Paris travel guide and things to do: Nine highlights


Are you sure you want to go up the Eiffel Tower? The queues can be a faff and you'll never get the iconic view of the French capital without the "Metal Asparagus" in your photo. Head instead up the Tour Montparnasse. Parisians were aghast when this 210 metre-high tombstone-shaped office skyscraper sprouted in the early 1970s. But even they grudgingly admit it has its uses. From the 56th-floor observation deck - and the open-air terrace above - you'll get unbeatable panoramas, with everything from the Sacre-Coeur to the Arc de Triomphe (and, of course, Gustave Eiffel's masterpiece) there for the snapping. Come before sunset so you can admire the City of Light by day and after dark. See


Discerning and devilishly decadent, La Reserve Hotel & Spa is tucked away on a sleepy street off the Champs-Elysees, around the corner from the French presidential palace. Veteran star designer Jacques Garcia has worked his magic around this 19th-century mansion (which was built for the half-brother of Napoleon III), with 40 lavishly furnished, butler-serviced rooms and suites, and flamboyant public areas, including a mahogany-panelled library stocked with Hugos and Flauberts, a regal lounge bar and a two Michelin-starred restaurant. The subterranean spa has a 16-metre pool, treatment rooms and a hammam. Rooms from €844 ($1341) a night. See


September 2018 - Boulevard Haussmann, Paris, France  - Galeries Lafayette shopping mall in Paris tra23parisoneonly Photo: iStock

Shopping and browsing along the perfumed aisles of the flagship Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann is a quintessential Parisian experience. As well as your Louis Vuittons and Guccis, you'll find sustainable fashions and jewellery from on-trend French artisans and a wealth of gourmet temptations (fancy taking macaron bakery classes with a pastry chef?) Enjoy a drink while peeking down over the department store's great hall and up at its majestic Art Nouveau glass cupola, then hit the rooftop for more stirring Parisian views. See


A peaceful green pocket in the eighth arrondissement, Parc Monceau made quite the impression on Claude Monet, who captured its leafy, eclectic beauty in a series of paintings. Chances are you'll hear birdsong as you walk the tree-lined paths. These snake past shaded lawns, a little lake, and follies, including a miniature Egyptian-style pyramid and remnants of a funerary monument built for 16th-century French king Henry II and his queen consort, Catherine de' Medici. The park's affluent, neighbouring streets are dotted with Belle Epoque-era mansions and galleries, restaurants and boulangeries. See


Ernest Hemingway came to live in Paris 100 years ago and his beloved Latin Quarter still beguiles travellers. One of its most enduringly seductive slices is Rue Mouffetard, which Hemingway described as "a wonderful, narrow crowded market street". It still is several mornings a week when stall vendors hawk cheeses, charcuterie and other colourful produce. Cafes and bars also fringe this ancient artery, which rises up to Place de la Contrescarpe, where more alfresco wining and dining options ring a fountain-studded square. See


Extravagant paintings and mirrors embellish the walls of Angelina, a glorious Belle Epoque tea room nestled under the arcades opposite Jardin des Tuileries. Founded in 1903 by Austrian-born confectioner Anton Rumpelmayer and named after his daughter, Angelina, it was a favourite of Marcel Proust and Coco Chanel, and still pulls in the punters for its sweet and savoury delights. Some regulars swear by the hot chocolate, which blends cocoa from Niger, Ghana and Ivory Coast, and a Mont-Blanc, Angelina's signature pastry. It fuses meringue, light-whipped cream and chestnut paste vermicelli. See


If you've already "done" the Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay, head for Les Halles, a recently-refurbished market district that 19th-century author Emile Zola called "the belly of Paris", where a new museum dedicated to contemporary art has opened in the domed former stock exchange. Bourse de Commerce displays a vast private collection amassed by billionaire French businessman Francois Pinault over the past 40 years, with paintings, sculptures, installations and photographs by almost 400 artists (among them Jeff Koons and Cindy Sherman). See


Straddling the corner of Avenue Trudaine and Rue des Martyrs in the hip SoPi (South Pigalle) district south of Montmartre, KB Coffee Roasters mixes top-notch caffeine hits with superb people-watching opportunities. Grab a seat at the window or by the tables spilling onto the pavements and nurse a flat white (or iced brew) while listening to vintage tunes drifting from the street's old-fashioned carousel. Formerly Kooka Boora, KB was established by a Frenchman who'd discovered the joys of proper coffee in Australia. See



Lionel Messi's transfer to PSG (Paris Saint-Germain) has added even more stardust to a line-up already sporting fleet-footed Brazilian forward Neymar and France's golden boy, Kylian Mbappe. Get tickets to watch the trio wreak havoc on opposing defences at Le Parc des Princes, a venue that also runs interactive behind-the-scenes stadium tours. See


Paris is seriously upping the ante when it comes to making the city more cycle-friendly. Since the pandemic, more than 50 kilometres of bike lanes (nicknamed coronapistes) have been added to boulevards and side streets. Hire some wheels from the city's bike-sharing scheme. See

Steve McKenna was a guest of La Reserve and Paris Tourist Office