This iron tower is the very symbol of Paris itself, and it attracts nearly seven million visitors each year. The tower was built by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 World Exposition to celebrate the centennial of the French Revolution. It towers over the city at 324 metres and weighs over 10,000 tons, making it both an imposing monument and an engineering marvel.
The 689-foot tall Montparnasse Tower, also called the “Tour Maine-Montparnasse”, is Paris' only skyscraper, standing at 59 storeys tall (plus 6 underground levels). The fastest lift connects the ground floor to the 56th floor, at an altitude of 643 feet in just 38 seconds (or 19 feet per second). The top floors and the terrace are only accessible by stairs and provide breathtaking panoramic views of the city.
The Louvre is one of the largest museums in the world, famous for its many masterpieces: the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, art by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Caravaggio and many more. The main entrance is covered by the 21-meter-high glass Pyramide de Louvre. The French government has collected the 35,000 paintings, sculptures and artifacts that inhabit its endless halls over the past five centuries, and the collection boasts Assyrian, Etruscan, Greek, Coptic and Islamic art, as well as antiquities dating from prehistory to the 19th century.
The Sacré-Cœur Roman Catholic basilica sits atop the Montmartre hill, the highest point of the city, offering an wonderful panoramic view of Paris as it extends southward. The church was inaugurated in 1914 and is named after, and dedicated to, the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It contains more than 500 statues and its iconic status makes it a regular sight on film.
The Arc de Triomphe was erected by the Emperor Napoleon in 1806, and standing tall at 50 metres (164 feet), it is one of the most famous landmarks in Paris. Located at the centre of Place Charles de Gaulle at the western end of Champs-Élysées, the arch honours those who fought and died in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.
The town of Versailles is a wealthy Parisian suburb and municipality, located 20 kilometres outside the city. In the 11th century Versailles was merely a country village enveloping a castle and the church of Saint-Julien. Today it is mostly known for the lavish Chateau de Versailles, which served as home to King Louis XIV and summer palace to Napoleon. It also saw the historic signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 in the now legendary Hall of Mirrors.
Boat cruises on the Seine embark at the foot of the Eiffel Tower and take you through the heart of the city where you can admire the prestigious monuments and landmarks of the city and the stunning architecture from bridge to bridge and bank to bank. To learn history along the way, plug in your audio guide and choose your language (there are 13 languages available). Come back at night for another tour, and it will be a different Paris before your eyes, yet just as magical.
With its 10 million yearly visitors, Notre-Dame is the most visited site in Paris. This place has always been the religious centre of the city: the Celts considered the grounds sacred, the Romans built a temple here, the Christians, a basilica, and the last religious structure before the Notre-Dame cathedral was erected was a Romanesque church. The Gothic cathedral of Notre-Dame, finished in 1345, is a tectonic masterpiece. The massive structure is 128 meters long (420 feet) and has two 69-meter-tall towers (226 feet).
The river Seine flows 776 kilometres through northern France, and offers a great opportunity to become familiar with many of Paris' impressive monuments while enjoying a boat ride through the heart of the city. A romantic cruise for couples, or a fun-filled ride for the whole family, just sit back on the water and enjoy the scenic setting of Paris. Most boat lines offer similar itineraries and are equipped with an audio announcement system, as the multilingual guides provide commentary on the passing sights in several different languages.
Pont Neuf (New Bridge) is, ironically, the oldest bridge over the river Seine in Paris. Its construction dates back to the 16th century, and the iconic bridge stands today at 278 meters (912 feet) long and 28 meters (92 feet) wide, connecting the Ile de la Cité with either side of the Seine.
This iconic promenade is nearly two kilometres long and goes all the way from Place de la Concorde to Place Charles de Gaulle, bookended by the Arc de Triomphe and the Musée de Louvre. It is a lovely walk on any day of the year, and it is the place to be during times of celebration, be it the French National Day or New Year’s Eve. In the month of July the final stage of the Tour de France takes place right on this very street.
The Musée d’Orsay was originally a railway station, and the building itself demands a visit. But it holds a mesmerizing collection of mainly French paintings, sculptures and photography, including the world's largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings, with works from artists such as Van Gogh, Cézanne, Renoir and Monet.
Montmarte is one of the most popular historic areas in Paris, with the Sacré-Cœur Basilica its beacon atop the 130-metre Montmartre hill, the highest point in Paris. It is famous for the cafés and studios of many great artists, such as Dalí, Monet and Picasso, and it is easily recognizable as the filming location of the movie "Amélie". Other famous places in the area are the Moulin Rouge and Lapin Agile, downhill to the southwest, in the red-light district of Pigalle.
Le Marais is a historic district situated on the Right Bank of the Seine, spread across the 3rd and 4th Arrondissements. This is a trendy district with beautiful architecture dating back to the 17th century. Now home to a vibrant LGBT community, it is famous for its many museums, art galleries and historic sites, such as Paris’ oldest square, Place des Vosges, the site of Victor Hugo’s former residence.
If you can be drawn away from the magical allure of the city, venture to a different type of magic at Disneyland Paris. The resort consists of two parks, Disneyland Park, which consists mainly of the usual rides, restaurants, cafés and tons and tons of shops, and Walt Disney Studios, which has cinemas and stages on top of that. Wander down Main Street USA, explore exotic sceneries in Adventureland, or visit you favourite and most beloved characters at Fantasyland. Adventure and wonder wait at Disneyland Paris, especially if you have kids, but not exclusively. Tons of fun is waiting to be had by visitors of all ages.
Place de la Concorde is a massive 84,000m² square located at the eastern end of the Champs-Élysées. It holds historic importance for several reasons: the liberation struggle during World War II brought many battles to Place de la Concorde; during the French Revolution, over a thousand people were beheaded here, many of them famous: Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and revolutionary Robespierre, just to name a few. The site is dominated by the 24-metre Obélisque de Luxour, one of Cleopatra’s needles - a gift from Egyptian viceroy Mohammed Ali to Louis Philippe.
The Centre George Pompidou is a vast postmodern and high-tech architectural space that hosts the Musée National d'Art Moderne (the largest modern art museum in Europe), as well as a large public library and a centre for music and acoustic research. Its construction was controversial, as it was necessary to demolish the emblematic market that stood at that location at Les Halles, and it was initially despised by many Parisians for its unusual architectural aesthetic, which many thought clashed with the city's classical and sophisticated style.
Père Lachaise is the largest cemetery in Paris and reputed to be the most visited in the world. It is a huge and peaceful park and the final resting place of many Frenchmen and foreigners who have enriched French life over the past 200 years: Edith Piaff, Oscar Wilde, Camille Pissarro, Marcel Proust, Molière, Max Ernst, Maria Callas and Jim Morrison, to name just a few.
The garden of the French Senate is also the second largest public park in Paris, a recommended place to relax and savour the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the rich palace garden. This is one of the most interesting places in the city to people watch, where you will encounter frolicking families, strolling students, runners, rushing politicians, pickup chess matches and lovers holding hands.
One of Paris' lesser known gems, the Cité Nationale de l'Histoire de l'Immigration (formerly the Musée des Arts d'Afrique et d'Océanie) is not as popular as Orsay or Louvre, yet it is definitely worth a visit. Here you can find a mix of world-class exhibitions of African and Pacific art, and there is an excellent tropical aquarium in the cellar.
There are still local neighbourhood restaurants that serve excellent food all over Paris. One of them is Allard, in the 6th Arrondissement, over on the left bank of the Seine. It is a traditional 1930’s bistro, with many regulars from the same era. Try the foie gras, frog legs and other typical French dishes that put this place on the culinary map.
Goumard is the right place for seafood lovers. This reputable restaurant has been in business since 1872 and its motto is simply “Everything that comes from the sea.” In fact, the owner buys everything straight from the dock’s local fishermen. Specialties include grilled Breton lobster and scallop carpaccio with oysters.
On and around Rue des Rosiers you will find many delicious Middle-Eastern and Yiddish/Eastern European specialties. Be sure to make a stop at L'As du Fallafel. This little restaurant claims to have the "best falafel in the world," and many agree. Expect delicious falafel accompanied by yummy hummus and tasty vegetables, to go or to stay.
This quaint little Italian restaurant tucked away in Montmartre offers great Neapolitan cuisine at very affordable prices. Pasta, gnocchi and pizza with homemade sauce prepared from scratch in a no-nonsense setting, it is perfect for quick bite on your visit to this historic district.
Don't let this place's understated location and tone fool you. This is exclusive dining, with a price tag to match. But if you are looking for a unique dining experience (and can afford it), Passage 53 offers a meal you won't soon forget. A Paris-based Japanese chef with two Michelin stars, Shinichi Sato's set menus will make your mouth water.
Hamburgers might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Paris dining, but Roomies gives you the chance to customize your own burger with fresh and high-quality ingredients. The friendly staff will gladly guide you through the process in good English. At just a 10 minute walk from Notre Dame, it is well worth a visit.
A favourite among local foodies, Yam'Tcha's head Chef Adeline Grattard creates dishes that mix French tradition with Asian flare, resulting in combinations like scallops with peppers and black soya. In keeping with the mixed feeling of the place, for refreshments you can choose from a variety of Asian teas or French wines.
La Maison de Verlaine is located in the Latin Quarter and is one of the best deals around. A traditional French 3-course meal can be as little as €20. The waiters are very attentive, funny and are more than willing to guide you through the menu. The duck salad and home-made chocolate mousse come very highly recommended. It is possible to get a table without a reservation, but to be on the safe side it is recommended that you call ahead.
A speciality coffee pioneers in Paris, KB offers their own roasted coffee and it is all served in a cosy ambiance. Everything you eat here is freshly handmade by the team in house. The helpful staff serves baguettes, sandwiches and desserts like freshly made muffins, cakes and tartes. This is also a great place to visit for breakfast.
This famous literary cafe in Saint-Germain-des-Prés boasts some very illustrious names among its former clientele, including Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. Getting a table among all the tourists might be a challenge, but with the Café de Flore's history and status in popular culture, it definitely warrants a visit.
Another famous literary cafe (and former hangout of Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso and Henry Miller), Le Select remains true to the spirit it has had since 1925, despite its popularity among tourists and the high prices to match. It is still a favourite among locals and always displays an authentic Parisian charm.
Aux Folies is a traditional Paris cafe that has fully embraced the city's multi-cultural present. Once the home of Edith Piaff and Maurice Chevalier, the district of Belleville now mixes Chinese and North African influences, reflecting the effect immigrant cultures have had on the city and its culture.
Strada Café is a small café where the friendly staff serves great breakfast, brunch and other refreshments. On the menu you will find homemade soups, pies, freshly squeezed orange juice, coffee and croissant. The atmosphere at this French café can be described as cosy and simple.
La Perle is a favourite among “bohemian chic” Parisians as well as international stylists, artists, models and fashionistas. It is a perfect place to start your evening, or to just have a conversation over a glass of wine. Though it is often crowded, it has a homely and friendly atmosphere.
Open only to members before midnight, this is certainly one of the strangest places for a night out in Paris. Cinema eccentric David Lynch has designed a place that falls somewhere between a bar, a nightclub and an art club, largely inspired by his on-screen endeavours, from Mulholland Drive to Twin Peaks. There is a private cinema, a smoking room and a set for live performances.
Point Ephémère is a dynamic artistic center that puts together a rich program of expos, concerts and performances in a huge space that also includes a bar and restaurant. It is located along the trendy Canal Saint-Martin, an area colonized by young creative workers, seduced by its lazy charm.
Le Chacha is like a private club without the membership requirement. You can wind through the snazzy Art Deco interior or hide in one of the many alcoves, or indeed enjoy some fresh air on the terrace, and if you stick around long enough, you can witness the dining room transform into a dance hall after midnight.
This club, located near the Bastille, is a great place if you want to have a few drinks and dance, but also want to end the night at a decent hour. Barrio Latino draws a very mixed crowd with its warm ambiance, and it closes at just 2 or 3am, allowing you to get to bed and make the best of the following day.
This is one of the city's most popular shopping areas, home to prestigious department stores such as Printemps and Galeries Lafayette. They are remarkable as much for the wide range of items sold as for their Art Nouveau architecture. You will find a world of ready-to-wear, with appealing boutiques and affordable brands. A good place to start is with a walk from the beautiful Opéra Palais Garnier down to the stores on Boulevard Hausmann.
Located in the city centre, right between the Louvre and Notre Dame, the shopping mall Forum des Halles features a heap of good shopping spots in a fascinating and crowded underground complex. This is a good source for affordable clothing. Not far away, Le Marais carries many handicraft and antique shops and is always a safe bet to find some unique artifacts.
One of the most charming shopping activities in Paris consists of walking along the rows of bookstalls perched against the parapet of the Seine River. Here, if you have time and good bargaining skills, you may find some ancient and valuable tomes or collections of old stamps.
Paris' most spectacular department store is famous for its unique stained-glass dome. It hosts the most prestigious designer and cosmetics labels, as well as the largest European space entirely devoted to men’s fashion. It is also home to huge toy, jewellery, house ware and delicatessen departments.
This tourist strip is lined with fast food chains, banks, airline offices, cinemas and malls, such as the futuristic Drugstore Publicis near l'Arc de Triomphe, or Gallerie Marchande des Champs-Elysées near Georges V. The Guerlain Parfumerie, with its turn-of-the century elegance and curved staircase, as well as the neo-classical Virgin Megastore, a huge retail haven for recorded music and books, are highlights.
Founded in 1852, Le Bon Marché was the first ever department store. Tradition and prestige accompany this prominent retail establishment, the top destination for fashion and style. Designer apparel for men and women, cosmetics, and house ware comprise the major departments, and there is now also an impressive food hall.
Right off Rivoli is the beautiful Place Vendôme, where jet-setters and millionaires buy their jewellery. This is ”the” area for renowned Haute Couture and luxury goods. From here you can enjoy a walk down to Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré and Avenue Montaigne where the superb boutiques display their goods out of baroque windows. Women will particularly like Colette, one of the most interesting shopping experiences anywhere, an eclectic collection of fresh-off-the-runway design, fashion, gadgets and music. Men can try Charvet, the oldest and best known boutique in Paris selling top quality ties and shirts.
This wine bar has fully embraced the digital age by introducing touchscreens and data cards to the wine tasting and shopping experience. The huge variety of vintages is on display behind the self-service cabinets, organized by robustness, allowing you to hone in on the exact bottle you are after, with the help, of course, of the friendly staff.
The kings of comics in Paris, Album carries everything from American DC and Marvel comics and popular Japanese manga to the much beloved French BD, as well as all sorts of geek-chic merchandise. Book signings are also held, and it is not uncommon to find collectibles and limited edition items.
Offering quality seasonal produce, hams and cheeses, along with preserves, breads and other delights, Causses might be the city's best "alimentation generale". It is also affiliated with Esprit Cuisine, where you can be taught to cook delicious meals with the ingredients you have just bought.
Paris is a goldmine for vintage clothing, but if you can only hit one spot, make it GoldyMama. This small boutique is packed with well-preserved items from yesteryear, making it the perfect place to shop for the 1950's skirts and suits, or indeed, the wacky 1970's shirts you have always wanted. If you are looking for truly unique gifts, look no further.
Paris' obsession with design extends to children's items. Balouga is filled with elegant yet playful furniture, toys, books and decorations for kids up to 12 years old. The place is full of charm, and mixes contemporary aesthetic taste with vintage touches, making its wares quite special indeed.
On display at Sept Cinq you will only find the work of locally-based designers, working with local materials. Although specialising in accessories and knick-knacks such as jewelry, bags, candles and notebooks, the boutique also regularly hosts book-signings and exhibitions, and there is a cosy cafe in which to take a break from browsing.
This concept store showcases young, exclusively French brands, placing a great deal of importance on originality. Clothes, fashion accessories, ready-to-wear and decorations line the walls of this shop/office, where designer-entrepreneurs work and cooperate with one another on everything from product design to business plan. Another location is open every day in Marais.
France can be visited visa-free for up to 90 days by citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Israel, UAE and most countries in America. If you are unsure whether or not you need to apply for a visa, we recommend contacting the embassy or consulate in your country. International (non-Schengen) travelers need a passport that is valid for at least 3 months after the end of their intended trip in order to enter the Schengen zone. Citizens of Schengen countries can travel without a passport, but must have a valid ID with them during their stay.
Paris is served by two major airports. Most international flights arrive at Roissy Charles de Gaulle (CDG), 30 kilometres from the city centre. Orly is 18 kilometres from the city centre. A third airport, Paris Beauvais, is mainly served by low cost airlines. Roissybus offers a direct bus from the airport terminals every 15 minutes and arrives at the city centre (Opéra) after a 45-60 minute journey. One of the cheapest and fastest options (30 minutes) is the underground RER B to Gare du Nord running every 10-15 minutes, from where you can connect to Paris’ metro network. Air France buses go to Porte Maillot and Etoile every 15 minutes, and taxis can be found near the terminals’ baggage collection area exits. A taxi from the airport to the city centre takes around 30-40 minutes and should cost €45-50.
Paris Orly Airport is located 18 kilometres from the city centre. From Orly, the automatic metro Orlyval takes you to RER B Antony station from 6am to 11pm. The journey takes about half an hour. The other cheaper option are the airport shuttle buses going to RER C Pont de Rungis station. As for buses, the Orly bus takes you straight to Opéra station. The bus takes 20 to 30 minutes.
As one of the most visited cities in the world, it is safe to say that there is never really a bad time to go. The weather is best in summer, but crowds are by far the biggest. Autumn is also highly recommended for its still pleasant weather, smaller crowds and stunning foliage.
The city’s local transport system is cheap and efficient. The bus, underground (metro) and commuter train system (RER) are divided into five zones. Tickets are valid on both buses and trains, and can be purchased from the stations and in kiosks. Travel cards, ranging from one to five days, are also available at the airport, at underground stations and from tourist information offices.