Paris, France’s capital, is a major European city and a global center for art, fashion, gastronomy and culture. Its picturesque 19th-century cityscape is crisscrossed by wide boulevards and the River Seine. Beyond such landmarks as the Eiffel Tower and the 12th-century, Gothic Notre-Dame cathedral, the city is known for its cafe culture, and designer boutiques along the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
Paris Things To Know
Getting around in Paris
Whether you take the Metro, the bus or the RER suburban trains, the whole city is very well covered. The Metro is probably the best way to get from A to B, while you’ll see more of the city if you travel by bus. There are various ticket options so you should easily find one that suits your stay. The best place to buy them is in any of the Metro and RER stations. Alternatively, rent a Vélib’ bike for the day and explore the city on two wheels.
Parks & Gardens
With over 400 parks and gardens, and 250,000 trees, Paris has the honor of being the most wooded capital in Europe. Pack a picnic of Cabernet Sauvignon and some Camembert, then head to the Tuileries orLuxembourg Gardens. Or perhaps make like a philosopher and ponder the world in theButtes Chaumont, Bois de Vincennes or Bois de Boulogne. They’re all accessible by Metro or bus, and entrance is gloriously free.
In a country synonymous with great cuisine, Paris just might be the culinary capital of the world. You’ll certainly have your choice of great eateries at any time of the day. The traditional Parisian brasserie is a must-do while there are a multitude of fine dining restaurants. You’ll find great little cafés and bars dotted all over the city serving the best of French cuisine and international specialties.
The Eiffel Tower
A trip to Paris wouldn’t be complete without snapping some selfies with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Paris’s best view of the Eiffel Tower in the whole city is from the 56th floor of Montparnasse Tower (as a bonus: a trip to the Montparnasse Tower will let you check ‘visit Paris’s only skyscraper and the world’s second ugliest building’ off your bucket list, all in one fell swoop!). The building was so panned by locals that two years after construction finished, the city enacted legislation banning new building projects taller than seven stories.
Paris is blessed with some truly outstanding museums. The star is of course the Louvre, which houses history’s most famous painting (we don’t really have to name it, do we?). What you might not have known is that the building – and the collection – originally belonged to the royal family, and only opened to the public during the French Revolution. Today, the museum holds over 65,000 objects that date from pre-history to the 20th century. The Musée d’Orsay is another world-class museum. Housed in a beaux-arts building on the left bank of the Seine, it’s best known for its collection of French art (including sculpture, photos and furniture) from 1848–1915. It boasts the world’s largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces. If contemporary art is more your thing, visit the Centre Pompidou, which turned the art world upside-down in the 1970s, with its ‘inside-out’ construction.
Fashion & Shopping
Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Dior… The names of world famous Parisian designers trip off the tongue, and the city has long been a mecca for fashionistas. Whether you desire haute-couture or prêt-á-porter, you really are spoiled for choice in Paris. To narrow it down, consider heading straight away to Galeries Lafayette, the upmarket department store, which hosts a free fashion show every Friday afternoon. Le Printemps, also in the Hausmann-Opera district, is another elegant old department store in the Bloomingdales tradition. If neither of those excite your credit card, head to The Golden Triangle – the area between Avenue Marceau, the Champs Elysees and Avenue Montaigne, which is home to boutiques from your favorite high-end labels.
The Seine River
In his will Napoleon Bonaparte asked to be buried on the banks of the Seine. His request wasn’t granted, but it’s easy to understand why he was so taken with this waterway; there’s a special pleasure in taking a lazy cruise along this famous river. Most of the one-hour tours are narrated in several languages and are a great way to learn about Paris’s history while admiring the many iconic UNESCO World Heritage sites in the City of Light. There’s something about seeing the monuments from Paris’s heavily-traversed central river that gives both a literal and figurative ‘fresh perspective’. Our suggestions are to let yourself drift along with the current on one of the famous Bateaux Parisiens. Or, if you’re feeling indulgent, sip a glass of Champagne on the Vedettes de Paris.
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