Paris Travel Guide (2021)
ABOVE: Meeting under the clock at the Musée
The Paris underground system has 380 stations and 14 lines with 211 km (130
km) of track. Our illustrated article tells how to buy tickets and ride the
The Réseau Express Régional is a commuter-rail system that connects with the
Métro. RER destinations outside the city include CDG Airport, Versailles, and
Sometimes, the quickest route between two points is a straight line (or at least
a straighter line than the Métro's routes).
The Paris region now has four modern tramways, including one along the southern
edge of the city.
Navigo Easy Card
Use the Paris
transit network's new plastic stored-value card for "pay as you go"
rides on the Métro, RER trains, buses, and trams.
Charles de Gaulle Airport
Here's how to reach the city from Roissy by RER train, bus, door-to-door
shuttle, or taxi.
Free automated shuttle trains now connect the terminals and major parking
garages at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Roissy.
Orly Airport Ground
How to reach central Paris or CDG from Orly Airport by train or bus, with
connections to the RER and Métro.
The site of Paris Beauvais Airport
(BVA) and the Ryanair
Paris hub is a pleasant city
of 55,000 with a magnificent Gothic cathedral and one of the region's
nicest public squares. From Paris, you can reach Beauvais in a little over an hour by
Gare du Nord
Eurostar, Thalys, RER trains from CDG airport, and rail services to Northern
France and Northern Europe use this major station in the 10th arrondissement.
Our illustrated report describes journeys in Standard and Leisure Select
Class, with information on check-in at London Waterloo and Paris Gare du Nord.
Thalys Europe for
High-speed trains of the Thalys network connect Paris to Belgium, the
Netherlands, Germany's Rhineland, and (in season) ski resorts in the French
Paris Sightseeing Boats
Cruise or dine on the Seine, explore the St-Martin Canal, or spend a day on the
Marne River. Our cruising guide has links to a dozen excursion-boat companies.
Are you turned off by tour groups? Skip the big-name
Paris sightseeing boats and cruise on L'Insolite, a boutique vessel for
St. Martin Canal Cruises
In 2-1/4 hours, you'll traverse a 19th Century canal through Parisian
neighborhoods, rise or fall 26 meters in a series of locks, and cruise in a
barge tunnel underneath the Place de la Bastille.
Paris Sightseeing Buses
"Hop on, hop off" double-deckers make it easy to reach the major sights, and
the Batobus water bus extends the concept to the Seine.
If you can't stand steep hills, the Funiculaire de Montmartre is one way
to reach Sacré-Coeur without getting out of breath.
Paris River Cruise Ports
How to reach your ship if you're embarking on a Seine river cruise, and how to
reach the sights of Paris from the Port de Grenelle and the Port de Javel Bas.
Money Tips for Paris
Before heading for France, read our advice on cash, currency exchange, and
credit cards. (Watch out for hidden fees!)
In a city the size of Paris, you'll need a good map--or better yet,
several--to find your way around. Here are our favorites (including two that are
Paris Public Toilets
Forget pissoirs and hole-in-the-floor squat toilets. In today's Paris,
public 'sanisettes' are high-tech, self-cleaning, and mostly free. Here's what
they look like and how to use them.
Paris Scams: "Gold Ring Scam"
When Cheryl was
accosted by a con artist who tried to sell her a fake "gold ring" that
supposedly had been found on the sidewalk, she took pictures and messed with the
confused scammer's mind.
Paris Scams: 'String Men' of Sacré-Coeur
Don't be intimidated by these small-time extortionists--they're annoying but
harmless, and you can head them off before they strike.
Paris 'Petition' Scam
When in Paris, don't be fooled by bearers of fake petitions. They'll shake you
down for money, and they may pick your pocket.
RER 'C' Train to
Paris RER commuter trains offer frequent service to the
Versailles Château Rive Gauche station, which is only a short walk from the
palace and gardens.
Top 11 Tourist Mistakes (and
how to avoid them)
Millions of visitors have gone before you.
You can profit from they've learned through harsh experience!
Vélib' Bicycle Rentals
Hundreds of automated city-owned Vélib' service points rent 3-speed bicycles for a token fee,
and you can return your bike to any location.
Arènes de Lutèce
Gladiator combat and other Gallo-Roman
entertainments once took place in this 1st Century amphitheatre, which is now a
public park in the 5th arrondissement.
L'Atelier des Lumières offers immersive sight-and-sound
exhibitions in a former Parisian foundry. The venue, which opened in 2018,
delightful experience for adults and children alike.
In the 1800s, captive gas balloons lifted thousands of Parisians above the city.
Now you can relive that tradition with an inexpensive 10-minute ride to an altitude of 150 meters or nearly 500 feet.
Dinner Cruises on the Seine
Half a dozen Parisian cruising fleets serve dinner (and, in some cases, lunch)
aboard restaurant boats or a vintage yacht. Prices range from moderate to
The Eiffel Tower at Night
To avoid the worst of the crowds, visit the tower after dusk. As a bonus,
you'll get a close-up view of the floodlit ironwork and the hourly strobe-light
Rows of converted 19th Century wine warehouses form the nucleus of an attractive
shopping, dining, and entertainment development next to the Parc de Bercy and
The Musée d l'Erotisme has its share of X-rated Hindu temple carvings and
early 20th Century porn, but its best feature may be the exhibit about Paris
brothels from the late 1800s through 1946.
FlyView "Fly Over Paris"
When it's raining, or if you're traveling with kids, a
flight over Paris by virtual jetpack is an enjoyable (if pricey) way to see the
Fragonard Perfume Museum
Learn about the history and manufacture of perfumes in a 19th Century mansion.
You can sample perfumes, and admission is free.
Île aux Cygnes
of the Swans," or "Swan Island, is an appealing (and little-touristed) park in
the Seine, not far from the Eiffel Tower.
Jardin du Luxembourg
The Luxembourg Gardens offer a peaceful respite from sightseeing. If you have
children, the playground and pony rides are hard to resist.
La Boulangerie Patiserrie Au
The oldest bakery in Paris has been in business since the time of Napoleon. Its
jovial proprietor's breads and pastries are first-rate.
La Boulangerie par Véronique
Of the four wood-burning bakery ovens left in France, only two are in
Paris--including one near the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont where a female
boulanger creates artisan loaves from organic flour and wild yeasts.
Nearly 2,800 condemned prisoners spent their last days here after the French
Revolution--among them, the Empress Marie-Antoinette, whose prison cell has been
recreated within the medieval fortress.
Lost in Frenchlation
See recent French movies with English subtitles at any of three Parisian art
houses (and meet fellow Anglphones during the preceding social hour).
Meeting the French
Do-it-yourself diplomacy begins at the dinner table, and Laurence Monclard--a
gastronomic matchmaker who studied in the U.S--can help you arrange a meal with
Paris citydwellers or suburbanites.
Meet the Parisians at Work
Inexpensive bilingual tours from Meeting the French and the Paris Convention &
Visitors Bureau take you to workshops, ateliers, and studios throughout the
Before it became a royal palace and museum, the Louvre was a fortress with 10
towers, walls, and a moat. You can visit the excavated ruins with your museum
d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
The City of Paris Museum of Modern
Art has 13,000 works, including paintings and sculptures by artists such as
Henri Matisse, Raoul Dufy, Amedeo Modigliani, and Marc Chagall.
Musée des Arts et Métiers
Europe's oldest science museum was founded in 1794 and displays more than
2,400 examples of inventions and industrial design.
Antoine Bourdelle was Rodin's assistant and a successful sculptor in his own
right. His home in Montparnasse is now a city-owned museum that displays his
marble, plaster, and bronze statuary.
National du Moyen Age
The Louvre and the d'Orsay may be more famous, but this museum (created in 1843)
has a wonderful collection of medieval sculptures, tapestries, and other
artworks in a 15th Century abbots' residence that incorporates Roman baths and
The Musée Zadkine occupies a house in the 6th arrondissement where Russian-born
sculptor Ossip Zadkine lived and worked for nearly 40 years. The museum is owned
by the city of Paris, and admission is free.
Emulate the Hunchback of Notre Dame as you ascend corkscrew staircases,
encounter gargoyles, and enjoy aerial views of Paris.
For over-the-top architecture, visit
The Phantom of the Opera's spectacular setting. (And yes, there's a pond
underneath; it's now a water reservoir for the Paris fire department.)
The most romantic park in Paris is built on the site of a former gypsum quarry
and execution ground.
The Montsouris Park is an attractive urban green space on the southern edge of
Paris. It's next to an RER station and the Cité Internationale Universitaire de
Pastry Tours in Paris
Visit the city's leading pâtisseries
and chocolateries with Ludovic Roif, a friendly and knowledgeable
Paris Dog Cemetery
The world's oldest public pet cemetery is in the Parisian suburb of
Asnières-sur-Seine, which is easy to reach by Métro.
Its residents include 40,000 dead animals and a large number of living cats.
For a month each summer, Parisians flock to manmade beaches along the Seine
and in the Bassin de la Villette.
Paris Segway Tours
Be footloose without getting footsore as you zip through Paris on a high-tech
Segway Human Transporter.
Paris Sewers Museum
The boat tours are gone, but the Musée des égouts de Paris gives an up-close
view of the sewers that Victor Hugo described in Les Misérables.
The price is steep and the slide-show technology seems a bit dated, but this
multmedia show offers a good introduction to Paris--especially if it's raining
or your feet need a break from sightseeing.
The oldest of the great 19th Century Parisian cemeteries is a garden necropolis
with some 300,000 human inhabitants and an estimated 300 to 400 cats.
The burial place of French royalty is an easy Métro ride away from central
Paris. But the Basilique Cathédrale de Saint-Denis isn't just a necropolis--it's also a lovely, light-filled example
of early Gothic church architecture.
You needn't worship the Sacred Heart to enjoy blood-stirring views from
Montmartre's hilltop basilica. (But avoid the "string
men" at the base of the hill.)
"Upstairs, Downstairs" is the theme at Louis IX's 13th Century church, where the
colorful medieval motifs in the lower chapel are nearly as stunning as the
IMAX-size stained glass in the royal chapel above.
Le Viaduc des
A former railway viaduct east of the Bastille is now an elevated, landscaped
walkway with craftmen's workshops in the vaulted spaces behind its 64
Village Joué Club
The largest children's shopping emporium in Paris occupies a renovated
glass-roofed passage from 1859.
Where to Stay in Paris
Our easy-to-read, step-by-step article will help you pick the right type of
accommodation and neighborhood for your visit.
Hotels in the Marais (4th
The medieval center of Old Paris is still one of the
city's most atmospheric neighborhoods, and it's convenient to most sights by
walking or public transportation.
Hotels in Montmartre
If you're arriving by Eurostar or at Charles de Gaulle Airport,
Montmartre is a convenient and atmospheric place to stay. Our hotel and
apartment tips will help you avoid disappointment.
Hotels near the Eiffel Tower
We've picked hotels in the western half of the 7th arrondissement that are
convenient to La Tour Eiffel.
Left Bank Hotels (5th, 6th, 7th East)
These hotels are mostly
in St-Germain-des-Prés, the Latin Quarter, near the Luxembourg Gardens, or near the Seine.
A few are in the Montparnasse area, within walking distance of the railroad
An Apartment in Paris
If you're visiting for a week or longer, Glenn Cooper can help you feel like a
Parisian and save money in the bargain. (Our flat was on the Île de la Cité,
just around the corner from Nôtre-Dame.)
An Apartment in Montmartre
Thanks to Michele Vannoni of Home Rental Connections, we were able to book a
spacious flat near Sacré-Coeur and within walking distance of the
Eurostar terminal at the Gare du Nord.
The Best Baguettes in Paris?
Don't let the clickbait headline make you cynical--Eric
Kayser's Baguette Monge and Baguette Malesherbes are certainly among
the best baguettes in Paris. We're addicted to the loaves from EK's Odéon branch
in the Rue de l'Ancienne Comédie.
The cuisine isn't haute, but it's a healthy step up from fast food, and you'll find plenty of
middle-class Parisians at the three local branches of the French cafeteria chain.
The country that loves Jerry Lewis also adores American-style franchise burgers
and freedom fries. (For fast food with a view, grab an outdoor table on the
Cheryl Imboden gets fit with friendly Frenchwomen in the 15th arrondissement.
Sarah Turnbull, a former TV reporter from Australia, describes her journey from
expat to Parisian insider in a book subtitled "Love and a New Life in Paris."
A Taste of Paris
David Downie, an author who has lived in Paris since the 1980s, has written a
delightful "history of the Parisian love affair with food." (After you've read
the book, why not book one of Mr. Downie's
A Year in the Merde
Stephen Clarke's "almost true" first-person narrative is a relentlessly funny
and often profane account of expatriate life in modern Paris.
Bridges of Paris
Michael Saint James has created a stunning large-format book with more than 350
color photos of the 37 bridges that cross the Seine in Paris.
Café Life Paris
Christine and Dennis Graf, authors of Paris by Bistro, have written a delightful
guide to classic and contemporary cafés around the city, with accompanying
photos by Juliana Spear.
C'est la Vie
Suzy Gershman, author of the "Born to Shop" series, has written a witty and
intelligent book about her first year as an expatriate in Paris.
The Riches of Paris
A review of Meribeth Clemente's The Riches of Paris: A Shopping and Touring
Guide, with excerpts and links to other resources on Paris and shopping in
Windows of Paris
Michael Webb's handsomely illustrated book takes you through 50 unique shops in
Walking the Da Vinci Code
Peter Caine, co-founder of Paris Walks, has written the definitive Parisian
guidebook for fans of Dan Brown's bestselling novel.
Photo copyright © Galina Barskaya.