Oh Paris! The City of Light, which has inspired artists over the centuries and continues to amaze tourists today. Because yes, if you decide to spend a weekend in Paris, you will certainly be in large company wherever you go, under the Eiffel Tower or elsewhere. In the rankings, it often takes the lead or in any case sits on the podium of the most attractive tourist destinations, and before the Covid, it was between 15 and 20 million visitors who were counted there annually – which for some may be disillusioned faced with countless pigeons, the unpleasant smells of the metro, or the legendary hospitality of Parisians, like those Japanese tourists who suffer from "Paris syndrome":a psychological disorder resulting from the glaring difference between the Paris of map postal whose image is widely conveyed abroad, and the real experience of the city, far from having much in common with the daily life of Amélie Poulain for example.
But beyond these clichés, there is a lot to appreciate in Paris, starting with its popular neighborhoods, much more lively and dynamic than its bourgeois districts with their often too sleepy Haussmann buildings. In short, the city has an infinity of visit options for all tastes that an entire year - and a fortiori a weekend even less - would not be enough to exhaust, the capital being rich in an urban and artistic heritage. built over the centuries, and which never stops reinventing itself. If you're not sure where to start, here are some options to give you ideas for making the most of a long weekend in the French capital.
It is of course THE must-see museum in Paris, whose no less than around 10 million visitors a year make it the busiest in the world (so expect to jostle around its most famous works). Its collection is made up of more than half a million pieces from antiquity to the beginnings of the modern era, and includes between the Venus de Milo or Liberty leading the people the famous Mona Lisa , which you will struggle to appreciate as it is drowned in crowded tourists. But in addition to these famous works, it is the collection as a whole that is truly worth seeing.
For lovers of modern and contemporary art, it will be necessary to go a few streets away to the famous Beaubourg , as he is more familiarly called — the offspring of former President Georges Pompidou, himself a great lover of modern art. Unmissable with its famous architecture made of huge windows and tubes housing escalators along its facade, it houses the second largest collection of its kind in Europe, and regularly hosts exhibition events.
If the Sacré-Coeur basilica sits proudly at the top of the Montmartre hill — and watch out for the stairs, a cable car exists for the most fragile among you — and is one of the most cherished monuments of Parisians and tourists alike, yet it bears witness to a dark history. Built in the post-war period of 1870, which makes it one of the most recent religious monuments in the capital, it aims to be a return to "moral order" and is assimilated to a symbol of repression by supporters of the Municipality of Paris. We now find the Square Louise-Michel at its foot. In short, whether you are a fervent leftist who has come to meditate, or whether you simply want to admire the most beautiful panorama of Paris, go and stroll on the embankments in front of the cathedral, before getting lost in the alleys of Montmartre which housed everything. -Artistic Paris of the Belle Époque (there is today, for example, a museum dedicated to Salvador Dali) and to go down to Abbesses for a coffee or dinner in this lively district and slightly less invaded by hordes of tourists.
The neo-Gothic Belleville cemetery is perhaps one of the most famous resting places in the world. Whether you want to pay your respects to the grave of one of your favorite celebrities — Jim Morrison , Sarah Bernhardt , Oscar Wilde or Edith Piaf are among its most famous residents — or simply enjoy a quiet gothic-looking stroll in the heart of the 20th arrondissement, it is a must. As the cemetery is still active, admission is also free, even if it is strongly recommended to purchase a plan sold at the entrance to be able to find the graves containing historical figures.
Located in the heart of the city, the greenhouses of the Jardin des Plantes offer a real change of scenery, since you find yourself immersed in different atmospheres aimed at educating about the diversity and preservation of different ecosystems. We go from a tropical greenhouse to an arid greenhouse, passing through New Caledonia or the greenhouse of the history of plants, devoted to the development of flora since the appearance of terrestrial plants, several years ago. hundreds of millions of years.
If you want to broaden your horizons, do not hesitate to visit the IMA, which aims to be a cultural bridge between France and the countries of the Arab world. Beyond this role of exchange and international forum played by the institute, an ambitious artistic program makes it an essential museum. At a time when racist speeches try to erase the colonial history of France and to stigmatize foreigners and their descendants, it is good to remember the importance of dialogue between the two cultures thanks to a better understanding of the Arab world. .
Unlike other European cities such as London or Berlin, we cannot say that real estate pressure has been very lenient with green spaces in the French capital. Thus, if the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is very cute and offers beautiful views of the city, it also tends to be taken over by locals as soon as the sun comes up. Less spectacular but more extensive, the Parc de la Villette located a little further north is also charming, and is home to a few museums including the Cité des sciences et de l'industrie or the City of Music , as well as the Philharmonie de Paris .
Between Émile Zola and Daniel Pennac a century later, the department stores on the Parisian boulevards have never ceased to inspire, as they are an icon - architectural and symbolic - of their time, that of nascent consumerism - or of disillusion which accompanies it. If today, these no longer impress as the concept has spread around the world, they remain essential for an afternoon shopping, which we can end up on the Champs-Élysées , window shopping in front of the luxury boutiques at the foot of the imposing Arc de Triomphe . Don't miss the newly reopened Samaritaine and its art nouveau and art deco inspired architecture.
If you are ready to take a short trip in Yvelines, the RER C will drop you off a few minutes walk from the famous residence of the Kings of France, symbol of absolute monarchy under Louis XIV who inherited it at the age of four. still chaperoned by Anne of Austria, with all the excesses that this implies, and of the consolidation of the kingdom around the capital, at the origin of the modern French state. In addition to its formidable Baroque architecture, of which the Hall of Mirrors is the epitome, the castle is famous for its immense French gardens. Enough to spend a long day getting lost in the escapades of French history.
No, it's not just Versailles to visit outside Paris intramural! Faced with real estate pressure that never ceases to suffocate Paris, more and more of its inhabitants have gone into exile within the inner suburbs. With all that this implies in terms of gentrification, since the natives of these suddenly connected neighborhoods find themselves under the same pressure that drove their new neighbors from the small belt. Nevertheless, this means that there is a certain excitement in some of these neighborhoods. For tourists who do not want to limit their visits to the historical and artistic heritage of the capital, but to live the daily life of Parisians well, visits to Montreuil or Saint-Denis will certainly be more authentic than in the sleepy arrondissements of the South-West of the capital city. Just outside the ring road, the Saint-Ouen and Clignancourt fleas are open all year round, and second-hand clothes compete with luxury at every corner of the aisle.
Finally, don't forget that in Paris, even in the center, the best way to visit is still to stroll and get lost, as the city impresses with its beauty. A simple detour at dusk on the bridges of the île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis will be enough to convince you of this, and will remind you why it is nicknamed the "City of Light".