2 In city guides/ France/ Richard J Moore Photography/ Travel Inspiration

Paris

Never Ending Honeymoon | Paris, France by Richard Moore

All photos of Paris by Richard Moore

Known for its romantic appeal and fashion trend setting, Paris is situated on the River Seine in the north of France. The city of Paris is currently occupied by more than 2.2million inhabitants in 20 districts called arrondissements while almost 12 million people live in the whole metropolitan area. It is visited by nearly 45million tourists annually.

Paris is more than 2,000 years old. The Romans conquered Paris around 52 BC but the city finally became the capital when Hugh Capet was elected king of France in 987 AD. Paris was the center of The French Revolution when it started with the storming of Bastille in 1789.  The city has also played a major part in the revolutions of 1830 and 1848, as well as many other wars and world wars throughout the centuries.

The “City of Lights” or “Capital of Fashion” is also famous for such landmarks and cultural sites as the Eiffel Tower, the Basilica of the Sacré Cœur, the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs-ElyséesMoulin Rouge, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, and the Louvre Museum.

Destination: Paris, France

Currency: Euro / €

£10 = €12 – €14 (approx.)

US $10 = €7 – €9 (approx.)

Things you will notice

  • Outside seating in cafes and restaurants face outwards, towards the street, maximising people watching opportunities.
  • Crepes, macaroons, croissants and other bakery goods are everywhere.
  • Scarves. Everyone wears scarves.
  • Beggars, pickpockets and people trying to sell you roses or cheap souvenirs. Watch out for the pickpockets, especially in train stations or touristy areas. Be wary of anyone who tries to give you a rose “for free”. Nothing is free.

What to see and do in Paris

  • Walk to all of the main attractions. It is an easy walk between the arrondissements and you get to see a lot more of the city. (See below for three suggested walking routes). 
  • Visit the bohemian and village-like Montmartre in the 18th arrondissement. Tourists will flock to the Basilica of the Sacré Cœur, the Place du Tertre, and the Moulin Rouge, but try to explore the cobble-stoned streets and squares lined with artists and restaurants. You can usually grab a cheap dinner and wine if you eat early. I highly recommend the free walking tour (through newparistours.com) full of interesting history of the area in which both Picasso and Van Gogh lived.
  • French food and wines are amazing! Try Tartre de Boeuf (raw minced beef) and Eggs Meurette (poached eggs floating in red wine sauce) if you are game!
  • The Maris neighborhood, in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements, is home to the Picasso Museum and the Carnavalet Museum, devoted to the history of Paris. However, many people now visit this historic area for the chic clothing boutiques, trendy shops and cafes and to visit the many gay night clubs.
  • While many will visit the famous Louvre Museum to catch a glimpse of the surprisingly small Mona Lisa, also check out the slightly less crowed Musée d’Orsay, the Musée Rodin and the Musée du Quai Branly all in the 7th Arrondissement.
  • Picnic under the Eiffel Tower. There are plenty of small supermarkets where you can pick up a baguette with some jambon and fromage (ham and cheese) to enjoy in the park near the Eiffel Tower. (7th Arrondissement)
  • The island, or Île de la Cité, in the 4th Arrondissement, is thought to be the oldest settlement of the city of Paris. It is home to the Notre-Dame Cathedral, built between 1163 and 1345, and the oldest bridge in Paris, the Pont Neuf (New Bridge), having been constructed by the order of Henry IV in 1607.
  • Window shopping along (what is probably) the world’s most famous boulevard, the Champs-Élysées. (8th Arrondissement)
  • Outlet shopping at the Sandro outlet in the 4th Arrondissement is a discreet outlet that is a little more wallet friendly.
  • Explore the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise in the 20th Arrondissement. The 43.2 hectare cemetery is the final resting place of Victor Noir, Charles Nodier, Rossini as well as Irish author Oscar Wilde and American rock and roll star Jim Morrison. Pick up a map before you enter.

paris Arrondissement map

Explore the city on foot with these suggested walks:

Exploring Montmartre

Spend the day exploring the steep history, artists’ dens and Parisian restaurants of Montmartre.

Take the metro to Blanche station and head 130m upwards, via cobblestone streets and steep steps, to Place du Calvaire, near the top of the hill. The summit boasts brilliant views over Paris and is home to the Sacré Cœur Basilica (Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Paris)

(Sacré Cœur entrance is €5.)

If you spend some time in Montmartre, check out:

  • Place du Tertre, a square where artists paint tourists (for a small sum)
  • The Moulin Rouge, for the entertainment (book ahead)
  • Rue Saint-Vincent where one of the most famous vineyards of the city is located
  • The numerous restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars in the area that contribute to Montmartre’s busy night life. If you do decide to indulge, be wary of pickpockets and bag snatchers.

 

Discovering the Left Bank and Eiffel Tower

Start at Saint-Michel – Notre-Dame Metro/RER station.

Walk northwest (left if facing the river) along the river on Quai des Grands Augustins and continue to Musée d’Orsay, just past the third bridge. (Musée d’Orsay entry is €9 – €12 OR free on the 1st Sunday of each month)

Continue your journey west, past the French National Assembly and take your immediate left. Continue south on Rue de Constatine and then Boulevard des’ Invalides until to reach the Musée Rodin. (Musée Rodin  entry is €10 OR free on the 1st Sunday of each month. Garden Entry is €1 and is home to Rodin’s The Thinker)

Continue around the Army Museum (Musée de l’Armée entry is €9) and turn right onto Avenue de Tourville, right onto Avenue Duquesne then left onto Pl. Joffre.

Paris 3

Stroll through the green lawns and gardens of the Champ de Mars from the École Militaire towards the Eiffel Tower. Stay for a picnic.

(Eiffel Tower lift entrance to the 2nd floor is €8.50, to the top is €14.50. Stair entry to the 2nd floor is €5. Note, lines can exceed 3 hours. Save time by booking your ticket online.)

This walk will have taken under one hour without stops. Continue below on the same day or a second day.

 

Right Bank, Arc de Triomphe, Shopping and the Louvre Museum

Starting at the Eiffel Tower, cross the river at the closest bridge, Pont d’Iéna, and turn right onto Avenue d’Iéna. Avenue d’Iéna will meet with 11 other streets at the world famous, and slightly hectic, Arc de Triomphe.

(Arc de Triomphe entry is €8 OR free on the 1st Sunday of each month Nov – March and provides a fantastic platform for a 360 view of the city.)

Paris b&w

Enjoy some (window) shopping or people watching on the Champs-Élysées while walking south east, away from the Arc de Triomphe. At the end of the busy shopping street you will find some parks, the Jardin des Champs-Elysées and the Tuileries’ Garden.

Feel free to wander up Rue de Surène to the L’église de la Madeleine (Madeleine Church). This area is also known for its many luxury shops and food stores such as chocolate shop Marquise de Sévigné and wine shop Lavinia, on boulevard de la Madeleine.

Between Jardin des Champs-Elysées and the Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries’ Garden), is Place de la Concorde, where one of the Egyptian obelisks that once marked the entrance to the Luxor Temple now stands.

Past the Arc du Triomphe du Carrousel, is the Louvre Museum. The museum is perfectly aligned with the Arc du Triomphe du Carrousel, the obelisk in the Place de la Concorde, the centerline of the grand boulevard Champs-Élysées, and the Arc de Triomphe. There are also some small gardens and shopping streets in this area to explore.

(Louvre Museum entry is €12 for permanent collections OR free on the 1st Sunday of each month. Extra for exhibitions.)

Paris the lauve

Past the Louvre, continue east on Quai François Mitterrand along the Seine River. On the right is a pedestrian bridge, the Pont des Arts, on which tourist couples from all over the world attach padlocks on the metal railings as a symbol of their everlasting love. The original bridge where this tradition allegedly started, the Pont de l’Archevêché, is in front of the Notre Dame.

Cross the river on Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge in Paris, to the Île de la Cité, the island in the middle of the river that was the heart of medieval Paris. The Île de la Cité, on which the Cathedral of Notre Dame building began in 1163, was the centre of government and religious life in early Parisian history.

(Notre Dame audio guides are available at reception. The views from the cathedral Towers provide amazing 360 views of the city and costs €8.50.)

Paris b&w

Check out some free walks at New Paris Tours.

Getting around Paris

Paris City Passport

The Paris City Passport is available for 2, 3 or 5 days and includes unlimited access to bus, metro, tram and RER, from zone 1 to 3, as well as access to more than 60 museums, a Seine River cruise and 1 day on a hop-on hop-off bus tour. Click here for more information.

Walk

Like many cities, walking through Paris is the best (and cheapest) way to see most of the city. Many attractions can be reached on foot and you can cross the city in as little as a few hours, if you are not stopping often.

For an informative and interesting walk, join a free (or paid) walking tour. Alternatively, check out my suggested routes above.

Public Transport

The public transport system is surprisingly simple to navigate and will take you almost anywhere in the city.

14 Metro lines and 5 RER (réseau express régional) train lines operate from 6am to 12.30am every day throughout the city. Entrances are marked with a big yellow “M”. Tickets can be purchased from a vending machine at metro stations.

  • Single ticket: €1.70
  • Book of 10 tickets: : €13.30

59 bus routes operate from 5.30am to midnight Monday – Saturday. There are also several night bus options. Checkout Line 38, Line 68, Line 28 an Line 96 for cheap alternatives to Paris bus tours.

Bikes

Vélib is the public bicycle service with 1,800 bike stations across the city. Simply register a debit or credit card to pick up and drop off cycles as you need them.

  • 1-day ticket: €1.70, then free for the first 30 min of each ride, €1 for 30 to 60 min, + €2 for 60 to 90 min + €4 for additional half hours
  • 7-day ticket: €8, then same fares as the 1-day ticket.

30 min is generally more than enough if you stay close to the city centre. 

Paris

Getting to and from Paris

Air

Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) international airport is located 28km north east of central Paris and is the main international hub for all arrivals and departures. However, some flights will arrive and depart from Paris Orly (ORY) airport, southwest of the city.

Air France runs an express shuttle (line 3) every 30 minutes directly from Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport to the Orly airport terminals between 6 a.m. and 10:30 p.m..

If you are traveling from Orly to CDG, take the Orlyval light rail to Antony station, then the RER-B to Charles de Gaulle airport. The combined one-way fare is €20.30 for adults and €12.05 for children.

A taxi from the Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport into Paris can take between 40 minutes and 2 hours, costing you between €40 (minimum) and €60 or more – depending on the arrondissement you are going to.

From Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport the B3 train on the RER (Réseau express regional) rail line will get you to Gare du Nord railway station (10th arrondissement) in 25 minutes, Châtelet–Les Halles (1st arr.) in 28 minutes, and Denfert-Rochereau (14th arr.) in 35 minutes. From these stations you can transfer to other metro and RER lines.  An adult one way fare is €9.50.

The RER-B rail line runs from Orly airport to central Paris every 4-7 min and cost €10.75. Alternatively, the Orly Bus runs every 10 minutes, takes 30 minutes to arrive in central Pairs and is only €7.20.

Train

TGV (fast trains) link Paris with almost any European domestic and international destinations. The train can be less expensive and much quicker than flying. For example, the Eurostar connects London (Kings Cross St Pancras) to Paris (Gare du Nord) in only 2 hours.  Tickets are as little as £69 one way, however last minute, flexible or peak season tickets can be as much as £245 one way.

The SNCF (French national railway authority) operates practically all trains within France excluding the Eurostar to St Pancras, London and the Thalys to Brussels and onward to the Netherlands and Germany.

Note, there is no central station in Paris. However, you can connect very easily via RER or metro lines that service the city.

Gare du Nord (10th arrondissement) is served by TGV trains to and from Belgium, the Netherlands, and Cologne, Germany (Thalys), the United Kingdom (Eurostar) and regular trains from Northern Europe.

Gare d’Austerlitz, (13th arrondissement) connects Paris to the center and southwest of France (Orléans, Limoges, Toulouse the long way), Spain and Portugal and arrival of majority of the night trains.

Gare de l’Est, (10th arrondissement) is served by the ICE/TGV to and from Luxembourg, Saarbrücken, Kaiserslautern, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart, Munich in Germany.

Gare de Lyon (12th arrondissement) is served by regular and TGV trains to and from Southern and eastern France: French Alps, Marseille, Lyon, Dijon, Switzerland (by TGV Lyria): Geneva, Zurich, and Italy.

Bus

International bus services are operated by Eurolines to and from Eurolines Coach Station, situated near Gallieni metro station on Ave du Gen. de Gaulle in the 20th arrondissement. Eurolines operates 5 coach services per day from London to Paris, sometimes for as little as £25 each way.

Other bus services include Megabus from London, Birmingham, Boulogne, Amsterdam and Brussels as well as iDBUS, a luxury bus service provided by SNCF.

Car

There are many expressways and motorways that connect Paris to the rest of France, but be wary of traffic jams and difficult parking within the city centre. Motorways include:

  • North: A1 and A3
  • East: A4
  • South: A5 and A6
  • West: A10

 Weather in Paris

Summer (July/August): With 8 hours of sunshine per day and in frequent rain, summer is a great time to visit Paris. Average summer temperatures range between 17°C/ 62°F and 25°C/ 77°F.

Autumn (October – December): Autumn temperatures reach as high as 16°C/ 60°F but will drop to an average of 10°C/ 50°F, with cooler nights.

Winter: Paris looks stunning in the snow and sees snow often with the maximum temperature is only 6°C/ 42°F and the minimum temperature at freezing.

Spring: This could be the best season to visit the city as flowers are blooming and temperatures are increasing to 20°C/ 68°F.

Holidays in France

A fantastic tradition in France is the faire le pont (literally meaning “make the bridge”). This is when you take the ‘bridging day’ between the weekend and the public holiday to extend your holiday. This is something to note if you are traveling to France on one of the public holidays as road traffic is terrible, hotels and restaurants can be overbooked and shops may be crowded or closed.

Holidays in France include: 1 May, 8 May, 11 Nov, Easter Weekend, Assumption Day, and Ascension weekend.

 

Want more travel inspiration? Check out some more travel guides here.

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