A city full of treasures...
Beth Abbit explores the many wonderful sights and sounds of Paris
Paris seems at its most beautiful when strolling along the banks of the Seine in the dusky sunset of spring. During my whistlestop tour of the French capital, many Parisians are in a jubilant mood just a day after the election of their new president, Emmanuel Macron.
French flags fly proudly along the length of the Champs Elysées and one huge tricolor blows gently in the wind, hanging from the spectacular Arc de Triomphe.
All across this beautiful city, trees and flowers begin their bloom. Paris has been rejuvenated, it seems.
The city has suffered more than its fair share of tragedies over the last couple of years and this has no doubt had an effect on the tourist industry.
But this most wonderful of European cities has enough beauty, elegance and glamour to keep tourists coming back again and again.
How could they stay away when Paris has so much to offer?
The city is full of treasures, among them Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Louvre and the glamour of the Champs-Elysées.
It would be impossible to recommend just a few things on a trip to this wonderful city, but the best advice is to steer away from long queues.
Art lovers can’t go wrong with the Louvre, where the building’s glass pyramid is reason enough to visit.
But those keen to see works by the Impressionist masters Monet, Manet, Cezanne and Toulouse-Lautrec should head straight to the grand surroundings of the former railway station Musée d’Orsay.
The Grand Palais, too, is a good starting point for art lovers. The palace is currently hosting an extensive exhibition of Rodin’s work to mark the centenary of his death.
If you’re looking for something with a little more of an edge, then take to the streets where you can find an abundance of graffiti and street art. French urban artist Invader’s video game-inspired tilework can been seen across Paris, while a trip to the bohemian neighbourhood of Belleville, once home to French singer Edith Piaf, throws up a wealth of images.
No trip to Paris would be complete without a trek up the hill to the ancient quarter of Montemarte.
Swarming with tourists and jobbing artists, this parade of souvenir shops and overpriced cafés can be a bit of a cattle market – but it’s worth visiting if only for the breathtaking views across Paris. What could be better?
Last, but not least, what would Paris be without The Eiffel Tower?
This iconic monument, once reviled by the French, is now a proud symbol of those most treasured of national values – liberty, equality and brotherhood.
Start your evening with a bustling meal at Restaurant 58 on the first floor of the enormous iron structure.
It is of course, the only place in Paris without a view of the tower, and gives diners a unique vantage point over the city.
Follow dinner with a riverboat cruise along the Seine. This gentle jaunt gives tourists the chance to soak up the wealth of glorious buildings along the Paris skyline as the sun sets on the spectacular city.
As the light fades the stunning buildings that populate the shoreline fall into soft focus. Then, in true Parisian style, the boat docks at the Eiffel Tower on the hour – just as the magnificent structure begins to glitter and sparkle.
Next, take a taxi to Montmartre for a night at that most famous of Parisian nightspots, the Moulin Rouge.
The sound of popping champagne corks and a cacophony of whoops and screams fill the air at this famous establishment. The red windmill – famed for its outrageously decadent live shows – does not disappoint the tourists looking for a truly Parisian night out.
As bare-chested men and women highkick their way across the stage the show unfolds in a whirlwind of Can Can kicks, glitzy outfits and flashy white teeth.
The two-hour show includes some hairraising feats of acrobatics, a seemingly endless gaggle of glamorous chorus girls and some heart-stopping feats of bravery involving a tank of water and some very large snakes.
This tourist- friendly club may, nowadays, be a far cry from the seedy, erotic Moulin Rouge of the early 1900s, but this dizzying palace of camp is the closest you can get to the real thing in 2017, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint.
The Eiffel Tower stands at more than 300m tall and was officially opened in 1889
The Moulin Rouge Honeycomb dessert at Michelin starred L’Abeille at the Shangri La, Paris
Street art in Belleville, Paris
The view from the Shangri La Hotel, above, and the dining room, below