Spring/Summer 2024

Travel and Tourism
Enduring Allure

As the world turns its gaze towards Paris for the 2024 Summer Olympics, the City of Light is poised to dazzle visitors with its timeless charm and luxurious offerings. Paris, the French capital, continues to allure travellers with its enduring elegance and sophistication. Renowned for its exquisite cuisine, iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum, and haute couture fashion houses, Paris effortlessly combines cultural richness with opulence, writes R Sushil Nair. 

Amidst the bustling cityscape, visitors can indulge in exclusive experiences, from private tours of prestigious art collections to bespoke shopping in the city’s most exclusive boutiques, and from world-famous museums to delectable degustation restaurants.

Arabian Knight had a unique opportunity to savour some of these exquisite Parisian offerings following the Rendez-vous en France workshop, organised by Atout France, and a visit made possible by Atout France Middle East and Turkey and the Paris Region Tourism Board.

“This year France will be the ultimate destination not only for sports enthusiasts but also art admirers and history and culture buffs. We have a robust eco-friendly tourism sector, good food as well as culture and heritage. Also, there is so much stuff for adrenaline junkies,” noted Christophe Decloux, the CEO of Paris Region Tourism Board Greater Paris Metropolitan Region.

The immersive exhibition for the 150 years of Impressionism is another big draw for the discerning tourist, he said. “French culture is also about its cuisine, and Paris is a true gastronomic paradise renowned for its Michelin-starred restaurants,” he added.

With the Games just weeks away, and the anticipated arrival of thousands of athletes and millions of fans from across the globe, the city’s boulevards are adorned with banners and flags representing nations far and wide, creating a symphony of joy and festivity. Against the backdrop of Parisian splendour, the city’s architectural marvels will serve as magnificent stages for the Olympic festivities.

No visit to Paris is complete without experiencing the grandeur of the Eiffel Tower. Beyond its architectural magnificence, the tower offers a bespoke experience at the Michelin-starred Le Jules Verne restaurant. Situated on the second level, this culinary haven presents an unparalleled dining experience with panoramic views of the city.

Home to thousands of artworks, including the enigmatic Mona Lisa, the Louvre Museum is a testament to Parisian grandeur. Visitors can enhance their experience with a private guided tour, bypassing the crowds and diving deep into the stories behind the masterpieces. These exclusive tours often include visits to lesser-known areas of the palace, providing a unique and intimate exploration of art and history.

As Parisians eagerly anticipate the reopening of Notre-Dame Cathedral, this architectural masterpiece stands as a symbol of resilience and renewal. Having undergone extensive restoration following the devastating fire in 2019, Notre-Dame is set to welcome visitors once again in December, showcasing its Gothic elegance and rich history.

The ornate details of the Palais Garnier, a historic opera house, transport visitors to a world where beauty and grandeur know no bounds.

Paris is renowned for its most opulent and historic landmark hotels that have played host to leaders from business, arts, and politics. Among these prestigious establishments are The Ritz Paris, Le Meurice, Hôtel de Crillon, The Peninsula Paris, Le Bristol Paris, and Hôtel du Collectionneur, a luxury haven in the heart of Paris that hosted us.

Strategically positioned near the Palais de l’Élysée, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, and the majestic Arc de Triomphe, the Hôtel du Collectionneur embodies the essence of Parisian elegance. Once a fire station, the property now exudes the grandeur of the Second Empire era, drawing inspiration from Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann’s iconic Hôtel du Collectionneur showcased at the 1925 Universal Exhibition. The hotel pays tribute to the splendour of Art Deco through its star attraction – The Appartement Eiffel on the seventh floor.

Pierre Lecomte, the Sales Manager, says the magnificent two-bedroom Appartement Eiffel, spanning 150 sq m with its master bedroom boasting a breathtaking view of the Eiffel Tower, has become “a sought-after haven for our high-net-worth guests.” He added, “We have had a lot of enquiries for this property from our luxury clientele, mainly families from the Arab world and European regions.”

Another historic gem, Hôtel de la Marine, offers a true ‘Versailles laboratory’ experience with 18th-century elegance stamped in all areas of decorative arts: from the study to the reception rooms, from the bathrooms to the bedroom – with many secrets underneath its belly.

For a shopping extravaganza, Avenue Montaigne is the epicentre of Parisian haute couture. Lined with flagship stores of luxury fashion houses like Chanel, Dior, and Louis Vuitton, it’s a paradise for fashion aficionados. Personal shoppers and private fittings are readily available for those seeking a tailored shopping experience. The avenue’s proximity to the Champs-Élysées also offers visitors a picturesque stroll along one of the world’s most famous boulevards.

During our visit, we had the opportunity to explore the House of Christian Dior, a legendary fashion designer synonymous with luxury, elegance, and innovation in the world of haute couture. Nestled in the heart of Paris, it is best described as a sanctuary of style, where the Dior legacy continues to inspire. From its opulent interiors to the meticulously curated collections, every detail whispers of luxury and sophistication, captivating visitors with its enchanting blend of tradition and modernity.

Culinary delights abound in Paris, and a dinner hosted on board Le Bus Toqué, a double-decker bus, offers guests a delightful way to discover the food and wine of the cultural capital. As you dine, you can gaze at the city’s most beautiful monuments gleaming in the night, making for an unforgettable experience.

According to French tourism experts, the luxury hospitality sector in the country is constantly evolving, with several premium properties adapting to changing consumer preferences. Experts believe that the top three trends shaping this industry ahead of the biggest sports extravaganza, the Paris Olympic Games 2024, are sustainability, personalised experiences, and holistic wellness.

“Post-Covid, the tourists were back in 2023 with a vengeance in France, and the saga continues as they make up for the lost time during the crisis. Our theme parks such as Parc Asterix (based on the famous Franco-Belgian comic book character) and Futuroscope (for multimedia, cinematographic, and 3D and 4D cinema buffs) are some of the top hotspots for visitors from the Gulf,” said Frédéric Gouguidis, International Sales Director of Compagnie des Alpes, a French company created in 1989 to operate many ski resorts in Europe.

“Also our wax museum Musee Grevin is a big hit among both the GCC and Indian population, thanks to the Bollywood celebrities who have their statues there,” he stated.

And before you say goodbye to Paris, be sure to experience the magic of the city from the waters of the Seine with a private yacht cruise. Various companies offer bespoke cruises that feature gourmet dining, champagne toasts, and unparalleled views of Paris’s illuminated landmarks. Whether it’s a romantic dinner for two or a sophisticated gathering with friends, cruising the Seine provides an exquisite way to see the city from a unique perspective.  

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