12 Best Hotels in Paris, France - May 2019
Mercure Paris Centre Tour Eiffel
Novotel Paris Les Halles
Hotel de Nell
Hotel The Peninsula Paris
Celeste Hotel & Spa
La Clef Louvre
Le Narcisse Blanc
West End Hotel Paris
Hotel de Crillon
Your Travel Guide to Paris
Going to Paris for vacation can be somewhat overwhelming: there’s so much to see, you’ll have to be prepared to stay for a while! Paris has a wealth of landmarks and monuments from medieval times, as well as sites commemorating the French Revolution and the Napoleonic dynasty. Besides the history, there are also the restaurants and cafes, not to mention the shopping opportunities. But you might not want to rush through it all: you’ll find that there are many romantic and beautiful areas, that you’ll want to take in slowly, to properly appreciate them.
What are the Must-Do-s and See-s in Paris?
Parc Champs de Mars and the Eiffel Tower
No trip to Paris is complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower. It is located in the Champ de Mars (“The Field of Mars”), which is a large park that was originally used for military drills. Eiffel Tower was constructed in 1889 by Gustave Eiffel (who incidentally also constructed the Statue of Liberty), and was originally designed as a laboratory for meteorology, aerodynamics, and scientific experiments--but now it has become the most-frequented monument in the world, as well as the tallest structure in Paris.
But you’re not limited to the view at the top. There are several observation decks on your way up: on the 1st floor, at 57 meters high, on the 2nd floor, at 116 meters high, and at the top at 276 meters high. The first floor is made of transparent glass, so you get a dizzying view of the street below! The hotels Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel and Mercure Paris are located nearby.
A Walk along the Seine
The Seine River cuts through Paris, and sites and monuments are located by either being on the right bank (“Rive Droite”) or left bank (“Rive Gauche”) of the river. Walking along the Seine is the best way to experience what Paris has to offer. One recommended tour starts at the Jardins des Champs-Elysées or the Place de la Concorde, through the Jardin des Tuileries, past the Jardin du Palais Royal, crossing over the river at the Place du Pont Neuf, over the Île de la Cité, finally ending up at the Jardin des Plantes (Garden of the Plants, even though it houses much more than just plants). The entire walk is around 7 kilometers in length and takes 3 hours.
We’ll look at some of the sights along this tour in greater depth:
Arc de Triomphe and the Avenue des Champs Elysées
The Arc de Triomphe (which is also known as the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile, “Triumphal Arch of the Star”) is located in the 8th Arrondissement. It is located in the middle of the Place Charles de Gaulle, with 12 main streets emanating out of the center, in a star-like fashion (hence the name “Arch of the Star”). It was constructed to honor those who fell in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, and depicts scenes from French history.
The widest street running through the Arc is Avenue des Champs Elysées (“Elysian Fields Avenue”). From the Arc de Triomphe, you can continue to the Jardin des Champs Elysées (Elysian Fields Gardens) and the Place de la Concorde. Some buildings of note in the Jardin des Champs Elysées include the Grand Palais art museum, the Theatre Du Rond Point (a dramatic theater), and the Palais de la Decouverte (“Discovery Palace”), which is a science museum with a planetarium and demonstrations in astronomy, chemistry, physics, life sciences, earth sciences, and math.
Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries Garden)
The Jardin des Tuileries was constructed as part of Tuileries Palace (tuileries are tile ovens, which were placed here before it was designated as a palace for the French monarchy). After the French Revolution, it became a public park. Some noteworthy landmarks include the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, which was built in 1808 to commemorate Napoleon’s victories. It has sculptures in relief depicting important events in Napoleon’s life, the Moat of Charles V, and the Grand Carré (“The Great Square”) and its numerous statues depicting personages from Greek and Roman mythology. There is also the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, which is a museum of contemporary art works and photography.
Further down along the Seine, you’ll find The Louvre--the world’s largest art museum, housed in a building which was originally King Philip II’s palace. Many of the art works were from the collections of the French monarchy, while others were purchased directly from the respective artists, as in the case of the works of Raphael, Michelangelo, and Da Vinci. There are also works from the Classical era, such as from Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Two notable hotels in the area include Hotel Novotel Paris Les Halles, and Citadines Les Halles Paris.
Île de la Cite and Pont Neuf
From the Louvre, you can continue along the Seine until you traverse the Pont Neuf (“New Bridge”, which is really the oldest bridge in Paris, dating from the time of King Henry IV in 1607!), onto the Île de la Cite (City Island) in the middle of the Seine. Some notable medieval buildings on the island include the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris (where Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” transpires), Sainte-Chapelle (a chapel with amazingly intricate stained-glass windows), and the Concierge Prison, where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned before her execution.
Place de la Bastille
If you recall the history of the French Revolution, you no doubt heard of the “Storming of the Bastille”. The Bastille Prison was a fortress that was later used as a prison in the time of Louis XIV. The storming of the Bastille is taken symbolically as the initiation of the French Revolution, on July 14, 1789. But, if you’ll look for the Bastille nowadays, you won’t find the structure. Instead, a monument called “The July Column” stands at the place of the Bastille. Some of the original stones have been moved to Square Henri Galli Park along the Seine.The Novotel Paris Gare de Lyon Hotel is located near the Bastille.
The Moulin Rouge (French for “Red Mill”) is a cabaret that was founded in 1889 in the 18th Arrondissement on Boulevard de Clichy. (It is readily recognizable as a red brick structure with a windmill on top.) The nightclub was made famous by the Impressionist painter Henri Toulouse Lautrec, for his many paintings of the interior, as well as posters to advertise the entertainment inside. (It was also reputed as where the “can-can” dance was popularized.) You can still enjoy the atmosphere of the cabaret, although the entrance fee may be a bit steep, approaching 100 Euro. You can catch a show, evening meal, or matinée.
Getting To and Around Paris
Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
You’ll undoubtedly arrive in Paris at the Charles de Gaulle Airport. It is Paris’ major airport, receiving intercontinental flights from all the major airlines. The RER (= Reseau Express Regional) train gets you from the airport around Paris and its suburbs. There are five train lines, A- E, with the “B” line being the most busy. The “B” line takes you from north to south through Paris, where you can hook up with the Paris Metro and access almost any other point in the city.
Metro, Tram, and Buses
The Paris Metro is provides rapid transit subway service within Paris. It has 16 train lines, with 303 stations spread out over Paris. In a city the size of Paris, that means that stops are very close to one another. There is also a series of trams and bus lines.