Wake up slowly in a cosy Montmartre bistro to watch the sun climb over the rooftops of Paris: a unique sight. If you want to pick up a few souvenirs, there’s no better place to find them than here. After that come down from the hills and head for the Madeleine with its chic boutiques, the typical hustle and bustle of the Grands Boulevards and the magic of the Parisian department stores for an unforgettable shopping experience. All the big stores have cafes and restaurants, most usually offering a great view over the city. Window-shopping is on the menu later in the afternoon-along the avenue des Champs-Elysées, avenue Montaigne or Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Minutes later, metro line 1 will have whisked you into the Marais district to explore the myriad fashion and design boutiques and to linger over dinner in this appealing area.
Grand couturiers, luxury boutiques, palaces ... Avenue Montaigne epitomizes French charm and elegance. This 615-metre-long street, lined with chestnut trees, features fashionable boutiques and town houses fronted with small gardens. It also boasts the Théâtre des Champs Elysées and The Plaza-Athénée palace hotel. The countess of Castiglione, mistress of Napoléon 111, once lived in the mansion at No. 28.
Starting in rue Royale and finishing in Place des Ternes, the rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré is one of the most famous roads in the 8th arrondissement. Crossing Paris from east to west, it features many upscale boutiques. Several well-known people have lived here. The Elysée Palace, at No. 55 is the official residence and offices of the President of the French Republic.
Spared by the redevelopment of Paris under Baron Haussmann, the Marais district is characterized by its mansion houses, gardens and religious buildings. This district owes its name to former marshland, drained in the 18th century and transformed into gardens. Place des Vosges, formerly Place Royale, was a place for celebrations in the 16th and 17th centuries. From 1880, exiled European Jews took up residence here, notably in rue du Figuier and rue des Rosiers. Today, the Marais district is a Jewish neighbourhood, a homosexual neighbourhood and a popular shopping area with fashion and designer boutiques open at the weekend.
Venice has its gondolas, Montmartre its steps – physically demanding but Romanesque in the extreme. Countless novels, legends and 'fabulous destinies' are set in the Butte, such as the Bateau-Lavoir in place Émile- Goudeau, where Picasso painted the Demoiselles d’Avignon, and the cafe made famous by Amélie Poulain in rue Lepic. The grocery from the film is higher up on rue des Trois-Frères. And there’s even more climbing to do – but Montmartre’s well worth it! Walk up rue Tholozé, for example, for a film or a drink in the winter garden of a tiny cinema run by Buñuel and Cocteau. Pause at the top of the street under the last remaining windmills, before continuing on up … keep going! At the top is the Sacré-Coeur, surrounded by a labyrinth of extraordinary little streets, and a vineyard, where the grape harvest is celebrated each year. There is also the flattering bust of Dalida in the square of the same name, breathtaking views over the rooftops of Paris, amazing crowds and hundreds of tranquil spots. From the square de la Turlure or the rue de la Chevalier-de-la- Barre, the Sacré-Coeur is just as wonderful from the side, the back or the front!
Surrounding the Madeleine church, the square of the same name, is well-known for its luxury boutiques and fine food stores. Many historic and exclusive restaurants are firmly established here and offer a wonderful view of the impressive monument.
Between Concorde and Étoile, is the emblematic section of a perspective that extends from the Louvre Pyramid to La Défense. The first steps of this 'glorious way', an obligatory passage for patriotic parades, were however modest. Lined with undergrowth, the avenue reached the current site of place de l’Étoile in 1724. A fashionable place to walk, the gardens were devastated at the fall of the Empire. They regained their splendour around 1840: candelabras, fountains, creamy pavilions, landscaping with flowers and copses date from this period of balls and theatres. It was one hundred years later that rapid development occurred when affluence spread to the west of the capital. The avenue was then adorned with prestigious palaces, cafes, and restaurant terraces and cinemas – joined today by ready-to-wear fashion stores and high-tech showrooms. Everything can be found on the Champs Elysées: films, dresses, lunch, cotton and compresses, racing cars, yoghurts and fresh vegetables, books, CDs, perfume … from morning to midnight, sometimes 24 hours a day, often 7 days a week.