Travel Guide Paris

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Paris, the City of Light, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and arguably the most romantic city on the globe. According to the regional tourist board, over 32 million visitors flocked to Paris in 2013. 32 MILLION?! That’s the highest rate for tourism in Paris for more than ten years! So, what makes Paris such a desirable destination and makes visitors want to return time and time again? This handy guide delves further into the city and tells you all you need to know for that all important trip… best get planning!

Essential Information

Currency: Euro

Time difference: +1 hour GMT

Telephone code: +0033

Travel time from NYC: Just over 7 hours by plane.

Fun Facts About Paris

Number of streets: 6,100

Number of metro stations: 303

Number of resident pigeons: 85,000

Number of bakeries: 1,784

Paris Bakery

The Arrondissements

Paris is split into 20 neighborhoods, or arrondissements, as the French say. The first section is right in the center of the city, with the others spiraling outwards in a clockwise direction. This handy listicle explains which arrondissement the major attractions are located in, which will make planning your trip even easier.

1st – Louvre: home to, yep you guessed it, The Louvre Museum, along with The Royal Palace, Sainte-Chapelle and Vendome Square.

4th – Hôtel-de-Ville: one of the oldest parts of the city and famed for the beautiful Notre-Dame Cathedral, just watch out for the thousands of resident pigeons!

7th – Palais-Bourbon: dominated by the Eiffel Tower landmark and host to the city’s UNESCO headquarters.

8th – Élysée: One of the world’s most famous designer shopping boulevards (helloooo Louis Vuitton!), the glittering Champs-Élysées lines the way to the iconic Arc de Triomphe. This area is also home to three Palaces; Grand Palais, Petit Palais and Élysée, the Presidential Palace.

Arch of Triumph, Paris, France

10th – Entrepôt: An essential part of the city, this arrondissement is home to the two main railway stations Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est along with the neoclassical Saint-Vincent-de-Paul church.

15th – Vaugirard: The largest of the 20 arrondissements featuring Tour Maine Montparnasse, the tallest skyscraper in Paris.

18th – Butte-Montmartre: One of the most visited areas, tourists flock to the beautiful Sacre-Coeur Church and the entertaining Moulin Rouge district.

Getting Around

Bicycle: Paris operates the Velib bicycle rental program, allowing visitors and locals to pick up and drop off bikes at service points across the entire city. A one day ticket costs €1 or a seven day ticket is a steal at just €5, entitling riders to unlimited journeys throughout their entire rental.

Paris City Bikes

Metro: Similar to the underground tube system in London, the Paris metro is connected by almost 300 kilometre of track serving approximately 300 stations. Running from 5 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. every day, the metro is very convenient, especially if you’re planning to stay out late and experience Paris’ nightlife! Ticket prices are reasonable and can be used all day long to get to anywhere in the city.

Car/Buses: People are generally advised not to take their cars into the center of the city for fear of being terrified by locals and their crazy driving! Buses are a much friendlier (and probably safer!) option, with hop on and hop off tours running four different routes every day at frequent times, allowing tourists to see all the top attractions.

Walking: The most flexible way to see the city is on foot. Wander around the medieval streets at your leisure and participate in many of the walking tours run by expert tour guides, some of which are free! Like these ones from Discover Walks.

Paris Travel Guide

Boat: Who wouldn’t want to experience the city by romantic boat ride?! Cruising up and down the river Seine, the Batobus makes eight stops on its daily journeys, visiting sights such as the Louvre, Notre-Dame and Eiffel Tower.

Top Tourist Attractions

The Eiffel Tower

What is it? Completed in 1889, the iron lattice structure is 324 meters high and stands proudly over the city with three levels for visitors to explore including an observatory viewing platform and two restaurants.

Why visit? What’s not to love about climbing one of the most iconic landmarks in the world? With over 300 steps and two different elevators to climb, visitors can see the most incredible views over Paris once they reach the summit. Views from the top are particularly stunning after darkness hits with everything as far as the eye can see lit up and glittering.

Top tip: Every evening after 7 p.m. each hour on the hour the tower is adorned with a golden covering which sparkles for five minutes.

Essential info: Opening hours are daily throughout the year from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Ticket prices are €17 per adult and €10 per child.

Eiffel Tower Light Show

The Louvre

What is it? A central landmark of Paris and one of the largest museums in the world, the Louvre is situated in the 1st arrondissement on the right bank of the river Seine.

Why visit? First opened on August 10th, 1793 with an exhibition of just 537 paintings, The Louvre is now the most visited museum on the planet displaying 35,000 works of art and attracting on average nine million visitors a year. Leonardo Da Vinci’s iconic Mona Lisa portrait, which has survived for over 500 years, is housed in the Louvre and the painting is easily considered the most popular work in the museum.

Top tip: Beat the queues and book your tickets online in advance of your visit. Schools and colleges also qualify for group discounts.

Essential info: Opening hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every Monday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and 9 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. every Wednesday and Friday. The museum is closed on Tuesdays. Ticket prices €15 per adult with free entry for children under 18.

The Louvre Paris

Notre-Dame Cathedral

What is it? French for ‘Our Lady of Paris’, this historic Catholic cathedral is located in the 4th arrondissement on the eastern half of the city.

Why visit? Renowned as one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, Notre-Dame is considered one of the most famous cathedrals in the world.

Top tip: For a fee of €8.50 per adult, visit the gothic gargoyles up in the bell towers and climb the 387 stairs for wonderful rooftop views across Paris. Get to the church an hour before doors open at 10 a.m. to beat the ever increasing queues.

Essential info: Opening hours are 8 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. daily throughout the year, and until 7:15 p.m. on weekends. Five masses a day occur during the week, two masses occur on Saturdays and seven masses occur a Sundays.

Notre Dame Cathedral Gargoyle

The Sacre-Coeur

What is it? Officially titled The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, the Sacre-Coeur is a Roman Catholic Church located at the summit of the Montmartre district in the 18th arrondissement. Designed by French architect Paul Abadie, construction began in 1875 and was completed in 1914.

Why visit? A historic and cultural landmark, Sacre-Coeur dominates the Montmartre skyline and is perfectly positioned to enjoy stunning views across the whole of Paris. The Basilica boasts a fountain and garden for meditation and the top of the dome is open to tourists offering further panoramic views across the city.

Top tip: Visit while one of the many regular masses are being carried out at the church to experience an authentic religious ceremony.

Essential info: Opening hours are daily throughout the year from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. with up to five masses a day during the week, three masses on Saturdays and four masses on Sundays. The dome is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in summer and until 6 p.m. in the winter months.

You’re Ready to Visit Paris

So, based on the facts, figures and tips in this guide you should now be able to visit Paris fully informed and ready to navigate your way around the city. Spend your time wandering around the medieval streets of Montmartre, climbing the Eiffel Tower or simply whiling away the hours in one of the city’s ornate café’s while sampling their fine pastries. In the words of Audrey Hepburn, “Paris is always a good idea.”

About the Author: Jess is a 22 year old travel-obsessive, always planning her next adventure! She loves ticking iconic landmarks off her bucket list and has a particular passion for fun filled European city breaks. Follow her latest news over on her travel blog ‘Journeys with Jessica.’