Paris: The Capital of cafés, culture and cuisine

By | October 7, 2011

France is a country with a rich and fascinating culture. Its people have an ongoing love affair with food and a special appreciation for the art of the café. So it makes sense that the country’s capital is also one of the world’s capitals of culture, cafés and cuisine. Indulge in these three delights properly and you are in for the perfect Paris holiday.

If art galleries, museums, beautiful architecture and historical buildings are your thing, then Paris will leave you astounded. Whilst a trip to this cultural powerhouse is not complete without visiting major attractions such as the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and the Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris boasts hundreds of smaller gems bound to suit all tastes. A few days in Paris will only allow you to see the tip of the cultural iceberg that is the City of Light, so make sure to do your research first and plan your itinerary well.

A serious pastime for Parisians is settling into their preferred seat on the pavement terrace of their favourite café. So do as the locals do and find yourself a sunny café with a view of the passing crowds and spend a morning sipping espressos and devouring freshly baked pastries. Then move on to a Pastis at lunchtime and while away the afternoon with a glass of chilled rose or a ballon de blanc.

For a good place to start, try the discreet and charming Café de Flore in trendy Saint Germain. Or follow the bohemian crowds into Pause Café just off the bustling rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine around the Place de la Bastille. You could also do as Hemingway, Picasso and Henry Miller once did and spend your time at Le Select in Montparnasse or go for a wander around The Marais, the oldest district in Paris, or Abbesses, the funkier and less-touristy neighbour of Montmartre where you are sure to find a great Parisian café.

When it comes to food, the French are considered the world’s experts. From the rich hearty meat-based regional specialties laden in sauces and herbs, to the contemporary delicate, lighter Nouvelle Cuisine dishes typical of Michelin star establishments, French cuisine is unmistakable.

For good food in Paris at reasonable prices, avoid the traps close to major tourist landmarks and try to go where the locals eat. If you are on a budget, Paris has hundreds of traditional bistros serving simple but good French fare. Or if you are on the run pick up a crepe or panino from one of the many food stands around the city. Fine dining in Paris is incredibly popular as the city is home to some of the best restaurants in the world, but if you plan to indulge, be sure to book well in advance, sometimes by months so as not to be disappointed.

Paris is one of the most famous and beautiful European Capitals, with a universe of wonders for any visitor. Holidays to Paris are never going to be long enough, but as long as you immerse yourself in the cultural highlights of the city, find your favourite local café and treat yourself to a few traditional French meals at a quality restaurant, then you can say you have truly been to Paris.