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THE CITY OF LIGHT

As the sun dips below the horizon, Paris comes alive. As evening sets in, lighting illuminates its epic architecture and twinkles off the Seine, but the name “City of Light” comes from the Age of Enlightenment, a post-Renaissance intellectual and philosophical movement of European ideas during the 17th and 18th centuries.

The City of Paris radiates outward from two small islands (Île-de-la-Cité & Île-Saint-Louis) at a bend along the Seine River in the central north of France. Within the Avenue Périphérique central ring encompassing Paris is the crown jewel within the Petite Couronne, the inner ring of departments (Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, and Val-de-Marne), to make up Grand Paris, which is then surrounded by the outer Grande Couronne, outer ring, in the capital region of Île-de-France.

BASICS:

Language: French
Currency: Euro €
When to go: Ideal April–June, or September–early November; 
Summer – generally hot; 
Winter – chilly and gray, but also cozy, Christmastime lights
Airport: Paris–Charles De Gaulle Airport (main) or Aéroport de Paris–Orly
Train station: Gare du Nord for RER B (Blue) to CDG airport or for high-speed Eurostar—direct routes to London, Brussels, and Amsterdam + Gare de Lyon + several other stations throughout the city, all adjacent to the Metro
Metro + RER: Local rail system makes Paris very accessible (more below), as well as connecting the greater Île-de-France region.
River: Batobus of Paris hop-on, hop-off river cruises on the Seine are a relaxing and scenic way to see the heart of the city
Arrondissements: 20 districts into which Paris is divided

The center of Paris is measured from Point Zéro, marked in front of Notre Dame on the Île-de-la-Cité. From the western tip of this island and the Louvre across the river, 20 arrondissements (districts) spiral clockwise to the outer Périphérique (perimeter boulevard), each with unique characteristics.

Arrondissement (District)Features & Attractions
1st: LouvreMusée du Louvre, Palais Royal, Tuileries Gardens, Palais de la Cité, Conciergerie, Sainte-Chapelle, Place Vendôme. Forum Les Halles
2nd: BourseHistoric Stock Exchange (Bourse), Rue Montorgueil (market), Rue de la Paix (shops)
3rd: TempleArt galleries such as Musée National Picasso and Carnavalet Museum, outer Marais
4th: Hôtel de VilleÎle-de-la-Cité, Nôtre-Dame, Hôtel de Ville, Centre Pompidou, The Marais, Île-St.-Louis
5th: PanthéonPantheon, Musée de Cluny, Marché Mouffetard, Sorbonne University, Ménagerie zoo & gardens
6th: LuxembourgSenate, Institute of France, Odéon Theatre (School of Fine Arts), Saint-Germain-des-Prés (shops), Église Saint-Sulpice, Luxembourg Palace & Gardens
7th: Palais-BourbonMusée d’Orsay, Musée du quai Branly, Musée Rodin, Musée Maillol, Eiffel Tower, Hôtel des Invalides, École Militaire
8th: l’ElyséeArc de Triomphe, Chic district, Elysée Palace, Avenue des Champs-Elysées, Grand Palais & Petit Palais, Place de la Concorde, Parc Monceau, Musée Jacquemart-André
9th: l’OpéraDepartment stores such as Le Printemps and Nouvelles Galeries, Opéra Garnier
10th: l’EntrepôtPorte Saint-Denis, Canal Saint-Martin, Gare de l’Est & Gare du Nord
11th: PopincourtPlace de la Bastille, Rue Oberkampf, Rue de Lappe restaurants & bars
12th: ReuillyBois de Vincennes, Gare de Lyon, residential
13th: GobelinsFrançois-Mitterrand Library, Station F corporate campus for startups, Place d’Italie
14th: ObservatoireParis Observatory, Catacombs of Paris, Montparnasse Cemetery, Montsouris Park
15th: VaugirardMontparnasse Tower, residential
16th: PassyBois de Boulogne, Maison Art Nouveau, Marché Ave du President Wilson, bourgeois residential, Palais de Chaillot, Parc de Prince (PSG stadium)
17th: Batignolles-MonceauTernes & Plaine-de-Monceaux districts (chic), Batignolles & Épinettes districts (hip)
18th: Buttes-MontmartreMontmartre, Sacré-Cœur, Place du Tertre, Cabaret Au Lapin Agile, Moulin Rouge, Porte de la Chapelle
19th: Buttes-ChaumontLa Villette, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
20th: MénilmontantBelvédère de Belleville, Père-Lachaise cemetery, lively Belleville
Each of the 20 arrondissements (districts) has unique features & attractions.
Along the outer Bd. Périphérique (ring boulevard) in 12th–20th are several sports complexes and fields.

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Paris Metro

One of the world’s best public transit systems, the complex but user-friendly Metro tightly connects the inner city, while RER trains extend service throughout Grand Paris, reaching into the greater Île-de-France region.

Paris Metro Map

Paris Explored