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American in Paris

Personal Paris: Houston frequent flyer reveals fave things to do in her favorite city

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Paris boat ride down the Seine on a Bateau Mouche tourist boat
Enjoy a boat ride down the Seine on a Bateau Mouche. Notre-Dame Cathedral, a must-see in itself, is in the background. Photo by Attila Terbócs/Wikipedia
Janine Iannarelli postcards from Paris July 2013 Picnic at the Prix de Diane
Janine Iannarelli, wearing a hat created by Gabriella Dror, enjoys a picnic at the Prix de Diane horse races near Paris. Courtesy photo
Grand Palais in Paris
The Grand Palais is on Iannarelli's must-see list. Photo by Eric Pouhier/Wikipedia
Janine Iannarelli postcards from Paris July 2013 airplane hat at the Prix de Diane
An avation-themed chapeau at the Prix de Diane. Photo by Janine Iannarelli
Bon Marche shopping in Paris
When in Paris, Le Bon Marché beckons the shopper in everyone. Photo by Daderot/Wikipedia
Janine Iannarelli postcards from Paris July 2013 "creation in red" hat photo by Janine Iannarelli at the Prix de Diane
A creation in red at the Prix de Diane. Photo by Janine Iannarelli
Paris boat ride down the Seine on a Bateau Mouche tourist boat
Janine Iannarelli postcards from Paris July 2013 Picnic at the Prix de Diane
Grand Palais in Paris
Janine Iannarelli postcards from Paris July 2013 airplane hat at the Prix de Diane
Bon Marche shopping in Paris
Janine Iannarelli postcards from Paris July 2013 "creation in red" hat photo by Janine Iannarelli at the Prix de Diane

Paris is almost like a second home for aircraft broker Janine Iannarelli. The founder of Houston-based Par Avion Ltd., Iannarelli travels regularly to the City of Light to buy and sell private jets to her international clientele. Last month, she was at the Paris Air Show, where she attended a lavish party in a chalet at the end of the runway hosted by Dassault Aviation, which introduced two new Falcon business jets, and a big party hosted by Breitling, which sponsors the largest aerobatic jet team in Europe.

She also attended the Prix de Diane (France's answer to Ascot) at the Hippodrome de Chantilly, where the parade of hats was truly amazing. Iannarelli wore a design by Houstonian Gabriella Dror. And then she did what just about every stylish tourist does in the world's fashion capital: She went shopping.

So we thought what better way to close out our Vive la France special editorial series, by asking Iannarelli for some of her favorite things to do in her favorite city.

1. Go for a ride on a Bateaux Mouche

Sure it may seem a little cheesy, but there's nothing like gliding down the Seine at night in one of the fabled excursion boats that passes by many of the city's most famous tourist attractions, Iannarelli says. "I don't care how much you know Paris or don't, it's something you won't forget." (Rent the 1963 movie, Charade, starring Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant, to get an idea of how romantic it can be.) A ride last around 75 minutes if you're not on a dinner cruise.

2. Visit Notre-Dame Cathedral

Widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in the world, "it's a monument you need to see," says Iannarelli. "And it's even better if you've read Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth."

3. Stop by the Grand Palais 

While the Louvre and Musée d'Orsay are on everyone's list, Iannarelli loves the Grand Palais, the grand palace with an enormous glass roof built for the World Fair of 1900. The best time to go is on a Sunday afternoon when there's a special exhibit. "It's so quintessential Paris," she says.

4. Shop at Le Bon Marché

Sure, there are plenty of great luxury shops on the Avenue Montaigne and Rue Saint-Honoré, but Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche is in a class by itself. Founded in 1852, the store has one of the world's best-edited luxury selections, from the latest Chanel handbag, which Iannarelli purchased on this trip, to a wide variety of brightly colored socks that George W. Bush would love.

5. Watch the world go by at the Jardin des Tuileries

With a prime location between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde, the top garden in Paris is a perfect place for people watching.

6. Have a drink at the Plaza Athénée

With the Ritz Paris closed until December 2014 for renovation, there's no opportunity to grab a drink at Harry's Bar. So try the next best thing: The downstairs bar at the Plaza Athénée, on the Avenue Montaigne, is a popular late-night gathering spot as musicians, singers and guests launch into impromptu performances around the piano.

7. Shop at Hervé Leroux

The designer who invented the bandage dress has his own boutique with designs you won't see everywhere else. "He's a little bit under the radar," Iannarelli says.

8. Dine at Le Goutillon in Chantilly 

Its location an hour outside Paris isn't convenient, but ​Iannarelli loves the classic French cuisine and the great people watching. "It's very famous among the horsey set," she says. "Anyone who is anyone in the equestrian world is there."

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