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Paris City Travel Guide France Attractions

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Aaaah, Paris. What can one say that hasn't already been said about the City of Light and luminaries? The Quais, the Quartier Latin, Montmartre, the Eiffel Tower, the Grand Boulevards, the Arc de Triomphe, the food, the language, art and culture, just one or two of these things would be sufficient in another city. Paris has them all.

Paris is synonymous with France itself. In fact, for many people Paris IS France, and the rest of the country is dismissed as les provinces. Official tourist site for Paris.

Paris is glamorous and stylish; literary and intellectual; full of artists, dissidents and writers; at once cosmopolitan, with a large Algerian, West and Central African population, and yet retaining a traditional (almost village) mentality at the same time.

Paris is a city of contrasts. The narrow streets and cobbles of Montmartre, the Quartier Latin, and the Butte aux Cailles are hard to picture when you are walking along the Voie Triomphale, or near the Opéra. Stand on the Pont Neuf and look along the Seine and you will get some idea of how diverse and magnificent Paris is. From April to October you can also take the Batobus along the Seine. It starts near the Eiffel Tower and has eight stops. A day pass costs €10, one stop is €3.50 and every subsequent stop is €2.

The capital of France, Paris is small enough to make it possible to sample a number of different quartiers just by taking a stroll. In 2.5 hours you can walk from St Germain des Pres to Montmartre, so you are never far away from anything. There are some lovely parks in Paris, such as the Jardin des Tuileries with its formal gravelled paths lined with trees, or the Jardins du Luxembourg where couples hold hands, students read texts, children play and old men play pétanque.

City of film and music, Parisian cinemas often show foreign films in the original language (VO = version originale). All music from jazz to bollywood style DJs, Francoise Hardy to Daft Punk, classical concerts in chapels or huge theatres is on offer in Paris. Listings magazines such as Pariscope or Lylo can help you decide which concerts to attend.

There are more than 150 museums in Paris, from the art giants like the Louvre, Musée d'Orsay and Centre Pompidou, to the Musée Rodin where you can see the sculptor's work in situ in his garden. A museum pass (Carte Musées et Monuments) gives you access to 70 of these museums and helps to avoid the queues at museum entrances. It costs from €15 for one day to €45 for five days and is available from the tourist office, RER and métro stations, and museums.

The main tourist office in Paris is at 127 avenue des Champs Élysées (08 92 68 31 12).