Local Host Picks
MONTMARTRE & SACRE COEUR
Try a walking tour of the Montmartre district, where artists such as Picasso and Van Gogh worked. While in Montmartre, visit the Sacré-Coeur (Sacred Heart). This pristine, white-stone church features one of the world's largest mosaics, which depicts Christ with outstretched arms, and a massive 19-ton church bell. Sit on the steps outside the church for wonderful views of the city to absorb the Parisienne joie de vivre (joy of life).
MUSÉE D’ORSAY, POMPIDOU CENTER, MUSÉE RODIN, MUSÉE DE LA VIE ROMANTIQUE
Stroll through centuries of artwork at the Musée d’Orsay (closed on Mondays), which houses an extensive collection of impressionist masterpieces by Monet, Degas, Renoir, and Cezanne, or drop by the Pompidou Center, (closed on Tuesdays) an architectural wonder and home to the National Museum of Modern Art. Musée Rodin, contains most of the artist's significant sculptures, including The Thinker, The Kiss, and The Gates of Hell and the quaint Musée de la Vie Romantique, located in a private mansion, includes mementos of the romantic literary figure George Sand, as well as paintings by Ary Scheffer.
PLACE DES VOSGES/MARAIS DISTRICT
A few blocks from the famous Bastille Square, this charming area is full of historical buildings and art and shopping possibilities. Visit the Picasso Museum, or the Victor Hugo House to learn more about the author of Les Misérables, and the Hunchback of Notre Dame. And stroll through the Carnavalet museum for the history of Paris, past and present.
The impeccably formal Garden of the Tuileries offers an unbroken vista towards the Place de la Concorde, the Arc de Triomphe and the Grande Arche. It remains the largest and oldest public garden in Paris today. Jardin du Luxembourg is loved for the greenery and multitude of statues, playgrounds and the famous Guignol puppet show. Opened in 1780, the Parc du Champ-de-Mars extends from the École Militaire to the Eiffel Tower. A hotspot for national events, it can be accessed freely and offers the most beautiful view of the capital’s landmark monument.
SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY BOOKSTORE
In the Roaring 20s, this quirky bookstore on the Bohemian Left Bank was the meeting place for some of literature's greats, like Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Joyce to name a few (currently open only in the afternoon).
ISLANDS OF PARIS: ÎLE DE LA CITÉ & ÎLE SAINT-LOUIS
The largest is Île de la Cité, with its famous Cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris (due to the fire in 2019, the cathedral is still closed to the public and under renovation). It is also home to Sainte-Chapelle adored for its intricate stained-glass windows and La Conciergerie, a prison-turned-museum where Marie Antoinette, Robespierre, and 40,000 other victims of the Reign of Terror were processed before their execution. Its sister island, Ile Saint Louis was developed in the 17th century by King Louis XIII as a retreat for the wealthy and is still largely residential with much of its original village charm. The island is possibly Paris’ most idyllic setting for a day of shopping, dining, and browsing an art gallery.
Find your favorite bridge, there are 37 and they are all different, from plain to gilded and from new to over 400 years old. The top 5 are: Pont Neuf is the oldest bridge in Paris dating back to 1578, the time of King Henry III. The Pont Royal, which gets its name from its royal benefactor King Louis XIV is near the Louvre Palace and the Tuileries garden. Pont Alexandre III is immediately recognized for its beautiful decorations of lampposts, cherubs and nymphs and gilt gold. It was built as a symbol of the relationship between the Russians and French and is named after Tsar Alexander the III. The Pont des Arts was the first metal bridge built in Paris. Arts seems to be perfect name since the bridge has been the source of inspiration for numerous painters and artists. The Pont au Double is a single arch bridge made of cast-iron. Initially built as a bridge to carry patients to the hospital, it collapsed in 1709, and was replaced with the bridge that is seen today.
MARKETS AND SPECIALTIES
Ask your Local Host how to get to the flea market for affordable objets d’art,or visit one of the food markets. The French know how to turn food display into an art form. See rainbows of fresh fruit and vegetables, soft palettes of bread and colossal wheels of cheese; France has over 400 varieties of cheese! And when you're ready for dessert, specialty stores abound-from tarts and pastries to crêpes and pain au chocolat. Other specialties to try are onion soup with a fresh baguette, coq au vin (a classic chicken dish), croque-monsieur, quiche Lorraine, escargots, steak-frites and famous French wines and champagne.
Shop at haute couture boutiques in the rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré district or the Champs-Elysées, avenue Montaigne. Visit the newly re-opened La Samaritaine in the 1st district where you can find luxury brands as well as the creations of aspiring young fashion designers. You may want to spend some time browsing the Galeries Lafayette (with weekly fashion shows) and Printemps department stores. Also popular for shopping are rue ste Dominique and rue Cler in the Eiffel Tower area – with nice restaurants, small shops, etc.
When you are ready for a break, join the locals at one of the cafés, sip a glass of wine or a café au lait (hot milk coffee), and watch the world go by in true Parisienne style.
PÈRE LACHAISE CEMETERY
Walk through the world’s most visited cemetery and burial grounds of many famous people including Oscar Wilde, James Morrison and Frédéric Chopin.