Here at Kiwi.com, we love exploring new places, but we also know that sometimes you want to go back to somewhere you’ve already been. Here’s our guide to some of the most popular destinations that Kiwi.com customers fly in and out of.
Airport – Charles de Gaulle
City – Paris
If you’ve never been …
Zut alors! Paris is one of the world’s great cities; a vast, bustling metropolis of wide boulevards, chaotic traffic, iconic structures and some of the greatest museums and galleries on the planet. It’s a sprawling capital, and so it can be tricky to get a lot done in a single day. Hence for the first-timers, how about these?
Come face to face with art history
As mentioned above, Paris is teeming with amazing, world-famous art. The Mona Lisa? Sure, but you won’t get a great view of it through the throng of tourists and their phones. The Louvre – for that is where she hangs – has far more interesting treasures in more obscure corners.
For me, however, the finest gallery is Musée d’Orsay. Converted from the old Gare d’Orsay railway station, this airy delight is home to hundreds of masterpieces. It’s €12 to get in unless you’re 18-25 and a citizen of an EU member state, in which case it’s free!
Tick the tourist boxes
The Eiffel Tower. The Arc de Triomphe. Those pyramid dealies outside the Louvre. We’ve all seen them a million times in books and on TV, but honestly, why go to Paris and not see them? Too mainstream for you? Pfft. They’re wonderful. Embrace it, you bloody hipster.
The queue outside Notre-Dame cathedral might look intimidating, but it moves quicker than you’d think. Inside, it is genuinely awe-inspiring. But once you’re done, take the time to walk a lap of the exterior, all gargoyles, flying buttresses and soaring, arching shapes.
Pay a visit to the Sacré Coeur in Montmartre as well; climb the steps while people loll on the grass looking out over the city and brave the crowds for another piece of ecclesiastical wonder.
Stroll with the beautiful people
The Champs-Élysées is one of the most famous streets in the world, and it hosts both boutique clothing stores as well as many upmarket worldwide brands. We’re thinking Louis Vuitton and so forth here.
But recently, it has started welcoming brands such as H&M, referred to by Parisians as a period of “banalisation”. Isn’t that superb? What a brilliantly snooty concept, expressed in utterly withering Frenchness. Hats off to them. Still, it’s an iconic place to sit for a tiny, expensive coffee and watch people for a while.
Relax in the shade
Directly opposite the Musée d’Orsay, across that bridge that people started attaching locks to a few years back, is the Jardin des Tuileries. A large, sculpted lung of green in the city centre, it’s a nice place to wander along tree-lined avenues in the shade, or pull up a deck chair next to one of the water features and read a book in the sun. Ah, lovely.
If you’ve already been and feel like going back, what about these?
Find the dead famous
Previous readers of these columns will know I’m an advocate of a wander through a cemetery. Peace, tranquillity, greenery and pleasing shapes mean it’s a nice way to pass a couple of hours.
Paris is a particularly rich source of dead celeb-spotting as well, with Père Lachaise cemetery as a final resting place of, among others, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Frédéric Chopin, Maria Callas, Bizet, Delacroix, Balzac and Edith Piaf.
Have a Think(er)
Slightly off the beaten track, but all the quieter and more beautiful for it, is the Musée Rodin, opened in 1919, and dedicated to the eponymous sculptor. Essentially a small but still rather grand house, its chief glory is its gardens. Walk among many of Rodin’s greatest works as they sit, some blending into the landscape, some as centrepieces of the garden’s sections. Wonderful!
See the lesser-known churches
Both located on Ile de la Cité only a few buildings apart, you will queue for Sainte-Chapelle (worth it though – the entire chapel is a monument to some of the most magnificent stained glass you’ll ever see).
A few doors down you’ll also find La Conciergerie, a former law court and prison. It gets fewer visitors due to looking bloody imposing and not the kind of place you should just blunder into.
Do so though, and magnificent vaulted chapels, former royal residences and Marie-Antoinette’s prison cell are all here. Plus, for an absolute maximum price of €9 (many concessions are available) for such a pricey city, it’s good value as well.
Seek out the Philosopher’s Stone
Nicolas Flamel wasn’t just a character in Harry Potter. Oh no. He was an actual alchemist, and in 1407 he built a house at 51 Rue de Montmorency, which is now the oldest stone house in Paris. He may not have discovered the secret to immortality, but his house is doing pretty well… although it is now a small, atmospheric restaurant going by the name Auberge Nicolas Flamel.
A multilingual declaration d’amour
On Jehan-Rictus square, situated on the Place des Abbesses in Montmartre you can find a sculpture called Le mur des je t’aime. 40 square metres of blue lava tiles incorporating the words “I love you” in 311 languages at one of Montmartre’s most well-known meeting points. After all, Paris is the city of love. N’est-ce pas?