Paris is one of the most interesting cities of Europe and probably even as one of the most remarkable metropolises globally. People travel from all over the world to Paris to enjoy and experience this amazing city. Last year Paris was visited by 85 million people, most for any city.
Paris is said to be the city of love, motivation, art and fashion. The Eiffel tower, buzzing nightlife and the warm air will make anyone feel exhilarated to be a part of such a magical city. Paris has a lot of interesting architecture and museums to offer, and is also a dreamland for shopaholics. This cosmopolitan capital of France is the place for you to practice and perfect your French sills.
Paris started life as the Celto-Roman settlement on the Île de la Cité, the island in the Seine currently occupied by the Notre Dame. It takes its present name from the name of the dominant tribe in the region, the Parisii. Being located in Western Europe, Paris has a marine climate with cool winters and warm summers. Paris has had significant growth as a multi-cultural city, with new migrants from all places and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
There are three Airports in Paris namely, Orly Airport, Beauvais Airport and Charles de Gaulle International Airport with Charles de Gaulle being the major hub airport. Orly Airport is a small International Airport with around 31 Million passengers using its services. Beauvais is situated a bit outside the city and is home to low-cost carriers like RyanAir and WizzAir. In the following picture, 1 is Beauvais, 2 is Charles de Gaulle and 3 is Orly Airport.
Paris for transport purposes is divided into 5 zones. There are different types of services helping you reach from one place to another within those 5 zones. Services such as the Metro, Bus, RER (Express Metro Trains), trams and SNCF Transilien networks (longer journey trains). Each has their own symbol as indicated in the following image.
Commuting from Charles de Gaulle Airport:
High chances are that you will be getting down at Charles de Gaulle Airport only. The airport is located in the northeast part of the city. The transport pass of Zone 1-3 doesn’t include Airport transfers and so you will have to either catch a Bus, Train or Taxi to reach the center of the City. If you buy a city transport pass covering all the zones 1 to 5 you will be able to use the Airport transfers free of cost but you will need to check the trade-off you will be making as mostly all the major places are covered in Zone 1-3 itself.
Reach city center by Train:
The RER commuter train, line B (Blue), has stations in Terminal 2 & 3 of the airport. To reach to terminal 2 and 3, you can use the free shuttle services provided at the Airport. Trains to Paris leave every 7-8 minutes and stop at Gare du Nord, Saint-Michel Notre-Dame, and other major stations. Adult tickets cost €9.25 and the train takes around 35 minutes to Gare du Nord and 45 minutes to Denfert-Rochereau, making this the fastest way to get to the city. You can buy the tickets from the Blue Ticket Machines, found in plenty at the Airport. Be careful to not buy tickets from the Yellow ticket machines.
Also, make sure you have caught the train going in the direction of Robinson, Antony or St-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse and the train will stop in central Paris stations such as Gare du Nord.
Taxis have a flat charge of €55 and take longer due to traffic congestion. One can also take Bus shuttles from Paris to the center of the city with the Shuttles charging around 10-13 Euros.
For travelling within the city, the best and cheapest way to get around Paris is on foot, and secondly, using the Metro. Walking in Paris is one of the great pleasures of visiting the City of Light. One can cover major sights of the city quite comfortably walking. Though there will be few sightseeings for which you will need to use the Public transport system. You can buy a one-way ticket or a day pass to travel to those sightseeing places. You can read whether to buy the day pass or not here.
Paris's Public Transport System:
Paris's Public Transport system consists of Metro, RER, Buses and Tramway. Metro has 16 lines, RER operates on 5 lines, Buses on 59 lines whereas Tramway runs only one 1 line.
Renting a bike is a very good alternative over driving or using public transport and an excellent way to see the sights. Riding a bike anywhere in the city is far safer for the moderately experienced cyclists than most towns or cities in other countries. The French are very cognizant of cyclists, almost to a point of reverence. Taxis can be quite expensive but during the nights it cheaper due to no traffic. Renting cars is a bad idea due to traffic congestion problems. If you plan to buy the transport pass, we would recommend you to buy the Zone 1-3 pass as most of the famous places are in this region itself. If you are visiting beyond zone 1-3, it is better to buy a one-time ticket instead of buying the pass.
Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe provides a unique and central viewpoint of Paris. It is a key place where major national events occur. Wanted by Napoleon in 1806, the Arc de Triomphe was inaugurated in 1836 by French king, Louis-Philippe, who dedicated it to the armies of the Revolution and the Empire. It costs €12 and is open from 10 am to 11 pm.
Catacombs are used to store the exhumed bones of about 6 million people from the overflowing Paris cemeteries. They fill a section of caverns and tunnels that are the remains of old stone mines underneath the city and has buried some of the most famous people of the world. There is a limit to the number of visitors allowed within the Catacombs at one time so if you arrive just after opening, you must wait until someone exits to enter. It costs €5 and is open between 10 am to 8 pm.
Château de Versailles
Château de Versailles, once the home to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette is a must-see sight for Museum and Architecture lovers. It is France's most exquisite chateau, on the outskirts of the city, easily visited by train. If you have a transport pass, get down at Viroflay Rive Gauche, buy a ticket to Versailles Chateau and same while coming back. Basically, the zone of transport pass ends at Viroflay and so instead of spending near around 7 Euros, you would be able to work out the whole thing in 3.8 Euros.
The Eiffel Tower is the best monument that symbolizes the essence of Paris. Originally intended as a temporary installation, the Eiffel Tower has become one of the most enduring symbols of France and the revolutionary industrial age. It is open between 9:30 am and 11 pm and can be accessed easily through Métro or trains. It costs 12 Euros to reach the second floor of Eiffel Tower but if you can climb the stairs, you can save yourself a big queue and also 5 Euros. To go to the top floor, you have to spend more 6 Euros. A huge queue awaits to go to the top floor and so if you are happy with the second-floor view and also don’t want to spend your time waiting in the queue, it’s better to see other marvellous places in Paris.
Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral is an impressive Gothic cathedral that was the inspiration for Victor Hugo's novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It is one of the most prestigious and beautiful cathedrals in the world and it is absolutely free of cost.
Louvre is home to the famous Mona Lisa. One of the best Museums worldwide, there’s always a huge queue to enter the Louvre. It is located at the center of the city and can be easily covered walking. The entrance fee to see the Mona Lisa situated Museum is 12 Euros and if you are really into Museums and Art, it’s a must visit place for you.
You can learn more about the sightseeing's and also how to see the sightseeings by reading this article.
The adequate amount of time to spend in Paris depends from traveller to traveller. Ideally, two-three days is a perfect amount of time to spend in a city like Paris. Exploring the monuments and enjoying the cuisine and even maybe visiting the countryside is an excellent option. An extra day must be kept aside in case of visiting Versailles too.
Eating out in Paris can be quite expensive. For breakfast at a restaurant, will consist of some croissants, coffee and maybe a piece of fruit and costs around €13-25, well out of budget eating range. Keep an eye out for local café where prices are lower. For seafood lovers, Paris is a great place to try moules frites (steamed mussels and French fries), oysters, sea snails, and other delicacies. Meat specialities include venison (deer), boar, as well as French favourites such as lamb, veal, beef, and pork.
It's not for nothing that Paris is called the City of Light. It's a city you'll find lit up every hour of the night. As soon as the sun sets, even the Eiffel Tower starts twinkling, with its sparkling LED lights, at the top of each hour. A bustling city in itself, Paris seems to come to life once the sun goes down. With seemingly endless possibilities to enjoy the nightlife, Le Baron and Queen Nightlife are some of the best options in Paris.
France has its fair share of having ridiculous laws such as it is legal to marry a dead person in France and it is illegal to name a pet pig Napoleon.
Do not come too early for a dinner party and don't eat too much of the first course, try everything and avoid leaving food on your plate. It considered rude to speak loudly hence speak softly in a public setting.
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