Paris is France's largest industrial city, and a major global integrated transportation hub; it is also a major venue for international events. Centrally located in the Paris basin in northern France, the city straddles the two banks of the River Seine. Today, Paris is not only a major European political, economic, and cultural center, but also a prosperous, stunningly beautiful global metropolis and tourist destination, welcoming innumerable guests and travelers every day from around the world.
Founded in the early 12th century, the Louvre was initially intended for defensive purposes, but subsequent expansions and alterations gradually transformed it into a magnificent palace. In 1981, the French government embarked on a major restoration of this elegant building, from which emerged today's stunning Louvre museum. A particular feature is the transparent pyramid which forms the main entrance to the museum.
Address: Musée du Louvre, 75058 Paris
The Tower was initially constructed for the International Exposition of 1889, and caused much controversy at the time – critics accused the steel structure of desecrating the beauty of Paris. Today, the Eiffel Tower, for more than 40 years the world's tallest steel tower, has become one of Paris's best-known icons.The romantic Parisians have even given the tower a beautiful nickname – "the Shepherdess of the Clouds."
Address: Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris.
Located in one of the oldest parts of Paris, Ile de la Cité, construction of the cathedral began in 1163 and continued over the next 400 years; the building is a fine example of Gothic architecture. Strict silence must be observed inside the cathedral; take the time to wonder at the stunning colors of the stained glass, as well as the architecture of the building, with its flying buttresses and gargoyles.
Address: 6 Parvis Notre-Dame, Place Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris
Arc de Triomphe
The grand, majestic Arc de Triomphe stands on an island in the center of a major traffic intersection. The triumphal arch was built in 1806, during the Napoleonic period under the supervision of Chalgrin. At Napoleon's order, the building was intended to commemorate French military achievements. The Arc comprises a single barrel-vaulted arch, and is larger in size than the Arch of Constantine in Rome. 50 meters high and 45 meters wide, each side of the Arc de Triomphe is decorated with huge, carved reliefs.
Address: Place Charles de Gaulle, at the western end of the Champs Elysées, Paris
For shoppers, the best time to visit Paris is from January to June, when fashion retailers run end-of-season sales, offering unimaginable bargains. This annual sale runs from the second Wednesday in January through to the third Wednesday of June – make sure to bear this in mind when planning your trip!
Quartier Saint Germain
Located close to Saint Germain on the west bank of the Seine, this shopping district is home not only to major names like Armani, Kenzo, and Max Mara, but also to a multitude of seasonal discount shops, second-hand brand name stores and consignment shops. The adjacent Latin Quarter is a favorite hangout for young university students, and many undiscovered wits can be found in the area's coffee shops, which have in the past hosted many of the big names in literature.
Address: Place St-Germain-des-Pres, 75006 Paris
The area's jewelry stores were already well known at the start of the 19th century. Here, the glittering stars are the jewelry itself. All of Paris's jewelers are concentrated here, with some old Paris brands still lingering.
Address: Place Vendome, 75001 Paris.
Faubourg Saint Honoré
Old-fashioned style comes face-to-face with vibrant avant-garde chic on the Faubourg Saint Honoré. In the 18th century, the street was a residential area for well-to-do families; today, the Street is home to numerous luxury goods and antique shops, scarf and shawl specialist Hermes have been here since 1837. You will find many other familiar brand names here, including Chanel, Gucci, Lagerfeld, Versace, Chloé, and Lanvin.
Address: Take the Metro to Saint-Philippe-du-Roule
France is known for its fine cuisine and sophisticated preparation techniques; well-known dishes such as escargots and foie gras, accompanied by a mellow, full-bodied wine, are sure to intoxicate any diner; naturally, the experience is often an expensive one. Paris's top restaurants are known worldwide. But ordinary Parisians prefer to relax in old-fashioned, simple outdoor cafés, or an authentic, affordable street-corner bistro.
Snails are normally eaten with garlic and butter. As the snails are still in their shell, a special fork is required to winkle them out. Escargot flesh is slightly chewier than chicken, with more of an earthy, mushroom flavor.
Recommended restaurant: Spring
Address: 6 rue Bailleul, 75001 Paris
This the most expensive of the dishes, the 'King of health foods,' can lower cholesterol, blood lipids, open up your blood vessels, and delay the aging process.
Recommended restaurant: LeDoyen
Address: 1 Avenue Dutuit, 75008 Paris
Ris de veau
This dish is made from a particularly succulent part of a calf's thymus gland. The meat is first allowed to stew in a stock, after which it is cut into pieces, coated in flour and blanched. During the blanching process, lemon juice, and marinated capers are added. The prepared meat tastes like crab meat, but with a definite beef flavor. Although its preparation requires numerous steps, the dish is very popular due to its tenderness and flavor.
Recommended restaurant: Hippopotamus
Address: 29 Rue Berger, 75001 Paris
France produces almost 400 different kinds of cheese, of many different varieties and tastes; the country produces more kinds of cheese than anywhere else on the planet. French cheeses can be made with cow, sheep or goat's milk, or a mixture of any of them.
Recommended restaurant: Le Saut du Loup
Address: 107 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
Paris operates more than 400 public bus routes; these are mostly identified by route numbers, with routes 20-96 mainly operating within central Paris; triple-figure route numbers indicate suburban routes. Buses run from 6:30 until 0:30, and service frequency varies widely; some routes do not operate after 20:30 or at weekends.
Parisian taxis must generally be booked, but be aware that you will also be required to pay for the journey to fetch you, as well as any waiting time; by the time you get into your taxi, the fare will already have long exceeded the minimum amount. Alternatively, you can catch a taxi at any taxi stand; a green light will indicate the taxi is free. Bear in mind if you try to hail a taxi on either side of the road or at an intersection, with disheveled clothing and dirty luggage, or if you want a destination outside of the driver's area, he will most likely refuse to take you.
Paris has the world's oldest operating underground system, with more than 100 years of history. Although the Paris Metro could certainly do with a facelift, the peddlers, fruit stalls, and posters which you will encounter all form part of Paris's unique culture. The first trains leave the depot at 5:30 and return to depot by 1:15; on Fridays, Saturdays, and the evenings before public holidays, this is extended until 2:15. Trains run every 2-3 minutes at peak times, although operating frequencies are lower at night and on Saturdays; there is a further reduction in service on Sundays and public holidays.
Paris is in northern France, by the banks of the Seine; the city has a gentle maritime climate, with mild summers and winters. In the summer, temperatures rarely exceed 25℃, while in the winter, temperatures usually remain above 0℃. Precipitation is evenly distributed throughout the year, although rainfall is more likely in the summer and fall; you will find that an umbrella is necessary. Average annual rainfall is approximately 619 mm.