The city of Paris is a very special and immediately appealing place, with the culture, setting and history all combining to create one of the most interesting and memorable stays there is to experience. The below guide provides a good basis for a first-time visit, perhaps over a long weekend.
From the Airport
The quickest and cheapest way into the city from Charles de Gaulle Airport is the train, with the RER B train line running north-to-south, through the city.
The Métro (subway) is the quickest way to travel across Paris, it is easy to navigate and cost-effective. Ensure you have either a map (available from any ticket window) or an app to guide you across the city, to your desired destination. Keep an eye on the line number and where you want to go.
A great way to get your bearings is to take a hop-on and hop-off bus tour, allowing you to see all the sights and attractions within this city. City Sightseeing* operate an open-top bus tour where you can hop-on and hop-off as much as you like at any of the bus stops on the route.
When spending a long weekend in a city such as Paris, particularly for the first time, it is important to maximise the time you spend visiting some truly memorable places. The below guide highlights some of the must-see parts of this beautiful city.
Arc de Triomphe
Personally, one of the most memorable places in the city, and one of the most recognised landmarks in Paris, the Arc de Triomphe is an imposing sight when you approach it. Built in 1836 as a monument to Napoleon's 1805 victory at Austerlitz and centred inside an incredibly busy roundabout, the Arc de Triomphe stands tall facing the Champs-Élysées. Walk beneath this famous monument and gaze upward to take in the whole structure. Ascend the 284 steps to the top and you will experience some excellent views of the city, whilst spending a good amount of time taking in the surroundings.
Lined with cafés and shops, the Champs-Élysées runs from the Arc de Triomphe to the Louvre and lives up to its billing as one of the most famous streets in the world. By day or night, the street is busy and lively and definitely a deserved stop on your visit to Paris.
An outstanding museum where you can spend many hours visiting the different areas, the Louvre is the biggest museum in the world. Originally designed as a fortress, the structure became a royal palace on its way to becoming the national museum it is today. Try and fit it all into one day, and you will not do justice to just what is inside. Housing the world-famous Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, the Louvre is worth a visit for any first time, and follow-up, visitors.
One of the most recognisable towers in the world, the Eiffel Tower rises high over the city of Paris and can be seen from numerous parts of the city streets. Built in 1889, the tower is an iconic symbol of both Paris and France as a whole. Scale to the top of the tower for some outstanding views of the city below, on a good day the view can be over 40 miles. Arrive early though, as the queues can be fairy long. Climbing the stairs is a cheaper option than taking the elevator, but be prepared for a lot of stairs! To get to the very top, third section, the only choice is the elevator, but it is completely worth it to witness the view.
Another iconic building in Paris, originally completed in 1345 following a near 200-year build period, Notre-Dame de Paris sits alongside the River Seine, on an inner-city island, and is a masterful sight. Considered widely to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, the cathedral is both historically and culturally significant. You are able to climb the 422 spiral steps to the rooftop for a fee and get a close-up look at some of the masonry, alongside some impressive views.
Palace of Versailles
An excellent day excursion outside of the city, the Palace of Versailles is a must-see location on your trip to Paris. Home to a vast history of French kings, the Palace and grounds get busy, particularly when walking part of the building's 700-room interior. However, the expansive Palace grounds are ideal to get away, on a nice day you can literally spend a few hours outside here. Fountains, ponds and canals litter the estate. Take a walk down to Marie Antoinette's home and enter inside for more to see. Versailles itself is easy to reach from Paris and adds a memorable moment in any trip to the city.
Paris is full of interesting and insightful museums. From the aforementioned Louvre to the romantic Musée Rodin, through to the Holocaust museum, any day can include a trip to a museum for a different perspective to be gained during your trip.
Where to Stay
When visiting a city, booking a short hotel stay can allow you to have a good base to go on and explore the city centre and its attractions. There are a number of hotel options available in and around Paris, including Intercontinental*, Hotel Indigo*, Crowne Plaza*, Holiday Inn*, Hilton*, and Radisson Blu*.
The above article offers an overview of some of the highlights this area has to offer, however for a more complete guide we recommend the travel guide for Paris, from Lonely Planet.
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