Photo by Eva-Katalin
Paris is every traveler's dream and whether it be your first visit or your 100th, its classic charm and allure never fade. From the chic elegance of the Place Vendôme to the trendy boutiques and cafés in Saint-Germain-des-prés; from world-class masterpieces at the Louvre to forgotten treasures in tiny, neighbourhood museums; from the world's most famous landmarks to the tucked-away hidden spots around every corner... The architecture, the art, the food, the pastries, the shopping, the culture - Paris is pure magic and a visit does not often disappoint. Such an iconic destination deserves a trip to match and we are here to help you discover the City of Lights in the utmost of luxury and style. Read our guide for the insider's view on where to stay, what to see, and how to get the most out of an opulent trist to the world's most magical city.
Where to Stay
3 rue Christine, 75006 Paris
Image Courtesy of Relais Christine
The Relais Christine is in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-prés and is all that is quaint, charming and quintessentially Parisian. A quiet oasis in the narrow, winding streets of the Left Bank, this small boutique hotel is the epitome of old French style married with modern comfort. Housed in a 17th century building - as most buildings are in this part of the rive gauche - the Relais Christine provides a truly authentic Parisian experience. Relax under the 13th century vaults in the Guerlain spa, or enjoy a quiet stroll through the neighbouring streets of one of Paris' most charming neighbourhoods. A member of the Relais & Chateaux network, the Relais Christine is as authentically French as it gets.
Le Ritz Paris
15 place Vendôme, Paris 75001
Image Courtesy of Le Ritz Paris
As far as hotels go, the Ritz Paris is an icon and could feasibly be considered a historic monument in its own right. Since its opening in 1898, it has been home to many a celebrity, including Ernest Hemingway and Coco Chanel, who lived here for no less than 35 years. If you are looking to experience true French elegance in the lap of absolute luxury, look no further : enjoy tastefully decorated interiors, state-of-the-art comfort in classic French style, and impeccable service at every moment of your stay. To add to an already marvelous experience, enjoy the sensational pool and spa, high-end shopping at the Galerie du Ritz, or a French High-Tea at the Salon Proust. A delectable stop in the exquisite Place Vendôme, Le Ritz Paris is a Leading Hotel of the World, and rightfully so.
Hotel Lancaster Paris Champs Élysées
7 rue de Berri, Paris 75008
Image Courtesy of Hotel Lancaster
The Hotel Lancaster, a small 5-star hotel located just a few steps from the Champs-Élysées, offers a classy, modern take on contemporary French elegance. With just 45 rooms and 11 suites, it is small enough to feel comfortable and intimate while also offering state-of-the-art services and an unbeatable location near the world's most famous shopping avenue. Looking onto a small inner courtyard, complete with a clean modern decor to contemplement its historical origins (it was built in 1900 and has been welcoming guests since 1930) this hotel is the ideal pied-à-terre for a quiet stay not far from the hustle and bustle of the iconic French capital.
What to See
So much to see and so little time... There is so much to see and do in Paris, it can feel a little overwhelming to have to choose. From the world-famous landmarks and museums to the iconic neighbourhoods and smaller lesser known attractions, not to mention cafés, bookstores, shops, galleries... Here is our overview of what not to miss while in Paris, and how to make the most out of your time in the City of Lights :
View over Paris and Tour Eiffel. Photo by Raphael Kellermann Streit.
The Eiffel Tower is one of the world's most famous monuments, coming in just after the Coliseum, the Vatican City and the Palace of Versailles. Built in 1889 by Gustave Eiffel to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, it has since become a symbol of the city of Paris and of the modern era as a whole.
Not far from the Eiffel Tower, just down the River Seine, is the Arc de Triomphe, built by Napoleon in 1806 to commemorate his many military victories over France's neighbouring countries, in the thick of the French Revolution. The names of the cities that he overtook and the generals that led his armies are inscribed in the walls, and on the floor under the Arch is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, commemorating the soldiers that died during World War I. At the top of the Arch is a spectacular view of the Champs-Élysées stretching all the way to the Tuileries Gardens, the Louvre and beyond.
Down from the Champs-Élysées, on the Right Bank of the Seine - also known as the rive droite - we will find the chicest neighbourhood in Paris and the large emblematic landmarks to match : the Place Vendôme, home to the Ritz Paris and Swarovski ; the Tuileries Gardens, the majestic 17th century gardens designed by André Le Nôtre of Versailles fame ; the Palais-Royal, a beautiful mansion with its inner courtyard, garden and promenade ; and the Opéra Garnier, Paris' official opera house since 1875 and home to the Paris Opera Ballet.
Pavillon de Flore, Musée du Louvre. Photo by Iris Leukro.
Following the Seine, we reach the Ile-de-la-cité : an actual island in the middle of the river housing the Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Sainte-Chapelle. The Sainte-Chapelle dates from the 13th century, when King Louis the 9th built it to house the Crown of Thorns, and is home to an astonishing collection of original stained glass windows, masterfully restored to their almost perfect, pre-revolutionary state. Notre-Dame Cathedral, tragically damaged in the fire of 2019, is one of the world's first gothic cathedrals, and inspired Victor Hugo to write his classic novel, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. Although the vaults and ceiling were damaged in the fire of 2019 and the spire completely disappeared, the outer shell remains almost unchanged, and is a remarkable example of early gothic architectural style, complete with its signature gargoyles, flying buttresses, vaulted archways, and rose windows.
Notre-Dame Cathedral. Photo by Sandip Roy.
The Seine river is lined with centuries-old façades : the bohemian and eclectically mismatched storefronts on the Left Bank, versus the stately, majestic mansions on the Right Bank. Along the river, between the Tuileries Gardens and the Ile-de-la-cité, we will find the emblematic Parisian bouquinistes - green wooden booths where bookkeepers sell a variety of old books, manuscripts, vintage posters, postcards and souvenirs.
The Mona Lisa at the Musée du Louvre. Photo by the Eric Terrade.
The Louvre - one of the world's most comprehensive collections of artwork from periods spanning prehistoric times to the early 20th century, including remarkable masterpieces and collections from Ancient Greek and Roman antiquity, the Italian and Northern Renaissance, the French and Dutch Baroque, and 19th century French painting. Showcasing high profile works of art such as the Venus de Milo, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Coronation of Napoleon and - of course - the Mona Lisa, one could almost argue that it's just too much impressive artwork all in one place. To avoid overdoing it and getting burned out by an artistic overdose, it's best taken in small doses, of just a few hours at a time. Little bursts of artistic inspiration, one period at a time, is definitely the best way to see the Musée du Louvre.
The much smaller and more manageable Musée d'Orsay is an artistic treasure full of 19th century masterpieces. Built as a luxury train station for the World Exposition in 1900 and turned into a museum almost a century later, it houses work from the Impressionist era (before, after, and during) including works of art by Manet, Degas, Monet, Renoir, Bazille, Cézanne, Pissarro, Gauguin, Van Gogh, and many more. The building itself is an incredible look into turn-of-the-century architecture and a testament to the advent of the modern world, most of all the invention of the steam engine locomotive.
The Centre Pompidou is like Paris' equivalent of the MOMA, and houses a collection of avant-guarde modern and contemporary art, dating from 1914 to the present day, called the Musée National d'Art Moderne. Inaugurated in 1977, even the building itself is like a giant art installation incorporating elements of high tech design and late modernist architecture into its style. The Pompidou also houses high-profile temporary exhibits, and is just the place to be for those who love experimental art and up-and-coming names on the artistic scene.
The Marais is a neighbourhood tucked away on Paris' right bank - a small pocket of the city which, like the Latin Quarter across from Notre-Dame Cathedral, still holds some of the only remainding buildings from Paris' Medieval past. A mix of opulent Baroque mansions and authentic 15th century palaces, the Marais now also features some of the city's most trendy boutiques, cafés, and restaurants. In the heart of this neighbourhood is the famed Jewish quarter, home to some of the best street food, delicatessens and yiddish pastry shops, which have been here since before the 1950s. In just two hours here, you can visit a 300-year-old palace, eat the best falafel you have ever tasted, buy the trendiest boutique leather bag and have it engraved with your initials, and finish the day off with the world's best macaroon - ever. Not bad for a quick stroll through the streets of the historic, enchanting Marais.
Basilique Sacré-Coeur. Photo by Maryline Waldy.
The artists' quarter, originally home to artists like Renoir, Van Gogh, and Picasso, still holds much of its original 19th century charm, when Impressionist outcasts Monet and friends used to convene and find the inspiration for their work. The movie The World of Amélie (not to be confused with Emily in Paris) was filmed here in 2001 and brought Paris to life as it must have been in the 1960s, unspoiled by modern life and contemporary urban planning. See the building where Van Gogh lived with his brother (the building with the blue door), the guinguette that inspired Renoir's Bal au Moulin de la Galette, and the Sacré-Coeur Basilica at the top of the hill, with its unforgettable vantage point and impressive views of the entire city.
The Saint-Germain-des-prés neighbourhood has all the character and charm that most people think of when they think of Paris : quaint historic façades, narrow winding streets, church bells tolling out at the quarter hour, streets paved with cobble stones, and pigeons strutting through the open squares. Not to mention the cafés ligning every single street corner and the beautiful gourmet chocolate and pastry shops every step of the way - if you are planning on people-watching or tasting some sweets while in Paris, this would definitely be the place to do it. You can also visit the Pantheon, a gorgeous monument originally planned as a church by King Louis XV and turned into a mausoleum for France's great men during the Revolution, and the Luxembourg Gardens, a sumptuous Renaissance garden built by France's Queen Marie de Medici and now home to the French Senate.
Off the Beaten Path
Paris is, with good reason, a popular destination, and chances are that you may have been here before. If you are looking for new places to discover and new ways to explore Parisian couture and culture, look no further than these quiet haunts off the beaten path.
Musée Rodin and Hotel des Invalides
Musée Rodin, The Thinker. Photo by Anastasiya Vragova.
The Musée Rodin is one of Paris' best-kept secrets. Although not entirely a secret per se, most visitors spend their precious, limited time in the capital seeing the larger sights and just don't have the time to swing by Rodin's for a visit. Not far from the Eiffel Tower, this delicious little museum and garden houses the most famous sculptures by 19th century artist Auguste Rodin, including the Thinker, The Kiss and the Gates of Hell. Just across the street, you'll find the impressive and over-the-top Hôtel des Invalides, built by Louis the XIV as a hospice for military veterans and now home to Napoleon's monumental tomb. Nearby is the stately Alexander III Bridge, built in honour of the Russian tsar of the same name, and the perfect departure point for a private cruise along the Seine.
The Île-Saint-Louis is the other island in the middle of the Seine, just behind Notre-Dame Cathedral and connected to the Île-de-la-cité by a pedestrian bridge. The entire island was developed by King Louis XIV's architect Louis Le Vau in the 17th century, and walking the (mostly) quiet streets is just like taking a step back in time. Explore the beautiful Baroque architecture, sample Parisian couture at some of the best artisanal shops in the city, and devour Berthillon ice cream at a café overlooking the flying buttresses of the Cathedral. If you want to go all out, you can have a picnic along the banks of the river in true Parisian style, complete with table, chairs, checkered table cloth, cheese, baguette - and of course, champagne.
Fondation Louis Vuitton
The Fondation Louis Vuitton is a private non-profit art gallery and cultural centre sponsored entirely by LVMH. Inaugurated in 2014, the astonishingly modern design is by none other than Frank Gehry, the Canadian-American architect of Guggenheim Bilbao fame. Nestled in the thick of the Bois de Boulogne on the western outskirts of the city, the collection houses remarkable work by modern and contemporary artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jeff Koons. For the modern art connoisseur, a visit to the foundation is well worth the journey outside the city's historic centre.
With such a wealth of sights to visit within the City of Lights, it almost seems a shame to take time off to go anywhere else. But there are treasures outside the city in the surrounding areas that are just as spectacular, or more, than the delights of the capital itself. Try these exquisite day-trips from Paris for a taste of French culture beyond the walls of the world's most exceptional city.
Versailles Palace and equestrian statue of Louis XIV. Photo by Alexandre Bronzino.
A trip to Paris would not be complete without the customary day-trip to the Palace of Versailles. Built by Louis XIV the Sun King in 1661, the palace took more than 50 years to complete and is still considered to be the world's largest and most impressive royal palace - just as it was in its day. Discover the impressive palace grounds and gardens, the pompous Baroque interiors, and hear the stories of how the Sun King assembled the most brilliant, spectacular court Europe had ever seen. Several kilometres from the main palace, still within the confines of the massive, 2000-acre estate, dive into the world of Queen Marie-Antoinette at her private Trianon Palace and miniature hamlet, and discover the tragic story of her downfall in the French Revolution. For those who have already been and are looking for a different kind of experience, you can try attending a classical concert at the Royal Chapel or an opera at the 300-year-old resident Opera house.
Fontainebleau, Vaux-le-vicomte & Barbizon
France is the land of aristocratic sophistication par excellence : there are no less than 30,000 castles sprinkled across the country, and between royal residences, noble palaces, and bourgeois countryside mansions, each one is more spectacular than the next. The Châteaux of Fontainebleau and Vaux-le-vicomte, although entirely off-the-beaten path from the customary tourist routes, are no exception. The Château of Fontainebleau, first established as the official royal residence by King Francis I in the 16th century, was the birthplace of the French Renaissance and also the home of the original Mona Lisa for over 200 years. The Château of Vaux-le-vicomte, equally spectacular although much more modest in size, was built in the Baroque age by Louis XIV's finance minister - a brilliant man who, not so brilliantly, inaugurated his new residence with a sumptuous celebration upstaging the king, and fell to his ruin shortly afterwards.
Pavillon de l'etang, Château de Fontainebleau. Photo by Iris Leukro.
Just a short distance from Fontainebleau is the village of Barbizon, famed in the 19th century for the artists that flocked here to find inspiration in the bucolic landscapes of the surrounding countryside. A whole new art style was born, called the École de Barbizon, which would serve as inspiration to the next generation of inspired revolutionary artists, the Impressionists. Visit the home of Jean-François Millet, and the auberge where he and his artist friends used to dine, paying for their fares with frescoes which now decorate the walls.
The Loire Valley could well be called the Valley of the Kings, as this is where the largest concentration of royal palaces in France is : over 300 in total, including medieval fortresses, lavish Renaissance residences, and slendid Baroque mansions. The Loire Valley is best explored as a destination all its own, but can also feasibly be discovered in a day trip from Paris, using a chauffeured driving service. From the imposing and majestic Château of Chambord to the intimate Château of Amboise and the breathtakingly beautiful Château of Chenonceau, you are spoilt for choice. Complete the outing with a gourmet lunch and wine-tasting, and you have everything you need for a luxurious escapade into the heart of historic, royal French culture.
Château de Chenonceau. Photo by scaliger99.
Planning a luxury European get-away?
We can help curate every aspect of your European escapade to make it the luxurious holiday you deserve, including hotel bookings, personalized itineraries, private tours, designated concierge and chauffeur services, and customized VIP cultural experiences. Contact us for more information on our custom itinerary planning and tour services.
Explore History · Art · Culture