Paris Magnifique

Separated by the meandering Seine River, Paris is divided into two parts, the Rive Droite (Right Bank) on the North side and Rive Gauche (Left Bank) on the South side. Spiraling out from the center of the city, Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements, or administrative quarters, with most of the major tourist sites located in the lower numbers. Wherever you find yourself in Paris, you can be sure that you will be surrounded by culture, art, fashion, history, wine, and many more luxurious pleasures that only the French can offer.

No matter what time of year you visit Paris, you’ll never run out of places to see or things to do. Here are my top five:


Begin your Parisian tour with a visit to its most unmistakable symbol of the city: the Eiffel Tower. You can get a spectacular view of the city from the third level during the day, and in the evening marvel at the Eiffel Tower decorated with over 10,000 lights as a testament that Paris is, indeed, the “City of Lights.”


North of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe stands guard over the ChampsÉlysées. The top of the Arch has a viewing platform that lets you look out toward The Basilique du Sacré Coeur, La Défense, and the Louvre Museum, but there is no elevator, so be prepared to climb the 234 steps to reach it.


The most famous avenue in the world is probably the Champs-Élysées, where Parisians gather for all of their major celebrations. Champs-Élysées (or Elysian Fields in English) is derived from Greek mythology where “Elusia” was a place where heroes would go to relax. Take a relaxing stroll down this “grand avenue” and visit cinemas, theatres, cafes and luxury shops.


No visit to Paris would be complete without a visit to the world-famous Louvre Museum. Visitors will be mesmerized by the glass pyramid at the main entrance and awed inside by its many priceless collections, including da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Egyptian artifacts brought to France after Napoleon’s campaigns.


Notre-Dame Cathedral, with its gargoyles, grotesques, rose windows, and statues, became the prototype for all of France’s cathedrals. Located in the religious center of the city, Notre Dame’s monumental size and Gothic architecture was the backdrop for many revolutions and Victor Hugo novels. Climb to the top of the Cathedral’s towers and join the gargoyles while they gaze down on the city.

So grab your beret, pack your bags and visit magnificent, magical Paris to experience your own joie de vivre.

“He who contemplates the depths of Paris is seized with vertigo. Nothing is more fantastic.Nothing is more tragic. Nothing is more sublime.”

Victor Hugo


Mandarin Oriental
Located within walking distance of the Louvre and all of the major boutiques on rue Saint-Honoré, the Mandarin Oriental Paris has boycotted the usual palatial pomp for art deco glamor. The spa is one of the largest in the city, with seven suites offering treatments inspired by the Far East and all beginning with the Tian Quan Therapy, a Chinese bathing ritual. Jump in the 15m indoor pool afterwards or hit the 24-hour fitness center, small but well-equipped with Techno-gym equipment. For better and worse, it is a far shout from the grand palace hotels but come here if you are looking for cool, understated luxury in the heart of Paris.

W Paris Opera
Keeping to the trusted W formula, brand loyalists will feel right at home at the chain’s first hotel in the French capital. Set in a beautiful 1870s Haussmann building overlooking the Opéra, the familiar W vibe kicks in the moment you step into the LEDlit lobby with its model goodlooking staff and the tromp of beat background music.

Hotel Sezz
The Sezz Hotel practically sizzles with raw, masculine sex appeal. Strong red and black interiors, exposed grey stone walls and ultra-modern furniture and lighting seem all the more surprising in the upscale surroundings of the 16th Arrondissement. Not that you would know it from its classical façade, hidden down a quiet residential street which quickly fills up come nightfall when the fashionable flock to the in-house Veuve Clicquot champagne bar with its intimate rose petal shaped alcoves, the first of its kind in Paris. Aside from the intensely personal service (lack of reception means every guest is met by a personal concierge on arrival), the major draw is the basement decked out with a jacuzzi, hammam (steam room), and massage room.

Bars & Clubs

In Paris, there is fun to be had ANY night of the week! Paris is a European capital for all things gay and fabulous. The Marais, centrally located in Paris’ 4th Arrondissement just north of the Hotel de Ville and south of the Place de la République, is the epicenter for nightlife catering to boys and girls. With most gay bars closing around 2 AM, there are late night options from the Bastille to the Champs-Élysées. Prepare to line up and pay a cover charge (from 10 to 20 Euros) for the larger dance clubs.

Raidd Bar
Raidd Bar is the biggest and busiest gay bar in the Marais! Upstairs, live DJs and dance music are the order of the day and after 11 PM, the rather impressive-looking barmen take it in turns to slip into a glass-fronted cabin for a “shower show” that is always worth a look. Downstairs is quieter, with more of a lounge atmosphere. Be prepared for some surprise camera tricks in the bathrooms.

Spyce Bar
Located on the main block in the centre of the Marais, the intimate space has been carved out with some serious club style décor including a dramatic plasma screen that runs the length of the back wall behind the bar. The boss is constantly on the lookout for entertainers for podium action as the DJ cranks up the music from Happy Hour level to clubby as the night moves on. Come to this little bar disco to meet some “Spyce-y boys” with attitude.

Café Cox
One of the most popular – and longest – happy hour times in the Marais, running from 6-9 PM, means the crowd always spills out onto the sidewalk. It is the area’s closest thing to a clone bar, and you will see a lot of shaved heads and more military and leather gear than at the Open Café just a couple of doors away. The drink of choice is definitely beer.

Club 18
One of the oldest clubs in Paris, Club 18 is a small club located behind the gardens of the Palais Royal and is a weekend hotstop. The mostly young men there love pop songs or dance music.

This venue is open every Saturday night starting at midnight. There are two dance floors underground along with a huge covered terrace. Located right by Place de la République between the Marais and the Canal-St-Martin neighborhoods, this is definitely the place to be on Saturday night in Paris for real gay clubbing.

For travel recommendations, please contact me at RSicilio@TRIPSandCRUISES.com
www.TRIPSandCRUISES.com or 800-411-8747.

Rick Sicilio is the owner of Travel and Tours in Pittsburgh. He is an avid, worldwide traveler and has visited 68 countries to date. For over 21 years, Rick and his staff have been assisting clients to embrace their wanderlust and travel the world.