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Paris is always a thrill – even if you have been before, and especially if you are planning a post-COVID adventure to Europe. With its grand boulevards, elegant cafes and a swag of new hotels and restaurants to explore, the City of Love is becoming more enchanting than ever. 

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In Café Lapérouse (pictured above), every seat is the best seat in the house. Whether you find yourself in the main dining room, sitting in a blue velvet armchair beneath a striped, tented ceiling, in the coral-coloured Salon de l’Orient, or on pistachio-green furniture by the trim, manicured trees in the courtyard, every setting is picture-perfect. The chic new space opened in July and has attracted plenty of media thanks to its big-name designer Cordélia de Castellane, who is also the artistic director of perfume giant Dior Maison, and financial backing from Antoine Arnault, son of the billionaire family that owns Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH).

Each of chef Cyril Lignac’s restaurants delivers a different experience, whether it’s the Italian-themed Ischia or Aux Prex with its marble-topped bar. We particularly love Le Chardenoux for its Belle Époque interiors, done in mint green with velvet banquettes and a patterned floor. His seafood dishes are particularly good.

In the mood for authentic French bistro? L’Ami Jean nails it with 1930’s interiors and farmhouse-style food that has its roots deep in French soil, from roast lamb with smoked oregano to Parmesan soup with cabbage. A favourite with local foodies.

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Paris’ new contemporary art museum is housed in one of its most spectacular old buildings, the Bourse du Commerce. The contrast between the old-school grandeur of the former stock exchange and the contemporary art of the Pinault Collection – courtesy of luxury mogul Francois Pinault – is one of the reasons this has become one of the city’s must-visit museums.

The female artists of the Roaring Twenties are celebrated in a fascinating show at the Musee du Luxembourg called Pioneers, Artists of a New Genre in the Roaring Twenties. On display from March to July, it features not just paintings, sculptures, and photographs but also movies and textiles created by now-forgotten trailblazers.

Best-known for its dazzling Impressionist collection and its eye-catching architecture (it used to be a train station), the Musee d’Orsay (picured) also hosts some great exhibitions. From April to July, it is celebrating architect Antoni Gaudi, the man behind Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia, with a retrospective examining all aspects of his innovative creations.

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Le Syndicat (pictured above) has an industrial-chic décor, a hip-hop playlist, and the most patriotic drinks menu in town. Bartender Aristoteles Makris teams rare French spirits (from Breton whiskey to Bonal, a little-known aperitif distilled by infused quinine, gentian and herbs of the French alps) with unusual ingredients such as smoked, bitter orange peel to make creative cocktails. The small bites menu is also superb.

Like a bit of an adventure? Then head for Le Grand Bain, one of the city’s best wine bars tucked away at the end of a graffiti-covered street in the edgy neighbourhood of Belleville. The wine list leans towards natural wines from French producers, and the tapas-style plates are terrific.

The Experimental Cocktail Club is the bar that launched an empire. Paris’ first speakeasy-style cocktail bar was such a runaway hit that it proved to be the first step in a new hospitality powerhouse. The Experimental Group now runs seven hotels and eleven cocktail bars around the world, alongside other properties such as spas and night clubs, but this inviting hideaway remains well worth a visit.

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Almost any street in the Marais is worth strolling, but few are as packed with attractions as the Rue des Rosiers. Once the heart of the Jewish quarter, this street is now lined with cafes, galleries, and boutiques, and is known as the best place in town to buy falafel. You can spot the celebrated l’As du Fallafel (pictured above) from the permanent queue outside, but some of its nearby competitors are also worth checking out.

Don’t walk the Rue Montorgeuil if you are hungry. This picturesque street in the second arrondissement may just be home to the most mouth-watering array of gourmet outlets in town. There are magnificently aromatic cheese, shops, fabulous fishmongers, and the oldest patisserie in Paris, Maison Stohrer, founded by a royal pâtissier back in 1730. The interiors are as exquisite as the eclairs.

A walk down Cour du Commerce St Andre, the small lane running off Boulevard St Germain, is a trip back in time. This atmospheric laneway contains a hefty amount of history – it is where revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat was murdered in his bath during the French Revolution, for instance. Still standing is Café Procope, the legendary café frequented by everyone from Voltaire to Robespierre to Napoleon.

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It’s an exaggeration, but not that much of one.  At Le Tout Paris – which means “all of Paris” – you can’t see all of Paris, but you do have a birds-eye view of one of the best bits. This all-day eatery on the seventh floor of the Cheval Blanc hotel is perched right on the Seine at the Pont Neuf, and the views are glorious. So, too, are the pastries.

At night it transforms into a buzzing cocktail bar at night but we love Cravan’s daytime incarnation as an old-school café. That’s not just because the coffee is so good, but because daylight gives you the chance to appreciate the elegant interiors with their mirrored panels and landscaped murals, not to mention the original art nouveau counter.

For a very different day out, head to the Grande Mosquée de Paris, (pictured above) where you can enjoy an authentic hammam experience before heading to the tranquil tearoom of Salon de Thé, set in a tree-shaded courtyard with mosaic-topped tables. Relax with a mint tea and some Middle Eastern pastries.

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Sitting virtually opposite the magnificent Opera building behind a magnificent art nouveau facade, the Kimpton St Honore Paris (pictured above) offers an enticing blend of old-school luxe and contemporary charm. The suites are particularly inviting, the Montecito restaurant delivers a superb breakfast where you can choose between French pastries or heartier options such as eggs benedict or a breakfast sandwich. The piece de resistance is the magnificent rooftop bar.

Its Instagram-perfect interiors and its in-the-thick-of-it location hard by the Bourse du Commerce have made Madame Reve one of Paris’ most talked-about new openings. This glam boutique hotel, opened in October 2021 and set in the converted Louvre Post Office, doesn’t disappoint. It’s right in the geographical heart of Paris, the staff are superbly attentive, the spa offers outstanding massages, and the stunning Madame Reve café, with its eight-metre ceilings, is a showstopper.