Paris City Guide
Paris, the capital city of France, is the choice vacation destination of numerous travelers. This city is renowned the world over for its beauty, style and elegance and is also known as the ‘City of Lights’ because it was the most illuminated city in Europe during the 19th century.
Paris is considered to be one of the most romantic destinations in the world and no matter when you decide to visit; you are bound to be seduced by the many delights the city has to offer. Paris with its numerous museums, landmarks, cafes and green spaces has something for all types of tourists.
Where to stay in Paris
Paris is traversed by the River Seine, which divides the city into two halves: namely the Left Bank (the southern bank of the Seine) and the Right Bank (northern bank of the Seine).
The Right Bank ( Rive Droit)
The Right Bank of the River is home to major landmarks of Paris like the Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe, Place de la Concorde, Le Jardin des Tuileries, the Opera Garnier and the Louvre. In addition to these prominent Parisian landmarks, this neighborhood also offers many elegant shops and luxury hotels.
The Left Bank( Rive Gauche)
The Left Bank of the city is more laid back with a distinct bohemian feel and it is home to the Sorbonne University, the Jardin du Luxembourg, cafes, book stores and eclectic areas like the Latin Quarter and the St Germain. This area offers a wide array of reasonably priced and discount hotels and budget accommodation options.
Places to see in Paris
Paris offers many world famous sights; though the towering Eiffel Tower is perhaps its most well known landmark. This tower, which has been immortalized in many songs and movies, is the tallest structure in Paris and soars to a height of 324 meters (1063 feet). This late 19th century latticed tower is located on the famous Champ de Mars, which is an iconic green space located in the seventh arrondissment of Paris on the Right Bank of the city. The Eiffel Tower is one of the most heavily tourist trafficked monuments in the world.
Paris is a compact city and many tourists like to walk around the city to soak in its unique flavor. One of the most popular avenues in Paris for a stroll is its renowned Avenue des Champs-Élysées, which is littered with several luxurious stores, cinemas and quintessential Parisian cafes where you can sip a café au lait and munch on a croissant as you watch the stylish folk go by.
Spectacular views of the city are also obtained from atop the Montmarte hill, which has at its summit the Basilique du Sacre-Cœur, a famous Roman Catholic Church. The Montmartre hill, which was favored by artists like Salvador Dali, Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso, also hosts the nightclub district of Paris.
Basilique du Sacre-Coeur
This basilica was planned after France’s defeat by the Prussians as an effort to get rid of France’s misfortunes. Both the rich and poor contributed for its construction, which began in 1876. The church was consecrated only in 1919 and is known for its gorgeous mosaics and stained glass windows. The crypt of the church is believed to contain the sacred heart of Jesus.
The Notre Dame
Yet another famous church in Paris is the Notre Dame, which towers over the Place de Parvis on the Isle de la Cite. This cathedral, which was built between 1163 and 1345, is a gothic masterpiece and is an enduring symbol of Paris. The Notre Dame can accommodate 6000 worshippers and is equipped with an organ that has 7,800 pipes.
Paris is home to several spectacular museums like the Picasso Museum, the Rodin Museum and the Musée d'Orsay but its most famous museum is of course the Louvre, which is one of the world’s greatest art museums. The Louvre was opened in 1793 and has permanent collections that are divided into various sections like Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Asian antiquities, painting, drawings, sculpture and objects d'art. However, the star attraction at the Louvre is Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, which has its own room where it is enshrined in bullet proof glass. Needless to add, Louvre should be definitely considered as a must-do attraction on your visit to Paris.
Most museums in Paris charge hefty admission fees for a peek into French history and culture but there are a handful of free museums in the city that give you a similar experience for free. Some of these free Parisian museums are the Musée Cernuschi, which houses a treasure trove of Asian art. These magnificent Asian artifacts constituted the private collection of banker Henri Cernuschi. The Musée de la Vie Romantique is another free museum housed in an utterly charming house located in the 9th Arrondissement in an area, which is popular with actors and writers. Yet another free museum is the Musée Zadkine, which is the former home and workshop of Russian-born sculptor Ossip Zadkine and his French wife, painter Valentine Prax. The museum displays rotating exhibits of sculptures and paintings created by this artist couple.
The Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is the world’s largest triumphal arc that stands 165 ft (51 meters tall) and commemorates the major victories during the Revolution and the Napoleonic periods. Located under the Arc is the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is dedicated to the memory of the French soldiers who lost their lives during the two world wars.
Best time to visit Paris
Paris typically experiences a western European climate with warm summers, which are characterized by much sunshine. Daytime temperatures during the summer months of July and August in Paris usually range between 59F (15C) to77F (25C) though there are days when the mercury soars to above 90F (32C). During recent years, summer temperatures in Paris have been known to soar over 104 °F(40 °C).
The best time to visit Paris is actually during the seasons of spring and autumn, when the days are pleasant and the nights are cool; though some tourists also enjoy vacations in Paris during winters when sun hides behind the clouds most of the time and days are brisk and cold with temperatures hovering around 44F(7C).
We at Fare Buzz regularly offer flight deals and cheap air tickets for Paris all throughout the year and if you are planning a vacation in Paris anytime soon, you should take advantage of the various Paris flight and hotel deals that we have to offer.
Getting around in Paris
Paris is served by not one but two international airports; namely the Charles de Gaulle International Airport, which is located 14 miles (23km) to the north east of Paris and the Orly airport, which lies 8 miles (13 km) to the south of Paris. CDG is a massive airport that welcomes carriers from around the world and it is well connected to the city center by the RER B line, which also offers connections to the Metro. The Orly airport receives mostly domestic flights and other discount carriers from Southern Europe and the Mediterranean.
Paris has an excellent transport system, which consists of buses, underground trains (the metro), express trains (RER) and taxis. Additionally Paris also offers an eco-friendly, communal bike rental system known as Velib, which is extremely popular with tourists and locals alike.
Tourists often choose to rent a car for the duration of their stay in Paris as the city is quite easy to navigate and offers a network of wide, tree-lined avenues, which traverse the entire length and breadth of the city. Hiring a car for your vacation in Paris also facilitates sight-seeing trips outside the city like a trip to Versailles or a trip to the Loire Valley both of which are popular day trips from Paris.
If you wish to rent a car in Paris, then Fare Buzz can also be of assistance as it offers an array of affordable car rentals for Paris. Moreover, these car rentals can be booked at the same time that you make your other travel bookings for your vacation in Paris.
Where to shop in Paris
As one of the leading fashion capitals of the world, Paris attracts millions of visitors every year. Fashionistas, bargain-hunters, window-shoppers, luxe shoppers, ‘the city of light’ attracts them all, for it offers plentiful shopping opportunities within its many chic districts.
The Faubourg Saint-Honoré district is one of the most famous shopping haunts in Paris. Located within this decidedly upscale area, are some of the most well-known temples of high fashion, like Lanvin, Hermes, Chanel, Dior, Givenchy, Versace, Yves St Laurent along with many art galleries, embassies and the Elysee Palace, the residence of the President of France. Also located here is the renowned, fashion-forward, Parisian concept store, Colette.
Similar high-end fashion offerings can also be found at the expansive Avenue Montaigne located close to the Champs Elysee. The couture house for children, Bonpoint and the big guns of the fashion world, Chloe, Dior, Chanel, Dolce and Gabbana, Prada, Armani and Ralph Lauren have a presence on Avenue Montaigne. However, it’s not all about high fashion at the Champs Elysee, as this famed boulevard hosts outposts of more down to earth brands like Banana Republic, Marks and Spencer’s, H&M, Zara, in addition to a few big names like Hugho Boss and Louis Vuitton. Other recommended shopping districts in Paris include the historic Marais quarter (stores offering handcrafted wares, arts and antiques), Place de Vosges (populated with stores offering jewelry, fine arts and antiques) and Rue des Rosiers (home to boutiques offering creations of up and coming designers).
Boulevard Haussmann located near Paris Opera Garnier is littered with several grand Belle Epoque buildings and hosts famed Parisian department stores like Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. Both these ‘grand magasins’ (big shops) offer a whole host of consumer delights like tableware, fragrances, accessories, lingerie, jewelry, home wares, gourmet food and more. However, if you fancy shopping at malls, then you could pencil in visit to some Parisian malls like Le Forum des Halles and Carrousel du Louvre, both of which have offers a selection of global and domestic brands. For discount designer shopping, try the Vallee Village shopping mall located near Disneyland Paris.
The animated Parisian food and flea markets are yet another must-do on any trip to Paris. Markets like the Saint-Ouen flea market (puce), the Raspail food Market, the Aligre Market and the markets along Rue Mouffetard and Rue de Buc serve as the lifeblood of the city and must be visited, if you wish to get a finger on the pulse of this enigmatic shopping capital of the world.
Where to eat in Paris
Paris with its abundance of Michelin-starred restaurants (82 restaurants according to current estimates) is considered to be the dining capital of the world. However, fine dining is not the city’s sole offering, for it is relatively easy to partake of good food almost anywhere in Paris. The city’s many markets, department store food halls and cafes teem with the many famed gastronomic delights like fine wines and cheeses, which are produced in the country and are much coveted all over the world.
Some of the most highly-ranked and well-regarded restaurants in Paris currently include eateries like L'Ambroisie, L’Arpege, Alain Ducasse, Guy Savoy (all three Michelin stars restaurants), L’Espadon, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon- Saint Germain and Etoile, Passage 53 and Le Cinq (all two Michelin stars eateries), Gourmand, Paris, Caffe Minotti, Vin sur Vin, La Tour d’Argent (all one Michelin star restaurants).
Aside from these heavy-hitting eateries, Paris also offers a wealth of dining options at more modest restaurants like Fellini, L’Osteria and Conti (all Italian eateries), Spoon Food and Wine and Maxims (French), Chez Vong and Passy Mandarin (Chinese), Blue Elephant (Thai) and Kinnugawa, Isse and Isami (Japanese fare).
Nightlife in Paris
Paris is renowned for its vibrant nightlife scene which features countless bars, cocktail lounges, live cabaret joints, jazz bars and thriving nightclubs. Buzzing nightspots in Paris presently include establishments like Chez Raspoutine (a former bordello turned into a nightclub), 79 Club Paris, Kong (a Philippe Starck designed hotspot), La Cigale (a live music venue and club), Andy Wahloo (a Moroccan bar), L’Arc (a thumping dance club), Chez Castel and Le Montana (both supper clubs) and Bar du Plaza Athenee.