Photos by Sofia Chughtai
No other city symbolizes glamour, romance and history quite like Paris. Paris’s charm is not of the quaint, cobble-stoned variety. Rather it is the grand dame of cities which flaunts its beauty and majesty.
With so many iconic landmarks and promenades to choose from, a tourist is really spoilt for choice. From the wide, majestic roads and grand architecture to the inexhaustible number of cafes and shops, Paris has something for everyone.
The River Seine snaking through the city adds to its charm with a number of bridges arching over the water. One can walk right down from the street to the water at many points and the weathered stone embankments with iron rings bring alive a sense of history. A popular way to see the city is to take a boat ride on the Seine and sail under all the bridges of Paris.
While the Eiffel Tower is, of course, the first thing that springs to mind when Paris is mentioned, its probably enough to catch a glimpse of the tower from a distance. Unless you really want to go to the top and see the view, this icon can be spotted from several points in the city. It is definitely more dramatic at night since it is lit up, but if it’s the view you’re after, a day visit is best.
Notre Dame is the jewel of Paris. With its magnificent architecture, embellished with statues, gargoyles and stained glass, it definitely lives up to all the hype. Be prepared for long lines of tourists waiting to enter the cathedral if you visit in the summer months. But it’s well worth it to brave the lines and step into the magnificent interior. And if you’re lucky you will get to hear the cathedral bells chiming to bring alive a memory of Quasimodo, the ill fated hunchback of Victor Hugo’s immortal novel .
Visit the Louvre only if you are prepared to dedicate a whole day to it. And don’t just make a beeline for the Mona Lisa. The Louvre houses a stunning collection of classical art. The museum is housed in what once used to be a royal residence which explains the grand scale and magnificence of the building and courtyards.
One courtyard houses the glass pyramid that oversees the museum entrance.
If you don’t have a lot of time, you would be well advised to head to a smaller museum. The Rodin Museum is one such which houses a fabulous collection of the artist’s sculptures and statues. The beautiful grounds around the museum, dotted with many of his most famous works, are also a delight.
The artistic quarter of Montmarte is a must see for most tourists. Cafes and street artists abound here but the area has become very commercial and lost much of its original authenticity. However, it is still worth trekking up the small hill to Montmarte if only to see the church of Sacre Coeur which stands here. And sitting at the bottom of the church steps, one is treated to the vista of La Belle Paris spread out below.
Paris is also a foodies delight. From crepes and seafood to macaroons, everything is made from scratch and with fresh ingredients. Even humble burgers and pizzas at a random cafe have a Parisienne edge.
And all this is just the tip of the iceberg. Paris has lots more to offer for just about everyone… whether the connoisseur, the gourmand, the bohemian, or the trendy.