|Spending time in Paris is one of life's greatest pleasures. With broad, leafy boulevards, regal 19th-century architecture, charming cobblestone streets, and world-class museums, Paris is a city unrivalled. For centuries Paris has been the world centre for culture, fashion, food & art.||The curvaceous and sensuous River Seine cuts through the city, dividing the Left Bank from the Right Bank. There's so much to see and do that sometimes visitors miss the best parts. Since e want to make sure that you don't, we present an overview of the city and also reveal the details that make it tick — that make it Paris.|
Paris Insiders Guide
Paris is such a diverse and exciting city — with so much to see, do and experience — that we've devoted a complete online travel guide to the City of Light.
Here's where to go to plan your activities and to find out what's on when you're there, using our handy monthly guides.
The Top Attractions In Paris
The Seine River
Moulin Rouge Cabaret
Notre Dame Cathedral
The Glories of France
The Best Time
The best time to visit Paris is whenever you're can get there!
The high season, June to August, welcomes warm weather, festivals and events like Bastille Day and the Tour de France. August is a special time in Paris with many locals taking their annual vacances (vacation) and closing up shop, giving the city a surreal calmness.
Spring and fall are our favourite times to visit, with fewer crowds and cooler temperatures. Christmas in Paris is magical and attracts visitors to revel in the spectacular lights, festive markets and seasonal culinary delights.
2,500 years ago the fertile Seine River banks were an inviting spot for a Celtic tribe, the Parisii, to set up camp. Since then the population has inched up to its present size of of 2.2 million,(down from it's peak of 2.9 million in 1921) making it one of the most densely populated cities in the world.
For most of its history, the city Paris was governed directly by the king's representatives, by the emperor, or by the president of France. It wasn't until 1974 that the city was granted municipal autonomy. The first mayor of modern Paris was Jacques Chirac, elected in 1977.
As the country's capital, Paris is home to France's national government, with the President of the French Republic residing at the Elysée Palace, and the Prime Minister at the Hotel Matignon near the Eiffel Tower.
There are slim Parisians everywhere you look, yet there are thousands of boulangeries brimming with decadent croissants, eclairs, gateaus and tarts. How do they do it? Perhaps part of the answer is how they approach eating — strict meal times, served at the table with all their senses engaged.
Enjoying delicious French food is one of the highlights of being in Paris; aim to dine at least one Michelin-starred restaurant in addition to the casual brasseries and neighbourhood bistros. French wine, cheese, chocolate, and bread are some of life's greatest pleasures.
Artists, writers, sculptors, filmmakers, chefs & musicians, famous people born in Paris include Simone de Beauvoir, Moliere, Yo Yo Ma, Juliette Binoche, Edith Piaf, Claude Monet, Marie Cotillard, Alfred Sisley, Napoleon III, Emma Watson, Bridget Bardot, Christian Louboutin, Voltaire, Jean-Luc Godard, Edouard Manet — the list goes one!
Tipping in Paris
In Paris you do not need to tip your server. There is already a 19% service fee included in your bill, which the server is guaranteed to receive, protected by French law. You also do not need to tip your taxi driver, hairdresser, or for other services. If it feels weird not to tip (we don't know why it would!), leave a Euro or two on the table.
Despite some headlines, Paris is still one of the safest cities in the world. Pickpockets are always at work, like all of Europe's capital cities, but if you use common sense you can avoid their nimble fingers. First tip is to not carry large amounts of cash on you and to not keep it in easily accessible places like a wallet in your back pocket.
Gypsies and other scam artists gather around tourists centres like the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, and other popular attractions. Don't engage in their games. Don't sign their phoney petitions, or take one of their flowers, or give them money, or allow them to get close to you. As our pal Dionne Warwick told us, "Walk on by."
Paris is a compact city and it's easy to get around by Metro, bus, bicycle, boat & walking. The Metro system is extensive and easy to navigate. Riding the bus has the added advantage of letting you view the city as you travel above ground.
The Velib bicycle system, launched in 2007, is very popular. There are 20,000 bicycles parked at 1,800 stations found throughout the city, ready for easy rental. One catch, you should be a fairly confident rider and able to navigate traffic. One of our favourite modes of transportation is the Batobus, which stops at nine locations along the Seine River.
Since 2000, France has used the Euro as its currency. See how your currency compares to the Euro…
Time in Paris
We were going to say that time in Paris seems to move at a slower pace. But, what you really want to know is that Paris is on central European time (CET). Paris converts daylight savings time with Fall and Spring adjustments.
• The baguette is protected by French law. The law states that only three ingredients can be used — flour, yeast and salt. It must also weight in at 250 grams.
• The Paris outdoor food markets have been around since the 10th century.
• The best views of Paris are often missed by most tourists. Check out the vistas from the Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Coeur Basilica, the Parc de Belleville, and the Montparnasse Tower.
• 37 bridges link the Right Bank to the Left Bank. Pont des Arts, Pont Royal, Pont Alexandre III and Pont Neuf (despite its name, the oldest bridge, completed in 1607) are the most popular.
• In 1881, sections of the Statue of Liberty were barged on the Seine river to an ocean liner on its way to New York City.
• Uncool fact — "love locks" are destructive. They not only look bad, but the weight of all that metal is damaging the bridges. It's simply not cool to leave a love lock on the bridges. Start a new tradition of kissing under a fountain.