Start at the Petit Palais
Paris has some unforgettable experiences lined up for you on your first visit. It all begins at the Petit Palais. Inside this monument with its elaborate architecture is a tranquil garden. Take a seat at a cafe table between the colonnade and the luxuriant vegetation. Croissants, macarons and pastries pass before your eyes amidst the tranquillity of the gardens. Before leaving, you will have time to wander around the spectacular sculpture gallery, with more than thirty statues under its soaring vaulted ceiling. Each one, in its own way, illustrates the talent of great 19th century artists like the flimsy-bodied dancers of sculptor Serge Youriévitch.
Stroll down the Champs-Élysées
Next, a walk down the most famous avenue in the world is a must. In the morning, the ChampsÉlysées comes quietly to life with the sounds of the cafe terraces and the footsteps of the first sightseers. Your gaze is drawn to the imposing facade of number 25. This is the hotel de la Païva, which bears the name of the famous courtesan of the Second Empire. In the mid-19th century, all Paris was buzzing with talk of its construction and staggering decor.
Above the rooftops of Paris
Here you are in front of the imposing Arc de Triomphe, built to honour Napoleon Bonaparte's soldiers. A little staircase takes you to the top, where, from a height of 50 metres, you will be awestruck by the view of Paris. Here, the large Haussmann buildings form a harmonious and perfect whole, while all around you, the boulevards stretch out to the horizon as far as the imposing hill of Montmartre, and the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
From the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre
After a detour to see the iconic Iron Lady, head along the banks of the Seine for a visit to the Louvre Museum. Every first Saturday in the month, from 6 pm onwards, you can visit at night and explore the exhibition rooms which are quieter then than during the day. Who knows? You might even get up close to the enchanting Mona Lisa who casts her spell over crowds of travellers. Do not forget to drop into the Gallery of Apollo, where the most incredible painted ceilings in the palace are enhanced by a decor of gold stucco.
Contemporary art and opera
Heading back to the heart of the capital, at a bend in the road, the astonishing silhouette of the Pompidou Centre, this temple of contemporary art, rises up before you. From zigzagging escalators and pipework that seems to emerge from the depths of the city to the artworks themselves spilling out of the museum to the Stravinsky Fountain… the entire building exudes an air of movement.
Your thirst for art pushes you on. This evening, you have booked tickets for a performance amidst the golden splendour of the Palais Garnier. If you prefer to admire the spectacular decor of this opera house at your leisure, then visit the palace during the daytime. With a mix of broad-ranging styles featuring Egyptian obelisks, Roman columns and Medieval-inspired vaults, the place is the perfect embodiment of Paris itself: fascinating and eclectic.