It is impossible not to fall in love with Paris. The city's people are stylish and flirtatious, its architecture seductive, its restaurants and nightlife devoted to the pursuit of pleasure and its streets are scattered with dreams.
There is no 'best time' to visit Paris; in every season the city is always alive. Summer days are spent lazing on the banks of the Seine, sipping coffee at a sidewalk cafÃ¯Â¿Â½, or idling in one of the city's many gardens or forests. On autumn afternoons the brisk walk from the Eiffel Tower through the Parc du Champ de Mars and up to the glittering Champs ElysÃ¯Â¿Â½es is accompanied with a carpet of leaves crunching underfoot. Winter nights induce a warm glow ice-skating in the outdoor rink at the Hotel de Ville. And in spring the passions of performers fill the air outside the Pompidou Centre and the nose is tickled with the subtle scents of flowering gardens.
There is an otherworldliness to this city, where beauty and elegance are favoured over purpose and practicality. Centuries of urban development have the appearance of having being mastered by a single hand with a strong sense of balance, contrast and aesthetics. The views from the Eiffel Tower or SacrÃ¯Â¿Â½ Coeur reveal hundreds of iconic attractions for the snapshot visitor, but the best way to see this city is by tucking your map back in your pocket and allowing yourself to get lost on its streets and avenues, discovering the city for yourself.
However long you spend in Paris, on departure you will know you are sure to return.
Paris has an excellent public transport system. It is divided into five zones radiating out from the centre and ticket prices vary according to the number of zones required. Public transport consists of buses, an underground metro, and express trains (RER). Taxis are also available. The easiest way to get around is on the metro and the subways are generally safe at all times. It is possible to transfer between the metro and the RER trains at no extra cost. The bus system is also extensive, but is slower, less frequent and best used for getting to destinations the metro does not cover. Various passes are available for public transport and can be good value if staying for a longer period. The Paris Visitespass is valid for one, two, three or five days and also allows discounts at certain museums, shops and restaurants, but will not necessarily save money, depending on how much one travels. There is also the cheaper weekly or monthly Carte Orange(passport photo required), but this is technically only available for Ile de France residents. Both allow unlimited travel in the chosen zones on the metro, RER, buses and the funicular to Montmartre. The cheapest option if only in town for a day or two is the Carte Mobilis,which allows unlimited travel for a day in Zones 1 and 2. From May to September a passenger boat, the Batobus, offers sightseeing trips on the Seine stopping at the main attractions, and from April to September a Balabus bus service loops around most of the major sights in Paris every Sunday and on public holidays. A nightbus service, Noctambus, covers the city between 1am and 5.30am. Only think about renting a car if planning excursions from the city as aggressive driving, confusing one-way streets and impossible parking can be testing for visitors. Taxis are readily available and can be hailed or caught at taxi ranks. VÃ©lib' bicycle rentals are also popular for getting round town - pick up a bike at one of 1,450 stations and return it at any other (from Â1 an hour).
Fete de la Musique
Every year on the summer solstice, Paris hosts amateur and professional musicians who perform in a variety of venues around the city, from public squares, streets and parks to opera houses and castles. The festival aims to celebrate music in all forms and is open to anyone. A large free concert is traditionally held featuring some big names in the music world, but on every corner, in doorways, in restaurants and hospitals, museums and courtyards, there are the sounds of music, from jazz, salsa and techno, to choirs, orchestras and steel bands, accompanied by people dancing, eating and drinking. All musicians are encouraged to perform for free. This is a vibrant and exciting time to visit France and you will be delighted by the festive atmosphere and the variety of talent on display. The festival started in France but has now spread to at least 100 other countries which is a testament to its popularity and success.
Bastille Day Celebrations
France's most important national holiday, Bastille Day commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution with ceremonies, dancing, parties and balls all over the city. In the morning there is a grand military parade along the Champs Elysees - the oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe - accompanied overhead by jet formations, and after the day-long festivities, a fireworks display takes place near the Eiffel Tower. The day commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison on the 16 July 1789. Although the French Revolution was a bloody and tragic period of history the revolutionary ideals of freedom, equality and fraternity are proudly celebrated and for France this is a kind of independence day and a celebration of the development of a modern, democratic nation. It is a special day to be in France, particularly Paris, and visitors will be overwhelmed by the patriotism, ceremony and festive atmosphere. For more information contact the Paris Tourist Office on +33 (0)892 683 000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Together with Wimbledon, the Australian Open and the US Open, the French Open is one of the four events that together are known as the tennis 'Grand Slam'. The tournament has become the most highly prized clay court title in the world and one of the biggest sporting events in France. Besides the best tennis players in the world, the stadium is also the place to be seen for the fashion conscious. The big matches are packed with celebrities and the vibe in Paris is thrilling. Even if you are not a big tennis fan, if you are in Paris during the French Open it is well worth your while to attend a match and soak up the atmosphere. For more information, call the ticketing line on +33 (0)1 4743 5252.
Le Salon du Chocolat
An annual festival in celebration of chocolate is a dream come true for chocoholics, and the large convention centre beneath the Louvre hosts just that. There are tastings and chefs demonstrations at a huge variety of international chocolatiers stands; opportunities to sample and buy goodies such as truffles, chocolate-dipped fruit kebabs, hot chocolate and cakes; as well as chocolate fashion, sculpture and art. The fashion show featuring chocolate-inspired creations is so popular that it is always held, although many exhibitions and performances change year to year. Exhibitions include the history of chocolate, books on chocolate and desserts, and an antique collection of 'teapots' used exclusively for hot chocolate. A Chocoland for children entertains with chocolate makeup and other delicious activities. It is a great day out for the whole family and a unique event to attend. It is a testament to its popularity that it is now held in many cities all over the world. For more information contact the organisers on +33 (0)1 4503 2126 or email email@example.com
World Circus Festival of Tomorrow
The annual Circus Festival provides an unequalled opportunity to see top international circus performers from famous schools together under one roof, including acts from the Beijing Circus, the Moscow Circus, the Knie Circus and local talent Ecole Fratellini. The aim is to bring together young acrobats, animal trainers and clowns and to reveal new and exciting trends in circus acts from traditional, modern and experimental circus performances. There is a talent show aspect to the festival and the performers compete against each other in various categories according to age group and expertise; many exeptional performers have been discovered on this platform and these shows launch careers. There are a number of shows which cater to both traditional and contemporary tastes in circus performance (for instance, it should be easy to avoid animal performances if you so desire). This is a fun festival to attend and should delight people of all ages. Cost varies according to the show. For more information contact the organisers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prix de lï¿½Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe, often referred to as just the 'Arc', is France's premier horse race and attracts thoroughbreds and racing enthusiasts from all over the world. Since its inaugural race in 1920, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe has become established as the all-aged middle-distance championship of Europe, and today it offers total prize money of Â1,600,000. The race was first run in 1920 and many of the winners have gone on to be champions of the sport. The Arc is more than just a horse race though, it is a society event and a great day out for visitors and locals alike. Even if you are not a racing fanatic, you will enjoy the palpable excitement in the atmosphere and the fun of picking a horse to bet on. Food and drink flows freely at the race and some people take the opportunity to dress up. Entrance to the race is Â8; free for under 18s.
Held every autumn and continuing for months, this arts festival is a showcase for contemporary art in all forms from around the world, including theatre, film, music, dance, sculpture and literature. It is the largest festival of its kind in the world, which is saying something as art festivals are becoming very popular the world over. Special attention is given to foreign culture as well experimental work and the development of new talents. If you are in Paris between September and December it is well worth your while to check out the festival programme and see what artistic gems you can enjoy during your holiday. The incredible variety of talent and genre ensures that there is something to cater to all tastes. For more information email email@example.com.
Tour de France
What started off as a far-fetched, unimaginable idea dreamed up by two gentlemen in a Parisian brasserie in 1902, has a century later grown into the world's greatest bicycle race, indeed considered by many to be the greatest annual sporting event on earth. The unique spectacle is ingrained in France's heritage, traditionally ending in Paris, and draws hundreds of local and international cyclists in a battle for dominance over 2,175 gruelling miles (3,500km) every year. The race is split into 21 daily stages and completes a clockwise loop around the country, including treacherous mountain roads in the Pyrenees and the Alps. The famous yellow jersey is worn by the overall General Classification leader who maintains the lowest overall time. Every year the first stage of the race starts somewhere different, either in France or in another country. The race is a joy for spectators and there are many popular parts of the race to watch; spectators gather in numerous villages and cities to cheer on the cyclists and the race is enthusiastically supported.
For one night a year in Paris the idea is to stay awake and partake in the observance of night. Many public services, entertainment facilities and tourist attractions, cafes, bars and restaurants stay open throughout the night to help keep people awake. The white nightis a celebration of human culture and communication and encourages people to enjoy one another's company; you are meant to appreciate all the things you don't find time to do during the daytime ratrace and everyday routines, like have long conversations, enjoy drawn out dinners, and play games. It is a wonderful tradition, widely celebrated, and a really special night to find yourself in Paris. You can stroll the famous streets, eat out and even visit certian attractions and it is a good night to socialise and perhaps meet some locals. The Nuit Blanche is primarily an arts festival so the galleries and museums often remain open and let people in free of charge; the city becomes a sort of all-night art exhibition. And Paris is incredibly well-equipped in this regard.
Paris Plage (Beach)
Two thousand tons of sand and some palm trees is all that is needed to annually transform the right bank of the Seine into a manmade beach worthy of the French capital. The Paris Plage (Paris Beach) is a highly popular, free 'event' instituted by the City Fathers in 2002 that attracts millions of visitors to its shores. Between July and August, land-locked city dwellers can enjoy sun, fun and themed activities, without the usual Parisian price tag. A recent addition is a large swimming pool - good news for those seeking some relief from the summer sun, especially as the dirty water of the Seine itself is not a welcome thought. Other activities on offer include beach volleyball, kayaking, aerobic classes in the pool and free concerts. There are deck chairs strewn about for public use, ice-cream vendors ply the crowds and you can even borrow a book to read while lounging, free of charge. The Paris beach is usually concentrated around three main areas on the river bank: the Louvre/Pont de Sully, Port de la Gare, and Bassin de la Villette.
Gustave Eiffel, the architect of the Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel) could never have guessed that it would become Paris' signature sightseeing attraction and bring more than six million visitors a year. It was built as a temporary structure to commemorate the centenary of the French Revolution and was opened by the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII of England. The Eiffel Tower was considered an eyesore by many and there were petitions to have it pulled down. It was saved only because it had become an important antenna for telegraphy. It towers 984 feet (300m) above the Champ de Mars and until 1930 was the world's tallest building. The highest of its three levels offers a wonderful panoramic view over Paris. The Eiffel Tower itself has several restaurants, including the popular Le Jules Verne, with panoramic views of the city, and a champagne bar at the very top. There are also several souvenir shops and a carousel at the base. This is a great way to keep children entertained if you plan to go to the top of the Tower, as the queues can be several hours long. A slightly different (and cheaper) way to enjoy the Eiffel Tower is with a picnic on the lawns with the famous structure providing a picturesque backdrop.
Notre-Dame looms large over the Place de Paris, on the Isle de la CitÃ©, and as the most enduring symbol of Paris is an alluring tourist attraction. Built between 1163 and 1345 the Cathedral is considered one of the world's Gothic masterpieces. The massive interior can seat 6,000 people and it is dominated by three spectacular and enormous rose windows and a vast 7,800-pipe organ. The 387-step climb to the top of the towers is worth the effort for the panoramic view of the city and the close-up views of the famous gargoyles. The tower also holds the great bell that was rung by Quasimodo, the fictional hunchback in the novel by Victor Hugo. Opposite the north door is a museum that displays the Cathedral's history, while under the square in front of the Cathedral is the crypt that houses Notre-Dame's archaeological museum. The church has no gift shop, but votive candles are available at points in the church in return for a donation. For a special experience, visit Notre-Dame on a Sunday morning when Paris' museums are closed and services are being held, but be respectful of worshippers, especially when taking photos. Some say the best time to visit Notre Dame, however, is on summer evenings for the Night Show, operatic performances projected on a 100-metre tulle screen hanging in the nave. The performances are held nightly in July and August.
One of the world's great art museums, this vast edifice houses an extraordinary collection of paintings, sculptures and antiquities from all over the world. The permanent collections are divided into Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Asian antiquities, painting, drawings, sculpture and objects d'art. The Louvre was opened to the public in 1793, soon after the Revolution, to display the spectacular treasures looted from the royal palaces. The best-known attractions in the Louvre are Leonardo da Vinci's enigmatic Mona Lisa, which is protected by bullet-proof glass within its own room; and the ancient Venus de Milo. While the Venus de Milo is one of the highlights of a visit to the Louvre, the Mona Lisa can be a disappointment because people usually imagine it is much bigger than it is - and it is usually surrounded by a crowd. With more than 35,000 works on display, don't even attempt to see it all in one day. The building itself is a work of art and the ceilings, floors and staircases will enthrall visitors.
Built in the 1970s and named after former French president Georges Pompidou, the futuristic Pompidou Centre is now considered part of the Parisian landscape. The outrageous design, complete with its glass elevators, was the inspiration for the Lloyds Building in London and attracts visitors by the million; it is the city's most popular attraction by far. The building houses the MusÃ©e National d'Art Modern (MNAM), which displays a vast collection of 20th century art, from Fauvism and Cubism to Abstract and Absurd, and its numerous cinemas and theatres have regular musical and dance performances. The square to the West of the building attracts a varied assortment of street performers. While you're there, be sure to check out the whimsical Stravinsky Fountain with its 16 water-spraying scultpures.
This great museum is fairly new by Paris standards. It is situated in a railway station by the Seine and houses a vast collection of works from the significant 1848 to 1914 period. There are important works from the Art-Nouveau movement but the Orsay is best known for its Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. The collection is arranged chronologically and contains highly regarded works by Monet, Manet and Courbet. Also on permanent display is the famous painting by Gustave DorÃ© entitled L'Ã©nigmeand Henri Chapu's marble statue of Joan of Arc in DomrÃ©my. The Musee d'Orsay is one of the most famous art museums in the world and one of France's premier attractions. Even if you are not a great lover of art you will appreciate this world-class museum. There is a restaurant and a book shop at the museum.
The Rodin Museum is situated near the MusÃ©e d'Orsay and is housed in what was formerly the HÃ´tel Biron, the beautiful hotel where Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) once lived and worked. Inside are many of Rodin's great marble sculptures including The Kisswhile outside, in the garden, are famous bronzes including The Thinker.The museum also includes many works by Camille Claudel (Rodin's pupil and mistress) and paintings by Van Gogh, Renoir, Manet and Rodin himself. The museum has a gift shop, with reproductions of some of the most famous works. Unfortunately the museum has been closed for renovations recently; the east wing has reopened with a temporary exhibition featuring the most famous works of Rodin and Claudel and this is still very much worth the visit, particularly as the lovely gardens also remain open; however, the west wing is still closed and not all the art is currently on display. See website for details.
MusÃ©e National Picasso
The Picasso Museum is situated in a 17th century mansion in the heart of Paris. The collection was started in 1973, after the French government accepted Picasso's own collection in lieu of death duties, and was added to after his widow's death in 1990. All the phases of work from the Paris-based artist are represented here including his paintings, drawings, ceramics, sculptures and even poetry. Memorable works include the self-portrait Paolo as Harlequinand Nude in an Armchair. Most of Picasso's great paintings, however, are owned by and housed in foreign museums or are in the hands of private collectors. It is an unusual museum - mainly because of the unusual artist - and a must for Picasso enthusiasts and anybody who appreciates art. The mansion which houses the museum is gorgeous and creates just the right atmosphere for the diverse collection. Unfortunately, the museum is currently closed for renovations and will reopen in summer 2013.
The ChÃ¢teau de Versailles stands 15 miles (24km) southwest of Paris and is one of France's most noted attractions. Most of the palace was built between 1664 and 1715 by Louis XIV (known as the Sun King), who turned his father's hunting lodge into the grandest palace ever built. The 'Old ChÃ¢teau' still exists but is enveloped by the vast white stone faÃ§ade of the New ChÃ¢teau. This lavish statement of monarchical power was to become a symbol of the excess that would lead to the revolution of 1789. Perhaps the most famous room in the palace is the Hall of Mirrors (Galerie des Glaces) where the Treaty of Versailles was signed, signifying the end of the Great War. Within the palace visitors can also see the former royal bedchambers, the grand staircase and other staterooms, and within the vast landscaped park and gardens are many wonderfully ornate fountains and ponds. There is a small train that ferries visitors from the palace to the Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon, former love nests where both the Sun King and Napoleon enjoyed the company of their mistresses.
In the 16th century, Henry II and Catherine de Medici commissioned architects Philibert Delorme and Jean Bullant to build a new palace within the Fontainebleau forest, 40 miles (64km) south of Paris. Italian Mannerist artists Rosso Fiorentino and Primaticcio came to assist in the interior decoration, helping to found the School of Fontainebleau. Visitors will see the long Gallery of FranÃ§ois I, which the artists adorned with scenes like The Rape of Europaand the monarch holding a pomegranate, a symbol of unity, as well as the richly adorned Louis XV Staircase and the monumental fireplace and frescoes in the ballroom. The palace was a refuge for French monarchs from the days of the Renaissance; they valued it because of its distance from the slums of Paris and for the rich hunting grounds that surrounded it. Many important events have occurred here, perhaps none more memorable than when Napoleon stood on the grand steps in front of the palace and bade farewell to his shattered army before departing for Elba. The chateau boasts four museums, beautiful and vast grounds and many treasures. Compared to the glories of Versailles, however, Fontainebleau can be a bit of an anticlimax; it is best to see it before Versailles.
Arc de Triomphe
The world's largest triumphal arch, the Arc de Triomphe de l'Etoile is set at the centre of a star-shaped configuration of 12 radiating avenues in the heart of the Champs ElysÃ©es. It stands 165 feet (51m) tall and the names of major victories won during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic periods are engraved around the top of the Arch. The names of less important victories, as well as those of 558 generals, can be found on the inside walls. Since 1920, the tomb of France's Unknown Soldier has been sheltered underneath the arch. Its eternal flame commemorates the dead of the two world wars, and is rekindled every evening at 6pm. On July 14, the French National Day, also known as Bastille Day, a military parade starts at the arch and proceeds down the Champs ElysÃ©es. You can climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe (or take the elevator) and the views over Paris are spectacular. It is a humbling monument which can't fail to inspire respect and awe and a trip to Paris is not complete without a visit.
Les Invalides was built by Louis XIV in 1670 as a military hospital to take care of wounded soldiers and now comprises the largest single collection of monuments and museums in Paris, all relating to the military history of France. It is the burial site of some of France's war heroes, and a number of France's famous dead, including the ashes of the greatest French military commander, Napoleon Bonaparte, rest under the dome of Les Invalides and attract many visitors to Paris. Its large grounds and church with a golden dome make Les Invalides a classical French architecture masterpiece. There are also impressive collections of weaponry from all periods of French history. Numerous suits of armour, including those made in children's sizes for boy kings, are part of this collection. Military history buffs will be in heaven at Les Invalides and even the less clued-up and interested will be moved by the place.
Jardin des Plantes
The Jardin des Plantes is France's main botanical garden. Covering 28 hectares (280,000 sq m) the garden was originally planted by Louis XIII's doctor in 1626 as a medicinal herb garden. In 1640 it became Paris's first public garden. In 1739, after a long period of decline, the gardens were expanded greatly and a maze called the Labyrinth was added. It still exists today. Currently, in addition to being a lovely green lung in the city, the Jardin des Plantes maintains a botanical school which constructs demonstration gardens and trains botanists. The massive grounds house the Natural History Museum which is one of the main attractions for visitors. There is also a small zoo, founded in 1795 to house part of the royal menagerie from Versailles, and now containing small animals in simulated natural habitats. The gardens boast tropical hothouses that are home to a variety of unusual plants, native mostly to Mexico and Australia, and there is also an Alpine Garden, a beautiful Rose Garden, and an Art Deco-style Winter Garden. There is lots to see in the garden and visitors can wander for hours. It is a lovely place to bring children to, if you are travelling with kids in Paris, as they get a chance to expend some energy and take a break from more traditional sightseeing.
Comprising two theme parks, Disneyland Paris is a must for all children visiting the city. The resort is a great place to see all their favourite characters, from Mickey and Minnie, to Buzz and Woody, to a veritable chorus line of Princesses. Many of the most loved attractions from the American parks are there, including Sleeping Beauty's Castle, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Dumbo the Flying Elephant. With rides and attractions for children of all ages, everyone will have a great time at Disneyland Paris. There are also seven Disney-owned hotels for visitors and holidaymakers to choose from to help make their Disneyland Paris experience one to remember. Hotel guests get special perks like extended park hours and character meet-and-greets, and have access to additional attractions for adults like the golf course. On your way to the park, you can visit Val d'Europe, a town specially-built for Disneyland Paris.
Musï¿½e National d'Histoire Naturelle
Located in the Jardin des Plantes, the MusÃ©e National d'Histoire Naturelle (Natural History Museum) greets visitors with two gigantic whale skeletons at the entrance. With wonderful exhibitions and fascinating displays on botany, archaeology and palaeontology to name a few, the museum will captivate kids' imaginations and educate them as well. The dinosaur exhibit is hugely popular with the younger visitors, but this museum is a must for children of all ages. The museum is large and actually combines three museums into one (sometimes they are listed independently), including a four-story taxonomy wing called the Hall of Evolution, a gallery dedicated to paleontology - the study of fossils, including the beloved dinosaur exhibit - and a separate building devoted entirely to minerology. You can choose to visit only one of these three museums. There is plenty to enthrall little ones (and grown up ones) and the fact that the museum feels a little old-fashioned actually adds to its charm. It is best not to go on too hot a day because there is no real air conditioning.
Le Jardin dï¿½ Acclimatation
This children's amusement park sees thousands of tourists every year. It features a menagerie and the Exploradome Museum, with fantastic optical illusions and amazing structures. The park's attractions include zip-lines, swings, deforming mirrors, paddling pools, radio-controlled boats, a theatre, a small farm, pony and camel rides, an aviary, a butterfly garden and amusement rides. Apart from being loads of fun this wonderland of games and activities is frequently educational and many of the activities are designed to educate children. The park offers workshops for children over three that aim not only to amuse but to teach skills and cultivate talents; workshops revolve around things like cooking, gardening, magic and theatre. There are also joint workshops for parents and young children and a few classes for adults only. There are a number of restaurants and cafes on the premises which are useful for refueling as you will probably need at least a few hours here and could easily spend a whole day. It is a great place for kids to blow off steam at the same time as learning some useful skills; the activities are wonderful for parent/child bonding too.
Based on the famous comics by Uderzo and Goscinny about cheeky Gauls who annoy the Roman Empire, the Parc Asterix is a theme park located just outside of Paris. Kids will love meeting their favourite characters, including, of course, Asterix himself, and his giant friend Obelix. The park is well known for its large variety of roller-coasters and has begun incorporating rides and themes from historic cultures such as the Romans and the ancient Greeks. There are now six different worlds at the park: Gaul, Egypt, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, Vikings, and Travel through Time. Apart from the epic rollercoasters, popular rides include the Menhir Express, a log flume ride, the Goudurix, the Grand Splatch and the OxygÃ©narium. There are lots of shows at the park and entrance to these performances is included in your ticket. One of the more popular shows is the dolphin and sea lion show. The Parc Asterix will delight children but it is also wonderful for adults and there are plenty of thrilling rides for adrenalin seekers.
Located in Flancourt, France Miniature features over 130 models of famous French attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower, Lourdes, St Tropez, Le Mont-Saint-Michel and Versailles, for visitors to enjoy. Everything has been created with a 1:30 scale and some for the models are even animated. The detail of the models is remarkable and a joy for those interested in architecture as well as kids. The miniature world includes mechanised trains, cars and boats and there are tiny people visiting the attractions. Children will love spending a day out at this miniature country which feels like a massive doll's house. There are also some fun games and a small amusement park with several rides on offer (cost included in entrance ticket). There is a restaurant and a souvenir shop on site but a lovely way to enjoy the park, and save money, is to bring along your own picnic.
The largest water park in Europe and located in the heart of the city of Paris, Aquaboulevard is a great treat for kids (and adults!). One of the big advantages of this attraction is the fact that most of it is indoors, making it fun on sunny or rainy days in Paris; if you are travelling in Paris with kids it's a good activity to keep up your sleeve for a rainy day. The park itself includes various waterslides, a spa area with hot baths and jacuzzis, indoor and outdoor wave pools, a beach area for relaxing, and a wave machine which allows you to try surfing or wakeboarding on a standing wave, amongst other things. The attractions are not limited to water either; the complex also offers cinemas, a mini golf course, tennis courts, a fitness centre, play areas, and other indoor attractions. Children under three are not allowed into Aquaboulevard.
Cuisine style: French
This tiny bistro is simply decorated with a plain white facade and a rustic interior, and is always buzzing with locals. A blackboard menu offers classic French dishes such as calf's liver cooked in sherry vinegar, or scallops cooked in basil oil. There is also a selection of venison on offer, and the puddings are equally enticing. The bill is outrageously inexpensive for the quality of the food. Open Tuesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner, dinner only on Sunday. Reservations essential.
Address: 28 Rue du Mont Thabor (Beaubourg/Les Halles)
La Tour d'Argent
Cuisine style: French
La Tour d'Argent (The Silver Tower) not only serves up mouth-watering dishes, but also has wonderful views over the Seine and Notre-Dame. A restaurant has stood on this site since 1582 and dining here is still an unsurpassed event. A good section of the menu is devoted to duck, and diners who order the house speciality - caneton (pressed duckling) - are issued with a certificate; the practice started in 1890 and they are now at well over a million. Book well in advance, a jacket and tie is required in the evening. Closed Monday, and lunch on Tuesdays.
Address: 15-17 Quai de la Tournelle (Latin Quarter)
Cuisine style: French
Guy Savoy's creations are audacious and inventive; the steam-baked Bresse chicken with lemongras and the roasted rib of veal are testament to this. Half-portions allow patrons to sample various dishes on the menu, and the wine list reveals a treasure trove of exceptional vintages. Although the dÃ©cor is formal, the atmosphere is relaxed and ambient. Book well in advance. Open Tuesday to Friday for lunch and dinner, and for dinner on Saturday; closed Sundays.
Address: 18 Rue de Troyon (Charles-de-Gaulle-Etoile)
Cuisine style: Fusion
The exotic Buddha Bar remains trendy with Parisians and foreigners in the know. A massive gilt Buddha dominates the spacious interior of the restaurant, which offers a variety of Japanese-Californian cuisine; tuna tataki sashimi and pork ribs with hoisin sauce are just two of the menu's many delights. Open for lunch and dinner Monday to Friday, and dinner only on weekends. Book well in advance.
Address: 8 Rue Boissy d'Anglais (Champs-ÃlysÃ©es)
Cuisine style: Seafood
Founded in 1872, the restaurant Goumard has all the charm of a century-old establishment with original oak woodwork, an engraved 1930s glass facade and designer chandeliers. One of the finest seafood restaurants in Paris, the food at Goumard is influenced by Mediterranean and Asian cuisines, served with subtle and delicate sauces - the emphasis is on enhancing the natural flavours of the catch. Open for lunch and dinner Monday to Saturday, reservations required.
Address: 9 Rue Duphot (Madeleine)
Le Grand VÃ©four
Cuisine style: French
Housed within the arcades of the Palais-Royal, Le Grand VÃ©four has been entertaining diners since the reign of Louis XV and has welcomed everyone from Napoleon to Danton. The menu is influenced by the cuisine Savoie - a blend of sophisticated and rustic dishes. Favourites include the sole meuniÃ¨re and the wild duck in laurel leaves. Desserts include the signature artichoke crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e. Booking is essential, closed Friday night and weekends.
Address: 17 Rue de Beaujolais (Louvre/Tuileries)
Au Pied de Cochon
Cuisine style: French
Opened in 1947, this Paris restaurant is a traditional all-day Brasserie serving authentic French fare like stuffed pig's trotters, veal kidney flambÃ©ed in Cognac, and ProvenÃ§al-style pan stuffed mussels. The long benches and brass fittings echo the authenticity of the food for a truly Parisian experience. Open 24 hours a day, the restaurant is popular with tourists just come from browsing the Louvre.
Address: 6 rue CoquilliÃ¨re
Cuisine style: Modern Eclectic
L'Alcazar attracts fashionable Parisians looking to dine on seafood or Modern British fare. The huge ground floor restaurant is of course designed more for style than comfort and patrons can see the chefs in action in the open-plan kitchens; the octopus salad and steak tartare are excellent. L'Az bar has regular theme nights with celebrity artists and jazz musicians. Open for lunch and dinner daily, and brunch on Sundays. Reservations recommended.
Address: 62 Rue Mazarine (OdÃ©on)
Le Jules Verne
Cuisine style: French
The prestigious Jules Verne Restaurant is located on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower and has an atmosphere that is reminiscent of an airship moored high above Paris, with spectacular views of the city. The poached lobster and stuffed chicken are just two of the great dishes on the menu, and the wild strawberry and coconut cake dessert is fantastic. Open for lunch and dinner daily, reservations recommended.
Address: Eiffel Tower, second floor (the restaurant has its own private elevator access at the south pillar)
Le Bouillon Racine
Cuisine style: International
Le Bouillon Racine features a sophisticated Belgian menu and an enormous selection of Belgian beer. The food here is hearty and filling, even without the help of several thirst-quenching ales. The menu changes monthly and includes popular dishes like the casserole of mussels, shrimp and baby clams, suckling pig roasted with bitter Orval beer, and rack of lamb roasted in a pale biere blonde. The dÃ©cor is festive and the service efficient. Reservations essential, open daily for lunch and dinner.
Address: 3 Rue Racine (St-Germain-des-PrÃ©s)
Kong Restaurant and Bar
Cuisine style: International
Set in an Art Deco building on the banks of the Seine, Kong has beautiful views of the city and is full of surprises - from its Sex and the Citystint to the dining area's interesting Japanese Manga dÃ©cor. The exotic menu offers cuisine such as the Kong Plate (a mixed fish platter), Chilean bass and Japanese beef carpaccio. Open daily for lunch and dinner, with brunch on Sundays. Reservations essential.
Address: 1 Rue du Pont Neuf
CafÃ© de Flore
Cuisine style: CafÃ©
The historic Cafe de Flore has been immortalised by more than one French painter. A popular meeting place for post-war intellectuals like Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir and celebrated artists Camus, Picasso, and Apollinaire, the restaurant has now been overrun with tourists from all over the world. The menu offers salads, sandwiches, pastries and other cafe fare. Cafe de Flore is open daily from 7:30am to 1:30am.
Address: 6th Arrondissement
Le Relais de l'Isle
Cuisine style: French
This tiny restaurant lives up to the romanticised reputation of small Paris bistros. Tucked away in the Ile Saint-Louis, Le Relais de l'Isle is warm and welcoming. With only 12 tables, you'll definitely need to make a reservation to try delicious dishes like duck smoked mango and foie gras, or filet of sea bream and vegetable mille-feuilles. There is a special vegetarian menu as well. On warm summer nights, the piano in the corner comes to life with live jazz music. The staff speaks both English and German.
Address: 37 rue Saint Louis en l'ile
Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport
Location: The airport is 14 miles (23km) north east of Paris.
Contacts: Tel: +33 (0)1 48 62 1212.
Time Zone: GMT +1 (GMT +2 between last Sunday in March and last Sunday in October).
Departure tax: None.
Transfer between terminals: The three terminals are linked by free shuttle buses.
Facilities: There are ATMs, banks and bureaux de change in all terminals as well as a wide selection of shops, restaurants and bars. Terminal 1 also has a hairdresser and a business facility that includes meeting rooms, fax and photocopier. Internet facilities and wireless Internet access are also available. Mobile phones can be rented at the airport. Disabled passengers are well catered for at the airport.
Parking: Short-term parking at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport ranges from EUR4 per hour to EUR32 per day. Long-term parking costs EUR120 for the first week and EUR5 per day thereafter for up to 30 days. Drop-off zones cost EUR2 per 20 minutes and the PR Lot for those with reduced mobility costs EUR23 for the day.
Transfer to the city: There is a good train service with the RER B line that serves the airport with connections to the city centre and the Metro station. From the airport RER B can be accessed from terminal 2 railway station stop on the airport shuttle. The RER B line is serviced every fifteen minutes Monday through Friday and takes 50 minutes to the city centre costing EUR8.40. The Roissy bus line also connects to the city centre and costs EUR8.40 for the 50 minute drive which buses depart for every 15 to 20 minutes between 7am and 11pm. Air France also runs buses to certain city destinations. The Noctilien night bus runs between 12.30am and 5am with fares depending on destination but below EUR7.50. Taxis can be found outside the arrivals terminal and should cost EUR50 to the city centre (Tel: 01 47 39 00 91).
Car rental: All major car rental companies are represented.
Paris Orly Airport
Location: The airport is nine miles (14km) south of Paris.
Contacts: Tel: +01 49 75 5252.
Time Zone: GMT +1 (GMT +2 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).
Departure tax: None.
Transfer between terminals: The two terminals are linked by a free shuttle bus.
Facilities: There are a number of shops, bars and restaurants throughout the airport and both terminals have ATMs, banks and currency exchange services. Other facilities include information desks, an art gallery, left luggage, and a medical centre offering vaccinations. Internet access points and wireless Internet access is available, and a business centre offers a venue and equipment for business needs. Disabled passengers are well catered for; passengers with special needs are advised to inform their airline in advance.
Parking: Parking charges at Paris-Orly Airport range from EUR3.40 per hour to EUR27.50 per day in P0 to P3, which are within a short distance of the terminal. Regular shuttle buses connect P 4 and P5 to the terminal and charges start at EUR1.80 for an hour and EUR3 for two hours going up to EUR15.50 per day. Just three minutes from the South Terminal is lot P6 with rates starting at EUR2.50 for the first hour and going up to EUR27.50 for the first day and EUR21.50 per day thereafter. All parking lots, except P5, are closed between 12.30am and 3.30am in summer and 4.30am during winter.
Transfer to the city: Several choices of public transportaiont methods are the cheapest way to the city centre. RER C trains leave regularly from both terminals and connect to the metro and SNCF train stations. A number of bus services also operate from both terminals such as the Roissy bus line and Air France. Taxis are an expensive albeit fast way to the city centre although they should be avoided in rush hour. Fares usually cost US$35 but are more expensive at night (Tel: 01 47 39 00 91). Airport shuttles also offer door to door service or connections to public transportation stations.
Car rental: All the major car rental companies are represented at the airport.
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