Known the world over as the City of Love, Paris is the capital and largest city in France. Though it lies in the Ile de France region, which has the lowest rainfall in France, Paris is subject to unexpected rain showers at anytime during the year so it is a good idea to keep an umbrella handy. Summer weather is mild and warm making it the ideal time of year to visit Paris. Winters are quite cold and much of the time the temperature hovers around freezing.
With a metropolitan are population of almost 13 million Paris is one of the leading business and cultural centres not only of Europe but of the world. Paris is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world, almost 45 million every year, and with all that Paris has to offer it’s really no surprise. From Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower, to walking along the banks of the Seine there is no end of things to see and do in Paris. If you approach Paris without preconceptions of what you will find based on movies, TV, and books you will no doubt uncover hidden gems among its meandering boulevards.
For those with architectural interests the Notre Dame de Paris is a French Gothic architectural masterpiece. The interior of the cathedral can hold over 6000 people and is dominated by a 7800-pipe organ. Climbing the 387 steps of the north tower will afford you spectacular views of the Paris skyline. Another well known Paris landmark is the Eiffel Tower. Built in 1889 for the World Fair it was the world’s tallest structure for a time. Three floors of the tower are open to the public and to avoid the long wait for the elevators you may want to try taking the stairs in the south pillar. The Institute of the Arab World is another interesting place to visit. It was established to promote healthy cultural relations between Western and Islamic worlds. Several displays of 9th – 19th century Islamic art are on display as well as tools from astronomy and other scientific fields.
Those who love nature will no doubt enjoy a visit to the Jardin des Plantes, the Paris botanical garden. Founded in 1626 the garden includes tropical greenhouses, a winter garden, an alpine garden, and a school of botany. The Jardin des Tuileries is a World Heritage Site, and was designed by Andre Le Notre, who also designed the garden at the Palace of Versailles. Enjoy a twilight stroll around the paths, ponds, and old-fashioned merry-go-round.
French cuisine, known for its richness and small portions, is abundant in Paris. If money is no object consider a visit to Le Grand Vefour to try the foie gras ravioli in truffle cream sauce along with the finest in French wine. Le Jules Verne offers fine cuisine and a spectacular view from the second platform of the Eiffel Tower.
Consider making plans right now for your family to enjoy all the sights and sounds the “City of Love” has to offer.