This is a common question that I hear probably more frequently than I really want. Certainly there are many clichés about Paris. Some of those are true, some are part legend and part reality. This is called the city of lights, the capital of fashion, the place where love is reborn. On the other hand there are many who claim the Parisians may not be all that friendly. I normally just have one answer to the question: I think that Paris is a city that everybody should visit at least once.
It has a special magic and mysticism, it is certainly a very expensive one, but well, there is not much that one can do about that, the good news is that many times one does not need to spend money to enjoy the place, for me it is enough to walk around the city to capture the singular feeling that every neighborhood transmits.
It is a huge city, but one of the good things is the excellent public transportation system, some see the network with fear, I see it like a multitude of possibilities. It is better to buy a tourist pass for several days and then you can go to any corner of the city.
The food, I have to admit, it is not my favorite, I actually prefer Italian or Spaniard, but on the other hand no one denies that it is possible to have amazing banquets here. The danger? The same as that in any other touristy destination: tourist traps. There are many restaurants especially around the main spots that serve bad, overpriced food. But like in any other city there are some very nice places. Go where the locals go! Anyone will be surprised to find a good affordable restaurant close to the Eiffel tower, but yes there is one that I like a lot: Le Fontaine de Mars. It is located close to the metro stop Ecoile Militaire. For those that come to the city to live the cliché this is the place to be, a typical local restaurant, with excellent food and affordable prices.
But where to start a trip to Paris? I do not intend to present here a detailed guide of such a huge city, despite that I will say that every time I take someone around the visit starts in Montmartre, once there I go to the Basilica of Sacre Coeur. This is the highest point of the city and there is an excellent view of what will come next. The exterior of the Basilica is impressive. The Montmartre neighborhood is a very peculiar one, it is in the nightclub district, and during the day there are many places where one can buy souvenirs. My morning in Paris always starts with a coffee and a croissant. One comes to Paris to sit in one of those traditional cafes that one sees on the TV, so what a better moment for such experience than breakfast?
My second stop is the Eifel tower, it is amazing to learn that a monument that is now the symbol of the city was once hated by most of the locals who thought it was ugly. Well it is ugly but at the same time beautiful, maybe it is the uniqueness or the feeling that only in France you can see the Eifel tower. The parks that surround the tower are very nice, and I normally go out from the metro in Ecole militaire and walk from there to enjoy the place. The view from the top of the tower is really incredible, it is high and many people feel afraid, but it is certainly an incredible feeling of taking in the immensity of the city all at once.
Paris is a city to enjoy and I love my walks around a place so full of history and architecture. So, from the tower I walk to the beginning of the Avenue of the Champs Elysees. This is a place where history and fashion melds. What a great view of the Arch of Triomphe. There are so many bars and cafes along the way that anyone will certainly being tempted to just sit, drink something and relax. Another of my visits in Paris includes the Ile de la cite and of course Notre Dame, this is one of the most amazing catholic churches in France. The stained glass windows are very beautiful. It is amazing to think that this is considered the center of the whole city and the place of its foundation. It is great to walk the streets around ile de le cite where one can get a nice feeling of the Parisian life. Certainly there are many restaurants, but one again must be wary of tourist traps.
Finally do not miss the fascinating cultural opportunities. Certainly there are many great museums, but two occupy the a privileged place on the list of any visitor: the first one is the museum D’Orsay, it is located on the left bank of the Seine River in a former train station, the building itself is very nice and the art collection even better. No one can leave the city without a stop in the Louvre, the biggest museum of the world and a place with an incredible art collection.
For the lovers of good taste, attention to the finer things and luxury, Paris is home to some of the most stylish and amazing hotels of the world, in this city stylish normally translates as expensive, but it is possible to find some affordable accommodations.
I think that among hotels the ones in the Eurodisney area are a good find. I speak overall of the Marriott Village d’ile de France and the Radisson. These are excellent five star hotels with great service. Disney is just steps away and it offers entertainment for the whole family. For those who want to enjoy the city it is not more than a half hour ride in the train.
Well, the original question was if Paris is a beautiful city? For me there is no other answer than a big yes. With all the diversity, with the good and the bad things, this is a destination that truly lives up to all the expectations.