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The rooftops of Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

- © Beautiful landscape / Shutterstock
Paris
Paris

A trip to the most beautiful city in the world

Paris in short

It’s six o’clock in the morning and Paris is waking up. Bit by bit, the warm lights reflecting through cafe windows cast a warm glow onto the tired faces of their early-morning customers, similar to the first light of dawn that brings the sleepy city back to life.

It’s eight o’clock and Paris has awakened. The great avenues that criss-cross the capital and breathe into it life, bordered by the elegant Haussmannian architecture, start to come alive. On the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville, lovers separate and embrace. Doisneau’s photo is constantly replayed: same scenes, different characters. All around, people are either escaping or being swallowed into metro: Châtelet, Palais Royal, Musée du Louvre, Opéra. For the tourist, however, these are the keys to another world, one that natives seem to ignore.

The Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

- © Eric Isselee / Shutterstock

It’s ten o’clock and Paris starts to drain. Now abandoned by the labouring hoards, the city gives itself to the curious. All along its leylines it whispers its story, meeting its old sacred stones: the Louvre, the Concorde, the Champs Elysées, the Arc de Triomphe. And, as if following some chronological frieze, the leylines all lead to la Défense, where stone gives way to iron and glass, where the buildings rise upwards tenderly touch the sky. Like that, the chandelier-lit city of romantic dinners becomes a business village illuminated by advertisement lights.

It's midday; Paris is on the menu: jambon-beurre eaten on the go in a tree-lined park; steak and chips, accompanied by a glass of wine on the terrace of a brasserie; traditional regional recipes, reminding those who have moved to the capital of their roots; and a subtle mix of flavours and exceptional products, skilfully presented by Michelin-starred chefs. Gastronomy in Paris, always innovative, remains its own attraction!

Notre-Dame de Paris before the fire.

- © milosk50 / Shutterstock

It's two o'clock in the afternoon and Paris is rising. High in the sky, the Eiffel Tower has watched over the city for 120 years. This iron skeleton, whose life was supposed to be mere ephemera, has become the symbol of the city. Notre Dame grows larger as you walk along its square. At its feet, the Latin Quarter displays its meandering little streets, which once upon a time had a sleazy reputation. Today, restaurants, small shops and bookshops delight passers-by.

It's 4 p.m. and Paris rises, culturally this time. The city reveals a whole world where different shapes, letters, colours, sounds, images, and words take form. Theatre, music, painting, sculpture, cinema, poetry, Paris is as beautiful as she is cultured. Centuries of writers have haunted these streets...

The Alexandre III bridge and the Invalides in Paris.

- © maziarz / Shutterstock

It is 6 p.m., Paris is escaping. The bell has rung and the students, finally free, invade the squares and parks.... Surrounded by grey stones, it is in the gardens that natural colours flourish, like an echo of the shop windows nearby. Whether it is the Luxembourg Gardens, the Tuileries Gardens, the Jardin des Plantes, the Floral Park or the Montsouris Park, these islands of green in the very heart of the city are reservoirs of oxygen, calm and children's laughter.

It's 8 p.m., Paris is celebrating. The sun is setting and the Champs-Elysées is adorned with its string of luminous pearls. It has the grace of a diva, the sobriety of upper class. Its carpet of grey flagstones is offered to onlookers; it’s time to descend the metaphorical ladder, each rung a new luxury store. But the Champs-Elysées does not have a monopoly on luxury and taste in Paris. Throughout the city, the names of the great couturiers are displayed in golden letters alongside the great jewellers and luxury hotels!

A typical Parisian brasserie.

- © Catarina Belova / Shutterstock

It's 10 p.m., Paris is watching. When night comes, a metamorphosis occurs. The daytime hustle and bustle has disappeared and is replaced by a more relaxed, more colourful, and more festive ambiance.

It is midnight and Paris stays awake...

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The must-sees

All the must-sees

How to get there?

All roads lead to... Paris! With six major train stations linking all of France and Europe and two international airports, the City of Light is easily accessible from all over the world! It is also connected to the rest of the country by numerous motorways, making it easy to reach by car.

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Paris has two international airports (Orly and CDG).
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Where to stay?

Paris has a wide variety of accomodation establishments. From palaces and youth hostels to charming, historic and contemporary boutique hotels, travellers will easily find accommodation that meets their expectations in Paris.

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Practical information

Visits

There are many great museums and monuments to visit in Paris. But when you put them all together, the price of a visit can quickly add up. A number of passes offer preferential prices on must-sees! Go City's All-Inclusive Pass, from £89, you can visit as many attractions as you like in 2, 3, 4 or 6 days. For 4 days or more, it includes the Paris Museum Pass which gives you access to all of Paris' museums. The Paris Passlib' allows you to visit 3, 5 or 6 emblematic sites over the course of a year, at a price range that starts from £35. In the same vein, there's also Go City's Explorer Pass, from £115, which includes entry to Disneyland Paris!

Best time of year

The best time to visit Paris is from May to October, when temperatures are most pleasant. August can be quite hot, but if you are brave enough to experience high temperatures, you'll enjoy a Paris empty of tourists and locals! Winter is cold and often rainy, but that doesn't stop tourists who want to enjoy the capital lit up for the festive season.

Getting around

It's best to avoid the car in Paris. It will only bring you stress, parking problems and traffic jams. With its 14 metro lines, trams, buses and RERs, Paris makes every corner accessible to pedestrians. RATP is offering the "Paris Visite" pass, a card that lets you use the entire Paris network for one, two, three, four or five days. To visit the city, heels are out of the question. On a map, the distances may seem great, but once you're on the road, faced with beauty scattered on every corner, you never know how far your feet can take you... If you're not much of a walker, you can also go for a Velib'. Hop-on hop-off buses and the Batobus, which are also great ways of getting around Paris while discovering the monuments!

What to eat?

There's little risk of starving to death in Paris! There's hardly a street in Paris without a restaurant in sight. Indian cuisine, Asian cuisine, African cuisine, vegetarian cuisine, regional cuisine - there's something for everyone! Tourists with no exotic eating habits will find their reference points: fast food, Doner Kebab and other greasy joys. A little more daring, some will venture into a "Parisian brasserie" where salads and dishes of the day are served with a glass of red wine and a coffee. This atmosphere is at its best at Bouillon Chartier. When it comes to quality, it's not easy to tell at a glance which restaurant is better than another. As a general rule, it's best to avoid eating out in the big tourist areas (prices are much higher and quality is often questionable). As the capital of France and home of gastronomy, Paris is an unmissable culinary stop for all lovers of good food!

What to bring back?

As a capital of fashion, with big names like Chanel, Dior, Gaultier and Hermès, Paris attracts many tourists who come to buy luxury goods. The glitz and glamour of the new collections can be seen not only at the catwalk shows, but also in the city's chic neighbourhoods, which themselves become urban catwalks. Hédiard and Fauchon, the famous caterers, are must-gos to bring back affordable fine gastronomic souvenirs. Macaroons from Ladurée and Pierre Hermé are also big hits!

lightbulb_outline Editor's tip

It's often said that Parisians are unpleasant, because you see them in a bad mood on the metro in the morning, and that waiters in 'touristy' restaurants are often unprofessional. But if you mix with people in bars, restaurants and other places, you'll soon realise that people are quite charming and outgoing. Did you know that more than two-thirds of the population are not Parisians?

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