The Paris Metro is hailed as being one of the best in the world. It has around 300 stations, providing excellent coverage of the huge city. Open from 5am to 12.30pm, it will likely be your best transport option in Paris. If you travel regularly, it's worth investing in a Carte Orange: a pass that offers unlimited travel on the Metro and bus systems.
Parisian buses have an excellent reputation for being clean and efficient. They run from 6.30am to 8.30pm, with a few buses running until 12.30am. Bus maps are available at Metro stations, where you can also get bus tickets. Buses are a great way to discover Paris. There are sights and landmarks at practically every turn in the city centre.
Hiring a car in Paris is perhaps not the best transport option. The traffic is terrible, and parking is even worse. However, there are plenty of taxis to get you around – you can find them at taxi stands, or simply hail them on the street. Surprisingly, they are a fairly cheap way of travelling around Paris.
Enjoy the tourist experience of travelling up and down the famous Seine River by boat. The Batobus runs along the Seine with just six stops between the Eiffel Tower and the Quai de l'Hotel de Ville. However, be sure to check the schedule before you climb aboard – the Batobus only runs during warmer weather, between mid-April and mid-October.
Paris is relatively safe, however it is known for petty thefts. Tourists who carry large quantities of money and are unfamiliar with the city are easy targets for pickpockets. Exercise the usual precautions, such as carrying only small amounts of cash. Avoid shoulder bags, and carry money and valuables in a zipped bag close to your body, distributing cash in several places about your person.
Paris' climate is mild, and often privy to sporadic rainfall. Summer, which runs from May to July, tends to reach temperatures of around 15 to 25 degrees, while winter temperatures can plummet to 5 degrees and below. Pack appropriately for the season, and remember to always carry an umbrella –showers in Paris can be hard to predict.
Paris has a reputation for being a little rude to non-French-speaking tourists. There may be a grain of truth to that, but don't feel as though you need to master the language before you get on a plane. While pointing, or speaking in slow, loud English probably won't be appreciated, take a phrase book and learn a few essential terms. Parisians will appreciate the effort.
Long gone are the days of Francs. Nowadays, the Euro is a universal currency throughout most of Europe. It's easy to exchange your native dollars – commission free – at any airport. Or, if you are out and about the city, there are numerous exchange venues to change your money. Most ATMs now accept foreign cards as well.
Located in the Paris area, Paris Airport (or Roissy) is France's largest airport. In terms of passengers travelling from Australia and New Zealand, airlines such as Qantas, Emirates, and Air China all run regular services to the French capital. There are no direct flights to Paris, however all flights provide stopovers in Asia or Dubai, depending on your chosen airline.
From Darwin: Get there in 30 hours via Singapore or Hong Kong.
From Perth: Get there in 20 hours via Dubai.
From Brisbane: Get there in 25 hours via Singapore.
From Melbourne: Get there in 25 hours via Singapore.
From Sydney: Get there in 30 hours via Beijing. Get there in 30 hours via Mauritius.
When flying out of Australia and New Zealand into Paris, there are enforced stopovers with every airline. Depending on who you choose to fly with, you could have a stopover in Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong, or Dubai. If you are flying from Darwin or Perth, you may also be required to have a stopover in Sydney before leaving the country.
For the quickest and most convenient way to travel from the airport to the centre of Paris, consider taking the train. With regular journeys between Paris-Charles de Gaulle and the city, the Metro is an inexpensive transfer option. And with the last train departing just before midnight, you will always be able to jump on the Metro after touching down.
There are numerous companies at Paris Airport that offer private cars to take you from the airport, and deliver you comfortably to your hotel. There are also cheaper shuttle services, which work like a mini-van, leaving at set times and picking up numerous passengers. This service travels between Paris, Charles de Gaulle, Orly, and Beauvais airports, and Disneyland.
Popular for general tourists, backpackers, and families, the shuttle bus services from Paris Airport are a much cheaper means of getting into the city. The low fares are ideal, but be aware of the set arrival and departure times, as well as the frequent stops that will be made as passengers are dropped off at their desired locations.
If you miss the shuttle, or just prefer a more direct route into the centre of Paris, consider taking a taxi from the airport. While more expensive than a standard shuttle service, you won't have to wait for other passengers to be dropped off, and you can even explore some of the sights of the city before reaching your hotel.
Take a trip 20km outside of Paris to become immersed in a little slice of 16th century history. The Palace of Versailles is a royal chateau with a fascinating history, dating from the era of Louis XIV and the French Revolution. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Palace is simply stunning, and no trip to Paris is complete without a visit.
Paris has certainly been home to more than its fair share of writers, poets, and artists. Père Lachaise is more than just a graveyard. It's the final resting place of some of the greatest creative minds in living memory, including Oscar Wilde, Chopin, Jim Morrison, Balzac, and Proust. This is a must for any lover of the arts.
Check out the Mona Lisa's secret smile for yourself at one of the world's largest museums. On the Right Bank of the Seine, The Louvre is an impressive monument. The 12th century building began as a fortress, and is now the world's most visited art gallery. This magnificent facility requires at least half a day in order to do it justice.
Who could travel to Paris and not indulge in some of its world famous wine and cheese? With a French wine and cheese tasting, not only will you indulge in a variety of the region's best food and drink, but you'll also learn a thing or two about wine pairing and wine appreciation from a top sommelier.
If you're looking for a real Parisian treat, look no further than Le Meurice: a venue where the food matches up to its grand surroundings. Set in a hue dining room at Hotel Meurice, it is decorated with a mosaic-tiled floor, crystal chandeliers, and heavy curtains. The service is impeccable, the chef has three Michelin stars, and the food is unapologetically French and delicious.
228 Rue de Rivoli
Sex and the City fans will want to make a pit stop to Kong. This is the site where Carrie met with her boyfriend's ex-wife in the final series. Phillippe Starck designed the interior, which is Paris chic (think Louis XV armchairs) meets Tokyo manga kitsch (Perspex chairs and orchid ornaments). Spectacular views of Paris, including the LVMH headquarters, are all around.
1 Rue du Pont Neuf
When in Paris, it would be rude not to indulge in a little chocolate, or a few sweet treats. Follow your sweet tooth to Angelina, where the hot chocolate is so thick it requires a spoon. You can also purchase guilty pleasures, such as the Mont Blanc: a meringue ball covered in cream and sweet chestnut.
226 Rue de Rivoli
Looking for classy French fare without the hefty price tag? Look no further than A La Biche Au Bois. Meals are hearty, wholesome, and classic bistro-style. Opt for a starter of hard boiled eggs with mayonnaise if you wish to go native. The coq au vin makes an excellent choice for main, while dessert has to be a crème brulee or crème caramel.
45 Avenue Ledru-Rollin
It may be a little touristy, but there's no denying the pulling power of drinks atop the Eiffel Tower. Choose a table by the window and take in the incredible views. There is a huge selection of wine and cocktails, but when sitting in such a romantic monument what could be more appropriate than a flute of French champagne?
Eiffel Tower, Avenue Anatole France
Le Rubis is legendary in not just Paris, but throughout the world. Opt for a glass of Beaujolais – the house specialty – and enjoy the atmosphere of this traditional bar a vins. Battered red leather furniture and old wine barrels add to the Paris-of-old vibe. If you're looking for a slice of the golden age of 1920s Paris, this is it.
10 Rue du Marche Saint-Honore
Look out for a crowd at this trendy bar that sits just a short stroll from Place de la Bastille. Patrons are encouraged to leave their mark on the walls as they sip on inexpensive beer, wine and cocktails. With electro and hip-hop DJs starting at 9pm each night, Tape Bar is open to people from all walks of life.
21 Rue de la Roquette
One of Paris' most famous cafes, Cafe de Flore is known for its famous clientele of yesteryear. Though it has now become something of a tourist spot, you can often find a few quirky Parisian characters amongst the tourists. Whether you want coffee, a croissant, or hard liquor, Cafe de Flore makes a pleasant spot to while away the hours.
172 Boulevard Saint-Germain
Start the day early with a street-side breakfast of coffee and croissants. Head to the Avenue des Champs Elysees to take in the Arc de Triomphe and Place de la Concorde. After a spot of lunch, walk towards the Cathedrale Notre-Dame before heading to the Left Bank for a chance to put your feet up in one of the bars. End the day with a River Seine cruise and a bistro dinner, before heading back to your hotel for a well-earned hot bath.
Head straight to the Louvre to avoid the crowds and catch the Mona Lisa in relative peace. If you only have half a day to spend in the gallery, pick the sections you wish to visit very carefully – it's truly enormous! Opt for a more relaxed afternoon by heading to the Montmartre quarter for an evening of wandering through Bohemian streets. Wind up the evening sampling the local wines in a Parisian bar.
Head out of the city to the Palace of Versailles on the RER train. Its spectacular gardens and opulent decor have to be seen to be believed. Head back to town for a relaxing evening of traditional French fare in one of Paris' many Michelin-starred restaurants – and don't forget the desserts.
Put aside the day to indulge in that famous Parisian pastime: shopping. Whether you go for flea markets, or high-end boutiques and department stores, Paris has got you covered. Where else to wind up your Parisian experience than with a trip to the Eiffel Tower? Take a slow walk down the Seine to reach your destination, and then take your time observing the views from the summit. If you want to really ‘do' the Eiffel tower, book in for dinner or drinks at Altitude 95 on the upper levels.
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