It’s impossible not to fall for Paris, whether it’s the chic shopping, the manicured public gardens, the sensational art galleries or the array of gastronomic delights

The City of Light, Love and Gastronomy – you’d be forgiven for thinking Paris sounds too good to be true, if its reputation weren’t so solidly anchored in breathtaking reality. Just discover the highlights of the capital – its splendid sights, mouthwatering cuisine and unparalleled haute-couture heritage – and you will marvel at every turn in this truly spectacular city.

Fashion fabulous

The Stella McCartney boutique at Palais-Royal A mere Louboutin-heeled step away from Mandarin Oriental, Paris, Palais Royal is the regal home of a perfectly manicured garden surrounded by luxury boutiques. In this historical setting you’ll find international brands, including Stella McCartney and Marc Jacobs, alongside Parisian names, such as accessories designer Pierre Hardy, perfumer Serge Lutens and vintage dress specialist Didier Ludot.

Just around the corner, on the equally distinguished rue Saint Honoré, is the charming Astier de Villatte boutique, complete with authentically creaky wooden floors and shelves full of the brand’s distinctive whitewashed earthenware crockery and cult geometric-print notepads. On the same street, perennially-cool concept store Colette should always feature on the discerning shopper’s must-do list for its carefully curated range of cutting-edge mens- and womenswear. Pick up street fashion from young Parisian label BWGH and high-end design from illustrious French fashion houses Lanvin, Carven and Givenchy.

Spectacular sights

The Sacré Coeur in Montmartre There’s no denying that Paris is home to some of the world’s most iconic major attractions, and a visit to the capital wouldn’t feel complete without at least a glimpse of the original Iron Lady, the Eiffel Tower, on the horizon. Look out for the landmark after dark, when the entire structure twinkles on the hour, every hour, as its lights are illuminated for five sparkling minutes. For a dose of contemporary sightseeing, Musée du Quai Branly, designed by French Pritzker-prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, is a sight to behold, featuring a plant-covered exterior ‘green wall’ and impressive cubic structures that can be appreciated from its lush gardens (which, incidentally, have a privileged close-up view of the Eiffel Tower), or, indeed, from inside this museum of indigenous art. Perched upon Montmartre, to the north of the city, are the white domes of the Sacré Coeur Basilica, the ceilings of which are decorated with one of the largest mosaics in the world. Take time to appreciate the panorama from the top of the hill, taking in all the sights in one spectacular sweep, including the omnipresent Eiffel Tower in the distance to the west.

Culture scene

The Louvre and its glass Pyramid The Louvre, a monumental museum packed wall to wall with instantly recognisable masterpieces – from the Mona Lisa to The Raft of the Medusa to the Venus de Milo – is a history-of-art-lover’s dream come true. Equip yourself with a map and pick one or two areas to discover, rather than rushing around trying to fit it all in – an impossible feat. The sartorially savvy should sashay over to Paris’s freshly reopened fashion museum, Palais Galliera, for designer retrospectives or exhibitions on trends in fashion history, like the New Look in the Fifties. Contemporary art collectors, and admirers, can explore the most cutting-edge private galleries on the Paris scene in the ultra-hip northern Marais. Clustered around a few streets in this buzzing neighbourhood, you’ll find establishments including the world-renowned, Galerie Perrotin, which counts Takashi Murakami and Maurizio Cattelan among its stable, and art-world stalwart Yvon Lambert, which has an inspiring bookshop attached to the gallery, selling coveted catalogues and limited edition prints by artists such as David Shrigley.  

Outdoor living

The Tuileries Gardens Just a minute’s walk away from Mandarin Oriental, Paris are the magnificent Tuileries Gardens, with meticulously mown lawns, a harmonious landscaping of seasonal flowers, and expansive ponds where children sail toy boats – a quintessentially Parisian backdrop against which to channel your inner flâneur. The banks of the River Seine have recently had a makeover, with entire pedestrianised strips and oak Mikado-style benches overlooking the water, and the now famous urban beach, Paris Plages, taking place every summer. For an alternative Sunday walk, which neatly combines a leisurely stroll with a cheeky shopping fix, visit Paul Bert Serpette. This vast flea market to the north of Paris is famed for its labyrinthine alleys of antique dealers, creating meandering outdoor paths to wander down while browsing – and purchasing – the vintage wares.

Spa time

The indoor pool at The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Paris The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Paris is a soothing oasis, with sumptuous holistic treatments. Have a signature spa therapy in a luxurious private treatment suite. Tailored to address your needs, it starts with an indulgent foot ritual, followed by a soothing massage with customised oils. It’s a must to feel revived and refreshed after a busy day exploring the city.

Great taste

Camélia restaurant at Mandarin Oriental, Paris Celebrated French chef Thierry Marx brings his innovative cuisine to Mandarin Oriental, Paris with not one, but two restaurants at the hotel. Camélia, in a beautiful light-filled space overlooking a garden, serves a modern twist on classic French fare using seasonal ingredients – think dishes such as roasted turbot served with a light foam of vitelotte potatoes and lemon and yuzu cream. For serious haute cuisine, dine at Marx’s two Michelin-starred Sur Mesure. Seated in an all-white cocoon, which acts as a blank backdrop, diners can indulge in an unforgettable gastronomic meal combining Asian and French flavours, as shown in indulgent dishes such as soy and oyster risotto with black truffle.


Night life

Inside the Palais Garnier Evenings in Paris should begin with a cocktail, so order the J’aime Paris 2.0 (champagne with strawberry, limoncello and basil), at the space-age Bar 8 at Mandarin Oriental, Paris, for a refreshingly bubbly start to the evening. For a uniquely Parisian night out, take in a show at the famous Crazy Horse, the most avant-garde of the capital’s showgirl cabarets, which regularly welcomes guest stars such as Dita Von Teese to its repertoire. Over at Yoyo – the new club attached to the revamped contemporary art museum, Palais de Tokyo – concerts, club nights, catwalk shows and fashion-week parties take place in this extensive former cinema space.

More genteel, but equally Parisian evening entertainment comes in the form of a ballet or opera at the opulent Palais Garnier. With its gilded exterior and mosaic interior, the crème de la crème of shows are staged here, with costumes by renowned couturiers such as Christian Lacroix.


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