Activities & Sports
You can walk to your heart’s content here. And it can be the best way to see most of the city. To get a great orientation of the city on foot while seeing many of Paris' major sights, you can do a walk from the Arc de Triomphe to Notre Dame Cathedral along the Champs-Elysées. On your way you will see the Petit Palais and the Grand Palais, Place de la Concorde, the Tuileries Gardens, the Louvre. Then turn right and walk towards the Seine. Cross Pont Neuf and walk through the Latin Quarter, cross the river again to reach Ile de la Cité. Context Paris is a network of scholars and specialists (architects, writers, historians, etc.) who lead small-group walking tours of Paris and excursions to other parts of France.
Paris is the Mecca of city inline skating. This is due to the large, smooth surfaces offered by both the pavements and the roads. There are plenty of inline skating rental shops. Every Friday night and Sunday afternoon hordes of inline skaters take to the streets of Paris on a pre-planned route, for about 3.5 hours. You must be good at skating if you want to join.
Another great way to explore the city is by renting a bicycle. The city has taken a number of steps in strong support of improving the safety and establishing some bike lanes, and riversides which are perfect for cycling as well. The Paris bike network now counts over 150 km of either unique or shared lanes for the cyclist. A map of the bike network called Plan des itinéraires cyclables can be found at the information center in the Hôtel de Ville.
The name Paris derives from its pre-Roman inhabitants, the Gaulish tribe known as the Parisii. The city was called Lutetia during the 1st to 6th century Roman occupation, but was renamed as Paris somewhere around the year 361.
Very little is now left of the ancient city. In a small park in the Latin Quarter of the Left Bank one may still see some remains of the 1st century amphitheatre, the Arènes de Lutèce, where once 15,000 people could be seated to watch gladiatorial combats.
Furthermore, there are the remains of public roman baths at the Musée de Cluny, which housed a frigidarium and a caldarium; the Early Christian archaeological crypt under the Notre Dame forecourt; and the Paris catacombs under Montparnasse.
Attractions & Sights
Here is a just highlight of things that one should see during your visit to Paris. Consider getting the Paris Museum Pass, a pre-paid entry card that allows entry and line jumping into over 70 museums and monuments around Paris. The Paris Pass is a variant also allowing free metro and public transport travel. Note that most museums and galleries are closed on either Monday or Tuesday.
Attractions and Landmarks:
- Place de la Bastille is a square in Paris, where the Bastille prison stood and later destroyed during the French Revolution.
- Champs-Élysées is a 17th century garden-promenade turned avenue connecting the Concorde and Arc de Triomphe. It is also a major shopping street.
- Place de la Concorde was the site of the infamous guillotine during the French Revolution. It was replaced with an Egyptian obelisk.
- Place Vendôme is famous for its fashionable and deluxe hotels and its jewellers.
- Les Halles was formerly Paris' central meat and produce market for over a 1000 year and was turned into a shopping centre in 1971.
- Le Marais is a trendy district with large gay and Jewish population.
- Avenue Montaigne is home to luxury brand labels such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior and Givenchy.
- Montmartre is a historic area on the Butte, home to the Basilica of the Sacré Coeur, and has always had a history with artists.
- Montparnasse is a historic area famous for artist’s studios, music halls, and café life. The lone Tour Montparnasse skyscraper is located there.
- L'Opéra is the area around the Opéra Garnier and department stores such as Printemps and Galeries Lafayette.
- Quartier Latin is a 12th century scholastic centre with the Sorbonne University.
- Faubourg Saint-Honoré is one of Paris' high-fashion districts, home to Hermès and Christian Lacroix.
- Eiffel Tower, built on the Champ de Mars, is probably the most famous landmarks in the world.
- Père-Lachaise Cemetery is the largest cemetery in the city of Paris. See the graves of Molière, Sarah Bernhardt , Georges Bizet, Édith Piaf, Yves Montand, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, amongst many others.
- Catacombs of Paris is a famous underground ossuary.
- Arc de Triomphe was commissioned by Napoleon I. Beneath the Arc is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the First World War.
- La Defense is a modern office-building variant of the Arc de Triomphe.
- Notre Dame Cathedral is an impressive Gothic cathedral that was the inspiration for Victor Hugo's novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
- Sacré Coeur is perched on top of the highest point in Paris. Behind the church is the artists' area.
- Sainte Chapelle is stunning on a sunny day, as the highlight of this small chapel are the large stained-glass windows which soar up to near the vaulted ceiling.
- Pantheon is the final resting place for the great heroes of the French Republic.
Museums and galleries
- The Louvre is one of the finest museums in the world of art, art-history, and culture, home of the Mona Lisa.
- Musée d'Orsay displays works of the great artists of the 19th century.
- Centre Georges Pompidou houses the museum of modern art.
- Jacquemart-Andre Museum displays a private collection of French, Italian, Dutch masterpieces in a typical 14th century mansion.
- Picasso Museum contains the master's own collections.
- Rodin Museum shows his personal collection and archives, in a charming hotel and sprawling garden.
- Invalides is the museum of arms and armour from the Middle Ages to today.
- Carnavalet is the Museum of Paris history and is noted for its collection of French Revolution artefacts.
- Cluny is Paris's medieval museum, in a part roman, part medieval building.
The entertainment bibles of Paris are the guides Pariscope and l'officiel du spectacle' .
The Cinémas of Paris are constant hosts to film festivals, at which you can see the entire works of a given actor or director. Many non-French movies are subtitled but verify ahead. Big block busters play as well.
Each of Paris' 20 arrondissements has its own fair share of bars, cafés, taverns, but there are a some areas where various aspects of nightlife are concentrated, like Bastille, Canal St Martin, Marais, Quartier Latin, Rue Mouffetard, Châtelet, Montmartre, Oberkampf-Ménilmontant, Rues des Dames-Batignolles, Port de Tolbiac, and Saint Germain des Prés. The latter is home to two of the most famous cafés in the world: Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots.
Place Pigalle is famous for being a touristic red-light district. The adult cabarets Divan du Monde and Moulin Rouge, world-famous for its traditional French Can-Can, are both located in Pigalle. Toulouse-Lautrec's studio was here. Artists such as Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, and Maurice Neumont also once lived here.
Here is a short list of nightclubs in Paris well worth a visit: Folies Pigalle, Rex Club, Cabaret, Maison Blanche, and le Baron. Remember when going out to dress the part, the better you look the most likely you will get past the bouncers.
Paris' largest opera houses are the 19th century Opéra Garnier and Opéra Bastille; the former tends towards the more classic ballets and operas, and the latter provides a mixed repertoire of classic and modern.
Theatre traditionally has had a large place in Parisian culture. A few of Paris' major theatres are Bobino, Théâtre Mogador and the Théâtre de la Gaîté-Montparnasse. Some Parisian theatres also doubled as concert halls. Who knows, you may see today the future Édith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier, or Charles Aznavour.
Paris is a wonderful destination that offers an amazing variety of day trips not far outside the capital. Just hop on the train or join a tour:
- The 12th century cathedral of Notre Dame at Chartres is one of the highlights of Gothic architecture.
- Versailles is best known for being the site of the vast royal palace and gardens built by King Louis XIV within what was previously a royal hunting lodge.
- Saint Denis is the site of the Stade de France and St Denis Abbey, burial place of French royalty, from Dagobert I (ruled 629-39) to Louis XVIII (ruled 1814-24).
- Chantilly has a wonderful 17th century palace, Château de Chantilly, and has extensive gardens. The recipe Crème Chantilly, a sweet vanilla-flavoured whipped cream, was created at the Château de Chantilly.
- Giverny is home of the inspirational retreat house and gardens of the Impressionist painter Claude Monet.
- Fontainebleau is surrounded by the Forest of Fontainebleau, a former royal hunting park, and is home to the Château Royal of Fontainebleau.