This fantastic city is divided into 20 districts, referred to as arrondissements, which spiral clockwise from Paris’s centre. Each has its own character and flair, with the city’s compactness allowing visitors to appreciate the diversity of each area. The city is divided by the river Seine into the Left and Right Banks.
Paris is easy to navigate and is best appreciated taking your time and wandering around on foot. However, the speedy metro system or Paris’s efficient network of buses allows visitors to cram lots of its cultural offerings into a short period of time.
Food lovers can spend hours winding through the streets and open-air produce markets of Paris, soaking in the French passion for food. Days should be broken up with frequent stops at patisseries, boulangeries or one of Paris’s numerous restaurants. Wine is another passion with shops offering bottles produced in regional vineyards and street cafés providing tables for visitors to sit with a glass and watch Parisians going about their business.
Fashion hunters flock to Paris from around the globe. Visit some of the world’s most renowned fashion houses, including Lanvin, Hermes and Dior. Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore attracts many visitors, and the Champs-Elysées also offers a shopping experience not to be missed.
Art, in all its guises, is at the heart of Paris, and this is evident in its world-famous museums, galleries, theatres and opera houses. The Louvre offers a comprehensive history of some of the most important pieces of art ever produced, while the Pompidou Centre’s National Museum of Modern Art allows visitors to contemplate the contemporary. To peek into the life of an artisan, stroll along the cobbled streets of Montmartre, where artists offer to paint the portraits of passing tourists.
With such a rich cultural tapestry, it’s hardly surprising that the French tend to holiday in their own country, with many of them taking their breaks between mid-July and the end of August. During this time, Paris becomes filled with tourists, with many of the local amenities off the beaten track seeming deserted. On the other hand, if visitors can face the crowds, July should not be avoided completely – Bastille Day on 14th July offers some of the world’s most spectacular photo opportunities.
Suggested ItinerariesDAY 1: Historical BeginningsStart 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.
DAY 2: Art And CultureHead 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.
DAY 3: Discover Outer ParisHead 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.
DAY 4: Indulge YourselfPut 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.