Paris may be known as the City of Light, but it’s also the City of Passion. Lovers of language, architecture, culture and history will find plenty to feed their passions in the French capital.
To the north is the charming Montmartre, with the magnificent church of Sacré-Coeur contrasted with the lusty and exotic area of Pigalle. To the south is Montparnasse, home to countless artistic and intellectual movements of the last century. To the west is the massive park, the Bois de Boulogne and to the east, another beautiful Parisian park, the Bois de Vincennes, both gloriously huge nature areas where lovers nestle during the day.
The centre of Paris is like a treasure
And in the very center are all the wonderful must-does: the top two Paris museums, the Louvre and d’Orsay; the majestic Eiffel Tower; the historical Notre Dame Cathedral; the romantic Place des Vosges; the very ritzy Place Vendôme (with the Ritz Hotel); Place de la Concorde, which offers one of the best views of Paris, the Meurice and Crillon Hotels (and where Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI were beheaded); the gorgeous view up the Champs-Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe; a catnap in the ultimate Parisian gardens, the Jardin des Tuileries and the Jardin du Luxembourg; strolls around the small and charming streets and the medieval Carnavalet Museumin the Marais; take a café crème and people watch in the perfect Paris neighborhood of St.-Germain-des-Prés; a photograph session in front of the domed opera house, Palais Garnier, and go inside to see the Marc Chagall painted ceiling; and a moment of awe when you walk over Pont Alexandre III towards the golden-domed Les Invalides.
The middle of Paris is the centre of Paris
Twenty arrondissement (districts) spiral out from the plate-sized landmark Point Zero in the middle of Paris (in front of Notre Dame Cathedral), from where every village in France is measured. Paris is the most densely populated major city in the developed world (two and a half times denser than New York), 65 square miles where tremendously varied inhabitants add new character every day. According to the City of Paris statistics in 2011, more than 2.1 Million residents live in the City proper with a total of more than 11 million including surrounding Île de Paris area. Tourism is the city’s biggest industry, with more than 27 million visitors annually.
When it comes to weather in Paris, be prepared for the unpredictable. Winter can bring snow, but rain is more likely. August can be stifling (95°F and above), but the average temperature is a pleasant 53°F.
Parisians get a bad rap for being rude, but this is simply a cultural misunderstanding. Just as we would consider not accepting a hand shake to be rude, they tend to consider a simple, “Can you help me?” discourteous without the customary intro tag line. Open their verbal doors with the right key “Excusez-moi de vous déranger” (“I’m sorry to disturb you”), and they’ll charm the pants off you.