hermé has also won accolades for his line of gourmet chocolates. At the main shop in the St-Germain district, chocolate aficionados will find an incomparable selection of chocolate cakes, pastries, and macaroons, as well as unclassifiable confections like the famous “Death by Chocolate”–the name speaks for itself. You can also sample varieties of chocolates sure to stimulate the palate, such as pralines with caramelized sesame seeds or ganaches with orange and balsamic vinegar.Continue to 10 of 11 below.
10 of 11
Chocolate Maestro #9: Patrice Chapon
Yet another chocolatier whose main shop graces the chic streets around St-Germain and the 6th arrondissement, Chapon is especially prized for its single-origin dark bars. They also sell a tempting variety of pralines, ganaches, and other creations.
The food writers over at Paris by Mouth especially recommend Chapon's melt-in-your-mouth, single-origin chocolate mousse bar.
Address (main shop): 69, rue du bac, 6th arrondissement
Metro: Rue du Bac
Tel.: +33 (0)1 42 22 95 98Continue to 11 of 11 below.
11 of 11
Chocolate Maestro #10: Un dimanche à Paris
To the delight of chocolate aficionados, a new cocoa-centric concept store opened its doors in Paris in 2011, “Un Dimanche a Paris” (a Sunday in Paris). The brainchild of Pierre Cluizel (son of the aforementioned chocolate maestro Michel), the store has made the St-Germain-des-Prés district even more of a center of gravity for chocolate.
The vast space comprises a boutique offering signature chocolates and bars, macarons and other pastries, foie gras with chocolate, and other gourmet creations; a teahouse and restaurant, chocolate lounge, and atelier where amateur cooks and chocolate makers can attend classes and workshops covering French cuisine, pastry, and more.
Address: 4-6-8 Cours du Commerce Saint-Andre, 6th arrondissement
Tel.: +33 (0)1 56 81 18 18
Visit the official website
Best Patisseries (Pastry Shops) in Paris
01 of 05
Seeking Delicious Croissants or Eclairs? Head to These Purveyors
If there’s one thing the French do exceptionally well, it’s pastries (patisseries), and Paris harbors some of the most talented pastry chefs in the country. Whether it’s a chocolate éclair, lemon tart, macaron, or simple buttery croissant you crave, these delicious and often beautiful concoctions will satisfy even the most discerning sweet tooth. Take note: If it's bread you're after, consult our guide to the best Paris bakeries. It's a bit of a truism that the best patissiers (pastry makers) are not necessarily the most exceptional bread bakers, and vice versa, but, well, it tends to also be true (with a few notable exceptions)!
Also make sure to consult our mouth-watering guide on identifying and ordering typical French bakery and patisserie items– and avoid being overwhelmed by the delicious panoply of items in the display cases.
SEE NEXT: Top Spots for Croissants, Pain au Chocolat & Other ViennoiseriesContinue to 2 of 5 below.
02 of 05
Top Spots for Croissants, Pain au Chocolat & Other Viennoiseries
The croissant is the quintessential French pastry, and finding the best one is no easy feat. Luckily, the Concours du Meilleur Croissant au Beurre AOC Charantes-Poitou makes it easy, with an annual competition electing the best butter croissant of the year.
The 2015 winner for the Paris region was Benjamin Turquier, a baker who makes mouth-watering pastries and viennoiseries at his two locations in Paris' centrally located 3rd arrondissement. He was given top ranking for his all-butter croissant last year, but many of his other creations, from pain au chocolat to pain au raisin, are also reputed to be outstanding.
134 rue de Turenne & 59 rue de Saintonge, (both 3rd arrondissement)
Metro: République, (lines 3, 5, 8, 9 et 11) or Filles du Calvaire (line 8)
More top-notch croissants and pastries
If you’re looking for excellent croissant, pain au chocolat, or apricot tart closer to the area where you'll be staying in the French capital, you’re in luck – many of the croissants and other pastries given top accolades in national competitions are made at Parisian patisseries. Here are a few that we especially recommend:
Le Grenier à Pain des Abbessess
38 Rue des Abbesses, 18th arrondissement
Metro: Abbesses, Blanche or Pigalle
Hours: Every day except Tuesdays and Wednesdays: 7:30am-8pm
Tel: +33 (0)1 46 06 41 81
Visit the official website for more store locations
This bakery’s stunning, intricately decorated cakes are a must, and while you’re there, make sure you also pick up a baguette – head baker Djibril Bodian won the award for best baguette in 2010, breaking that aforementioned rule.
Read related: Best Bakeries (Boulangeries) in Paris
2 rue Wurtz, 13th arrondissement; 238 rue de la Convention, 15th arrondissement
Metro: (first location: Corvisart or Glaciere; second location: Convention
This prized baker won the best croissant prize for the Paris region in 2013, and is also coveted for his world-class chocolate eclairs, pain au chocolats, and cakes of diverse varieties. An all-around favorite, his two bakeries are well worth the trip down to the somewhat remote 13th and 15th arrondissements.
134 rue de Turenne, 3rd arrondissement
Hours: Monday to Friday 7:30am-8:30pm, Saturday 7am-2pm
Tel: +33 (0)1 42 78 04 72
Falling into the top 10 in many yearly rankings of the city's best patisseries, the oddly-named 134 RdT is anything but obscure. Besides coming in second for its croissants, it won second place for its baguette in 2009. It's located on Rue de Turenne not far from Benjamin Turquier's shop– making a comparative taste-test a real (and recommended) possibility for an entertaining gourmet morning or afternoon.
8 Boulevard de la Liberté, Les Lilas
Metro: Mairie des Lilas (Line 11)
Tel: +33 (0)1 48 97 84 06
Winner of the 2009 slot for top croissant in Paris, this humble bakery just north of Paris' city limits in the town of Lilas remains one of the very best for a buttery, crescent-shaped delight. Considering that its other pastries, viennoiseries and cakes are also delicious, it's well worth the slightly long metro ride.
Boulangerie L’Essentiel Mouffetard
2 rue Mouffetard, 5th arrondissement
Metro: Place Monge or Cardinal Lemoine
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 8am-9:30pm
Tel: +33 (0)1 56 81 86 64
The award-winning Boulangerie L’Essentiel Mouffetard is always worth a visit during a tour of the Latin Quarter. After you’ve picked up your flaky croissants, admire (and fill up on) the chocolate éclairs, layered cakes and other goodies spectacularly presented in glass cases.
SEE NEXT: Best Macarons & CakesContinue to 3 of 5 below.
03 of 05
For Mouth-Watering Macarons & Traditional French Cakes
If you're craving a macaron— a French-style pastry that's gained enormous popularity in recent years, check out our guide to the best macarons in Paris, including Ladureé and Pierre Hermé. These highly prized Parisian patissiers also make an exceptional range of cakes, tarts and other traditional sweet delicacies, all made with top-notch ingredients.
On the cakes front, Jean-Paul Hevin (one of the city's finest chocolate makers) also peddles some of the capital's most delicious cakes, and the upstairs tearoom is a perfect spot for a sweet-toothed break. He also concocts some amazing macarons (pictured above), with the chocolate varieties especially standing out.
SEE NEXT: Cakes & Pastries From Around the WorldContinue to 4 of 5 below.
04 of 05
For Cakes & Pastries From Around the World
In addition to housing countless award-winning patisseries offeringup traditionally French-style baked goods, the capital is also home to some excellent bakers with expertise in cakes and pastry from other cultural traditions. These are our favorites.
La Bague de Kenza
If you’ve grown tired of traditional French pastries (while unlikely, this can happen), stop by this patisserie specializing in Algerian confectionary delights. Dozens of beautiful platters line the shop's tables, piled high with pastries made primarily with nuts, dates, figs, honey, or pistachio. Flavored with rose water, orange blossom, vanilla and other delicious essences, these palm-sized cakes are good enough to order by the handful. Simply point at the ones that look appealing if you don’t know the names – you’ll surely be happy with any choice you make.
Address: 106, Rue Saint-Maur, 11th arrondissement
Metro: Rue Saint-Maur or Parmentier
Hours: Monday to Sunday : 9:00-10:00, Friday : 13h30 – 21h (2:30-9pm in the summer)
Tel: +33 (0)1 43 14 93 15
See the official website for more store locations.
Patisserie Sadaharu AOKI: Japanese Specialties
With training in Japan as well as France, Sadaharu Aoki creates pastries that combine traditional French design and a Japanese eye for detail and simplicity. Aoki says that when he sees customers enjoying his pastries, he thinks, “Good, but I can do even better!” This search for greatness comes through in Aoki’s exquisite creations, where macha green tea, wasabi and black sesame turn ordinary cakes and puff pastries into a wondrous treat for your taste buds. You’ll also find classic French pastries here, like the much-recommended salted caramel tart.
Address: 35 rue de Vaugirard, 6th arrondissement
Metro: Rennes, Saint-Placide or Notre-Dame-des-Champs
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 9am-7pm, Sunday 10am-6pm
Tel: + 33 (0)1 45 44 48 90
See the official website for more store locations.
SEE NEXT: Gourmet Shops & Markets to Peruse for Fantastic PatisseriesContinue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05
Gourmet Shops & Markets to Peruse for Fantastic Patisseries
In addition to the traditional independent patisseries that (thankfully) still take up most of the market for excellent pastry in Paris, you can also find some excellent examples in gourmet food shops around the city.
Some of the best pastries and cakes–including varieties from around the world– can be found in dedicated stands and corners at gourmet food shops and markets such as Lafayette Gourmet and the Grande Epicerie at the Bon Marche Department Store. A warning, though: you should never come for a shopping spree at one of these gourmet markets on an empty stomach!
L'Eclair de Genie (pictured above) opened a corner shop in 2012 at Lafayette Gourmet and has made a reputation for itself as one of the city's foremost purveyors of gourmet eclairs, with innovative recipes and versions you won't find anywhere else. They also specialize in other chocolate-based treats.
The brainchild of pastry chef Christophe Adam, the eclair shop also has standalone locations around Paris, so if you're a fan of the delicate, elongated puff pastry filled with pastry cream or ganache and topped with delicate icing, make sure to beeline for one of Adam's shops.
6 Best Traditional Cabarets in Paris
01 of 07
For Great Classic Shows in the City of Light
Ah, the traditional Paris cabaret. A show that has little to do with contemporary Parisian culture and everything to do with nostalgia, a good heaping of kitschy fun and a love for longstanding erotic codes. You won't, admittedly, find many Parisians lined up to catch a show at one of these places. But if you're hankering for French cancans, Vegas-style glitz and lots of skin, these top traditional Paris cabarets will provide delicious cliches up to your elbows– for a hefty price, of course. There are plenty of more subdued, serious or arty cabaret-theatres in Paris, too, but the following are all cabaret classics.Continue to 2 of 7 below.
02 of 07
#1: Moulin Rouge
For romantics, no visit to the city of lights would be complete without a night at the original Moulin Rouge cabaret in Paris. Built in 1889, the club was the essence of a bohemian, Belle Epoque Paris, where artists converged to produce and attend colorful and avant-garde performances. The Moulin Rouge in Paris has inspired scores of Hollywood homages, the most recent being director Baz Luhrmann's 2001 glitz fest starring Nicole Kidman. It also provided inspiration for 19th-century painter Toulouse Lautrec, whose portraits of Moulin Rouge performers are today housed in Paris’ Musee d’Orsay.Continue to 3 of 7 below.
03 of 07
#2 Lido: A Very Adult Classic Cabaret on the Champs-Elysées
Located on the Champs-Elysées, the Lido opened its doors in 1946, shortly after the end of World War II and the liberation of Paris. The ambiance of exhilaration and a distinctive Parisian classiness has stuck. Often cited as the preferred cabaret of local socialites and celebrities, the Lido has hosted a score of renowned performers over the years, from Elton John to Shirley Maclaine. The mainstay revue, famed for its elaborate, elegant costumes and multicultural twists, features 60 dancers, 600 costumes and 23 different sets.Continue to 4 of 7 below.
04 of 07
#3: Crazy Horse, for Artsy Burlesque Shows
One of the racier traditional Paris cabarets, the Crazy Horse prides itself on its distinctly burlesque aesthetic and more contemporary style. It's seen a surge in popularity recently thanks to revues from burlesque superstar Dita Von Teese and from French bimbo-slash-intellectual-slash-actress Arielle Dombasle. This one's strictly for adults, whereas older teenagers might be brought along for a show at the Moulin Rouge or Lido.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
#4: Le Zebre de Belleville
If you're looking for a Paris cabaret in an artier, more contemporary vein, the Zebre de Belleville is a good choice. Located smack in the middle of ultra-urban, multicultural Belleville, the Zebre (whose facade is graced with a large signpost featuring the eponymous animal) regularly puts on revues that stray from Parisian cancan standbys to explore themes more fitting of contemporary dance and circus acts. There's also a nightclub on certain evenings. Aside from the zany, offbeat cabaret revues, you can also expect to pay around half of what you would at the Lido or the Crazy Horse for a dinner and show– a significant advantage by any count.Continue to 6 of 7 below.
06 of 07
#5: Au Lapin Agile, Traditional Cabaret in Montmartre
Dating to around the mid 19th-century, and the former haunt of struggling Montmartre artists from Modigliani to Toulouse-Lautrec, Au Lapin Agile is situated in a now iconic pink cottage, nestled on a quiet street in the heights of the hilly district. If you're looking for a slice of very traditional Paris, this cabaret is for you: chanson francaise and other classic tunes reign here, and visitors sing and raise their glasses in the cramped upstairs room, the walls plastered with paintings from some of the aforementioned artists. Zero glamour; lots of spirit.Continue to 7 of 7 below.
07 of 07
#6: Folies Bergère
Another lesser-known cabaret among tourists but beloved by Parisians, this gem has hosted the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Josephine Baker. It also has run musicals including, fittingly, Cabaret.
10 Reasons to Visit France in the Winter
01 of 11
Lower Airfare and Hotel Rates
Generally airfares are much lower during winter, with the exception of the Christmas holiday season in December when they are quite high.
In December you will find that airfares rise to normal levels, particularly the closer you get to December 25th, but in November, January, February and most of March there will be special prices on offer. The prices begin to rise again about a week before Easter.
Hotels also have great bargains so check them out for deals like three nights for the price of two, and special themed packages.
02 of 11
Charming Christmas Markets
Christmas markets sparkle with lights and fill the air with the scents of cloves, Provençal soaps, and spiced wine. Small wooden booths fill the streets with the sights and sounds of the Christmas season and are great places for finding gifts you can’t get anywhere else, often from local producers and artisans. The surrounding shops get in the mood as well with bright windows full of tempting items. There are often skating rinks attached to the markets, many with carousels and entertainment for children.
Christmas markets are set up all over France, and there are several in Paris, but the best known ones are in large cities in the north like Lille and Strasbourg. Small towns like Castres in the Tarn also have delightful markets.
Most markets open either at the end of November or beginning of December. Some close on Christmas Eve while others continue until the end of December.
Also look out for chateaux that open especially around Christmas. They are often beautifully lit with candles, and the gardens look like something out of a fairy tale. Check out dates for Vaux-le-Vicomte, a short train ride from Paris.
03 of 11
Earthy Winter Cuisine
French food in winter takes on a heartening, earthy feel. And nothing is earthier than those famous black truffles. You can go on a truffle hunt yourself, or buy the black riches at places like Carpentras in the Var where the weekly Friday truffle market lasts from mid-November to early March. Mushrooms in all forms are sold in markets and appear on restaurant menus. November festivals in Brittany and Normandy bring the harvest of the sea to coastal towns. At Christmas, shelves in shops from large supermarkets to small local epiceries groan under the weight of festive foods like foie gras, smoked salmon, and divine chocolates.
04 of 11
France has some of the largest and greatest ski areas in the world like Les Trois Vallées, Paradiski Espace Killy, and more. Skiing in France offers both challenges to the world’s top skiers and slopes suitable for beginners, luxury resorts like Courchevel, and family-orientated places such as Flaine near Mont Blanc. The Alps is the best known area, but there are other mountain ranges in France to consider as well.
Transport links are very good as the French airports of Chambery, Grenoble, Lyon Bron, and Lyon St. Exupéry are close to each other and the surrounding ski areas. If you’re coming from the UK, there are plenty of cheap flights on low-cost airlines. Either fly direct, or spend the night in Paris, board the train early the next morning, and start skiing that day.
All the resorts have English-speaking instructors and those from the Ecole du Ski Français are trained to teach children from the age of three as well as people who are blind or have disabilities.
The apres-ski scene is pretty lively in most resorts and many of them hold spectacular festivals throughout the winter from snow sculpture competitions to classical music and jazz concerts.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
05 of 11
Other Winter Sports
In the past few years, French ski resorts have invested heavily and effectively in winter sports other than downhill skiing. Many now offer showshoeing, skiddoing, toboganning, and skating, as well as cross-country skiing and ski jeering (where you’re pulled along on skis behind a horse). More extreme sports like ice diving are gaining in popularity and for a great thrill learn how to drive on ice (which may come in handy back home).
06 of 11
Hot Thermal Water Spas
During the cold weather, try the leisure facilities at any of France’s famous spa towns. Towns like Vichy in the Auvergne are world-famous, but there are hot thermal waters with public access in towns like Pombieres-les-Bains in the Vosges in Lorraine, Bourbon-l’Archambault in the remote and beautiful Auvergne, Aix-les-Bains in Savoie, and Evian-les-Bains on the shores of Lake Geneva, known the world over for the water it produces. If a town’s name ends in “les-bains”, you can bet there are thermal waters and a spa there.
Indulge yourself during the winter months when spa hotels offer great packages. Check out top hotels like the Chateau Audrieu in Normandy and most of the Relais et Chateaux group of hotels which are top of the range, and have great deals in the off-season.
07 of 11
Start the winter round of festivals with the annual celebration of the arrival of Nouveau Beaujolais at midnight on the third Thursday of November. During the winter, music, and jazz festivals move indoors but keep on performing, while events like the Cheval Passion horse show bring fabulous equestrian acts to Avignon in January. Watch out for local festivals honoring St. Vincent in wine-growing areas, particularly Champagne and Burgundy, traditionally on January 22nd. The south of France defies the winter with events like the Limoux Carnival which begins in mid January, while the Lemon Festival in Menton heralds the end of winter and the start of Spring.
08 of 11
While winter can be cold, you’re more than likely to get delightful warm sunny days though chilly nights along the Riviera and the Côte d’Azur. The temperatures are balmy during the day, so go for a brisk walk beside the sea, then sit in front of a roaring fire for an aperitif in the evening. You can get the best of both worlds in Nice, and swim (if you’re moderately hardy) in the morning in the Mediterranean, before driving the 90 kilometers up to Isola 2000 in the Mercantour National Park for a day’s skiing.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
09 of 11
Paris takes on a different dimension in winter. There’s nothing more magical than walking in the crisp air along the River Seine looking at the grand buildings in the clear winter light. When the summer tourists are gone, you feel the city is your own. Must-dos include dropping into Galeries Lafayette to see their giant Christmas tree with its fabulous gold ornaments. The holiday lights that line the Champs-Elysées are some of the most beautiful in the world. The Christmas markets sell everything that is seasonal, chic, and covetable. Disneyland Paris of course puts on a marvelous show and there are plenty of ice-skating rinks around to help you work off all those extra holiday calories.
Buy a packet of roasted chestnuts to keep you going, or just sit on a heated terrace in one of the great sidewalk cafes, order hot chocolate, and watch the world go by.
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Bargain Shopping and Sales
The sales season in France is government-controlled and in most French regions the winter sales start in mid-January and run to mid-February. Sales in France are proper sales, with shops selling off out-of-season stock rather than sub-standard stock bought in. As all good French women reckon that if you're out of season you might as well drop out entirely, it means great bargains for foreign visitors who don't care about the season but want good clothes at good prices.
If you miss the sales, don't worry. There are bargains to be had in France throughout the year, particularly in the discount malls and shopping centers around the country which offer great prices on many top brands.
You'll also find luxury shopping in Paris, but you won't find many bargains.
11 of 11
Finally, don't forget St. Valentine's Day on February 14th.
France has a Saint Valentin village but it's pretty crowded around the festival. The French claim St Valentine as their own, though the Brits have a thing or two to say about that.
If you're in France in February, choose one of France's romantic cities.
Top 8 Shopping Districts in Paris
01 of 08
7 Centers of Style in the City of Light
For reasons that elude most of us, Parisians tend to make impeccable fashion sense look like a walk in the park. Even on modest budgets, they generally seem to just know how to pull it all together and come up with enviable and seemingly effortless looks. Call it “je ne sais quoi”, if you must.
Read related: Shopping on a Tight Budget in Paris
It's no surprise, then, that the French capital has held onto its reign as the global center of all things style-related. After museums and monuments, shopping alone attracts millions of visitors every year.
While the city is studded with fabulous boutiques and stores, these seven ultra-popular shopping districts in Paris are gold mines for discount-hunters, designer divas, window shoppers, and fashion victims alike.
Read related: Best Concept Shops and Boutiques in Paris
There's room for all budgets, too– so looking snappy doesn't have to rhyme with going broke. Make sure you take home a little “je ne sais quoi” by clicking through our picks for the top centres, or “meccas”, of style in the French capital.
02 of 08
Louvre and Tuileries District
Best for: Crème de la crème designer fashion, chic home furnishings, quality cosmetics
Getting there: Metro Concorde, Tuileries (Line 1), Pyramides (Line 7, 14)
Main streets: Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Rue Saint-Honoré, Rue de la Paix, Place Vendome
The Faubourg Saint-Honoré district is the pulse of Paris design and fashion. Part of the Louvre-Tuileries neighborhood, the Saint-Honoré fashion district is studded with flagship shops from classic designers like Versace, Hermes, and Yves Saint Laurent, but also houses resolutely trendy boutiques and concept stores.
Read related: Best Concept Shops and Boutiques in Paris
Also make sure to check out the elegant boutiques lining the arcades (covered galleries) of the Palais Royal: from luxury perfumer Serge Lutens to upscale vintage shops, jewelry, and art, shopping in the Palais Royal's chic nooks is worlds away from the hustle-and-bustle of central Paris, and offers a dose of real old-world chic.
The Faubourg Honoré is also only a hop, skip, and a jump away from the grandeur of the Opera Garnier and the Belle-Epoque Paris department stores dominating Boulevard Haussmann, including Galeries Lafayette and Printemps (click through to next page for more on these treasure troves).
For after-shopping unwinding in the area: Cocktail up at the Hotel Costes Bar and Lounge
03 of 08
Boulevard Haussmann and the Grands Boulevards
Best for: Getting lost in Paris' prestigious– and dizzying– Belle-Epoque department stores (grands magasins)
Getting there: Metro Havre-Caumartin (Line 3 or 9), Opera (Lines 3, 7, 8), RER Auber(Line A)
Main streets: Boulevard Haussmann; Place de la Madeleine
The old Parisian department stores are famous for being worlds unto themselves. Galeries Lafayette and Printemps department stores dominate Boulevard Haussmann with real Belle Epoque grandeur, concentrating top designer collections for men and women, gourmet food shopping, home design, jewelry, and even hardware into a labyrinth of consumer delights. In the winter months, of course, these “grands magasins” are decked out with lights and elaborate decorations for the holiday season, so don't miss checking them out then.
Read related: Pictures of Parisian Department Stores Gussied Up For the Holidays
Covered Passageways (“Les Arcades”)
Also make sure to check out the old-world elegance (and high-quality boutiques) of the old covered “arcades” (passageways) in the area, including the Galerie Vivienne, which houses luxury boutiques from top designers such as Jean-Paul Gaultier, as well as rare bookshops, old-fashioned artisan toy shops, and gifts. (Metro: Bourse or Palais-Royal Musee du Louvre)
Other “arcades” worth exploring nearby include the Passage Jouffroy, with its throwback-style shops, and the Passage du Grand Cerf (Metro: Etienne Marcel), well-known for its intricate antiques and fine old jewelry. Stop at the latter before exploring Rue Etienne Marcel and its trendy boutiques from designers including Kenzo and Thierry Mugler.
Read related feature: Exploring the throwback urban charms of the Grands Boulevards
04 of 08
Best for: Eclectic and high-fashion, high-quality chains, vintage stores, artisan and handcrafted jewelry, antiques and fine art galleries, cosmetics and perfumeries
Getting there: Metro Saint-Paul (Line 1) or Hotel de Ville (Line 1, 11)
Main streets: Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, Place des Vosges, Rue de Turenne, Rue des Rosiers
The historic Marais quarter is prime stomping ground for shoppers with an eye for the unique and finely-crafted, not to mention antique and fine art lovers. Try antiques or fine-arts shopping on the Place des Vosges, jewelry, fragrance, and cosmetics shopping at boutiques like Diptyque and MAC on Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, or plunder fashionable but accessible chains such as COS on Rue des Rosiers.
If you're a fan of excellent teas, chocolate, and other gourmet goods, the Marais is also an excellent area for foodie shopping. For high-quality French tea, head to Mariage Frères (and its adjoining tearoom) on Rue du Bourg-Tibourg, or Kusmi Tea on Rue des Rosiers. Meanwhile, Josephine Vannier (4 rue du pas de la Mule) is listed in our guide to the best chocolate makers in Paris.
For a great concept shop in the general vicinity, Merci is one of the trendiest places in town to shop for men and women's designer fashion, home decor, accessories and books, and more. The tearoom and cinema-inspired adjoining restaurant next door are perfect spots to perch, see and be seen, too.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
Avenue Montaigne and the Champs-Elysées
Best for: Designer shopping, trendy chain stores, Sunday shopping
Getting there: Metro Alma Marceau (Line 9), Franklin D. Roosevelt (Lines 1 and 9), George V (Line 1), RER A (Charles de Gaulle-Etoile)
Avenue Montaigne and Avenue des Champs-Elysées form one of the city's most coveted fashion junctures. Avenue Montaigne is fast outstripping Saint Honoré in the arena of chic-cachet, with legendary designers like Chanel and Dior lining the street with flagship boutiques. The Champs-Elysées, for its part, features luxury names (Louis Vuitton) while also being a major spot for shopping in trendy global chains like Zara. Meanwhile, to keep the kids happy, the Disney Store dominates the “Champs” with fun window displays and enough toys to colonize the moon.
Sweet tooth? Try a legendary macaron at Laduree, and enjoy a warming cup of artisanal tea in the adjoining tearoom.
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Best for: Chic classic design, books, and home furnishings
Getting there: Metro Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Line 4), Sèvres-Babylone (Line 10)
Main streets: Blvd. St.-Germain, Rue St. André-des-Arts, Rue de Sèvres
Once synonymous with the famous intellectuals who haunted local cafés, St.-Germain-des-Prés has acquired several shades of chic and is now a preferred spot of BCBG's (yuppies). Sonia Rykiel and Paco Rabanne have boutiques here:
Try Rue Saint-Andre des Arts for rare books, unique regional gifts, and vintage threads.
Meanwhile, for local department store shopping, the Bon Marché is the consummate left-bank address for classic chic. If you're a foodie or are in search of gourmet goods to take home, make sure to have a whirl through the enormoys food hall there, too.
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Les Halles and Rue de Rivoli
Best for: Major chain shops and trendy boutiques
Getting there: Metro Chatelet-Les Halles (Line 4, RER A,B)
Main streets: Rue de Rivoli, Rue Pierre-Lescot, Rue Etienne Marcel, Rue de Turbigo
Once the locus of “the guts of Paris”– an enormous outdoor food market, the area around Châtelet-les Halles was transformed into a major shopping area in the 20th century. At metro Les Halles is a monstrous underground mall, “Le Forum des Halles”, where global chain stores reign.
Read related: Top 3 Shopping Malls in Paris
Running east to west from the Marais all the way to the Louvre, Rue de Rivoli is much the same. Great deals can be made on this long shopping artery in the city center, even outside of the Paris sales season. Chains such as H&M and Zara dominate the area, but closer to the Louvre you'll find lots of antique shops and art galleries, for those looking for special pieces to bring back home.
Read Related: Discount and Budget Shopping in Paris
Meanwhile, in the adjoining (and much trendier) Rue Montorgueil area, quirky contemporary boutiques abound, including Barbara Bui and young cutting-edge designers.
Explore the Neighborhood: All About Les Halles and “Beaubourg”
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Get intrepid and dig around at these Paris flea markets
Best for: Antiques and oddball items, discounted and vintage clothes and shoes
Getting there: Metro Porte de Clingancourt (Line 4) or Garibaldi (Line 13)
The Saint-Ouen flea market (or “puces”– literally, “fleas”) is the city's largest, and dates to the nineteenth century. Located at the very northern tip of Paris, les puces are an essential shopping stop. Come here for a few hours to browse the antique furniture, odd objects, or vintage clothes. There are also many other flea markets around the city, and they're pretty much all worth spending an afternoon exploring.
Read Related: Complete Guide to Flea Markets in Paris
You may not come away with a masterpiece painting (as once was the case), but a find you are likely to make. A word of advice, however: weekdays are preferable to avoid the inevitable crowds. Also make sure to watch out for pickpockets.
Read Related: Discount and Budget Shopping in Paris
The Budget-Minded Traveler: Cheap Shopping in Paris
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5 Havens for Discounts in the City of Light
As one of the world's fashion capitals, you'd expect to find at least a few good budget shops and designer outlet stores in Paris. Parisians know that finding the perfect pair of slacks from a discount designer shop or antique lamp from a flea market is tout un art— a genuine art. Particularly if you're visiting Paris on a limited and strict budget, make sure to bookmark this page for great ideas on cheap shopping opportunities in the city.
When we say “cheap”, though, we don't necessarily mean that quality has to be taken out of the equation. Locals pride themselves on finding fine clothes or home items for next to nothing. Read on for just a few of their secrets.Continue to 2 of 6 below.
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Vide-greniers (Attic Sales)
The epitome of bargain shopping has to be yard sales. While you won’t find any front yards in the middle of Paris, the French do have their own version of getting rid of old household items: vide-greniers – literally, “emptying the attic.”
Often taking over several blocks in designated neighborhoods, vide-greniers feature secondhand clothing direct from the merchant, from very used to practically new. Those motivated to dig will certainly reap rewards, often scoring brand-name items for a fraction of the original price – don’t be afraid to bargain here.Continue to 3 of 6 below.
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Summer and Winter Sales
Twice a year, stores in France slash the prices of a majority of their off-season clothing and open the doors to swarms of eager shoppers. Every January and July, as much as 75% is taken off retail items, for a month of bargain hunting in most stores in the country (home furnishings, books, antiques, and any number of items go on sale in addition to clothing).
One word of warning: Make sure get to shops fast. French people mean business, and if you wait until the end of the month to pick up that coveted peacoat or swimsuit, there is a good chance your size will be gone. The benefit of waiting it out, however, is getting the really cheap prices.Continue to 4 of 6 below.
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Next up? The hallowed vintage store. There are dozens of such shops in Paris – far too many to name here. The easiest place to start is by visiting three neighborhoods where you’ll find a plethora of quality vintage items on sale.
In Montmartre, right behind the Abbesses metro station, Chine Machine stands apart as being one of the few vintage shops in the area with a dynamite customer service and appropriately priced, funky clothes for women. Near Hotel de Ville and the Centre Pompidou is another top spot for loads of vintage shops. Free’P’Star offers a no-fuss, decently-priced selection and has three locations, all within walking distance from one another. Around metro Jacques Bonsergent, you’ll find another cluster of great vintage stores. Start with Frip Sape, which offers low prices and a treasure trove of secondhand goods, including a nice selection of leather boots. Once you’ve tackled these vintage havens, you’re ready to break out towards the individual retro gems. GoldyMama offers higher-end pieces from the likes of Chanel and Jean-Paul Gaultier, as well as run-of-the-mill street fashion. Stepping into this tiny boutique is like going back in time, where a friendly staff will help when you need it, but leave you to happily shop when you don’t.
Kookai ready-to-wear boutiques offer some of women’s fashion’s most up-to-the-minute trends, but prices can be a bit steep for the average shopper, at least outside of sales season. Here at its outlet store, you’ll find those stylish wears for around half the price of the boutiques – with items from last season or surplus stock from the latest collection. While some outlet shops in Paris sell defective pieces or out-of-date styles, Kookai Outlet is definitely a diamond in the rough.
Some concept shops in Paris also carry high-quality vintage items. These don't generally come cheap, but again, if you take advantage of sales season in summer and winter you can snag good deals.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Trendy Global Chains
If you’re not really into rifling through bins of secondhand clothing or last year’s fashions, check out global fashion chains such as Zara, H&M, and Promod for year-round, low-end prices on the latest styles. While each store has its own slightly different style, they all have sections for trendy, casual or professional wear, and all of the collections at these global chains are inspired by runway trends.
You'll find at least one branch of these chains in most of the major Paris shopping districts, especially on Rue de Rivoli (1st and 4th arrondissements), at the Forum des Halles, on the Champs-Elysees and at three of the popular shopping malls in Paris.
In addition to the familiar stores mentioned above, check out these popular French and global chains:
Uniqlo: Japanese Chic, for Cheap
In such a fashion-conscious city as Paris, even tourists may feel the pull to wear the latest trends. The Japanese chain is a perfect way to get the styles of the moment for less than in some of the smaller boutiques featuring local designers. For men and women, the printed t-shirts are especially fun, as well as some of the basics, like trousers and summer wear. The main location is in close reach of some of Paris' top department stores, too, making it convenient for an afternoon of shopping.
Petit Bateau: Not Just for Les Enfants
This beloved French chain is not just for children anymore. Locals love Petit Bateau for its classic lines, unquestionable quality, and unbeatable prices — especially during sales season. While the variety for adults is nowhere near what it is for the younger ilk, there is still much in the way of t-shirts, sweaters, and other basics that will make you feel oh-so-French. If you’re looking for the classic Parisian long-sleeved shirt in white with navy blue stripes, there is no better place to find it than here. There are several locations around Paris.
Andre Stock: For Shoes
If you like a good bargain, there’s nothing more satisfying than getting quality shoes for less. Shoe prices in Paris are notoriously high for the quality, so no shopper should feel guilty about looking for a deal. Andre offers good quality for moderate prices, and here at its outlet store, you’ll find last season’s shoes for much less. As far as selection goes, the styles are constantly changing, so you might need to come twice or three times before finding something that fits your style. But make no mistake – “outlet” in this sense does not mean “defective.” The shoes here might not be in the latest issue of Vogue but you’ll still find that reliable Andre quality.
Tati: “Ultra-Hard Discount” Clothes and Home Items
Tati is the somewhat beloved, somewhat maligned standard for French bargain shopping. It’s not glamorous, it’s not classy, but it is definitely cheap. In fact, the French refer to it as “le hard discount” store par excellence. The quality generally follows the prices, but if you’re looking for basics, especially light clothes for the summer or accessories, Tati offers some great deals.
Continue to 6 of 6 below.
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Flea markets are another great way to find bargain items in Paris and are part of a true cultural tradition. The most famous of the “puces” (literally, fleas) is the outdoor market at Clingancourt/St Ouen. Stepping out of the métro at Porte de Clignancourt can be overwhelming at first, but it will be well worth your while to check out the markets here. There are 14 markets englobed in the Marché aux puces, as it is known locally, and they offer enough variety to strike just about anyone’s fancy. From cheap, imported goods to antique wears and used clothing, strolling through the massive Marché aux puces is a great way to spend an afternoon. Just be sure to take care of your belongings here and beware of pickpockets.
Top 15 Monuments and Historic Sites in Paris
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Monuments Marking Paris’ Rich History
Paris is a city with a rich history that stretches back to the third century B.C. It is no surprise, then, that important Paris monuments are so numerous, breathtaking, and varied in terms of period and architectural style. From Roman-era ruins to post-World War II memorials, these famous sites and monuments in the City of Light are essential keys to understanding the city's elaborate and complicated past.
Before you go, also check out which are the 10 most visited tourist attractions and top 10 museums in Paris. Make a plan to visit those sites that appeal to you most.Continue to 2 of 16 below.
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Dating to the 12th century, Notre Dame dramatically towers alongside the banks of the Seine River, beckoning all to come to visit. It's simply breathtaking, with its intricate Gothic architectural details that took workers over a century to complete. Other stunning details are its flying buttresses; its famed bell tower from which one can still imagine Hugo's Quasimodo carrying out his duties; the scary and humorous gargoyles; and the stained-glass rose window inside. If you have extra time, make sure to visit the archaeological crypt at Notre Dame to learn more about the history of its construction and other fascinating elements.Continue to 3 of 16 below.
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When one of the world's most famous landmarks was presented as part of the 1889 World Exposition in Paris, many decried it as an eyesore on the city's horizon and demanded its removal. Who would have thought then, that the Eiffel Tower would become such an enduring and beloved icon of the City of Light? Before you go, learn the about the Eiffel Tower's interesting facts.
If you can, avoid visiting at peak hours and on weekends, so you can make the most of your visit and really enjoy the views from the top. The best times are just after it first opens and in the evenings.Continue to 4 of 16 below.
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The Louvre Palace and Museum
When most think of the Louvre, it's thought of as a museum, but it was a fortress and palace long before it became a world center for art. The palace is a testament to its rich history spanning from the medieval period to the present. Visiting the Louvre's Medieval foundation is fascinating. The adjacent Tuileries Gardens are perfect for a stroll before or after your visit to the museum. There is so much to see at the Louvre, don't try to pack it into just one day.Continue to 5 of 16 below.
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Arc de Triomphe
Looming 164 feet above the bustling traffic circle at the head of the Avenue des Champs-Elysees, the Arc de Triomphe seems to exemplify pomp and circumstance. You just do not get structures like these anymore. The arch is an icon of imperial France under Napoleon I and is a testament to a time when European leaders felt no shame in erecting massive structures in the service of their equally massive egos. Many do not bother to take the tour to the top, but the views over the elegant avenue stretching all the way to the Place de la Concorde, through the Tuileries, and on to the Louvre is more than worthwhile.Continue to 6 of 16 below.
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The Sorbonne and the Latin Quarter
You can almost picture it: a student roaming the halls of the Sorbonne with dusty old books clutched underarm, or, that same student sipping cafe perched in its old square situated in the St-Michel neighborhood in the Latin Quarter. One of Europe's oldest and most esteemed universities, the Sorbonne was founded in 1257, but studies here were initially exclusively theological. This is because, during the Medieval period, scholarship was almost exclusively the domain of monks, scribes, and other figures attached to the Catholic Church. Of course, in later centuries, the Sorbonne would go on to help produce some of Europe's most famous minds, before becoming a site of revolt during the 1968 student movements. After you have had your fill of the school, take a step into the Old Latin Quarter: the Rue Mouffetard district.Continue to 7 of 16 below.
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The Pantheon is a neoclassical-style mausoleum where many of France's great minds like Voltaire, Rousseau, and Victor Hugo are buried. It was built between 1758 and 1790. From the Pantheon, a distant Eiffel Tower can be seen. Stop by the Pantheon during a stroll in the Latin Quarter.Continue to 8 of 16 below.
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Pere Lachaise Cemetery
There are many beautiful cemeteries within Paris, Pere Lachaise is one of most popular and loveliest. In addition to hosting the graves of famous souls from Oscar Wilde, playwright Moliere, and Jim Morrison of the Doors, the cemetery is simply a gorgeous place to stroll and meditate. There are also important war memorials on the site that pay tribute to the many who perished in conflicts and wars.Continue to 9 of 16 below.
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La Sainte Chapelle
Not far from Notre Dame on the Ile de la Cite looms another pinnacle of gothic architecture. Sainte Chapelle was erected in the mid-13th century by King Louis IX. The cathedral features some of the period's best-conceived stained glass, housing a total of 15 glass panels and a prominent large window, whose colors remain surprisingly vibrant. Wall paintings and elaborate carvings place more emphasis on the stunning Medieval beauty of Sainte Chapelle.
To extend your visit, you can tour the adjoining Conciergerie, part of the former Medieval royal palace. It was used as a prison during the Revolutionary “Terror.” Queen Marie Antoinette spent her last days there before being executed.Continue to 10 of 16 below.
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Seating 2,200 people, the imposing Opera Garnier in Paris—also known as the Palais Garnier or simply the Paris Opera—is an architectural treasure and essential spot for the city's ballet and classical music scene.
Designed by Charles Garnier and inaugurated in 1875 as the Academie Nationale de Musique Theatre de l'Opera (National Academy of Music Opera Theater), the neo-baroque style building is the home of the Paris ballet. The city's official opera company relocated to the starkly contemporary Opera Bastille in 1989.Continue to 11 of 16 below.
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Hotel de Cluny and Roman Baths
The Hotel de Cluny is a Medieval residence that now houses the National Medieval Museum. The famous tapestry, “The Lady and the Unicorn,” is displayed there. Situated in the historic Latin Quarter, not far from the Sorbonne, the Hotel de Cluny boasts a Medieval-style aromatic garden that provides a pleasant spot for a stroll or for reading on a bench in the spring or summer.
The ruins of Roman Empire thermal baths can also be seen on-site. One of the museum's rooms, the tepidarium, was originally the “warm room” from the baths.Continue to 12 of 16 below.
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Palais Royal Gardens
Situated between the Louvre and the Opera Garnier is a Renaissance-style palace that was once the residence of the Cardinal Richelieu. Today, occupied by luxury boutiques and restaurants, as well as several government offices, the Palais Royal was for centuries the center of royal amusement. French playwright Moliere occupied a theater that once stood here with his troupe. It has since burned down, twice.
The stately palais and accompanying gardens are a very pleasant place for a stroll, cafe, or whirl around high-end shops, while Daniel Buren's quirky modern sculpture adds an interesting contrast to the old-world charm.Continue to 13 of 16 below.
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Hotel de Ville (City Hall)
Yet another “hotel” that is most certainly not a hotel in the English sense, Paris' Renaissance-style City Hall sits proudly in the center of Paris. It was built in 1873 on the vast plaza that was once called “Place de la Greve,” a site notorious for gory public executions during the Medieval period.
Today, Hôtel de Ville hosts events throughout the year like free exhibits, concerts during the summer, and ice-skating during the winter months. It can be a glorious sight in its lit evening guise.Continue to 14 of 16 below.
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This vast complex was built as a hospital and convalescent home for injured soldiers under the reign of Louis XIV. Part of Les Invalides maintains this role today, but it is most famous for housing the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte. The on-site Musée de l'Armée (Army Museum) boasts a vast collection of military artifacts and an elaborate armory.Continue to 15 of 16 below.
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Saint Denis Basilica
Just north of Paris in a working-class suburb is one of France's oldest sites of Christian worship and its most famous abbey—a burial place for 43 kings and 32 queens. The Saint Denis Basilica, whose current edifice was built sometime between the 11th and 12th centuries, served as a royal burial site from as early as the fifth century. With its sculpted tombs and flamboyant Gothic details, this often-overlooked gem is worth a trip outside the city limits.Continue to 16 of 16 below.
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This sober memorial pays tribute to the 200,000 people (mostly Jews) who were deported to Nazi death camps from France during World War II. Erected in 1962 on the banks of the Seine (across from Notre Dame) and on the site of a former morgue, the Deportation Memorial was designed by architect G.H. Pingusson to evoke a sense of claustrophobia and despair.
One part of the memorial features an “eternal flame of hope” and an inscription reading the following: “Dedicated to the living memory of the 200,000 French deportees sleeping in the night and the fog, exterminated in the Nazi concentration camps.”
Nearby, you can visit the Paris Museum of Jewish Arts and History.