Paris on Your Radar: Visit the City of Lights

The culinary scene is expanding in unique ways. Food trucks owned by top chefs are a new phenomenon. Also, chefs at fine restaurants are preparing light dishes with local organic products
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As Rick famously told Lisa in the classic 1939 film Casablanca, "We'll always have Paris." And what better way to demonstrate solidarity than a visit to the City of Lights.

Of course there are the places we love: the Louvre, Musee d'Orsay and Notre Dame. But Paris is also bursting with unexplored gems that have yet to be discovered. There's the recently inaugurated Philharmonie de Paris in the Parc de la Villette, a jewel at the northeastern edge of Paris. The Jean Nouvel-designed concert hall contains state-of-the-art seating that creates a unique intimacy with the performers and the audience. New museums like the Foundation Louis Vuitton, set in the Bois de Boulogne, is said to rival the Pompidou Center in contemporary art.

And the culinary scene is expanding in unique ways. Food trucks owned by top chefs are a new phenomenon. Also, chefs at fine restaurants are preparing light dishes with local organic products. "If you haven't been in Paris for a year or two, there are a lot of new things to see, do and experience. And of course, the exchange rate, which is at par, makes it so much more affordable for Americans," explains Marion Fourestier of ATOUT FRANCE-France Tourism Development Agency. They offer a plethora of ideas here.

And when it comes to timing, sometimes it's good to think outside the box. According to, January and February are typically slower times of the year. So loads of fantastic deals can be found during those months. They also offer a great selection of of places to stay.

If that's not enough convincing, just look at what these great minds had to say about the City of Lights:

"A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life." -Thomas Jefferson

"But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there, not even poverty, nor sudden money, nor the moonlight, nor right and wrong nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight." -Ernest Hemingway

"The whole of Paris is a vast university of art, literature and music... it is worth anyone's while to dally here for years. Paris is a seminar, a post-graduate course in everything." -James Thurber

"The last time I saw Paris, her heart was warm and gay. I heard the laughter of her heart in every street café." -Oscar Hammerstein II

"People wonder why so many writers come to live in Paris. I've been living ten years in Paris and the answer seems simple to me: because it's the best place to pick ideas. Just like Italy, Spain... or Iran are the best places to pick saffron. If you want to pick opium poppies you go to Burma or South-East Asia. And if you want to pick novel ideas, you go to Paris." -Roman Payne

"To know Paris is to know a great deal." -Henry Miller

"The best of America drifts to Paris. The American in Paris is the best American. It is more fun for an intelligent person to live in an intelligent country. France has the only two things toward which we drift as we grow older - intelligence and good manners." -F. Scott Fitzgerald

"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." -Ernest Hemingway

For more Paris ideas, Rick Steves offers a variety of itineraries and also has a diverse selection of podcasts devoted the city. Find them here.