Live a life more extraordinary in Paris, where you can take your pick of atmospheric street scenes, iconic museums and romantic bridges to project your ideal self upon.
The city which inspired Hemingway, Orwell, Victor Hugo, Balzac and Proust sprawls like a labyrinth, physically and conceptually – producing vanguards of fashion, food, art, architecture and intellectual thought.
Even the simple things in life are unimaginably stylish – lingering over a vin naturel and entrecôte et frites in a little French bistro on a moody cobblestone backstreet or wandering through markets on a Sunday afternoon.
Tick off the icons; the Eiffel Tower, a show at the Moulin Rouge and a Seine River cruise. But also pick from the following:
- Visit the Pompidou Centre in Paris for its outstanding modern art collection and eye-catching inside-out design
- See the Mona Lisa smile or browse 400,000 artistic and historical items at Le Louvre, the massive museum within a palace
- Climb the hill to the white travertine basilica Sacré Cœur, at the top of Montmartre, an important political and cultural symbol
- Stroll the promenade plantée, also known as the Coulée Verte. a 4.5 kilometre long elevated park, constructed on a 19th century railway viaduct
- Walk over the historic arched bridge Pont Alexandre III with its gorgeous gold winged horses atop grand columns
- Eat with a view of Paris at the rooftop terrace of the Au Printemps department store Maison.
So much to see, so little time. One of the world’s most walkable cities – Paris’ intimate and elegant streetscapes, interlinked city islands and diverse arrondissements (neighbourhoods) seem purpose built for endless exploration.
Essential to its ambience is the Seine River which flows through the centre of Paris and creates the iconic distinctions of Left Bank and Right Bank. And just as the Seine gives the city its form, the Haussmann-designed grand boulevards and uniform building heights are also part of the people friendly scheme. From the widest streets of Avenue Foch and the Champs Elysees through to the narrow, cobblestone laneways of the Marais.
Paris is made up of arrondissements, or districts, that are numbered from one to 20 and follow a logical order starting with the first arrondissement at the centre and following an outwards clockwork spiral.
The Louvre and Colette
At the centre of the city, this neighbourhood has some of the major attractions including Hôtel de Ville (town hall), The Louvre, the 25 hectare Jardin de Tuileries (which runs between Carrousel du Louvre and Place de la Concorde, Rue de Rivoli and the banks of the Seine) and the beautiful cloistered Place Vendôme.
Nearby Rue Saint-Honoré has lots of high-end and designer boutiques, and the small designer department store Colette. Forum des Halles, once a wholesale food market is the city's largest shopping centre – this massive underground complex includes a swimming pool and cinemas. There are numerous interesting shops in the surrounding streets.
This neighbourhood has galleries, cafes and boutiques tucked away in its little back streets.
West from Rue Richelieu is the theatre district and the Bourse de Paris (Paris Stock Exchange) is also here with a surrounding business hub. The Sentier district is where internet companies and clothing manufacturers are based.
Pont des Arts
This is one of the most ‘Parisian’ neighbourhoods in the city with some expensive residential property.
The walk from the Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) across the bridge onto İle de la Cité and İle Saint-Louis is an easy way to get a feel for the charm and character of the city. The magnificent Gothic cathedral Notre Dame is on İle Saint-Louis. The Centre Pompidou is officially in the fourth but easily visited from the Marais which straddles the third and fourth. On the right bank is the historic Place des Vosges.
The historic, well-preserved Le Marais is spread across the third and fourth arrondissement and is a favourite with travellers because of its cobble stone streets, old buildings, Jewish heritage, cafes, restaurants, chic boutiques, design spaces, galleries, perfumeries and trendy bars. It also boasts a great gay scene.
The Latin Quarter
The fifth and the sixth arrondissements together form the Latin Quarter, which is synonymous with learning and student life, particularly the area around the Panthéon. Montparnasse had its artistic heyday in the 20s and 30s. The botanical gardens, Jardins des Plantes and the Roman amphitheatre Arènes de Lutèce are here as well as the interesting modern design of the L'Institut du Monde Arabe. Along the river are second-hand bookstalls. After dark there’s a young scene at Place de la Contrescarpe and Rue Mouffetard.
Saint Germain de Prés
The area between Boulevard Saint Germain and the River Seine and the Rue de Seine, Rue de Buci, Mazarine and Dauphine is another alluring Parisian neighbourhood. Saint Germain de Prés is an upmarket area with lots of luxury brands, little cafes, chi chi boutiques and cosy bars. The Jardin du Luxembourg has beautiful gardens designed by Jacques Boyceau.
The Left Bank
While this district is known as the Ministers Quarter it’s also got some of the major monuments – the Invalides, where Napoleon is buried, the iconic Eiffel Tower and the Champ de Mars, which was originally a parade ground for cadets. Along the Carré Rive Gauche there are streets of antique shops. The Musée d’Orsay is on the bank of the Seine, opposite the Tuileries and the Jean Nouvel-designed Musée du quai Branly is nearby.
The famous boulevard Champs-Elysées extends from Place de l’Etoile down to Place de la Concorde. La Madeleine is a beautiful neoclassical church and Parc Monceau is a popular jogging route. The Grand Palais and the science-oriented museum Palais de la Découverte (Palace of Discovery) are here.
Grands Boulevards shopping
The grand department stores Au Printemps and Galeries Lafayette are located in this neighbourhood close to the Opéra metro station, named after the nearby elegant Opéra. Nouvelles Athenes is closer to the Saint-Georges metro. The wax museum Musée Grévin is here.
This neighbourhood has the beautiful 4.5 kilometre long, 19th century Canal Staint-Martin with the tree shaded Quais de Valmy and Quais de Jernappes on either side. Crossed by iron footbridges, the canal was the backdrop for some of the scenes in the French film Amélie. There are plenty of bars and bistros along the way.
230V / 50Hz
Paris rarely suffers through extreme weather and has a typical Western European oceanic climate. It’s usually a pleasant 20-25°C in summer (July to August) with a reasonable number of sunny days, while in winter (December to February) it drops down to a chilly average of 3°C, with few sunny days.
From the airport
Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle International Airport (CDG) is connected to Paris by train, bus, rental car, taxi or shuttle. Taxis are located at the exit to the baggage claim area of your arrival terminal. RER trains take approximately 40 minutes to reach the first major train station in Paris, Gare du Nord.
Paris-Orly Airport (ORY) is connected to Paris by train, bus, rental car, taxi or shuttle. Taxis are located at exit M and exit B arrival level for Paris taxis, or exit L and exit B arrival for suburban taxis.
In and around the city
The Paris Metropolitain (Metro) is a cheap and convenient way to explore Paris. Tickets are available at machines in most Paris Metro stations, or you can purchase books of 10 tickets that allow you to travel on the metro and RER lines within Paris Zone 1.
You can also hire a car to explore the city, then hit the motorway to see the magnificent French countryside, from the spectacular villages of Provence to the vineyards of Bordeaux and sweeping coastline of the Côte d’Azur.
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