Monday, May 25, 2015

Paris Tourism 101

The mention of France could not be complete without talking about Paris. This is the capital and most-populous city of France.
Paris is divided into districts known as arrondissements. They are 20 in total, with each having a major tourist attraction. The first one is in the center, the following ones spiral outwards in a clock-wise direction.

They are as follows:
Arrondissement 1 - Louvre

This is the least populated of the twenty arrondissements in Paris. It is at the geographical center of Paris, hence the area is crammed with historic sights. The Louvre MuseumRoyal PalaceTuileries gardensForum des Halles, Bourse du Commerce and the upscale Vendôme Square are all located here. The 1st arrondissement also comprises the western tip of the Île de la Cité, including the magnificent Sainte-Chapelle and the Conciergerie.
Arrondissement 2 - Bourse

It is primarily a business district, with the Palais de la Bourse - the former stock exchange - as its most notable landmark. Another important building in the smallest of Paris's arrondissements is the historic National Library. A modern expansion of the library is located in the 13th arrondissement. The second arrondissement is also home to a number of historic shopping arcades.
Arrondissement 3 - Temple

It contains the northern part of the historic Marais district. The Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (with the Museum of Arts and Crafts, a technology museum), the Picasso Museum and the Carnavalet Museum - devoted to the history of Paris – are also located here.
Arrondissement 4 - Hôtel-de-Ville

The 4th arrondissement contains the southern part of the medieval Marais district as well as the Île St-Louis and the eastern part of Île de la Cité, the oldest part of Paris. This area is very popular thanks to attractions such as the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Place des Vosges, the city hall and the Gothic Tour St-Jacques. Contrasting with all the historic buildings is the modern Centre Pompidou.
Arrondissement 5 - Panthéon

The Latin Quarter, with the renowned Sorbonne University, is situated in this arrondissement. The area's popular avenue, the Boulevard St-Michel, marks the border with the 6th arrondissement. The most famous sight in the 5th arrondissement is the Panthéon, but there are many other noteworthy sights such as the magnificent Val-de-Grâce church, the intriguing St-Etienne-du-Mont church, the Cluny Museum, the roman-era Arènes de Lutèce and the Jardin des Plantes, the city's botanical garden which is home to the Natural History Museum.
Arrondissement 6 - Luxembourg

One of the world's greatest parks, the Jardin du Luxembourg, makes this arrondissement popular with locals and visitors alike. The 6th arrondissement also contains a number of landmarks like the Odéon Theatre and the Saint Sulpice church, which sports two towers with a different design. Another important church in this arrondissement is the 11th century Saint-Germain des Prés, the oldest abbey church in Paris. The church is at the heart of the namesake neighborhood, which is one of the most popular areas to stay in for visitors to Paris.
Arrondissement 7 - Palais-Bourbon

Government institutions and major landmarks dominate this upscale arrondissement. The most famous of these landmarks is the Eiffel Tower, drawing millions of visitors each year. Other important tourist draws are the Invalides - with its museums and Napoleon's tomb - and three more museums: the Musée d'Orsay, the Musée Rodin and the Musée du Quai Branly, which is dedicated to non-European cultures. The Palais Bourbon (National Assembly), École Militaire (Military School) and the UNESCO headquarters can also be found in the 7th arrondissement.

Eiffel Tower courtesy of

Arrondissement 8 - Élysée

Another arrondissement loaded with tourist attractions. The Champs-Élysées - probably the world's most famous boulevard - cuts through this arrondissement from the Place de la Concordeto the Arc de Triomphe. Bordering the Champs-Élysées are the magnificent Grand Palais and Petit Palais, as well as the Élysée, the presidential Palace. The arrondissement also features the temple-like Madeleine church and the romantic Monceau Park.
Arrondissement 9 - Opéra

A multifaceted arrondissement, with prestigious boulevards in the south and the not so prestigious- Pigalle area - a red light district - in the north. Pigalle does attract its share of tourists though thanks to the nearby Moulin Rouge (18th arr). Just as famous, but located in the south part of the 9th arrondissement, is the former Opéra Garnier, a magnificent opera house. Nearby is the Galeries Lafayette, a well-known department store. The majestic Sainte-Trinité church is also located in this arrondissement.
Arrondissement 10 - Enclos-St-Laurent

Two of Paris's main railway stations - the Gare de l'Est and Gare du Nord - can be found here. This is a down to earth arrondissement with the Canal Saint-Martin and the neoclassical Saint-Vincent-de-Paul churches as some its most interesting sights.
Arrondissement 11 - Popincourt

It is a very low profile arrondissement, mostly residential. The Oberkampf district in the north is better known for its nightlife than its landmarks, but it does contain the Cirque d'Hiver (winter circus) and the St. Ambroise church.
Arrondissement 12 - Reuilly

The large Bastille Opera can be found in this mostly residential area, as well as the Bercy Stadium and the nearby modern Bercy Park. The arrondissement is bordered by the expansive Vincennes Park on the east.
Arrondissement 13 - Gobelins

It is a largely residential neighborhood with the modern National Library as its most significant landmark. Another interesting complex is the Hôpital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière, an expansive hospital complex with an imposing chapel. The 13th arrondissement is also home to the city's largest Chinatown.
Arrondissement 14 - Observatoire

Here we have a lively arrondissement, especially around the Montparnasse Boulevard, where the Tour Maine Montparnasse (located in the adjacent 15th arrondissement) dominates the skyline. Not far from this skyscraper is the Montparnasse Cemetery, where many famous French citizens are buried. Popular tourist attractions in this arrondissement are the catacombs, which can be accessed at the Denfert-Rochereau square. The observatory of Paris nearby gave the 14th arrondissement its name.
Arrondissement 15 - Vaugirard

This is the largest of the twenty arrondissements in Paris, both in size and population. The tallest skyscraper in the center of Paris, Tour Maine Montparnasse is located here. The Parc André Citroën in the west is one of Paris's most interesting modern parks.
Arrondissement 16 - Passy

Even if the 7th arrondissement may be even more exclusive, the 16th arrondissement has the reputation of being the richest, and only the better-off are able to pay the high rents here. The arrondissement is bordered by the enormous Boulogne Park to the west. A big draw is the Palais de Chaillot, from where you can have a great view of the Eiffel Tower. The Palais de Chaillot is also home to several museums and a theater. The Musée Guimet, a museum with a collection of Asian art and the Palais de Tokyo, home to modern art, can be found nearby. Another notable museum is the Musée Marmottan, with a collection of impressionist art.
Arrondissement 17 - Batignolles-Monceau

This is a diverse arrondissement, bordering the grand boulevards in the south and the lowly Pigalle neighborhood in the north. The Palais des Congrès, a large convention center, is located at the western tip of the arrondissement.
Arrondissement 18 - Butte-Montmartre

Montmartre, the once bohemian and still village-like district is often inundated with tourists. The Sacré-Coeur basilica and the Place du Tertre are the biggest tourist draws. Another famous sight here is the Moulin Rouge, located at the border of the 9th arrondissement.

Sacré-Coeur basilica Courtesy of

Arrondissement 19 - Buttes-Chaumont

One of Paris's most interesting parks, the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, is in the middle of this large arrondissement. Another, more modern park, the Parc de la Villette, contains the city's popular science museum.
Arrondissement 20 - Ménilmontant

This mostly residential, cosmopolitan arrondissement has no real attractions but it still gets its fair share of tourists thanks to the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, the most famous cemetery in Paris.

Fine Dining
Mentioning all these features of Paris and leaving the best part would be an injustice. Paris is home to the best restaurants

There are shops that specialize in different things. This is how serious the French are with their culinary skills. 
·         Boulangerie is a bakery where all kinds of bread are sold. Some of the baked goods you can find in a boulangerie are croissants and baguettes,
·         Patisseries are shops where French pastries are made and sold.
·         Cavistes- A French wine shop. A French meal is never complete without a glass of good wine.

·         Fromageries are cheese shops where all kinds of cheese can be found. 

Fromagerie courtesy of

The Paris Metro
Métro is the abbreviated name of the company that originally operated most of the network: La Compagnie du chemin de fer métropolitain de Paris ("The Paris Metropolitan Railway Company"), shortened to "Le Métropolitain". That was quickly abbreviated to métro, which became a common word to designate all subway networks (or any rapid transit system) in France or in many cities elsewhere.
This is one of the fastest ways to travel through Paris. An important tool to master before visiting Paris is the Metro map, to know your connections from one point to another.


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