Paris has charmed visitors for centuries, but that doesn’t mean it’s a city stuck in the past – here ancient buildings like the awe-inspiring Notre Dame cathedral and the eerie Paris catacombs sit alongside more modern creations, including the 19th century Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower, right up to the contemporary urban styling of the La Défense district.
The city is famed for its wide boulevards with the River Seine running through the middle, which makes it quite easy to navigate. Divided into 20 districts (locally known as arrondissements), each has its own distinct character – from the medieval architecture of Le Marais, to the can-can clubs in the winding streets of Montmartre, all the way to the beautiful landscaped Luxembourg Gardens in Luxembourg and high-end shopping in St-Germain-des-Prés.
Paris has an excellent public transport system in its world-famous Metro (one of the first underground systems), but to get a true taste of the city, you need to get around on foot. Take your time to stop for a coffee and a tempting, freshly baked pastry in one of the many pavement cafés. This is a nation governed by its stomach, and the quality of the food available in Paris – from simple bistros to silver-service dining – is excellent.
Artists of all kind have flocked to Paris over the years, and today art-lovers come for the range and quality of the museums as well as the inspiring architecture the city has to offer. You could spend your entire visit wandering through exhibits at the Musée d'Orsay, the Pompidou Centre’s National Museum of Modern Art and the Louvre, but don’t miss out on some of Paris’ more unusual treasures, such as the Salvador Dali museum in Montmartre. For more lively entertainment, take in a performance at the opulent Palais Garnier, also known as the Opéra de Paris, where internationally renowned opera and ballet companies perform regularly.
Paris has long been the cornerstone of the fashion world, and many major fashion houses are based here. A stroll along the Champs-Élysées will take you past Louis Vuitton’s flagship store, while the nearby Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré is home to Lanvin, Hermès and Dior.