As the undisputed City of Romance, Paris needs no introduction. Whether strolling down the banks of the River Seine, window shopping on the Champs-Elysées or simply nibbling a croissant at one of the iconic street cafés, you'll feel like you're living in an arty French movie. Everything seems more stylish and elegant, just for being in Paris!

ParisThe city is bursting at the seams with history and culture, but that doesn't mean that it's not still at the forefront of fashion. One of the world's great cities, Paris has been a trend-setter for over a thousand years and shows no sign of slowing down.

From Notre Dame to the Louvre and from the Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Triomphe, Paris has more iconic landmarks than anywhere else; it's a city everyone should visit at least once.

Things to do in Paris
Notre Dame Cathedral
Eiffel Tower
The Louvre and other museums
Champs-Elysées & Arc de Triomphe
Montmartre & Sacré Coeur
Paris B&Bs and Hotels
Paris Events
Getting Around
Around Paris


Things to do in Paris

Paris has so much to offer that it would be impossible to fit it all in here! This guide should give you a good idea of the highlights, but we recommend leaving plenty of time to explore for yourselves. Or better yet, a second trip to Paris!

Notre DameThe River Seine runs through the centre of Paris, dividing it into the Right Bank (Rive Droite) and the Left Bank (Rive Gauche). Between the two, set on an island in the middle of the river, is one of Paris' most famous landmarks, the Cathédrale de Notre Dame de Paris, better known simply as Notre Dame.

This is the true heart of Paris, and distances to all parts of France are measured from here. Notre Dame Cathedral is famed for its striking French Gothic architecture, which includes stunning stained-glass windows, gruesome gargoyles, a series of imposing statues representing the Kings of Judah and an impressive organ of 7800 pipes.

The cathedral is located on the Île de la Cité, the site of the first settlement in Paris (around 3 BC) and the elegant Pont Neuf, the city's oldest bridge. Just downstream is the smaller Île de St-Louis, whose charming 17th-century residences and stylish boutiques have the feel of a provincial French town rather than a bustling capital.

Eiffel TowerWe can't go much further without mentioning the Eiffel Tower (La Tour Eiffel), undoubtedly Paris' most recognisable landmark. The giant structure is the tallest building in the city and receives millions of visitors every year. Constructed at the end of the 19th century, over 600 steps lead up from the ground to the second level, although you can also take the elevator which will bring you all the way to the third level, at a dizzying height of 905ft/276m, for unbeatable views over the city.

Paris has some of the world's best known museums, starting, unsurprisingly with the Musée du Louvre. Built as a fortress in the 13th century, the beautiful building has been a showcase for paintings, sculptures and other works of art since the 1793. The LouvreToday, the Louvre displays an incredible 35,000 pieces including, of course, the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa. A day's visit will barely scratch the surface, so it's good to have an idea of what you want to cover during your visit.

Also on the Right Bank are the Centre Pompidou, one of the world's greatest modern art galleries, and the Musée Picasso, home to more than 3,500 of the artist's works, while just across the river from the Louvre is the Musée d'Orsay, a former railway station now dedicated to exhibiting France's cultural heritage and including pieces by Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Cézanne, Seurat, Matisse and many others.

The Louvre opens out onto the Jardins des Tuileries, a formal garden which runs along the Seine and is a popular place for jogging and strolling in the sunshine. At the western end of the gardens is the Place de la Concorde, a large square dominated by an Egyptian obelisk and two graceful fountains which marks the beginning of the prestigious Avenue des Champs-Elysées. Lined by cinemas, cafés, restaurants, theatres and designer boutiques, the Champs-Elysées is one of the most famous streets in the world and the second most expensive strip of real estate in Europe.

Arc de TriompheAfter stretching for 2km, the Champs-Elysées ends at the iconic Arc de Triomphe, built in the 19th century to honour the French soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Beneath the arch is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a tribute to the unidentified soldiers who died in World War I & II.

For fans of Amélie, Moulin Rouge and numerous other French and international films, a trip to Paris wouldn't be complete without visiting Montmartre, a district on the Right Bank which is famous for its arty, bohemian ambience and its nightlife. Montmartre's two key attractions are worlds apart. The first is the Basilique du Sacré Coeur, a stunning 19th century basilica perched on the summit of the Butte de Montmartre. The 234 steps which must be climbed in order to reach it are worth it for the panoramic views from the top. The second is the Moulin Rouge, perhaps the world's most famous cabaret, which has been entertaining the crowds since it was opened in 1889.

Other top attractions in Paris include: the Cimetière du Père Lachaise, where you can visit the graves of Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Chopin, Édith Piaf and Molière; the Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris' largest park; Le Marais, a popular area for shopping and eating; and the Catacombs, an underground ossuary dating back to 1810 which stores the neatly arranged skeletons of about 6 million Parisians - spooky yet spectacular.


Paris B&Bs and Hotels

Pension Residence du Palais

Pension Residence du PalaisSet on the corner of the Jardins du Luxembourg in the charming Saint Germain district, Pension Residence du Palais is an elegant Paris B&B offering an intimate atmosphere and a warm family welcome. The typical Parisian building has a series of well-appointed guest rooms with en-suite bathrooms and WiFi, and breakfast is included in the rates.

Nearest Metro: Notre-Dame-des-Champs (Line 12)/Vavin (Line 4)

Book Paris B&B Pension Residence du Palais

Hotel Icone

Hotel Icone in ParisBoasting a peaceful location at the heart of Paris, Hotel Icone offers chic and modern accommodation close to Opera. All rooms have individually designed with comfort and convenience mind, and are well equipped with WiFi, flatscreen TVs and stylish furniture. Hotel Icone is within easy reach of all the attractions of Paris, as well as major department stores including Galeries Lafayette and Printemps.

Nearest Metro: Richelieu Drouot (Lines 8 & 9)/Quatre Septembre (Line 3)

Book Hotel Icone in Paris

Hotel de la Tour Eiffel

Hotel de la Tour Eiffel in ParisAs its name suggests, Hotel de la Tour Eiffel is ideally situated just a few moments from Paris' best loved landmark, set amid a row of typical Parisian shops. A cosy boutique hotel, it has a series of 22 elegantly furnished guest rooms, each with its own unique personality. The friendly staff will do what they can to make sure your stay in Paris is a memorable one.

Nearest Metro: École Militaire (Line 8)

Book Hotel de la Tour Eiffel


See more Paris B&Bs and hotels


Paris Events


Paris is bursting at the seams with culture, so there's always something going on, from classical concerts to rock festivals and from antiques fairs to modern art exhibitions. Here are a few of the major annual events in Paris.

Paris Fashion Week (January)
Valentine's Day (14th February)
Paris Carnaval (March)
Paris Marathon (April)
French Tennis Open (May - June)
Bastille Day (14th July)
Tour de France (July)
Paris Plage (July - August)
Rock en Seine (August)
Festival d'Automne (September - December)
Christmas Markets (December - January)


Getting Around

Paris MetroThe Paris Metro system has no less than 384 stops on 16 lines, making it quick and easy to get pretty much anywhere in the city. RATP tickets can be bought individually or in books of 10, and can be used on the metro, buses, suburban trains (RER), trams and the Montmartre funicular. Buy a Carte Orange at any metro or RER ticket office for a week's bus, metro and RER travel in zones 1 and 2 (you'll need a passport photo).

Driving should be avoided unless you're feeling particularly courageous, and parking is quite expensive. Taxis can also be quite pricey, so you're probably better off sticking with public transport.

Driving in ParisParis has three airports: the small Orly Airport (ORY), about 20km south of the city centre; Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), the main international airport, located about 30km northeast; and Paris-Beauvais Airport (BVA), used by Ryanair, which is situated 80km to the north of Paris. Regular buses run from each of the airports to the city centre, and Charles de Gaulle also has two train stations.

Paris has 6 major train stations, all servicing different areas of France and Europe: Gare d'Austerlitz, Gare de l'Est, Gare de Lyon, Gare du Nord, Gare Montparnasse and Gare St-Lazare. The Eurostar from London stops at the Gare du Nord. Buses run all over France, Europe and even to Morocco from the Gare Routière Internationale de Paris-Galliéni in the suburb of Bagnolet.


Around Paris

Disneyland Paris

If you're travelling to Paris, you may not get away without a trip to Disneyland. The park is located about 35km east of the city centre, but lack of transport won't be a valid excuse with trains, buses, airport shuttles and even the Eurostar running there.

There are two parks, the Disneyland Park and the Walt Disney Studios Park. Attractions are always updating and there are numerous shops and restaurants. Book tickets in advance via the website to save money.

Versailles

One of those names that evoke classical French elegance and romance, Versailles is home to France's most famous and most impressive chateau. Located about 20km southwest of the city centre, it was the political capital and royal court between 1682 and 1789, when Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were taken to Paris to be beheaded.

Comprising several wings extending over 580m, the palace has a sumptuous array of grand halls, lavish bedchambers and graceful, wood-panelled corridors. Highlights include the Grande Appartement du Roi (King's Suite) and the Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors), while outside is one of the finest examples of French formal gardens.

Chartres

Situated approximately 90km southwest of Paris, the main attraction of Chartres is the stunning 13th-century cathedral, which rivals Notre Dame and Rouen for the title of most spectacular cathedral in France. It has two imposing spires, one Gothic and one Romanesque, which dominate the charming medieval town and the picturesque scenery which surrounds it. Climb the North Tower for a bird's-eye view of the building's architectures as well as stunning views of its surroundings.


To find out more about visiting Paris, go to parisinfo.com, or for more information about France in general, go to franceguide.com.

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By: Eleanor Brown

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