Paris was the centre of European culture in the 1920s and 1930s. The legacy of Napoleon Bonaparte made Paris very tolerant. It was the main hub of the avant-garde and the Lost Generation, drawn to the city’s intellectual and artistic scene and its tolerance for experimentation and innovation. Paris became the second home to expats such as Ezra Pound, Samuel Beckett, Gertrude Stein, and James Joyce, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Juan Gris. Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald always met and ate in the city’s cafés. It’s a city whose beauty prompted a general to disobey Hitler’s command to bomb it.
Today, Paris is still the centre for art and literature and also for food and fashion, and a destination that many Australians and other people from around the world dream of visiting at least once in their lifetime.
Best patisseries in Paris
A best-list of patisseries is dependent on one’s own preference, but you cannot go wrong with this list.
- Pierre Hermé – known for its colourful and flavourful macaroons, pain au chocolat and light-as-air and crisp croissant
- Pain de Sucre – baba au rhum or chocolate mint éclair
- Jacques Genin – classic French pasties such as chocolate tartlet and mille-feuille that you can have made-to-order
- Sadaharu Aoki – combines Japanese sensibilities and the flavours of Paris in outstanding pastries as chou à la crème, acidulated yuzu tartlet or black sesame éclair
- Carl Marletti – for its dome noir, a chocolate-glazed mini chocolate mousse with vanilla cream filling topped with a hazelnut biscuit and madeleines seasoned with olive oil
Fly me to Paris
Try also the delectable pastries from Des Gâteaux et du Pain, La Bague de Kenza, Gateaux Thoumieux, Hugo & Victor, and Sébastien Gaudard Pâtisserie des Martyrs.
Best art galleries
The centre of art, Paris, should have some of the best art galleries around, don’t you think? Top of the line is the Louvre, the home of Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and the Egyptian mummies. Centre Georges Pompidou contains contemporary and modern art from Matisse, Picasso and a host of surrealist artists.
Musée d’Orsay contains many works from artists during the Impressionist, Post-Impressionist periods. Musée National Rodin is dedicated to French sculptor Auguste Rodin, creator of The Kiss and The Thinker. Musée Marmottan-Claude Monet has several of the artist’s works as well as works of his contemporaries such as Caillebotte, Degas, Manet, Renoir and Pissarro.
Paris has some of the best man-made attractions such as the iconic Eiffel Tower, which can be seen anywhere in the city. You can approach the historic and ego-stoking Arc de Triomphe commissioned by Napoleon by walking up or down the grand Avenue Champs-Élysées. The Notre Dame de Paris is a Catholic church that contains some first class relics such as one of the Holy Nails, a fragment of the True Cross of Jesus and the Crown of Thorns. The Catacombs of Paris is located underground, a burial site for more than six million people, in what was originally parts of a former limestone mine. Its walls are decorated with the stacked bones and femurs of the people buried in the mass graves.
It seems impossible to leave Paris without doing some shopping. While many of the shops and boutiques are chic and trendy (with the right price tag to boot), there are so many interesting places to shop depending on your budget.
If you have money to burn, the chic-est districts are Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Avenue des Champs-Elysées, Avenue Montaigne and Boulevard Haussmann. For eclectic clothes, antiques and gorgeous jewellery, go to the Marais quarter. If you are low on funds, you can find vintage and discounted clothing and accessories at the Paris Flea Markets, such as in Saint-Ouen, Vide Greniers, the vintage shops in Montmartre, and the designer knock offs at Rue de Rivoli.