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Last updated : Nov 2009
Paris Travel Guide
Paris Travel Guide and Paris Travel Information - TravelPuppy.com
Paris is the city of a thousand clichés, the 'City of Lights' and Hemmingway’s much quoted 'Moveable Feast' amongst them, but for once it is also a city that justifies all the hype. The French capital is one of the world’s truly great cities, a metropolis that lavishly satisfies the desires of visitors and business people alike and manages to retain a standard of living that makes becoming a Parisian so alluring.

Paris dramatically wears its history on its sleeve and today it is still centred around the Ile de la Cité, where over two thousand years ago Celtic tribes first eked out a living. The Romans were later drawn to this strategic location in the middle of the Seine, a natural crossroads between Germany and Spain, and took control in 52BC. Despite English rule between 1420 and 1436, a series of French kings brought about the centralisation of France, with Paris at its cultural, political and economic centre.

Despite its large size and population almost everything worth seeing is contained within the ring road, the Boulevard Périphérique. The compact centre is easily navigable on foot, with the efficient and comprehensive Métro system always on hand to ease tired limbs. The lifeblood River Seine splits Paris neatly in two and the useful arrondissements system neatly carves the city into manageable chunks.

The history of Paris can be uncovered throughout its distinctive districts. Hilly Montmartre, with its village atmosphere, was where the Paris Commune began in 1871, the Marais evokes medieval Paris, its winding streets a sharp contrast to the wide, orderly Haussmann boulevards, envisaged by Napoleon III to keep the mobs at bay. These grand 19th-century avenues still dominate the city, interspersed with modern flourishes. The grands travaux (large projects) of Président Mitterrand added the Grande Arche de la Défense, the ultra-modern Opéra de la Bastille, the impressive Institut du Monde Arabe, and plonked a glass pyramid in the central courtyard of the Louvre.

The varied populations within Paris define the city’s atmosphere just as much as its landmarks. The French establishment resides comfortably in the smart 16th arrondissement, while African and Eastern European immigrants live less lavishly in areas such as up-and-coming areas Belleville and the Goutte d’Or. The Jewish quarters include the shabby Sentier and trendy Marais district, the latter is also Paris’ gay centre. Emerging areas include Bercy, where new flats, bars and restaurants are drawing a youthful and moneyed crowd east.

Paris is a city with a varied climate that conjures up its own seasonal delights. In the summer, when the mercury rises, the locals flock to the new Paris Plage, where a riverside expressway is converted for a month between July and August into an oasis of swimming pools, sand and deckchairs. The best time to visit is, of course, during the famous Paris Spring between April and June, when the days are sunny but not too hot. The autumn and winter months are another good time to come when there are fewer crowds and snow is a rarity, but there really is no bad time to visit one of the world’s truly great cities.
Useful travel links
Paris Tourist Office Official website for Paris Tourism