region: Île de france


The sheer brilliance of Paris is breathtaking; everything from its imposing architecture, old and new, its romantic and evocative atmosphere, its avenues, squares and gardens, to its cultural wealth and, of course, its flair and joie de vivre.

This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, attracting visitors from far and wide to absorb the sights, sounds and heady atmosphere of the French capital.

© ATOUT FRANCE/Jean François Tripelon-Jarry

There is a huge wealth of history in the capital, a location thought to have been used as a settlement for 12,000 years, and named after the Celtic people that lived here in the 3rd century BCE, the Parisii. The town was known as Lutetia in the 1st century BCE, when it was a Gallo-Roman garrison, and became the capital of France in 987. 

By the 12th century, this was by far the largest city in the western world, an important trading centre and already with a renowned university. By the 18th century, Paris had acquired a justifiable reputation for fashion, science, and the arts.

It is this historical evolution that has modelled the city into what we see today, a place of monuments, beautiful architecture, vibrant shopping areas, world-renowned museums, some of the most outstanding art collections in the world, luxury boutiques and an haute-cuisine that can be savoured in hundreds restaurants around the city, all set against a backdrop of relaxing parks and gardens.

Paris needs time

© ATOUT FRANCE/Cédric Helsly

At the outset of any visit, it needs to be understood that Paris, no more than any great city in the world, cannot be plumbed to any depth in a day or two; the city needs repeated visits, each time nibbling away at some cultural titbit, some museum, some theatrical performance, or even, the grand conclusion in July of the Tour de France.

Check out my recommended 'Must See, Must Do' sights, but at the very least, the briefest of visits should include a long, relaxing stroll down the Champs Elysées from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde, maybe taking a coffee at one of the street cafés; just relax and enjoy the experience of strolling – the French invented to concept of strolling, Flâner, is the verb – just so that visitors would understand how to go about things, of course.

Wander across Pont Neuf to the Left Bank, and dine at one of the seafood restaurants serving fresh oysters and lobsters. Take a taxi up to Montmartre to watch the artists at work. Or simply stroll along the Seine embankment. The Eiffel Tower, majestic and imposing as it is, invariably consumes much time in queuing, and if time is of the essence, do no more than pay it a visit for photographs.

With more time available visit the Louvre and the nearby Musée d'Orsay, or, for something quite different, the Père Lachaise Cemetery, where you will find the graves of Oscar Wilde, composer Georges Bizet, singer Edith Piaf, composer Frédéric Chopin, artist Camille Pissarro, and The Doors vocalist Jim Morrison.

For something to do in the evening, culture vultures will visit the world renowned Opéra Garnier, while those of a less operatic persuasion might enjoy the evening's entertainment at the Folies Bergère.

© Paris Tourist Office - Photographer : Marc Bertrand

Place de la Concorde by night. In the middle, the Luxor Obelisk given to France by Egypt in 1836. © ATOUT FRANCE/Franck Charel


Office du Tourisme et des Congrès de Paris

25 rue des Pyramides, 75001 Paris
Tel: 0892 68 30 00

facts about paris

20% of the French population lives in the Parisian region.

Its nickname “The City of Lights,” is said to be a reference to the number of intellectuals who live there.

Jim Morrisson, Frederic Chopin and Oscar Wilde lie buried in the Paris cemetery called Père Lachaise.

In 2017, Paris opened its first nudist restaurant.

The Eiffel Tower is painted every 7 years, and was originally intended to be dismantled and sold as scrap after its construction.

There are more Bretons (from Brittany) in Paris than in Brittany.

The oldest bridge in Paris is called Pont Neuf (New Bridge).

The most visited attraction in Paris isn’t the Eiffel Tower (5.5 million), or the Louvre (5 million), but Disneyland Paris (13 million).

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