Paris is a city of contrasting districts and wide boulevards, bisected by the seine river, crowned by the hill of Montmartre and adorned with one of the most photographed structures in Europe: The Eiffel tower. The City of Paris gets its name from the Celtic Gallic tribe called the Parisii of Gaul who inhabited an island on the River Seine and fought against Julius Caesar’s Roman armies who occupied and fortified their island (known today as Île de la Cité, the old Roman walls are still visible under Notre Dame Cathedral). A medieval city grew out of the Roman fort and eventually expanded into a metropolitan region of over 11 million inhabitants. Some of the original medieval buildings of Île de la Cité remain, including Notre Dame Cathedral, La Sainte-Chapelle and the Conciergerie prison, known as the antechamber of the guillotine during the French revolution and counting Marie Antoinette among its many illustrious guests. Paris is divided into 20 districts or arrondissement, distributed in a clockwise spiral from the center of Île de la Cité. Kilometer cero starts in front of Notre Dame Cathedral and marks the first and 4th arrondissement. It is recommended to explore Paris by districts (arrondissement), as each one offers a unique charm.
First Arrondissement: this is a great district to start your explorations of Paris; it includes the Louvre Museum, the Sainte Chapelle, the Jardin des Tuileries and the Palais Royal. This central area is best explored by foot as it is varied and compact. One of the best ways to get an overview of Paris is to jump on one of the Bateaux Mouches boats that glide along the Seine. Take a night cruise and you will understand why Paris is called the city of light, when you see the Eiffel tower glittering with multiple lights.
Left Bank or Rive Gauche: This was the epicenter of 1920′s bohemian Paris, when artists and ex-pats gathered around outdoor cafés in the Montparnasse area, best described by one of its regulars: Ernest Hemingway. An area of the left bank close to La Sorbonne University became known as the Latin Quarter because education was dictated in Latin during medieval times. The Institute Pasteur is another left bank landmark, not far from the entrance to the catacombs of Paris, its somber tunnels and ossuaries are described in Les Misérables and other works of literature.
8th Arrondissement: Includes the Arc de Triomphe and the iconic Avenue des Champs-Élysées.
7th Arrondissement: Home of the Eifel tower, the once reviled and now the best known landmark of Paris and the world famous Musée d’Orsay.
La Défense: The district of La Défense is not officially inside the city of Paris, but its proximity provides a sharp contrast: A collection of ultra modern architecture, including the Arch de la defense that uses the neo-classical lines of the Arc de Triomphe and turns it into a space age version.
20th Arrondissement: Includes Pere Lachaise cemetery, where many of France’s famous artists are buried, including Jim Morrison, Chopin, Molliere and Edit Piaf.
The 18th Arrondissement: is best known for the Hill of Montmatre, crowned with the white stones of the Sacre Coer Basilica and the statue of Joan of Arc and offering sweeping views of the city. The 18th district is also known for its painters, picturesque side streets, steep steps and the famous Moulin Rouge cabaret in the bustling bohemian enclave of Pigalle.
11th Arrondissement: This district includes the most happening nightlife in Paris today, centered around Place de La Bastille and along Rue Oberkampf. If Hemmingway visited Paris today, he would hang out in the Café’s north of Bastille.
12th and 16th Arrondissements:Include large parks; the Bois de Vincennes, and the famous Bois de Boulogne, visible from the Eiffel tower.
Versailles: Just to the west of Paris is Versailles, a visit to the palace is a must, with opulent gardens and magnificent mirrored halls, you can almost hear Maria Antoinette proclaim: “Let them eat cake!”
Paris is served by two major international airports, Orly and Charles de Gaulle plus a smaller domestic airport that receives low cost international flights called Beauvais. Six rail stations connect the city with the rest of Europe, including Gare du Nord, home of the Eurostar Chunnel train to London and Brussels and the Thalys speed train to Amsterdam and Brussels. Other stations offer TGV fast train service to Germany, Spain and the South of France and several long distance overnight trains to Italy and beyond. Once inside the city, the best way to get around is by subway, buy a one day or a five day ticket for convenience. Paris metro map can help you best with the routes. Each one of Paris’s individual districts are best explored by foot, pushbikes are available for rent from automated stations that are strategically spaced 25 minutes apart so that you can get from one district to another and return the bike for more explorations on foot.
Things To Do:
Paris is a state of mind, pick your favorite districts and simple walk and immerse yourself in the culture, from sidewalks café’s to the Buddha bar, from Pere Lachaise to the catacombs, from the arch de triumph to the arch de la defense, from the Louvre to the Musée d’Orsay from Montparnasse to Bastille, from the top of Montmartre, to the top of the Eiffel tower, we will always have Paris. There are plenty of car rental services available in Paris. You can rent a car that takes you around the most exquisite places in the city including the Disneyland Paris.
Paris is known for its unexpected rainfall that can occur at any time of the year. Paris weather has warm summers with occasional heat waves and winters are bitter cold with temperatures close to freezing point. The best time to visit Paris is around the spring when you feel that the city is reborn with fresh flower blossoms and green leaves which enhances the beauty of the city.
Paris hotels are splendid and symbolize French-style elegance and offer impeccable hospitality services. The hotel packages have been designed keeping in mind the needs of the travelers. Most of the hotels also provide car rental services to important tourist destinations.