- Cityscape Boulevards, boutiques, brasseries
- City life Vie bohème
Paris is a dream project for pedestrians, with endless secrets hidden away from all the wonderful clichés.
From the top of Montmartre to the tip of the Eiffel Tower, in the Louvre or on the Left Bank, Paris is stylish to its bones: not merely cool and chic, but seriously creative. Between its Gothic cathedrals and grand avenues are flashes of futuristic bravura: the Pompidou Centre and L’Institut du Monde Arabe, proving the revolutionary spirit is alive and relevant. It’s the layers of old and new, privilege and punk, that give Paris its ageless verve – the 8ème and 16ème arrondissements are tops for couture-clad swanking; diehard romantics will always have Montmartre (trendier than ever, these days); and Montorgueil is the up-and-coming area to watch.
Do go/Don’t go
Paris shuts down (and relaxes) in August, a national holiday. Go in spring, when the blossom’s out, or autumn, not least for Nuit Blanche, an all-night culturefest.
Planes BMI Baby (www.bmibaby.com) | British Airways (www.ba.com) | Air France (www.airfrance.com) and EasyJet (www.easyjet.com) fly to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport from the UK. Most major French regionals have flights into Paris Orly (www.airfrance.com). A taxi from Charles de Gaulle international airport to the centre costs about €50; buses and trains run regularly into town at a fraction of the cost. RER/TGV trains run from CDG to Gare du Nord every 15 minutes from 5.30am to 10.30pm | and take 35 minutes.
Trains There are six main stations in Paris, all of which are central and link to the fantastic Métro underground system (www.ratp.fr). Eurostar is by far the best way to travel there from London: trains from Kings Cross St Pancras (and mainland Europe) arrive into Gare du Nord. From the Mediterranean coast, TGV services connect via Marseille or Perpignan and, in the west, Biarritz and Bordeaux (www.tgv.com).
Automobiles You’re better off without one. Many hotels charge for parking, and why risk the passion-killing traffic? Determined drivers need to steel themselves for the infamous périphérique ring road.
- Taxis Can be hailed in the street if you’re more than 100 metres from a rank (these are all over Paris and have phones if no taxi is waiting).