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Paris - one of the most beautiful cities in Europe


Few cities can be as familiar as Paris, even to first timers. The background to so many classic French films, the home to so many famous artists, the scene of so many romantic stories.

Paris is not so much a city as a collection of twenty small villages or arrondissements. In Montmartre the small shops and lanes are welcoming and bohemian, while in Montparnasse you will find the biggest stores in the country. As you wander the streets of Paris you see landmarks everywhere—the Arc de Triomphe, the grand Champs-Élysées, the wide Place de la Concorde, the Louvre and of course visible from almost everywhere, the iconic Eiffel Tower .

Paris usefully splits into two halves, divided by the river Seine. On the Rive Droite, or Right Bank, you find the high-class side of Paris, the big roads, the major buildings, the main museums such as the Louvre and the marvellously modern Pompidou Centre. Here too is where you can shop happily around Les Halles, the commercial centre of Paris for big name brands.

A short ride on the Paris Metro will take you to the Rive Gauche, or Left Bank, traditionally the haunt of artists and poets. They gathered, and still do, around the Boulevard St. Michel  (Boul'Mich to the locals) and St. Germain, in an area most usually called the Latin Quarter, a place of crooked streets and fine simple bistro restaurants, especially around Place St. André des Arts.

If the city tires you, relax in one of the many romantic parisian cafés and bars, perhaps with a coffee and croissant, or if later in the day a glass of milky, green Pastis—an anise-flavored liqueur and apéritif—or a simple vin rouge. If you have energy to spare, walk to the Luxembourg Gardens with its 17th Century palace and large pool where children sail toy boats. Or of course visit the Tuileries Gardens where many Parisians take their lunch hours.

At lunch and dinner take your pick from Paris’s remarkable number of restaurants, from cutting edge modernist cuisine, to the grand masters of classic cooking. From luxury restaurants in the best areas, ‘Les Beaux Quartiers’, to new, wilder parts of town where the next generation of master chefs are making magic in unlikely surroundings.

Paris is large, you can’t see it all in a day. Don’t rush around trying to fit it all in, simply plan each day to do one itinerary. Our condensed ‘do in a day’ guides will help.