Paris Travel Guide
Paris has attitude. It has culture. It has style. It has visitors arriving by the millions. It has iconic landmarks coming out of its ears – think Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame, to name just a few. It has art museums and galleries filled to the rafters with monumental collections of the ages. It has neighborhoods dripping with atmosphere – think Montmartre, Le Marais, Quartier Latin. Here, the Impressionists came alive and Charles Baudelaire's verses held sway. Here is a city of intellectuals and exiles, of Victor Hugo and Jean Paul Sartre, where Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein took refuge, and others after them. Here the concepts of haute couture and haute cuisine were born, and the grand notion of bon vivant. There are jewelers' stores, perfumeries, cafés and jazz clubs everywhere, along with fashion houses, boutiques, quaint shops, flower stalls, and boulangeries. It is a city of cultural and intellectual prowess, a city where the French embrace of joie de vivre! triumphs, a city, indeed, with an attitude.
Paris is situated on the banks of the river Seine in the heart of the Île-de-France region in north-central France. It is 164 miles (264 km) southwest of Brussels, or 211 miles (340 km) southeast of London, or just 10 miles (16 km) northeast of Versailles.
How to Get There
Paris is a major international hub, connected to scores of capitals and and big cities in Europe and around the world. Apart from Air France, dozens of airlines service Paris' Orly Airport. The city can also be reached by high-speed train from most European capital and major cities, including London, Brussels and Barcelona.
The main attractions in Paris – and we offer this since the sheer number of them, with more than 3,800 historical monuments alone, can overwhelm even the most seasoned traveler – include the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral and Musée d'Orsay, together with Moulin Rouge and Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre, Place Maubert in the old Quartier Latin, Place de Vosges in the Marais, and the palace of Versailles just outside Paris. For shoppers, the principal areas of interest are Place Vendome ("Jewelers' Square"), which is the hub of luxury shopping in Paris, and Rue du Faubourg Saint Honore, the heart of the city's fashion district.
- Champs-Élysées / Axe Royale - Axe Royale or "Royal Axis" runs up the Champs-Élysées – "the most beautiful street in the world" – from the Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe, passing by the French-style gardens, Jardin des Tuileries. Champs-Élysées is a decidedly touristy area, with no dearth of cafés, restaurants and fast-food joints, and even a few cake shops, with tourist prices to match.
- Opéra Garnier - The area around the 19th-century Opéra Garnier is the place to splurge and indulge. Here on Place de la Madeleine are several of the city's best delicatessens, gourmet specialty shops and star-rated restaurants and cafés; on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré lies Paris' legendary fashion district, home to such famous fashion houses as Chanel, Cardin, Lagerfeld, Inès de la Fressange, Lanvin, Givenchy, Hermès and Versace; on Boulevard Haussmann are to be found the most wellknown department stores in Paris; and at Place Vendôme, or "Jewelers' Square," are the temples of luxury – Van Cleef & Arpels, Chaumet, Boucheron, Armani, and Cartier, among others. Élysée Palace, the French President's residence, is located here as well.
- Le Marais - This is quintessential Paris: a neighborhood with a colorful, cosmopolitan population and wonderfully preserved, 17th-century palaces and traditional architecture, quaint, one-off shops and boutiques, ethnic restaurants, and myriad art galleries. Place des Vosges, "the most beautiful square in Paris," is located here, bordered by Victor Hugo's and 36 noblemen's homes. Also in the Marais is the atmospheric Old Jewish Quarter, with its narrow medieval streets lined with falafel stalls, and kosher restaurants, foods stores and bakeries.
- Bastille Quarter - East Paris neighborhood with converted lofts and apartments, and scores of galleries, pubs and discos lined along its narrow streets. It has in it a pocket of cabinetmakers and furniture-restorers, centered on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, as well as a cluster of music dealers on Boulevard Beaumarchais. Also in the Bastille, in Gare de Lyon (train station), is Le Train Bleu, "the most splendid station restaurant in the world," serving Lyons cuisine in a nostalgic setting.
- Montmartre - A bohemian slice of Paris, historically the "artists' quarter," where the likes of Renoir, Monet, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Degas, Toulouse- Lautrec and Picasso once lived and painted. The quarter is centered on La Butte, "the hill of Montmartre," with the entertainment district of Pigalle – where you can search out Moulin Rouge, birthplace of the can-can – at the foot it. The Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur is located on La Butte, offering panoramic views of Paris; while at Place du Tertre, also on the Butte, you can sip chocolat chaud at one of the garden cafés and even have your portrait done.
- Quatier Latin - "Scholars' Quarter," home of the prestigious, 13th-century Sorbonne University. Worth exploring here is Place Maubert, with its crooked houses and dark courtyards. Also of interest are Place St-André des Arts, where there are several brasseries, cafés and restaurants; Boulevard Saint-Michel with its inexpensive fashion shops; French architect Jean-Nouvel's Islamic manifestation, Institut du Monde Arabe; and Tour d'Argent, one of the most famous restaurants in Paris, established in 1582, where the century-old "Blood Duck" remains a specialty menu item.
- Île de la Cité - One of two islands in the Seine, where Paris' most famous cathedral, the fabulous, 12th-century Notre Dame, is located. Also on the island is the medieval church Sainte-Chapelle, offering in itself one of the world's most outstanding examples of High Gothic architecture.
- Saint-Germain des Prés - An attractive and "typically Parisian" quarter with narrow romantic streets, where writers, artists, surrealists, existentialists and intellectuals of the day – the likes of Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Albert Camus – once waxed philosophic in cigaret-smoke-filled cafés and jazz cellars, debating ideas. The old establishments are still there, along with unique shops and boutiques, antique dealers, print dealers, art galleries, and lively market stalls. The traditional hub of the Parisian jazz scene is Rue Saint-Benôit, while the district of art galleries and antique dealers is centered on Rue des Saints- Pères. World-famous Musée d'Orsay, second only to the Louvre, and the fabulous Jardin du Luxembourg are also located in this quarter.
- Dôme des Invalides - This is the locale of the Eiffel Tower, singularly the most iconic landmark of Paris. The views from the top, at 274 meters, are unparalleled, and on the second platform at 115 meters, you can dine at the Jules Verne restaurant. The quarter also has in it Musée Rodin where you can see some of Rodin's most important works such as The Kiss and The Burghers of Calais; the Musée Maillol which has on display objects from the Parisian arts scene, including the famous toilet that Marcel Duchamp declared to be art; and Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, which houses works of Matisse, Chagall, Modigliani and others.
How to Get Around
Where to Party
Where to Eat
Where to Stay
More than 42 million tourists visit Paris each year, which is roughly 20 times the city's core population. The city has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any city in the world, other than Tokyo, 79 at last count, and produces over €600 billion in goods and services annually, representing almost a quarter of the nation's entire GDP. Also, Paris is home to UNESCO, the Paris Club, and scores of international cultural organizations.
Know Before You Go
- Cost Per Day: €-€ (US$-US$)
- Currency: Euro EUR (€1 ~ US$1.3)
- Electricity: 220-240V - 50Hz | Europlug with 2 round pins
- Population: 2.2 million (12 million in the greater metropolitan area)
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