With the region’s only daily direct flight to Paris departing from CVG (average cost: $1,500), Cincinnatians have little excuse not to hop the pond. Herewith, an insider’s guide to the City of Light from one Cincinnatian who calls it home.
Parisian hotels are notoriously formal (i.e., stuffy). The Hoxton, a boutique hotel in Paris’s coveted second arrondissement, eschews that tendency. Looking for the reservation desk? It’s tucked behind a sunny cafe, past a French-style brasserie, and through one of two courtyards. A former hôtel particulier, an ornate mansion built in the 18th century for a member of King Louis XV’s royal court, the building boasts original spiral staircases and marble floors. For even more French flair, head to nearby Rue Montorgueil and peruse its lively market street.
Clown Bar has been a local institution since 1917, when it served as a watering hole for acrobats, magicians, and—you guessed it—clowns, after they performed next door at the famed (and still operational) Cirque d’Hiver. Today, the jovial restaurant dishes out some of the best contemporary French cooking in the city in a setting unchanged since les années folles. Don’t miss the duck and foie gras pie for a traditional dish you’ll dream about long after vacation ends. Hungry for more? Les Arlots serves up stellar French comfort food in a relaxed setting, and Breizh is the place to go for galettes (a savory crepe) and cider.
You can’t come to Paris without a culture fix. What are you into? Art? Le Louvre is a must-visit for the palace alone, but the Musée de l’Orangerie is a better (and far less crowded) option if you fancy 19th century art. Its collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings features works by such masters as Monet, Picasso, Renoir, and Matisse. Architecture? The flying buttresses of Cathédrale Notre-Dame are surely worth a gander, but be sure to climb up to Montmartre’s La Basilique du Sacré Cœur for its travertine stone facade and unparalleled view of the city. Theater? Catch a show at Palais Garnier, the stunning opera house that inspired The Phantom of the Opera. Anglophones, fear not: Subtitles are in English. History? Les Invalides is widely known as the final resting place of Napoleon Bonaparte, but it also contains France’s national military museum and artifacts dating back to the Middle Ages.
Musée de l’Orangerie, $11, musee-orangerie.fr; La Basilique du Sacré Cœur, free to visit, sacre-coeur-montmartre.com; Palais Garnier, ticket prices vary, operadeparis.fr/en; Les Invalides, $15, musee-armee.fr/en