We asked Roderick Levejac, Chef Concierge at Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris, to gather the savviest sight-seeing suggestions he could find—not just his own, but also those of other local connoisseurs, including some he works with every day at the Hotel. With breathtaking architecture, grand art collections and a world-renowned shopping and dining scene, Paris celebrates its past as dynamically as it does its present.
Among the smallest and most fascinating museums are the Musée Jacquemart-André and the Musée Nissim de Camondo, located near the Parc Monceau. Beyond their splendid collections of art and furniture, both museums—once the private hôtels particuliers of prominent 19th- and 20th-century families—offer a glimpse into the home life of the most refined members of Parisian society of that time. The Baccarat Museum, which is housed in a spectacular 19th-century mansion, features décor by legendary designer Philippe Starck and showcases some of the finest crystal in the world. On rare occasions, visitors may tour Louis Vuitton’s home in Asnières, an incomparable treasure of the fashion world.
There is no better place to experience live performances in Paris than the Palais Garnier. Designed by Charles Garnier under Napoleon III, the opera house primarily hosts ballets, but occasionally features opera. An equally interesting but lesser-known opera venue is the Royal Opera of Versailles. Taking in a show here is a great way to end a visit to the Sun King’s palace. In summer, when the city’s opera house is closed, enjoy a concert surrounded by the stained glass of the Sainte-Chapelle on Île de la Cité.
Sit and watch Paris pass by at one of the city’s many cafés: Café de Flore or Les Deux Magots in Saint-Germain, Carette at the Trocadéro, and Ladurée on the Champs Élysées are popular options. Once Coco Chanel’s favourite tea room, Angelina is known for its rich hot chocolate. Take a cup to go and sip it while walking through the Jardin de Tuileries, or savour it at the café, where it is served in a pretty porcelain teapot and accompanied by fresh whipped cream.
From bastions of haute cuisine, such as the Hotel’s Le Cinq and Taillevent, to true bistros like La Fontaine de Mars and Savy, fine food can be found at every turn in the City of Light. Travel back in time to the early 20th century at Passage 53. Owned by Guillaume Guedj, this tiny restaurant in the Passage des Panoramas seats only 20 guests, who pile in to experience the award-winning haute gastronomie. (The restaurant earned its second Michelin star in 2011.)
Shop the day away
Avenue Montaigne, Avenue des Champs-Élysées and Avenue George V converge to form the Triangle d’Or, or Golden Triangle—a fashion epicentre that is home to the world’s best-known luxury boutiques. Nearby, find cutting-edge accessories at Colette on rue Saint-Honoré or L’Eclaireur on rue Boissy d’Anglas. Across the Seine on the Left Bank, you’ll find an extensive collection of shops, including Hermès Rive Gauche, which opened on the site of a 1935 swimming pool near Le Bon Marché.
Following the old covered passages of Paris can be the best way to see the city and avoid traffic. Begin near the Grands Boulevards in the city’s theatre district with Passage Verdeau, and continue to Passage Jouffroy before crossing over to Passage des Panoramas—all three lined with tiny, old-fashioned boutiques. Then, follow the rue Vivienne to Galerie Vivienne, a slightly more trendy passage. Meandering though Place des Victoires to the arcades and quiet garden of the Palais-Royal will lead you past the Louvre and towards the Pont des Arts, a pedestrian bridge that crosses the River Seine between the Louvre and the Institut de France. Here, you will find some of the most scenic views of Paris.
Teens will be fascinated by the Catacombs, where centuries of Parisian bones are neatly and artfully arranged. Arrive early to avoid the crowds. At the northern edge of Paris you’ll find science for all ages at the Cité des Sciences, and little ones can easily spend an afternoon at Cité des Enfants, a hands-on kids’ museum. Back in the city centre, the Jardin de Tuileries has entertained many generations of French children with a playground, a carousel, trampolines and rental boats.
Paris at night
Greet the evening at one of the city’s cocktail bars. Sip on innovative concoctions in a relaxed atmosphere at Experimental Cocktail Club, or head to the sister Prescription Cocktail Club for inspiring drinks with a trendy crowd. In the speakeasy-style basement bar of Le Ballroom du Beef Club, be sure to try the signature 1930s flacons cocktail while you listen to DJ-spun music. To keep the rhythm going into the wee hours of the night, visit 79 Paris or VIP Room, two of the city’s most distinguished nightclubs.
The river and the sky
A stroll along the Ponts des Arts is the most scenic walk through the heart of Paris. But head west to the Quai Branly and the terrace of Les Ombres restaurant to discover one of the most marvellous views of the Eiffel Tower. This is especially true at night, when the lights on the tower sparkle.