The City of Light is bursting with activity, all the time. On any given week, in any given month there are food, fashion, art, film, design, cultural, tech and business events. There is always so much going on and often at resplendent landmark attractions, that at times you can barely catch your breath. And now that there is less of a language barrier, with more info sites offered in both French and English, there's no excuse not to see-and-be-seen at all the most cultural and historic attractions and trendiest happenings in the Capital.
Caution: Getting caught in the frequent Paris rain without an umbrella. True Parisians always carry an umbrella with them in their bag or coat pocket.
Avoid: The Louvre now requires reservations and advance ticket purchases, even if you hold a Museum Pass.
Hot Tips: Buy tickets to top attractions - and especially to current museum exhibits - online to save time waiting in line.
Chic Parisian hotels have popped up all over the city in recent years. Many of these are now in the category of 4 and 5-star luxury, where once they were 2 and 3 stars. The prices now match this trend toward upscale luxury, too. The location of your hotel matters as much as the property itself. Keep in mind that the Left Bank is historically artsy with charming small streets such as in Saint-Germain des Pres and Quartier Latin; around the Bastille and Republique is edgy and trendy; and anywhere on, near or around Place Vendome or the Champs-Elysées is super ritzy.
Take It or Leave It: A night or two spent in Chantilly is like living a fairytale fantasy come true.
Hot Tips: Many of the newer Paris hotels are themed in décor and style. Maison Souquet, for example, was once a famous 'house of courtesans.'
The French spend more money on food than their English brethren. Food isn't pricier here, it's just that they devote more of their budget to the national pastime - eating. Good news for you, because if gastronomy is one of your favorite pastimes, you've come to mecca. Lunch menus offer the best dining value. Portions are slightly smaller than at dinner, but often the dishes are the same and certainly the quality is parallel. A meal at a classic French bistro can sometimes be even more memorable than one at a multiple-starred restaurant. If budget isn't a consideration, indulge in both!
Avoid: Going to a restaurant just because it's expensive won't always get you the experience you crave. A small French bistro in a local neighborhood will often exceed simple expectations.
Hot Tips: Be sure to dine in at least one traditional French bistro while in Paris.
Be Sure to Sample: Late afternoon, around 4PM is the hour of 'gouter' or what French children know as the perfect time to indulge in a fine pastry from a patissier.
Nightlife in Paris rose to fame during the tenure of the Lost Generation, (Hemingway, Fitzpatrick, et al.) and never really fell. Take in a dance review like the Moulin Rouge, Crazy Horse or Paradis Latin. These are legendary - for good reason. Then head to one of the jazz clubs near Les Halles, Chateau d'Eau or on the Left Bank. A concert or a play at Theatre des Champs-Elysees or La Comedie Française is always a good idea. There's a dynamic clubbing scene, and Paris also has a quieter nightlife side with romantic wine bars and stylish cocktail lounges.
Take It or Leave It: Wine bars are a true social scene in the city. The ones you'll find here offer conversation as good as the golden or ruby red liquid in your wine glass.
Hot Tips: Even if you don't understand a word of Moliere in French, it is still worth the price of a rush Sunday matinee ticket (cheap!) just to be able to sit in the plush red seats of La Comedie Française, built by King Louis XIV in the 1600s.
Paris offers shopping for every budget and taste. The Bon Marché, BHV, Printemps and Galeries Lafayette are luxurious department stores. For exclusive boutique shopping meander the streets of the Marais, the Upper Marais and, of course, Saint-Germain des Pres. Paris' newest indoor malls, Centre Beaugrenelle and Forum des Halles give you that quintessential shopping mall experience packed with brand favorites. For serious discount shopping, head outside of the city to One Nation or La Vallée Village, two outlet malls both accessible by their own designated shuttle buses.
Hot Tips: There are few things more thrilling than shopping the sales in Paris. They take place in January and then again at the end of June through July.
Best Local Souvenir: With the abundance of designer fashions in the city, you can find real treasures at the many consignment shops - for a great bargain, to boot.