Paris, France, Drive through Paris and see the beautiful Architecture
Paris is one of the most romantic cities going and its popularity as a tourist destination is rarely matched throughout the world.
Often referred to as ‘The City of Light’, it’s a charming, magical city, full to the brim with majestic landmarks and quaint, beautiful streets of cafes, bistros and restaurants.
It’s also a busy, bustling capital and fizzes with tourist activity all year round, with all the attractions staying open throughout the seasons.
So whether you’re investigating the overwhelming Parisian monuments such as the Arc de Triomphe or the famous Eiffel Tower, dining in one of the city’s many restaurants or just doing a bit of shopping you can come at any time of year and you won’t be disappointed.
The city is situated on the River Seine in a region called the Île de France in the north of France.
It’s believed that Paris was founded about 52BC when a Gallo-Celtic tribe known as the ‘Parisii’ established a fishing village on the island of Île de Cité, right in the heart of present-day Paris.
Paris is divided into 20 different areas called arrondissements. Starting from the centre of the city, the arrondissements are number 1-20 in a clockwise direction.
Like any well-designed capital city, Paris has great transport links, and the best way to get in and around the city is by hopping on the Metro.
Just about everywhere in the city is within strolling distance of a stop on the city’s underground system, so Paris really is open wide for you to enjoy.
Of course, no one trip to Paris can ever be the same as the last as there really is so much to do in this town.
Not only is there a wealth of monuments for enthusiasts of the aesthetic, but there’s also a buzzing nightlife, an excellent shopping scene and a lively, romantic street atmosphere.
Did we mention that Parisians are quite fond of their cuisine too? You’ll find an unbelievable amount of excellent restaurants scattered all over the city – they take food very seriously here and wherever you go you’ll be confronted with quality.
Paris’s best bits:
Paris just begs to be discovered and there are plenty of unmissable sights to take in.
These include the Museé du Louvre, which dates back to 1200 when it began life as a fortress, Musée Rodin and the Notre Dame Cathedral which is one of the most outstanding achievements of Gothic architecture ever built.
The Champs-Elysees is the city’s most famous boulevard and links Place de la Concorde with the Arc de Triomphe.
Of course, no trip to Paris would be complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower, Paris’ most prominent and instantly recognizable landmark.
And if you get a chance why not view the city from the Basilica du Sacre Coeur, get your portrait done in Montmartre, take a boat trip down the Seine or for something more spooky a trip to the Catacombes is highly recommended.
Why not glide along the River Seine on one of the city’s many water tour buses or take the romantic Bateau Mouches by night.
At night you could also go watch the world-famous show Moulin Rouge which has been entertaining people since the 1900s.
There really is something for everyone in Paris! From palace-like Palais Bourbon and Palais Royal to exquisite gardens such as Parc Monceau, Jardin du Luxembourg and Jardin des Tuileries.
For a memorable family day out take in a visit to Eurodisney which can be found 32 km outside the city but is very well connected by train.
Other attractions to be found in the city include the Musee d’Orsay, Opera Garnier, the Pantheon and Le Madeleine.
The Hotel des Invalides and the Hotel de Ville are also very popular with tourists.
Or you could hire a car, escape the city for a day and explore the beautiful countryside of Normandy, the Loire Valley or the Alsace region.
Getting around Paris:
Paris is pretty easy to get around in that you can stroll to all the main places in the city centre, which is tailored towards the pedestrian (as opposed to the motorist!).
It’s the best way to see the city in warmer weather as you can meander around at your own pace, stopping off at a café or bistro whenever you need to for a coffee or a bite to eat.
Of course, the Metro is king when it comes to public transport and you can get anywhere in the city and the outer suburbs in good time.
It does go without saying that you won’t see much of the city travelling in a train compartment underground, so there’s a pretty handy bus service as well if you want to stay above ground.
For something a bit different you can always float along the Seine on one of the many tour boats – it’s very relaxing and great for checking out the sights along the riverbank!
Of course, taxis are by far the most efficient way to get straight from A to B, but you’ll have to head for a large avenue to flag one down as they’ll whizz right by you on the main roads.
If the sign on the roof is lit up then they’re open to business, but make sure you see the words “Taxi Parisiens” as this differentiates the licensed cabbies from the blaggers and the rip off merchants.
Paris – know before you go:
France is part of the European Union and its currency is the Euro ( € ).
ATMs here accept all major bank, debit and credit cards, and are ideal for changing money. Bear in mind that the French know them as DABs if you’re asking for directions.
All restaurants generally include a service charge in the bill so you won’t need to tip, but remember that taxis don’t so it’s customary to leave a small fee.
Business Hours –
The majority of shops open between 9 am to 6.30 pm from Monday to Friday. Larger department stores will open as late as 10 pm on Thursdays and Fridays. As for Sundays and public holidays, you’ll find that most shops close.
You’ll probably need to buy a Telecarte (phone card) for making either a domestic or an international call, as the majority of phone boxes don’t take coins.
It’s essential to have a valid passport in order to enter France. If you think you may need a visa, be sure to check with the French Embassy in your own country before you make any plans.
When’s a good time to go-
·The late spring months are the best time to visit Paris as the weather is generally pretty warm and the streets, though still fairly buzzing, are not packed with tourists.
The city is particularly beautiful at this time of year and the balmy evenings mean you can roam around on foot at night and enjoy the lit-up monuments on the Parisian skyline.
How to get to Paris:
There are two airports that serve Paris – that’s Orly and Charles de Gaulle, but the latter is by far the busiest and you won’t find a much bigger airport throughout the continent.
Pretty much every international airline serves Charles de Gaulle, so you won’t struggle to book a flight into the French capital, just make sure you shop around for a decent price!
There are superb public transport connections and decently priced taxis that will take you from Paris’s main airport to the city centre.
If you’re more into trains and automobiles rather than planes then you can pick up a Eurostar service from London direct into Paris.
It takes just 3 hours and will shuttle both foot passengers and motorists into the French Capital.
There are of course ferry services that travel frequently from both Britain and Ireland to the French coast, but these port towns are a good distance from Paris so you’ll be in for the long hall.
However, it can work out cheaper by car than the Eurostar so if you don’t mind the journey it’s an option worth bearing in mind.