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Sprawling decadently on the banks of the River Seine, and one of largest cities in Europe, Paris certainly needs little introduction. It remains one of the most visited cities in the world for good reason, boasting something for everyone, and is instantly recognisable from its famous skyline, pierced by the dominant, but romantic, spire of the Eiffel Tower.
Over time, Paris has become world renowned as a cultural hub for the arts and media, and is an inexorable magnet for art lovers, fashionistas, foodies, and movie stars who sustain France’s vibrant film, fashion and art industries, making them the envy of the world.
It isn’t just the arts, however, that make the city famous, but the food. Rich, beautifully indulgent and exciting, French and Parisian cuisine is famous, and no trip to the city would be complete without dining out in one of the many thousands of first-class restaurants and bistros.
Building on its strong cultural heritage, Paris is home to some of the finest works of art in the world, none more so than the Mona Lisa, safely ensconced in the Louvre. This fortress turned palace and museum receives over eight million visitors a year, so if you want a glimpse of the world’s most enigmatic smile, be warned, you’ll need a very early start and sharp elbows to beat the crowds. Just be prepared, she is smaller than you think!
Visitors to Paris are truly spoiled for choice, with the Paris Opera and ballet a draw for the more culturally minded, and the stunning parks – such as Tuileries Garden – nestled along the banks of the Seine are the perfect destinations for those lazy, Parisian afternoons. Of course, if the tourist hotspots of the Champs Elysees, Arc De Triomphe, and the giddy heights of the Eiffel Tower aren’t for you, then a long walk through the city’s quieter districts can be the perfect way to while away your time, drinking in the breathtaking blend of historic and modern architecture, and sampling the many delights of the boutiques and patisseries hidden among the winding streets.
For those seeking something a little different, however, the historic Montmartre district, traditionally home to Paris’s thriving art community, is a must-see. Over the years, the roster of artists who have kept studios or worked in the area reads like a who’s who of art, including famous names such as Dali, Monet, Mondrian, Picasso, and Van Gogh. Of course, the exotic district, known for its burlesque and cabaret shows, has been made equally, if not more, famous in recent years by Hollywood, thanks to films such as Moulin Rouge – the real home of which is actually in the nearby, former red-light district of Pigalle.
Located just 20 miles from the centre of Paris, Disneyland Paris is one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations, and for good reason. The resort comprises two theme parks and a number of hotels, with an entertainment complex, golf courses (including children’s facilities), and even a railway station.
Disneyland Park itself is, understandably, the main attraction and is split into five themed worlds: Main Street, U.S.A, Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland, Discoveryland, each packed with a riot of magical attractions and rides to keep the kids and the young at heart utterly spellbound.
The second park is the newer Walt Disney Studios Park, which is themed around a Hollywood movie studio, complete with four ‘movie lots’, boasting rides, attractions and entertainment, with an exciting showbusiness feel.
When you need to eat, unwind, and enjoy yourself, The Disney Village is the place to head, especially as it stays open after the main parks close. This entertainment district is chock full of restaurants and activities such as bowling, movies, and an impressive IMAX cinema, but perhaps most impressive is the PanoraMagique Balloon, which can carry up to 30 passengers over 100 metres into the sky for dazzling views.