Mini Guide: Paris for First-Timers
France’s City of Light has stolen visitors’ hearts for centuries; prepare to be bowled over by some of the world’s fines bistros, grandest gardens and most exquisite architecture
Food & Drink
One of the oldest patisseries in Paris, Ladurée has been around since 1862 and was the original creator of the lighter-than-air macaron (macaroon). Its tearoom is a top spot to indulge on the Champs-Élysées. Alternatively, pick up some pastries to go – from croissants to those trademark macarons, it’s all quite heavenly.
It would be criminal to come to Paris and not spend time in pretty Montmartre, the hilly, bohemian area once notorious for its red light district, which fed the Moulin Rouge. It can be touristy, so it’s a welcome surprise to find Le Miroir – a modern bistro smack in the middle of it all. It serves delightful pates and rillettes, and other well-prepared French staples.
Tucked down an inconspicuous alley, this bijou bistro with stone walls and wooden tables is a classic. Frenchie is always packed and for good reason: excellent-value modern dishes prepared with just the right dose of unpretentious, creative flair. Book in advance, or try tapas across the street at no-bookings Frenchie Bar à Vins.
Art & Architecture
No-one could imagine Paris today without it, but Gustave Eiffel only constructed this 320m-tall signature spire as a temporary exhibit for the 1889 World Fair. Luckily, the Art Nouveau tower’s popularity assured its survival. Visitors can walk up to the second floor via 704 stairs. At the very top, there’s a champagne bar.
This masterpiece of French Gothic architecture has been the focus of Catholic Paris for seven centuries and its interior accommodates 6,000 worshippers. Highlights include its rose windows, treasury, and bell towers, which can be climbed. From the North Tower, 400-odd steps spiral up to strange gargoyles and a spectacular view of Paris.