Paris Guide

The city of lights, the city of romance, the city that has it all. Every year, millions of visitors come to Paris to enjoy its exquisite beauty, its exceptional cuisine and its world-famous shopping. Thanks to the addition of modern attractions such as Disneyland Paris, a Paris family holiday would be an ideal choice.

Paris has always been a popular destination for traders, students and those on religious pilgrimages, but its 'tourism' began on a large scale only with the arrival of rail travel in the mid 19th century. One of the city’s first events to draw international interest was the Expositions Universelles that led to the construction of many new monuments, including the Eiffel Tower in 1889. These additions to the cityscape served to raise Paris' profile, helping make it the place we know today. 

How to get to Paris

The two Paris airports are Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport, which is situated 23km north of Paris and the smaller Paris Orly Airport, which is situated 14km south of the city.

From Charles de Gaulle Airport you can get to Paris by suburban train (RER), bus, shuttle, or taxi. From Orly Airport you can get the RER to the city centre, or the Orlybus which is a direct bus run by the RATP (metro) connecting Orly Airport to Denfert Rochereau in southern Paris.

A popular way to travel from Paris from the UK is by the high-speed channel tunnel rail network Eurostar. The service runs from central London (St Pancras Station) to central Paris (Gare du Nord) with a journey time of 2 hours 15 minutes.

When to visit Paris

"Paris in the springtime" is a common phrase within the travellers’ lexicon, but depending on your budget, tolerance for large crowds, and specific interests, another time of year may suit you better.

With its northern European climate, many visitors will choose to visit Paris in the Summer when the weather can be mild or hot. This is a prime time for festivals and open-air events, many of them free of charge. Visitors have the city almost to themselves during this period as locals leave en masse for their own summer holidays.

Paris in the Autumn is an interesting time, as the city gets a surge of new energy with locals returning to business following the summer break. Paris in the Winter offers festivities and decorations which bring a surreal magic to the city This can also be the best time to experience Paris’ much-vaunted status as the capital of romance. However, you should be aware that Some Paris attractions and restaurants are closed for low season.

Paris in the Spring offers colourful landscapes, and is an ideal time for ambling outdoors or enjoying Paris' famed cafe culture, which by this time of year is a hive of activity once more.

Things to do in Paris

Being relatively small in comparison to many capital cities makes Paris a very practical city for visitors. Many of the famous landmarks and other points of interest are within walking distance of one another.

The River Seine adds to Paris’ beauty and charm, whilst neatly dividing the city into two. Situated north of the river, in the area known as the Rive Droite (Right Bank), are some of the most famous Paris landmarks including the grandiose Avenue des Champs Élysées leading to the 164-foot Arc de Triomphe.

Lying at the other end of the Champs Élysées is La Place de la Concorde, a beautiful square where several important historical events, including the execution of Louis XV1, have taken place. East of the avenue is the world-famous Louvre Museum and the Centre Georges Pompidou. South of Centre Pompidou is the majestic Notre Dame cathedral on Île de la Cité.

More than any other landmark, the Eiffel Tower has come to represent an elegant and contemporary Paris. Famous throughout the world, the iron tower dominates the skyline, and provides breathtaking views of the city.

Parisians consider the Centre Georges Pompidou to be the cultural pulse of the city. This modern art museum and cultural centre opened in 1977 to honour president Georges Pompidou.

With its unmistakeable white dome, the Sacre Coeur sits at the highest point of Paris on the Montmartre knoll. This cathedral is best-known for its garish gold mosaic interiors and for its dramatic terrace, offering sweeping views of Paris on a clear day. Nearby is the legendary Moulin Rouge offering traditional Parisian cabaret.

Seeing some of Paris' most beautiful sites glide past as you drift down the river Seine is an essential experience. Companies such as Bateaux Parisiens offer 1-hour tours of the Seine all-year-round. You can hop on near Notre Dame or the Eiffel Tower.

Disneyland Paris, Parc Astérix and the Palace of Versailles are just a few of the other places of interest which are situated within easy reach of Paris.

What's on in Paris

January

The start of the year begins with Paris exhibiting its status as the fashion capital of the world. The Prêt-à-Porter Paris event gives hundreds of designers, from the heavyweights to the unknown, the chance to display their visions of what we’ll be wearing in 6 months. The event in the Porte de Versailles convention centre is geared to wholesalers, retailers, buyers, journalists, and industry professionals, though is also open to the general public.

February

During Paris' greyest month, a series of musical expositions and concerts serve to perk up the city. Concerts and theatres spring up at sites including the Cité de la Musique, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, and the Maison de Radio-France.

March

Held on the lawns of the Pelouse de Reuilly, the Foire du Trône is France's largest country fair. A ferris wheel, carousels, acrobats, fire eaters, and plenty more attractions are on offer.

April

International Marathon of Paris. Beginning on the Champs-Elysées, runners take over Paris's boulevards in a race that draws competitors from around the world.

May

VE Day celebrations in Paris, commemorating the capitulation of the Nazis on May 7, 1945, lasts 4 days, with a parade along the Champs-Elysées and additional ceremonies in Reims.

During the same month is the French Open Tennis Championship at Stade Roland-Garros. The Open features 10 days of Grand Slam men's and women's tennis on hot, dusty red courts.

June

Prix du Jockey Club & Prix Diane-Hermès. Thoroughbreds from as far away as Kentucky and Brunei compete in a horseracing competition broadcast around France and talked about in equestrian circles around the world.

Fête de la Musique. This celebration sees musicians and wannabes pour into the streets, where you can make music with anything you can lay your hands on. Musical parties pop up in virtually all the open spaces, with more organized concerts at place de la Bastille and place de la République, and in La Villette and the Latin Quarter.

July

Tour de France. This is Europe's most famous and hotly-contested bicycle race. Crews of athletes speed along an itinerary tracing the six sides of the French "hexagon," detouring deep into the Massif Central and across the Swiss Alps. The race is decided at a finish line drawn across the Champs-Elysées.

Bastille Day. This celebration of the 1789 storming of the Bastille is the birth date of modern France, and festivities reach their peak in Paris with street fairs, pageants, fireworks and feasts.

August - September

Paris Fashion Week is one of the most eagerly awaits of the year in sartorial circles.

La Villette Jazz Festival. Taking place in early September, this homage to the art of jazz incorporates 50 concerts in churches, auditoriums, and concert halls in all neighborhoods of this Paris suburb of La Villette. Past festivals have welcomed such illustrious performers as Herbie Hancock, Shirley Horn and Michel Portal.

Fête d'Automne. Paris welcomes the return of its residents from their August holidays with an ongoing and eclectic festival of modern music, ballet, theater, and art. Venues include art galleries, churches, concert halls, auditoriums, and parks citywide.

October

Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.France's answer to England's Ascot is the country's most prestigious horse race, culminating the equine season in Europe.

Paris Auto Show takes place in even-numbered years near the Porte de Versailles, showcasing he year’s most interesting car designs.

November

Armistice Day. The signing of the controversial document that ended World War I is celebrated with a military parade from the Arc de Triomphe to the Hôtel des Invalides.

December

Fête de St-Sylvestre. New Year’s Eve in Paris is most boisterously celebrated in the Latin Quarter around the Sorbonne.

 

Paris Web Sites



In our travels around the web, we found these Paris web pages useful:

A complete guide to Paris, including sights, bus tours, cruises, shopping, nightlife, restaurants and maps.
Providing shared and private Paris transportation at competitive prices.
The OFFICIAL site for tourism in France, including general information about each region, special offers and good tips, as well as brochures to download and practical advice.
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