One of the first things you notice about Paris is its astounding architecture. The second thing you notice is fashion: Almost everyone, especially women, is stylish in the real sense. It makes me wonder if the French exported their obesity to the USA.
Whenever I visit Paris, I choose a different hotel to stay in. But I stay close to the Academie’ de Musique in the heart of the city as this is where the action is and it is within walking distance from most of the places you must visit.
I would recommend the New Hotel Roblin Paris, a small boutique hotel. It was originally a 248-year-old house, next to the Place Madeleine. The Hilton Suffren, next to Le Tour Eiffel is, on the other hand, a typical business hotel, devoid of any vintage Parisian flavour.
Getting around Paris is like in any other big city: Travelling by car can be painful, taxis are expensive and a chauffer-driven car can pick a hole in your bank locker. The Metro costs €1.60 from anywhere to anywhere. A combination of the Metro and the over ground trains can get you across the city and outside it, for instance to Versailles, affordably and comfortably.
My favourite place for a business meeting is the L’Atelier Renault. It is a Renault showroom that is more than 100 years old in the Champs Elysee and has a restaurant that literally hangs over the display of cars.
Paris is about fashion, art, history, music, food and endless shots of Espresso.
Spend time at any of the fantastic museums — many are open till 9 p.m. — or walk up the hill to the quaint lanes of Montmartre and pick up bric-a-brac from the old shops of Les Halles.
If you are one for bohemian culture, the Latin Quarter on the Left Bank is for you. You’ll find street artists, musicians, great food and a 100-year-old bookstore that might surprise you with a signed copy of a Dumas classic.
The city also offers a great nightlife and you could hit the cabaret scene (Moulin Rouge, Lido, Crazy Horse) or nightclubs such as Buddha Bar (my favourite), Barrio Latino (great Salsa music) and Showcase. But all this comes with a heavy price tag: €20 or more.
Avoid Indian food and fast foods like MacDonald’s. Why even think of eating that when you have some of the best food on earth around you? Also avoid our typical Indian rudeness: Don’t push past someone on the street.
Never eat at the hotel where you stay. They are expensive and serve unimaginative food. Try any of the hundreds of cafés that line the streets.
Paris is about walking. So pack in a good pair of walking shoes. The city is laid out in a circular fashion and it is difficult to get lost.
Ashish Sinharoy is vice president, Communications and Corporate Affairs, Renault India
(Co-ordinated by Ashish K. Mishra)
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(This story appears in the 14 January, 2011 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)