Paris is an amazing city. We have all heard the sayings “The city of love” “The most romantic city in the world” “The city of lights”, well after visiting this city and experiencing it first hand, I can tell you that it is all true.
The city is very beautiful. The architecture is stunning, the tourist attractions amazing and I found the people to be friendly. Paris is a place you can’t describe in words to someone, it is a place you have to experience for yourself. The city is like a living museum, with architecture dating back to the 13th Century. That is when Notre Dame began to be built.
The grandeur of Paris really became evident in the 16th century, when Versailles became Louis XIVs headquarters. In the 19th Century, Napoleon appointed Baron Haussmann to develop modern Paris, with its long boulevards and beautiful buildings, the wide avenues and parks that still make the city unique today.
Paris is internationally renowned for its architecture and its influence in fashion and the arts. Walking is the best way to see and get a feel for the city. You can explore the citys districts, its old centres, cemeteries and great parks. When you first arrive in Paris, I highly recommend getting on the Hop on, Hop off buses. Stay on and do a circuit and get a feel for where everything is. It is very easy to walk around once you know where you are.
I remember one day, later in the afternoon, we walked from Notre Dame back to our hotel near the Place de la Concorde. It was very charming and it turned dark and the lights came on. We stopped to have a meal in a restaurant. It was just wonderful. The Champs-Elysées is a fantastic place to experience people watching. Another one is the Place de la Concorde.
Those who fancy a trendier atmosphere, can visit districts such as Le Marais, Quartier Latin, or the quaint Canal St-Martin. If you like art galleries, museums, or famous cabarets such as Folies Bergères, Paris has everything to meet your dreams. Be aware, Moulin Rouge, does not look like much during the day but it comes alive at night when the lights go on.
The top attractions in Paris are certainly the Eiffel Tower, originally a temporary construction for the 1889 Universal Exposition, the Arc de Triomphe, commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte and the massive cathedral Notre Dame. A walk from Place de la Concorde towards Champs Elysée is also a must as well as the world famous Louvre museum. One place you must visit is the Montparnasse Tower. There are less crowds than the Eiffel Tower, it has an enclosed viewing area as well as being able to go onto the roof. The best part is that you get the Eiffel Tower in your photos! I highly recommend it.
There is obviously much more to explore! Père Lachaise The largest cemetery in Paris, and said reputed to be the most visited in the world. A huge and peaceful park home of those who have experienced French life over the past 200 years. Jardin du Luxembourg. The garden of the French Senate which is also a large public park. A recommended place to relax and savour the cosmopolitan atmosphere of a rich palace garden.
Musée d Orsay. This is the place for art and artifacts from the Middle Ages and Impressionist eras with leading collections. Originally a railway station and the building itself is worth a visit.
Le Marais. Situated on the right bank (3rd and 4th Arr.), this trendy district has beautiful architecture of the 17th century. There are also many museums, art galleries and historic sites such as Paris oldest square, Place des Vosges where you can find Victor Hugos residence.
Montmartre. One of the most popular historic areas with the Sacré Coeur Basilica on the top of the hill, the highest point in Paris. It is also famous for the cafes and studios of many great artists. I recommend taking the tram to the top, then walking down the steps and then browsing the artists work in the narrow streets at the bottom. A fantastic experience.
Versailles. Near Paris, this is where King Louis XIV built his Palace in the 17th century. For those who love Renaissance architecture, do not miss it! The Palace has been recently renovated and you will also enjoy lovely walks in the well kept gardens.
Bateaux Mouches. One of the most relaxing, and romantic ways to view some of the city’s oldest and most majestic historic monuments is to get a ride on the famous and unique long-boats that leisurely glide along the Seine. Despite the number of operators from which to choose, most of the boat lines offer similar itineraries and are equipped with an audio announcement system, providing commentary on the passing sights in several different languages.
In Paris, you must differentiate between restaurants, bistro or brassieres. A bistro is usually small, featuring simple food, sometimes with entertainment. A brassiere serves hearty meals along with beer and wine, usually cheap and with a liquor and coffee bar. Like New York or London, the choice is huge. Each place has its own particular atmosphere and style whether recipes are local or from all over the world.
However Paris is internationally renowned as a food capital. It is the right place to test the high-quality French products and delights of traditional French cookery thanks to the talented and creative chefs. Parisian restaurants are real gourmets delight. There are good places for all budgets. Whether it is a restaurant, a bistro or a brassiere, you will be able to enjoy a real culinary feast with gourmets from all over the world.
In Paris you will find lots of trendy and popular bars serving all kind of drinks with a good mix of music and sometimes with DJs. Take your time and sample a few, they are all open late! Paris has a very diverse nightlife. From high-tech dance clubs to mellow jazz haunts, there is something to fit your mood. Also try the famous cabaret venues for a great night of vibrant entertainment!
Paris is home to some of the most famous designers and luxurious brand names in the fashion industry like Louis Vitton or Dior. But you will also find more affordable brands matching your budget in the huge department stores or many popular neighbourhoods. Paris is served by two major airports, Roissy Charles de Gaulle (CDG), 25 Km and Orly 15 Km from the city centre. A third airport, Paris Beauvais, is mainly served by low cost airlines. A paying shuttle service (EUR13) is organized to and from its terminals and Paris-Porte Maillot.
From CDG terminals, the Roissybus leaves every 15 minutes from 6.00 and arrives to the city centre (at Opéra) after a journey of 45-60 minutes. (EUR8.40 one way). After midnight there are night busses going to Place du Châtelet, 90 rue de Rivoli every 30 minutes (EUR8 one way). The cheapest and fastest (30 minutes) is the underground RER B to Gare du Nord running from 4.56 in the morning to 23.56 at night (EUR8 one way).
From Gare du Nord you are connected to Paris metro network. Air France buses go to Porte Maillot. Taxis can be found near the terminals baggage collection area exits. Average day fares are EUR50. From Orly, the automatic metro Orlyval takes you to RER B Antony station from 6.00 to 23.00. Combined ticket price (Metro+RER+Orlyval) is about EUR9. Other options are the airport shuttle buses going to RER C Pont de Rungis station. Combined ticket price (Metro+RER+shuttle) is around EUR5.60. As for buses, the Orly bus takes you straight to RER B Denfert-Rochereau. Daytime taxi rates are approximately EUR35.
Public transport. The RATP runs the city’s local transport system. The bus, underground (metro), and commuter train system (RER) is divided into five zones, and is cheap and efficient. The underground runs from 5:30 in the morning to 0:30 in the night. Tickets are valid on both buses and trains, and can be purchased from the stations and in kiosks. Travel cards, ranging from one to five days, are also available at the airport, at underground stations, and from tourist information offices. 1 day travel card zone 1-3 costs approximately EUR8.30.
There is so much to see and do in Paris. If you are going to visit, make sure you allow enough time so that you can experience all that it has to offer.