Shiels’ Picks: Paris

The Paris street scene is timeless and stylish.

The Paris street scene is timeless and stylish.

As a travel writer, the destination I am most asked about is Paris. France’s “City of Light” captures the romantic, culinary, and historical dreams of travelers, and with good reason, mon ami. Delta offers non-stop, overnight flights from Michigan into Charles de Gaulle Airport so you can be on the Eiffel Tower by noon.

The Four Seasons George V is one of the finest hotels in the world and features Le Cinq, an exquisite Parisian culinary experience. You’d be wise to comply with the pre-fix chef’s tasting menu and the wines which accompany all eight gourmet courses.

The hotel’s quiet location on Avenue George V, two blocks off the famed Champs Elysees near the Arc de Triumph, is perfect. The corner of George V and Champs Elysees has a convenient Metro Station if you plan to use Paris’ historic, user-friendly, and efficient underground subway, which I recommend you do, if only because your ride is sometimes scored with gentle French melodies performed by wandering accordion players.

Lunching or dining at the colorful Fouquet’s, on that same corner, puts you in the company of decades of celebrities and glitterati who enjoy the limelight the classic, prominent location brings. From there you can see, and walk, and shop all the way down the Champs Elysees to the Louvre, past the obelisk at Place de la Concorde, which was the site of beheadings, and through the Tuileries gardens. Due to the architecture and the up-lighting, the entire city is a museum, but pick a bridge and walk across the River Seine to the Left Bank and enjoy Musee d’Orsay, which features the greatest French art in a sprawling former train station. (I personally preferred it to the Louvre much in the way I feel Notre Dame Cathedral takes a backseat to the dramatic basilica of Sacre Coeur. Its’ striking, white Byzantine domes loom over the city from the charming artist colony at Montmartre, which feels and looks like old world Paris because it is. For a completely authentic, time-honored, tiny cabaret experience at Montmartre, reserve a seat at Lapin Agile, which presents shows on Friday and Saturday nights. Picasso and Einstein are said to have huddled together here. One glass of sherry is included with entry – no food is served. On a larger scale, in the sex-tinged, red light Pigalle area nearby, see the iconic Can Can Dancers at Moulin Rouge bang out rousing, twice-nightly shows.

To avoid long lines at attractions, avoid holidays. I’d recommend September, October, May and, of course, “April in Paris,” as the best months to visit. For added fun, and a better response from the locals for being polite, learn just a little French from or a “Learn French” app. Bon voyage!

Michigan-based travel writer Michael Patrick Shiels may be contacted at

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