Travel Guide to Paris

Best things to do and see in Paris

Paris: Why go

Paris is one of the most romantic, stylish and culturally rich cities in the world, with an artistic heritage that runs from Voltaire to Sartre via the Impressionists and Picasso. It’s the capital of chic and the undisputed centre of French fashion, food and flaneurs (streetlife, café culture and general aimless wandering). It boasts some of the world’s greatest art collections (Louvre, Pompidou Centre) and most magnificent architecture (Palais Royal, Eiffel Tower); and it’s always at the forefront of contemporary music, film, opera and theatre. As a short break for romantics, art-lovers and shoppers, it’s unrivalled; but it’s also an inspiring long-term base for writing your inner novel.

Each quartier has its own charm, and you can come a dozen times and discover a new world with each visit. Montmartre is as charmingly bohemian as the films of Moulin Rouge and Amélie paint it; the Ile de la Cité is packed with ecclesiastical stunners (Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle); the Latin Quarter is the heart of learning and Roman ruins (Sorbonne, Pantheon); Marais teems with trendy bars, boutiques and clubs; St. Honoré with haute couture and hauts prix; and there’s a dynamic mix of high culture and proletariat energy around the Bastille and its opera.

Linking each area are grand avenues with arcaded façades (Champs Elysées, Rue de Rivoli), the wide boulevards of Haussmann and Louis XIV, and cobbled lanes with art-nouveau apartment blocks, so that walking around the city is a pleasure in itself. But don’t underestimate distances: the whole city covers over 100, with around 9 million inhabitants!

Dividing the city in two is the Seine - it flows from east to west, so the famous left bank is the south and the right bank the north; on its shores are the Louvre and Place de la Concorde (north), and the Musée d’Orsay and Eiffel Tower (south). You can hop on a bateau-mouche for the tourist’s river-tour (or a private launch à deux for honeymooners), stroll along sandbanks in its middle (Allées des Cygnes, below the Eiffel Tower), or sunbathe on its sand-covered shores in August (when the truant’s dream that is Paris Plage hits town).

With its illustrious history of revolutionary gore, Napoleonic imperialism and existentialist free-thinking, you can’t help but feel part of humanity’s greatest strivings and successes here. It’s a place to come and be free, equal and fraternal.

13:26 | GMT + 1 Hours