Take a Paris walking tour, see world famous artworks at the Louvre, marvel at the Eiffel Tower, or explore beautiful Notre-Dame. From Top 10 parks and gardens to Top 10 things to do for free - discover the best of Paris with this easy-to-use travel guide. Staying for longer and looking for a more comprehensive guide to Paris? About DK Eyewitness Travel: DK's Top 10 guides take the work out of planning a short trip, with easy-to-read maps, tips, and tours to inform and enrich your weekend trip or cultural break.
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Discover the best of Paris and begin your journey now! Looking for a comprehensive guide that recommends both popular and offbeat experiences, and extensively covers all the country has to offer? Availability: In stock. Lonely Planet is the largest travel guide book publisher in the world. Paris , the cosmopolitan capital of France , is one Europe 's largest cities, with 2. Located in the north of France on the river Seine, 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.
The city has the second highest number of Michelin restaurants in the world after Tokyo and contains numerous iconic landmarks, such as the world's most visited tourist site the Eiffel Tower , the Arc de Triomphe , the Notre-Dame Cathedral , the Louvre Museum , Moulin Rouge , and Lido , making it the most popular tourist destination in the world with 45 million tourists annually. 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.
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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. You can print your own using our maps. The various tourist information centres and hotels in Polo Paris also provide various city and metro maps for free: they have all the necessary details for a tourist.
Each arrondissement has its own unique character and selection of attractions for the traveller:. Beyond central Paris, the outlying suburbs are called Les Banlieues. Those to the northeast are poorer communities, often populated by immigrants. 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 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 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 Marsh. Quite a few buildings from this time can be seen in the 4th arrondissement.
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. Most of the institutions that still constitute the University are found in the 5th , and 13th arrondissements. 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.
Notable events during and following the revolution were the storming of the Bastille 4th arrondissements , and the rise and fall of Napoleonic France. 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 , both in the 1st. 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.
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. 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 s and s 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.
Immigration and multi-culturalism continues in the 21st century with a marked increase in the arrival of people from Latin America, especially Mexico , Colombia , and Brazil. In the late s, it was hard to find good Mexican food in Paris, whereas today there are dozens of possibilities from lowly taquerias in the outer arrondissements to nice sit-down restaurants on the boulevards.
Meanwhile Latin music from salsa to samba is all the rage well, alongside Paris lounge electronica. The 21st century has also seen vast improvements in the general liveability of Paris, with the Mayor's office concentrating on reducing pollution and improving facilities for soft forms of transportation including a huge network of cycle paths, larger pedestrian districts and newer faster metro lines.
Visitors who normally arrive car-less are the beneficiaries of these policies as much as the Parisians themselves are. Being located in Western Europe, Paris has a maritime climate with cool winters and warm summers. The moderating effect of the Atlantic Ocean helps to temper temperature extremes in much of western Europe, including France. Snow is not common in Paris, although it will fall a few times a year. Most of Paris' precipitation comes in the form of light rain year-round. Spring and fall are normally cool and wet. 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. 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.
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The RER B has the airlines serviced by each terminal on a not so obvious chart posted by the door of the train. Say that again, please? 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. 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. The fare is included in the train ticket you purchase. The ticket you'll receive is exceptionally small in size, so make sure to keep it in a safe place as it's easy to lose. Trains for Paris usually leave from platforms 11 and 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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
Be careful when using buses to get to CDG. 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. Do not get into a taxi which is not clearly marked "taxi," or when at the airport is picking up other than at the designated Taxi stands. You may be approached by touts at the baggage claim exit; ignore them and follow the signs to the official queue. 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. This older international airport is used mainly by Air France for domestic departures, and international departures by European carriers. 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. The tram is slow but nice, opened in Perhaps the cheapest option from the airport is the 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.
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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. Buses run even during the small hours of the morning 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.
Alternatively, you can search for a trip on BlaBlaCar. 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 - , on the bus, or at the automated machines in their waiting area at CDG.
There is a designated, well-labelled stopping spot for each shuttle line, so make sure you're in the right place. Someone will take your luggage, ask you where you're going, and put it in the appropriate compartment. Then, at the destination, a porter will take out all the luggage destined for that stop. 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.
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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 see timetable. Located just 7 miles 11 km northeast of the city center, Paris Le Bourget Airport IATA : LBG is a 24 hour airport dedicated exclusively to private aviation and business jet operations, as well as military and government flights.
The busiest executive airport in Europe since , there are 7 private terminals for fast and discrete travel, and companies like Air Charter Advisors  and Priority Jet  offer access to a variety of aircraft at Le Bourget and around the world for charter, ranging from economical single and twin engine props, to luxury Gulfstreams and business jets. 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. 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. 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.
Not surprisingly, traffic jams are significantly worse during French school holidays. A third, incomplete ring road is much further out and called La Francilienne N It's advisable not to drive in the Paris Metro Area. It's better to drive to a suburban train station with a parking lot and then use the train to continue your trip throughout Paris. Most of Paris' roads were created long before the invention of cars.
Traffic inside the city tends to be heavy, especially at rush hour; driving, however, may be rather easy and efficient in the evening. Parking is also difficult. Furthermore, the medieval nature of parts of the city's street system makes it very confusing, and traffic will almost never allow one to stop or slow down to get one's bearings. If you are unfamiliar with the streets and still insist on driving in the city, make sure you have a navigator in the passenger seat with you.
Paris is currently investing in the systemic removal of existing parking spaces to encourage people to use its available and vast public transportation system. Walking in Paris is one of the great pleasures of visiting the City of Light. Paris walking 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 hours without any stops.
Another interesting walk in the city let you discover the top sights of Montmartre in a few hours. The smartest travellers take advantage of the walkability of this city and stay above ground as much as possible.
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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. It's always fun to experience the city by foot, and there are numerous walking tours around Paris, whether self guided with the help of a guidebook or on-line guide or with a touring guide booked through your travel agency or hotel. The city is best explored by foot, and some of the most marvellous memories you will have of Paris is walking through secret found places.
The nice thing about Paris is that at least inside the Boulevard Peripherique there are no unattractive areas like ugly housing or industrial sections to cross while going from one interesting district to another. Keep your ticket or pass with you at all times as you may be checked. Strangely, there's no sign, audio or message written on the tickets or stations to inform you that it's obligatory to keep the ticket until you go out the metro.
You will be cited and forced to pay on the spot between euros, depending on the officer, they accept credit cards and usually won't speak english if you do not have a ticket. Visitors with heavy luggage or handicap should find out in-advance about the facilities at each station to be used. Specific on-line information about elevators and escalators is hard to find. You may have ask at ticket counters at major stations, perhaps tourist information kiosks.
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. 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.
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. It regulates prices and publishes tickets. All transport companies in Ile-France and thus Paris use the same ticketing system available at rail, metro stations and RATP boutiques.
Current fares can be found on their websites. Basically, as you move farther from Paris into higher zones , tickets get more expensive. Ile-de-France's public transport network is organised around zones. The paper tickets that you receive from RATP Ticket Machines are very prone to being wiped or corrupted by mobile phones or other devices so be very careful.
If your ticket doesn't work then the ticket office may change them for you! These tickets are designed for tourists. 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. Some larger stations have secondary entrances, where there is no ticket booth. These are labelled voyageurs avec billets passengers with tickets only. Be aware of ticket touts who used to stay near single vending machines, which have much higher rates for tickets, eg.
This means you have to use a new ticket if you transfer from Bus to Metro or vise versa. Once purchased, tickets do not expire. However , unlike the Navigo tickets, these are valid from the moment of purchase and not bound to fixed day of the week. They may be usefully combined with weekly passes when you arrive, say, on Saturday. 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. Note 1: The Mobilis pass is only valid between am and pm on a given calendar day.
For example, if you purchase a Mobilis ticket at midday, it is only valid to pm on the same day. The Mobilis pass is worth 5 tickets from a carnet, or 4 single tickets, therefore can be a good value pass for frequent travellers. 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 Navigo pass is non-transferrable and requires the user to provide information on the pass after the sale.
Everything related to a "Navigo" pass is in purple like the target for the pass in the turnstiles. It might look like a lot of money, but the monthly all-zones pass might be economical even for a two week-stay because it covers airport access. 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!
So be careful as there are usually a lot of ticket examiners present when you get off the RER A. Renting a bike is a very good alternative over driving or using public transport and an excellent way to see the sights. Riding a bike anywhere in the city is far safer for the moderately experienced cyclists than most towns or cities in other countries. The French are very cognisant of cyclists, almost to a point of reverence. A few years ago Paris wasn't the easiest place to get around by bike but that has changed dramatically in recent years.
The city government has taken a number of steps in strong support of improving the safety and efficiency of the urban cyclist as well as establishing some separated bike lanes but, even more importantly, instituted a policy of allowing cyclists to share the ample bus lanes on most major boulevards. Paris also has many riversides which are perfect for cycling.
The Paris bike network now counts over km of either unique or shared lanes for the cyclist. In addition, the narrower, medieval side streets of the central arrondissements make for rather scenic and leisurely cycling, especially during off-peak hours of the day when traffic is lighter. Do remember to bring a good map, since there is no grid plan to speak of and almost all of the smaller streets are one-way.
You can find here a map for a 12km route along the Seine using velibs.