5 Reasons to visit Paris

Friday 5th October 2012 | Liam

Paris, France, Europe, Planet Earth. Culture capital of the world. Despised by the French, romanticised by everyone else. Go for the romance, stay for the architecture, culture, baguettes and celebrity-filled cemeteries.

#1 Culture

Most people avoid the Louvre because it takes about 300 years off your life, but it’s still worth a visit to the biggest museum in the world for some of the most revered artwork of all time. When it’s not being stolen, the Mona Lisa finds residence here, as does work from Monet, Raphael, Caravaggio, and pretty much everyone else. And if you don’t fancy the queues or the price, there’s a ton of other art museums, some of which are even free.

#2 Attractions

No trip to Paris is complete without climbing the Eiffel Tower. If you must do it Parkour-style, get permission first. Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise, ‘the world’s most visited cemetery’, is home to a number of dead celebrities - if you like that kind of thing. Composer Chopin, Oscar Wilde and Doors’ frontman Jim Morrison are just three on display to feed your morbid curiosities. There are beautiful parks to kick back in and a walk along the Seine is a must. And Notre Dame can’t be missed. Seriously, it’s massive.

#3 Adventure

After scaling the Eiffel Tower with your bare hands and running the length of the Louvre, what better way to relax than by cycling round the more unchartered parts of Paris? Bike About Tours enable tourists to experience the lesser-known quarters. Visit quaint side streets, the guides’ favourite bakeries, and learn about the real history of this remarkable city while working off all that cheese you scoffed for lunch.

If you’d rather a nice stroll there are plenty walking tours to go on. One place worth a visit is the last remaining ‘authentic’ Parisian village, Charonne, located next door to Pere Lachaise, and dating back to the 12th century. It’s full of scruffy cobbled streets and uninfluenced by fancy bars, restaurants and weed killers.

#4 Cheese & wine

Seems obvious but it must be stressed that a trip to Paris is also not complete without sampling as much cheese and wine as you can handle. If a stereotypical French mime artist on an imaginary bicycle stops to offer you cheese. Take it. Take all the cheese. The stinkier the better. Similarly, if you visit one of the many cafes in the city and they offer wine. Drink them dry. You won’t regret it. But you will leave penniless.

#5 Shopping

Seeing as it’s a pretty fashionable city, you can’t go to Paris and not buy anything from the many markets, boutiques and shopping districts. Whether you’re looking or the latest couture or something quirky, you’re bound to find it if you look hard enough. There are local secrets to hunting down bargains, such as vide- greniers (literally ‘emptying the attic’). If you’re prepared to have a thorough root around, chances are you will be rewarded with a relatively new pair of cheap trendy slacks whose previous owner was a Frenchman with a moustache. And what a story that would be!

By Liam McKenna