In a nutshell: The capital. Chic, classy, awash with world-class sites. Unmissable.
Don't miss: The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Marais, the Basilica of Saint-Denis
Key matches: The Final, Semi Final and Opening Ceremony
When it comes to travel, it is generally better to do more. To go further. And yet, when the place you are travelling to is Paris, it is easy to stop and say “This will do”. France is a vast and fascinating country, full of exciting cities, glorious scenery, splendid culture and fine food. But its capital is a little of all of this, in one stylish bundle. This is not to say you should not see as much of France as possible. But if your only experience of it – whether during Rugby World Cup 2023, or in wider life – is the bright lights and busy streets of its most important city, you won't be disappointed. Paris is France, and France is Paris.
The only question mark about it is the one at the end of the next sentence. Where to start?
Almost certainly, with the obvious. There can be tendency to talk of exploring a city beyond the clichés. But clichés become clichés for a reason – popularity. And Paris will always argue (with full justification) that its clichés are better than anywhere else's. True, you have seen them in a thousand images – the gleaming shopping strip of the Champs Élysées, the leafy paths of the Jardin des Tuileries, the Gothic majesty of Notre-Dame (currently under repair after the fire which enveloped it in 2019, but no less incredible under scaffolding), the epic domes of the Sacré-Cœur basilica, on the top of Montmartre. But to head to Paris, and not see them, would be to miss much that makes the city special.
Then there is the Eiffel Tower – which, for all its global fame, more than rewards those who pay it closer attention. Yes, it will mean queuing for security checks, for tickets, for the lifts. But the view it offers – from the first and second stages, as well as from the top – is one that is best enjoyed with your own eyes. It is also worth taking the stairs some of the way up or down – an exercise which helps you understand just how large the tower is.
And what of Paris beyond its star turn? The Louvre is probably the planet's greatest art museum, and even if you can't be bothered to work your way to the front of the crowd to glimpse Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, there are a myriad wonders in other galleries – by the likes of Botticelli, Raphael and Rembrandt – where you won't have to wade through a forest of selfie-sticks. A short stroll away, over the Seine, the Musée D'Orsay is almost as great, with pieces by Delacroix, Manet and Monet, displayed in a stunning former rail terminus
As for eating and drinking – why would you not? There are first-rate establishments on almost every corner, but especially in the gentrified streets of the Marais (on the north side of the river), where cafés sit between fashion boutiques, and in Saint-Germain-des-Prés (on the south bank) – where fine dining is elevated to both a religion and an artform.
In contrast to all this magnificence, Saint-Denis is a little scruffy at the edges. This outer district of Paris, six miles north of the centre, is still shrugging off its industrial past. Indeed, this is why its biggest talking point stands where it does. One of the reasons for building a new national stadium here was to give the area an economic boost. And there is no doubt that the Stade de France has been a success. It may have been constructed for the initial purpose of hosting the 1998 Football World Cup (it opened in the January of that year), but it has become the cauldron of noise in which the French national rugby team does its thing. It has already staged one Rugby World Cup final (England against South Africa in 2007; let's not dwell too much on that) – and it will do a marvellous job when it repeats the task on October 21 2023. Its 80,698 seats will also witness key group and knock-out fixtures as the tournament progresses. It will, in short, be the heart of it all.
If you have an hour to spare as you head to the stadium, the area's “other” great landmark is also worth visiting. The Basilica of Saint-Denis does not have quite the visual beauty of some of its church counterparts elsewhere in the city, but it has a mighty guest list. It is here that all but three of the monarchs who occupied the French throne between the 10th century and the revolution of 1789 are buried. If these old bones could talk, they would grumble a bit. They were badly treated in the republican fervour of the revolution, and, at one point, were thrown into a mass grave. But the tomb area has long since been restored, and the remains within it given a fresh dignity. They would probably still complain about the din coming from the stadium up the road. But if Les Bleus manage to seize their first Rugby World Cup crown on an autumn evening, even this Dead Kings Society will be cheering.
Content supplied by the Telegraph’s travel expert Chris Leadbetter