Paris is one of the most elegant and sophisticated cities in the world. The River Seine, which flows through the heart of the city, and the thirty-two bridges across it; the architecturally brilliant city squares; and the many grand monuments are all testament to a rich cultural heritage.
But apart from the aesthetic appeal, Paris also offers some practical benefits, such as excellent business opportunities due to the robust economy.Living in Paris is also convenient: it is an easy city to get around due to the extensive public transport system. Healthcare, which is frequently noted as a point of concern for expats, is considered to be of a very high quality in France.
For expats living in Paris, here are some typically Parisian experiences you must try during your stay.
Activities by the river
The River Seine captures the essence of the city, and for many years now, artists, poets and writers have been drawn to its waters. Flowing right through the middle of Paris, it continues to be the main commercial waterway. A river tour is a great way to take in the city sights, and this is one of the most popular things to do when visiting Paris.
If you’re looking to do something different, a picnic beside the Seine is the perfect activity. Choose a day when the weather is pleasant and take along a blanket and a basket of wine, cheese and baguettes. Head to a spot with a view of the Eiffel Tower for a quintessentially French feel. This famous Parisian monument comes alive with twinkling lights after sunset and provides the ideal setting for a relaxed riverside picnic.
Eat a Croque Monsieur (or Madame)
When in Paris, you must get a taste of the famous croque monsieur. A classic French dish, the croque monsieur is a ham and cheese sandwich with a creamy béchamel sauce. Place a fried egg on top of the sandwich, and it is officially called a croque madame.
A great place to sample this dish in Paris is La maison du Croque Monsieur, where there are up to 16 croque monsieurs on the menu. There’s also the Grilled Cheese Factory at rue Jacques Cœur, where you can choose your own filling, bread and sauce. And if you’re looking for a more personal touch, try La Cantine Auguste, where the chef helps you construct your perfect croque monsieur.
Stand at the top of the tower
The top of the 689 foot tall Montparnasse Tower provides a stunning view of the city. The 56th floor of the skyscraper has an observation deck from where you can see up to 40km if the weather is clear. The best time to go is at night when you can see Paris in brilliant illumination. Any season is a good time to visit the tower since the deck is weatherproofed with heating, air conditioning and glass shelters. The elevator that takes you to the top is considered to be one of the fastest in the world.
Visit the Louvre at night
Nearly everyone makes a trip to the famous Louvre Museum when in Paris. On an average day, there can be up to 23,000 people waiting in line to enter the museum. An excellent way to avoid the long lines and the bustle of the crowds is to go for the ‘nocturne’ or late opening on Wednesday and Friday nights. The museum stays open till 10 pm on these days, and with tourists on their way home for the night and Parisians usually dining elsewhere, you will be able to spend some precious quality time at the historic museum, which houses works of art such as the Mona Lisa.
Stroll through a cemetery
Père Lachaise is a 44-hectare sculpture garden lined with some of the most famous tombs in history. Here lie the remains of renowned personalities like Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Molière, Balzac and Jim Morrison, among others. Even though it is a graveyard, a walk through the cobbled paths is anything but macabre. In fact, the cemetery feels more like a museum and the tombstones portray such artistry that one can’t help but marvel at the sculpted angels and statues, and the individuals that now lie beneath them.
Those are our top tips for people who are new to Paris. Do you have a favourite Parisian haunt? Let us know in the comments.