Paris, France

Guide for the rail traveller

Information

CurrencyEuro
Local languageFrench
Country France

Introduction

Besides being one of the most beautiful capitals in Europe, Paris is also France’s political, industrial and commercial heart. Whatever you are after, be it a fashion capital, an art lovers haven, or a world-class historic capital, Paris can offer it in abundance. If visiting Paris for the fist time there are obviously certain must sees such as the Eiffel Tower, the Notre-Dame, the Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe however there is much more to explore as every quarter has its own attractions.

Paris is also known for its gastronomical excellence, so dinning in one if the city’s fine restaurants is a memorable experience. The Parisians are notoriously proud of their city and rightly so, Paris manages to successfully combine the old with the modern. As a visitor you can choose your own Paris, and therein lies the city’s charm.


Overrun with museums as well as boasting some welcome greenery in its parks, Paris is also a popular shopper’s destination. Take your pick between the designer shops on avenue Montaigne, rue du Faubourg-St-Honore, and Place des Victoires. Meanwhile the main department stores are situated on boulevard Haussmann.


Whatever your inevitable expectations and preconceptions, historically, architecturally and culturally Paris is a fascinating city that won’t disappoint.

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Things to do

Paris is divided in two by the River Seine with two islands (Ile de la Cite and Ile St-Louis) in the middle. It is the first of these that forms the historic heart of Paris, and it is here that you will find the magnificent Cathedral Notre Dame. If you manage the long climb up the towers, we promise that the view of Paris will reward your effort. Also on this island is the beautiful Sainte Chapelle, home to the oldest stained glass windows in Paris. Across the River on the Left Bank is the bohemian Latin Quarter, inhabited mostly by academics and students of Paris’s ancient University the Sorbonne.

Next on your list of must-sees is of course the Louvre, described as the world’s greatest museum. Originally a palace it is the worlds largest and probably most famous art collection. The list of artists represented here is astonishing; Rembrandt, Raphael, Velazquez, Delacroix, Poissin and of course Leonardo’s famous Mona Lisa. From the entrance to the Louvre you can see the Arc de Triomphe standing at the other end of the Champs Elysees. The two kilometer avenue said to be the world’s most famous, is lines by cafes, restaurants, theatres and shops. Between the Louvre and the Arc is the large square equating to Paris’s geographical center, the Place de la Concorde.

The Eiffel Tower stands over southwest Paris. This world famous symbol offers an excellent view over the city from its one-thousand feet high observation point. Nearby, at the metro stop Alma-Marceau, you can get the Bateaux Mouches, these motorboats take you on an hour-long tour of Paris’s waterways.

On the Left Bank is Paris’s most famous and colorful park the Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens). Here you will also find the Palais du Luxembourg which is home to the French Senate. Also on the Left Bank is one of the city’s main attractions namely the Musee d’Orsay, the museum housed in a renovated train station. Alight at metro Solferino or RER Musee d‘Orsay.

Lastly on a rise above the city is Montmarte, although you will have to master some steep steps and climbs, the view at sunset or sunrise is breathtaking.

Local transport

Central Paris is surprisingly compact so walking is one of the best ways to get around. Additionally the bus, metro (subway) and RER (Regional Express railway) system is inexpensive and easy to use. A variety of ticket options are available and can be obtained from the main metro and RER stations as well as at some of the tourist offices. Free transport maps are available at main stations and tourist offices. The Paris Viste (tourist pass) combines entrance to museums and travel for one, two, three or five consecutive days.

Day trips

One hour away by train from Paris Saint Lazare station is Chartres, known primarily for the impressive Cathedral of Notre Dame, which is visible from the moment you exit the railway station. However there is much more to explore here, especially when wandering around the Old Quarter or visiting one of the many excellent galleries and museums.

Alternatively Versailles, famed through the treaty signed here after the First World War, is easily reached by RER line C5 in just thirty minutes. Home to the magnificent Palace Gardens of Versailles it is impossible to fully appreciate everything in one day alone so try to set priorities.

Recommended places and events to visit in Paris

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