Paris, the City of Light, is nothing if not romantic. The Paris of our imaginations is everywhere – in movies, novels, songs and paintings, its landmarks are household names, and its lifestyle all but a cliché involving cafés, red wine, cigarettes and cheese.
The real Paris is every bit as delightful –though perhaps not always in the way we expect.
Indeed, a stroll along any one of the famed boulevards of Paris will reveal elegant architecture, beautifully proportioned to the scale of human traffic, sidewalks filled with tables arranged for languidly watching the passing scene with un petit café in hand, side street markets bustling with boulangeries that smell of baking baguettes, exotic cheeses and the freshest produce... Paris.
La Ville-lumière – City of Light – was nicknamed so for more than just its early installation of streetlamps.
Paris has long been one of the world’s educational and cultural capitals. During the years between World War I and II particularly, Paris was a thriving center for artists of all descriptions, from exiled Russians like composer Igor Stravinsky, to Spanish painters Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí to American writers Earnest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein, and the influences of this period are still evident.
Certainly no first visit to Paris is complete without visits to monuments like the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral, landmark areas like the Bastille and Montmartre, and at least a few of its world-class art museums like the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay or Centre Georges-Pompidou.
However, the very best sight in Paris is... Paris.