Paris tourism after terrorist attacks: 32 great reasons you should still visit

1. It's the world's most romantic city

Stanley Stewart explains: "Chaotic passions flutter beneath its fine sensible civilised face. Its reputation as the city of love is so pervasive that I once met nomads in Outer Mongolia discussing fantasy dates in Paris. Despite their geography being a bit hazy - they seemed to feel Paris was a day's ride from Moscow on a decent horse - they talked of the river, the bridges, the spires of Notre Dame."

May we suggest a stroll through the gardens of the Palace of Fontainebleau, just outside the city, a sundowner (and the views) in Belleville, the hilltop district where Edith Piaf was born, a show at the Palais Garnier, and dinner at La Fermette Marboeu, where the Art Nouveau decor is as exquisite as the Grand Marnier soufflé? Then recreate Robert Doisneau's Le Baiser de l'Hôtel de Ville (Kiss by the Town Hall).

See also: 20 reasons why Paris is the No 1 city for tourists

2. Getting there is easy from London

Just 2 hours 15 mins on the Eurostar, with return fares from £64 ($134.50).

See also: The star of European trains turns 20

3. It's got 70 Michelin-starred restaurants

Including 10 with three stars.

See also: Inside Paris' greatest cooking school

4. And you'll learn about the true hierarchy in the relationship between waiter and diner

"It is an ignoble lie that Parisian waiters are rude," explains Anthony Peregrine. "They aren't. They are simply professional men (generally men) in a hurry. Consider your average London waiter or barman who, unless he actually is French, certainly doesn't speak French and will give short shrift to anyone who cannot speak English.

"Anyway, he doesn't consider waiting his real job. It's just something he does until he goes back to college or gets a role in a reality TV show. He is, therefore, clueless. French waiters are, by contrast, men doing a serious job. It's a career.


"The fellow may take an order for 14 different drinks in English, dodge between traffic, give directions to a Japanese passer-by on how to get to the Eiffel Tower – and still be a damned sight more agreeable than any waiter I have recently encountered in any British airport (they are legion) in recent times."

See also: The 10 food rules for Europe

5. It's got the world's greatest museum

But please, no #monalisaselfies

​See also: Why seeing the Mona Lisa is underwhelming

6. And dozens of brilliant ones you've never heard of

"Alongside the world-famous museums and monuments, there are also some gloriously eccentric ones," says Natasha Edwards, our Paris expert. "My favourite is the Musée Gustave Moreau, his former home and studio piled high with his works and an insight into a city that has long been an inspiration for artists."

See also: 19 destinations that will change your life

7. There's the most beautiful stained glass you'll probably ever see

Inside the Sainte Chapelle, on the Ile de la Cité, you'll find the most awe-inspiring 13th-century stained glass in the world. The place exults with the sort of light which heralds angels. Fifteen huge and exquisite windows constitute the side and end of the chapel, held in place – only God knows how – by the frailest possible stone-work.

Whoever designed it had mastered the sublime. The scriptural stories in the 1,113 panels – recently restored to glory – are impossible to follow. It doesn't matter. When the sunlight pours through, the effect is of being bathed in grace and serenity.

See also: The most beautiful stained glass in the world

8. They know how to make a decent pastry

Cedric Grolet, pastry chef at Le Meurice, is the undisputed master.

See also: The 50 dishes in the world you must try

9. Because the Rodin Museum has just reopened

Hôtel Biron, home to the new Rodin Museum, has a wonderfully bucolic feel about it. Nick Trend adds: "This 1720s mansion may be in the heart of the city, tucked away behind the gilded dome of Les Invalides, but it looks out over seven acres of lawns, topiary and avenues of pollarded trees. It has always been one of the great sights of Paris: perhaps the most perfect of the city's museums, and the most appealing to visit."

10. It has got the Thirst Triangle

The Triangle de Soif in St Germain des Près – constituted by the tiny Rues Canette, Guisarde and Princesse – is the finest place on Earth to celebrate a great sporting event. All real sports fans – starting with rugby – gather there. If you don't know where to start amid the abundance of bars, try Chez Georges at 11, Rue des Cannettes. It's barely changed in 50 years, with photos on the wall of celebrities whom no-one remembers, and everyone drinking together.

See also: The top 10 signature drinks from around the world

11. The oldest restaurant in France

Procope – on Rue de l'Ancienne Comédie – was established in 1686 but is still good, still reasonably-priced, and still retains the hat which Napoleon left as an IOU, and the table at which Voltaire drank many of his 40 daily cups of coffee.

See also: TripAdvisor names the best restaurants on the world

12. And the world's most fascinating cemetery

At Père Lachaise you can take in the tombs of Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Chopin and a host of other big, big names, and you end up at Oscar Wilde's tomb – a block-like item conceived by Jacob Epstein, with a modernist angel emerging from the block. It once had male genitalia, but these have been knocked off – not so much to keep Oscar's mind on higher things through eternity as to provide the cemetery manager with a paper-weight.

There's also the tomb of French journalist Victor Noir, shot dead in 1870 in a duel with Pierre Bonaparte, the great-nephew of Napoleon. It has become something of a fertility symbol owing simply to the fact that it has a noticeable bulge. Women flock to Père Lachaise in their hordes to rub the spot for luck bearing a child, as evidence by its state of polished sheen.

See also: The world's best cemeteries

13. It's heaven for shoppers

The great stores on Boulevard Haussmann – Galéries Lafayette, Printemps and so forth – have the most inspired Christmas window displays in Europe. In Fauchon and Hédiard, the city has two of the most splendid grocery stores on the continent. And no-one does jewels finer than they do on Place Vendôme or fashions more richly beguiling than on Avenue Montaigne.

See also: The world's most expensive streets

14. Chocolat chaud

Not just any old chocolat chaud, but the best, leg-buckling kind in France - poured from a chocolate pot (that's a tea pot especially for chocolate). What's not to like?

See also: The world's ten best places for chocolate lovers

15. It's got the finest collection of Impressionist paintings anywhere

"At the Musée d'Orsay, all the familiar images are there for real," says Anthony Peregrine. "Déjeuner sur l'Herbe, Whistler's Mother, Gauguin's lumpy Tahitiennes – and then, amid very much else, there is François Pompon's magnificently powerful and curvilinear Polar Bear sculpture, the finest animal statue in France. My favourite anywhere. If anyone's wondering what to buy me for Christmas..."

See also: Paris - one day three ways

16. And the world's maddest junction

A loop around the Arc de Triomphe is especially fun in a 2CV.

See also: 40 fascinating facts about the Eiffel Tower

17. Because of the brasseries

Nowhere in the world, or elsewhere in France, does French brasseries as Paris does – with their banks of shellfish, dishes of tripe and choucroute, waiters in aprons, and bustle, as if life is being lived, food being eaten and wine being drunk, all at full-tilt.

Sally Peck adds: "Conquering the mountain of choucroute at Bofinger offers a sense of accomplishment (and perhaps indigestion)."

18. The café culture

Whatever part of town you're staying in, there'll be a great local café, where you can drop in at any time of day for morning coffee, to read a newspaper, sun on the terrace, or engage in conversation over an apéritif.

See also: Why cafes are the most entertaining places for travellers

19. And the catacombs

This underground ossuary contains the remains of some six million people. Its countless caverns and tunnels extend for 280km beneath the city and were used by the French Resistance during the Second World War. They are open to tourists in search of the macabre - an entrance can be found at Place Denfert Rochereau.

There's also a sewer museum.

20. For the best baguettes in France

And that means in the world.

21. And andouillette at 4am

"Near the Halles former market place at 6, Rue Coquillière, Au Pied De Cochon has been open 24/7 almost uninterrupted since 1947," says Anthony Peregrine. "Thus, you've been able to order an andouillette, or even something edible, at 4am, for more than 55 years. And, at that hour, as night people bump into early morning people, it's as crowded as normal restaurants are at midday. I've been there quite often, and never seen a drunk."

See also: Andouillette is heaven on a plate, if you can stomach it

22. The new Philharmonie concert hall at La Villette

Incredible acoustics, brilliant design.

23. To remember the revolution

One of the defining world events of the modern era was the 1789 French revolution and, astonishingly, one can still follow very many of its traces in the contemporary city – from the Place de la Concorde – where the revolutionaries used the guillotine to shorten so many of their fellow citizens – via the Cours de Commerce where Marat, the extremist's extremist, published his newspaper, l'Ami du Peuple. In it, he wrote "to ensure tranquility, 270,000 more heads should fall". He was killed in the bath of his nearby home.

24. It's the most absorbing city on Earth

Anthony Peregrine writes: "The urban perspective from the Alexandre III bridge (itself gold and gilt-ornamented beyond the bounds of reason) is one of the most stirring the world offers. Les Invalides rises opposite, the other way are the pomp and circumstance of the Grand and Petit Palais.

"The Seine proivides the grandest running commentary and just off-stage, on the Champs-Elysées, a bronze of General de Gaulle strides out. On his pedestal he is quoted: 'There is a time-honoured link between the grandeur of France and the liberty of the world.' Right here, right now, you could almost believe him.

"But we know, and love, France too well to take this at face value. We know perfectly well that they conceive mighty edifices, and mighty speeches, in the name of the imaginary people because the real people have a tendency to chuck rocks.

"So they need a myth of grandeur to keep France under control and functioning. So they centralise everything in Paris and ram home the message with magnificence to co-opt the citizenry to the project. It's a hell of a trick to pull off. The resultant tension, self-generated, also makes Paris the most absorbing city on earth. That's why we must continue to go."

See also: The world's best waterfronts

25. It has Europe's best vintage markets

Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen and Marché aux puces de la Porte de Vanves especially, where you can pick up beautiful antique lace, old embroidered tablecloths, hand-blown glasses, or oil paintings that might have been done by some old French Master.

See also: The essential guide to perfect Paris shopping

26. And Buttes Chaumont park

Natasha Edwards says: "Of all the parks created in the 1860s by Baron Haussmann and his engineer Jean-Charles Alphand, this is the one that I find the most Romantic with a capital R, with its lake and fake crags, bridges, waterfall, giant cedars and unlikely palm trees. There's even a cave, with fake stalactites."

27. For a civilised rock festival

The city's annual rock festival - Rock en Seine - takes place in the Domaine National de Saint-Cloud, on the western outskirts of the city. It's far cry from your archetypal muddy field. While the grand château that once stood here is gone, destroyed during the Franco-Prussian War, the glorious gardens remain, with fountains, statues and tree-lined pathways to wander among before the bands go on stage. It's also considerably more civilized than your average festival – complimentary showers for all, with coffee and croissants for breakfast, rather than bacon sarnies washed down with warm cans of Carling.

See also: The secret to avoiding other tourists

28. And Picasso

It's the best city in which to see Picasso's works - more than 5,000 of them, from paintings and ceramics to sculptures.

See also: Picasso Museum reopens

29. Because for some reason or another croissants never taste as good anywhere else

30. To see the other Statue of Liberty

A smaller but no less impressive version sits on the Seine at the Pont de Grenelle. Only three years younger than New York's - and pretty poignant right now.

31. It's got permanent elegance

London has dynamism - the city-scape changes on the hour, every hour - Paris has a more unchanging elegance. They're not always knocking down old stuff and bunging up new stuff. There's a sense of permanence which remains both bracing and restful.

See also: Six of the best Parisian hotels

32. And no ugly skyscrapers

You can look out from your hotel window and see only rooftops. No Walkie Talkies, Gherkins or Cheese Graters.

The Telegraph, London