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The Chicago skyline at night.

- © Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
Chicago
Chicago

Chicago, the Windy City of the United States

Chicago in short

Chicago, the most American of American cities

Chicago is a collection of gleaming buildings, a rattling aerial metro, thick pizzas and famous hot dogs. You're right in the heart of America, in the country's third-largest city!

The city's exceptional geographical location on the shores of Lake Michigan is a real asset.

Aware of this opportunity, Chicago is committed to developing its coastline. Take advantage of the beaches, footpaths and promenades that have been laid out, and discover a little-known facet of the city.

Several parks and gardens also border the lake. Alternate between Lincoln Park and its zoo, Millennium Park and its famous work of art, Cloud Gate.

Vue sur le downtown de Chicago et le lac Michigan

Aerial view of downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan.

- © Rudy Balasko / Shutterstock

It's good to know that Illinois' largest city is worth a visit in every season. In summer, the lake, beaches and gardens bring an air of nature and frenzy to the city. Terraces, bars and festivals fill the streets, parks and gardens.

In winter, the programme changes. Snow, cold and ice seem to freeze the city. But that's not the case, so make the most of the festive season.

At Christmas, for example, the city lights up. It's a time when street decorations and lights create a magical atmosphere. What's more, an ice rink is set up from December to March in Millennium Park, right in the city centre.

Note that in winter, clear weather and bright sunshine can sometimes light up this cold, white landscape.

Chicago et le lac Michigan en hiver

Chicago and Lake Michigan in winter.

- © John Lupu / Shutterstock

As well as being profoundly American, Chicago is a real melting pot. Depending on the neighbourhood, you'll find a Latin, Asian or African atmosphere. Here you'll find Greektown, Little Italy, Chinatown...

This multi-ethnic city offers an incredible choice of restaurants. World cuisine is right on your hotel's doorstep!

Chicago, the metropolis of the Midwest, is the major cultural capital of this part of the country. You can't beat it! Music, theatre, museums and sport all come together in this metropolis of 10 million inhabitants.

What's more, the city is the birthplace of blues and house music, and the home of the Chicago Bulls basketball team. Culture and sport really flourish here!

Chicago et la Chicago River

Chicago and the Chicago River.

- © Rudy Balasko / Shutterstock

To top it all off, Chicago knows how to appeal to all kinds of families, with the city fulfilling everyone's expectations.

As we have seen, culture is everywhere. The city's many museums appeal to technology enthusiasts (Museum of Science and Industry), natural scientists (Field Museum), children (Chicago children's museum) and art lovers (Art Institute of Chicago).

Sports enthusiasts will be able to get some fresh air in the city's parks, sail on the lake in summer, skate in winter and watch some great matches. The number of activities is endless!

Architecture fans and photographers will be thrilled by the skyline (which can be seen from the lakeside). The Loop and River North districts are home to the largest number of buildings in the city.

Chicago is a destination in its own right, a city of contrasts. It knows how to surprise, disconcert and charm visitors - come and see for yourself!

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The must-sees

All the must-sees

How to get there?

Chicago is accessible by air from the UK, with direct flights from London. Travellers can choose from a wide range of airlines, including Delta Airlines, American Airlines, United, US Airways, British Airways, Air France, and KLM. Some flights have stopovers in Europe or the United States.

The city is also accessible from other American cities by train and bus.

United States

✈️ Flights to Chicago

Chicago O'Hare International is the main airport, but the city has four airports!
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Where to stay?

Chicago is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. As a result, the range of accommodation on offer is vast and meets the different aspirations of travellers.

But remember to book as early as possible. As a bonus, you'll benefit from preferential rates!

Practical information

Chicago, key figures :

Surface area: 60,000 hectares.

Population: 2,700,000 in 2021

Language

Anglo-American is still the majority language in Chicago, although Spanish is also spoken.

👉 Formalities and visa United States

Since January 2009, nationals of visa-exempt countries, including the UK, have had to apply online for ESTA travel authorisation (for a fee) at least 72 hours before departure. Travellers can do this via their travel agent and will receive an electronic authorisation in return, which is essential before boarding a plane or a boat. This authorisation is valid for two years or until the passport expires. The new measure, one of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, is designed to make it more difficult for potential terrorists from countries such as France, Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Singapore, New Zealand, Japan and Australia to enter the United States.

Good to know: The United States requires an individual passport, whatever the age of the traveller. Babies (even a few months old) and children must therefore have the same passport as adults (or an individual visa if the child is included in the passport of one of the parents who has a visa).

Religion

Protestantism is the majority religion in the United States. Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism and Islam are also represented.

Currency

The currency is the US dollar (USD), which can fluctuate quite widely (small denominations are preferable). It is divided into 100 cents. There are plenty of exchange offices, but rates are higher at airports than in town. There is no problem exchanging traveller's cheques. All the major cities are well equipped with ATMs and 24-hour banking machines, which allow you to withdraw cash anywhere with any international credit card. Payment by bank card is widespread, but the use of cheques is relatively uncommon. Banks are generally open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

Transport

Use public transport to get around Chicago. The city can be explored by metro, train and bus.

Health

No specific vaccinations are required, but very good insurance is strongly recommended (for treatment and repatriation costs) in the event of illness or accident, given the very high cost of medical care in the United States.

Electricity

The current standard in the United States is 110 V 60 Hz. Electrical sockets have 2 or 3 flat pins, which means they cannot be used for UK appliances. An adaptor is essential.

Taxes

The prices of products displayed in shops are always exclusive of tax. State tax must be added. An additional local tax may be applied to hotels in certain towns, for a total that may vary from 11% to 14%. Prices quoted in the service sector (restaurants, taxis) always exclude a tip: it is customary to add a 15% tip to the price quoted. If you pay by credit card, you should add the tip yourself and make up the final bill before signing.

Things to avoid

Walk alone in certain areas of the city. The southern parts of the city are the most dangerous.

lightbulb_outline Editor's tip

Avoid hiring a car and driving in the city. There are traffic jams all day long. Even though there are plenty of car parks, you'll need to set aside a hefty budget to park your car, as they are very expensive.

Useful links
French Ministry of Foreign
Chicago Tourism Office

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