A city dripping in illustrious history and culture, this glorious perfection is reflected in Paris’s cultural pursuits. The City of Lights has permeated the romantic dreams of many a person throughout the ages.
Paris’s growth was spurred by its reputation, as early as the 11th century, as a centre for learning and the arts, a reputation that it has maintained to this day.
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La Ville-Lumière & The Centre of Arts
Paris’s growth was spurred by its reputation, as early as the 11th century, as a centre for learning and the arts, a reputation that it has maintained to this day. Innovators in the arts, architecture and the sciences, the French ensured Paris’s beauty has the ability to leave you speechless, you will not be able to traverse this magnificent city without feeling a sense of awe in all that has been achieved in La Ville-Lumière.
L’arc de Triomphe stands as a beacon of Napoleonic glory on Place Charles de Gaulle overlooking the splendidly wide avenues, including the Champs-Élysées, that serve as tributaries to this grand monument. Even to see it from a far is to witness a bastion of the achievements of human civilization. A truly imperial city, the great Baron Haussman was tasked with remodeling the capital in the mid 18th century. He achieved unbelievable success in creating Paris’s famous neo-classical structures and avenues that alert you to its resplendent position as the capital of one of the greatest civilizations to have graced this planet.
Paris is famous for its position as the centre of the arts, and as such has first-class cultural venues in which you can enjoy masterpieces, created throughout the ages. One of the most remarkable achievements of the city of Paris is that their most celebrated cultural venues remain the best attractions to frequent if you are a connoisseur in any of the categories of the arts. The Louvre houses one of the most, if not the most, world renowned collection of masterpieces by the greats of the European art scene both past and present. You could spend days in the Louvre and still feel as though you have only scratched the surface of what it has to offer. Of course this is where the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci, said to be the most famous painting in the world, resides, although it is surrounded by admirers at all times of the year due to its reputation.
A great of the Parisian art scene is the Musée d’Orsay located in the former Gare d’Orsay an impressive beaux-arts building that served as one of Paris’s main train terminals until 1939. The mainly French pieces of art date from the period 1848-1915. It houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings in the world. Another stalwart of the French art scene is the Centre Pompidou, more contemporary in flavour, as the building that was designed by famed architects Richard Rogers, Renzo Piano and Gianfrancho Franchini will alert you to. Inside there are multiple sections to the centre Pompidou, including a vast public library and the Musée National d’Art Moderne, which is the largest museum of modern art in Europe.
Of course the number and importance of the cultural venues in Paris means that it is impossible to list them all, however, if you are interested in frequenting a more discreet gallery there are many to choose from. One such place is the Marian Goodman Gallery, easily missed to the uninformed eye. Here the portal is always locked and you have to press the entry bell to be let in, but once inside you will be able to experience one of the most important collections of art in Paris. If you are passionate about Haute Coutoure then you cannot miss Paris Fashion Week. Considered one of the ‘big four’ fashion weeks, along with London, Milan and New York, the style and history of Paris lends a unique air to this show. Held semi-annually this glamorous event will see the fashion industries biggest names flock to Paris to showcase their newest looks and attend extravagant after parties alongside some of the most famous faces in the world.
Paris is also the epicenter of Haute Couture, as well as the arts, and is therefore the ideal place to fulfill your retail requirements. On these streets you will be able to find nearly every global high fashion brand as well as stores that you will be unable to find anywhere else in the world. For the quintessential Parisian fashion experience you must go to the Rue de Honoré and the Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré. Among these quaint narrow backstreets you will find the most sought after fashion boutiques in the world, such is the reputation of these stores that even the employees will be fashion obsessed and able to impart unparalleled wisdom as to the latest trends in global fashion. Le Bon Marché can boast to be one of the first department stores in the world and houses most of high fashions famous brands. Like Harrods in London the building is an attraction in itself, however, it still serves the most discerning of fashion lovers in the highest manner.
An Abundance Of Nightlife
As one of the world’s leading global cities Paris has an abundance of nightlife that will suit your taste no matter what that might be. Rated as one of the finest members clubs in Paris, Club Silencio is a fantastic place to relax or party the night away in style. Designed by famed decorator David Lynch, the interior of this magnificent members club is immaculate in detail right down to the stalls of the toilet. Join the European elite by spending your night here after a delicious Parisian meal.
Le Baron upholds its reputation as one of the finest nightlife brands in the world with their venue in Paris. This private nightclub is frequented by some of the most famous faces in Paris and hosts some of the most extravagant parties on offer in the city. Bottles of champagne flow in this nightclub where only the most discerning clientele are allowed in.
VIP Room Paris is one of the many venues this nightlife superpower owns, however, there is a distinctly Parisian feel about the place. Resultantly they have been able to take advantage of their unrivalled experience in the industry while still creating a unique venue that has supplied unforgettable nights to some of the most recognisable faces passing through Paris.
The Art of Gastronomy
Paris maintains its reputation as the center of all things artistic through the art of gastronomy. French cuisine is globally renowned for its complexity and richness and is recreated the world over, but you cannot rival enjoying this culinary tradition in the capital itself.
L’Astrance is a more light-hearted French cuisine. Pascal Barbot encourages a more relaxed style of dish without losing touch with the Parisian gastronomic tradition. This quality restaurant borders on the fusion genre, incorporating plentiful spices from Asia whilst retaining its ability to delight traditionalists, a hard thing to do considering the centuries it has taken to refine this classic style of cooking. Multiple guides and cooking professionals have consistently placed L’Astrance in the top 50 restaurants in the world.
Le Jules Verne Paris, with its location in the Eiffel Tower, offers a one of a kind experience. Not only does it still boast the most beautiful view over Paris, but now it also lays claim to one of the most intimate and inviting dining rooms in the city, playing with the natural light of day and the city lights at night. Le Jules Verne is the essence of Parisian elegance today, steeped in tradition, extremely open minded and exceedingly generous.
At Le Pré Catelan you will be able to enjoy traditional French cuisine at its best. In a wonderfully scenic location in the Bois de Boulogne, you will be seated in an ornate pavilion dating back to the era of Napoleon III. Here the head chef Frédéric Anton, who has achieved great recognition throughout his career, will delight your palate with dishes that truly bring out the best flavours in each ingredient used and compliment each other perfectly. To accompany your meal you can choose from a wine list created and constantly updated by Olivier Poussier, who was voted the world’s best sommelier.
If L’Astrance subtly enhanced the classic approach to French cuisine then Pierre Gagnaire, the head chef of his eponymous restaurant, completely altered the normal view of French cooking. Although still “respectful of yesterday” Gagnaire creates dishes with textures and tastes that will surprise and delight you at the same time. Located on the famous Rue Balzac steps away from the Champs Elyseées and the L’Arc de Triomphe this restaurant has made and maintained a stellar reputation for itself on the back of Pierre Gagnaire’s unflinching hard work.
Luxury Hotels of First Class Comfort and Grandeur
Parisian hotels have benefitted to no end from their ability to be located in some of the most unique buildings in the world and their interiors reflect French classical style. At Le Meurice, opulence and comfort are not confined to the hotel’s public areas alone. Every room and suite is a spacious, peaceful oasis of calm, providing you with the ultimate in luxury. Each of the seven floors has a distinct style, with 160 beautifully appointed rooms decorated in a style redolent of Louis XVI. Le Meurice is considered one of Paris’s great old hotels having been founded in 1815 and is also situated in what has to be considered the best location in Paris across from the Tuileries Garden, between Place de la Concorde and the Musée du Louvre on the Rue de la Rivoli.
A step away from the Champs-Elysées and L’Arc de Triomphe, the Hotel Lancaster’s architecture reveals the French Art of Living and is part of the Leading Hotels of the World group. This “small palace” protects an extensive and valuable collection of art-works subtly combined to contemporary elements. This address is a piece of heaven nestled in the heart of Paris that offers the outmost comfort and refinement to its guests. The authentic 19th century décor is combined with contemporary furniture to create an exclusive atmosphere of elegance, appeal, discretion and beauty.
The The Shangri La Hôtel is no different. Its elegant façade brings to mind its legacy as the former home of Napoleon Bonaparte’s grandnephew, Prince Roland Bonaparte. Attentive staff and a pleasantly discreet check-in ensure that you receive the royal treatment right from the start. In your room, commanding views of the Eiffel Tower and the River Seine hold you transfixed. The old-world elegance of the room, lovingly adorned with the fine work of craftsmen, is mirrored in the city that lies just below. Also in the Shangri-La, as you might expect from a luxury Parisian hotel, is a fine dining restaurant, yet with such extraordinary choice in the city you are encouraged to venture beyond this remarkable setting.
Two hotels that cannot be excluded from a list of Paris’s best and most elegant are the Hôtel De Crillon and the Hôtel Ritz Paris. These hotels are synonymous with classic French luxury and are highly recommended for anyone seeking the finest in Paris accommodation. Unfortunately both hotels have recently been closed for renovation in order for them to retain their status as the frontrunners of Paris’s luxury hotel scene. The Hôtel Ritz Paris will be reopening in the summer of 2014 and the Hôtel de Crillon will be reopening in 2015.