A certain European model
Although the city is distinguished by its unique and proud identity, it is nonetheless the most European capital of South America. Often compared to the big cities of the Old Continent, such as Paris, Madrid or Barcelona, it may lack exoticism at first glance. But it turns out it has a lot to offer once you take the time to let yourself be carried away by the different atmospheres of each barrio (neighbourhood). If the centre is bustling with activities, we find the nostalgic side of San Telmo and La Boca, with its famous colourful houses. The Palermo district, with its trendy shops, boutique hotels, and trendy bars, best reflects this duality between past and modernity. Recoleta, which could be confused with a Haussmann-style borough, is more stuffy. And what about Puerto Madero, the richest district of the city, with its skyscrapers, luxury hotels and long avenue of restaurants and cafes.
The Microcentro is the economic and political centre of the capital. The area has a high concentration of businesses and the Plaza de Mayo is the focal point. Named after the Revolution of May 1810, it is where the "Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo" meet every Thursday in front of the Casa Rosada, to safeguard the memory of the many disappeared. From the same square starts the oldest avenue in the capital: Avenida de Mayo, a central tourist spot that is lively day and night, where you can discover the backstage of the Colon Theatre, the Palacio del Congreso Nacional, the magnificent cathedral and the Cervantes National Theatre at the corner of Avenida Cordoba.
Famous for its multicolored sheet metal houses and Italian origins, the Boca district is the southernmost of the historic districts of Buenos Aires. Between brightly coloured houses and traditional restaurants, tango dancers and painters whose works are exhibited in the open air. La Boca and its cobbled streets, with an atmosphere typical of port areas, is also the capital of the mythical Bombonera stadium. Watching a match is a unique and sometimes terrifying experience when you see the hinchas (fans) singing their war songs to the glory of their team.
San Telmo, one of the oldest residential neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, is home to many architectural treasures: beautiful museums, old churches, antique shops and authentic restaurants. Today, this popular district, with its bohemian atmosphere, is the permanent stage for typical scenes of Portan life where tourists and street bands meet.
In addition to the numerous parks scattered throughout the capital, there is the ecological reserve east of Puerto Madero. In this residential port district, the former docks are being rehabilitated into a trendy restaurant and nightclub area. Far from the colonial architecture of San Telmo, this district is known for its futuristic skyscrapers, its floating casino and its Costanera Sur park.
The Palermo district has also undergone a spectacular evolution in terms of urbanization. It's the most extensive barrio in Buenos Aires. It is very popular with tourists for its restaurants, designer and urban designer shops, its large and beautiful houses and its bars and clubs, many of which are located around Serrano Square. It is in this bohemian and artistic district that the Bosque de Palermo or Parque Tres de Febrero is located, also known as the green lung of the city due to the dozens of hectares of greenery that run through it.
The unmissable asado porteno
After the visit, comfort! Argentine gastronomy rightly enjoys an excellent reputation, and many agree that the best meat in the world is eaten here. Buenos Aires has all kinds of restaurants, but the most typical of the capital is the parrilla ("grill"), where you can enjoy a wide variety of meat specialties served on the grill with simply prepared vegetables. The opportunity to taste the bife of chorizo (sirloin) or lomo (fillet), all accompanied by an excellent Argentine wine. The best is still to share all this with the Argentines around an asado (barbecue).
Finally, it will be necessary to plan an escapade towards the inescapable site of visit of Argentina, Iguazu and its famous falls. They are located in the north of the country, in the region of Misiones, on the border between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. Inscribed on the World Heritage List since 1984 for the splendour of its waterfalls and the biodiversity of the surrounding subtropical forest. The vegetation is so dense that it is sometimes difficult to find a viewpoint on the falls!
Let's go. Average price of a flight Paris-Buenos Aires from 800 to 1,250 €. AEROLINEAS ARGENTINAS (tel. 01 53 29 92 30) offers a daily flight between Paris and Buenos Aires via Madrid. The journey then takes about 16 hours. On the spot, the company offers flights to more than twenty Argentinean cities
useful. National Institute for Tourist Promotion of Argentina (tel. 01 47 27 01 76).
Specialist. Espaces Andins (tel. 01 45 65 00 00) offers accompanied and individual tours from the Andes to Patagonia, via Buenos Aires, Salta, Iguazu... Tailor-made trips. Ideal to discover the country in depth