Under a grand Can
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Even if you’re not interested in the clothes he created, the artistry of the man and the whole economy of a fashion business is fascinating.
More than 200 people worked here, taking his simple sketches and turning them into killer outfits. Adults 7 euros – museeyslparis.com/en. The south bank of the Seine, between Pont de L’Alma and the Musée D’Orsay, has recently been pedestrianised – so now there are floating islands and cafes, temporary exhibitions, climbing frames and, of course, everyone and his auntie out jogging.
It’s a brilliant place to come with a picnic. And while you’re here, jump on a standard one-hour boat trip that runs up past the Louvre and Notre Dame cathedral, loops around the islands and returns on the other side.
Departures are frequent, and the boats have searchlights which pick out key buildings after dark. Adults 15 euros – bateauxparisiens.com. The Louvre Museum, adults 15 euros, with its famous glass pyramid in the courtyard of a former royal palace, displays a 35,000 objects and welcomes ten million visitors a year. It’s exhausting just thinking about it.
But the majority of those visitors are here for a selfie in front of the Mona Lisa – which means many other galleries are practically empty.
If you want to see the top stuff without having to hunt, join the twice-daily Welcome guided tour conducted in English, 12 euros.
The other top museum in town is the Musée D’Orsay, just across the river. This grand former railway station is the powerhouse of Impressionism, with everything from Monet’s lily ponds to Gauguin’s self-portraits. Adults 12 euros, musee-orsay.fr/en. The Parisian version of Harrods is Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann, galerieslafayette.com, and it’s worth coming here for its glorious galleried dome – which looks like the inside of a Fabergé egg.
However, it isn’t where the locals shop. Huge quantities of Lafayette’s customers these days are Chinese keen to acquire a bit of Parisian style, so a lot of the staff are Chinese too.
For an intimate, properly French shopping experience head for trendy “SoPi” – “South of Pigalle” – particularly villagey Rue des Martyrs, with specialist shops for such delights as truffles, jam, tea, crepes, fish and farm vegetables. Even if you don’t buy anything, the presentation here is a work of art. The best, most accessible night view of Paris is from romantic, villagey Montmartre, most notably from the steps of the white-domed basilica of Sacré Coeur.
The city is spread out below you in a carpet of lights, and you will share the steps with a whole planet-full of languages, plus unofficial vendors selling beers and plastic Eiffel Towers.
Once you’ve drunk in the view, go around the corner co to the buzzing Place du Tertre, where street st artists will offer to draw your portrait, and an innumerable pavement bistros (try Au Cadet C de Gascogne) have set menus for as little as 16 euros for three courses. It won’t be top cuisine cu but the atmosphere is irresistible.
On your second night in town head for the tr trendy Marais district, particularly the perfectly sy symmetrical 17th century Place des Vosges, all re red brick and wrought iron. Browse along the no north side under the arches, marvelling at the fr free show put on in the windows of very ex exclusive art galleries. These are the sort of p places where, if you need to ask the price for an anything, you shouldn’t be in the shop. Two Tw essentials that are particularly Parisian are steak-frites st – steak and chips – and moules marinière m – mussels in white wine. They are best
FAB SHOPPING: Elegant Lafayette YVES DROP-IN: Follow fashion icon’s threads ART OF CITY: Be sure not to miss the Louvr