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Armchair Travel! Paris for Lovers

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An affair to remember

THE FRENCH CAPITAL IS BUILT ALONG A BEND in the River Seine and it has two islands at its heart. Ile de la Cité is the place to start your tour since it homes many of the city’s best-loved landmarks including the glorious French Gothic Cathédrale Notre Dame.

MUSEÉE DU LOUVRE, WITH ITS GLASS PYRAMID, vast courtyard and ornate façade, is one of the world’s most visited museums. Its raison d’être is to present Western art (primarily French and Italian, but also Dutch and Spanish) from the Middle Ages to about 1848.

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JARDIN DU LUXEMBOURG IS AN INNER-CITY OASIS of formal terraces, orchards and lawns. Parisians gather there to sail boats on Grand Bassin pond, watch puppet shows and ride the carrousel. Since 1958 the Palais du Luxembourg has housed the Sénat, the Upper House of the French Parliament.

THE INTRICATELY SCULPTED ARC DE TRIOMPHE has stood guard over Paris since 1836, and it was built to commemorate one of Napoléon’s many victories (at Austerlitz, 1805). From the viewing platform – 50 metres up via 284 steps – you can look down on some of Paris’ most glamorous avenues, including the Champs-Élysées.

NAMED AFTER ITS DESIGNER, GUSTAVE EIFFEL, the Tour Eiffel was built for the 1889 World’s Fair. Painted six different colours in its lifetime, work is underway to strip the previous 19 coats and apply the original yellow-brown shade, giving it a new golden hue in time for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

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SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY HAS TO BE THE MOST ROMANTIC bookshop in the world. Specialising in new and second-hand Englishlanguage books, it doubles as the Tumbleweed Hotel, somewhere down-on-their-luck young writers can stay for a few nights – following in the footsteps of Lawrence Durrell, Allen Ginsberg and Henry Miller.

MOULIN ROUGE, PARIS’ LEGENDARY CABARET, gleams beneath a neon-lit replica of its original red windmill. Performances are divided into a series of disconnected, dream-like sequences – a whirl of fantastical costumes, sets and choreography. Late night shows close with the world-famous, high-kicking cancan.

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