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Visiting Paris – our Parisian hints & tips

Welcome to Paris !

This page has been specially prepared for visitors who may be in Paris for the first time. We wanted to give you a few ideas of interesting walks that you can do in the City of Lights, and provide some information to make you're your time here is as pleasant as possible.

Don’t forget to visit our Paris News Blog and keep up to date with all the interesting things going on in the city: www.hprg.eu/theblog

Avoid taking taxis during the day, especially in the morning before 11am and between 4 and 8pm; many streets will be blocked with traffic at these times, and you’ll just be sitting still watching the cost on the meter go up and up… The metro system is simple, quick and a lot, lot cheaper.

Here’s a plan of the Paris métro (PDF format).

Les bons tuyaux du petit parisien

Vous voici tout prêt à sortir, bien équipé pour la circonstance. Quelques bons tuyaux pour vous :

  • The cost of taxi journeys: the meter show the cost of your journey and a letter, either A, B or C. If you are within the city limits or on the Périphérique (ring road), rate A applies from 6am – 8pm, and rate B outside these times. If you go outside the city, rate B applies during daytime and rate C at night (starts 8pm). If you are far from Paris, rate C applies at all times. A supplement is due for each item of luggage placed in the boot of the taxi, and also when you start your journey at the airport. Don’t try to hail a taxi in the street if you are less than 100 metres from a mainline train station; taxis are not allowed to pick up passengers near a station, and you must either go to the line for taxis outside the station itself, or move further away from the station.
  • Take the bus! After your first trip, you’ll see how easy it is, and how much of the city you’ll see along the way. Stop names are marked on the route displayed inside the bus, and on the stops themselves. Peak times (9am and 6pm) can be crowded and a little slow though.
  • Restaurants start filling up for lunch from 12.15pm and many remain full until 2.30pm. In the evening, things start around 7.30pm and are generally busy until at least 10pm. If you don’t want to wait for a table, book ahead (ask the reception desk at your hotel). Note that very few restaurants serve food between 2pm and 7pm, except certain brasseries which serve non-stop. Feel free to check out our restaurant reviews on the blog, here.

Paris monuments and sights

The Eiffel Tower

The “Great Lady” of Paris was constructed for the Exposition Universelle of 1889, commemorating the centenary of the Revolution. The Tower is 350 metres high! Admission (lift to 2nd floor): 8.20€ for adults, 6.60€ for young adultas (12 – 24 years old) and 4.10€ for children under 12. Opening hours: The Eiffel Towers is open every day of the year

  • from 9am to midnight between 17th June and 28th August.
  • from 9.30am 11pm the rest of the year
  • closes at midnight during Easter weekend and the Spring holidays.

Notre Dame de Paris

Construction started in 1163 and finished 200 years later, around 1345. The cathedral can hold over 6,000 people. Entrance is free, but if you want to go up one of the towers, it’ll cost you around 6 euros. The architects didn’t think to include a lift, so those with respiratory problems should think twice…

  • Opening hours: 8am – 6.45pm every day of the week (closes 7.15pm Saturdays and Sundays).
  • Guided tours: 9.30am – 6.45pm ever day. Weekday mass at 8am, 9am, midday, 5.45pm and 6.15pm.

The Champs-Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe

Only the section of the Champs Elysées running from the Place de la Concorde to the Grand Palais really deserves the title of “the most beautiful boulevard in the world”. The rest is filled with shops and overpriced restaurants. Try exploring the neighbouring streets. Don’t forget to visit the Arc de Triomphe at the top of the avenue, built in the mid-18th century to commemorate the Napoleonic victories. Admission: 9.5€ for adults, concessions 6 euros. Free for under 12s.

  • Opening hours: 10am – 11pm every day from April to September, and from 10am – 10.30pm from October to March.

Montmartre and Sacré Cœur

In a roman-byzantine style, the basilica can be spotted from many parts of Paris, atop the slopes of Montmartre. Started in 1875, construction was finished in 1914. Entrance is free, but access to the crypt and dome costs around 5 euros. To avoid getting too tired, you can take the sweet funicular to the top of the hill. From Anvers metro station, go to rue Tardieu where the funicular station is. Until the 19th century, Montmartre was just a village outside the fortifications of Paris.

Invalides

Construction of the Invalides hospice was started in 1671 upon the orders of Louis XIV, who wanted it to house destitute soldiers and those seriously wounded by the numerous wars he was waging. The building was quickly finished, but a church was later added. Work took around thirty years in all. You can visit the church, several museums and the tomb of Napoleon I, whose body was brought there from Sainte Hélène in 1830. Admission is 9€/7€ euros, free for under 18s.

  • Open from 10am – 5pm from October to 31st March, 10am – 5pm from April – 30th September.
  • www.invalides.org

Sainte Chapelle

Situates on the Ile de la Cité, within the grounds of the Palais de Justice, this gothic edifice was constructed during the time of Saint Louis, around 1240, to house the relics of the Thorned Crown of Christ and pieces of the Holy Cross. A remarkable construction, the church has incredible, huge stained-glass windows. Admission is around 6 euros.

  • Open from 9.30am – 6pm from 1st March – 31st October,
  • and from 9am – 5pm from 1st November – 28th February.
  • Late night opening Wednesdays between 15th May and 15th September: 9pm.
  • Closes for an hour at 1pm.
  • May also close early any day, or if the temperature is below zero.
  • Call 01 53 40 60 80 to check.

Place des Vosges

Henri IV ordered this famous square to be constructed, but it was only finished in 1612, two years after his assassination by Ravaillac. Initially called “Place Royale”, it was renamed “Place des Vosges” by Napoleon I as homage to the inhabitants of the Vosges area of France for their swift payment of taxes. The square is remarkable for its style (edged by 36 buildings dating from when it was created), little shops and park with a statue of Louis XIII at its centre.

A good walk in Paris

Paris offers a whole host of interesting walks.  You could follow the Seine, the Canal St Martin, or go along the old railway line – now a garden - running east from what the opera house in Bastille (called “la Coulée Verte”). You could also chill out in one the city’s gardens: the Jardin du Luxembourg, the Buttes-Chaumont, Parc Montsouris or Parc Georges Brassens. And don’t forget the Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes on the east and west side of the city, or the Albert Kahn gardens in Boulogne. Unmissable! And if you’re looking for architecture and history, wander through St Germain des Prés and see the St Sulpice church.

The staff of the Hôtel des Grands Hommes Paris hopes to be of service during your stay in Paris.