The stunning French capital is the most popular tourist destination in the world, with more than 30 million foreign visitors every year booking flights to Paris to see all the iconic city has to offer. From the splendour of the Louvre to the modernist cool of the Pompidou Centre; the top of the Eiffel Tower to the meticulously planned and sign posted city sewer system, every landmark in this city is famous.
Equally renowned for exuding style, the capital is also, of course, the place to shop. The Faubourg Saint-Honore district is full of designer shops, the roads around the Champs Elysees have high-end chain boutiques and the flea market at Saint-Ouen has eclectic, unique bargains. A day can pass quickly shopping, sightseeing or just spent gossiping and watching the world go by in one of Paris’s many famous cafés, such as Les Deux Magots on the Boulevard Saint-Germain. As the sun sets, the city of the evening wakes up: a plethora of restaurants serving every type of food, trendy bars and noisy nightclubs.
Paris flights from the UK last just over an hour; the experience of visiting this spectacular city will last a lifetime.
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Paris is at its best in springtime, particularly May and into June when the temperatures are usually in the high teens (Celsius) and 20s. July and August can be hot and stuffy with temperatures going to the upper 20s and sometimes into the 30s. Early autumn is ideal and sunny weather continues through the first half of October. Throughout the winter months, especially February, temperatures are in the low single digits and below, skies are usually gray, and the weather is windy and damp, although there's very little snow. July is generally the warmest month and February the coolest.
When to fly to Paris
The major tourist season, and the most expensive time to take a flight to Paris, runs from Easter to mid-September, with another peak in the winter months. July and mid-January are busy with the couture fashion shows, and Bastille Day (14 July) is also a very busy time. August is a bit quieter, with most Parisians out of town on holiday. September through mid-October has ideal weather, and cultural events start coming back after the August break.
There are few tourists in March and April. First-class and deluxe hotels are easy to come by in the summer, but budget and economy places tend to be full.
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Getting around Paris
Walking through Paris is an experience in itself. The city is filled with lovely walks through alleyways, squares, boulevards or river paths. Paris is very compact, so you can walk the whole thing if you’d like. But with so much to see, you might want to speed things up by taking the subway.
The Métro is the easiest and quickest way to get around. You can find the stations by looking for a big yellow “M” within a circle. Most entranceways have Art Nouveau railings with archways labelled Métro or Métropolitain. The RER suburban express lines and the Métro lines are colour-coded, but Métro lines are numbered while RER lines are lettered. If you’d like to stay above ground, you can take a bus into the early evening. Buses move fairly quickly through traffic, since Paris has designated special bus lanes on the street. You can also take a taxi, but it will be hard to find a free one during rush hour. Don’t bother trying to drive in the city. Between the dense traffic, confusing one-way streets, aggressive Parisian drivers and scarce parking, you’ll wish you had set out on foot.
Paris insider information
- Paris is made up of 20 administrative districts called “arrondissements.” They begin at the centre of the city and curl clockwise around and out from the centre. All street signs tell you which arrondissement you are in. Districts are within arrondissements; for example, St-Germain-des-Prés is in the 6th arrondissement, Montmartre in the 18th, and both the Quartier de l'Opéra and Pigalle are in the 9th.
- Street maps, also called street plans, are available nearly everywhere including at the entrance to and inside Métro stations, in bus shelters, at department stores, and the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau. Very detailed arrondissment maps are available through vending machines in each arrondissement.
- There are more than 150 art galleries and museums in Paris, and most of them are worth seeing. Chances are you have time to see only a few, and you can do this while being kind to your budget. Some galleries are free. You may have to do some research to find them, but they are there. Paris also has museum passes for one, three, and five consecutive days. A pass grants you unlimited access to more than 70 museums and monuments in the Paris area. You can buy the passes online and have them delivered to you at home.
- Tipping is customary in Paris. In an expensive restaurant, the custom is to leave an additional 5 per cent of the bill on the table. Pretty much everyone who provides a service is tipped: for example, taxi drivers, theater ushers and cloakroom attendants, unless there’s a sign for “pourboire interdi” (tipping forbidden).