In the words of Audrey Hepburn, “Paris is always a good idea”. Attracting around 30 million visitors a year, Paris is the most-visited city in the world. With a reputation as the très chic epitome of style, culture and romance, Paris will captivate and charm you with its fabled blend of the historic and the contemporary.
Elegantly positioned along the banks of the River Seine, the French capital hardly needs any introduction. It is known as possibly the most glamorous city in Europe and a renowned global center for art, fashion, gastronomy and culture. The oldest part of the city is on the two islands at the crest of the river, Île St-Louis and the larger Île de la Cité, which are joined by a footbridge. The downstream tip of Île de la Cité runs under the Pont Neuf, the most famous and oldest of the 37 bridges crossing the Seine.
The 19th century Parisian cityscape is criss-crossed by wide, tree-lined boulevards and the Seine, which divides the city into the famed Rive Gauche (Left Bank) and Rive Droite (Right Bank). The city’s famously cosmopolitan residents are known for their hauteur, but the city has nevertheless long been a magnet for writers, artists and dissidents, and remains at the forefront of Western cultural life. American author, journalist and playwright James Thurber described Paris as “…a vast university of art, literature and music…..Paris is a seminar, a post-graduate course in everything”.
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How do you get to Paris from the airport?
Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) is located 34 km (21.1 miles) from the center of Paris. The fastest and most economical option is the RER train line “B” connecting CDG to central Paris on a 35-minute journey. Multiple buses run between the airport and central Paris with journey times of approximately 60 minutes. Only officially licensed taxis can pick up passengers from the airport. Licensed taxis are identified by the light on the roof of the vehicle. Licensed taxis charge a flat rate and do not approach travelers for business, but wait at allocated taxi stands around the airport.
What about getting around the city?
Paris is definitely a walking city and there is plenty to see traveling à pied (on foot) around the City of Light. Public transportation options are plentiful and the city is well-serviced. The Paris Metro is one of the oldest and best systems in the world with 300 stations covering all four corners of the city. Consider a “Le Paris Viste” ticket for tourists, available for periods of 1, 2, 3 or 5 days, covering zones 1-3 and valid for use on the Metro, RER trains (overground urban trains), buses, trams, SNCF (regional trains) and the Montmarte funicular. The Parisian bus network is exceptional and traveling above-ground means you won’t miss a thing. Bicycle hire is also available through the municipal Vélib program. Pick up a bike at any Vélib station and return it at any other – it’s a great way to explore Paris at your own pace.
What else is good to know?
Visit all the major attractions in the city with Paris L'OpenTour buses. Available in one- or two-day passes, you can hop on the bus for four tour routes visiting more than 50 stops highlighting the many exciting aspects of Paris: romance, history, fashion and shopping. All the while enjoying fantastic views and soaking up the Parisian atmosphere from the open top deck.
Paris’ most popular attractions
Sophisticated, cultured and aesthetically pleasing, genteel Paris is synonymous with style. The city remains at the cutting edge of fashion and continues to lead international trends, while simultaneously hosting a trove of vintage shops and flea markets. Whether you’ve come to Paris for history, art, shopping, culture, food or wine, Paris will not fail to deliver.
We have collected the most popular attractions in a list:
- The Louvre Museum
- The Musée d’Orsay Impressionist
- Musée de l’Orangerie
- National Museum of Modern Art
- Church of Saint Peter of Montmarte
Visiting the Louvre Museum is mandatory. Marvel at the magnificent classical swathe cut through the center of the city by the Louvre Palace. The instantly recognizable glass and marble “Pyramide” by IM Pei adorning the Napoléon Courtyard serves as the main entrance. If you’re in Paris for a short time, you can check off the big ones resident here – the Venus de Milo, Winged Victory of Samothrace, Coronation of Napoleon, Mummy and, of course, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
Art aficionados rejoice. Paris will spoil you for choice. The Musée d’Orsay Impressionist and post-Impressionist collection is nothing short of exceptional, even if it doesn’t contain eight of the Water Lilies series paintings by Claude Monet. Those are resident at the Musée de l’Orangerie, along with works by Cézanne, Renoir and Rousseau. As if the cache of modern and contemporary art at the Pompidou Center wasn’t enough, the Centre George Pompidou is also home to the National Museum of Modern Art – one of the world’s largest collections of modern and contemporary art. There are also many smaller museums showcasing every genre of art imaginable, and the Parisian streets pulse with vibrant street art.
In the 18th arrondissement on the Right Bank is the fabled hill of Montmarte. It’s crowning glory is the Travertine stone basilica, Sacré-Coeur, from which spectacular Parisian panoramas await. The other church on the hill is the Church of Saint Peter of Montmarte, but despite being one of the oldest surviving churches in Paris (built in 1147), it is somewhat overshadowed by its famous neighbour.
In our guide to Paris' attractions, you can learn all about the city's hidden gems.
Paris can offer more attractions
The city is divided into 20 arrondissements arranged in a clockwise spiral, often likened to a conch shell, starting from the middle of the city on the Right Bank in the Premier arrondissement, home to the world’s largest art museum and iconic landmark, the legendary Louvre Museum.
Around every corner you’ll find momentous, instantly recognizable landmarks, from the wrought iron majesty of the Eiffel Tower, the Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur overlooking the city from Montmarte, the Baroque dome of Les Invalides, the Gothic opulence of Notre-Dame de Paris and the triumphal grandeur of the Arc de Triomphe standing sentinel on the iconic Avenue des Champs-Élysées.
Despite its big reputation, Paris is fairly compact, making it possible to explore different quartiers and experience their individual characters. From the village-feel of Montmarte to the high-brow intellectualism of the Latin Quarter student area and the sophistication of the aristocratic Le Marais. The capital of France is a lived-in city with some of the coolest nightlife and street art in Europe, nestled next to some of the most spectacular artworks and classic masterpieces on the face of the planet.
The rich architectural heritage of Paris is a blend of historic and contemporary, with spectacular modern structures such as the inside-out, postmodern steel superstructure of the Pompidou Center and the gleaming, high-tech tennis ball-shaped concert venue La Seine Musicale.
Paris: a moveable feast
Where to start in the gastronomy capital? Central to the Parisian is enjoying shopping and food, invariably served with excellent wine. The capital of haute cuisine has an endless list of quintessential delicacies and specialties – Croque monsieur, food markets, high-end luxury shopping. Whether you seek a cosy bistro or three-starred Michelin gastronomy temple, high-end shopping or second-hand bargains, Paris has it all.
Food markets are popular with both locals and tourists and a great way to experience a city’s culinary culture and mingle with locals. The open-air Marché Raspail has been running since 1920 and is worth visiting for its bustling atmosphere. Marché Bastille is a must for cheese lovers – grab a baguette and some cheese and head to a Parisian park for a picnic.
France is preceded by its culinary reputation. There is no shortage of food-related courses on offer in its capital city, run from venues anywhere from private kitchens to the most prestigious cookery schools, and offering instruction to suit all abilities, budgets and tastes.
Choosing just one Michelin star-studded dining experience in the gastronomy capital can be quite daunting. Paris has second highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world (after Tokyo, which is much larger). Top tip: it’s usually cheaper to dine at a Michelin restaurant at lunchtime, so if you’re on a budget, make an afternoon of it.
Get more tips about eat and drink in Paris.
Shopping in Paris
When it comes to shopping, Paris is the fashionista mothership. Browsing high-end boutiques and designer labels at flagship haute couture houses is a quintessential part of the experience. Synonymous with Parisian glamor, shop/browse till you drop in the “golden triangle” off the Champs-Élysées and Rue du Faubourg-St-Honoré, which is studded with high-end luxury fashion boutiques.
Stroll along the banks of the River Seine and browse atmospheric bookshops and classic bouquiniste stalls – sellers of used and antiquarian books and art, lining the banks of the Seine.