Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world, and it’s not hard to see why. The history, the romance, and the “je ne sais quoi” of it all makes the City Of Light the perfect destination for a city break, a romantic holiday, or just an escape to one of the most beautiful locales in Europe.
From the designer shops of the Champs Elysee to the flea markets of the left bank, the city has everything you could want from a European destination and so much more. Visit the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, or watch the Parisians parade in Le Marais.
Away from the tourist attractions, Paris is a city filled with wonder. The architecture, history, boulevards, and parks all offer something unique. While away the afternoon reading a book in a traditional Parisian cafe, or go exploring after dark to find shadowy jazz clubs open all night long. Eat 5-star cuisine in a traditional French brasserie, or dive in to the best baguettes anywhere in the world — fine food is certainly easy to come by in Paris!
Wherever you find yourself in Paris, there’s one thing that’s certain: it’s a city that won’t disappoint!
Table of contents
- Brief History of Paris
- Paris Fact File
- Getting There & Around
- Top 10 Neighborhoods to Visit in Paris
- Top 10 Paris Attractions
- 10 Unique and Quirky Things to do in Paris
- Top 10 Green Spaces and Secret Gardens in Paris
- Top 10 Best Views in Paris
- 10 Shopping Areas & Markets in Paris
- 15 Paris Travel Tips & Hacks
- 10 Fun Facts About Paris
- Top 10 Day Trips From Paris
- How to Stay Safe in Paris
- Final Thoughts
Table of Contents
- Brief History of Paris
- Paris Fact File
- Getting There & Around
- Top 10 Neighborhoods to Visit in Paris
- Top 10 Paris Attractions
- 10 Unique and Quirky Things to do in Paris
- Top 10 Green Spaces and Secret Gardens in Paris
- Top 10 Best Views in Paris
- 10 Shopping Areas & Markets in Paris
- 15 Paris Travel Tips & Hacks
- 10 Fun Facts About Paris
- Top 10 Day Trips From Paris
- How to Stay Safe in Paris
- Final Thoughts
Brief History of Paris
The city of Paris was first recorded somewhere around the 3rd century BC, when a Celtic tribe called the Parisi built a fortified settlement on the Ile de la Cite. This ancient French settlement was later conquered in 52 AD by the Romans, who transformed the tiny island into a busy town on the River Seine. The Romans called it Lutetia; it was not a particularly large or important town, but it still managed to maintain a healthy population of around 10,000.
As the Roman Empire began to decline, the city was captured by a race called the Franks. Under their rule, the city staved off a Viking invasion and flourished to become an important medieval inland port, noted for its scholars and religious figures.
It was between the 1500s and 1800s that Paris blossomed to become one of the largest and most important cities in the world. In the 19th century, however, Paris (like much of Europe) suffered an epidemic of the Black Death, followed later by a Cholera epidemic.
Paris has also hosted its fair share of battles, including the Hundred Years’ War, the French Revolution, and 2 World Wars. Nevertheless, Paris has survived all of these and remains one of the most beautiful and highly regarded cities on earth.
Paris Fact File
Every district in Paris (these are known as “arrondissements”) offers something different from the next. Whichever part of the city you are visiting, here are some useful facts and figures that cover the entire urban area of Paris.
Area: 105 square kilometers (41 square miles)
Official Language: French
Other Languages Spoken: As many as 200 different languages are spoken by residents throughout the arrondissements, including Arabic and African French as well as other European languages.
Official Religion: Paris (and France as a whole) is considered Roman Catholic
Current Prime Minister: Emmanuel Macron
Time Zone: Paris is in the Central European Time Zone. Central European Standard Time (CET) is 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+1)
Currency: Euro (EUR)
Country Dialling Code Prefix: +33
Emergency Numbers: Dial 112 and ask for the service you require (police, fire, or ambulance service)
Open space: 9.5 percent (including regional, district, and local parks)
Taxis: 18,000 licensed taxis
Bars: There are over 15,000 bars and licensed restaurants in the city
Parks and Gardens: 400
Getting There & Around
Paris is easily accessible from all over the world. You can travel by rail or road through Europe or from the UK, by boat to the main ports of France, or by air from anywhere in the world.
Paris by Air
There are 3 airports in Paris that offer a range of domestic and international flights for commercial passengers. Charles de Gaulle Airport is perhaps the most famous gateway to the city and serves as Paris’ main international airport. Orly Airport is smaller but also caters to international travelers, while the airport of Beauvais-Tillé was the original airport for the city and now serves as a destination for budget airlines only.
All 3 airports are within easy reach of the city, which can be accessed by taxi or public transport.
Charles de Gaulle Airport – City Center
By Rail: The RER B (blue) train line has stations at both Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 of the airport. You can buy train tickets from one of the blue ticket machines that will cost around €9.25 for the 50-minute journey into Gare du Nord. Trains run between 04:46 and 23:56 Monday to Sunday.
By Bus: The Roissybus leaves from all 3 terminals and runs from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm every day. They run every 15 minutes until 8:45 pm, and then every 20 minutes until 11:00 pm. Tickets cost €9.25 one-way and the journey takes up to an hour, terminating in the Opéra area. Local bus numbers 350 or 351 also depart from Terminals 1 and 2 every 20 minutes and cost as little as €5.70, but the journey will take longer — the public buses travel through the suburbs before reaching the Gare de l’Est or Nation terminals.
Night buses N140 and N143 run 7 days a week and depart from all 3 terminals.
By Taxi: There are taxi ranks at all 3 terminals, and a fare to the city center costs around €50.00 (more during peak times). The journey takes up to an hour.
Orly Airport – City Center
By Rail: There is no direct rail service to the city center, but Orly Airport is connected to the RER B train line at Antony train station by the Orlyval shuttle train. From Antony train station you can transfer to the RER B train to Paris. The shuttle runs every 30-35 minutes and costs €12.05 for a joint RER+Orlyval ticket.
By Bus: The Orlybus shuttle runs direct to Denfert-Rochereau station in Paris, and can be picked up from both terminals. The journey time is 30 minutes on average. They leave every 13-20 minutes and operate from 6:00 am until after 11:30 pm 7 days per week. The journey takes between 20-30 min for a €6.30 single fare.
Alternatively, Le Bus Direct runs regular pickups from Orly Airport that go further into the center of the city. These are more like coach services, costing as much as €12 and taking up to 90 minutes for a single journey. They depart approximately every 20 minutes between 5:00 am and 10:30 pm 7 days a week.
By Taxi: There are licensed taxi ranks at the baggage claim areas of both terminals, and the fare into the city will cost up to €35 for a journey of 30-45 minutes.
Beauvais-Tillé Airport – City Center
By Train: There is no direct train route to and from this airport. Beauvais train station is approximately 5 kilometers from the airport, and you would need to catch the number 12 bus to get there. Trains run from Beauvais to Paris Nord Train Station approximately every 60-90 minutes and cost €10 for a 90-minute journey.
By bus: The shuttle buses from Beauvais-Tillé are timed to coincide with the arrival of flights. They do not stop between the airport and the city and are more like private hired shuttles. Bus Paris-Beauvais will take you to the Porte Maillot metro station in Paris in around 80 minutes and costs €17. The SuperShuttle runs to central Paris and Disneyland and takes 75 minutes, but it’s much more expensive at around €32 per person.
By Taxi: Because the airport is located so far away from the city center, taxis are an expensive option (as much as €170 for the 80-minute journey).
Paris by Train
You can catch the Eurostar from London St. Pancras, Ebbsfleet, or Ashford in Kent direct to Paris Gare Du Nord; the same route can also take you directly to Disneyland Paris. If you’re planning on visiting other destinations on your way, you can hop on the Eurostar services from Calais, Lille, and even Brussels. Ticket prices will vary depending on when you travel, but you can pick up Eurostar tickets from London to Paris for as little as £29.00 one-way from Eurostar.
Paris by Boat
Most travelers from the UK who are coming by sea will take one of the many ferry services from Dover to Calais or Boulogne. But there are plenty of water routes between the UK and the French mainland, including Portsmouth to Le Havre and Plymouth to St Malo. Ferry tickets start from £27.00 one-way but can vary depending on when you travel. You can get a better idea of ferry timings and prices at P&O Ferries online.
The journey time from the port of Calais to Paris by road is around 3 hours, and the journey from Boulogne is just slightly quicker at 2 hours 45 minutes. If you want to catch the train from either port, your journey will be around 2 hours 30 minutes using the French rail service — tickets start from £12 one-way when pre-booked from the UK.
St Malo to Paris takes around 4 hours by road, and Le Havre is quicker at 2 hours 20 minutes. Trains from either port take around 2 hours 50 minutes, and ticket prices start from around £15 if you book before you leave. The train line website gives information on times and prices, and you can also book your journey in advance.
Getting Around Paris
By Train: The Paris métro is the fastest and cheapest way of getting around central Paris. Trains run from 5:30 am to 12:40 am Monday-Thursday, and then 5:30 am to 1:30 am Friday-Sunday. Tickets can be purchased for a single journey or in a group. A single ticket costs €1.90, but it’s more economical to buy 10 for €14.50. Alternatively, Mobilis passes cost between €7.30-€17.30 and cover a variety of different zones. If you’re staying for a week or more, you could consider a 1-week or 1-month Navigo pass.
By Bus: Buses run 6:30 am-8:30 pm with some routes continuing until 12:30 am on the weekends. You can use a métro ticket, a ticket bought from the driver for €1.90, or a travel pass.
By River: The Batobus is a uniquely Parisian way to travel that will take you past all the main tourist attractions in the city center. Boats run every 25 minutes in high season (Monday-Thursday 10:00 am-5:00 pm; Friday-Sunday 10:00 am-9:30 pm), and every 40 minutes in low season (Monday-Thursday 10:00 am-5:00 pm; Friday-Sunday 10:00 am-7:00 pm). A one-day pass is €17 with unlimited hop-on and hop-off privileges.
By Taxi: Like in most major cities, there are plenty of taxis to be found in Paris. You can hail them in the street or pick up one from a licensed rank. Taxis in Paris are not all the same color, but they will have the distinctive “Taxi Parisien” light on top.
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Top 10 Neighborhoods to Visit in Paris
There are 20 neighborhoods called arrondissements in Paris. Each one has its own distantly unique vibe and all of them are unique Parisian in their look and feel. Spend your time in the city exploring the arrondissements at your leisure for an authentic introduction to the city. It’s hard to pick a top ten but here are ours.
1. Les Halles (1st arrondissement)
Situated on the right bank of the River Seine, the 1st arrondissement is one of the oldest in Paris. It is also one of the least populated and one of the smallest by area…but that doesn’t make it one of the quietest parts of the city! Les Halles is home to the world-famous Louvre Museum, where the Mona Lisa and the Venus De Milo are carefully displayed, and it’s also busy with visitors to the museum and other nearby attractions.
The 1st arrondissement also includes the Musee de l’Orangerie, which can be found in the former Orangery of the Tuileries Gardens and contains work from such luminaries as Monet, Cézanne, Matisse, Modigliani, and Picasso.
Now a reasonably upmarket area, Les Halles is full of art galleries, cozy cafes, beautiful parks, and gardens. You’ll also find Les Comedie-Francaise here (a classic Parisian theatre), and the Palais Royal.
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2. Ile St-Louis (4th arrondissement)
The 4th arrondissement is considered the center of contemporary Paris and is home to artists, designers, and students alike. It is a bustling and elegant area where the rich history of the city blends perfectly with the modern and new. It is home to the Centre Georges Pompidou (a modern hub for French art and culture), and offers a selection of galleries, a museum, and its famous unique architecture.
France’s National Museum of Modern Art is also located in the Pompidou center and boasts nearly 50,000 works of art, including one of the most important collections of prestigious modern art in the world.
The stunning Place des Vosges can also be found here; it’s a beautiful spot to sit and watch the world go by. Traditional French cafes and unusual independent retailers are on every corner of this diverse and distinctive part of the city.
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3. Bastille (11th arrondissement)
Upmarket and incredibly hip, the 11th arrondissement has plenty to offer anyone looking for good food and fine French culture. Centered around the Place De Bastille with its famous July Column, the Bastille neighborhood is linked to the French Revolution and is one the most historic parts of the whole country.
Quintessentially Parisian, the cool bars and legendary nightclubs of the Bastille make it the place to be if you want to see and be seen. There are broad promenades to stroll along hand in hand, as well as plenty of green spaces and gardens for visitors to enjoy.
You can watch artists paint along the Viaduc des Arts, or listen to a jazz band at one of the many clubs in the area. If you fancy a bit of French fashion therapy, pay a visit to the boutiques in the Rue de Charonne.
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4. Belleville-Menilmontant (20th Arrondissement)
What was once just a few houses in a small village on the outskirts of the city is now a vibrant and cosmopolitan part of Paris. Famous for its artist colonies and the Chinese quarter, the 20th arrondissement also offers amazing views across the city from the Rue Piat and Rue des Envierges.
Traditional Parisian streets lead to beautiful open spaces, including the modern but very charming Parc de Belleville. Now considered to be the thriving center of alternative Paris, these streets are full of bars and bordellos, and they come alive with music when night falls.
Rue Boyer is home to 2 of Paris’ most famous music venues: the Bellevilloise multidisciplinary arts centre and La Maroquinerie concert hall. You’ll also find a wealth of hip bars, the Philippe Starck-designed Mama Shelter hotel, and the Flêche d’Or — a concert hall set in a former train station.
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5. Montmartre (18th Arrondissement)
Best known for the hill of Montmartre, the 18th arrondissement is one the most culturally rich areas of Paris.
Montmartre is home to the Quartier Africain (also known as the Château-Rouge), and it offers colorful Congolese fabric shops, specialty supermarkets, and the nearby Institut des Cultures d’Islam. This Islamic cultural center holds language lessons, neighborhood tours, and art exhibits.
Le Marché de Barbès can also be found here — it’s one of the cheapest markets in Paris offering a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, and unusual tasty treats. The 18th arrondissement has some of the very best vintage shops in Paris too, and you’ll be surrounded by authentic Parisian bars and cafes when you fancy a break from shopping.
The famous Montmartre Cemetery is home to the graves of many actors, painters, singers, writers, and dancers who lived in the area. This cemetery intricate architecture and monuments are a beautiful place to visit when you come to the 18th arrondissement.
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6. Canal Saint-Martin (10th arrondissement)
The banks of the Saint-Martin Canal are the perfect place to enjoy a picnic or bask in the lazy evening sun. Cafes, bars, and quirky boutiques sit nestled alongside the banks of the river and are great for exploring any time of year.
On a Sunday, the Quai de Valmy and Quai de Jemmapes are reserved only for pedestrians and cyclists, making it a great time to rent a bike and explore the area on 2 wheels.
Head away from the river bank and turn toward Marais to explore the ultra-trendy side streets full of fashion boutiques, contemporary art galleries, chic eateries, pavement cafes, and cocktail bars. Hip and bohemian, the 10th arrondissement is an example of fashionable Paris at its finest.
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7. Haut Marais (3rd Arrondissement)
Just minutes away from the Canal Saint-Martin, Haut Marais is sophisticated and cool, and has plenty to offer fashion fanatics and art lovers alike. Also known as “old Paris,” this is one of the capital’s most talked-about districts.
With narrow paved streets, magnificent mansions, and hidden gardens tucked away out of sight, this golden triangle covers a small portion of the 3rd arrondissement, including Rue Vieille-du-Temple, Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, and Place de la République. The area still maintains a charming and often avant-garde village atmosphere.
NoMa, as those in the know call it, is an utter paradise for fashionable French ladies, and the streets are lined with luxury brand names as well as up-and-coming young designers. It’s also popular with young artists looking to make a name for themselves, and has a thriving art scene full of contemporary galleries.
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8. Montorgueil (2nd arrondissement)
The Rue Montorgueil neighborhood is a vibrant pedestrian area and permanent market in the heart of Paris. Home to the very best meat and fish markets in the city, it also offers some world-famous pastry shops like La Maison Stohrer.
Whether you’re looking to hang out in the hip coffee bars or enjoy the traditional French food markets of the Montorgueil, the 2nd arrondissement is authentically French throughout.
This neighborhood is also home to Paris’s only fortified tower, known as the Jean-Sans-Peur. Erected in the 15th century, you can admire its architecture from the market or step inside and climb the spiral staircase to visit the tower’s original rooms.
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9. Batignolles (17th Arrondissement)
One of the largest arrondissements in Paris, the 17th is very much like a series of interconnected villages. The area was once home to some of the most famous French artists and writers including Henry Miller, Émile Zola, and Édouard Manet, and it is still rich in culture and history.
The Square des Batignolles is a pretty park with a lake full of ducks, and is a little oasis bordering the bustling the Place du Docteur-Félix-Lobligeois. The park is overlooked by the impressive Sainte-Marie des Batignolles church and is the perfect spot for enjoying a drink in any of the numerous bistros and cafes.
This entire neighborhood is packed with picture-perfect French villas with tiny gardens and beautiful courtyards. Narrow streets give way to hidden houses and huge locked gates. Batignolles is the Paris that visitors dream of: a cafe on every corner, boulangerie at breakfast time, and bars open late into the evening.
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10. Saint-Germain-des-Près (6th Arrondissement)
The 6th arrondissement is located on the Rive Gauche (or Left Bank), and it’s home to the atmospheric Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter, the Latin Quarter and exquisite Luxembourg Gardens.
Streets in the 6th are charming, quaint, and full of the authentic French shops, patisseries, bakeries, and cafés that Paris is so famous for.
You wouldn’t be out of place writing your memoirs in a side street cafe here in the 6th, which is considered the intellectual and literary heart of Paris. Explore the neighborhood on foot and drop in to the countless cafés, restaurants, boutiques, art galleries, antique shops, and the city’s best small art museums.
The 6th arrondissement is also home to the impressive Musée de Cluny, which is dedicated to the dark arts of the Middle Ages and is housed in a Gothic mansion.
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Top 10 Paris Attractions
There are plenty of historically important buildings, museums, galleries, and other attractions to see in the City Of Light; as a visitor you’ll find something to explore on every corner. Here are the top 10 Paris attractions you should definitely make time to see during your stay.
1. Notre-Dame – Closed
The Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris is a medieval Catholic cathedral situated on the Île de la Cité, and is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture anywhere in the world. It is a still a practicing Catholic church with a series of services that take place on Sundays.
If you are visiting Notre Dame, admission is free, but no baggage is allowed. The Cathedral is accessible to people with reduced mobility, and you can find audio tour guides available to purchase at the reception desk. Notre Dame is open every day from 7:45 am to 6:45 pm, and the nearest Metro stations are St-Michel Notre Dame and Cité.
Update April 2019 – After a devastating fire the iconic spire of the cathedral burnt down. $947 million has been donated for the reconstruction and Notre-Dame will be closed until further notice.
2. The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower was originally built as the main exhibit of the Paris Exposition (or World’s Fair) of 1889. It was constructed to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution and to show the world the industrial prowess of the French nation at that time. Originally considered to be the ugliest building in the city and much disliked by many Parisians of the time, it has become the city’s most iconic and well-known symbol.
When you visit you’ll be able to explore various areas of the tower: the Esplanade, the glass floor on the 1st floor, the Michelin-starred restaurant on the 2nd floor, or even the glass-walled lifts that will take you to the champagne bar at the summit. The Eiffel Tower is open daily from 9:30 am until 11:45 pm, and ticket prices start at €10 depending on how far up the tower you want to go. The nearest Metro stations are Champ de Mars/Tour Eiffel, Ecole Militaire, and Bir-Hakeim.
3. Musee du Louvre
The Louvre is a former royal palace located on the Right Bank of the River Seine. It is now the most famous art museum in the world, housing Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, as well as the Venus de Milo, and a wealth of other highly revered artworks. In fact, it has so much on offer that it’s almost impossible to see the entirety of the Louvre in just 1 visit.
The Louvre Museum is open Sunday-Monday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm; on Wednesdays and Fridays opening hours are extended until 9:45 pm. Tickets cost from €15 for general admission and guided tours, but admittance is free on every first Sunday from October to March.
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Cœur, is a Roman Catholic church and basilica in Paris. It is one of the most iconic monuments in the city, and offers beautiful panoramic views of the capital from 130 meters above the ground. The Sacré Coeur is instantly recognizable by its stunning white facade and ornamental dome; inside it houses the largest mosaic ceiling in France.
You can visit the Sacré-Cœur every day from 6:00 am to 10:30 pm, as well as the dome itself from 8:30 am to 8:00 pm between May and September, or 9:00 am to 5:00 pm from October to April. Admission to the basilica is free, but you will be charged to view the crypt and the dome. The nearest Metro stations are Abbesses, Anvers, and Lamarck Caulaincourt.
5. The Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is a monumental arch that was built between 1806 and 1836. It stands at the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle, also known as the “Place de l’Étoile,” and is located at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. It is one of the most iconic sites in the world and was built to commemorate those who fought for France. It is also home to the Tomb оf Thе Unknown Soldier.
You can walk аrоund outside The Arc de Triomphe for free, or visit the museum inside for €8. Opening hours are from 10:00 am to 11:00 pm from April 1 to September 30, and 10:00 am to 10:30 pm from October 1 to March 31. The nearest Metro station is Charles de Gaulle Etoile.
6. The Champs-Elysées
Frequently described as “the world’s most beautiful avenue,” the Avenue des Champs-Élysées is an instantly recognizable 2-kilometer stretch of boulevard that runs between the Place de la Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe. It is famous for its high-end fashion boutiques and luxury hotels, as well as being the setting for major events such as the Bastille Day Parade and the Tour De France bicycle race.
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is reserved for pedestrians and cyclists only. The nearest Metro stations are Champs-Élysées – Clemenceau, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Gare du Nord.
7. Musée d’Orsay
The Musée d’Orsay is situated on the Left Bank of the Seine and houses the most extensive collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world. It is one of the largest art museums in France and was formerly a Beaux-Arts railway station dating back as far as 1898. It includes post-Impressionist masterpieces from legendary artists including Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin, and Van Gogh.
The Musee d’Orsay is open from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm every day except Mondays; on Thursdays the museum remains open until 9:45 pm. Tickets cost €12 for admission, and the nearest Metro stations are Solférino or Musée d’Orsay.
8. Jardin du Luxembourg
The Jardin du Luxembourg is an inner-city oasis offering 23 hectares of formal terraces, chestnut groves, and stunning ornate gardens. They serve as a backdrop to both the Palais du Luxembourg and the Musée du Luxembourg, which holds prestigious temporary art exhibitions throughout the year.
The gardens have their very own orchards where dozens of varieties of roses grow, and there is even a honey festival held every year in late September. Entrance to the Jardin du Luxembourg is free, and the gardens themselves are open daily from 7:00 am to 1 hour before sunset in the summer, and from 8:00 am to 1 hour before sunset in the winter. The nearest Metro stops are Odeon and Luxembourg.
9. Place de la Concorde
The Place de la Concorde is the largest public square in Paris, and was once the site of many notable public executions during the French Revolution. It is also home to the Obelisk of Luxor that was originally located at the entrance to Luxor Temple in Egypt before being given to the French as a gift in 1833.
These days the square is most famous for its monumental fountains and the prestigious buildings that surround it. You can visit the Place de La Concorde anytime for free; it is open 24 hours a day. The nearest Metro station is De La Concorde.
10. Disneyland Paris
While not technically in the city of Paris, the Disneyland resort park is a draw for millions of visitors to the city every year. First opened in April 1992 and situated in Marne-la-Vallée, its layout and attractions are similar to Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida.
Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy train station is a 2-minute walk from the park entrance, and you can take the regional RER train from the center of Paris. The journey takes around 30 minutes, and fares start at €7.20.
10 Unique and Quirky Things to do in Paris
Away from the main tourist attractions, Paris is a city of underground tunnels, smoky bars, and unique things to see and do. If you get the chance, check these out:
1. Paris Catacombs
If you’re looking for an unusual day out and enjoy all things macabre, the Paris Catacombs could be just what you’re seeking. These dark, subterranean passages stretch for 2 km, lie 20 meters below street level, and are only accessible via 130 narrow steps. The tunnels are lined with skulls and bones that were placed there to help rectify the problem of overflowing cemeteries in the late 1800s.
Despite their gruesome history, the catacombs are very popular, and access is limited to 200 people in the tunnels at any one time. You can visit the Catacombs from Tuesday until Sunday from 10:00 am until 8:30 pm. They are closed every Monday and on certain holidays throughout the year. Tickets start at €13 for a 45-minute tour and are booked in pre-allocated time slots. The nearest Metro station is Denfert-Rochereau.
2. See the statue of liberty… in Paris
Yep, we are not making this up! In 1886 France gave the United States the Statue of Liberty; to return the gesture, the Americans gave Paris a smaller version of the same statue in 1889. The gift was given to highlight the historically close bond between France and the United States, and is known as the Statue of Liberty, Pont de Grenelle.
The quarter-scale replica sits on the southern end of the Île aux Cygnes (an artificial island built in the Seine), and it’s definitely worth a visit. Entrance is free and you can visit the statue any time of year. The statue can be accessed via either the Pont de Grenelle or the Pont de Bir-Hakeim Metro stations, both of which cross the Île aux Cygnes.
3. Paris Sewers
Another unusual underground attraction in Paris is the sewers museum, where you can learn about the history and take a tour of the fantastic sewer network that runs underneath the city. See the underside of Paris from Ancient times through the era of Belgrand, the 19th-century engineer who designed the sewer system in its current form. The Musée des égouts de Paris is located in the sewers themselves and is a fantastic destination for anyone interested in engineering, public works, or unusual tourist attractions…as well as fans of Victor Hugo’s novel Les Misérables and the musical it inspired.
The museum is open Saturday to Wednesday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm between October and March, and Saturday to Wednesday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm between May and September. Admission costs just €4.40 for a 10-person guided tour, and the nearest Metro station is Alma – Marceau.
4. Manoir de Paris
More spooky goings-on can be found at the Manoir de Paris. Claiming to be something between a museum and a theme park, the walk-through haunted house offers an interactive experience with over 30 scary actors bringing characters to life: the hunchback of Notre Dame, the phantom of the opera, and the man in the iron mask. In 2016, the Manoir de Paris introduced a new attraction, the Royal Hôtel Paradis, to add to its sinister lineup of entertainment. In total, it now offers 1,500 square meters of terrifying entertainment deep in the heart of the city.
Opening hours vary throughout the year, and it usually only opens from late afternoon through late evening. You can see the full calendar here. Admission prices start at €27 per adult, and the nearest Metro stations are Poissonnière, Bonne Nouvelle, and Gare de l’Est.
5. Le Ballon de Paris
The Ballon de Paris is a tethered helium balloon that was installed in the Parc André-Citroën in 1999. Originally created and developed for celebrations to mark the year 2000, the balloon offers a chance to see the iconic Paris skyline from high above. Flying at 150 meters above the city, Le Ballon de Paris is a unique experience for anyone not afraid of heights. The balloon takes to the skies with flights from 9:00 am until 30 minutes before the park closes. Ticket prices start at €12 for adults, and the nearest Metro station is Javel – André Citroën.
The Bustronome offers gourmet tours through Paris that combine sightseeing with a thoroughly enjoyable gastronomic meal. These tours run throughout the year, and diners are seated aboard a luxury double-decker bus with a glass roof. Visitors will travel through a variety of Parisian districts, and also get to see some of the major landmarks: Arc de Triomphe, Trocadéro, Tour Eiffel, Assemblée Nationale, Musée d’Orsay, Sain-Michel, Notre-Dame, Louvre, Place de la Concorde, Avenue des Champs-Elysées, and the Arc de Triomphe.
Bustronome runs during the day and evening, with exact times and prices varying depending on the meal you choose:
- Lunch: From €65, meets at 11:45 am to travel from 12:00 pm – 2:15 pm
- Snacks: From €60, meets at 3:15 pm to travel from 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
- Dinner: From €100, meets at either 7:30 or 8:30 pm
Buses depart from Place Charles de Gaule Étoile on the corner of l’avenue Kleber, or from Port de Suffren below the Eiffel Tower for snacks.
Père-Lachaise is the largest cemetery in the city of Paris, and covers over 44 hectares of ancient tombs and headstones. It is famous for being the very first garden cemetery as well as the first municipal cemetery, and is the site of 3 World War I memorials. It is also the final resting place of Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Frederic Chopin, and other high-profile figures. A stroll along these tree-lined cobblestone streets is anything but morbid, as stunning architecture converges with centuries of history in a peaceful and beautiful location.
Admission is free, and detailed maps are available onsite (or can be downloaded before you visit). Opening hours are Monday to Friday 8:00 am to 5:30 pm from November to mid-March, 8:30 am to 5:30 pm on Saturdays, and 9:00 am to 5:30 pm on Sundays and holidays. The nearest Metro stations are Père Lachaise and Philippe Auguste.
8. La Conciergerie
The private areas of La Conciergerie are still used as the Paris Law Courts, and this popular tourist attraction offers public access to certain areas of the building. It was previously used as a detention center, prison, and Revolutionary-era courthouse whose most famous prisoner was Marie-Antoinette.
The building is open year-round from 9:30 am until 6:00 pm. Admission starts at €9.00, and the nearest Metro stations are Châtelet, Saint-Michel, or Cité.
9. Museum of History and Medicine
Located on the second floor of the Université Paris Descartes, the Musée d’Histoire de la Médecine houses 1,500 objects, including some of the oldest known medical instruments in Europe. There are also plenty of historically important anatomical specimens and art to be seen throughout the exhibition, where you can view unusual relics like the surgical bags used at Waterloo and the autopsy tools used on Napoleon.
The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 12:00 pm until 5:00 pm. Admission is €3.50, and the nearest Metro station is Odeon.
10. Palais Garner
The Palais Garnier is a 1,979-seat opera house built in 1875 as the home of the Paris Opera, and today it also houses the collections of the Library-Museum of the Opera (National Library of France). It conserves 3 centuries of the theater’s history, including a permanent exhibition of paintings, drawings, photographs, and set models. Visit the auditorium, the Salon du glacier, the Foyers, the Grand Escalier, and The Foyer de la danse, which are all famous among operatic circles.
You can visit the site for around €12 for admission to the museum alone, but many people choose to add a night at the opera to their experience. Ticket prices will vary depending on what show you see and when. The Palais Garner has various opening times depending on the performance, and the nearest Metro station is Station Bastille.
Top 10 Green Spaces and Secret Gardens in Paris
Paris is full of beautiful parks and open spaces, as well as hidden gardens and secret squares just waiting to be explored. Here are some of the very best of them:
1. Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
As one of the biggest and oldest green spaces in Paris, the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is the perfect spot to appreciate the stunning views over Montmartre. With caves, waterfalls, a suspended bridge, and exotic trees, it really is an oasis in the heart of the city. There’s even an artificial lake, a cafe, and plenty of entertainment for children.
The park is open daily, and hours vary depending on the season. The park is free to all and the nearest Metro station is Rue Botzaris.
2. Jardin des Tuileries
Built on the site of a former tile factory, the Jardin des Tuileries was transformed into a beautiful landscaped garden in 1664. Since then it has been a popular respite spot for Parisians strolling across the Place de la Concorde. Home to The Musée de l’Orangerie and 2 stunning ornamental ponds, the Jardin des Tuileries is also famous for the summertime Fête that visitors flock to.
The gardens are open 7:00 am to 9:00 pm from March through May, 7:00 am to 11:00 pm from June through August, and 7:30 am to 7:30 pm from September until March. Admission is free and the nearest Metro station is Concorde, Tuileries.
3. Jardin du Luxembourg
The Luxembourg Gardens were inspired by the Boboli Gardens in Florence, and they’re split into French gardens and English gardens. Between the 2 lays a forested area with a large ornamental pond. The Jardin du Luxembourg has something for everyone; it’s the perfect place to learn about beekeeping, explore the Medici fountain, check out the Orangerie, and see the Pavillon Davioud. With puppets, chess, tennis, and remote control boating on the lake, the Jardin du Luxembourg is popular with both Parisians and visitors alike.
Entrance to the park is free and the nearest Metro is Odéon. Hours vary between 7:30 am and 9:30 pm depending on the season.
4. Jardin des Plantes
As the most highly regarded botanical garden in France, the Jardin des Plantes is the headquarters of the Muséum national d’histoire naturelle. It is also home to 4 different galleries that house rare collections of plants and specimens, as well as the world-famous zoo, a rotunda, and an amphitheater. The entire gardens — along with its buildings, archives, libraries, greenhouses, and works of art — is classified as a national historical landmark in France.
The park itself is open all year round from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm, and admission is free. Entrance fees for the galleries and other attractions may vary. The nearest Metro station is Trocadéro.
5. Parc Monceau
Parc Monceau is one of the most elegant gardens in Paris, and it offers many hidden surprises: ornate statues, a Renaissance archway belonging to the former Paris City Hall, spectacular trees, a wide variety of birds, and a large pond. The Park itself is bordered by luxury mansions — including the Musée Cernuschi (Museum of Asian Arts) — and there are playgrounds for the children, making it perfect for a family day out.
The park is open 7:00 am – 10:00 pm in summer and 7:00 am – 8:00 pm in winter; entrance is free. The nearest Metro is Monceau.
6. Jardin Catherine-Labouré
Named after a 9th-century nun who saw a vision of the Virgin Mary as she tended to the kitchen garden, this park now offers a 7,000 square meters of lush lawns and beautiful greenery. Enjoyed by Parisians and visitors looking to relax, the sprawling fruit trees, vine-covered pergolas, and vegetable gardens have survived for hundreds of years and offer an oasis of tranquility in the city.
Entrance to the park is free, and it is open from 8:00 am to 9:30 pm depending on the season. The nearest Metro station is Sèvres – Babylone.
7. Jardin Saint-Gilles du Grand Veneur
Hidden away in a maze of narrow streets is the little-known but utterly charming Jardin Saint-Gilles-Grand-Veneur. Rarely visited and just right for spending time with your significant other, this square is a perfect example of the romance Paris is so famous for. From the grass you can catch the perfect view of the Hôtel du Grand Veneur townhouse.
The square is open every day and entrance is free. The nearest Metro station is Chemin Vert.
8. Jardin des Rosiers – Joseph-Migneret
The Jardin des Rosiers – Joseph-Migneret is a welcome little oasis of calm in the heart of the Marais, a bustling and busy neighborhood in Paris. The garden is named after Joseph-Mignere, the principal of nearby elementary school Hospitallers-Saint-Gervais, who helped save the lives of many Jewish children during WWII. The square has only recently been opened to the public, featuring newly planted shrubs and borders and offering a welcome respite from the busy city streets.
Admission is free and the square is open daily, but locked at night. The nearest Metro stop is Place Monge.
9. Coulée verte Réne-Dumont
Running behind the Bastille Opera House and above avenue Daumesnil down to the Jardin de Reuilly, the walkway Coulée verte Réne-Dumont is an extraordinary 4.5-kilometer adventure through the city streets, surrounded by greenery and flower beds. Parade through the city as you pass lime and hazelnut trees, climbing plants, and rosebushes — then stop to admire the remarkable views of the beautiful 12th arrondissement.
The Coulée verte Réne-Dumont is open every day between 8:00 am – 9:30 pm depending on the season. Access is free and open to all. The nearest Metro station is Bastille.
10. La Petite Ceinture
Before Paris had the Métro system, residents got around using the “little belt” railroad that connected the main train stations. As the city evolved, this circular railway became obsolete, and certain stretches are now overgrown with more than 200 plant species. They offer vibrant wild walkways covered with colorful flowers and greenery, set against an urban backdrop of vivid graffiti and street art.
This 1,500-square-meter strip of land it is accessible to everyone, and different sections of the trail open and close at different times of year. The nearest Metro is Porte d’Auteuil
Top 10 Best Views in Paris
Paris has some amazing views to offer visitors to the city, and plenty of sky-high locations for you to see them from. These are some of the very best views in Paris:
1. The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower offers spectacular views from both the observation points and restaurants on the 1st and 2nd floors, but the views from the Champagne bar at the summit are more spectacular still. The tower is open from 9:30 am until 11:45 pm daily, and tickets for the tower start at €16 per person. Tickets can be pre-booked online to avoid queues, and restaurant and bar reservations should also be booked in advance. The nearest Metro stations are Champ de Mars / Tour Eiffel, Bir-Hakeim, or Ecole Militaire.
2. Montparnasse Tower
In just 38 seconds, Europe’s fastest elevator will take you to the 56th floor, where you can enjoy amazing views over the city from behind floor-to-ceiling windows. If you’d rather, you can step out onto The Montparnasse Tower terrace to take in some of the most photogenic views of the city below. Tickets start at €17, and the Tower opens at 9:30 am daily (it closes between 10:30 pm and 11:30 pm depending on the season). The nearest Metro is Montparnasse-Bienvenüe.
3. Arc de Triomphe
The magnificent Arc de Triomphe can be accessed via an underground tunnel on the Avenue de la Grande Armee, which is a much safer option than risking the Parisian traffic! When you reach the Arc, climb up its 40 stone stairs to catch great views down the Champs Elysees and over Paris itself. The arch is open from 10:00 am to 10:00 or 11:00 pm depending on the season, and tickets cost just €8 per adult. The nearest Metro station is Charles-de-Gaulle-Etoile.
4. Notre-Dame – Closed Until Further Notice
Climb the 422 steps to the towers of Notre Dame De Paris Cathedral to check out the breathtaking views over the cathedral and the heart of Paris. The panoramic terrace affords a 360-degree view over the city and can be accessed from 10:00 am until between 5:30 pm and 6:30 pm depending on the season. Tickets start at €10 and can be purchased online before you visit to avoid the queues. The nearest metro stations are Notre Dame and Etoile – Charles de Gaulle.
The pristine white of the Basilica Sacre Coeur is positioned at the very top of a hill, making it the highest point in Paris. To the left of the building, you can climb to the top of the dome and see amazing views over the whole city and beyond. The dome is open every day from 8:30 am to 8:00 pm (May to September) and 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (October to April). Admission starts at €5 and the nearest Metro is Basilica.
6. Galeries Lafayette
La Terrasse at Galeries Lafayette Haussmann enjoys a superb rooftop position offering spectacular views over all of Paris. Accessed via the 7th floor of Coupole, this bar and restaurant offers great food and drink as well as unique elevated views. The Galeries are open Monday to Saturday from 8:30 am to 9:30 pm, and 11:00 am to 7:00 pm on Sundays. Entry to the Galeries is free, but you will need to purchase food or drink to enjoy the views from La Terrasse. The nearest Metro station is Opera.
7. Mont Valérien
Built on a mountaintop just outside Paris, the military fort of Mont Valérien offers fantastic views across the city and beyond. The fort is still an active military field and cannot be visited on certain days during September, but visitors are free to explore the many walkways and catch views from the top most any other time. The Fort is open Tuesday to Sunday from 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm and entrance is free. The nearest metro station is Suresnes – Mont-Valérien.
8. Parc de Belleville
Built in 1988 on top of the Belleville hill, this park offers an unrestricted panoramic view of the capital city. There is a wooden village designed for children that offers towers with toboggans, a water course with waterfalls, and of course a perfect viewpoint to admire the city below. The park opens at 9:00 am on weekends and public holidays, closing between 5:45 pm and 9:30 pm depending on the season. Admission is free and the nearest Metro is Couronnes, Pyrénées.
9. Le Perchoir
Le Perchoir is a trendy 400-square-meter rooftop bar and restaurant featuring a breathtaking 360° view of the roofs and monuments of Paris. Set on the 7th floor of a 14 rue Crespin du Gast in the 11th arrondissement, La Perchoir is a popular hangout for both Parisians and visitors alike. The tasty dishes cooked by chef Benoît Dumas average between €42 and €48; admission is free, but you will of course need to pay for your food. Tables must be pre-booked and are available from 6:00 pm until 1:30 am Tuesday to Saturday. The nearest Metro is Saint-Ambroise
10. La Grande Arche in La Défense
At the top of the Grande Arche is a promenade deck from which you can see fantastic views of the great monuments including the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower. A popular spot with photographers looking to catch unique angles of the city below, you can access the rooftop terrace for €15 every day from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. The nearest Metro station is La Défense – Grande Arche.
10 Shopping Areas & Markets in Paris
You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to places to shop and markets to explore in Paris! Here are 10 of our favorites:
1. Le Marché Biologique des Batignolles
Located on the famous Parisian Boulevard des Batignolles, Le Marché Biologique des Batignolles only opens on Saturdays, but it’s absolute heaven for lovers of fresh and organic foods. Offering organic fruits and vegetables, baked produce, and flower stalls, this market is a real delight to explore on the weekend.
The market is open every Saturday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, and the nearest Metro station is Place de Clichy.
2. Le Marché aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux
Located on the Place Louis Lépine between Notre-Dame Cathedral and Sainte-Chapelle chapel, this famous flower market has been held here since 1830. The covered portion of the market takes place in the turn-of-the-century pavilions and offers a huge selection of seasonal flowers, exotic flowers, orchids, plants, and shrubs. It’s a popular destination for anyone interested in enjoying and purchasing fresh flowers for business or pleasure.
Le Marché aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux is open every day from 8:00 am to 7:30 pm, and the nearest Metro station is Cité.
3. Le Marché Bourse
Paris is famous for its fresh food markets, and the one held on the Place de la Bourse is no exception. It is regularly frequented by locals and visitors looking for tasty fresh food. Located opposite the Palais Brongniart, this market may be small, but it offers plenty to feast the eyes on…and the delicious aromas of home-cooked food will make your mouth water.
Le Marché Bourse takes place every Tuesday and Friday between 12:30 pm and 8:30 pm. The nearest Metro station is Bourse.
4. Le Marché des Enfants Rouges
The sprawling Marché des Enfants Rouges is the oldest market in Paris at 400 years old. Situated in Haut Marais close to rue de Bretagne, the food market is visited by Parisians and tourists looking for fabulous fresh produce. You can also sample plenty of tasty delights while perusing the market, including a quick lunch at the Italian deli, the Lebanese caterer, or the Japanese snack bar. On Sunday, brunch at the L’Estaminet restaurant is popular with locals.
The market is open between 8:30 am – 7:30 pm from Tuesday to Saturday, and 8:30 am – 2:00 pm on Sunday (restaurant times may be different). The nearest Metro station is Filles du Calvaire.
5. Le Marché d’Aligre
Situated between the place de la Bastille and the place de la Nation, Le Marché d’Aligre is open 6 days a week. The covered market is held in 3 beautiful historical halls and is dedicated to fabulously French food stalls selling coffee, cheese, bread, and anything else you can think of. The uncovered market opens onto the square and offers an eclectic mix of antique shops, home accessories, fabrics, old books, and much more.
The nearest Metro station is Ledru-Rollin, and opening times vary for each market section and day of the week:
- Tuesday to Friday 9:00 am – 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm – 7:30 pm
- Saturday 9:00 am – 1:00 pm and 3:30 pm – 7:30 pm
- Sunday 9:00 am – 1:30 pm
- Tuesday to Friday 7:30 am – 1:30 pm
- Saturday & Sunday 7:30 am – 2:30 pm
6. Galeries Lafayette
The Galeries Lafayette is a world-famous upmarket French department store chain with its flagship store on Boulevard Haussmann in the 9th arrondissement of Paris. It is an essential destination for fashion-conscious visitors to the city and has more than 2,500 brands offering womenswear, menswear, beauty, and home goods. It also has an extensive food hall, offering 2 floors of the very best gourmet groceries and eateries in Paris.
Galeries Lafayette is open Monday to Saturday from 9:30 am to 8:30 pm and Sundays from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm for the shopping galleries. The food halls are open Monday to Saturday from 8:30 am to 9:30 pm and Sundays from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. Entrance is free and the nearest Metro station is Opera.
7. Les Champs Elysées
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées runs between the Place de la Concorde and the Place Charles de Gaulle offering nearly 2 kilometers of theaters, cafés, and luxury retail outlets. It is also where the annual Bastille Day Military parade takes place and is the finish line of the Tour de France cycle race. Often described as the world’s most beautiful avenue, this tree-lined destination is filled with tourists and Parisians at any time of the day or night. Les Champs Elysées is one of the most famous shopping streets in the world.
Most shops are open from Monday to Saturday from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, while theaters, cafes, and restaurants will all have varying opening hours. The nearest Metro station is Charles de Gaulle – Étoile.
8. Le Marais
An upmarket neighborhood that Parisians would like to keep to themselves, Le Marais is full of crooked medieval lanes that are buzzing with hip bars, trendy clothing boutiques, old-fashioned bread shops, jewelry stores, wine shops, fashionable art galleries, and even museums. It offers an insight into how Parisians like to shop and is a perfect example of Paris at its finest. Whatever you’re looking for, you are bound to find it in Le Marais.
Most shops are open from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm, but some will close on Saturdays, Sundays, or Mondays. Restaurants and bars will have their own opening hours. The nearest Metro is Saint-Paul.
The Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville (or BHV) is a department store on rue de Rivoli in the 4th arrondissement of Paris. It is part of the Groupe Galeries Lafayette and is an iconic destination for visitors to the city. Anything and everything can be found in this luxury bazaar, which has a wide selection of concept stores that are great for browsing and buying. It also has bars and restaurants for you to enjoy.
BHV is open Monday to Saturday 10:00 am – 8:00 pm, and 11:00 am – 7:00 pm on Sundays. The nearest Metro station is Hôtel de Ville.
10. La Défense
La Défense is the main commercial district in the city of Paris, offering shops, bars, and restaurants that cater to both office workers and visitors alike. It is also home to The Quatre Temps – La Défense shopping center, which is one of the largest in Europe and has over 200 outlets for fashion, beauty, culture, technology, home décor, DIY, and food. You can also find a supermarket, numerous restaurants, and a cinema.
The Quatre Temps – La Défense is a busy shopping mall that’s open daily from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. The nearest Metro station is La Défense.
15 Paris Travel Tips & Hacks
Paris is indeed an amazing place to visit, but it can also be an expensive one. If you want to enjoy all the delights this city has to offer, you may want to save a few cents here and there. To help your travel budget go further, try these 15 tips to enjoy Paris for less.
1. The views are free
Part of the enchantment of this city is the spectacular views that can be enjoyed from almost anywhere. Avoid the main tourist hot spots — find a place by the river or take a seat on one of the many hills, and feast your eyes for free.
2. Eat the best bread
Nowhere in the world will baguettes ever taste as good or as fresh as they do in Paris! With a boulangerie on every corner, get up early to buy freshly baked bread for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — we won’t judge!
3. Drink well for less
France is famous for its fabulous wine, and even the most unassuming bars and cafes will serve a really decent variety for a fraction of the price it would cost you back home.
4. Take a river cruise
If you want to see the city sights but also avoid the crowds, enjoy a serene cruise down the Seine instead with a €10 boat ride on Bateaux Mouche.
5. Explore the markets
If you’re looking for art, vintage pieces, or unusual trinkets, you can’t beat the Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Montreuil. This famous flea market is open every day except Sunday from 7:00 am until 7:30 pm…you’re bound to find a bargain or 2.
6. Enjoy the music
Paris is a city full of music, and you can enjoy free outdoor performances from the buskers at the Metro Stations and the locals playing salsa, tango, or traditional French folk songs on the banks on the river almost any time of night.
7. Find a rare masterpiece
If you like watching artists at work, you can see them gathered with their easels at the Place Du Tertre. You can see them paint and even get some fantastic art tips for free!
8. Get on your bike
Avoid Parisian traffic jams by renting out a Velib bike for €1.7 a day (or €8 for a weekly pass). You can pick one up all around the city and simply return it to the nearest Velib station when you’re finished.
9. See the museums for free
On the first Sunday of every month, most galleries, exhibitions, and some tourist attractions open their doors for free. Visit early in the morning or later in the day though, as this can also be the busiest day of the month.
10. Travel like a local
A trip to Paris will involve using public transportation if you want to see all the sites. Forget about buying daily or weekly travel passes, and instead choose a carnet (booklet) of tickets. This will work out cheaper since they don’t expire and you can use them as you need to.
11. Find nice bathrooms
Public bathrooms in Paris can be hard to find and often not very pleasant to use. If you need to go, ask nicely in a cafe or brasserie before just barging in. Perhaps offer a small tip, or download a handy public toilet map before you leave your hotel.
12. Eat fresh food
Parisian restaurants are lovely, but you can eat just as well with fresh produce from the local markets. With a wide selection of food markets across the city, you can enjoy the very best breads, pastries, cheeses, wines, chocolate, and much more for a fraction of the price.
13. Consider staying in a hostel
If you don’t want to blow your budget on a plush hotel, hostels in the city offer clean, modern and well-located rooms throughout the city. With low prices and shared kitchen facilities and communal areas, you’ll have a clean, friendly base from which to explore the city.
14. Go to the park
Paris is loaded with beautiful open spaces. Most of the larger parks are free to visit, and they often have a cafe as well as a play area for children. If the weather is nice, stop by a boulangerie on your way and grab a picnic.
15. Collect vouchers
Like most cities in the world, you can find online voucher sites that will help you to purchase reduced meals, tickets, and entrances to attractions. One of the best is www.groupon.fr, or you can use the standard www.groupon.com and search for deals to be had in Paris.
10 Fun Facts About Paris
Paris is a city full of quirky buildings, unusual characters and a ton of history. Think you know all there is to know about the City of Light? How about these fun facts…
1. The Eiffel Tower took 2 years, 2 months and 5 days to build, with construction beginning in 1887. It was supposed to be a temporary installation (intended to stand for only 20 years after being built for the 1889 World Fair) but Eiffel convinced the powers that be to keep it.
2. A flat in Paris was left unoccupied under lock and key for more than 70 years, but the rent was always paid on time every month. When the rent payer finally passed away, an original painting by Boldini was found inside — it was later valued at more than £15 million.
3. Cafe culture and open terraces are synonymous with this city. If you were to spend each day of your life in Paris visiting a different open terrace, bar, cafe, or restaurant, it would take you 29.8 years to see them all…and maybe even longer, as new ones are opening all the time!
4. Paris has its very own Statue of Liberty that faces toward the same statue in New York. The Parisian statue may be only 1/3 the size of the original, but it was given to the French people in 1889 by America as a symbol of friendship and solidarity.
5. Parisians love the big screen, and there are more than 400 movie screens in Paris. About 100 of these are operated by the French government’s very own art program, Art et Essai. Originally created by theater directors and critics, the French government was so determined to keep the arts at the forefront of French policies that it’s now overseen by the Minister of Culture.
6. Paris also makes a very screen-worthy location. On any given day there are an average of 10 film or commercial shoots taking place on the streets of the city. Shooting in Paris is free and anyone can do it — you only need to pay to shoot scenes in gardens, museums, or swimming pools.
7. Parisians have a uniquely French approach to driving around their city. Until 2012, you could only find 1 single “STOP” sign in all of Paris! This sign was located at the exit of a construction material company in the 16th arrondissement, and it has since been removed.
8. The city of Paris has survived many attacks against its government and people throughout its history. It’s no surprise that the motto of Paris is “Fluctuat Ner Mergitur,” which means “Tossed but not sunk” in Latin (referring to a ship).
9. There are dozens of pianos in the train stations of Paris. Initiated by the SNCF, the project “Play me I’m yours” is in numerous cities across the world. Created by British artist Luke Jerram, the pianos are available for everyone to play — the artist invites the public to engage with their urban environment using a love of music and the visual arts.
10. The French army is the only one in Europe that still has carrier pigeons in its ranks. Kept at the Mont Valérien close to Paris, these pigeons can be used to carry out transmissions in case of a major catastrophe.
Top 10 Day Trips From Paris
If you feel like getting out of the city and exploring further afield, Northern France has some of most beautiful countryside in Europe, much of which can be reached easily from central Paris.
1. Chateau de Versailles
The Palace at Versailles was the seat of political power in France from 1682 until 1789. It is now open as a museum and is a very popular tourist attraction. Visitors come to see the famous Hall of Mirrors, the Royal Apartments, and the extensive and beautifully landscaped gardens of the Château.
The Palace is approximately 16 miles outside of central Paris, and the easiest way to reach it is by train. You can buy a combined Metro and RER ticket for around €7, which will take you all the way to Versailles Château-Rive Gauche in about 45 minutes.
Normandy offers mile upon mile of unspoiled Northern French coastline and beautiful beaches, and is an area of national importance full of picture-perfect towns and villages. The legacy of the Normans is everywhere, with the main attractions being the thousand-year-old embroidery of the Bayeux Tapestry as well as the cathedrals of Rouen and Coutances. Normandy is a beautiful and welcome break from city life.
Depending on your destination in Normandy, you can be there in between 1-2 hours using the RER train service from Paris Gard Du Nord. Trains in France are very reliable and probably the easiest way to get around, but if you want to drive you can take the A13 for roughly 2 hours, which passes near Evreux, Rouen, and Caen through Normandy.
3. Loire Valley
The Loire Valley is full of stunning chateaus, cathedrals, quaint villages, glorious gardens, and natural parks. You can even find one of the country’s best zoos, as well as multiple vineyards for wine tasting. Famous for its architectural heritage, the region is home fine historic towns such as Chenonceau, Chambord, Amboise, Chinon, and Loches.
The TGV (high-speed train) runs between Paris and the Loire Valley town of Tours. It’s only 35 minutes, costs around €30, and is the perfect way to make local train connections to further explore the region. You could also hire a car for the 240-kilometer drive, though this takes 2-3 hours and will cost you about €30 in tolls.
Giverny is a village in northern France; its most famous resident was the Impressionist painter Claude Monet, who lived and worked there from 1883 until his death in 1926. Visitors to the town can view the artist’s former home and elaborate gardens (where he produced his famed water lily series), as well as the Fondation Claude Monet museum. The Musée des impressionnismes Giverny is also a popular attraction for those interested in the Impressionist art movement.
You can easily catch the train from Paris St-Lazare to Vernon-Giverny for around €12. The journey takes about 45 minutes on the high-speed trains that run regularly throughout the day. Alternatively, you could drive there in around 90 minutes on the A13.
Chartres is a city southwest of Paris famous for its massive Cathédrale Notre-Dame. The gothic cathedral features 2 towering spires, flying buttresses, Romanesque sculptures, a pavement labyrinth, and elaborate rose windows. The town is also home to Musée des Beaux-Arts and the Maison Picassiette, as well as traditional French markets and gardens.
You can take the train from Paris Montparnasse to Chartres for as little as €16 for the 1 hour 10-minute journey. You can also drive there in around 1 hour 30 minutes using the A10.
Auvers-sur-Oise is a commune in the northwestern suburbs of Paris that is associated with several famous artists. The town is only 30 kilometers from central Paris, and it’s a seriously beautiful destination that has previously seduced plenty of famous painters including Vincent Van Gogh, Charles-François Daubigny, Paul Cézanne, and Camille Pissarro. It’s a magnificent spot to learn more about these artists and enjoy the quaint cobbled streets full of cafes and galleries.
This locale is also easy to reach on the “train des impressionistes” that runs from Gare du Nord during the summer period. A direct train from Paris Gare du Nord to Auvers-sur-Oise runs at weekends and on bank holidays from April to November, departing Paris at 9:38 am and leaving Auvers at 6:25 pm. There are also non-direct trains running from Paris Saint Lazare and other RER stations at other times of the year. Ticket prices start at €20.
Fontainebleau is best known for the spectacularly opulent Fontainebleau Palace. Dating back as far as the 1100s, the palace houses Marie Antoinette’s Turkish boudoir, the Napoleon Museum, a theater, and beautiful formal gardens with ornamental lakes and sculptures. The town is also surrounded by the idyllic Fontainebleau forest, home to Le Grand Parquet, a highly regarded French equestrian stadium. The town itself offers some first-class eateries as well as traditional bars and cafes.
You can jump on a train at Gare de Lyon and take the 40-minute journey to Fontainebleau-Avon for around €18. Alternatively, you can take the 31 bus from Melun to arrive there in approximately 45 minutes, or drive along the N6 motorway if you are arriving by car.
8. Domaine de Chantilly
The Château de Chantilly is a historic château located about 50 kilometers north of Paris. It has one of the largest art galleries in France, the Musée Condé, and is also home to the famous Chantilly Park and Chantilly Racecourse. You can explore the historic home and its rich history on your visit, or enjoy any of the family-friendly events held in the gardens throughout the year.
You can take the SNCF main lines from Gare Du Nore to Chantilly-Gouvieux for a 25-minute journey, or the RER line D for a 45-minute journey. You can also drive from Paris on the A3 and/or A1 motorway (Chantilly exit), or D316 and D317 roads.
9. Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte
The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a baroque French château located in Maincy, 55 kilometers southeast of Paris. It is one of the earliest Louis XIV-style buildings in France and is famous for its opulent interior and extensive formal gardens. The Château’s splendor later provided the inspiration for the famous Palace of Versailles. You can spend your day looking around the beautiful old house and exploring the gardens; on Sunday evenings the gardens are filled with candlelight for an even more spectacular experience.
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is about a 35-minute train journey from central Paris and can be reached on the Line P train in the direction of Provins. The nearest station is Verneuil l’Etang, where a shuttle bus ferries passengers to and from the Château. Alternatively, you can drive on the A4 or A6 motorway, then follow signs to Troyes via the motorway A5.
10. Parc de Sceaux
The Château de Sceaux is a grand country house in Sceaux, approximately 6 miles from the center of Paris. Visitors can tour the house and its outbuildings and explore the beautiful gardens. There is also a museum of local history on the site in the form of The Petit Château that greets you upon your arrival. There are a further 180 hectares of shady avenues, lawns, and woods to explore, and you should pay a visit to the Cascades — an impressive series of waterfalls descending to the Octagone, where a fountain jets more than 10 meters into the air.
You can reach Parc de Sceaux by taking the RER B to Parc de Sceaux.
How to Stay Safe in Paris
Paris is considered one of the safest cities in Europe, but as with every big city there will always be some low-level criminal activity you should be aware of when you visit.
Emergency Contacts in Paris
- If you are the victim of a crime, are unwell, or need urgent assistance in relation to a fire, call 112 to contact the police, ambulance, or fire department.
- Dial 18 to connect to the fire brigade (Sapeurs Pompiers) — they also deal with medical emergencies and should be your first call in life-threatening situations.
- Dial 15 for the ambulance and emergency services (SAMU), who will put you through to a qualified doctor to assist with your emergency.
- Dial 17 if you need to contact the police/gendarmes.
- Information about any major incidents in the capital will be found on the Paris Préfecture de police. They also have useful advice and contact details should you be the victim of a crime in the city.
- Travel information and updates on disrupted or canceled services can be found on the RATP website, although much of it is in French.
Keep Safe in the City
Pickpocketing is the most common crime in the French capital, but it can be prevented if you keep your wits about you and your belongings close (especially in busy areas or on public transportation). Money belts offer a safe and useful alternative to wallets, but try not to carry too much cash with you when out and about.
Common sense and an awareness of your surroundings are always important in big crowds of people or densely populated areas. To ensure you’re not an easy target for pickpockets or would-be thieves, follow these simple rules:
- Only take the bare essentials with you when sightseeing. Leave your passport and valuables in the hotel safe.
- Wear a money belt if you have one.
- Keep your mobile phone, cameras, and keys in the internal compartments of your bag.
- Wear your bag across your body rather than on your shoulder or back.
- Stay vigilant at ATMs. Don’t get distracted by anyone trying to talk to you, and always cover your PIN.
- Avoid seats next to the doors when traveling on the Metro.
Hot Tip: Don’t miss our piece on The 9 Best Travel Money Belts to Keep Your Valuables Safe!
- Keep mobile phones and wallets safely tucked away in the inner compartment of your bag.
- Keep handbags or briefcases tucked away under your chair in bars and restaurants, or use a table clip if the venue provides one.
- Do not pull out large amounts of cash or cards when settling the bill.
Visiting Public Places:
- Never leave your bags unattended. Cities like Paris are usually on high alert, and unattended items often lead to unnecessary security alerts.
- Mobile phones and other devices are incredibly tempting to thieves. Ensure you always keep yours out of sight when not in use.
- Before you travel, make a note of your electronic serial numbers (ESNs).
- If your valuables are lost or stolen, dial 17 for the nearest police station. You will need to make a full report with them as soon as possible.
- If your passport is lost or stolen, you will need to contact the British Consulate in Paris on +33 (0)1 44 51 31 00.
Be aware of your surroundings
When exploring a new city, it’s easy to accidentally wander off the beaten track. Most of the main streets and tourist destinations in Paris are safe enough, but there are some areas you should avoid, especially at night. These include:
- The areas around metro Les Halles, Chatelet, Gare du Nord, Stalingrad, and Jaures late at night or when the streets appear less crowded.
- The Northern Paris suburbs of Saint-Denis, Aubervilliers, and Saint-Ouen should also be avoided after dark.
Paris is a city for everyone. Romantic, eclectic, vibrant, and full of life…you will never be bored here! Enjoy learning about the rich history of the city, or take part in more modern activities like shopping for the very best French fashion.
The food, drink, people, and places all come together to provide a melting pot of fashion, culture, and history you can’t help but fall in love with.
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