Paris

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Arrival

From airports to Paris

Paris is served by three international airports - for more information, including arrival/departure times, check the official sites.

Charles de Gaulle International Airport (Roissy)

IATA: CDG. The major hub airport to the north-east of the city. It's notoriously confusing, so allow plenty of time for transfers. There are three terminals:
Terminal 1, Terminal 2 (which is huge and subdivided into 2A through 2G), and Terminal 3 (formerly T9). The newest exception is terminal 2G which is a separate building and is only reachable via navette/bus in 10-15min (bus leaves every 20min) so allow extra time. The free CDGVAL shuttle train connects the terminals together.

When you arrive at CDG, you should note what terminal you arrived at (2A, 2D, etc.), because when you come back to the airport to depart at the end of your trip, the RER subway train makes two stops at CDG to cover the three terminals, but there are few indications of which airlines are at which terminals. Have a close look at your air ticket to figure out which terminal you are departing from. Air France and associates leave from Terminal 2. The RER B has the airlines serviced by each terminal on a not so obvious chart posted by the door of the train.

Terminal 1

Say that again, please?
The RER B station named "Aeroport Charles de Gaulle 1" is a misnomer - it actually serves Terminal 3, not Terminal 1. However, the CDGVAL train (free of charge) links Terminals 1, 2, and 3.

There are quite a few points with power outlets specifically for charging passengers' laptops/mobiles, both down by the food court and by some of the gates.

Terminal 2E

VAT Tax refund: First, have your tax refund papers stamped at the tax refund counter in the main terminal area, before you check in with your airline. Although displaying purchase is officially mandatory, it's usually only required for high priced items.

To locate the tax refund counter in the terminal, look for the signs or ask any airline employee for directions. Don't be confused by a single queue splitting between currency exchange and tax refund office: choose tax refund if you prefer euros--while currency exchange refunds only in USD or your national currency, both buy at a robbery rate (and with no rollback to the refund window after you realize the rate).

The line can take a long time, expect several minutes per customer. At either office, you can also receive refund for your spouse if you have their passport and refund forms.

Duty-free shopping: There are no shops before security check zone. When you shop in post-security check zone, it's not genuinely taxfree, as you can receive a tax refund for those purchases as well.

Contrary to what one may expect, there is no L'Occitane; cheese is limited to soft sorts (and there are no ripe varieties); wines starts at €11 and some popular sorts like Chinon can't be found; the sausage selection is extremely limited.

There are no mid-range clothes or shoes stores, only luxury brands.

Airport transfers

For getting to or from Paris, the RER commuter train, line B, has stations in T3 (from where you can take the free CDGVAL shuttle train to T1) and T2. Trains to Paris leave every 7-8 minutes and stop at Gare du Nord, Châtelet-Les Halles, Saint-Michel Notre-Dame, Luxembourg, Port-Royal, Denfert-Rochereau and Cité Universitaire. Adult tickets cost €10 (February 2015), and for children between 4-10 the fare is €6.65 each; day tickets are not valid for travel to and from the airport. The train takes around 35 minutes to Gare du Nord and 45min to Denfert-Rochereau, making this the fastest way to get to the city. Tickets can be purchased either through green (sometimes blue) automated ticket vending machines ("Billetterie Ile-de-France") or through the ticket office serviced by transport authority personnel. Engineering works near CDG Terminal-1 and Aulnay-Sois-Bois stations are conducted between 11pm and midnight every day, so you must take a coach (bus) from Terminal 3 to the station where you can take the RER B train to Paris. The fare is included in the train ticket you purchase.

Trains for Paris usually leave from platforms 11 and 12. Look for signs saying "RER B" or "All trains go to Paris". When using the ticket from and to the airport (as with tickets for the RER commuter trains in general) you have to use it to enter and to exit the train. Always keep the ticket handy as the SNCF officials sometimes check for tickets, and if you are without one you may be fined €40. This means that after you put the ticket into the entry gate and are cleared to pass, you must retrieve the ticket from the machine and keep it with you until you leave the train system including any connections.

Circulate throught Paris and use transports is very hard with luggage, particulary at rush hours. Eelway society is specialized in luggage transfert, from or to Paris and everywhere in the city.

Be extra vigilant when using the RER B. Gangs target travelers with pick-pocketing especially as the train gets absolutely packed around the center. They also operate forceful snatch-and-run operations. For comfort and safety, especially with multiple people and/or multiple luggages, consider taking the bus or a car

There is also a TGV station in T2 for high-speed connections, mostly towards Lille and Brussels, but there are also some trains that head west to eg. Rennes and Nantes, bypassing Paris.

BY ROAD

Taxis are regulated by flat flare of 55 EUR into the city.

Uber are also common (and active as of Dec 2016), and operate for slightly less.

Allow extra time due to distance and congestions are to be expected.

Alternatively, the Roissybus service (€11) connects all terminals directly to Opéra Garnier in central Paris, but it's subject to traffic jams and rush hour, so it averages 60-90 minutes even on a good day. 350 and 351 require three t+ tickets per passenger (about €5.10 or €5.70 if tickets are purchased on the bus). The tickets can be purchased at newspaper stands, at ticket machines, or from the driver for a higher price and they need to be validated with a device next to the driver's seat. Night bus services are available on Noctilien lines N140 (1-4am on the hour, 1½ hours) and N143 (midnight-5am on the half-hour, 55 minutes) to/from Gare de l'Est for €8, which can be purchased from the driver.

BE CAREFUL when using buses to get to CDG. There are frequent traffic jams on the motorways leading to the airport - the Air France bus normally may need 50 minutes to get to CDG, but it may take 1½ hours as well. Your best bet for arriving on time with the buses is to take them very early in the morning or during other times when there isn't much traffic.

Air France buses offer two stops in Paris (Porte Maillot, Montparnasse) from CDG for a 50-minute ride. To reach a specific address into the city, this shared shuttle service costs €19 per person.

Non-shared (limo service) transfers are also available and can be booked on-line:

T2 Transfer offers CDG airport transfers to Paris city centre for up to 4 people for €60.
Top Paris Transfer offers CDG transfers to Paris city centre for up to 4 people for €60.
Blacklane offers airport transfers in Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5 Series or similar, for three people to/from CDG or Orly to/from central Paris for around €60 and €70.
Cab Service Prestige offers a Mercedes E transfer for up to 4 people for €150 from CDG to the city
Easy Private Taxi offers a sedan from CDG to the city up to 2 people for €60, up 4 people for €70 and up to 8 people for €90
LeCab offers a sedan to and from CDG for up to 4 people for €48, and to and from Orly for up to 4 people for €37
Paris airport shuttle offers a cdg to and from CDG for up to 4 people for €48, and to and from Orly for up to 4 people for €37
Private Car Service Paris offers luxury Mercedes Class E and S airport pickups from CDG and Orly to the city or Hotel for €120 and private chauffeur services for €70.
TaxiLeader.net offers CDG to and from Paris for €48 1-3 people, Orly to and from Paris €55 1-3 people
AbiTransport offers for group and family, CDG to and from Paris from €70 (1-4 people) to 90€ (8 peoples) , DisneyLand paris to and from CDG from €69 (1-4 people) to 93€ (8 peoples)

Do not get into a taxi which is not clearly marked "taxi." Taxi services between CDG and Paris should not exceed €150; scammers will try to charge you €225 or more.

Contact

A post office only exists in B and D terminals. However, you can send postcards buying post stamps in a newspaper stand, and dropping them into a postbox (both exist in every terminal).

Orly International Airport

IATA: ORY. This airport is southwest of the city, and served by a southern branch of the RER-B line that heads in the direction of Saint-Rémy-les-Chevreuse (not Robinson). This older international airport is used mainly by Air France for domestic departures, and international departures by European carriers. Orly is roughly 30 min from Paris via the OrlyBus, which departs from Métro Denfert-Rochereau (ligne 4, 6); the price is €7.70. There are buses every 10 minutes from the Orly Sud (Platform 4) and it stops at Orly Ouest on its way to the city. Tickets can be bought at a counter near the baggage claim area or directly at the counter in Platform 4. The tickets need to be validated once on the bus. Another option is to take Metro 7 to Villejuif-Louis Aragon then Tram T7 (bound for Athis-Mons, Porte de l'Essonne) to Aéroport d'Orly (not Cœur d'Orly); you need 2 tickets as there is no free transfer between the Metro and the tram, but it is considerably less expensive than the RER B and Orlyval. The tram is slow but nice, opened in 2013.

Perhaps the cheapest option from the airport is the 183 bus, which picks up in front of Terminal Sud. It takes 50 minutes, costs two euros, and drops you off at Porte de Choisy station in Zone 1, a decent starting point for a walk through Paris.

The Orlyval light rail connects the two terminals to each other and to the RER B line at Antony. It runs every 4-7min and cost €10.75 for transfer to Paris, including connections to central area metro stations. The RER B from Antony runs through Paris to Aéroport Charles de Gaulle.

Beauvais (Aéroport de Beauvais Tillé)

This airport, a distance north of the city, is a smaller regional airport that is used by some low-cost carriers such as Ryanair and WizzAir. Like many small airports there is a cartel in operation in the form of the airport operated shuttle service connecting with the Métro at Porte Maillot station. Buses run even during the small hours of the morning (06:00). Buses leave 20min after each flight arrives, and a few hours before each flight departs. Exact times can be found on the Beauvais Airport website. The journey will take about an hour in good traffic conditions, and costs €17 (or €15,90 if bought online in advance) each way, there is no reduced price for children over the age of 2 years. Unless you hire a car this is the most realistic way to head toward Paris, hence why the airport charge the price they do.

Airline Shuttles

In addition to public transport, Air France operates shuttles (Les Cars Air France) between Charles de Gaulle and Paris (€17), Orly and Paris (€12) and between the two airports (€20). Discounts apply for young/group travellers and online booking. Note that if you have connecting Air France flights that land and depart from different airports, you would still generally need to collect your luggage after landing, catch either the Air France shuttle or a taxi (readily available at all airports) to the other airport and check-in again. This altogether could take up to 2 hours particularly if traffic is at its worst. It is also common to lose time during disembarking, as passengers often need to get off at the tarmac and get on buses which will bring them to the terminal building. Be sure to have sufficient time between flights to catch your connection. Note that check-in desks usually close 30min before the flight departs, longer if flights are international carriers.
You can buy Les Cars Air France tickets online (note: don't worry about barcodes not showing up on your tickets, although the website mentions them - the driver didn't care - 2014), on the bus, or at the automated machines in their waiting area at CDG. 

If you want to take RER B and catch an early flight, make sure you bring enough change, because you can only buy tickets at the coins-only machines before the counter opens.

If you arrive to CDG Airport at night you'll need a Noctilien bus to get to the city centre. The bus stops in all three terminals (in terminal 2F it will be the second level in departure section - it is very difficult to find, but it really exists). The bus leaves every 30min after 12:30 (see timetable). The buses you'll need are N121 and N120; the price is €7.

By train

Paris is well connected to the rest of Europe by train. There is no central station serving Paris and the six different stations are not connected to each other. You will probably want to know in advance at which station your train is arriving, so as to better choose a hotel and plan for transport within the city.

Gare du Nord, (10th), Métro: Gare du Nord - TGV trains to and from Belgium, the Netherlands, and Cologne, Germany (Thalys), and the United Kingdom (Eurostar) and regular trains from Northern Europe. Passengers coming in by train from Charles de Gaulle Airport can also get off here.
Gare d'Austerlitz, (13th), Métro: Gare d'Austerlitz - regular trains to and from the centre and southwest of France, Spain and Portugal and arrival of majority of the night trains.
Gare de l'Est, (10th), Métro: Gare de l'Est - ICE/TGV to and from Luxembourg, Saarbrücken, Kaiserslautern, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart, Munich in Germany.
Gare de Lyon, (12th), Métro: Gare de Lyon - regular and TGV trains to and from Southern and eastern France: French Alps, Marseille, Lyon, Dijon, Switzerland (by TGV Lyria): Geneva, Lausanne, Neuchatel - Bern - Interlaken, Basel - Zurich, and Italy.
Gare de Bercy, (12th), Métro: Bercy. Overnight trains from and to Italy and regular trains to Auvergne.
Gare St Lazare, (8th) Métro: St-Lazare - trains to and from Basse-Normandie, Haute-Normandie.
Gare Montparnasse, (15th), Métro: Montparnasse-Bienvenüe - TGV and regular trains to and from the west and south-west of France (Brest, Rennes, Nantes, Bordeaux, Toulouse the fastest way and Spain).

The SNCF (French national railways) operates practically all trains within France excluding the Eurostar to St Pancras, London and the Thalys to Brussels and onward to the Netherlands and Germany. TGV Lyria is a joint service offered by the French and Swiss railways (SBB-CFF-FFS - Swiss Federal Railways) for TGV Lyria trains running between Paris and Switzerland. There are also a few local lines of high touristic interest which are privately owned. All SNCF, Eurostar and Thalys tickets can be bought in railway stations, city offices and travel agencies (no surcharge). The SNCF website allows to book and buy tickets up to two months in advance. There are significant discounts if you book weeks ahead. Reduced ticket prices are different for each day and each train and can be used only on the train the reservation is for. Surprisingly, round trip tickets (aller-retour) with a stay over Saturday night can be cheaper than a single one-way ticket (aller simple). A very limited selection of last minute trips are published on the SNCF website every Tuesday, with discounts of more than 50%.

There are a number of different kinds of high speed and normal trains:

TER: The regional trains (Train Express Régionale); cheapest tickets, though prices are variable on the time of day of departure (and the day of departure as well). TER are slower, stopping at almost all stations.
Intercités: A bundling of the former Intercités, Téoz, and Lunéa train categories. There are two kinds: the regular trains, which are priced the same as the TER and the trains you'll find yourself on if you have a Eurail or InterRail pass and don't want to pay extra for reservations, and the trains à réservation obligatoire, which require a reservation and are priced differently from the regular Intercités trains.
TGV: The world-famous French high-speed trains (Trains à Grande Vitesse) run very frequently to the Southeast Nice (5-6h), Marseille (3h) and Avignon (2.5h), the East (by TGV Lyria) to Geneva (3h), Lausanne (3h40), Neuchatel (4h) - Bern (4h30) - Interlaken (5h45), Basel (3h) - Zurich (4h) in Switzerland and Dijon (1h15), the Southwest Bordeaux (3h), the West Rennes (2-2.5h) and the North Lille (less than 1h). Eurostar to London (2h15) and Thalys to Brussels (1h20) use almost identical trains. Reservations are obligatory.
Thalys A high-speed train service running daily to/from the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. It can be a bit expensive compared to normal trains, but cheap enough if you buy in advance.
Intercity: Intercity trains leave for all parts of Europe, including overnight trains to San Sebastian in Spain, Porto and Lisbon in Portugal.
Eurostar: The Eurostar service connects Paris with London St. Pancras directly and Brussels indirectly, as well many other destinations indirectly through the various west European rail services. Travel time between Paris Gare du Nord and London St Pancras International currently averages at 2h15min, following the opening of a new rail link in late 2007. Eurail and InterRail passes are not valid for this train, though passholders can benefit from a reduced price. You must arrive at the station 30 minutes before the departure of the train to complete security and passport controls.
CNL: The overnight services (City Night Line) by the German operator Deutsche Bahn which have sleeping berths in addition to the regular coach cars. These are not particularly speedy. They are designed to leave Paris in the late evening and arrive at their destinations at a reasonable morning hour. While the trains themselves are covered by the rail passes, the sleeping accommodation supplements are not, and need to be booked separately, but what you get is a moving bed which transports you to another city, saving on hotel bills in the process. Paris has 3 departures nightly, all from the Gare de l'Est - to Munich, Berlin and Hamburg.

Transfer between train stations

From Gare du Nord

  • Gare du Nord - Gare de l'Est (8min): Metro line 4 direction Porte d'Orleans. By foot, it is also about 8 minutes, but you will have to descend a set of stairs.

  • Gare du Nord - Gare de Lyon (20min): RER D direction Melun/Malesherbes; alternatively, if the RER D is not operational, RER B direction Robinson/Saint-Rémy-les-Chevreuse to Châtelet Les Halles and then RER A direction Marne-la-Vallée/Boissy-Saint-Léger to Gare de Lyon (this change only involves getting off the RER B train and getting on the RER A train on the other side of the same platform)

  • Gare du Nord - Gare Montparnasse (30min): Metro line 4 direction Porte d'Orleans

  • Gare du Nord - Gare de Bercy (25min): Follow the directions for Gare de Lyon, then switch to Métro line 14 direction Olympiades to Bercy.

From Gare de l'Est

  • Gare de l'Est - Gare du Nord (8min) : Metro line 5 direction Bobigny. By foot, it is also about 8 minutes, but you will have to climb set of stairs.

  • Gare de l'Est - Gare de Lyon (20min) : Metro line 5 direction Place d'Italie, stop at Quai de la Rapee and follow pedestrian signs to Gare de Lyon. Alternatively, Métro line 5 in the same direction to Bastille and then Metro line 1 direction Château de Vincennes to Gare de Lyon.

  • Gare de l'Est - Gare Montparnasse (30min): Metro line 4 direction Porte d'Orleans.

  • Gare de l'Est - Gare de Bercy (25min) : Metro line 5 direction Place d'Italie, stop at Bastille and switch to Metro line 1 direction Château de Vincennes to Gare de Lyon, then switch to Metro line 14 direction Olympiades to Bercy. Alternatively, Metro line 5 to Place d'Italie and then Metro line 6 direction Nation to Bercy.

From Gare de Lyon

  • Gare de Lyon - Gare du Nord (20min): RER D direction Orry-la-Ville; if the RER D is not working, take RER A direction Saint-Germain-en-Laye/Cergy Le Haut/Poissy to Châtelet Les Halles and then RER B direction Aéroport Charles de Gaulle/Mitry Claye to Gare du Nord.

  • Gare de Lyon - Gare de I'Est (25min): Metro line 14 to Chatelet, direction St. Lazzare followed by Metro line 4 direction Porte de Clignancourt.

  • Gare de Lyon - Gare Montparnasse (30min): Metro line 14 to Chatelet, direction St. Lazzare followed by Metro line 4 direction Porte d'Orleans.

  • Gare de Lyon - Gare de Bercy (15min): A free shuttle runs between the two every half hour. Alternatively, Metro line 14 direction Olympiades to Bercy.

From Gare Montparnasse

  • Gare Montparnasse - Gare du Nord OR Gare de I'Est (30min): Metro line 4 direction Porte de Clignancourt

  • Gare Montparnasse - Gare de Lyon (30min): Metro line 4 to Chatelet, direction Porte de Clignancourt followed by Metro line 14 direction Olympiades

From Gare de Bercy

For all train stations, either take the free shuttle to Gare de Lyon or Metro line 14 to the same and follow the directions given from Gare de Lyon.


Getting around

The best and cheapest way to get around Paris is on foot, and secondly, using the Métro.

On foot

Walking in Paris is one of the great pleasures of visiting the City of Light. It is possible to cross the entire city in only a few hours (only if you can somehow keep yourself from stopping at numerous cafés and shops).

Paris walking 101
To get a great orientation of the city on foot while seeing many of Paris' major sights, you can do a West to East walk from the Arc de Triomphe to Ile de la Cite (Notre Dame). This walk takes about 1-2 hours without any stops. Start at the top of the Champs Elysees (at the Arc de Triomphe) and begin walking down the Champs Elysees towards Place ('square') de la Concorde.

  • On the way towards the obelisk on the square, you'll see the major stores and restaurants of Paris' most famous avenue.

  • Once you've passed the main shopping area, you'll see the Petit Palais and the Grand Palais to your right.

  • At Place de la Concorde, you'll be able to see many of Paris' major monuments around you. In front of you is the Tuileries, behind you is the Champs-Elysees and Arc de Triomphe, behind you to your right is the Tour Eiffel and Musee d'Orsay, and finally, to your left is the Madeleine.

  • Continue straight ahead and enter the Tuileries Gardens passing by fountains, flowers, and lovers in the park.

  • As you continue straight ahead, and out of the garden, you'll see the pyramid entrance to the Louvre directly in front of you.

  • With the pyramid directly in front of you, and the Tuileries directly behind you, turn to your right and walk towards the Seine.

  • Now you can walk along the Seine (eastwards) until you reach Pont Neuf. Cross Pont Neuf and walk through the Latin Quarter, cross the river again to reach Notre Dame cathedral on Ile de la Cité.

The smartest travellers take advantage of the walkability of this city and stay above ground as much as possible. A metro ride of less than 2 stops is best avoided since walking will take about the same amount of time and you'll be able to see more of the city. That said, pay attention to the Métro stations that you may pass by on your journey; the Métro network is very dense within the city and the lines are virtually always located directly underneath major boulevards, so if you become lost it is easy to regain your bearings by walking along a major boulevard until you find a Métro station.

By Métro

Paris has an excellent underground train system, known as the Métro (short for Chemin de fer métropolitain, Metropolitan Railway). Although you will probably take the RER train from the airport (CDG) to Paris, don't be confused: RER is a French-language acronym that translates to "Regional Express Network," and is mostly used by commuters. Look for the Métro stations, marked either with a large "M" sign or by one of Hector Guimard's remarkable Art Nouveau station entrances. However, crossing Paris can be much faster by RER than by Métro, and within the city of Paris, there is little functional difference between the RER and Métro (there are numerous transfers between the two networks, and a ticket for the Métro is also valid for the RER within the city limits - see below).

There are 16 Métro lines (lignes) (1-143bis, and 7bis) on which trains travel all day at intervals of a few minutes 05:00-00:30 (Saturday night/Sunday morning: 01:30), stopping at all stations on the line. Times for trains can be seen on an electronic scrollboard above the platform. Line 14, which is fully automated, is called the Méteor. Scheduled times for first and last trains are posted in each station on the centre sign. Generally, except for early and late hours, travellers should not worry about specific Metro train times; just get to your station and take the next train. Trains usually come 2-3 minutes apart during rush hour and 5-10 minutes apart during other times, depending on the line.

Visitors with heavy luggage or handicap should find out in-advance about the facilities at each station to be used. Getting to boarding platforms from street level, or going between platforms to change lines can be difficult even at major intersecting stations at most times, and everywhere during rush hours. It usually involves walking up and down multiple flights of busy stairs. Elevators are seldom seen, many aren't working, and in major outlying stations any escalator will likely support only exiting to the street level. If you have any lingering concern about station facilities, check bus routes and timings to find convenient bus service instead; failing that, use a taxi.

Many Metro trains do not carry destination binders. All lines on the Paris metro run end-to-end with some trains terminating at certain stations. This practice is common only in peak hours and if you are on a metro train that terminates before the last station, the driver will make an announcement (in French). Listen carefully for signs that the train is terminating before the end of the line.

The lines are named according to the names of their terminal stations (the end of the line). If you ask the locals about directions, they will answer something like : take line number n toward "end station 1", change at "station", take the line nn toward "end station 2" etc. The lines are also colour-coded.

In addition, there are five commuter train lines: RER A, B, C, D, and E. RER trains run at intervals of about 6-7min, and stop at every RER station within Paris; RER stations are equipped with electronic boards or monitors which display the station stops each train makes outside the city limits. Although a regular subway ticket can be used within Paris (Zone 1), it is necessary to pass the ticket through the turnstile when passing between the subway and the RER lines, as the two systems are separate networks. This ticket is necessary to enter and exit the RER networks, as the RER trains travel on to the Parisian suburbs, outside the zone where a regular subway ticket can be used. Travel outside the city centre without a valid RER ticket will get you fined, and the packs of inspectors who roam the system show no mercy to tourists pleading ignorance. In particular, Charles de Gaulle airport is not within the city; you must purchase an RER ticket to get there.

The Métro and RER move staggering numbers of people into, out of, and around Paris (6.75 million people per day on average), and most of the time in reasonable comfort. Certain lines, however, are operating at or near capacity, sometimes being so full that you'll have to let one or two trains pass before being able to board. If you can help it, avoid Métro lines 1, 4, 9, & 13 and RER lines A & B during rush hours as these are the most congested lines in the system.

In addition to RER, there are many suburban train lines (Transilien) departing from the main train stations. One line of interest is the one from Gare Montparnasse to Versailles-Chantiers, a quick way to go to Versailles castle (covered by a ticket for at least Zones 1-4). The alternative is to use RER C to Versailles Rive Gauche (this station is the closest to the castle). Do not use RER C8 to Versailles Chantiers; this will do a very long loop in the southern suburbs before reaching Versailles.

For travel outside of the Paris zone, the train arrival times are shown on a monitor hanging from the ceiling inside the RER station above the platform. Information about the stops to be made by the next incoming train is presented on a separate board also hanging from the ceiling. It is important to check this board before boarding the train, as not all trains make stops at all stations on a given line. Four letter codes (KRIN, DIPA, TORE, etc.) are used for the RER and Transilien trains. On RER A, B and C the first letter indicates the destination of the train, the second the branch or service type, and the last two are to make the name easier to memorize; on RER D and E, the first letter is destination, the second letter is service type, the third letter is branch, and the fourth letter is direction; on Transilien lines, it's usually one name for every service type. You can look up what these codes mean on information panels in the station, but the easiest and fastest way is often to check the information screens along the platforms.

RATP is responsible for public transport including metro, buses, and some of the high speed inter-urban trains (RER). The rest of the RER is operated by SNCF. However, both companies take the same tickets, so the difference is of little interest for most people except in case of strikes (RATP may strike without SNCF doing so or the other way round). Current fares can be found at their website. Basically, as you move farther from Paris (into higher zones), tickets get more expensive.

For the subway, a single ticket (ticket t+) costs €1.90, or a "carnet" of ten tickets can be bought for €14.50 at any station. Tickets named tarif réduit may be purchased for children under the age of 10 but only in a carnet of 10 for €7.25. (Prices from 1 August 2016) Both tickets are valid for unlimited metro and RER or bus and tram transfers during two hours for RER and metro, and 1 hour 30 between the first and the last punch for bus and tram. RER + Métro and Bus + Tram are two separate systems, but they use the same tickets. This means you have to use a new ticket if you transfer from bus to metro or from metro to bus. Tickets do not expire.

A one-day ticket, a weekly pass, and a monthly pass are also available. The price varies according to the zones for which the ticket can be used. The cheapest 1-day ticket called Mobiis, is valid for zones 1-2, with a price of €6.60. Once bought, it is necessary to write in the spaces provided on the ticket the date the ticket is being used in European notation of day/month/year (valable le), the last name (nom), and the first name (prénom). Unfortunately, this ticket is not valid for use for travel to/from Charles de Gaulle airport. If you make only a few trips in one day, the carnet of ten tickets (for €1.33 per trip) can be more economical than a one-day ticket. Remember to consider the price for all members of your group/family, including children, which days you are travelling on, and in which zones you will be travelling.

For travellers under the age of 26, there is a special ticket (Jeunes 26) that you can purchase for use on the weekends or holidays. The price varies depending on the number of zones you wish to cover (Zones 1-3 is €3.85 and Zones 1-5 is €8.35; there are other zone combinations available as well) and the ticket is good for one day of unlimited usage of the metro, RER, bus, and trams.

If you are staying a bit longer, the weekly and monthly passes are called Navigo Découverte (1 week pass, €19.15 for zones 1-2) and the monthly Navigo Mensuel (one-month pass, €62.90 for zones 1-2). Note that an Découverte (DAY-koo-VERT) starts on Mondays and a Mensuel on the first of the month. The Navigo pass is non-transferrable and requires the user to provide information on the pass after the sale. The pass is sold for €5. You must write your last name (nom) and your first name (prénom) and stick your photo on the nominative card. After, you have to refill your pass with a recharge hébdomadaire (one-week refill), or a recharge mensuelle (one-month refill). You have to choose at least two of the contiguous "zones": Paris is the first zone, La Défense is in the third zone, and Versailles in the fourth. Everything related to a "Navigo" pass is in purple (like the target for the pass in the turnstiles).

Although not as good a deal for adults in most cases as the Mobilis or Navigo, there are also one-to-five-day tourist passes, called Paris Visite, available, which are a bargain for kids of ages 4-11, starting at €6.10 per day for travel within zones 1-3.

Keep your ticket or pass with you at all times as you may be checked. You will be cited and forced to pay on the spot if you do not have a ticket. The most likely spots for being checked are just behind the turnstiles at big Métro stations or during Métro line changes (correspondances). RATP agents may be present in the Métro stations even on Sunday nights.

Métro stations have both ticket windows and automatic vending machines. The majority of machines do not take notes, only coins or European credit cards with a pin-encoded chip on the front. Therefore, to use either euro bills or a non-European credit card with a magnetic stripe, it is necessary to make the purchase from the ticket window. Be advised that some ticket vending machines do not give change, so use exact change or go to the ticket window. If you look at the vending machines closely, you may find one in the group that takes euro bills and will give change; these machines can be found at major or touristy stations such as Tuileries, Gare de Lyon or La Défense-Grande Arche.

Some larger stations have secondary entrances, where there is no ticket booth. These are labelled voyageurs avec billets (passengers with tickets).

Be aware of ticket touts who used to stay near single vending machines, which have much higher rates for tickets, eg. €7 for a single ride ticket!

Avoid suburban charges
If you have any tickets or Navigo passes for zone 1-2 (inside the Paris area, the lower rate) and want go to La Défense from Châtelet, you have to take the Métro (Line 1). You can take the RER A (and save a few minutes), but you have to pay an additional fare, because even though you arrive at the same station, the RER exit is supposed to be outside of Paris! On the other hand, Métro fares are the same, even in the suburbs. So be careful as there are usually a lot of ticket examiners present when you get off the RER A.

Each station displays a detailed map of the surrounding area with a street list and the location of buildings (monuments, schools, places of worship, etc,) as well as exits for that particular metro. Maps are located on the platform if the station has several exits or near the exit if there is only one exit.

Except for trains on lines 1, 2, 4, 5, and 14, the doors will not open automatically. In such a case, there are handles or buttons located both inside and outside the train that you have to push or unlatch in order to open the door.

Strikes are a regular occurrence on the Paris public transit system. Generally during a strike, there will be reduced or no service on certain lines but parts of the network will continue to operate; however, in some cases the entire network may shut down completely. Visit the RATP and SNCF websites for information on which routes are affected by a strike. Generally, the automated Métro lines 1 and 14 will be running during a strike because they operate without human drivers - if you are caught by a strike, it is best to use it whenever possible.

By taxi

Taxis are cheaper at night when there are no traffic jams to be expected. There are not as many taxi cabs as one would expect, and sometimes finding a taxi can be challenging. In the daytime, it is not always a good idea to take a taxi, as walking or taking the metro will be cheaper and, depending on traffic, faster. If you know you will need one to get to the airport, or to a meeting, it is wise to book ahead by phone (see below).

Remember if a taxi is near a taxi stand, they're not supposed to pick you up except at the stand where there may be other people in line ahead of you. Taxi stands are usually near train stations, big hotels, hospitals, major intersections, and other points of interest, and are marked with a blue and white "TAXI" sign.

To stop a taxi
... watch the sign on the roof: if the white sign is lit, the taxi is on duty and available, if the white sign is off and a coloured light is lit under it (blue, orange), it's on duty and busy, if the white sign is off and no coloured light is on, the taxi is off duty. Same thing with the coloured signs (the two systems exist in Paris, but it tells nothing about the company): if the wide sign is green, the cab is available, if it is red, the taxi is busy, if it is off, the taxi is off

As in many other cities a taxi can be difficult to stop; you may have to try several times. When you do get a taxi to stop, the driver will usually roll down his window to ask you where you want to go. If the driver can't (or doesn't want to) go where you want, he might tell you that he's near the end of his work day and can't possibly get you where you want before he has to go off-duty.

There is a €6.50 minimum on all taxi journeys mandated by city law, but the meter does not show this amount, which can result in being asked to pay more than the metered amount on short rides. Frequently the taxi driver will not want to drive you all the way to the doorstep, but will prefer to let you out a block or so away if there are one or more one-way streets to contend with. Try to look at this as a cost-savings rather than an inconvenience. You should pay while still seated in the cab as in New York and not through the front window London style.

To avoid bad surprises, make sure you download Taxibeat, a taxi hailing app available for iOS and Android that enables you to choose your taxi driver based on user ratings. Unlike radio taxis, the service comes at no extra cost for passengers - but be aware of the approach fare, and drivers associated with Taxibeat tend to offer better value service. (Most speak fluent English, offer free Wi-Fi on board, etc).

Many drivers prefer that you avoid using your mobile phone during the journey; if you do have to, make an apologizing gesture and sound, and do make a short call.

  • A tip is included in the fare price; If you're especially satisfied with the service, you can give something (basically 10%), but you don't have to.

  • There is an extra charge for baggage handling.

If for any reason you wish to file a complaint about a Paris taxi, take note of the taxi's number on the sticker on the lefthand back seat window.

Also if you take a taxi to the Charles de Gaulle airport be prepared to pay €70 or more because there is often heavy traffic. If there isn't traffic it will be less expensive, but that is rare. The RER B or a bus is cheaper.

UBER is very easy to hail in Paris and cheaper than local taxis.

Beware of illegal taxis (see the 'Stay Safe' section).

By car

In a word: don't. It's generally a very bad idea to rent a car to visit Paris. Traffic is very dense during the day, and finding street parking is exceedingly difficult in all but the most peripheral neighbourhoods of the city. This is especially true in areas surrounding points of interest for visitors, since many of these are in areas designed long before cars existed. A majority of Parisian households do not own cars, and many people who move to the city find themselves selling their cars within a month or two.

That said, driving may be an option for going to some sights in the suburbs such as Vaux-le-Vicomte castle or the town and chateau of Fontainebleau, or for travelling to other places in France. You may prefer to rent from a location not situated in Paris proper.

Traffic rules in Paris are basically the same as elsewhere in France, with the exception of having to yield to incoming traffic on roundabouts. However, driving in dense traffic in Paris and suburbs during commute times, can be especially strenuous. Be prepared for traffic jams, cars changing lanes at short notice, and so on. Another issue is pedestrians, who tend to fearlessly jaywalk more in Paris than in other French cities. Be prepared for pedestrians crossing the street on red, and expect similar adventurous behaviour from cyclists. Remember that even if a pedestrian or cyclist crossed on red, if you hit him, you (in fact, your insurance) will have to bear civil responsibility for the damages, and possibly prosecution for failing to control your vehicle.

Paris has several ring road systems. There is a series of boulevards named after Napoleonic-era generals (Boulevard MassénaBoulevard Ney, and so forth), and collectively referred to as boulevard des maréchaux. These are normal wide avenues, with traffic lights. Somewhat outside of this boulevard is the boulevard périphérique, a motorway-style ring road. The périphérique intérieur is the inner lanes (going clockwise), the périphérique extérieur the outer lanes (going counter-clockwise). Note that, despite the looks, the périphérique is not an autoroute: the speed limit is 80km/h and, very unusually, incoming traffic has the right of way, at least theoretically (presumably because, otherwise, nobody would be able to enter during rush hour).


Shopping

Paris is one of the great fashion centres of the Western world, up there with New York, London and Milan, making it a shopper's delight. While the Paris fashion scene is constantly evolving, the major shopping centres tend to be the same. High end couture can be found in the 8th arrondisement. In summer, there is nothing better than browsing the boutiques along Canal St-Martin, or strolling along the impressive arcades of the historic Palais-Royal, with beautifully wrapped purchases swinging on each arm.

A good note about Le Marais is that as it is a mostly Jewish neighbourhood, most of the shops in Le Marais are open on Sundays. The stores in this area are intimate, boutique, "Parisian" style clothing stores. You will no doubt find something along each street, and it is always well worth the look.

Other great areas to shop around in are around the area Sèvres Babylone (Métro Line 10 and Line 12). It is in this area you will find the Le Bon Marché 7th, particularly rue du Cherche Midi. The area boasts some of the major fashion houses (Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier, Versace, etc) and also has smaller private boutiques with handmade clothing.

In the Quartier Saint-Germain-des-Prés, you can find a handful of vintage clothing shops, carrying anything from couture early 20th century dresses, to 70s Chanel sunglasses. Walking along Boulevard Saint-Germain, you will find major brands. However, if in search of eclectic finds, opt to walk the northern side of the Boulevard, especially along rue Saint André des Arts, where you can always find a nice café to stop in. The area south of Saint-Germain is just as nice, and comes with a price tag to match.

In the artsy quarters of 1 and 4, there are many bargains to be had, once again, if you are prepared to look. Souvenirs are easily found and can be fairly inexpensive as long as you don't buy from the tourist sites. For cheap books of French connection, try the University/Latin quarter as they sell books in all languages starting from half a euro each.

Flea Markets

Paris has three main flea-markets, located on the outskirts of the central city. The most famous of these is the Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen (Porte de Clignancourt) (Clignancourt Flea Market), Métro: Porte de Clignancourt, a haven for lovers of antiques, second-hand goods and retro fashion. The best days to go are Saturday and Sunday. Note that there are particular times of the week when only antique collectors are allowed into the stalls, and there are also times of the day when the stall owners take their Parisian Siesta and enjoy a leisurely cappuccino for an hour or so. The best times to visit the flea markets are in the spring and summertime, when the area is more vibrant. In and around the metro station, you may find the area a little wild but still safe.

A very attractive antiques market in the Marche aux puces de Saint-Ouen is the "Marche Dauphine" on 138 rue des Rosiers,Saint-Ouen. This market is covered so you can go there by all weather and you'll find a large selection of goods, as many as 200 dealers under the same roof. The biggest store of vintage luggage is there selling fabulous vintage Louis Vuitton and Goyard trunks as well as aviation furniture, 1930's ocean liner wardrobes and fabulous chandeliers. In this market, there are specialized jewelers, classic French antiques dealers, paintings dealers, and textile dealers. It's the most versatile market inside the flea market.

Musical Instruments

Rue de Rome, situated near Gare St. Lazare, is crowded with luthiers, brass and woodwind makers, piano sellers, and sheet music stores. Métro: Europe (Ligne 3). The area south of the metro station Pigalle is also packed with music shops (more oriented towards guitars and drums).

Artwork

For art lovers, be sure to check out Quartier Saint-Germain-des-Prés, which is renowned for its galleries, and it is impossible to turn a street without finding a gallery to cast your glance in. On Fridays, most open until late. Most even have the benefit of bottles of wine so you can wander in with your glass of wine and feel very artistique. Great roads to walk along are rue de Seinerue Jacobrue des Beaux ArtsRue Bonaparte, and Rue Mazarine. Also, be sure to visit the historical district of Montparnasse and quartier Vavin where painters like Modigliani, Gauguin and Zadkine used to work.


See

One of the best value and most convenient ways to see the sights of Paris is with the Paris Museum Pass, a pre-paid entry card that allows entry into over 70 museums and monuments around Paris (and the Palace of Versailles) and comes in 2-day (€48), 4-day (€62) and 6-day (€74) denominations. Note these are 'consecutive' days. The card allows you to jump lengthy queues, a big plus during tourist season when line can be extensive, and is available from participating museums, tourist offices, Fnac branches and all the main Métro and RER train stations. You will still need to pay to enter most special exhibitions. To avoid waiting in the first long queue to purchase the Museum Pass, stop to purchase your pass a day or more in advance after mid-day. The pass does not become active until your first museum or site visit when you write your start date. After that, the days covered are consecutive. Do not write your start date until you are certain you will use the pass that day and be careful to use the usual European date style as indicated on the card: day/month/year.

Also consider

  • Paripass a pre-paid entry card + queue jumping to 60 attractions including The Louvre, The Arc de Triomphe, as well as a river cruise and allowing free metro and public transport travel.

  • Paris Comboppass a cheaper alternative which comes in Lite, Premium and a Suburban version dedicated to visitors residing at Disneyland® Paris.

Planning your visits: Several sites have "choke points" that restrict the number of visitors that can flow through. These include: The Eiffel Tower, Sainte-Chapelle,The Catacombs and the steps to climb to the top of the Notre Dame Cathedral. To avoid queues, you should start your day by arriving at one of these sites at least 30 minutes before opening time. Otherwise, expect a wait of at least an hour. Most museums and galleries are closed on either Monday or Tuesday. Examples: The Louvre museum is closed on Tuesdays while the Orsay museum is closed on Mondays. Be sure to check museum closing dates to avoid disappointment. Also, most ticket counters close 30-45min before final closing.

All national museums are open free of charge on the first Sunday of the month. However, that this may mean long queues and crowded exhibits. Keep away from Paris during Easter week due to crowding. People have to queue up at the Eiffel Tower for several hours even early in the morning. However, this wait can be greatly reduced, if fit, by walking the first two levels, then buying an elevator ticket to the top. Entry to the permanent exhibitions at city-run museums is free at all times (admission is charged for temporary exhibitions).

These listings are just some highlights of things that you really should see if you can during your visit to Paris. The complete listings are found on each individual district page (follow the link in parenthesis).

Good listings of current cultural events in Paris can be found in 'Pariscope' or 'Officiel des spectacles', weekly magazines listing all concerts, art exhibitions, films, stage plays and museums. Available from all kiosks.

Landmarks

  • Arc de Triomphe — The Arc de Triomphe exudes grandeur and offers a central view of the city Métro/RER Charles de Gaulle-Etoile (1, 2, 6, A)

  • Catacombs — Used to store the exhumed bones of about 6 million people from the overflowing Paris cemeteries. They fill a section of caverns and tunnels that are the remains of old stone mines underneath the city. There is a limit to the number of visitors allowed within the Catacombs at one time (200 persons). So, if you arrive just after opening, you must wait until someone exits, approximately 45-60 minutes, before anyone is admitted. Métro Denfert-Rochereau (4, 6, B)

  • Château de Versailles — Must be seen. France's most exquisite chateau, on the outskirts of the city, easily visited by train. Once the home to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. RER Versailles Rive Gauche (C)

  • The Eiffel Tower — No other monument better symbolizes Paris. Métro Bir-Hakeim (6) or RER Champ de Mars-Tour Eiffel (C)

  • Grand Arche de la Défense — A modern office-building variant of the Arc de Triomphe. Métro/RER La Défense (1, A)

  • Notre Dame Cathedral — Impressive Gothic cathedral that was the inspiration for Victor Hugo's novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Climb to the top! Métro Cité (4) or RER Saint-Michel-Notre Dame (B, C)

  • Opera Garnier — Masterpiece of theatre architecture of the 19th century built by Charles Garnier and inaugurated in 1875 housing the Paris Opera since it was founded by Louis XIV. Métro Opéra (3, 7, 8)

  • Pantheon — Underneath, the final resting place for the great heroes of the French Republic including Voltaire, Victor Hugo, and Marie Curie; above, a marvellous view of the city. Métro Cardinal Lemoine (10) or RER Luxembourg (B)

  • Père-Lachaise Cemetery — Unlike any cemetery in the world. Ornate grave stones, monuments set among tree lined lanes. See the graves of Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, and Frederic Chopin, amongst many others. Métro Père Lachaise (2, 3)

  • Sacré Coeur — A church perched on top of the highest point in Paris. Behind the church is the artists' area, in front are spectacular views of the whole city. Métro Anvers (2) or Abbesses (12), then climb the stairs on Rue Foyatier or take the funicular to the top of the hill.

  • Sainte Chapelle — Exquisite stained glass chapel. More beautiful interior than the gloomy Notre Dame Cathedral. Métro Cité (4)

  • Place de la République — Since it's renovation in 2014 it's become a pedestrianized open space. Ideal for strolling or people watching. It's also a place for demonstrations. This is where the crowds gathered in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings. Métro Place de la République (3)(5)(8)(9)(11)

Museums and galleries

All national museums et monuments are free for all every first Sunday of the month. Most public museums, as well as many public monuments (such as the Arc de Triomphe or the towers of Notre-Dame), are also free for citizens of the European Union or long term residents (over three months), if they are under 26 years old.

  • The Louvre, — One of the finest museums in the world. Home of the Mona Lisa and innumerable others. Enormous building and collection, plan at least two visits. Métro Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre (1, 7)

  • Musée d'Orsay, — Incredible collection housed in a former railway station. Works by the great artists of the 19th century (1848-1914) including Monet's "Blue Water Lilies, Renoir's "Bal du moulin de la Galette", van Gogh's "Bedroom in Arles", Whistler's "The Artists Mother", etc. RER Musée d'Orsay (C) or Métro Solférino (12)

  • Rodin Museum, — His personal collection and archives, in a charming home with garden. Métro Varenne (13)

  • Picasso Museum — Contains the master's own collection. Métro Saint-Paul (1) or Chemin Vert (8)

  • Musée Marmottan-Monet [rue Louis Boilly]— Over 300 paintings of Claude Monet. Also, the works of Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. "Impression Soleil Levant" by Monet is on display. Métro La Muette (9)

  • Musée de l'Orangerie, — [Jardin des Tuileries] Houses "The Water Lilies" (or "Nymphéas") - a 360 degree depiction of Monet's flower garden at Giverny. Also, impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings by Cézanne, Matisse, Modigliani, Picasso, Renoir, Rousseau, Soutine, Sisley and others. Métro Concorde (1, 8, 12)

  • Musée Delacroix— Housed in the home of painter Eugene Delacroix. Métro Mabillon (10) or Saint-Germain-des-Près (4)

  • Centre Georges Pompidou, — The museum of modern art. The building and adjoining Stravinsky Fountain are attractions in themselves. Métro Rambuteau (11)

  • Les Invalides, — Very impressive museum of arms and armor from the Middle Ages to today. Also contains the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte. Métro Varenne (13)

  • Cluny, — A medieval museum exhibiting the five "The Lady and the Unicorn" tapestries, housed in a part Roman, part medieval building. Métro Cluny-La Sorbonne (10)

  • Le Musee des Arts Decoratifs, — Showcasing eight centuries of French savoir-faire. Métro Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre (1, 7)

  • Carnavalet — Museum of Paris history; exhibitions are permanent and free. Métro Saint-Paul (1) or Chemin Vert (8)

  • Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie - La Villette, — Science museum primarily for children. Métro Porte de la Villette (7)

  • Mémorial de la Shoah, — Paris's Holocaust Memorial Museum, in the heart of the Marais on rue Geoffroy l'Asnier. Free Entry, weekly guided tours. Second Sunday of the month there is a free tour in English. Métro Pont Marie (7)

  • Jacquemart-Andre Museum , — Private collection of French, Italian, Dutch masterpieces in a typical 19th century mansion. Métro Miromesnil (9, 13)

  • Musée du quai Branly,—indigenous arts and cultures of Africa, Asia,the Americas and Oceania. Métro Alma-Marceau (9)


Do

Events

It seems like there's almost always something happening in Paris, with the possible exceptions of the school holidays in February and August, when about half of Parisians are to be found not in Paris, but in the Alps or the South or the West of France respectively. The busiest season is probably the autumn, from a week or so after la rentrée scolaire or "back to school" to around Noël (Christmas) theatres, cinemas and concert halls book their fullest schedule of the year.

Even so, there are a couple of annual events in the winter, starting with a furniture and interior decorating trade fair called Maison & Object in January.

In February le nouvel an chinois (Chinese New Year) is celebrated in Paris as it is in every city with a significant Chinese population. There are parades in the 3rd,4th and 20th arrondissements and especially in the Chinatown in the 13th south of Place d'Italie which is not only Chinese, but also present Asian organizations, Martial Arts clubs and strangely, Brazilian culture-based groups. Also in February is the Six Nations Rugby Tournament which brings together France, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy, so expect to see strong guys in kilts in the streets.

If sport is not your thing, the Salon international de l'Agriculture (International farming fair/festival)allow you to huge animals indoor (bulls, cows, goats and pigs from every corner of the country) and to taste the best regional products, such as wine, cheese, delicatessen, honey, spices... Each region of France, including exotic overseas territories, present at least one stand, and often several. The former President of the Republic Jacques Chirac use to appear each year on national TV when visiting this fair.

Last but not least, 14th February is a world-recognized Valentine's Day and there is no place more romantic than Paris. One of the spots worth visiting is Square des Abbesses in Montmarte-La Chapelle to check out Le Mur des Je T’Aime (The 'I love you' Wall), a concept piece of contemporary art which is an idea of Claire Kito and Frédéric Baron. It's a 40m² wall covered with inscriptions of the words ‘I love you’ in 250 languages, with red splashes which form a heart when pieced together.

The first of two Fashion weeks occurs in March: Spring Fashion Week, giving designers a platform to present women’s prêt-à-porter, ready to wear, collections for the following winter.

The French Tennis Open in which the world’s top players battle it out on a clay court runs during two weeks starting on the last Sunday in May. By the time its done in June, a whole range of festivities start up. Rendez-vous au Jardin is an open house for many Parisian gardens, giving you a chance to meet Parisian gardeners and see their creations. The Fete de la Musique celebrates the summer solstice (21 June) with this city-wide free musical knees-up. Amateur bands are allowed to play at least until 1am everywhere in the city, and sometimes later. (Well, they don't exactly have an authorization, but...) If Rock (of any style) is always heavily represented, every style of music including Hip-Hop, electro, traditional, classical, jazz and gospel can be found.

Finally on the 26th of June is the Gay Pride parade, featuring probably the most sincere participation by the mayor's office of any such parade on the globe.

The most important music festival happens between the end of June and the beginning of July:  Solidays.  Each year, the program tends to be more impressive, featuring many new bands almost unknown and international stars as well, so many people wait until the program is released and then rush to get a ticket as soon as possible. Besides, this 3-day festival is dedicated to the fight against AIDS, is based on volunteering and deals a lot with AIDS prevention.

The French national holiday La Fête Nationale - commonly referred by non-French citizens as Bastille Day - on 14 July celebrates the storming of the infamous Bastille during the French Revolution. Paris hosts several spectacular events that day of which the best known is the Bastille Parade which is held on the Champs-Élysées at 10:00 and broadcast on television to most of the rest of Europe. It involves French army in shiny dress uniforms, tanks and usually an acrobatic show from the Patrouille de France, highly skilled jet pilots similar at the British Red Arrows. The entire street will be crowded with spectators so arrive early. The Bastille Day Fireworks is an exceptional treat for travellers lucky enough to be in the city on Bastille Day. The Office du Tourisme et des Congress de Paris recommends gathering in or around the champs du Mars, the gardens of the Eiffel Tower. However, you don't need to be so close to enjoy the show, as Paris contains many elevated spots such as the Montparnasse tower, the Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre and Parc de Belleville's belvedere.

Also in July, Cinema en Plein Air is the annual outdoor cinema event that takes place at the Parc de la Villette, For most of July and August, parts of both banks of the Seine are converted from expressway into an artificial beach for Paris Plage. Also in July the cycling race le Tour de France has a route that varies annually, however it always finishes on the last Sunday of July under the Arc de Triomphe.

On the last full weekend in August, a world-class music festival Rock en Seine draws international rock and pop stars to barges on the Seine near moored off of the 8th.

During mid-September DJs and (usually young) fans from across Europe converge on Paris for five or six days of dancing etc. culminating in the Techno parade - a parade whose route traces roughly from Pl. de Bastille to the Sorbonne, and around the same time the festival Jazz à la Villette  brings some of the biggest names in contemporary jazz from around the world. At the same period, a very famous festival takes place, more pop-rock oriented, called "Fête de l'Huma", which stands for "Fête de l'Humanité", from the name of the newspaper which organizes it. The newspaper is clearly communist-oriented, but the festival is nowadays without any real political etiquette, as the public goes there only to enjoy the music. The program is a bit more French-oriented than Solidays, but each year (since 1930!) surprises are to be expected.

The Nuit Blanche transforms most of central Paris into a moonlit theme-park for an artsy all-nighter on the first Saturday of October, and Fashion Week returns shortly thereafter showing off Women’s Prêt-à-Porter collections for the following summer; as we've noted winter collections are presented in March.

The third Thursday in November marks the release of Le Beaujolais Nouveau and the beginning of the Christmas season. This evening, the Christmas lights are lit in a ceremony on the Champs-Élysées, often in the presence of hundreds (if not thousands) of people and many dignitaries, including the president of France.

For information on theatre, movies and exhibitions pick up the 'Pariscope' and 'L'officiel du Spectacle' which is available at newstands for €0.40. For (especially smaller, alternative) concerts pick up LYLO, a small, free booklet available in some bars and at FNAC. There are not any userfriendly online version of these guides.

  • Cafe Philo in English, Cafe de Flore, 172, Blvd St-Germain, 75006. Cafe Philo in English meets on the first Wednesday of each month upstairs at the famous Cafe de Flore. Everyone is invited. You don't have to be knowledgeable about philosophy. Meetings begin with a two round voting process to determine a topic. The topic is discussed for two hours. Free.

Photography

Paris is considered by many as the birthplace of photography, and while one may debate the correctness of this claim, there is no debate that Paris is today a photographer's dream. The French capital offers a spectacular array of photographic opportunities to the beginner and the pro alike. It has photogenic monuments (e.g., Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, the obelisk at Concorde, and countless others); architecture (the Louvre, Notre Dame and the Museum of the Arab World, to name just a few) and urban street scenes (e.g., in the Marais, Montmartre and Belleville). When you tire of taking your own photos, visit one of the many institutions dedicated to photography (e.g., European Museum of Photography, the Jeu de Paume Museum or the Henri Cartier Bresson Foundation). At these and other institutions, you can learn the about the rich history of Paris as the place of important developments in photography (e.g., the Daguerrotype) and as the home of many of the trade's great artists (e.g., Robert Doisneau, André Kertész, Eugene Atget and Henri Cartier Bresson).

  • Better Paris Photos, 32 Avenue de Suffren, Paris 75116. By appointment, tours last from 4 hours. Better Paris Photos offers instructional tours and workshops that combine hands-on learning of essential photographic techniques with guiding to, and commentary about, the most photogenic spots of Paris. Led by English-speaking photographers and instructors, these tours are open to all skill levels and interest. From €195/half day; €290/full day.

Movies

The Cinémas of Paris are (or at least should be) the envy of the movie-going world. Of course, like anywhere else you can see big budget first-run films from France and elsewhere. That though, is just the start. During any given week there are at least half-a-dozen film festivals going on, at which you can see the entire works of a given actor or director. Meanwhile there are some older cult films like say, What's new Pussycat or Casino Royal which you can enjoy pretty much any day you wish.

Many non-French movies are subtitled (called "version originale" "VO" or "VOstfr" as opposed to "VF" for version francaise).

There are any number of ways to find out what's playing, but the most commonly used guide is Pariscope, which you can find at newstands for €0.40. Meanwhile there are innumerable online guides which have information on "every" cinema in Paris.

Meet and greet locals

For those who want to meet actual Parisians in addition to exploring major landmarks, there are a few options: in 2010 a group of locals started a new service, "See Paris with a Parisian". You join 90-minute walking tours. The guides show you city landmarks (and the stories and anecdotes that go with them), but they also engage their visitors on life in Paris. Another alternative is Anto's Paris, which offers bike rides using the public bike system, Velib' (so you can keep biking on your own after the ride) and night outs so you can discover the Parisian nightlife with a Parisian. You chat with a Parisian, you "decode" the city, and you learn from an insider about local events and festivals, about where to shop, good places to eat or drink, secret places locals keep to themselves etc.

  • Discover Walks 1 rue Thérèse ☎ +33 970 449 724. Several tours to choose from everyday. Free service - guests choose their tip/donation.

  • Antos Paris, ☎ +33 679 563 301. Bike around using the Parisian public bike system or go for a drink and check out the nightlife with a local.

  • Lokafy ☎ +1 800 943 9145. We connect you with over 50 passionate locals for an experience that is like having a friend show you around their home city.

With children

  • Cite des enfants in the 19th, a museum for kids within the Cite des Sciences et de l'Industrie, is interactive, fun, and educational. There are two separate sections for the 3-5 set and the 5-12 set. The tots section has simple exhibits designed to be pushed, prodded, and poked. The section for older kids is more sophisticated with scientific experiments and tv studios. Métro Porte de la Villete (7)

  • Jardin du Luxembourg in the 6th. It would be counted as a travesty not to take your under 10 year old to the Jardin du Luxembourg, long a favorite with Parisien children. With its world famous merry-go-round, a pond for sail boats, a puppet theater, pony rides, chess players, children's playground, it has something for every kid (with comfortable chairs for weary parents thrown in!). The marionettes du luxembourg, the puppet theater, stages classic French puppet shows in French but should be easy to understand. There are numerous places for a snack. RER Luxembourg (B) or Métro Odéon (4, 10)

  • Parc des Buttes-Chaumont in the 19th. Buttes-Chaumont is great for those with children that like to run, climb, and explore. Built on the site of an abandoned quarry, the park is roughly bowl-shaped with a 30-meter-tall peak situated in the middle of a pond at the park's centre. There are trails up the rock, caves, waterfalls, a suspension bridge, and a small stone gazebo on the top of the rock with a 360-degree view. There is also a puppet theater and a playground. Métro Buttes-Chaumont (7bis), Botzaris (7bis), or Laumière (5)

  • Parc Zoologique. Like all things in France, this zoo is different because of a 236 foot artificial mountain bang in the middle. Lions, tigers, and everything designed to delight kids can be found in the zoo if the mountaind doesn't do it for your kids. RER/Métro Gare d'Austerlitz (5, 10, C)

  • The Jardin d'Acclimatation has a number of rides, including pint-sized roller coasters suitable for children as young as three years, as well as a mini-zoo and the estimable Musée en Herbe. Métro Les Sablons (1)

  • THATLou, Treasure Hunt at the Louvre Henri Loyrette, director of the Louvre, said that you'd have to walk 8 miles straight to cover the whole place, so THATLou (which offers 12 different themed treasure hunts) helps focus visits and highlight collections. Métro Palais Royal-Louvre or Tuileries (1)

Adult entertainment

Cabaret shows

Cabarets are traditional shows in Paris. They provide entertainment, often towards adult audiences, with singers and dancers or burlesque entertainers. The most famous ones are at the Moulin Rouge, the Lido, the Crazy Horse and the Paradis Latin. They fill up quickly so you might want to book before. The tickets usually cost from €80 to €200, depending if you have dinner before the show.

  • Come to Paris, . Book tickets to the cabarets in Paris. No extra fees.

Gambling

Although Paris is better known for romance and food than gambling, Paris has a thriving gambling industry, with poker being by far the most popular. The legal age to gamble is 18.

Commercial sex

Prostitution is legal throughout France, but brothels and pimping are not, and punishments are severe. Although the age of consent for non-commercial sex is 15 in France, soliciting commercial sex from someone less than 18 is a serious criminal offence. Soliciting commercial sex in a public place is also a criminal offence. Update : Starting April 2016,France banned prostitution. Clients who pay for Sex will be fined €1500 the first and €3000 the second time.


Food & drinks

We recommend:  www.viamichelin.com


Practical info

Contact

One helpful thing about having official and numbered districts in Paris is that you can easily tell which arrondissement an address is in by its postal code, and can easily come up with the postal code for a Paris address if you know its arrondissement. The rule is just pre-pend 750 or 7500 to the front of the arrondissement number, with 75001 being the postal code for the 1st and 75011 being the postal code for the 11th, and so on. The 16th has two postal codes, 75016 for the portion south of Rue de Passy and 75116 to the north; all other arrondissements only have one postal code.

Phone cards are available from most "Tabacs" but make sure you know where you can use them when you buy them, as some places still sell the cartes cabines which are hard to use as cabines are rare.

The city of Paris provides free Internet access via 400 Wi-Fi access points throughout the city, including many public parks. Look for the network called 'Orange' on your laptop or PDA device.

Other options include Starbucks, which is often free. There is also McDonald's, Columbus Café, and certain Indiana Café locations. There is also the Wistro network, which independent coffee chains offer.

You can rent a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot (4G/LTE) for short term period at a reasonable price. Some companies provide unlimited internet for the duration you need in Paris (from 5€ per day). It is delivered to your hotel or at the airport. A good solution to stay connected, and place international calls with your favorite Apps.

INSIDR Paris has also recently launched a new service aimed at foreign travelers (from 6€ per day). They provide a smartphone rental service which includes unlimited calls, 4G data, and WIFI Hotspot. The phone itself is also a complete digital guide, with maps of Paris, self-guided walks in the city, and real-time access to a community of locals to ask questions and get advice.

LEBARA SIM cards are easy to procure, very cheap and come with generous data allowances. €29 will get you a sim card, 3 GB of data and unlimited calls to other Lebara phones. (as of July 2015. Shops selling these SIMs are all around most train stations in Paris).

If you are staying for some time in Paris it is advisable to buy a prepaid SIM card for your phone so that incoming calls are free. Additionally, French businesses and individuals are unlikely to want to call an international number to get hold of you as there will be a stiff charge to them. Most service providers such as (Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom) supply SIM cards in shops, but be aware that the credit expires very quickly when you do not top-up. If you want to sort out your phone before you leave, LeFrenchMobile provides a prepaid service for foreigners coming to France. You do not always need identification at the point-of-purchase but you need to be have your personal details (including an address - your hotel address will do) at hand to activate a SIM service, even on prepaid lines.

Cope

Although known as the fashion capital, Paris is actually quite conservative in dress. So if you go out in bright colours expect to be stared at. Dressing this way in certain arrondissements, such as 9th and 18th, may attract unwanted attention. Also be aware that men in France (and men in Europe more generally) do not usually wear shorts shorter than above the knee outside of sporting events. It is not considered indecent but may stand out from the locals; shorts are for "schoolboys and football (soccer) players" only.

Lost property

The Parisian police préfecture runs Europe's largest lost property service. Public transport and tourist attractions generally hold onto objects for five days before handing them in. Remember to bring identification and any relevant information (IMEI for phones, taxi number, etc.). You may have to pay a charge of €11.

  • Service des objets trouvés, 6, rue des Morillons 75732 Paris Cedex 15 (Métro Conventio). M-Th 08:30-17:00, F 08:30-16:30.

Stay safe

Paris is considered as a quite safe city. You can wander in almost every district with a very low risk of mugging. However, some areas are safer than others.

Crime

Paris is generally considered to be one of the safer cities in Europe and a very safe one to visit, and most travelers will not run into any problems. The biggest problem one may face while in Paris is pickpockets and scammers, of which there are many. Many perpetrators aim to be undetected, so direct confrontation and muggings are uncommon. Violent crime is very rare, especially in the city center.

The police can be reached by phone by dialing 17. Not all police officers speak English, but those found around main attractions areas usually do. The police pride themselves on being approachable and professional and will be more than willing to help you.

Pickpockets are not as common on the rail link (RER B) from Charles de Gaulle airport to downtown Paris as they use to be. However, many of these trains make stop in the poor suburbs of Seine-St. Denis, where crime is rife. Try to take the trains that are nonstop between the airport and Paris proper (Gare du Nord and Les Halles). These are faster and safer than their less direct counterparts. The most common targets are those with suitcases and backpacks, i.e. tourists. Thieves usually coin their acts with the closing of the doors. Newer trains (which feature a green and white paint scheme and a lighter cabin) have high-tech security systems with cameras everywhere, and thieves are much less likely to be on them. In any case, stow luggage on the racks above the seat and hold on to your personal belongings as you approach stations in the northern suburbs. You are much less likely of being a victim if the train is crowded with locals headed to work, usually in the early/mid morning and late afternoon. All trains feature emergency cords and an intercom system that will alert the conductor of any problems on the train. You can chase after the attackers, but in many cases undercover police officers will try to apprehend the perpetrator. Other passengers will usually help and will call the police. If you don't feel comfortable on the train, sit in the first cabin where the conductor is located. There are also numerous buses and taxis one can take to get into central Paris. By far the most common crime in Paris is pick pocketing. Pickpockets are most likely to be found working at crowded tourists hot spots, such as the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, and Notre Dame. In order to stay safe, hold your bags in front of you, making sure your belongings are zipped inside. The metro is also a popular place for pickpockets. Hold things tightly and be aware of your surroundings. While trains are usually crowded, if someone is insisting on being near you and invading your personal space, be vigilant as they are probably going through your pockets. If there is a group of three or more women or children hovering over you, hold your belongings and move away.

Respect

Paris has, in some respects, an atmosphere closer to that of New York than to that of a European city; which is to say, hurried, and businesslike. Parisians have, among the French too, a reputation for being rude and arrogant. Some of their reputation for brusqueness may stem from the fact that they are constantly surrounded by tourists, who can sometimes themselves seem rude and demanding. Remember that most people you'll encounter in the street are not from the tourism industry and are probably on their way to or from work or business.

This is not to say that Parisians are in fact, by nature, rude. On the contrary: there are a considerable number of rules defining what is rude and what is polite in Parisian interpersonal relationships; if anything, the Parisians are more polite than most. Thus, the best way to get along in Paris is to be on your best behavior, acting like someone who is "bien élevé" (well brought up) will make getting about considerably easier. Parisians' abrupt exteriors will rapidly evaporate if you display some basic courtesies. A simple "Bonjour, Madame" when entering a shop, for example, or "Excusez-moi" when trying to get someone's attention, are very important; say "Pardon" or better "je suis désolé" if you bump into someone accidentally or make other mistakes; if you speak French or are using a phrasebook remember to always use the vous form when addressing someone you don't know, may transform the surliest shop assistant into a smiling helper or the grumpiest inhabitant to a helpful citizen.

If you only learn one long phrase in French a good one would be "Excusez-moi de vous déranger, monsieur/madame, auriez-vous la gentillesse de m'aider?" (pardon me for bothering you, sir/madam, would you have the kindness to help me?) - this level of extreme politeness is about the closest one can come to a magic wand for unlocking Parisian hospitality. If you know some French, try it!

In addition, if you are travelling to or from the airport or train station and have luggage with you, make certain that you are not blocking the aisles in the train by leaving your bags on the floor. The RER B (which links both Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports to the city) has luggage racks above the seats; it is best to use them so you do not block the path of a local who is getting off the train before the airport stop. On the Métro and especially in the RER, please don't take up extra seats with your luggage. There are luggage racks and spaces between the seats. Also note that use of the folding seats on the Métro is not permitted during peak hours.

Be aware that there are hefty fines for littering in Paris, especially with dog droppings; however, enforcement is quite lax in some areas.


In general

Paris, the cosmopolitan capital of France, is one of the largest agglomerations in Europe, with 2.2 million people living in the dense, central city and almost 12 million people living in the whole metropolitan area. Paris has the well deserved reputation of being the most beautiful and romantic of all cities, brimming with historic associations and remaining vastly influential in the realms of culture, art, fashion, food and design. Dubbed the City of Light (la Ville Lumière) and Capital of Fashion, it is home to the world's finest and most luxurious fashion designers and cosmetics, such as ChanelDiorYves Saint-LaurentGuerlainLancômeL'OréalClarins. The city has the second highest number of Michelin restaurants in the world. 

Districts

The city of Paris itself is officially divided into 20 districts called arrondissements, numbered from 1 to 20 in a clockwise spiral from the centre of the city (which is known as Kilometre Zero and is located at the front of Notre Dame). Arrondissements are named according to their number. You might, for example, stay in the "5th", which would be written as 5e in French. The 12th and 16th arrondissements include large suburban parks, the Bois de Vincennes, and the Bois de Boulogne respectively.

Each arrondissement has its own unique character and selection of attractions for the traveller:

The Layout of Paris by district

  • 1st. The geographical centre of Paris and a great starting point for travellers. The Musée du Louvre, the Jardin des Tuileries, Place Vendôme, Les Halles, Palais Royal, Comédie-Française, and Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel are all to be found here.

  • 2nd. The central business district of the city - the Bourse (the Paris Stock Exchange), Opéra-Comique, Théâtre des Variétés, Passage des Panoramas, Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens and the former Bibliothèque Nationale are located here.

  • 3rd. Archives Nationales, Musée Carnavalet, Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers, Hôtel de Soubise, the Former Temple fortress, and the northern, quieter part of the Marais can be found here.

  • 4th. Notre-Dame de Paris, the Hôtel de Ville (Paris city hall), Hôtel de Sully, Rue des Rosiers and the Jewish Quartier, Beaubourg, Le Marais, Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville, Mémorial de la Shoah, Centre Georges Pompidou, l'atelier Brancusi, Place des Vosges, Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, Saint-Jacques Tower and Parisian island Île Saint-Louis can be found here.

  • 5th. Jardin des Plantes, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Musée de Cluny, The Panthéon, Quartier Latin, Universités, La Sorbonne, Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, Église Saint-Séverin, La Grande Mosquée, Le Musée de l'AP-HP are located here.

  • 6th. Jardin du Luxembourg as well as its Sénat, Place Saint-Michel, Église Saint-Sulpice and Saint-Germain des Prés can be found here.

  • 7th. Tour Eiffel and its Parc du Champ de Mars, Les Invalides, Musée d'Orsay, Assemblée Nationale and its subset administrati

  • Triomphe, Place de la Concorde, le Palais de l'Elysée, Église de la Madeleine,Jacquemart-Andre Museum, Gare Saint-Lazare, Grand Palais and Petit Palais can be found here.

  • 9th. Opéra Garnier, Galeries Lafayette, Musée Grévin, and Folies Bergère can be found here.

  • 10th. Canal Saint-Martin, Gare du Nord, Gare de l'Est, Porte Saint-Denis, Porte Saint-Martin, Passage Brady, Passage du Prado, and Église Saint-Vincent-de-Paul can be found here.

  • 11th. The bars and restaurants of Rue Oberkampf, Bastille, Nation, New Jewish Quarter, Cirque d'Hiver, and Église Saint-Ambroise can be found here.

  • 12th. Opéra Bastille, Bercy Park and Village, Promenade Plantée, Quartier d'Aligre, Gare de Lyon, Cimetière de Picpus, Viaduc des arts the Bois de Vincennes, and the Zoo de Vincennes can be found here.

  • 13th. Quartier la Petite Asie, Place d'Italie, La Butte aux Cailles, Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF), Gare d'Austerlitz, Manufacture des Gobelins, Butte-aux-Cailles and Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital can be found here.

  • 14th Cimetière du Montparnasse, Gare Montparnasse, La Santé Prison, Denfert-Rochereau, Parc Montsouris, Stade Charléty, Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris, and Paris Catacombs can be found here.

  • 15th Tour Montparnasse, Porte de Versailles, Front de Seine, La Ruche and quartiers Saint-Lambert, Necker, Grenelle and Javel can be found here.

  • 16th. Palais de Chaillot, Musée de l'Homme, the Bois de Boulogne, Cimetière de Passy, Parc des Princes, Musée Marmottan-Monet, Trocadéro, and Avenue Foch can be found here.

  • 17th. Palais des Congrès, Place de Clichy, Parc Monceau, Marché Poncelet, and Square des Batignolles can be found here.

  • 18th Montmartre, Pigalle, Barbès, Basilica of the Sacré Cœur, Église Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre, and Goutte d'Or can be found here.

  • 19th - Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie, Parc de la Villette, Bassin de la Villette, Parc des Buttes Chaumont, Cité de la Musique, Canal de l'Ourcq, and Canal Saint-Denis can be found here.

  • 20th. Cimetière de Père Lachaise, Parc de Belleville, and quartiers Belleville and Ménilmontant can be found here.

  • La Defence. Although it is not officially part of the city, this skyscraper district on the western edge of town is on many visitors' must-see lists for its modern architecture and public art.

 

Understand

The 105 km² area of the central city is densely packed with more than 2 million inhabitants and parking is tough. In the 8th district however there are underground parkings. 

History

Paris started life as the Celto-Roman settlement of Lutetia on the Île de la Cité, the island in the Seine currently occupied by the Cathédrale Notre-Dame. It takes its present name from the name of the dominant Gallo-Celtic tribe in the region, the Parisii. At least that's what the Romans called them, when they showed up in 52 BCE and established their city Lutetia on the left bank of the Seine, in what is now called the "Latin Quarter" in the 5th arrondissement.

The Romans held out here for as long as anywhere else in the Western Empire, but by 508 CE they were gone, replaced by Clovis of the Franks, who is considered by the French to have been their first king. Clovis' descendants, aka the Carolingians, held onto the expanded Lutetian state for nearly 500 years through Viking raids and other calamities, which finally resulted in a forced move by most of the population back to the islands which had been the centre of the original Celtic village. The Capetian Duke of Paris was voted to succeed the last of the Carolingians as King of France, ensuring the city a premier position in the medieval world. Over the next several centuries Paris expanded onto the right bank into what was and is still called le Marais .

The medieval period also witnessed the founding of the Sorbonne. As the "University of Paris", it became one of the most important centres for learning in Europe -- if not the whole world, for several hundred years. 

In the late 18th century, there was a period of political and social upheaval in France and Europe, during which the French governmental structure, previously a monarchy with feudal privileges for the aristocracy and Catholic clergy, underwent radical change to forms based on Enlightenment principles of nationalism, citizenship, and inalienable rights. 

The Paris of today was built long after the Capetian and later the Bourbon Kings of France made their mark on Paris with the Louvre and the Palais Royal. In the 19th century, Baron von Hausmann set about reconstructing the city, by adding the long straight avenues and replacing many of the then existing medieval houses, with grander and more uniform buildings.

New wonders arrived during La Belle Époque, as the Parisian golden age of the late 19th century is known. Gustave Eiffel's famous tower, the first metro lines, most of the parks, and the streetlights (which are partly believed to have given the city its epithet "the city of light") all come from this period. Another source of the epithet comes from Ville Lumière, a reference not only to the revolutionary electrical lighting system implemented in the streets of Paris, but also to the prominence and aura of Enlightenment the city gained in that era.

The twentieth century was hard on Paris, but thankfully not as hard as it could have been. Hitler's order to burn the city was thankfully ignored by the German General von Choltitz who was quite possibly convinced by a Swedish diplomat that it would be better to surrender and be remembered as the saviour of Paris, than to be remembered as its destroyer. Following the war, the city recovered quickly at first, but slowed in the 1970s and 1980s when Paris began to experience some of the problems faced by big cities everywhere: pollution, housing shortages, and occasionally failed experiments in urban renewal.

During this time however, Paris enjoyed considerable growth as a multi-cultural city, with new immigrants from all corners of the world, especially La Francophonie, including most of northern and western Africa as well as Vietnam and Laos. These immigrants brought their foods and music, both of which are of prime interest for many travellers.


Surroundings

  • Chartres - The 12th century cathedral of Notre Dame at Chartres is one of the highlights of Gothic architecture. (60min train ride from Gare Montparnasse)

  • Versailles - On the SW edge of Paris, the site of the Sun King Louis XIV's magnificent palace. (20-40min train ride by RER, just make sure you get the right ticket covering zone 1-4!)

  • Saint Denis - On the northern edge of the metropolis, site of the Stade de France and St Denis Abbey, burial place of French royalty.

  • Chantilly - Wonderful 17th century palace and gardens (and the birthplace of whipped cream). (25min train ride from Gare du Nord)

  • Giverny - The inspirational house and gardens of the Impressionist painter Claude Monet are but a day-trip away. The gardens and its flowers are the most interesting part of the visit, so avoid rainy days.

  • Disneyland Resort Paris - In the suburb of Marne la Vallee, to the east of Paris, from where it can be reached by car, train (RER A), or bus (the train is probably your best bet).

  • Mont Saint Michel- An island commune in Normandy, France. Its unique position of being an island only 600 metres from land make it readily accessible on low tide to the many pilgrims to its abbey.

  • Fontainebleau - A lovely historical town 55.5km (35 mi) south of Paris. It's renowned for its large and scenic Forest of Fontainebleau, a favourite weekend getaway for Parisians, as well as for the historical Château de Fontainebleau. (35min train ride from Gare de Lyon)


We thank the contributors of Wikitravel for the information : a list of contributors is available at the original article on Wikitravel.