Paris - the capital of the world.
Paris is the capital of France and one of the best-known cities ever. It’s probably the only city that seems to be run by love. It is a perfect place to look for romance, to enjoy a honeymoon, to revive the dying flame of love and… to come again, this time with children, showing them the place perfect for romance and enjoying life. Paris is celebrated in all forms of art. And not for nothing, as the city provides a perfect scene for any story. Elegant palaces and luxurious hotels, fashionable nightclubs and expensive apartments make the ideal world of the rich and powerful. The romantic aura of the streets wet with rain has always been inspiring artists and lovers, giving the impulse to creativity and great stories of love. The mixture of the two makes an ideal combination, providing the gurus of the fashion world with an endless source of money and ideas.
Paris is one of the cultural capitals of the world. Its museums are home to the best human creations, and its streets witnessed the most significant historical events. You can discover the different faces of Paris in various ways: following the steps of the famous Maigret, staring through the windows of Monet’s favourite café, strolling along the alleys of the Bois de Boulogne, as once did Louis XVI. The Museum of fashion retains the memory of the days, when the French monopolized the world’s fashion, while the displays of the celebrated boutiques uncover the future of the fashion. Glorious past, numerous historical landmarks, breathtaking views, delicious food and exquisite wines from all over France – the city is full of surprises! You can never be tired of Paris but there’s enough to make your head spin. There is an expression "To see Paris and die". We would say: “To see Paris and… come back for one more time”.
Top Paris Attractions
One of the most recognizable monuments and the indisputable symbol of Paris is also the most-visited monument in the world. The Eiffel Tower is 324 metres tall, which once made it the tallest man-made structure in the city. With time, it couldn’t but lose the title. To save their renowned Dame de fer (The iron lady) the French have banned the construction of buildings higher than the Eiffel Tower. However, the appearance of skyscrapers is inevitable. Recently the ban has been lifted, and several projects are already under way. All of them will be built on the outskirts of Paris. If you really want to see the modern face of the city, La Defense is the place where you can do that.
The Louvre Museum and Musée d'Orsay are world-known landmarks. The Louvre houses an exceptionally rich collection of works of art, gathered from all over the world. However, this encounter with the world culture may be a bit troubled by the endless waves of other tourists going to and fro. Admission to the Louvre is €9 for the permanent collections and free on the first Sunday of every month, which is a great opportunity, but be prepared to stand in a long queue. To appreciate the permanent collection of the Musée d'Orsay you’ll have to pay €7.50, while special exhibits may cost up to €9.
Moviemakers love the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. It’s fabulous, vibrant, elegant and full of Parisian magic. Sitting on a terrace of one of the numerous cafés all along the avenue, drinking coffee and watching people passing by – a pastime worth coming to France. If you find coffee too expensive (and it may cost €30 a cup), you can always stroll by, enjoying the view. At the end of this walk, you’ll discover a real treat. The magnificent Arc de Triomphe is one of Paris’ most visited sites. Created to commemorate the military genius of Napoleon Bonaparte, it has become an important symbol of the republican France. No wonder that it is here, where the Bastille Day celebrations are centered.
Another beauty spot is the famous hill of Monmartre. It is crowned by the Basilica of the Sacré Cœur built from travertine stone. Thanks to the qualities of this stone, the basilica remains white in spite of frequent rains and pollution. While here, you should visit a small vineyard in the Rue Saint-Vincent. It continues the tradition of wine production that was common in the Île de France in the early Middle Ages. However, most of its fame Montmartre owes to the bohemian activity that once reigned over this place. Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, Matisse, Toulouse-Lotrec, Degas – the list seems endless. The notorious red-light district of Pigalle is also situated here. The centre of nightlife, formerly famous for its cabarets and prostitutes, is now specializing in a wide variety of stores selling instruments for rock music. However, you can still find here the reminders of its naughty past: sex-shops, the museum of erotica and the merry Moulin Rouge. This cabaret has given the world the lively cancan, and it was named Moulin after the real windmills ('moulins' in French), which were once common in the area. The last one left here is the Moulin de La Galette.
Another popular site is the Pompidou Centre. You simply cannot escape this museum! Once you have seen its original design, you are bound to pop in. This cultural centre focuses on all sorts of modern creations: photography, literature, theatre and even music. If you don’t have the money to buy a ticket or the time to stand in queues, you may equally enjoy the lively atmosphere around the museum. Dozens of street artists, mimes and dancers will make your visit every bit as enjoyable. Park lovers shouldn't miss the Jardin des Tuileries (an exceptionally beautiful Paris garden)! Fashionworshippers should start with the 8th arrondissement, where the heart of the fashion beats. Having admired Haute Couture and jewelry collections presented in the renowned boutiques of Christian Dior, Cartier, Chanel, Celine, Christian Lacroix, Piaget and many others, an impressed tourist may rush to the Boulevard Haussmann and satisfy his appetites at the well-known Parisian department stores Galeries Lafayette and Printemps.
When to come?
Obviously, Paris never loses its charm. Nevertheless, to enjoy your visit as much as possible, decide which of its many faces you’d prefer to see. Is it the famous leaden sky and gloomy streets in autumn as described by Simenon, or the fresh foliage of the young Paris in spring, or the romantic and rich Paris in the beginning of summer? Most tourists come to Paris in summer, but if you prefer it less crowded and not that expensive, you would probably choose April-May when it’s already warm but never hot. Christmas time is also a very busy and consequently more expensive period.
How to get to the city centre from the airport?
Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, also known as Roissy Airport, is the major airport of France and one of the largest in the world. It is situated to the northeast of Paris and is connected to Gare du Nord (Northern railway station) by the RER B suburban route. This will take from 40 minutes to an hour and will cost you €8.5. Going by bus is equally convenient. Of all the range of busses, Roissybus is the fastest: it will take you to the Opera in 45-60 minutes and will cost €9. You can always rent a car. But if you take a taxi, be prepared to spend €50 and more (if at night or during the rush hour). Paris-Orly Airport, best known as Orly, is the second largest airport of the city. It is situated to the south of Paris and is connected to the RER B line by a small automatic metro called Orlyval. You start with Orlyval, which takes you to the Antony station, where you change for RER B train that gets you to Paris itself. The whole trip will take about 40 minutes and will cost about €10. Orlybus (the analogue of Roissybus) will be cheaper: €6,5 for a 30-minute trip to the metro station Denfert Rochereau. Alternatively, you can take a taxi (€40) or rent a car.
How to get around?The subway in Paris, called the Paris Métro, is the fastest way to get around. A basic Métro ticket costs €1.70, but you can save money by purchasing a carnet of 10 tickets for €12.50. The same tickets can be used on buses. "Paris Visite" is a pass especially designed for tourists. Its price varies according to the number of days and zones covered. If you are short of time or don’t like travelling on foot, you can take advantage of the Paris excursion buses. There are two types: the yellow one is L'OpenTour (several different routes); the red one is Les Cars Rouges (only one route).
Where to eat?
Food in Paris is delicious and really expensive. However, the variety of restaurants caters for all tastes and budgets. In the eminent l’Arpege, Le Grand Véfour or Le Jules Verne you will leave hundreds and even thousands of Euros, while in smaller restaurants in the centre of the city, such as Chez Papa, Le Mondrian, you’ll spend some €30-€40. A meal at self-service restaurants like Monte-Carlo or McDonalds will save you even more money.
Where to stay?
Being one of Europe’s major tourist destinations, Paris offers a wide range of places to stay. Firstly, there are chains of hotels. They are often run by French citizens of Arab origin and are usually located far from the centre. A night in the Formule 1 will cost €30, €35 in the Etap, €45 in the Première Classe (rooms are small with shower and toilet in the corridor). If you are seeking more comfort, you may choose hotels in the city centre. Be careful with the stars: sometimes hotels put less stars to pay less taxes, and you may find little difference between a 2** and 3*** hotel. Students may prefer hostels. They are cheap but vary greatly in their appearance and services provided.