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Paris City Trip - Shopping and Entertainment

Arc de Triomphe in Paris
Arc de Triomphe

PARIS DAY 3: Tuileries Gardens, Passage Edouard VII, Place Vendome, the Eiffel Tower

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Begin your third day in Paris with a walk through the Tuileries Gardens. A long, beautifully landscaped expanse of luxuriant chestnut trees, artful shrubbery, limpid ponds and inviting cafés, the gardens extend from the Louvre to the Place de la Concorde. Take special note of the Maillol statues that Dina Vierny bequeathed to the city and of the Orangerie museum, an oblong edifice filled with Impressionist paintings. If you haven't already had breakfast, and even if you have, indulge at Angelina, a frescoed tea room, famous for its ultra-rich hot chocolate with whipped cream. At the Place de la Concorde, take some time to admire the brilliant, gilded fountains and Obelisk of Luxor, a gift from Egypt dating back to 1829. Follow rue Royale to the Hellenic Eglise de la Madeleine, a massive, marble monument designed in the mid-nineteenth century.

Jardins des Tuileries
Jardins des Tuileries

After your visit, stop in to Hediard, located on the west side of the Place de la Madeleine, for preserves, mustard, coffee, tea, chocolates, candies and other deluxe condiments that make for great gifts. A few steps further is the brilliant Baccarat boutique, where you may want to splurge on a fine piece of glass jewelry. Across the street is the celebrated Art Nouveau-style restaurant Senderens, where you may wish to have an innovative, upscale lunch. Or continue east along the Boulevard des Capucines until you reach the Passage Edouard VII. In addition to shopping, this peaceful passage harbors the elegant Edouard VII theater and its own dining spot, the Café Guitry prolonged by a relaxing terrace, and one of the most popular Italian restaurants on the Right Bank. Paparazzi serves up super-sized thin crust pizza and good pasta dishes.

If you want to spend your afternoon shopping at one of the "grand magasins," or department stores, walk north to the Boulevard Haussmann to reach Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. For a more cultural activity, take a guided tour of the Opéra de Paris — on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. in French and at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. in English. Commissioned under Napoleon III, the Palais Garnier was designed by Charles Garnier, who revolutionized theatergoing rituals by opening the grand entrance hall and vestibules to all patrons, instead of segregating them by social class. Exterior and interior are equally impressive, especially the Chagall ceiling. For a decadent evening, take in a ballet and sip Champagne during intermission on the marbled mezzanine.

Place Vendôme
Place Vendôme

Enjoy afternoon tea at the regally appointed Café de la Paix. Or amble towards the Seine via rue de la Paix until you reach the Place Vendôme, famous for its exclusive jewelers.

Stop into Harry's Bar on the rue Daunou, the oldest American bar in Paris, where the likes of Hemingway and Bogart used to enjoy a nightcap. For chic cocktails in a contemporary setting, visit the nearby restaurant of Hôtel Costes. Alternatively, from the Opéra Garnier, descend the Avenue de l'Opéra until you reach the prestigious Comédie-Francaise where you can watch Molière performed in the Italianate Salle Richelieu. Founded in 1680 as the first national theater in France, it has occupied the adjoining Palais Royal since 1799. For an escape from the traffic-heavy confines of the 1st arrondissement, access the secluded Palais Royal Gardens.

For those remaining in this vibrant neighborhood for dinner, Le Grand Véfour, like the Palais Garnier, possesses a glamorous gilded interior complete with golden mirrors, chandeliers and rich red banquettes, where you can relish the equally resplendent concoctions of chef Guy Martin. Across the street from Le Grand Véfour is the excellent, legendary Anglo-owned restaurant, Willi's Wine Bar. Also worth mentioning is the nearby neighborhood favorite Chez Georges on rue du Mail, a most authentic bistro serving very generous portions of perfect French fare. Farther north into the 2nd arrondissement is Alain Ducasse's Aux Lyonnais, serving hearty, regional specialties in a ceramic-tiled, century-old restaurant.

End the day with a visit to the sprawling stretch of riverfront property that houses the Musée du Quai Branly. Basking in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, this colorful cultural arts center showcases the planet's most valuable primitive art masterpieces. The museum's collections span four main geographical areas — Oceania, the Americas, Africa and Asia — subdivided into more specific regions. The unique, earth-toned edifice was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel with the participation of renowned researcher and botanist, Patrick Blanc, inventor of the vertical garden or "living wall." While Blanc's designs can be see throughout Paris (Pershing Hall), his most impressive work is without a doubt the vegetal façade of the Quai Branly museum. Begin your visit in the public garden, a contemporary, Asian-accented park where the noise of the busy banks of the Seine simply melts away. Inside the lofty structure you'll find the museum, a theatre, a media center, a café and a gastronomic terrace restaurant, Les Ombres, offering a fine view of the neighboring monuments.

The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower

For a pre-dinner climb up the Eiffel Tower, you don't need to ascend all 324 meters to enjoy a breathtaking view. Be forewarned, though: As the tower narrows, the lines outside the elevator thicken and waits become interminable. Wise visitors reserve a table at the restaurant Jules Verne, presided over by Alain Ducasse, where the view at 125 meters is the main course and a reservation grants you a crowd-free ride to the top in the private elevator. If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground during dinner, choose among several nearby eateries, beginning with the intimate Au Bon Accueil for a well-prepared contemporary bistro meal in the shadow of the Tour Eiffel. Also not far from the glittering tower is D'Chez Eux, a favorite of French politicians for its upscale rustic atmosphere and robust, traditional French fare. Delicious and dependable bistro basics can be had at the attractive and affordable Café Constant and more creative dishes, prepared by chef Jean-François Piège, at the chic Brasserie Thoumieux on rue Saint Dominique. Farther south on the Avenue de la Motte Picquet is the boisterous Le Père Claude, famous for its specialties cooked "à la plancha," as well as divine roasted meats and fish.

Classical music aficionados will want to squeeze in a concert at the elegant Salle Pleyel. Founded in 1927, this famed classical music concert hall has duly refurbished after a major two-year renovation which completely streamlined the architecture and intensified the acoustics. It's all about the music at the Salle Pleyel, where the neo-Art Deco design is soothingly minimalist and audience comfort is vastly improved. A rich and inspiring program coupled with heightened, all-encompassing sound performance promises for a moving musical experience. For lunch or pre-show dining, stop at the Café Pleyel on the first floor.

Night owls can catch the 10:45 p.m. show at the Crazy Horse cabaret off of Avenue George V. While all Parisian cabarets tend to be geared towards tourists, the racy Crazy Horse does provide quality late night entertainment in an elegant neighborhood. If you can't bear to call it a night, stop at any one of the plentiful sidewalk cafés on the Champs Elysées and enjoy a glass of Champagne or a Cognac while making plans for your next visit to Paris.

For more information visit the Paris Conventions and Visitors Bureau at www.parisinfo.com

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*Images courtesy of Paris Tourist Office. Arc de Triomphe photo by Amélie Dupont.


(Updated: 09/25/13 RED)

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