A love letter to Paris
When Australian fashion illustrator Kerrie Hess moved to Paris, she fell in love with the artistic city. Here she gives her guide to what to do if you have just 24 hours in the French capital.
Avisit to the City of Love is at the forefront of many midweek fantasies – but what if you only had a 24-hour stopover to see it all? My must-sees for a fleeting one-day Parisian adventure range from the traditional galleries to the more modern and lesser known cultural hubs – there is beauty and charm around every corner.
8am: Breakfast on the Left Bank
The Left Bank is easily my favourite part of Paris! Starting here, you will instantly feel the bohemian vibe as the cobblestone streets wrap around cafés and boutiques. I love this area for the little streets off the main avenue – such as Rue de Buci, which is filled with paper shops, crêperies and book stores. The famous L’Hotel, where Oscar Wilde once lived, is nearby, as well as the renowned Sorbonne University. This beautiful building is where writers Honoré de Balzac and Simone de Beauvoir studied philosophy, and Vera Wang and Christian Lacroix learned design.
9:30am: Visit Venus de Milo at the
Louvre I enjoy the outside of the Louvre just as much as the inside. If you have always dreamed of seeing the Venus de Milo or Mona Lisa, then this is a must-visit, but enjoying the beautiful architecture of the building itself can be just as inspiring as the nearly 400,000 pieces of art inside.
12pm: Pont Neuf Take in gorgeous views of Paris from Pont Neuf, the oldest standing bridge across the River Seine. Two of the city’s most beautiful hidden secrets – Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis – are nearby. These islands in the river in the centre of Paris are home to some of the oldest cafés, restaurants and boutiques. I love to wander down the quiet streets, which have hardly changed for hundreds of years.
1pm: Lunch on the Right Bank If you didn’t grab a bite to eat near Pont Neuf, head to the Right Bank for lunch. This is the home of the Eiffel
Tower, chic Rue de Rivoli and Avenue Montaigne, and some of the most beautiful hotels. My favourite spot on the Right Bank is Tuileries Garden, which is dotted with large fountains, statues and footpaths to explore.
3pm: Place des Vosges Paris’ oldest square and my favourite park, Place des Vosges in the Marais area, is a small but incredibly charming square centred around a large fountain and flanked with beautiful buildings. Popular with the French nobility before the Revolution, it is now one of the few parks in central Paris where you can perch directly on the grass.
Watch the city’s elite come and go from the exclusive Hotel Le Pavillon de la Reine next to the square. Known as one of the most private hotels in Paris, Queen Anne of Austria once lived there in her own private wing.
If you’re peckish, head to nearby Les Philosophes café for a bite to eat and Au Petit Fer à Cheval for an aperitif.
5pm: Arc de Triomphe Wander down the Champs-Élysées and be greeted by the magnificent Arc de Triomphe. Try walking to the top for a breathtaking view of the city and the Eiffel Tower, before going down to the Grand Palais, Place de la Concorde and along the river.
7pm: Dinner at Le Meurice Easily my favourite hotel in Paris, Le Meurice was once a 19th-century palace for French royalty. This elegant hotel – including bespoke furniture by Philippe Starck
– is decorated with a fusion of Louis XIV-style and modern interior design. The hotel is home to the restaurant Le Dalí, perfect for afternoon tea, and Restaurant Le Meurice Alain Ducasse for an extravagant dinner. This hotel has a special place in my heart. Its beautiful Salon Pompadour was the setting of my first solo exhibition in Paris, in 2013. A collection of mini art prints from this exhibition is now featured in every suite of the hotel.
9pm: Palais Garnier A “has to be seen to be believed” opera house, the Palais Garnier’s spectacular gold finishings and Beaux-Arts façade are just breathtaking. Steeped in history and in the centre of Paris, this is the perfect spot to visit if you don’t have time for the likes of the Palace of Versailles. I love how this area is full of boutique theatres, cinemas and bistros. Visit the famous Café de la Paix, where the poem The Absinthe Drinkers is set. As the inspiration for many other poems, paintings and songs, the café has since been declared a historic site by the French government.
10pm: Eiffel Tower A must-see on your brief trip to Paris is arguably one of the world’s most recognisable buildings, the Eiffel Tower. When I inspected my apartment to rent in Paris, the letting agent never mentioned the spectacular view of it from my frosted bathroom window.
Two weeks later, I had moved in, opened this window and there was a surprise view of the Eiffel Tower! Although sometimes taken for granted by Parisians, I always felt a sense of beauty in this structure each time I saw it. View the tower at night when it’s at its most magical, glimmering by the hour.
Enjoy the full-scale view of the tower from below in the park, the Champ de Mars. I recommend taking Champagne, strawberries and your love for the perfect finale to your 24 hours in Paris. The illustrations on these pages were created by Kerrie Hess especially for The Australian Women’s Weekly and perfectly capture her admiration for the city of Paris.
LEFT: Kerrie Hess photographed outside her favourite hotel in Paris, Le Meurice. BELOW: The glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre.
LEFT: Enjoying the sun in the Tuileries Garden, with the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel to the right and the Louvre glass pyramid to the left. The nearby Rue de Rivoli is a mecca for shoppers.
TOP: Kerrie on the Right Bank with the Eiffel Tower behind her. RIGHT: The entrance to Le Pavillon de la Reine hotel, as seen from Place des Vosges, which is a pretty spot to relax and people-watch.