Ahh, Paris.  So often top of the list in city break surveys and no wonder.  Iconic sights, red café awnings, bouquinistes ….. and plenty of ‘je ne sais quoi’.    

The 22 episodes in our Paris series cover all the background history and culture you need to get the most from your visit.  We tell the stories behind all the main sights – Notre Dame, Versailles, the Musée d’Orsay – and go looking for the places which illustrate the city’s main themes: everything from Napoleon’s Paris to café culture, not forgetting art, literature and history.

There’s a podcast for each episode and we are adding more written information to each post as fast as we can.  So, let’s go, or as the French would put it ‘On y va?’

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Episode 1: Introduction to Paris

‘You, who have been to Paris, know. And you who have not been to Paris, go!’ If you need an introduction to Paris, this quotation from John Ruskin, written in the 1830s, tells you all … Read more
Conciergerie Paris

Episode 2: The Heart of Paris

The two islands on the River Seine, the Île de la Cité and the Île St-Louis, are the very heart of Paris. A ramble over one or both is an ideal way to start your … Read more
Notre Dame, Paris

Episode 3: Two Paris Cathedrals – Notre Dame and St Denis

Did you know that there are two Paris Cathedrals? Notre Dame symbolises Paris, especially since the devastating fire which nearly destroyed it, but there is another Paris cathedral, just as full of historical significance and … Read more
Paris, Versailles

Episode 4: Paris – Versailles and the Court of Louis XIV

The palace and grounds at Versailles, a UNESCO World Heritage Site about 22km from the centre of Paris, were born of envy: Louis XIV was so jealous of the Château Vaux-le-Vicomte, which belonged to his … Read more
Paris, plaque at Temple

Episode 5: Revolutionary Paris

Revolutionary Paris represented a defining moment in France, in Europe and worldwide, and it’s story is what sits behind the annual 14th July celebrations. But where can you ‘find’ the French Revolution in Paris today? … Read more
Paris, Invalides

Episode 6: Napoleon’s Paris

Napoleon’s Paris is everywhere today, even today, 200 years after his death. Here’s our guide to 8 places you can visit to find out more about the Corsican teenager who arrived to study at the … Read more
Montmartre Moulin Rouge

Episode 7: Montmartre – The Paris You Always Imagined

Montmartre: a hilltop area, full of history, and with a truly Parisian ambiance; no wonder it’s so popular with tourists. The lovely Sacré Cœur church, silhouetted on the northern city skyline is a constant beckon. … Read more
Galeries Lafayette, Paris

Episode 8: Belle Epoque Paris

Close your eyes and picture Paris and it may well be Belle Époque Paris you’re imagining: the Eiffel Tower, exuberant cancan dancers at the Moulin Rouge, the insouciance of everyday life captured In Renoir’s painting … Read more
Monet at the Marmottan, Paris

Episode 9: Where to find Impressionism in Paris

Paris and Impressionism: surely no city and art movement are more closely linked.  Paris was home to many impressionist artists and Paris was often their subject.  This post tells you a little about impressionism – … Read more
Memorial de la deportation, Paris

Episode 10: In Search of the Occupation in Paris

There are still signs of ‘les années noires‘ (the dark years) of German occupation in Paris to be found all over the city, including bullet holes in walls and many plaques in memory of fallen … Read more
Paris, Sorbonne

Episode 11: Intellectual Paris – Montparnasse and the Latin Quarter

The ceiling of the Cluny la Sorbonne metro station is covered in signatures: Molière, Victor Hugo and lots more writers and thinkers. It’s on the borders of the Latin Quarter, or university area, and Montparnasse, … Read more
View from Pont Neuf, Paris

Episode 12: The Seine and the Champs Élysées

Whether it’s your first visit to Paris, or your twenty-first, wandering up the Champs Élysées or along the banks of the Seine are two excellent ways to see the city. This post explains the importance … Read more
Paris, Les Deux Magots

Episode 13: St Germain, Paris

The Parisian district of St Germain oozes class and intellectual allure, being home to the Sorbonne, and also to some of the big publishing houses, the Académie Française, proud guardian of the French language, and … Read more
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Episode 14: Louvre – Art in Paris

The world’s grandest art gallery, the Louvre’s enormity presents both a pleasure and a challenge. It is said that it would take a hundred days to see everything, if you stopped at each exhibit for … Read more
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Episode 15: Modern Art in Paris

A rundown of some of the events and ‘happenings’ in Paris which celebrate modern art, plus a visit to three of the big hitter museums where you can see 20th and 21st century works: the … Read more
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Episode 16: Le Shopping in Paris

Shopping in Paris is always a delight, whether you are popping to a local food market to choose some of the very best seasonal produce, wandering the ‘passages’, the maze of little covered shopping arcades … Read more
Deux Magots, Paris

Episode 17: Cafe Culture in Paris

‘The last time I saw Paris, her heart was warm and gay. I heard the laughter of her heart in every street café.’ (Oscar Hammerstein II). Paris welcomes you to its corner cafes, its bistros … Read more
Edith Piaf's Grave in Paris

Episode 18: Buried in Paris

Visits to the Panthéon, where Paris pays homage to France’s most respected citizens, and to the city’s cemeteries are always fascinating. The world’s most-visited cemetery, the Père Lachaise, contains the graves of, for example, Oscar … Read more
Victor Hugo Museum, Paris

Episode 19: Two Literary Houses of Paris

What Balzac and Victor Hugo can tell us about Paris We visit the two best-known literary museums in Paris, the Maison de Balzac in the 16th district and the Maison de Victor Hugo in the … Read more
Tuileries, Paris

Episode 20: Memoirs of Paris

Authors reminisce about their life in Paris This episode sets out to enjoy the work of a number of writers who loved Paris and wrote their memoirs about living or working there. Hear some gossip … Read more
Liberation of Paris

Episode 21: Paris From The French Revolution to World War Two

A look at Paris through history books and historical novels. Biographies of Queen Marie Antoinette or of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir can show us much behind the scenes of the places we visit … Read more
Victor Hugo display at Musee Grevin

Episode 22: Paris seen through fiction

A last look at Paris, this time through the eyes of authors who have set their work there. Four different novelists take us from the observation of murder and its aftermath in dingy 19th century … Read more
Eiffel Tower, Paris

Paris Extra: A Virtual Tour of Paris

This virtual visit to Paris takes you on a tour of websites, YouTube videos and books which will bring the spirit of the City of Light alive for you even if you can’t go there … Read more


Useful websites for tourists

Four comprehensive guidebooks
Lonely Planet Paris
The Rough Guide to Paris
Fodor’s Paris
Eyewitness Paris 

Three Literary anthologies and a history book for travellers
City Lit Paris edited by Heather Reyes
Paris: a Literary Companion by Ian Littlewood
A Place in the World called Paris by Miles Hyman and Steven Barclay
A Traveller’s History of Paris by Robert Cole

Five Paris Memoirs
The Flaneur by Edmund White
Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik
The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebowitz
Paris Revealed by Stephen Clarke
The Only Street in Paris by Elaine Sciolino



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Episode 8: Food and Shopping in Bordeaux

City Breaks
Wheat Treading in the Camargue, Rosa Bonheur, Musee des Beaux Arts, Bordeaux

Episode 7: 3 Bordeaux Art Galleries

City Breaks
Bordeaux wine shop

Episode 6: Bordeaux Wine

City Breaks