Paris: a city full of delights

Eiffel ower ParisWhat can you do in Paris? The French capital has many famous sights to visit, but also lesser-known delights to explore. You can travel around easily by underground trains – le Métro – or bus, and it is also a pleasure to walk through the streets of the centre of the city, or further out on a former railway line which has been transformed into a green walkway. Rain or shine, there is always plenty to see and do in Paris. Tour MontparnasseWhat can you do in Paris to get an overview of the city? The most iconic sight in Paris is the Eiffel Tower, which at 324 metres high was the tallest structure in the world when it was built in 1889. From the top you have a panoramic view of the city, with the River Seine snaking through it. Other places worth a visit for a bird’s-eye view are the Tour Montparnasse and the Institut du Monde Arabe. The latter is one of the “Grand Projets”, the big architectural projects undertaken by President Mitterand in the 1980s. These also include the glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre museum and the Grande Arche de la Défence, which is a contemporary version of the Arc de Triomphe – there is a splendid view from one to the other. What can you do in Paris in bad weather? Notre Dame cathedral ParisOn a rainy day you can take the opportunity to see the interiors of the great buildings of Paris, such as Notre Dame cathedral, the white basilica of Sacré Coeur and the great museums. See the paintings of the French impressionists in the Musée d’Orsay. Both the building and the paintings will show you something of how Paris looked in the 19th century. For something less well-known, visit La Pagode, a genuine Japanese pagoda imported in 1895 and subsequently turned into a cinema, where you can watch films in a sumptuous interior and, if the rain has stopped, take tea in the oriental-style garden. Otherwise, sit on a covered terrace outside one of Paris’ many cafés and watch the elegant Parisians walking by. What can you do in Paris on foot? Place de la Bastille ParisYou can spend an fascinating morning window-shopping in Paris – looking at the latest fashions in the rue de Rivoli, fabulously-arrayed gourmet delicacies in Fauchon and mouth-watering cakes in almost any patisserie. For a rather different walk, take the Promenade Plantée from the Place de la Bastille in a south-easterly direction. The first one and a half kilometre section is elevated, and planted with trees, roses and other flowering plants. You feel as if you are in the country. You can continue to walk until you reach the Bois de Vincennes and return by Métro.