1. Shopping at Galeries Lafayette Haussman
While it shares its name with Galeries Lafayette Dubai, the flagship store in Paris is undeniably unique. It occupies a massive 70,000 square meter space and sells more than 3,000 brands. The building on Boulevard Haussmann is nothing short of stunning with its majestic glass dome and ornate balconies overlooking a central atrium. It’s a wonderful place to get a good view of the city but be warned: it gets very busy on a weekend. If you get peckish after walking the floors of this grand store, visit one of the 25 (yes, 25!) restaurants.
Location and entry: Galeries Lafayette Haussmann, 40 Boulevard Haussman, 75009 Paris. Entry is free.
2. The Louvre
A trip to the Louvre Museum in Paris will give you a little taster of what to expect when the much-anticipated Louvre Abu Dhabi opens. The original museum on the Rue de Rivoli in Paris is home to some of the world’s most famous works of art (Mona Lisa, Aphrodite and many, many more) so you’re never going to be short of things to see there. The museum is huge, so if there’s something specific you’d like to see, plan your route ahead of time so you don’t miss out. If you want to make the best of your time in The Louvre, a guided tour might be a sensible option. You could do the Welcome to The Louvre tour (in French and English), or one focusing on a more specific theme such as an individual artist or genre. The cost of the Welcome to The Louvre tour is €12 (Dh47) per person.
Location and entry: There are currently two main entrances to the museum: Pyramid and Galerie du Carousel opens from 9am to 10pm on Wednesdays and Fridays, and until 7.30pm on other days. Passage Richelieu entrance open from 9am until 6.30pm on Wednesdays and Fridays, and until 5.30pm on other days. The museum is closed every Tuesday.
If you want to do something a bit more unusual in Paris and avoid the regular museum crowds, visit the Fragonard Museum of Perfumes (or the Musée du Parfum). Situated in a gorgeous Napoleon III style building it contains lots of beautiful trinkets and artifacts explaining the history of the Fragonard brand as well as the process of creating and producing the perfume itself. There are antique perfume bottles, displays showing the history of perfume manufacturing, and various different apparatus used in the mixing of perfumes. There’s also a very affordable gift shop where you can buy souvenirs that won’t be available in any other shops.
Location and entry: 9 Rue Scribe, 75009 Paris. Open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm, and from 9am to 5pm on Sundays and public holidays.
4. Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris might not be as large as its American counterpart but it’s a wonderful way to let your hair down in one of the world’s most sophisticated cities! There are two parks: Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studio Park. The first has five themed lands each with its own rides, attractions, restaurants and shows. The most popular rides are Big Thunder Mountain and the lesser hold-onto-your-hat ride It’s A Small World. Both parks are a train ride out of the city or you could stay at the Disney’s Hotel New York, a 1930s themed hotel where you might spot Mickey Mouse or Snow White hanging about in the lobby! There’s a free shuttle bus to the parks and on certain days you get to spend an extra two hours in the park after everyone else has gone home. It’s a childhood dream!
Location and entry: 77777 Marne-la-Vallée, France. Adult tickets start at £38 (Dh175), which will give you access to one park on a specific day. Date flexible tickets start at £61 (Dh281) for adults and £55 (Dh253) for children.
5. Visit Notre Dame
The Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the most impressive cathedrals in Europe and one of the best examples of French Gothic architecture in existence. It’s also one of the most famous religious buildings in the world and is a must-see attraction in Paris. It is stunning inside and out, especially on a gloomy day (of which there can be quite a few in Paris!) when the building looks even more formidable but no less beautiful. The cathedral gets very busy with tourists but we don’t think this should put you off. First thing in the morning and last thing in the evening are usually quieter.
Location and entry: 6 Parvis Notre Dame, Jean Paul II, 75004 Paris. Open every day from 7.45am to 6.45pm (7.15pm on Fridays).
6. Eat a macaron
This delicious desert arrived in France in the 16th century and is now a staple for anyone with a sweet tooth visiting Paris! While they’re available in most grocery stores, visit the Ladurée Paris Champs Elysées to get the creme de la creme of the meringue and ganache delight. Our favorite flavors are salted butter caramel, pistachio and the delicate rose petal but there are dozens of others to choose from.
Location and entry: 75, Avenue Des Champs Elysée, 75008 Paris. Open from 7.30am to 11.30pm Monday to Thursday, 7.30am to 12.30am on Fridays (from 8.30am on Saturdays) and from 8.30am to 11.30pm on Sundays.
7. Enjoy a hot chocolate at Angelina Paris
There’s usually only one thing on the menu for people visiting Angelina Paris – the African hot chocolate! It contains three types of African cocoa from Ghana, the Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria and is made according to a ‘secret recipe’ that only the baristas know. It’s incredibly rich so don’t fill up before you go! And we’ve heard it beats the Dubai Mall Angelina shop hand’s down.
Location and entry: There are nine branches of Angelina in Paris but the most popular is at 226 rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris. It’s open from 7.30am to 2pm Monday to Friday, and from 8.30am to 7.30 Saturday and Sunday.
8. Walk the (Parisian) high line
The Coulée verte René-Dumont is often described as Paris’ version of New York’s High Line, but in fact the Promenade Plantée (meaning tree-lined walkway) was created 16 years before the Manhattan version, in 1993. It’s a 4.7km elevated walkway lined with shrubs, trees and flowers, and is especially refreshing and lush in Spring and Summer. It begins at the Opera Bastille and follows the tracks of the old Vincennes railway, rising in parts to 10m above street level. Despite it being a top Paris attraction it doesn’t draw too many crowds so grab your baguette, find a bench, and enjoy a picnic in the flowers.
Location and entry: Coulée verte René-Dumont, 75012 Paris. Free to enter and open most days until 7.30pm.
9. Eat great Lebanese food in Paris
Paris has every cuisine you could ever wish for, including a plethora of Middle Eastern eateries. Favourites include AlKaram which serves reasonably priced authentic Lebanese cuisine including creamy hommos, spicy sausages, and shawarma meat plates. What the restaurant lacks in fancy decor it makes up for with its food. Lunch is served from 12pm until 3pm, and dinner from 7pm until 11pm. Another restaurant often voted one of the best Lebanese restaurants in Paris is Maison Issa, where you can get a great lunch for Dh40. Bargain! The kitchen also makes an excellent baklava desert so don’t fill up too much on the mains.
Location and entry: AlKaram, 15 rue Ferdinand Fabre, 75015 Paris. Maison Issa is at 81 rue Olivier de Serres in the 15th arrondissement. It’s open 12pm to 10pm through the week and from 12pm until 3.30pm at weekends.
10. Marvel at Paris’ architecture
A trip to the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower would tick off two of the most instantly recognizable monuments in Paris. The Arc de Triomphe, built in tribute to those who died in the Napoleonic and French Revolutionary wars and at the very western end of the Champs Elysées, is surrounded by some of the most expensive real estate in the city (including the building occupied by the Embassy of the State of Qatar). It’s more than 164ft tall and is one of the world’s most renowned pieces of architecture. If you’re in Paris for the first time, your trip won’t be complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower. You can marvel at the structure from the ground (there’s some great views from the Champs de Mars) or buy official Eiffel Tower tickets to climb the 300 steps or take the elevator to the 1st level. And be warned – it’s another 300 steps to the 2nd level. There’s also the option to buy an Eiffel Tower ticket to get you to the summit
Location and entry: Reach the Arc de Triomphe by one of two underpasses: at the Champs Elysées and Avenue de la Grande Armée. Buy your Eiffel Tower tickets online in advance, or queue at the ticket office at the foot of the tower. Adults tickets start at around €17 (Dh66) online, and €8 (Dh30) for children between 4 and 11. Check the tower’s opening times here.
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*Published April 2017. Prices correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.