I love the order and elegance of Paris. I love how aesthetically pleasing it is, the architectural coherence, the fact that you can look at almost any street corner and know instantly where you are. For a capital city, the centre is pretty compact, and it’s easy to explore on foot.
My favourite area is the Marais district, near the Saint Paul stop on the metro. You can wander past the artisan chocolatiers and arty boutiques through to the Place des Vosges, and sit under the beautiful red brick arches in Cafe Hugo to enjoy a croque monsieur (grilled ham and cheese sandwich).
Just a few minutes away from Place des Vosges is my favourite hotel, Hotel Jeanne d’Arc, with rooms ranging from 64 euros (for a single room) to 162 euros (for a quadruple room) a night. It’s the perfect location, simple and stylish with friendly staff.
The wonderfully eccentric Shakespeare & Co bookshop on the left bank just opposite Notre-Dame cathedral (about a 20 minute walk away from the Marais district) is a great place to drop by. With a piano and several type writers tucked away amongst the piles of books, there are always a few interesting characters (struggling poets, famous philosophers?) around.
While Notre-Dame and the Sacré-Cœur are worth visiting (the Sacré-Cœur partly because it has such a good view of the rooftops of Paris, plus, you can re-live that Amélie moment on the steps…), my favourite church is Saint-Étienne-du-Mont on the left bank, a short walk from the Jardins du Luxembourg (a lovely leafy park). It’s all delicately carved white marble on the inside, a gem tucked away next to the imposing Pantheon.
For a little taste of Parisian luxury, try a macaroon cocktail in the Ladurée bar (75, Avenue des Champs Elysées – use the side door entrance for direct access to the bar). Famous for making the best macaroons in Paris, it was definitely worth the 16 euros price tag… As I sipped my cocktail and nibbled on a macaroon, I couldn’t help feeling a little like a modern day Marie-Antoinette. At least, Kirsten Dunst’s version in Sophia Coppola’s film.