As recently as 2008, archeologists have dated human bones and evidence of a settlement to 8000 BC in the International City of Paris. This legendary city, the Capital of France, is also the Capital City most associated with art, literature, architecture, history, museums, burlesque, entertainment, cafes, pastry, wine, love, and the epitome of cultural pursuits. The history of Paris can fill a library, visiting it can take a lifetime. A trip to Paris can be a spontaneous life experience or a planned excursion.
Paris is a large city with approximately 1052 square miles. The metropolitan area of Paris has a population of over 12 million people of which 2.2 million live within the city proper. The Seine River divides the city, the area to the north of the river is referred to as the Right Bank while the area to the south is referred to as the Left Bank. The Left Bank has traditionally been the home to the intellectual Paris with its Universities that attract students and academia. The Right Bank is home to business, stores and politics.
Paris is comprised of 20 arrondissements, these are the administrative districts of the municipal government each with its own town hall. The neighborhood districts of Paris are named by the preeminent feature in each. Parisian Districts of note for visitors include:
Champs-Elysées – one of the world’s most renowned streets. The tree lined Avenue runs between Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde. Luxury Shops, Restaurants and Businesses have a Champs-Elysées address, with side streets that include clothing stores, boutiques and take away restaurants
Louvre and Tuileries – a significant area for the Parisian tourist. Located within the Louvre and Tuileries District is Musée du Louvre, the world’s top-rated hotels, fine jewelry stores, art and antique dealers, the Palais-Royal and Théâtre de la Comédie Française
The Latin Quarter – the student district before the French Revolution, it is now home to ethnic restaurants and bars and features the classic winding streets seen in movies that are filmed in Paris
Montparnasse – the centerpiece of this district is the 200 metre Tour Montparnasse which towers over this district of shops, restaurants, movie theatres and hotels. The Montparnasse cemetery is in this district that was once a favorite of the bohemian movement that frequented the cafes which included, Picasso, Modigliani, and Henry Miller
First time visitors without a planned itinerary who are hoping to get an overview of Paris may want to start at a museum that features the history of Paris. There are a wide variety of guided tours available that can also provide half day and full day overviews of the City that might help in planning. For those with interests, Paris offers specialized guided tours that offer in depth look at historic periods from the days of the Holy Roman Empire, to the occupation of the Third Reich. There are specialized tours that focus on the literary figures that called Paris home, and the bars and cafes that they made famous. A tour of the renowned artists of Paris begins at the Louvre. Guided tours that focus on the homes, hangouts and habits of the Parisian artists community are as varied as the schools of art that began in this cultural capital.
When visiting Paris, the visitor can be overwhelmed by the amount of attractions. This City of the Eiffel Tower is home to over 70 Museums, 30 bridges, 30 monuments, 200 theatres and cabarets, 108 fountains and 400 parks. The over 1400 hotels and public accommodations in Paris provide visitors with a range of choices that includes youth hostels as well as intimate accommodations to the world’s most highly rated luxury hotels. Food selections for the Paris tourist runs the gamut from neighborhood delis, pastry shops and specialty cafes to grandiose elegant dining.
Other cities of the world boast a top ten list of must see tourist attractions, in Paris even a top 25 list won’t put a dent in all the places that are a must to visit. Trying to narrow down a list is truly personal, so in no intended order, places to see in Paris include:
Les Invalides, built in 1670 as a hospital and retirement home, it is now a complex that honors the French Military
Musee Rodin a museum that houses over 6,000 sculptures and honors Auguste Rodin, who created The Thinker, visitors can see the original here.
Palace of Versailles, the opulence of French History and culture in all its glory
Musee Picasso – an art gallery dedicated to the work of Pablo Picasso
Musée Carnavalet (eng: Carnavalet Museum), a museum that is dedicated to the History of Paris, currently under renovation, will reopen in 2019
Musee d’Orsay, an impressive museum housed in the former Gare d’Orsay
Notre Dame Cathedral, arguably the most famous Cathedral in the world
Arc de Triomphe, the battles of Napoleon Bonaparte are memorialized with this monument that was forever emblazed in the minds of the world during the occupation of the Nazis.
Louvre Museum houses a collection of over 1 million works of art from the history of human existence
Eiffel Tower, the iconic symbol of Paris
Les Deux Magots, a favorite Café of Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Hemmingway, Camus and Picasso
La Closerie des Lilas, its lilac garden attracted Henry James, Lenin and Trotsky as well as Hemmingway and Picasso
Les Catacombes, the remains of millions of former Parisians are stored beneath the streets of Paris
The River Seine, it runs through France to meet the English Channel, Cruises are available in Paris
Pere Lachaise Cemetery, final resting place of Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison.
Moulin Rouge, world-famous entertainment venue where the Can-Can dance was born
Louis Vuitton Foundation – a museum devoted to art and culture
Printemps du Gout – a beautiful market with restaurants stocking exclusively French products
Jardin D’Acclimatation of Paris – a lovely park next to the Louis Vuitton Foundation
Paris is a City that is full of life, history, art, culture as well as food, dance, wine and song. Whatever is your favorite thing to do, you can do it in Paris.
Thank you Claire for all your help!
For assistance with all your travel needs in Paris be sure to visit the Paris Tourist Office https://en.parisinfo.com/