Oh, Paris! The city of lights, love, romance, passion, amour… one can go on. The French capital has long been on the list of lovers around the world and one of the first European destinations that comes to mind when planning a trip. Thanks to its reputation and films like Sabrina, it’s also been a city to find your objet de passion, and yourself. After all, the whimsically classic Audrey Hepburn did say in the film, “Paris is always a good idea”.
Now, with actors Ranveer Singh and Vaani Kapoor painting the city red in Befikre, we decided to take inspiration from our own Bollywood celebs to check out the Parisian hot spots. We spoke to a couple of hard-core travellers, experts such as Skyscanner, checked out where the film was shot, thanks to Atout France India, and took some pages out of our own travel journals and picked out these seven locales across Paris’ arrondissements where you should definitely let your hair down and have some fun.
Not a usual tourist destination, the interlocking tunnels under Paris make for a fascinating visit, especially if you have a taste for the eerie. Originally limestone quarries, the network tunnels were built to aid contruction of Paris’ more landmark buildings. It later turned into a mass tomb, with bones of exumed bodies neatly stacked atop and beside each other. An ‘official’ tour would take around 2 hours to complete, and usually start next to Denfert-Rochereau Metro (lines 4 and 6) and RER (Line B) train station. Over the years, the catacombs have also turned into a subterranean art-ghetto place for many of the youngsters to go and practice their graffiti, hold secret parties and who knows, you may still find members of the Illuminati!?
This is not the upscale part of Paris one is usually shown in movies, but thanks to an array of budding artists and poets, this is an upcoming yuppy place for sure. Where the beer and wine flow, the graffiti is some of the best in the city and ever changing, and where you’ll find the next big name of the global art world smoking a cigar on the many terraces. Belleville, Ménilmontant and the Père-Lachaise cemetery are touristy places to visit, but mostly, come here for the edgy vibe.
Alternatively, if you want an upscale counterpart of all this, may we suggest Saint Germain – not only is it close to almost every Parisian landmark, but it’s a great hangout for bohemians and intellectuals. The weekend flea market is an interesting draw too.
Bibliothèque historique de la ville de Paris
Now the library is meant for quiet reading, especially if you are at the Bibliothèque historique de la ville de Paris, but Befikre suggests we enjoy the grand space with some dancing on the tables just as Vaani Kapoor indulged in, in the song ‘Ude Dil Befikre’. Alternatively, one can take a break from sightseeing and enjoy the many books at this public library, specialising in the history of the city of Paris. If you’re a bibliophile, then you may also want to visit the Shakespeare and Company on Paris’s Left Bank, but mind you, there will be quite a crowd on most days.
Sacré Cœur, or Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, and Montmartre
One of the iconic places to visit in Paris, this is the nouveau art district in a way as well. While the ‘Khule Dulke’ song in the movie converts this portico into a wedding backdrop (and when you visit, you’ll realise you’re surrounded by couples taking every wedding portfolio shot possible at the basilica), this this architectural wonder in reality is a church! A representation of the Roman-Byzantine style, the Basilica allows tourists a magnificent view of Paris. Take a twirl around the many lanes of Montmartre around, step into interesting cafés (including one that serves wine in milk bottles, complete with a nozzle) and street artistes. The famous Moulin Rouge is here too (but you can give that a skip, if you’re on a budget. Also, if you’re following the Befikre movie pattern, then Lido Cabaret on the Champs-Élysées is where you’d rather be).
Sit by the Seine
How can you not sit by the Seine on free-spirited trip to Paris, a bottle of wine/champagne in hand, and your choice of finger foods. You’ll find that you’re not quite alone in this pursuit, and even if by yourself, sooner or later, company tends to come by. Pick your spot, and watch the world go by, one sip at a time. And in Paris, you will always find yourself a musician or two, playing your heart’s tune.
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
The lush green Parc des Buttes – Chaumont, is an idyllic spot for nature lovers. The park houses the Temple Sybille on the lake-shore. One can also catch old bridges built since time immemorial that hold a quaint, charm about them. Why not dance to the Befikre title track on any of the bridges and up the drama quotient just like Dharam and Shyra in the movie.
Love Lock Bridge
To all romantics, the historical Pont des Arts is a must-visit and remains an iconic spot in the landscape of the city. The bridge famed for holding lock padlocks symbolising eternal love is situated on the river Seine. Even with recent structural changes the bridge still holds attraction for most tourists as an estimate of one million locks have been transferred to a storage facility. Should you feel inclined to add your own lock, mind you, this bridge is also rather infamous for random strangers coming up for a kiss!
The usuals that we expect you to cover on your Parisian escapade are, of course, the Eiffel Tower (try and walk up so that you can burn all those calories from the cheese, bread and wine you’re bound to consume), the Louvre (stick to the first floor and basement if you’re going to reference popular culture mentions), Avenue des Champs-Elysèes, Musée d’Orsay and the Notre Dame Cathedral.