Paris, France, For First-timers
When to Go
Summers (Jut-Aug) are hot, expensive and crowded. The shoulder seasons (Apr-May, Sept) have decent weather.
The River Seine
Nicknamed la ligne de vie de Paris (the lifeline of Paris), the Seine cuts through the city centre and its riverbanks are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. On the Right Bank, east of the Hötel de Ville, walkways and cycle ways whizz past the water. On the Left Bank, a 2.5km stretch from the Pont de I’Alma to the Musée d’Orsay is dotted with bars, restaurants and floating gardens.
Jardin des Tuileries
Filled with fountains, ponds and sculptures, the formal 28-hectare Tuileries Garden, which begins just west of the Jardin du Carrousel, was laid out in 1664 by André Le Nôtre, who also created the gardens at Vaux-le-Vicomte and Versailles. The Tuileries became the most fashionable spot in Paris for parading about in one’s finery. It’s still a wonderful place to lounge in a deckchair or regroup after a trip to the nearby Louvre (Place de la Concorde; 7.30am -7.30pm winter, 7am – 9pm summer).
Basilique Du Sacré-Coeur
Sacré-Coeur is a veritable experience: the view from the terrace is one of those perfect Paris postcards and it’s said you can see up to 32km on a clear day. Ivy-clad streets climb the hill of Montmartre to a funicular that glides up to the church and white domes (metro tickets can be used). Below, musicians perform on the steps and people picnic in the hillside park (6am-10.30pm).
Hotel du Nord – Le Pari Vélo has bikes that guests can borrow to ride around town. The hotel is quaint and well sited near Place de la République.
There’s no forgetting what city you’re in at Sublime Eiffel, where Eiffel Tower motifs adorn the rooms and reception. There are glittering tower views and a hammam.
Home to Paris’s best swimming pool in the 1930s, Hotel Molitor was abandoned in 1989, but the Art Deco complex has since been restored fabulously. The pool is heated and there’s a rooftop bar.