A romantic city
Paris, a truly romantic city perfect for a weekend away. Fly to Paris in 1 hour 30 from Manchester Airport. Stroll around the bars, boutiques, and treat yourself to some fine dining. There is also an array of magical attractions to choose from such as the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay.
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Paris is up there with New York as one of the shopping capitals of the world. Tourists often gravitate towards the stores and fashion outlets of the Champs-Élysées, although those in the know are more drawn by nearby Avenue Montaigne, where designer jewellery, catwalk boutiques and high-end hotels are the order of the day. Elsewhere, the city’s gourmet food emporiums are a big draw – try La Grande Epicerie (38 rue de Sèvres) or the food department at Galeries Lafayette (40 boulevard Haussmann). For antiques and myriad knick-knacks, don’t miss the flea market at Marché aux Puces Saint Ouen de Clignancourt (Saturday-Monday).
Food & Drink
Think Paris, think haute cuisine. This is a city with more Michelin-star restaurants than any other in Europe (over 80 at the last count), including 10 that boast hallowed three-star status. Among them is Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée (25 avenue Montaigne), renowned for its traditional finesse and contemporary twists. Less famed but hugely rewarding is the more down-to-earth Bistrot Paul Bert (18 rue Paul Bert), while the best new openings include Terroir Parisien (20 rue Saint-Victor) – run by celebrated chef Yannick Alléno – and the fashion-conscious La Dame de Pic (20 rue du Louvre). And for great street grub? Grab a falafel in the Le Marais district.
Paris Fashion Week
An institution in the world of glossy magazines and designer clothing, Paris Fashion Week takes place twice a year – once to showcase spring/summer collections, once to promote autumn/winter collections. The events are usually a whirl of catwalk shows and parties.
Nuit des Musées
An initiative launched by the French Department of Culture, the Nuit des Musées sees a huge range of museums and galleries across Paris open up to the public – for free – between dusk and 1am.
Fête de la Musique
This world music day, since taken up by various international cities, first came into being in Paris in 1982. There are free concerts and street performances, with various genres catered for and music generally carrying on into the wee hours.
Every summer, the banks of the Seine are given a tropical makeover, with temporary beaches laid down to provide some respite from the often-fierce heat. The beaches are free to visit – you’ll find beachside cafés, riverside games and even the odd palm tree.
Paris Autumn Festival
Held for more than three months each autumn, this festival involves everything from drama and music to dance and cinema, with a huge programme of events laid on at various prices and at various locations.
Statistics suggest that Paris attracts more tourists than any other city on the planet, so its hotels come in all shapes and sizes. The French capital’s legendary ‘palace hotels’ are still considered the crème de la crème, with the likes of Le Meurice (228 rue de Rivoli) combining opulent décor and finely tuned service with, yes, pretty hefty rates. There’s a more modern strain of luxury at W Paris Opéra (4 rue Meyerbeer), while Hotel 7 Eiffel (17 bis rue Amélie) is a solid four-star option sitting close to the Eiffel Tower. Among the ranks of three-star hotels, Hotel Langlois (63 rue Saint-Lazare) has a good location in the ninth arrondissement.