Paris is known for its exquisite cuisine, extraordinary shops and dizzying array of museums and cafés. But to really enjoy Europe’s most sublime city, do what the locals do: Keep it simple.
Author Sarah Horne Photography Bruno Fert / Picturetank
PARIS, THE DIVINE CITY OF LIGHT, elicits passionate reactions from visitors, and for good reason: Its streets and architecture are aglow with captivating light at all hours; its cuisine is widely imitated (though never replicated) in nearly every corner of the globe; and its sidewalk cafés are so redolent with romance that Hollywood has tried for decades to bottle the magic. Some visitors arrive in Paris with return tickets and are so completely seduced they simply never leave. Others depart reluctantly, only to remember their time here for the rest of their lives.
And then there’s a third group, who find the maze of narrow streets overwhelming, the language a roadblock and the pressure to make the most of the mind-boggling selection of historical sights enough to provoke a major meltdown in the shadow of Notre Dame. The trick? When in Paris, do as the Parisians do: Hardcore lovers of culture, the locals would never try to visit half a dozen museums in a day. Committed food fanatics, they cheerfully let lunch stretch to three hours whenever possible. And when a server seems brusque, they never, ever take it personally.
The most important secret to enjoying Paris? Don’t fret if you get lost. Sometimes a wrong turn is the fastest route to that perfect little shop or picturesque wine bar. A sprawling, heartbreakingly beautiful city, Paris is ripe for those who appreciate serendipity.
So take a deep breath, and off you go.