Paris, the capital city of France, is well known for its history, art, culture, fashion and style. Paris contains an abundance of iconic landmarks, world-famous institutions and magnificent parks. Millions flock to Paris each year to enjoy its sights and sounds. Here’s a mini city guide of Paris to help you get the most out of your sightseeing vacation.
The best time to visit Paris is in the spring, when the trees are in full blossom. Another good time is on France’s national day, 14 July, when the storming of the Bastille is commemorated. But, as they say, anytime is good.
What to see: Ample of breathtaking sights, so set aside sufficient time
- Eiffel Tower: The most prominent symbol of Paris and the global icon of France, this 1063 feet tall iron tower is named after its engineer designer, Gustave Eiffel. Built as the entrance arch to the 1889 World Fair, the tower has three levels that can be accessed by lifts or staircases.
- Arc de Triomphe: This famous monument honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. It includes the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
- The Champs-Elysees: The Champs-Élysees is the most prestigious and broadest avenue in Paris. Lined with cinemas, cafes and luxury shops, the Champs-Elysees is known as “the most beautiful avenue in the world”.
- Moulin Rouge: A cabaret built in 1889 by Joseph Oller, the Moulin Rouge is best known as the birthplace of the famous can-can dance.
- The River Seine: A major river of North Western France, it is a commercial waterway from where you can view the sights of Paris from glass-covered decks of boats that leisurely go up and down the River Seine.
- The Louvre: This historic monument is one of the world’s largest and most visited art museums. Amongst its numerous pieces of art is the famous painting of Mona Lisa.
- Chateau de Versailles Castle: A UNESCO World Heritage site, it is one of the largest palaces in the world and a grand example of French architecture. The Versailles’ history galleries are the largest history museum in the world.
- Notre Dame Cathedral: This is the finest example of French Gothic architecture. It is famous for the flying buttress and gargoyles.
- The Jardin du Luxembourg: This 55 acres garden is laid out in Italian style with ponds, fountains and attractions such as the puppet theater, pony rides and a merry-go-round.
- The Musee d´Orsay: A museum housed in a grand railway station, it is home to many sculptures and impressionist paintings.
How to get around: Flit about in trains, metros, buses, boats and even cycles.
Fly to Paris from anywhere in the world. Paris has two airports: Charles de Gaulle, 27 kilometers to the north and Orly, approx 16 kilometers to the south. You can cut costs by flying to London and then heading to Paris by the Eurostar, a passenger train that takes just two and a half hours.
If you are traveling to Paris from within continental Europe, trains are most convenient. Paris has six major train stations serving both domestic and international destinations. Within Paris the Metro is the easiest way to get around.
Another fantastic way to see the sights is to opt for the L’OpenTour where double-decker buses with open top decks enable tourists to see the sights clearly. The Batobus, or water bus, is an exciting and unusual way of seeing some of the main areas around Paris. Or see Paris like a Parisian, on a tour by bicycle!
Where to stay: No dearth of accommodation
Paris has a huge range of accommodation of all types and budgets. From 4 star hotels to 1 star ones and apartments where you can stay with your family and pet, Paris has a plethora of great places to stay. There are so many different hotels to choose from that it can be quite daunting to get the right place for your needs. It’s always better to do some research to make sure you get the best value for money.
Wine and dine on great cuisine
Choosing the type of restaurant and cuisine can be a minefield, especially when there are so many exceptional places to choose from. When it comes to cuisine, you have choices from all over the world such as the Blue Elephant which serves Thai dishes, the American Pizza place called Chicago Pizza Pie Factory, Brasilian food at the Brasil Tropical Restaurant, Le Curieux Spaghetti Bar for true Italian delights and the Ozu restaurant serving authentic Japanese food.
The finest way of dining in Paris is with haute cuisine, which literally means ‘high cooking’. They are characterized by elaborate preparations and stylish presentation of food, accompanied by wine. Some of the haute cuisine restaurants include the Jules Verne, Le Grande Cascade and La Tour d’Argent, which is probably the most famous of them all.
Shopping: Make a fashion statement
Window-shopping is one of Paris’s greatest spectator sports. Home to some of the biggest fashion houses, it´s love affair with style is never ending. The famous haute couture brands are located in Rue St. Honore. For bargain shopping, visit Les Halles or Rue Rivoli. Printemps is the best department stores. Didier Ludot is the place to go for vintage haute couture while Eres specializes in swimwear.
Entertainment: An extravaganza of song and dance
Paris is a city full of life both during the day and night with such a wide choice of venues – from adult only shows like the Moulin Rouge can-can, to entertainment like circuses, magic shows, nightclubs, water parks and much more that the whole family can enjoy. Music lovers can go to the Opera Bastille, or enjoy rock at Stade de France, or go dancing at the many nightclubs such as Stringfellows or Club Med.
Paris is a city that evokes awe and attracts millions of tourists. From historic landmarks, grand architectural monuments and the glitz and glamour, this vibrant city has something for everyone to enjoy. Undoubtedly everyone should visit Paris at least once in their lifetime.