French novelist Honoré de Balzac once referred to flânerie – the act of strolling in a leisurely manner, with all its accompanying sensations – as “the gastronomy of the eye”. Perhaps there’s nowhere more suited to this pursuit than a city like Paris. Given its perfectly manageable size, it’s possible to take in numerous sights – be it the Pont Neuf, the oldest stone bridge in Paris; the artisanal cider and fresh fruit of the bustling Marché d’Aligre; or the famous Père Lachaise cemetery, where Oscar Wilde’s lipstick-smeared tomb can be found – on foot. Indeed, while cultural monuments like the Louvre, Notre Dame and Arc de Triomphe shouldn’t be glossed over, the true spirit of Paris can be found by simply ambling through the arrondissements – with a café au lait in hand, of course.
When to go:
It’s hard to fault Paris in the spring, when the weather is pleasant and cherry blossoms bloom throughout the city. Early autumn is also an ideal time to visit if you want to avoid the summer crowds.
How to get around:
Paris is a highly walkable city, and the metro system is simple to use and generally efficient for when your feet need a break. Also popular in warmer months are the Velib bikes, with stations located every 300 metres or so throughout the city. The bikes can be rented from one to seven days at a time.