When visiting Paris, you are in the one of the world’s best shopping cities. Many visitors make a bee-line for the top – and very expensive – brands along the Champs Elysees. However, there is plenty of shopping for the discerning, be that for fashion, jewellery or gourmet goods.
Along the Haussman Boulevard, for example, the Parisian department stores of Galeries Lafayette and Le Printemps offer the superb fashions and perfumes, whilst there is a huge choice of fashion houses on the Avenue Montaigne, the rue du Faubourg St Honore and the rue de Sevres.
If you prefer lots of shops under one roof, then try Les Halles which houses 180 shops or ‘Les Quatre Temps’ shopping centre at La Defense. Or, if markets appeal, you have a choice of over 70!
Among the best known are the gastronomy market on the rue Mouffetard (near the Pantheon) and the Marche du Boulevard Raspail that specialises in organic produce. And, if time and pocket allow, take a stroll in Montmartre for a piece of Parisian art to take home too.
Paris is considered one of the dining capitals of the world with its thousands of restaurants, bistros, bars and cafes with menus reflecting cuisine from every corner of France, its former colonies as well as international food from around the globe.
For formal dining, choose from the many chic restaurants – either traditional offering classic French cuisine or the fashionable hotspots with contemporary décor and menus.
For a more informal meal, you may prefer a cosy bistro or perhaps a brasserie. Bistros are usually family-run, the fare home-made and the décor typically Art Nouveau. Brasseries are a more lively option, being large and often open until the early hours with a choice of full meals or snacks.
Lighter meals are served in the many café-restaurants with terraces wonderful for watching the Parisian world go by, whilst increasingly wine bars will offer daily specials.
Ideally, head to non-tourist areas where the Parisians prefer to dine. Fixed price menus are less expensive than dining a la carte and look out for value-for-money house wines. Water, coffees and chasers can be very expensive and it’s worth double-checking prices before you order!
However, many visitors do make for the popular hotspots. Counted among these are Café de Flore, the so-called existentialist café, and its arch-rival Les Deux Magots with its annual literary award. Both are located on the Boulevard Saint-Germain in the sixth arrondissement and were patronised by some of the world’s greatest writers, thinkers and artists – Camus, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Hemingway, Wilde and Picasso.