Long called the City of Light and home to the iconic Eiffel Tower, avante garde fashion, Notre Dame and the Champs-Élysées, Paris is tops every list of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. Many dream of a trip to this romantic city, where sitting in a café and watching the passers-by is just as exciting as viewing the city from the top of Eiffel Tower.
France’s capital, Paris, is located on the River Seine, in northern France, in the heart of L’Île-de-France region.
How to get to Paris
If you plan to take a flight to Paris, you should know that the city is served by three international airports: Charles de Gaulle International Airport (CDG), Orly International Airport (ORY) and Beauvais (BVA).
CDG is one of the major European airport hubs. It’s big, crowded and notoriously confusing, so make sure to allow plenty of time for transfers. Orly International Airport is used mainly by Air France, other local carriers and some European airlines. Beauvais is used mainly by low-cost carriers like Ryanair.
Quick search for flights to Paris (CDG) from London (LON), Amsterdam (AMS), and Barcelona (BCN):
Paris is well connected to the other cities in France and to Europe by the rail network. TGVs –the high speed trains- are world-famous. Such trains link Paris to London and Brussels, as well as to other cities in France.
By bus, Paris is well connected to other European cities. One of the major companies linking Paris to other European cities is Eurolines. It should be noted, though, that you can’t travel throughout France on a unified bus system; there are only inter-regional buses.
If you want to travel from Paris to other parts of France, these links may help you:
And here are some city/region-specific transportation tips:
Getting from Paris to Marseille
Getting from Paris to Bordeaux
Getting from Paris to Normandy
Getting from Paris to Nice
Getting from Paris to Avignon
Getting from Paris to the Loire Valley
Getting from Paris to Burgundy
Paris has temperate oceanic weather, with four distinct seasons.
During winter – December to February – temperatures rarely go below freezing but hang just around that point. It’s also windy and rainy, and it has been known to snow in Paris. The coldest month is January, when the temperature averages 4C/39F. Here’s a guide to what to wear in France in the winter, so you’re prepared (and stylish, darling; it’s Paris, after all).
Summer – June to August – can be either hot and humid or mild. Rain is quite common as well. The hottest months are July and August, when the average maximum temperature is 24C/75F. Stay cool by learning what to wear in France in the summer.
What to do
Paris is filled with landmarks, which makes it impossible to visit everything on your first trip here. Even trying to write a must-see list for your stay in Paris will be rather overwhelming.
The Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel) is one of the most recognized structures in the world. You can visit the tower every day of the year, day or night, although opening and closing hours vary depending on the season; check this schedule for more information. Rates vary depending on on high you want to go and how you want to get there (steps or elevator), between €3 and €13.10.
The Arc de Triomphe is located on the famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées. The grave of the unknown solider, under the arch, was added in 1921. There is an underground tunnel to access the arch from the street, as it’s located in the middle of a traffic circle. In order to get to the top of the arch you need to climb 40 stairs. The arch is open all year round from 10 AM to 11 PM (or 10:30 PM from October through March). The ticket costs €8 for adults.
Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the most well known cathedrals in Europe (if not in the world). It is nothing short of magnificent and draws millions of tourists every year. The opening hours are 8:00 am to 6:45 pm. Access to the cathedral is open and free of charge, but mind your manners when there’s a mass in session.
The Sacre Coeur Basilica (Basilique du Sacré-Cœur) is located at the summit of Montmartre and is one of the most popular landmarks of Paris. It’s worth it to make this almost like a day trip to visit the surrounding neighborhood, if you’re not already staying in this section of town.
The Château de Versailles is the home of Louis XIV or the “Sun King”. You can choose among the different tours available, but probably the best alternative is to take the audio tour and visit, among other places, the world famous Grand Appartements and the Hall of Mirrors. The seriously enormous park grounds surrounding the palace are open to the public, free of charge.
Museums: there are 83 museums in Paris but before the number overwhelms you, try to visit at least the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay and the Picasso Museum.
Cafés: one of the best ways to spend time in Paris is to watch the passers-by while enjoying a coffee and croissant in a Parisian café. By the way: the cafés where Hemingway used to hang are really expensive, but you can easily nurse an espresso for an hour while enjoying the scenery.
Disneyland Paris attracts visitors from all over Europe and the world. It’s the perfect choice is you plan a family vacation, and is a fun overnight trip, too.
Paris hop on hop off: explore Paris’ major sites and attractions at your own leisure.