“When God is bored in heaven, he opens the window and observes the boulevards of Paris.” This was once said by the famous German poet Heinrich Heine in the 19th century about the French capital. Today, however, it is people from all over the world who succumb to the charm of the most French of all cities and dive into the savoir-vivre de Paris in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower between baguettes, cafés and haute couture. So, join us on an exciting discovery tour that takes you from the lofty heights in the centre to the boulevards and into the dark catacombs under the city.
Although the Eiffel Tower is probably the most iconic building in France, we start our tour of the city of love, Macarons and Yves Saint Laurent in a place that could hardly be more typical of France. No, it's not a sidewalk café, but rather the cinema, which is supposed to be a Parisian invention – at last that’s what locals like to claim. Whether one believes them or not, is of secondary importance, because, strictly speaking, the whole city is a single movie. After all, several dozen world-famous movies were filmed here. A filming tour is just the thing for movie fans and anyone who wants to experience Paris off the tourist flow.
It starts, of course, with an absolute classic, the winding Montmartre district and the Café des Deux Moulins, the set of the French classic "Amélie". Alternatively, you can explore the Place Dauphine with the cinematic hangout of the famous Commissioner Maigret, or stroll through the Place de la Concorde with the monumental obelisk, where Andy from "The Devil Wears Prada" threw her cell phone into the water of the Fontaine de Mers.
You like it more action-packed? No problem, because you can visit the Pont de Bir-Hakeim, known from the thriller "Inception", experience the chases from "The Bourne Identity" at the Quai Sant-Bernard, or go to the Louvre like Tom Hanks in "The Da Vinci Code" in search of the Holy Grail. For a more romantic setting you can visit the Pont Alexandre III. The probably most beautiful bridge in Paris was not only the backdrop for "Midnight in Paris", but is nowadays the perfect romantic insider’s tip for couples because of the fantastic view over Les Invalides.
Speaking of Les Invalides. For true Parisians, getting inside the magnificent building in the 7th arrondissement is a must. This is not only impressive because of its architecture, but also because it’s the tomb of the great Napoleon Bonaparte, who has made Paris the most magnificent city of the "Grande Nation".
Whether L’Arc de Triomphe, the Sacré-Coeur Cathedral of Montmartre, the Opéra Garnier, the Conciergerie or the home of the bell ringer of Notre Dame on the Île de la Cite, which can host more than 10,000 people to attend the services. These Parisian monuments can’t be missing in any memory photo album. This also applies to the Eiffel Tower, which offers a breath-taking view over the city, and the Palace of Versailles, one of the largest palace complexes in Europe. The culture trip is completed in style with a boat tour on the Seine, because from the water, the silhouette of Paris turns into a genuine postcard motif. But beware! Flip-flops, tennis socks and motley holiday outfits are taboo, because in Paris is almost every week is like Fashion Week.
After all the culture, it's time to relax in one of the countless sidewalk cafés with their pastel-coloured furniture and curled awnings. Enjoy the wonderfully fragrant Café au lait while observing the hustle and bustle on the boulevards and tasting the national monument "Croissant", from sweet to salty in a variety of ways. Did you know that the croissant is an Austrian born pastry that was naturalized French? But don’t ever dare saying that to the Parisians. A real insider’s tip is the Café Charbon. Alternatively, head to the café legend Les Deux Magot, where Picasso and Jean-Paul Sartre once had their coffee together.
To get a "Bon Appétit" feeling, there are countless excellent restaurants in the city, where you can get everything from down-to-earth French home-style cooking to multi-star haute cuisine - everything your mouth desires. You should not only try the classic "coq au vin" (chicken in red wine), but also the tender duck in orange sauce (caneton à l'orange) and the lobster in cognac white wine sauce (homard à l'armoricaine). A very special tip for movie fans with a fine palate is the starred restaurant Tour d'Argent, which was the inspiration for the restaurant "Gusteau's" in the animated film "Ratatouille". Whether the cute mouse Rèmi really does swing the wooden spoon there we cannot tell you.
The dark side of Paris
Strengthened, it is time to explore the dark side of Paris. Even though the inhabitants of the artistic quarters on the right riverside of the Seine think that left riverside is Paris’ dark side, we mean the real dark side of Paris: the gruesome catacombs. In the almost 300-kilometre-long tunnel system deep beneath the sights of Paris, you can embark on an equally impressive and exciting discovery tour through what is by far the largest ossuary in the world.
After all, here lay the impressive stacked works of art of the mortal remains of more than 6 million people from many centuries. Taking along skulls and other "souvenirs" for the mantelpiece is of course forbidden, even if some visitors find it appealing. However, for lasting memories of your Paris holidays, the visit alone is enough and is, therefore, a great end point off the beaten tourist paths.