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Why to Consider Booking Your Trip Now
Whether you're a first-time or repeat visitor, it's perhaps never been a better time to book a trip to Paris. And that's not PR talk: I've got good reasons to claim it.
2016 is shaping up to be an exciting year in the "city of light", with several events and exhibitions on the horizon that are worth being in town to experience-- click through to see highlights.
What's more, the city, known best for its steadfast traditions and historical charm, is more dynamic than ever, growing and changing with the times to evolve into a global metropolis of the 21st century. It's greener, more diverse, more technologically savvy, and more innovative these days. In other words, it's a city that offers you the best of both worlds: old-world appeal and the forward-thinking, bold vision that 21st-century travel demands.
In short: If you're thinking about booking a trip to the French capital in 2016, read on to find out why it's unlikely you'll regret it.
SEE REASON #1: Some amazing deals on travel packages can be found right nowContinue to 2 of 11 below.
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Reason to Go #1: Amazing Deals on Travel Packages in 2016
Let's face it: everyone loves a good deal on a travel package, and especially if you're flying from overseas, Paris can be a very expensive destination. Why to visit in 2016?
Partially in response to lower visitor numbers after the tragic attacks of November in Paris, there are currently many great deals out there for travelers willing to book now. These are only a few among them:
- Accor Hotels is offering 40% off stays in France at more than 1,200 hotels across the country, including in Paris. See this page to book direct (in French only, unfortunately), or visit this page in English to find a Paris hotel stay or travel package and browse available deals. Partner hotels include Sofitel, Mercure, Ibis and Pullmann. The offer is good for bookings through mid-March 2016.
- Intercontinental Hotels has a current deal for winter breaks in Paris and other European cities at 30% off normal rates. You have to sign up as a member to benefit, but it's free.
- Airlines including Air France are running good deals on flights to Paris at the moment. See this page for example fares from NYC to Paris.
- For Eurostar + hotel package deals, Shortbreaks.com has many current offers worth browsing, including deals for Disneyland Paris.
By the way, if you're worried about travelling to Paris because of November's attacks, see my full article on why it's important to put your fears in perspective-- and why Paris needs your support now to thrive in 2016 and beyond.
READ REASON TO GO #2: Enjoy these fantastic exhibits and events in 2016Continue to 3 of 11 below.
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Reason to Go #2: Enjoy Fantastic Exhibits and Events in 2016
Another reason to visit the city of light in 2016? There are some fantastic exhibits and events that await those with a passion for the arts and culture. Here are just a few:
Art and Childhood (Paintings from Cézanne, Corot, Manet, Matisse...)
From March 10th through July 3rd, 2016, the Musee Marmottan-Monet is offering a close look at how major impressionist, expressionist and modern artists render childhood, with major works from Monet, Manet, Cezanne, and many others.
Karl Lagerfeld: A Visual Journey (Photographs)
Known as one of fashion's great masters and divas, German designer Karl Lagerfeld is also a talented photographer. The Pinacotheque de Paris near Place de la Madeleine is showing his fascinating work through March 20th 2016.
All About Dinosaurs: From the Jurassic to the Cretaceous
This one's for the whole family: a monumental look (literally and figuratively!) at our wondrous prehistoric predecessors. Animatronics and special effects bring you back to two periods in prehistory when the giant lizards roamed the earth, for a chilling and fascinating experience both you and the kids will love (Read Related: 15 Great Things to Do With Kids in Paris)
- Dates: Through August 16th, 2016
- Location: Palais de la Decouverte
Rene Magritte at the Centre Pompidou
Fan of surrealism? The Belgian master Rene Magritte, known for his dreamlike paintings of eyeballs mirroring clouds and pipes-that-aren't-pipes is the subject of a major retrospective at the Centre Georges Pompidou from September. Book tickets early to avoid disappointment!
- Dates: From September 21st, 2016 through January 23rd, 2017
- Also at the Centre Pompidou in 2016: Paul Klee (April 6th-August 1st, 2016)
After the Shoah: Refugees and Survivors: 1944-1947
The Shoah/Deportation Memorial in Paris is hosting an important historical exhibit in 2016 dedicated to the individual stories of people who survived Nazi barbarism during World War II and the horrors of concentration and death camps. Focusing on the particular cases of Poland, Germany, and France, An essential exhibit that reminds us to never forget.
- Dates: January 27th, 2016 through October 30th, 2016
- Location: Memorial de la Shoah
More: Free Annual Events and Summer Festivals
Paris hosts tons of fantastic, and entirely free, events each year, and 2016 is no exception. Many of these fall in the summer, when festivals take over the city (some free of charge, some accessible for a reasonable cover charge).
SEE REASON TO GO #3: Paris is becoming greener and more pedestrian-friendlyContinue to 4 of 11 below.
04 of 11
Reason to Go #3: Paris is Becoming Greener and More Pedestrian-Friendly
Good news for pedestrians and ecologically conscious travelers: Paris, a city long bemoaned as a polluted and noisy place where cars dominate and drivers behave aggressively toward vulnerable pedestrians, is becoming greener and more pedestrian-friendly in 2016.
Read related: Why to think twice before renting a car in Paris
It's perhaps fitting that Paris was the site of the COP21 International Conference on Climate Change in December 2015-- and that French politicians there helped to broker a historic deal to help the world move toward cleaner and more sustainable energy sources.
In late August/early September a new area along the Seine river on the city's right bank (rive droite) will become entirely car-free and pedestrian-only. Stretching 3.3 km from the tunnel near the Tuileries Gardens to the port de l'Arsenal near Bastille, the area has been designed with sustainable principles in mind.
This follows an earlier, and wildly successful, conversion of a stretch along the left bank of the Seine a couple of years earlier.
Planted with numerous trees and flowers, the new pedestrian promenade is slated to include a riverside farmer's market selling organic regional produce and traditional boat-cafes (guinguettes).
Read related: Best Traditional Food Markets in Paris
Place de l'Opera: Also Pedestrian-Only in the Future?
There's also a project in the works to potentially transform the noisy Place de l'Opera near the old department-stores district into a pedestrian-only zone. The project hasn't been approved yet, but it would likely be welcomed by tourists who enjoy the area's rich shopping possibilities, yet dislike the pollution and noise from heavy traffic in the area.
Read Related: All About Autolib', Paris' Electric Car Scheme
The bottom line? The air will probably be a bit more breathable in the French capital in the coming year, and the city's commitment to ushering in a new era of sustainability looks like more than just pretty words.
SEE REASON TO GO #4: Sublime new spaces to enjoy architecture and cultureContinue to 5 of 11 below.
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Reason to Go #4: Sublime new spaces to enjoy architecture and culture
Paris doesn't generally have a reputation for ushering in the new-- at least not without local pushback. Early 20th-century surrealist and avant-garde art movements aside, the French capital tends to be seen as a city that upholds tradition, and even rests on its laurels.
One local regulation makes it impossible, for example, to erect buildings above a certain height; and if Paris seems awfully grey, it's for a reason: French heritage laws protect the existing architectural "integrity" of Paris in many popular areas, which means that it can be tough to introduce anything that doesn't look like an eighteenth-century Haussmannian building into the landscape.
But change is in the air as the city attempts to move more firmly into the 21st century.
In 2015, the Philharmonie de Paris (pictured above), with dramatic modern architecture from French star Jean Nouvel and Christian Portzamparc, opened with much fanfare. Nestled in a little-trodden area of northeast Paris that's the site of a real renaissance in urban design and culture, it's a fantastic place to spend an afternoon, whether or not you're a music lover.
Meanwhile, nestled in the city's west within the lushly verdant Bois de Boulogne, the newly inaugurated Fondation Louis Vuitton is a utopian dream for art lovers. With architecture from Frank Gehry that resembles a cross between a crustacean and a spaceship, the Fondation will continue to unveil new pieces from its formidable modern art collection in exhibits this year. What's more, imposing views over Paris, from the Eiffel Tower to the greenery of the Bois de Boulogne, are visible from the many decks and viewing platforms at the Vuitton. A must-see for architecture and art aficionados.
See Reason to Go #5: To support Paris, and prove that life must go on...Continue to 6 of 11 below.
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Reason to Go #5: To support Paris, and prove that life must go on...
I'll admit that reason #5 comes from a place of emotion and yes, passion. Go to Paris in 2016 because doing so will help ensure the city keeps its timeless spirit alive in the face of senseless violence.
Much like those who've launched the hashtag #ParisWeLoveYou on Twitter, Instagram and other social media forums, it's my strong belief that Paris needs extra support from visitors following the tragic terrorist attacks of November 13th, 2015.
One of the main objectives of the attacks was to hurt the very soul of the city by spreading a sense of fear and impacting tourism: an industry that accounts for thousands of jobs. Sadly, that goal partially succeeded: since the attacks many visitors cancelled or refrained to book trips. Many locals are hurting in the long-term as a result.
Yet the city has probably never been safer-- and it's important to put fears of terrorism into rational perspective, especially relative to other common and everyday risks we all take.
Read my piece on whether it's safe for tourists to visit Paris after the attacks for more information that should soothe your mind, and for top reasons why you should think twice before cancelling your trip.
Let's overcome fear and prove that in Paris, life has moved on. Let's keep those cafe terraces and magnificent boulevards, Seine-side promenades, bookshops and restaurants brimming with life, passion, conversation and joy: everything that the city embodies.Continue to 7 of 11 below.
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Reason to Go #6: You'll Probably Enjoy Fewer Crowds in 2016
Remember what I said in Reason #5 about fewer tourists booking trips to Paris out of largely overblown fear? Well, for those of you who decide to support the city in 2016, there's one positive aspect to the situation: you'll likely have more of the city to yourself.
Whether you wish to spend your time taking in breathtaking pastel originals from Edgar Degas at the Musee d'Orsay, strolling aimlessly around gorgeous neighborhoods like the Marais (pictured above), or enjoying a languid boat tour of the Seine river, you may well have more space to breathe this year.
See Reason to Go #7: Paris' Beautiful (and Strange) HistoryContinue to 8 of 11 below.
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Reason to Go #7: Encounter Paris' Beautiful (and Strange) History
Like any major metropolis, Paris is a city with layers of history too rich and complex to discern on a short trip. It takes some deep listening and observing to see the city's more-than-superficial layers emerge from behind the glistening postcard surface, but doing so yields unforgettable experiences.
For example: you may be walking down what looks like a "banal" street in Paris (not many exist, truth be told!) when you spot a marvelous grotesque or gargoyle peering down at you. Or, as is the case in the historic Marais district, a plain stone wall behind a school basketball court suddenly becomes magnificent when you learn it's part of the medieval fortress that once snaked around old Paris and through the Louvre.
Another example: walking around the massive central Parisian shopping district known as "Les Halles", you probably don't realize that a boisterous, crowded, smelly food market once stood here for several centuries, complete with cattle and market vendors crying out their wares.
Nor do you immediately realize that a nearby church graveyard known as "Les Innocents" was so overcrowded and deteriorating that it had to be dug up, its millions of bodies exhumed and transferred to the Paris catacombs. That's the sort of strange, fascinating history lurking in every corner and right under your feet!
Ways to explore behind the veil and get more out of your trip:
- 15 Most Fascinating Monuments and Historic Attractions in Paris
- 10 Strange and Disturbing Facts About Paris: Beyond the Touristy Sheen
- 6 Fantastic Places to Encounter Medieval History in Paris
See Reason to Go #8: The conservative food culture is getting a needed shakeupContinue to 9 of 11 below.
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Reason to Go #8: Paris' conservative food culture is getting a needed shakeup
It's a truism that Paris is one of the globe's great gourmet capitals. With local star chefs such as Pierre Gagnaire and Alain Ducasse reigning over the world of Michelin-starred haute cuisine, it doesn't necessarily feel unwarranted. However, as with its conservatism in architecture, the food culture here has a reputation for being risk-averse, especially compared to counterparts in London, Tokyo or Barcelona.
Moreover, for most people who can't afford a meal at one of the Michelin heavyweights, finding good restaurants in the budget to mid-range can be quite challenging. Not least because in Paris, many eateries rest on laurels with the knowledge that patrons will always keep coming, especially in areas with high tourist traffic.
Yet a younger generation of restaurateurs and foodies is shaking things up. From a new Italian bistrot scene imported by a recent influx of native Italians in the city to the growing popularity of food-and- wine bars and pop-up restaurant concepts, it's rarely been a better time to stumble on new places to eat and enjoy gourmet experiences in Paris. Even if you're a vegetarian, you'll be able to find something interesting and delicious to eat-- something that was hardly true five or 10 years ago!
I especially recommend exploring the Paris by Mouth site for ideas, and credible reviews of new addresses.
See Reason to Go #9: To explore quiet, magical places you've probably never heard of...Continue to 10 of 11 below.
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Reason to Go #9: Quiet, magical places you've probably never heard of...
Yet another reason to visit Paris in the coming year? To explore quiet, unassuming, beautiful places far off the tourist track that you've likely never heard of unless you're already a seasoned visitor to the city. From green promenades above ground on a defunct train line, to quiet little villages that once lay outside the boundaries of old Paris, to street art that'll surprise you for its intricacy, there's so much to explore.
See Reason to Go #10: For lifelong memories and experiences that are slow to fadeContinue to 11 of 11 below.
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Reason to Go #10: For lifelong memories and experiences that are slow to fade
The final reason to visit this magnificent and timeless city? It's simple, really: for the way it imprints itself on your mind and refuses to leave. American writer Ernest Hemingway called Paris "A Moveable Feast" in his eponymous memoir, describing how the years he spent in Paris as a young man haunted him well into old age.
It's time to go make your own memories-- hopefully this year!