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Welcome to the Capital of France - Paris
 
About Paris


The fascinating city of Paris is the capital city of France and is undeniably one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. The ‘city of lights’ attracts millions of visitors each year and offers too many attractions to see in just one visit. This trend setting metropolis is filled with numerous iconic landmarks, beautiful attractions, world famous institutions and popular parks. The city is deserved reputation for being one of the most romantic spots in the world as well as the leading centre of culture, art, fashion, food and design. One of the highlights and most recognized structures in the world is the famous Eiffel Tower.

From the top floor of this colossal structure, visitors can see the panoramic views that span the entire city and beyond. The Louvre is one of the oldest and arguably one of the most famous museums and art galleries in the world and should definitely not be missed when visiting Paris. Other amazing attractions include the Champs Elysées, perhaps one of the most famous shopping streets in the world and the Notre Dame Cathedral, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture.

Paris has a lively festival calendar with events being held throughout the year, including the Great Wines Fair, the Paris Film Festival and the biggest event for lovers of fashion--Paris Fashion Week, which held on the early March of each year.As the old song says, Paris is at its best in springtime, even if it is sometimes a little wet. The city is always alive in every season. In winter Paris has all sorts of cultural events going on, while in summer the weather is warm and lazy - sometimes sizzling. In August, when Parisians flee for the beaches to the west and south, many restaurateurs lock up and leave town too, but this is changing rapidly and you'll find considerably more places open in summer than even a decade ago. Things can get a bit hectic around Bastille Day (14 July) and towards the end of the year so reservations at this time are a good idea.

The Eiffel Tower

A view of Paris

A view of Paris

Paris Skyline

Paris Skyline

The Moulin Rouge, Paris

The Moulin Rouge, Paris

Welcome to Paris, one of France most iconic travel destinations and home to an amazing array of sights, activities and events. Even first time visitors to Paris will quickly be enthralled by how fun and fascinating Paris really can be. For those looking a glimpse of the real France, or just a fun night out, Paris mixes old world charm with a modern and vibrant night life. Click the general information links below for further information.
Paris for some, represents a city of romance, for others, the French capital is a sparkling mix of writers and artists. The city's people are stylish and flirtatious, its architecture seductive, its restaurants and nightlife devoted to the pursuit of pleasure and its streets are scattered with dreams. On all levels – historical, architectural, and cultural – this is a fascinating city.

Visit this website for further information about Paris Cultural Tour.Another draw is its scale. Paris is relatively small as capitals go, with many of its major sights and museums within easy walking distance from each other. The River Seine splits the city into the Rive Droite (Right Bank) north of the river and the Rive Gauche (Left Bank) south of the river. The city is divided into 20 arrondissements (districts), which spiral out from the centre like a conch shell. City addresses always include the number of the arrondissement, such as: 15 rue Malte-Brun, 20th (arrondissement).

Visit this website for further information about Paris in France.Walking can be an enjoyable way to explore. Pick up the handy city map Plan de Paris (a booklet with a complete street-name and métro index, easily found in bookstores and tabacs) and simply stroll to your heart's delight. Métro stations also have a detailed neighbourhood map just inside the entrance. Paris is just 10km by 11km, easily explored on foot or via the efficient transport system. There is almost always a metro station within 500 metres of wherever you want to go.

Visit this website for further information about Paris Walking Tours.Go up the Eiffel Tower, walk along the Seine at dusk or sip coffee at an elegant sidewalk café surrounded by artists or musicians; all of these are unique Parisian experiences. For the art lover, the Musee d'Orsay and the Louvre offer priceless collections, and the designer shops of the Rue du Faubourg St. Honore tempt the serious shopper. For those who enjoy food, Paris' restaurants are world-renowned and you are sure to find new taste sensations as well as old favourites. There is an otherworldliness to this city, where beauty and elegance are favoured over purpose and practicality. Centuries of urban development have the appearance of having been mastered by a single hand with a strong sense of balance, contrast and aesthetics. The views from the Eiffel Tower or Sacré Coeur reveal hundreds of iconic attractions for the snapshot visitor, but the best way to see this city is by tucking your map back in your pocket and allowing yourself to get lost on its streets and avenues.

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History

History History History History History History

Paris was founded towards the end of the 3rd century BC on what is now the Île de la Cité by a tribe of Celtic Gauls known as the Parisii. Centuries of conflict between the Gauls and Romans ended in 52 BC, when Julius Caesar's legions took control of the territory. Christianity was introduced in the 2nd century AD, and the Roman party was finally crashed in the 5th century by the arrival of the Franks. In 508 AD, Frankish king Clovis I united Gaul as a kingdom and made Paris his capital, naming it after the original Parisii tribe.

Paris prospered during the Middle Ages. In the 12th century, construction began on the cathedral of Notre Dame continuing for nearly 200 years, while the Marais area north of the Seine was drained and settled to become what's known today as the Right Bank. The Sorbonne opened its doors in 1253, the beautiful Sainte Chapelle was consecrated in 1248 and the Louvre got its start as a riverside fortress around 1200.

Scandinavian Vikings began raiding France's western coast in the 9th century AD and, after three centuries of conflict, they started to push toward Paris. These conflicts gave birth to the Hundred Years War between Norman, England and Paris' Capetian dynasty, eventually resulting in the French defeat at Agincourt in 1415 and English control of Paris in 1420. In 1429, a 17-year-old stripling called Jeanne d'Arc re-rallied the French troops to defeat the English at Orléans, and, with the exception of Calais, the English were expelled from France in 1453.

The Renaissance helped Paris get back on its feet at the end of the 1400s, and many of the city's signature buildings and monuments sprang up during the period. By the late 16th century Paris was again up in arms, this time in the name of religion. Clashes between the Huguenot Protestants and Catholic groups sank to their darkest levels in 1572 with the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of 3000 Huguenots to celebrate the wedding of Henri of Navarre (later, King Henri IV).

Louis XIV, known as le Roi Soleil (the Sun King), ascended to the throne in 1643 at the tender age of five and held the crown until 1715. During his reign, he nearly bankrupted the national treasury with battling and building. His most tangible legacy is the palace at Versailles, 23km south-west of Paris. The excesses of Louis XVI and his capricious queen, Marie-Antoinette, led to an uprising of Parisians on 14 July 1789 and the storming of the Bastille prison – kick starting the French Revolution.

The populist ideals of the revolution's early stages quickly gave way to a Reign of Terror, wherein even a few of the original 'patriots' met their fate under the guillotine. The unstable post-revolution government was consolidated in 1799 under a young Corsican general, Napoleon Bonaparte, who adopted the title First Consul. In 1804, the Pope crowned him Emperor of the French, and Napoleon proceeded to sweep most of Europe under his wing. Napoleon's hunger for conquest led to his defeat, first in Russia in 1812 and later at Belgium's Waterloo in 1815. His legacy in modern France includes the national legal code, which bears his name, and monuments such as the massive neoclassical Arc de Triomphe.

Following Napoleon's exile, France faltered under a string of mostly inept rulers until a coup d'état in 1851 brought a new emperor, Napoleon III, to power. In 17 years, he oversaw the construction of a flashy new Paris, with wide boulevards, sculptured parks and - not insignificantly - a modern sewer system. Like his namesake uncle, however, this Napoleon and his penchant for pugnacity led to a costly and eventually unsuccessful war, this time with the Prussians in 1870. When news of their emperor's capture by the enemy reached Paris the masses took to the streets, demanding that a republic be created.

Despite its bloody beginnings, the Third Republic ushered in the glittering halcyon years of the Belle Époque. The Belle Époque was famed for its Art Nouveau architecture and a barrage of advances in the arts and sciences. By the 1930s, Paris had become a worldwide centre for the artistic avant-garde and upheld this reputation among free-thinking intellectuals. The 1900s also marked the introduction of modern conveniences such as electricity, bathrooms, lifts and central heating.

Paris at that time embraced la Vie en Rose, a lifestyle characterized by lightness and gaiety. Optimism was rife since the success of the International Exhibition of 1889, for which the Eiffel Tower was constructed. National pride also took expression in the constitution of a new colonial empire. Paris became the world’s creative capital, of the fashionable plastic arts, theatre and cinema. Artists from the whole world, often naturalised later, settled in the city.

The flowering of that era was cut short by the Nazi occupation of 1940, and Paris remained under Germany's thumb until 25 August 1944. At the end of the war, the city was in a state of stagnation. The population had fallen to the level of 1936, and the reconstruction of the whole country of necessity took precedence over that of Paris until 1949. There was a latent housing crisis up to 1954, because the stock of buildings had aged during the war and the population grew by 600,000 between 1946 and 1954.

In 1954 a great reconstruction of low-cost housing was launched called HLM (Habitations a Loyer Modéré) in the inner suburbs. Meanwhile, it was in the 1960s that Paris took on the appearance of an international metropolis. During this time, Paris was endowed with facilities worthy of a great modern city: motorway links, international airports at Orly and later at Roissy (Charles de Gaulle), and hotel infrastructure to respond to the growing demands of mass tourism.

Paris regained its position as a creative hotbed and nurtured a revitalised liberalism that reached a crescendo in the student-led 'Spring Uprising' of 1968. The Sorbonne was occupied, barricades were erected in the Latin Quarter, and some 9 million people nationwide were inspired to join in a paralysing general strike, drawing attention to their increasing dissatisfaction with the rigidity of French institutions.
During the 1980s, President François Mitterand initiated the futuristic grands projets, a series of costly building projects that garnered widespread approval even when the results were popular failures. Responses to the flashier examples, like the Centre Pompidou and the glass pyramids in the Louvre, have ranged from appalled mon Dieux to absolute doting rapture; if nothing else, the projets invigorated dialogue about the Parisian aesthetic.

The Paris of today attracts millions of visitors each year to the Paris of the past. The most popular sights visited are the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Château de Versailles, Museum at the Pompidou Centre, Musée d`Orsay, Cité des Sciences, and Notre-Dame Cathedral.

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Climate


As the old song says, Paris is at its best in springtime, even if it is sometimes a little wet. The city is always alive in every season. In winter Paris has all sorts of cultural events going on, while in summer the weather is warm and lazy - sometimes sizzling. In August, when Parisians flee for the beaches to the west and south, many restaurateurs lock up and leave town too, but this is changing rapidly and you'll find considerably more places open in summer than even a decade ago. Things can get a bit hectic around Bastille Day (14 July) and towards the end of the year so reservations at this time are a good idea. 

January to March tends to run cool with average temperatures ranging from 12°C to 15°C. March to May is nice and warm ranging from 12°C to 21°C. June to August is hot and humid with temperatures rising to 28°C and cooling off at night to 14°C. September to December is cold and may bring snow; temperatures range from 6°C to 16°C.

Paris 365 days a year, and some people prefer the city’s mood on rainy, snowy or gloomy days. That being said, some times/seasons are better than others. Planners will want to avoid at all costs planning an event that overlaps with the Paris Air Show, held every other June. Hotel rooms are almost impossible to obtain and any that are available will come at a high price.

In August, Paris is deserted of Parisians, which can mean smaller crowds at many of the key attractions and less competition with social functions for space at hotels. But the city loses something of its flavor, and many restaurants and other off-site venues are closed for the month.

"Avoid planning an event in the second half of July and all of August if you expect any local, French participation," said Matthew Squire, president of Select Travel Service, Inc., one of Europe’s oldest DMCs. "Everyone heads for the mountains and resorts. The average French worker has nearly 6 weeks annual vacation, and vacation home ownership is highest in the world, and they use them frequently during the summer months."

Springtime in Paris is the subject of innumerable love songs and the city is at its finest – but this is when most groups want to be here, and so rates and dates are what you’d expect – high and hard to get, respectively. The weather in fall is equally delightful, and many planners say this is their favorite season for the city. While October is a prime time for groups – as it is the world over – November is singled out by some as the best month. Temperatures are still mild – it’s the room rates that are dropping.

And one of the first steps a planner should take is to request a list of upcoming fairs and expositions in the country from the French Tourist Office. Planning an event in Paris at the same time as one of the frequent global trade fairs can cause tremendous complications, especially on the housing side of the equation.

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Cultural

Paris' Cultural Paris' Cultural Paris' Cultural

Many of Paris’ activities occur within the numerous festivals and events that take place throughout the year. For more details, see our Paris Festivals Guide. Parisians are almost as passionate about their culture as they are about their restaurants. The French government takes art and culture very seriously, investing heavily in the arts, and supporting French cinema and theatre.

Tickets for all kinds of concerts and events can be purchased at FNAC Forum des Halles, 1 rue Pierre Lescot, 1st (arrondessment) or FNAC Musique, 2 rue Charenton, 12th. There is also the Carrousel du Louvre, 99 rue de Rivoli, 1st, located directly beneath the Louvre, or Virgin Megastore, 52 avenue des Champs-Elysées, 8th. However long the queue, ticket touts at the Opéra and concert venues are to be avoided due to high prices and the prevalence of worthless fake tickets.

Dance
The main ballet venue is at the Opéra Garnier, located at place de l’Opéra, 9th and Opéra Bastille, place de la Bastille 12th. Tel: (08) 9289 9090).

Visit this website for photographs and further information about the Opera Garnier in Paris.Major productions are also held at the prestigious Théâtre de la Ville, 2 place du Châtelet, 4th where the works of high-profile choreographers, such as Karine Saporta, Maguy Marin and Pina Bausch, are frequently shown. Tel: (01) 4274 2277. The theater has another venue, Les Abbesses, with the same contact details at 31 rue des Abbesses, 18th. The Theatre Musical de Paris hosts ballet companies from abroad. 1 place du Châtelet, 1st Tel: (01) 4028 2840.

Film
The first public film screening ever (‘Le Train Entrant en Gare’) was shown by the Lumière brothers in Paris in 1895. Today, Paris remains an important cinema capital, showing over 300 films in any given week. There is no English-language cinema in the city; however, most movies are shown in their original language, with French subtitles. UGC have a major presence in Paris with the city’s largest (18-screen) cinema, UGC Ciné Cité Bercy, 2 cours St-Emilion, 12th (tel: (08) 9270 0000).

Visit this website for photographs and further information about Cinema Paris.There is also a 16-screen UGC Ciné Cité Les Halles, place de la Rotonde, Nouveau Forum des Halles, 1st. Although the multi-screen UGCs and Gaumonts are on the increase (many based on the Champs-Elysées and in Montparnasse), Paris is still teeming with small art-house cinemas, clustered in the 5th and 6th Arrondissements. Among these are Le Champo, 51 rue des Ecoles, 5th, near the Sorbonne, and Racine Odéon, 6 rue de l’Ecole-de-Médecine, 6th, known for its all-night showings. Some cinemas are worth seeing just for their decor – one such is kitsch Le Grand Rex, 1 boulevard Poisssonnière.

Paris' Cultural Paris' Cultural Paris' Cultural

Music
The Paris Opéra performs ballet and opera at the Opéra Garnier, place de l’Opéra, 9th and Opéra Bastille, place de la Bastille 12th. Visit this website for further information about the Opéra Bastille in Paris.Large opera productions are also performed at the Châtelet Théâtre Musical de Paris, 1 place du Châtelet, 1st. The varied program at the Cité de la Musique, at La Villette, is strongest in contemporary music and home to the internationally renowned Ensemble Intercontemporain. It also features ancient music, jazz, chansons and world music.

The Cité has two important venues – the Conservatoire National de Musique, 209 avenue Jean Jaurès, 19th, and the Salle des Concerts, 221 avenue Jean Jaurès. Big names in French contemporary and experimental classical music to listen out for are Pierre Boulez, Pascal Dusapin and Luc Ferrarie. A series of orchestras, including the Orchestre Colonne, Orchestre Lamoureux and Orchestre de Paris are based at Salle Pleyel, 252 rue du Faubourg-St-Honoré, 8th. Other prestigious venues for classical music include the Salle Gaveau, 45 rue de la Boétie, 8th, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, 15 avenue Montaigne, 8th, and the Théâtre Musical de Paris, 1 place du Châtelet, 1st.

Theatre
The Comédie Française is the national theater, renowned for its production of the classics. 1 place de Colette, 1st. Tel: (01) 4458 1515.

Théâtre National de la Colline plays contemporary French drama. 15 rue Malte-Brun, 20th Tel: (01) 4462 5252.

Visit this website for further information about Theatre in Paris.New talent is sought out at fringe theaters, such as Guichet-Montparnasse. 15 rue du Maine, 14th. Tel: (01) 4327 8861.

Peter Brook is based at the Bouffes du Nord, 37 bis boulevard de la Chapelle, 10th. Tel: (01) 4607 3450.

The Odéon hosts foreign-language productions. 1 place de l'Odéon, 6th. Tel: (01) 4485 4000.

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Sightseeing

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Visitors looking for a variety of cultural attractions in Paris will be not leave disappointed with so many options to choose from. Paris also offers numerous renowned heritage sites that France is famous for around the world. Click the sightseeing links below for further information.

Go shopping or simply take a stroll down the Champs Elysees. Central to most French National celebrations, the Champs Elysees is one of the world's most well-known streets. The Tour de France finishes here and people from all over the world congregate here to celebrate Bastille Day - the French national holiday. Stroll along its wide expanse and stop for a coffee in one of the chic cafes that line this street.

Visit this website for further information about Paris Champs Elysees Tour.See Notre Dame Cathedral. A masterpiece of gothic architecture designed by Maurice de Sully, Notre Dame was built between the 12th and the 14th centuries. Until the French Revolution the cathedral remained relatively unchanged. See the stunning building from the Place du Parvis or take the energetic 387-step climb to the top of the towers for an amazing view of the city. Check out the statuesque gargoyles adorning the cathedral.

Museum d'Orsay
Museum d'Orsay in ParisThe Musée d'Orsay is a museum located on the banks of the River Seine and was previously the Gare d'Orsay, a former Parisian railway station and hotel, built in 1900. Beautifully restored, it houses a staggering collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces (the largest in the world) by such painters as Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Guaguin and Van Gogh. Many of these works were displayed at the Galerie Nationale du Jeu du Paume prior to the museum’s opening in 1986.

Museum Jacquemart-Andre in Paris
The Musée Jacquemart-André is a public museum located in an opulent 19th century mansion that displays a spectacular collection of art from several genres compiled by Édouard André (1833 - 1894), a scion of a Protestant banking family, who devoted a substantial part of his fortune to buying art. Located at 156 Boulevard Haussmann in the 8th arrondissement, the museum was created in the private home of André and his wife Nélie Jacquemart to display the artworks collected over their lifetimes. After André’s death, Nélie Jacquemart continued to add more precious works to the collection, and faithful to the plan agreed with her husband, bequeathed the mansion and its collection to the Institut de France. The museum opened to the public in 1913.

Museum Rodin in Paris
The Musée Rodin is a museum located in the Hôtel Biron, which opened in 1919 and displays works by the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. The artist used the hotel as his residence from 1908, and subsequently donated his entire collection of sculptures (along with paintings by Vincent van Gogh and Pierre-Auguste) to the French State on the condition that they turn the hotel into a museum dedicated to his works. It is home to Rodin’s most important sculptures, including The Thinker, The Kiss and The Gates of Hell. One of the most accessible museums in Paris, it is located nearby Varenne Metro station.

Montmartre in Paris
Montmartre is a 130-metre-high hill that gives its name to the surrounding district in the north of Paris. It is primarily known for the white-domed Basilica of the Sacré Cœur at its summit and as a nightclub district. Its elegant cafes, street artists and spectacular views overlooking Paris, make it a popular spot with tourists, many of whom climb the steep steps from the streets below to the main square in front of the Basilica. The other, older, church on the hill is Saint Pierre de Montmartre, said to be the location where the Jesuit order of priests was founded. A number of famous artists have had studios or worked around Montmartre, including Salvador Dali; Amedeo Modigliani; Claude Monet; Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh.

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Latin Quarter in Paris
One of the most famous Parisian districts, the Latin Quarter has welcomed intellectuals and bohemians alike since the Middle Ages. It derives its name from the language of the scholars as the students of the famous Sorbonne University spoke Latin here throughout the 19th-century. The area is full to the brim with cafes, bookshops, small boutiques, nightclubs, street merchants.

Marais in Paris
La Marais, which means ‘The Marsh’, is a bourgeois district of Paris that covers the 3rd and 4th arrondissement, right in the heart of the French capital. One of the main thoroughfares is the Rue des Rosiers, a major centre of the Parisian Jewish community. Since the beginning of the 1990s, the area has experienced a Jewish revival and everywhere there are Jewish bookshops, restaurants and outlets selling kosher food. Another interesting street is the famous Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, one of the rare streets in Paris where shops are open on Sundays. La Marais is also home to a large Chinese populace and growing gay community; as evidenced by the many gay cafes, nightclubs and cabaret shops. Other attractions include the Musée Picasso; the house of Nicolas Flamel; the Musée Cognacq-Jay; the Musée Carnavalet; and the new and very popular Café Charlot.

Pere-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris
This famous cemetery is the burial site of numerous French luminaries - authors, writers, musicians and more. The great 17th -century playwright Molière rests here and swirls around with the ghosts of Jim Morrison, Sarah Bernhardt, Oscar Wilde and many others.

Arc De Triomphe in Paris
This world-famous landmark is a monument that stands in the centre of Place Charles de Gaulle at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. It honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer walls, while the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I lies in its vaults. In 2007, a permanent exhibition by new-media artist Maurice Benayoun was opened inside the arch, which looks at its symbolic significance over the last two centuries, oscillating between war and peace.

Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris
This is one of the most spectacular and controversial modern buildings in Paris. It was designed with the aim of bringing art and culture to the people on the street. Its 1977 factory style architecture starkly contrasts with the surrounding classical French architecture. The centre is multifunctional, containing a public library and the French National Museum of Modern Art which has a large collection of paintings spanning the 20th century. These include works by artists such as Picasso, Braque, Max Ernst, Magritte, Chagall, Matisse, Delaunay,Kandinsky, Klee and much more.

Hotel De Ville in Paris
The Hotel de Ville is the building housing the City of Paris’ administration. Standing on the place de l'Hôtel de Ville (formerly the place de Grève), it has been the seat of municipality in the capital since 1357. It serves multiple functions, housing the local administration, the Mayor of Paris (since 1977), and also serves as a venue for large receptions. It also houses a number of displays documenting French history.

Sacre-Coeur in Paris
This Montmartre landmark is a 19th-century Roman Catholic church and minor basilica dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A popular landmark, the basilica is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in Paris. It is built of travertine stone quarried in Château-Landon (Seine-et-Marne). This stone constantly exudes calcite, which ensures that the basilica remains white even with weathering and pollution. A mosaic in the apse, entitled Christ in Majesty, is among the largest in the world. The basilica complex includes a garden for meditation with a fountain. The top of the dome is open to tourists and affords spectacular views of the city, situated mostly to the south. The use of cameras and video recorders is forbidden inside.

Sainte Chapelle in Paris
The most exquisite of Paris' Gothic attractions, Sainte Chapelle is found within the walls of the Palais de Justice. The chapel is illuminated by a spectacular curtain of 13th-century stained glass windows, the oldest in Paris and is often regarded as the high point of the Rayonnant period of Gothic architecture. It was built under the direction of King Louis IX, although the exact date of construction is unknown (circa 1239 and 1243). Much of the chapel today is reconstructed, although two thirds of the stained glass windows are authentic. During the French revolution (1789–1799) the chapel suffered its most grievous destruction and many reliquaries, including the grande châsse, were melted down. The church occasionally hosts classical music concerts.

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Eiffel Tower in Paris
Constructed as the entrance arch to the 1889 World Fair, this colossal landmark, although initially detested by many Parisians, is now a famous symbol of French civic pride. Nicknamed La dame de fer (the iron lady) the Eiffel Tower is located on the Champ de Mars. The tallest building in Paris, it is the most visited monument with a ticket price in the world. Named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel it stands 324 metres tall, about the same height as an 81-storey building. It was the tallest building in the world until the completion of New York’s Chrysler Building in 1930. A lift whisks you to different levels to catch spectacular views of the city and the River Seine below.

Luxembourg Gardens in Paris
Paris’ largest public park, Jardin du Luxembourg is the garden of the French Senate, which is itself housed in the Luxembourg Palace. Previously the sanctuary of Royalty, the garden was opened to the general public following the French Revolution (1789–1799). Famed for its serenity, the garden is largely devoted to a green parterre of gravel and lawn, centred around a large octagonal body of water, in which children have traditionally sailed model boats. The gardens contain over 100 statues, monuments and fountains as well as twenty figures of historical French queens and female saints commission by King Louis-Philippe I in 1848. There’s a large fenced-in playground for children and a vintage carousel. In addition, free musical performances are presented in a gazebo on the grounds and there is a small cafe restaurant nearby.

Disneyland in Paris
Disneyland Paris is a must see place to visit, especially if visiting with children. It is situated just outside of Paris in Marne la Vallée and opened in 1992. Today Disneyland Paris covers about 140 acres, with a theme park to rival any of is competitors. Meet Mickey and Dumbo and all your Disney friends! Take a stroll in its themed stores, listen to the orchestras, dive into the fever of Hurricanes Nightclub, take a nightcap at the Sports Bar or go and see the latest films in the newest cinema. There are literally thousands of attractions to choose from.

Catacombs in Paris
In 1785, Paris decided to solve the problem of its overflowing cemeteries by exhuming the bones of the buried and relocate them in the tunnels of several disused quarries, which lead to the creation of the Catacombs. Here you will find yourself 20 metres underground, working your way along corridors stacked 200-year-old skeletons of several million people.

Hotel Des Invalides in Paris
Often referred to as simply Les Invalides, this is a complex of buildings containing museums and monuments relating to the military history of France as well as a hospital and retirement home for war veterans. Built in the late 17th century under the direction of Louis XIV, the complex houses the Musée de l'Armée, the military museum of the French army; the Musée des Plans-Reliefs and the Musée d'Histoire Contemporaine. It is also the burial site for some of France’s best-known soldiers including Napoleon Bonaparte.

Louvre Museum in Paris
Home to Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, the Louvre is considered the world's greatest art museum, with an unparalleled collection of items covering the full spectrum of art through the ages. Tickets are good for the entire day, so you can come and go as you please. Admission is free to all on the first Sunday of every month and for those under 18 years of age every day.

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Eating

Eating Eating

French cuisine is the most famous in the world due to its variety and the imagination used to prepare its dishes. Paris is a place where you can try haute cuisine prepared by the great chefs at top restaurants, explore the regional cuisine of all of France or even venture into French avant-garde cuisine.

A traditional French menu has three courses: hors d'oeuvres, the plat (entree) and cheeses to finish. French cuisine is too complex to try and describe it in just a few lines, so we'll just provide a few tips so that you can enjoy a traditional Parisian brasserie.

The most common hors d'oeuvres are salad with goat cheese or cubes of bacon, omelettes with herbs or various soups, like soupe a l'oignon (French onion soup) and potage parisien (soup with potatoes and leeks).

EatingThe entree is meat or fish, always served with vegetables or rice, and the ubiquitous sauces which French cuisine is famous for. Paris offers some excellent dishes like entrecot bercy (entrecot with white wine sauce), chateaubriand, andouilettes (grilled tripe sausages), and the delicate canard à l'orange (duck with orange sauce) or jambon à la Porte Maillot (ham cooked with a long, complex preparation).

The cheeses are a true delight, France has more than a hundred, but the best known are camembert, brie, roquefort and strong flavored herb cheeses, without forgetting the excellent goat cheeses. Desserts are a joy for the palate and some are famous throughout the world: chocolate St Honoré, crème caramel, crepes flambées and many more.

The amount of restaurants is unlimited: you can choose from a traditional or trendy restaurant or be tempted by the ambiance of an old-fashioned bistro. Brasseries are valid alternatives. They are traditional taverns which offer the more common dishes of French cuisine served with beer or wine. Since Paris is an international city, it offers a wide range of foreign restaurants, primarily Asian and Middle Eastern. Don't leave without trying one of the traditional cafes which have greatly contributed to making Paris famous throughout the world and are excellent for breakfast or a snack.

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Shopping

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Shopping Shopping Shopping Shopping Shopping

Parisian shops are one of the top attractions the city has to offer. Some of the most entertaining and tempting are the small cluttered shops which sell local products, ranging from pottery; to clothes; food; books; wine; and antiques. Shopping in Paris is generally more expensive than New York but cheaper than London.

The most distinctive and unusual shopping possibilities are found in the 19th century arcades of the passages of the 2nd and 9th arrondissements (districts). The main shopping district, Les Halles, is where you'll find the submarine shopping complex of the Forum des Halles. Here you'll find everything you could ask for, from music through to designer clothes.

Most everyone has heard of the wonderful shopping on the Champs Elysées, perhaps one of the most famous shopping streets in the world. It is a lovely tree-lined avenue with many chain shops, designer boutiques and some interesting little restaurants and cafes. The magnificence of the Arc de Triomphe at the top end of the Champs Elysées adds to the magic of the avenue. The prices are high here but you can find a deal or two if you look around. This is one of those areas that you will want to plan a full day at if you like to shop.
The markets (marchés) of Paris are fun and lively places to browse and people-watch. You will find them in each of the 20 arrondissements on certain days of the week with a rotating formula from one arrondissement to the other as well as in the suburbs. Parisians of all walks of life love to shop and browse among the open-air stalls as merchants cheerfully trumpet—often with humour—the quality of their goods.

Most stores in Paris - except for department stores and flea markets - stay open until 6pm or 7pm, but many take a lunch break sometime between noon and 2pm. Although shops traditionally close on Sunday, you'll find a number of stores open then, too, most especially in the Marais district.

A value-added tax (VAT) of approximately 19.6%, known by its French-language acronym as the TVA, is imposed on most consumer goods. Non-European Union residents can reclaim part of this tax, known as the détaxe. To qualify for a refund, you must purchase the equivalent of EUR175 of goods in the same shop on the same day; you must have stayed three months or less in the European Union at the time of purchase; and you must have your passport validated by customs within three months following the date of purchase. Don't forget to ask about your détaxe form at the time of purchase; smaller stores will fill the form out for you, while department stores have special détaxe desks where the bordereaux (export sales invoices) help to streamline the process.

Détaxe forms must be shown and stamped by a customs official before leaving the country; without this stamp, you will not be refunded. If the refund is substantial, they might want to see the purchases, so be prepared to show them. After you're through passport control, you can seal the form in the envelope provided and post it at an airport mailbox or mail it after you arrive home. The refund can be sent as a check or directly wired to your credit card (the faster of the two options). Note that there is no refund for food, alcohol, or tobacco products.

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Transportation


Paris Map

The cheapest and fastest way to get around Paris France varies depending on who you talk to. While Paris has no shortage of transport options available for either holiday makers or corporate travellers, HotelTravel.com’s guide can help you get from the airport and back or navigate around Paris with ease. Getting around Paris by car can be a real treat if you have some extra time as it has some of the best roads in France. Click the transportation links below for further information.

Airports

Paris has three airports which handle both international and domestic flights.

Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), also known as Paris Roissy, is the largest airport in Paris and the second busiest passenger airport in Europe after London Heathrow. It has three terminals offering an array of facilities and services including an excellent choice of restaurants, bars and shops, plus banking and currency exchange, a business centre, first aid, car rental, and special needs amenities.

The three terminals are connected by free shuttle buses. Terminal 1 handles international flights, excluding Air France, Terminal 2 handles Air France and other airlines flying to European destinations and Terminal T9 handles charter flights exclusively. Flight information is available 24 hours in English or French on 01 48 62 22 80 or 08 36 68 15 15.

Paris Orly Airport (ORY) is the second largest airport in Paris, located 14 km south of Paris. Orly Airport Paris mainly handles domestic and charter flights. ORY Airport's two spacious terminals provide a range of amenities including duty-free shops, restaurants, bars, banking, post offices, business centre, first aid, family and special needs facilities. Paris Orly Airport also showcases a notable art collection and has a large observation deck. Orly Airport is only 14km south of the city, allowing for fast transfers by rail to central Paris. Beauvais Airport is located at Beauvais, 80km north of Paris and is used mostly by charter companies and the discount airline Ryanair for its flights between Dublin, Glasgow and Paris.

To / From Charles de Gaulle Airport

Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), a.k.a. Paris Roissy Airport, is located 23 km north-east of Paris and offers numerous transport links into the city by road and rail.

Bus
Roissy Bus service departs from all three terminals every 15 to 20 minutes to Place de l'Opera in Paris. Journey time is 45 minutes. Air France Coach Line 2 provides transport to Porte Maillot and Etoile every 15 minutes. Line 4 travels to Gare de Lyon and Montparnasse every 30 minutes. Air France Coach also provides a link to Orly Paris Airport. RATP buses also run to Gare du Nord and Gare de l'Est and to Porte de Bagnolet. The Airport Connection is a door-to-door mini-shuttle bus service to Paris.

Rail
The RER rapid TGV train service reaches central Paris in approximately 45 minutes, Disneyland in 10 minutes and Lille and Brussels in an hour. There is an SNCF help desk on the 4th floor of Terminal 2. RER B train runs from the airport to Gare du Nord, Chatelet-les-Halles, St Michel and Denfert-Rochereau and connects with the Metro. Shuttle buses from the airport connects with the TGV-RER train station North Terrace. From Terminal 1 take the green shuttle and from Terminal 2 take the blue shuttle. Trains leave every 4 to 15 minutes.

Taxi
Aeroports Limousine Service (Tel: 01 40 71 84 62) provide chauffeur driven cars to Paris for around 115 Euros. Paris Taxis charge around 45 Euros from the airport to central Paris.

To / From Paris Orly Airport

Bus
Jetbus runs between Orly airport and the Villejuif-Louis Aragon Metro station (line 7) Buses leave every 15 minutes and the journey time is 15 minutes. Orlybus runs to Denfert-Rochereau. Buses leave every 15 to 20 minutes and the journey time is 25 minutes. Air France Coach to Paris stops at Porte d'Orleans, Gare Montparnasse, Duroc and Gare des Invalides. Buses leave every 15 minutes. Air France Coach also provides a service between Orly and Charles de Gaulle Airports. RATP buses provide services to various destinations in Paris and the city limits.

Rail
The ADP Shuttle provides the link with the SNCF Train to Gare d'Austerlitz, where RER rapid trains line C runs to St Michel, Invalides and Port Maillot. Trains leave every 15 to 30 minutes and the journey time is 35 minutes. The Orlyval & RER B to Paris by train trip starts with the Orlyval Shuttle link to Anthony Station with Metro connections to Denfert-Rochereau, ST Michel and Chatelet-les-Halles and to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. Trains leave every 4 to 8 minutes and the journey time is 30 minutes.

Taxi
Aeroports Limousine Service (Tel: 01 40 71 84 62) provide chauffeur driven cars to Paris for 100 Euros. Paris Taxi fare to central Paris costs about 40 Euros. Suburban Taxi also provides services to various destinations at somewhat cheaper prices. Negotiate fares before departure.

To / From Beauvais Airport

Beauvais Airport is serviced by an express bus which takes about one hour to reach Parking Porte Maillot at 1 blvd Pershing, 17th arrondissement (Metro: Porte Malliot). The bus leaves the airport 20 minutes after each arrival. Tickets can be purchased from Ryanair at the airport or at Porte Malliot in the city. Buses leave Porte Malliot 2.5 hours prior to each Ryanair departure.

Between ORY and CDG Airports: Transfer service is free for Air France passengers making flight connections. A taxi between the two airports costs around 55 Euro.

Getting Around

Paris’ public transportation is one of the cheapest and most efficient in the Western world. RATP operates most of the metro, RER trains and bus routes and provides a free map available at most metro station ticket windows and RATO information counters.

Bus
Eurolines run buses between Paris and most European cities, including London. The international bus terminal is in the inner suburb of Bagnolet. Contact the main Eurolines office on 01 43 54 11 99 / 08 36 69 52 52 for more information. Due to the efficiency of the metro and train lines, buses routes are limited and operate at odd hours. The only time you may want to use the bus is after 1am when the metro stops running. Night buses run every half hour from 1am to about 5am daily. Look for the Noctambus symbol of a little black owl silhouetted against a yellow quarter moon. Noctambus links the place du Chatelet, 1st arrondissement, and avenue Victoria just west of Hotel de Ville, 4th arrondissement.

Train
Paris has six major train station operated by the SNCF. Each station serves different parts of France and Europe and also has a metro station bearing its name. Contact the SNCF 24 hours on 08 92 35 35 35 for mainline services and on 08 36 67 68 68 / 01 53 90 20 20 for suburban service information.

Bicycle
There are about 165 kilometres of bike lanes throughout the city, making cycling an enjoyable and safe way to explore Paris. Most of the bike lanes run around Parc de la Villette, Canal Saint Martin, Dois de Boulogne, Bois de Vincennes, and along the south bank of the 108km Canal de l’Ourcq. Be aware that cyclist can be fined for not using bike lanes. Bicycles are not allowed on the metro. Some RER train lines allow bikes on weekends and public holidays all day, and during the week on off-peak hours (before 6:30am, between 9am and 4:40pm and after 7pm).The best place to rent a bicycle is the RATP-sponsored Maison Roue Libre at the Forum des Halles from 9am to 7pm daily. They are located at 1 passage Mondetour, 1st arrondissement. Metro: Les Halles. Tel: 01 53 46 43 77.

Boat
From April to October, the Batobus River Shuttle provides a scenic way of getting around the city. Boats depart every 25 minutes from 10am to 7pm (9pm June to September). Boats connect the following docks: Champs Elysees, Museum du Louvre, Hotel de Ville, Notre Dame, Saint Germain des Pres, Museum d’Orsay, Effeil Tower.

Metro
The metro is fast and efficient with some 370 stations. Each metro train is known by the name of its terminus, which means that trains on the same line have different names depending on the direction in which they are travelling; hence a RATP map is essential (available at most metro stations). Metro trains stop running at 1am. Tickets are valid on the RER trains as well.

Taxi
Taxis are not cheap, but tend to be less expensive than most European capitals. Flag fare starts at 2 Euro within the city limits and 0.60 Euro per kilometre during the day and 1 Euro per kilometre during the night. Most drivers refuse to take more than three passengers, or they will charge and extra 2.50 Euro for taking a fourth. There are surcharges for pick ups from SNCF mainline stations and any bag over 5kg. Waiting time costs 25 Euro per hour. The usual tip is between 0.50 and 1 Euro.

Train
The RER train network is faster than the metro, but the stops are much further apart. Some attractions, particularly on the Left Bank (eg, the Museum d’Orsay, Effeil Tower) can be reached far more conveniently by the RER than by the metro. Unlike the metro, the RER has a choice of 1st or 2nd class seating. Tickets are valid on the metro as well.

Travel Passes
The cheapest and easiest way to use public transport is to get a Carte Orange pass which combines metro, RER train and busroutes. The pass comes in weekly and monthly versions costing around 13.25 Euro and 44.40 Euro respectively. Even if you’re in Paris for a few days, it may be worth it to buy a weekly Carte Orange pass. To purchase the pass, take a passport-size photo of yourself to any metro or RER ticket window.

Vehicle Hire
Driving in Paris can be nerve-racking and is not for the faint-hearted or indecisive. The fastest way to get around town is via the blvd Peripherique – the ring road that encircles the city. Parking can be expensive in many parts of Paris, so can parking fines. Major car companies such as Avis, Hertz and others have offices at the airports and around town.

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