A guide to traversing the landscape of Paris in 12 hours
Visit the world's most romantic city, where gorgeous architecture, chic style and gourmet dining are de rigueur.
Start your day at the Fondation Louis Vuitton (fondationlouisvuitton.fr) in the Bois de Boulogne. Housed in a stirring glass building designed by Frank Gehry, this contemporary art museum focuses on 20th and 21st-century artistic movements and houses the corporate collection of LVMH.
Contemporary art of a different kind is on display outside, as the famously fashionable Parisians show us how it’s done. Follow suit and get shopping on Les Champs-Elysées, where the flagship stores of brands such as Hugo Boss and Banana Republic line the boulevard. Don’t miss Levi’s, where the walls are lined floor to ceiling with blue jeans – you can’t fail to find the perfect pair here.
At the top end of Les Champs-Elysées is the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile (arc-de-triomphe.monuments-nationaux.fr), the world-famous arch that commemorates those who fought for France in the Napoleonic Wars. Climb the 40 steps to its top for Parisian views at half of the cost of those from the Eiffel Tower and don’t miss the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I, where the memorial flame still burns, 100 years on.
Hop on the metro – an underground railway with style, much of it art nouveau – to reach Bastille and Bofinger (bofingerparis.com/en), the perfect Parisian brasserie. Order the fresh seafood platter, which heaves with everything from oysters to lobster, and wash it down with a cool, crisp bottle of meursault. Lunch doesn’t get much better than this.
Walk your meal off with a stroll down to the Seine and across the Ile Saint-Louis, the lesser-known of Paris’ two natural islands and a lovely place to wander away from the crowds. Stop off at Le Flore en L’Ile for the city’s best ice cream – for a real treat, order chocolate, caramel and vanilla in one bowl. One small corner of Notre Dame (notredamedeparis.fr) beckons to diners on the terrace here, so follow the cobbled streets to check out Europe’s finest Gothic cathedral – and one of the world’s largest religious buildings.
Notre Dame may have the size, but Sacre Coeur (sacre-coeur-montmartre.com/english) surely has the situation. Located on the city’s highest point, this brilliant white basilica is dashingly romantic. There’s nowhere better to watch the sun sink over Paris.
Saunter to Epicure for exquisite cuisine in exceptional surroundings in Hôtel le Bristol’s (lebristolparis.com) light-filled dining room. Let masterchef Eric Frechon tantalise your taste buds with langoustine and caviar, crab in tomato water or roasted blue lobster before selecting your favourite flavour from the macaron cabinet.