Top destinations in Paris: Thanks to centuries of makeovers, the Chateau de Versailles can claim the title of most sumptuous pad in Paris. Once a modest hunting lodge, the building has grown with each resident and has 2,300 rooms that have housed various French royalty over the years. The majority of the lavish work was commissioned by Louis XIV in 1678, who is responsible for adding the wondrous Hall of Mirrors, as well as the elegant and expansive grounds. It can get busy at peak times, so book a skip-the-line ticket beforehand and arrive early.
Paris restaurant pick : It’s been a while since an outstanding restaurant opened in the historic Latin Quarter, which is why Cambodian-born Tomy Gousset’s new place has been such a hit. Here, the chef — who spent time in the New York restaurant scene — preps a first-rate small-plates menu that will please both vegetarians and carnivores. Standout dishes include the savory pancake with guanciale; a breaded free-range pork cutlet with a fried egg, black rice, red cabbage, and curry sauce; and a black chocolate tart with puffed buckwheat and cappuccino ice cream. It’s an instant local favorite.
Sitting at the highest point in Paris like an ornamental decoration, the Basilique Sacre-Coeur has a special aura. Its alabaster facade blends Romanesque and Byzantine styles, and from far away, it looks like a wedding cake (which is its nickname). Inside the Basilica, the striking mosaic of Christ with a flaming heart gives the sanctuary an emotional and spiritual intensity, fitting for a church that was created as a symbol of hope after the Franco-Prussian War. The sanctuary is illuminated with many candles, which provide a contrast to the dark, somber space. Visitors can spend time on the terrace admiring the views of Paris or climb the tower for an even higher perspective. The Esplanade that leads up (by a staircase of over 200 steps) to the Sacre-Coeur church is a popular area for people to hang out and is often animated by street musicians. Discover additional details on Paris travel blog.
Paris shopping pick : Boulevard Saint Germain, Bon Marche & Rue du Bac: Running through the elegant 7th arrondissement, the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Pres and into the lively Latin Quarter, Boulevard Saint Germain is a street shoppers won’t want to miss in Paris. Starting at the Seine River in the 7th, this pretty street is lined with trees and beautiful Parisian buildings. It’s a great spot for home decor shops, fashion boutiques and gourmet food shops. As you reach the intersection with Rue du Bac and Boulevard Raspail, you’ll enter a fabulous shopping neighborhood. Follow Boulevard Raspail down to Rue de Rennes, and along the way you’ll find many interesting stores, including Genevieve Lethu for dishes, tablecloths and so on (95 Rue de Rennes). Plastiques (103 Rue de Rennes) is great for home gift ideas, including cool cheese trays, salad bowls out of clear plastic with Provencal flowers inside and so on.
The Arc de Triomphe is dedicated to the soldiers who fought in the French armies of the Revolution and the First Empire (Napoleonic Wars). Napoleon commissioned the building of this mighty structure in 1806 but did not live to see its completion in 1836. Designed by JF Chalgrin, the massive 50-meter-high arch features bas-reliefs with larger-than-life-size figures, which depict the departure, victories, and glorious return of the French armies. Particularly noteworthy is the bas-relief by Francois Rude on the Champs-Elysees-facing side: Departure of the Volunteers of 1792, also known as The Marseillaise, illustrating the troops led by the winged spirit of Liberty. On the inner surface of the arch are the names of more than 660 generals and more than a hundred battles. From the top of the monument, a viewing platform affords panoramic views of the 12 avenues that radiate from the Place de l’Etoile, including the route from the Champs-Elysees to Place de la Concorde and the Louvre. It’s possible to see all the way to La Defense, Montmartre, and the Eiffel Tower. Read more details at FranceTravelBlog.com.