Branding has almost become colloquial these days, yet I bet that when you think about branding, the first thing that comes to mind is some type of product or business. Yet when it comes to branding, the scope extends far beyond products or services. Just about anything can be a brand these days. Let’s take cities for instance, and, for the sake of this article, let’s take Paris!
Steeped in a history rich with art and design, The Paris Brand has been developing for centuries. Its gorgeous architecture, pristine parks, extraordinary cuisine, and exquisite fashion all contribute to a global brand image of one of the world’s most beautiful cities.
Even before stepping foot in Paris, years of browsing through fashion magazines and watching old movies helped me conjure up images of romance, beauty, and sensual delights.
Fall is an incredibly wonderful time to visit Paris. Here are some reasons why the brand heritage is alive and well:
Savor the Experience
For my husband, Paris is all about its history; the crypts of the Cluny Museum, the underground maize and macabre past of the city’s sewers, the audacity of Napoleon; endless hours spent in L’Ecole de Militaire and Musee D’L’Armee.
For me, Paris is taking a walk in the Jardin du Luxembourg, eating a croissant on the I’sle St Louis a Sunday morning, having afternoon tea at Marriage Freres, enjoying a chocolate chaud at Angelina, or riding the number 6 metro line just to get that first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower as the train speeds along, running outside, as it nears the Bir-Hakim stop.
Before You Go
I often find the planning stages of a trip almost as fun as the trip itself. Maybe it is because I immerse myself in the process. This includes reading books that take place in the country I am about to visit, watching movies that were filmed in that city and creating a playlist of related tunes on my iPhone.
Here are some recommendations to enhance the planning portion of your trip to Paris:
The Piano Shop on the Left Bank
The Book of Lost Fragrances
Hidden in Paris
It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris
The DaVinci Code
Murder in the Marais
Lesson in French
The Hare with the Amber Eyes
A Tale of Two Cities
The Chocolate Thief
Lunch in Paris
Paris Was the Place
Anna and the French Kiss
Paris, a Novel
An American in Paris
Everyone Says I Love You
Love in the Afternoon
Midnight in Paris
April in Paris
The Last Time I Saw Paris
La Vie En Rose
The Soundtrack of Midnight in Paris
Spending time online is also a great way to get the most out of a vacation.
Here are some very good blogs to peruse as you plan your trip|
Messy Nessy Chic
Girls Guide to Paris
Once You Arrive
I recommend that you start your site seeing or exploring immediately. DO NOT TAKE A NAP. Seriously, this is Paris!
One of the best ways to see Paris than is on foot. Here are USA Today’s best walking tour recommendations:
Those with an independent streak and no patience for groups can run their own walking tours with directions that are either printed on paper or downloaded to an MP3 player. An example of the former are the free tours offered by Paris Walking Tours. Depending on what you choose, you can visit such favorites as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Tromphe and the Champs-Elysees. The tours are quite basic, explaining directions and the names of what you are seeing but giving no historical background. Travel guru Rick Steves adds humor and explanations to his free MP3 audio tours, which include a historic Paris walk and specific tours for the Louvre and Musee D’Orsay.
If you prefer being guided by a human being but don't have a lot of money, then free guided walking tours are for you. These trips are characterized by enthusiastic, native Parisian volunteers and very large crowds who come and go throughout the narration. One example is Discover Walks, whose walks take you to several Paris landmarks, specific areas such as the Latin Quarter or to specific sights like Notre Dame. Walks typically occur two or three times a day, rain or shine, and require no reservations. Simply show up at the appointed place and time, and look for the pink outfits. Being volunteers, the guides appreciate tips at the end of the walk, though they are not required.
Companies that run commercial walking tours may offer smaller groups, greater selection, gift certificates and souvenirs. Reservations may be required, though some also allow you to just show up. As an example, Classic Walks covers such broad topics as Classic Paris, the French Revolution and World War II, or more specific areas such as Montmartre. If you want the intimacy of a walking tour, with the speed of a vehicle, the company also offers tours on Segways and bicycles. These types of trip cover more ground and enable you to reach widely spaced sights in shorter times.
Private tours cost the most money but allow you to focus on only the topics that interest you. You can take pre-planned itineraries, but take detours and skip sights you find boring. Or you can have the guide plan an excursion for you from scratch. Advanced reservations are necessary. An example is Context Paris Tours, which is endorsed by such travel luminaries as Fodor's, Frommer's, National Geographic and Insight Guides. They call their guides docents because they have advanced degrees in such subjects as art history, cuisine or archaeology, and feature a large educational component in their tours. Their planned itineraries are divided into themes like architecture or gastronomy and offer unusual views such as the belly of Paris and Modernist buildings.
Taking the Metro or the Bateaubus in season are other great ways to take in the city.
What to See
You can spend weeks, months even years getting to know The City of Light, but if your time is limited, you can still get a great feeling for this very special place in a short period of time. Here is your highlight list. If you are a museum person, browse the list for the ones that best suit your taste, if your someone who prefers being outside and mingling with the locals, focus on the site list and the neighborhood list.
The Paris Opera (see if you can get a tour)!
Blois de Bologne
Arch de Triomphe
Champs de Elyesse
Jaques Marte Andres
Jeu De Palme
Musee du quai Branly
Porte de Vanves
Isle St Louis
Fouberg St. Honore
St. Germain des Pres
Where to Stay
Hotel Le Bristol
La Royal Morceau Raffles Hotel
Hotel du Louvre
Hotel Le Burgandy Paris
Hotel Fouquet’s Barriere
Won’t Break the Bank|
Hotel des Grandes Ecoles
Hotel Arvor Saint Georges
Hotel Saint Thomas D’Aquin
Rent or Stay in a Paris Apartment|
Good Morning Paris
Alcove & Agapes
When it comes to dining, the French know how to do it right.
Here is an eclectic list of places that will not disappoint.
Ralph at Polo Ralph Lauren
Neighborhood Bistro - Chaumette
Fun, Hip, Good Food - Ze Kitchen Gallerie
Can’t Go Wrong – Market
Very Special Ambiance - Les Ambassadeurs at Le Crillion
Pick Up and Eat in the Park|
Bon Marche Food Halls
The Terrace Restaurant at Printemps
Institute de Monde Arabe