Your special guide to sightseeing in Paris
Eiffel Tower – tick. Louvre – tick. Notre Dame – tick. We’re sure you’ve got the most famous of Paris sights and attractions right at the top of your holiday hit list. But what else should you try to squeeze into your packed Parisian itinerary? There’s almost too much to see and do in the French capital.
1. Galeries Lafayette
Few cities are as synonymous with style, flair and fashion as Paris. And if you are in Paris to pick up designer duds, make a beeline for the Galeries Lafayette, a sprawling shopping mecca where you can lose hours to retail therapy. Come for Dior and fine wine, and stay for the drop-dead gorgeous domed roof, which looks particularly exquisite at Christmas when there’s a tree laden with fairy lights underneath it. Xmas shopping is never chicer than it is here. When you've filled your bags, fill your stomach too, there are great food options. Just as you'd expect in prime France. Like Petrossain Caviar, and La Cave at Lafayette Gourmet (wine galore).
2. Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
If you’re looking for somewhere a little wilder and more free-form than the neatly-trimmed bushes and gravelly paths of most Parisian parks, head to the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Winding walkways, serene temples and roaring waterfalls make this a paradise for the curious explorer. As the city’s fifth-biggest park, there’s no shortage of stuff to see and do – and while you’re here, you’d be silly not to indulge in the park’s fabulous on-site food and drinks.
3. Moulin Rouge
If it’s glitz and glam you’re after, dig out your sparkliest glad rags and sashay over to the world-famous Moulin Rouge. Drinks will be flowing freely, the costumes flamboyant and – naturellement – there’ll be more high kicks than you can shake a feather boa at. But don’t think you can just rock up and catch one of the Moulin’s spectacularly successful shows – book ahead (like, months ahead) to avoid disappointment. Go full Francais with a glass of champagne, you deserve it. Even if it's just for getting a spot at the show.
4. Jardin des Tuileries
A gentle stroll through the vast gravelled paths in these gardens beside the Louvre makes for the perfect antidote to a day of tourist jostling – whether on a chilly winter’s day with a coffee or in the blazing summer sunshine when you can grab an ice cream and admire the perfectly coiffed hedges. If you want more art, somehow, there's a handful of modern sculptures, including bronzes by Laurens, Moore, Ernst, Giacometti, and Dubuffet's Le Bel Costumé.
5. Palais Garnier
Opera fans are in safe hands in the lavish surroundings of this 2,000-strong auditorium. Arrive early to marvel at the false ceiling painted by Marc Chagall in 1964 and saunter down that grand staircase like you’re royalty. Opulent and grandiose, this place will transport you back to the days of 19th-century Haute société – and that’s all before you even sit down to enjoy its stellar programme of opera, ballet and theatre. Don't like opera? Who cares, you're in Paris. Dust off the suit and pretend!
In 1969, hoary French crooner Joe Dassin released ‘Les Champs-Elysées’, a perfect slice of cheesy French chanson whose lyrics go, ‘in the sunshine, in the rain, in the dark or in the day, all you need’s on the Champs-Elysées’. The song captured the avenue’s status at the time as one of the most fashionable streets in Paris. Today it remains as such, with big-name brands like Levi’s, Hugo Boss and, er, Marks & Spencer all headquartered here. Come armed with cash and plenty of it. Of course, you can pop over to that triumphant arc at the top. Hell of a roundabout, that.