Paris is famous for being one of the most romantic and beautiful cities in the world, oozing style and culture. It’s a great place anyway but my specific interest in going there was to investigate the magic scene – what feats of prestidigitation are being practised in the French capital that we foreigners can enjoy and possibly learn from.
Whether you are a magician or whether you just like watching magic, there?s a huge amount for you to enjoy in Paris. For me, seeing some good magic enhances a visit to anywhere but it suits Paris particularly well, I feel. The chic, intelligent elegance of smooth conjuring is very much in keeping with the atmosphere of the city of light.
The first port of call for my friend and me was Le Double Fond, a magic caf-bar with a theatre underneath. Magic duo Dominique Duvivier and his daughter Alexandra perform close-up and cabaret magic here, along with a constant flow of some of the top names in magic, many of them local.
Magicians appear in mainstream Paris theatres far more often than I would have expected. When we were there, magic shows or plays with magic in them were running on three different stages. You can also catch a magic show – and have a civilised dinner – while cruising along the Seine. The Museum of Magic is worth a visit and practitioners of the art should definitely check out the magic shops, which are many and excellent.
Of course, there are hundreds of other things to do in Paris as well as watch magic. Even during a short, magic-focused visit such as ours, my friend and I managed to go up the Eiffel Tower, stroll around Montmartre and admire Sacr? Coeur, spend some time in several marvellous museums, have some nice long lunches and take a guided boat trip.
Having had some delicious North African food in Paris and been inspired to buy a tagine, I plan during my next trip to see the Islamic sights there. The Institute of the Arab World sounds interesting – as does the Mosque, which has not only a great caf but also a Turkish bath.
If you’ve got more than a few days, you might like to look around outside Paris. Many years ago, I went to Claude Monet’s house at Giverny and it has stayed with me as a glowing memory of peace and beauty. The garden is exactly as he painted it and it feels rather strange to be in it. Also within easy reach of central Paris are the Palace of Versailles and (in a totally different vein) the Disneyland and Asterix theme parks.
I returned from Paris feeling satisfied, uplifted and inspired. It?s a magical city, there?s no doubt, and my advice is to book yourself a ticket there right now.