Paris Mini Guide
Paris is one of the world’s great cities and you won’t find restaurants, bars, museums and monuments anywhere else which will better what Paris has to offer. From the Eiffel Tower, to the Champs Elysee, the Sacre Coeur and the Louvre, Paris has sights that will dazzle the visitor and guarantee a sense of romance.
Getting around Paris can be tricky, however, and within the heart of the city you are advised to rely on the metro system or even better, walk so you can soak up the Parisian atmosphere. Driving is a useful option if you want to go and explore the suburbs and see grand sights such as the Vaux-le-Vicomte Castle or the castle and city at Fontainebleau. If you have decided to save yourself money by staying outside the heart of the city then car rental is definitely the preferred option.
Paris follows the usual French driving rules but be prepared to see some of the most hair-raising driving on the European continent. Though the famous car chase scene in the Robert De Niro movie Ronin was put on for dramatic effect, anyone who has seen it may have thought about the Champs Elysee roundabout with its lack of proper lanes and shuddered.
You would certainly would be well advised to only drive during the rush hour commuting times as a last possible resort. If you find yourself driving through Paris during a busy period watch out for people changing lanes without signalling and pedestrians walking out in front of you without any warning. Even if a cyclist or a pedestrian is crossing on a red light and you knock them over you will be found liable and possibly prosecuted.
You will also find yourself driving down wide, multi-lane boulevards which are sometimes collectively referred to as boulevard des maréchaux. Then there is the boulevard périphérique, a freeway-style beltway. The périphérique intérieur is the inner lanes (going clockwise), the périphérique extérieur the outer lanes (going counter-clockwise). Take care to observe the 90 kilometre speed limit and give right of way to the oncoming traffic. If you do happen to find yourself lost in Paris the people most likely to help you are the hotel concierges who will never be far away.
Once you have orientated yourself a good value way of seeing the city is to get a special pass which comes in different prices. The Paris Museum Pass costs 60 Euros for 6 days but is half that price for two days and allows you into more than 70 museums in Paris. You can find the card at tourit offices and it is a good investment as it allows you to jump lengthy queues as well. Other fine landmarks in this incredible city are the Arc de Triomphe, the Chateux de Versailles, the Catacombs and the Notre Dame cathedral.
No visit to Paris would be complete without sampling its culinary delights. Specialties include moules frites, the classic dish of steamed mussels and French fries which should be washed down with a good French lager. Oysters, snails, frogs legs, venison (deer), boar, and other game (especially in the fall and winter hunting season), are also delicacies. Eating out in France is notoriously expensive but there are run-of-the-mill restaurants which serve surprisingly good simple food.
One excellent brasserie which has been around for years is La Coupole in the Montparnasse district. Designed to look more like an American diner, La Coupole has excellent food at a good price, but you need to reserve if you want to have any chance of getting a table and enjoying an unforgettable experience.
PLACES NOT TO MISS - MAKE THE MOST FROM YOUR CAR HIRE PARIS:
- Eiffel Tower
- Notre Dame Cathedral
- Arc de Triomphe
- Opéra National de Paris
- Musée d’Orsay
- Pompidou Centre
- Montmartre and Opéra districts
- The Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine
- The new Immigration museum
- The Musée des Arts Décoratifs
- The new Arts premiers museum – Quai Branly
Getting there by Air or Train
There are 2 airports: Orly and Roissy Charles de Gaulle, Europe’s most important transport hub and 6 train stations (Lyon
, Nord, St-Lazare, Est, Montparnasse, Austerlitz).