Port in focus: Paris

It is impossible to resist the seductive spell that Paris casts so beguilingly over visitors. This is a city that stands apart in fulsome Gallic style, confident of its reputation as one of the world’s most romantic and beautiful metropolises – and it does not disappoint.

Oscar Wilde's grand grave, surrounded by glass barriers, at Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris

Oscar Wilde’s resting place – Pere Lachaise

For travellers taking river cruises along the River Seine, an overnight stay in the so-called City of Light before or after the voyage is an undoubted highlight, especially if the riverboat is moored in the city centre, close to the Eiffel Tower.

For first-timers, legendary landmarks like this will always top their must-see list along with the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame and The Louvre, but there is more to Paris than this.

The city is remarkably compact and the Seine carves an easy path for walkers to get their bearings, from the trendy Left Bank and its collection of galleries and countless bookstalls, to the Right Bank and sophisticated draw of the Champs Elysees, Place de la Concorde and bohemian Montmartre area overlooked by the distinctive domes of the Sacre-Coeur Basilica.

Whether walking through the atmospheric streets or jumping aboard the efficient Metro subway trains, it is obvious that Paris hasn’t only been blessed with scenic beauty, but like the French themselves, a certain je ne sais quoi that gives it a unique ambience.

Nothing can beat sipping a café au lait at one of the many atmospheric street-side cafes and watching stylish Parisians go about their business, or admiring street performers in the Latin Quarter and bartering with hawkers trying to sell their wares.

An ornate bridge, illuminated by lanterns, reaching over the Seine River at night

At night, Paris draws up her skirts and entertains the masses – whether it’s the famous can-can shows at the Moulin Rouge or the world-renowned Bluebell Girls, who put on a cabaret claimed to be the biggest spectacle this side of Las Vegas.

For a more evocative alternative, there are countless atmospheric bars, stylish jazz cafes and hip dance clubs that help to give this city its undisputed flair.

Top tip

Give this novel attraction grave consideration: the park-like Père Lachaise cemetery where a diverse collection of famous names are buried, from Oscar Wilde and Frederic Chopin to Jim Morrison and Edith Piaf.

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Sara Macefield

About Sara Macefield

Sara Macefield is an award-winning travel journalist of more than 20 years standing, and has spent the last decade writing about the cruise industry – exploring the world's oceans and rivers on ships of all sizes. Having notched up more than 100 cruises, her most memorable trips have been to Alaska with its superb wildlife, and sailing along Burma’s remote Chindwin River to villages far off the tourist track. She writes regularly for The Times and Daily Telegraph and has written for the Daily Mail, The Guardian, Daily Express and Woman & Home Magazine.

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