Paris, the cosmopolitan capital of France, is one of Europe's largest cities, with 2.2 million people living in the dense, central city and almost 12 million people living in the whole metropolitan area. Located in the north of France on the river Seine, Paris has the well-deserved reputation of being the most beautiful and romantic of all cities, brimming with historic associations and remaining vastly influential in the realms of culture, art, fashion, food, and design. Dubbed the City of Light (la Ville Lumière) and Capital of Fashion, it is home to the world's finest and most luxurious fashion designers and cosmetics, such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint-Laurent, Guerlain, Lancôme, L'Oréal, Clarins, etc. A large part of the city, including the River Seine, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city has the second-highest number of Michelin restaurants in the world (after Tokyo) and contains numerous iconic landmarks, such as the world's most visited tourist site the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum, Moulin Rouge, and Lido, making it the most popular tourist destination in the world with 45 million tourists annually.
The city of Paris itself is officially divided into 20 districts called arrondissements, numbered from 1 to 20 in a clockwise spiral from the center of the city (which is known as Kilometre Zero and is located at the front of Notre Dame). Arrondissements are named according to their number. You might, for example, stay in the "5th", which would be written as 5e in French. The 12th and 16th arrondissements include large suburban parks, the Bois de Vincennes, and the Bois de Boulogne respectively.
You can print your own using our maps. The various tourist information centers and hotels in Polo Paris also provide various city and metro maps for free: they have all the necessary details for a tourist.
Each arrondissement has its own unique character and selection of attractions for the traveler:
Beyond central Paris, the outlying suburbs are called Les Banlieues. Schematically, those on the west of Paris (Neuilly-sur-Seine, Boulogne-Billancourt, Saint Cloud, Levallois) are wealthy residential communities. Those to the northeast are poorer communities, often populated by immigrants.
The 105 km² area of the central city is densely packed with more than 2 million inhabitants and parking is tough.
Paris started life as the Celto-Roman settlement of Lutetia on the Île de la Cité, the island in the Seine currently occupied by the Cathédrale Notre-Dame. It takes its present name from the name of the dominant Gallo-Celtic tribe in the region, the Parisii. At least that's what the Romans called them when they showed up in 52 BCE and established their city Lutetia on the left bank of the Seine, in what is now called the "Latin Quarter" in the 5th arrondissement.
The Romans held out here for as long as anywhere else in the Western Empire, but by 508 CE they were gone, replaced by Clovis of the Franks, who is considered by the French to have been their first king. Clovis' descendants, aka the Carolingians, held onto the expanded Lutetian state for nearly 500 years through Viking raids and other calamities, which finally resulted in a forced move by most of the population back to the islands which had been the center of the original Celtic village. The Capetian Duke of Paris was voted to succeed the last of the Carolingians as King of France, ensuring the city a premier position in the medieval world. Over the next several centuries Paris expanded onto the right bank into what was and is still called le Marais (The Marsh). Quite a few buildings from this time can be seen in the 4th arrondissement.
The medieval period also witnessed the founding of the Sorbonne. As the "University of Paris", it became one of the most important centers for learning in Europe -- if not the whole world, for several hundred years. Most of the institutions that still constitute the University are found in the 5th, and 13th arrondissements.
In the late 18th century, there was a period of political and social upheaval in France and Europe, during which the French governmental structure, previously a monarchy with feudal privileges for the aristocracy and Catholic clergy, underwent a radical change to forms based on Enlightenment principles of nationalism, citizenship, and inalienable rights. Notable events during and following the revolution were the storming of the Bastille 4th arrondissements, and the rise and fall of Napoleonic France. Out of the violent turmoil that was the French Revolution, sparked by the still known Passion des Français, emerged enlightened modern-day France.
The Paris of today was built long after the Capetian and later the Bourbon Kings of France made their mark on Paris with the Louvre and the Palais Royal, both in the 1st. In the 19th century, Baron von Hausmann set about reconstructing the city, by adding the long straight avenues and replacing many of the then existing medieval houses, with grander and more uniform buildings.
New wonders arrived during La Belle Époque, as the Parisian golden age of the late 19th century is known. Gustave Eiffel's famous tower, the first metro lines, most of the parks, and the streetlights (which are partly believed to have given the city its epithet "the city of light") all come from this period. Another source of the epithet comes from Ville Lumière, a reference not only to the revolutionary electrical lighting system implemented in the streets of Paris but also to the prominence and aura of Enlightenment the city gained in that era.
The twentieth century was hard on Paris, but thankfully not as hard as it could have been. Hitler's order to burn the city was thankfully ignored by the German General von Choltitz who was quite possibly convinced by a Swedish diplomat that it would be better to surrender and be remembered as the savior of Paris than to be remembered as its destroyer. Following the war, the city recovered quickly at first, but slowed in the 1970s and 1980s when Paris began to experience some of the problems faced by big cities everywhere: pollution, housing shortages, and occasionally failed experiments in urban renewal.
During this time, however, Paris enjoyed considerable growth as a multi-cultural city, with new immigrants from all corners of the world, especially La Francophonie, including most of northern and western Africa as well as Vietnam and Laos. These immigrants brought their foods and music, both of which are of prime interest to many travelers.
Immigration and multi-culturalism continue in the 21st century with a marked increase in the arrival of people from Latin America, especially Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil. In the late 1990s, it was hard to find good Mexican food in Paris, whereas today there are dozens of possibilities from lowly taquerias in the outer arrondissements to nice sit-down restaurants on the boulevards. Meanwhile, Latin music from salsa to samba is all the rage (well, alongside Paris lounge electronica).
The 21st century has also seen vast improvements in the general liveability of Paris, with the Mayor's office concentrating on reducing pollution and improving facilities for soft forms of transportation including a huge network of cycle paths, larger pedestrian districts, and newer faster metro lines. Visitors who normally arrive car-less are the beneficiaries of these policies as much as the Parisians themselves are.
Being located in Western Europe, Paris has a maritime climate with cool winters and warm summers. The moderating effect of the Atlantic Ocean helps to temper temperature extremes in much of western Europe, including France. Even in January, the coldest month, temperatures nearly always exceed the freezing point with an average high of 7°C (45°F). Snow is not common in Paris, although it will fall a few times a year. Most of Paris' precipitation comes in the form of light rain year-round.
Summers in Paris are warm and humid, with an average high of 25°C (77°F) during the mid-summer months. Occasional heat waves can push temperatures above 35°C (95°F).
Spring and fall are normally cool and wet. Spring in Paris is largely unstable, with temperatures ranging from pleasant to quite cold. Short snowfalls can even occur in March. There's even a saying "En avril, ne te decouvre pas d'un fil," which means, "In April, don't take off even a thread." It can still be chilly, with unpredictable gusts and showers. By May, a true thaw is underway, to the delight of all. Still, it can be an extraordinarily rainy month.
What to Pack: March brings a slight thaw, but not enough to go sleeveless. You'll still need plenty of warm sweaters, plus waterproof shoes and a jacket. Pack layers, and make sure to keep those waterproof clothes and shoes on hand.
Average Temperatures by Month
Paris is served by three international airports - for more information, including arrival/departure times, check the official sites.
IATA: CDG. The major hub airport to the northeast of the city. It's notoriously confusing, so allow plenty of time for transfers. There are three terminals:Terminal 1, Terminal 2 (which is huge and subdivided into 2A through 2G), and Terminal 3 (formerly T9). The newest exception is terminal 2G which is a separate building and is only reachable via navette/bus in 10-15min (bus leaves every 20min) so allow extra time. The free CDGVAL shuttle train connects the terminals together.
When you arrive at CDG, you should note what terminal you arrived at (2A, 2D, etc.), because when you come back to the airport to depart at the end of your trip, the RER subway train makes two stops at CDG to cover the three terminals, but there are few indications of which airlines are at which terminals. Have a close look at your air ticket to figure out which terminal you are departing from. Air France and associates leave from Terminal 2. The RER B has the airlines serviced by each terminal on a not so obvious chart posted by the door of the train.
Say that again, please?The RER B station named "Aeroport Charles de Gaulle 1" is a misnomer - it actually serves Terminal 3, not Terminal 1. However, the CDGVAL train (free of charge) links Terminals 1, 2, and 3.
There are quite a few points with power outlets specifically for charging passengers' laptops/mobiles, both down by the food court and by some of the gates.
VAT Tax refund: First, have your tax refund papers stamped at the tax refund counter in the main terminal area, before you check in with your airline. Although displaying purchase is officially mandatory, it's usually only required for high-priced items.
To locate the tax refund counter in the terminal, look for the signs or ask any airline employee for directions. Don't be confused by a single queue splitting between currency exchange and tax refund office: choose tax refund if you prefer euros--while currency exchange refunds only in USD or your national currency, both buy at a robbery rate (and with no rollback to the refund window after you realize the rate).
The line can take a long time, except several minutes per customer. At either office, you can also receive a refund for your spouse if you have their passport and refund forms.
Duty-free shopping: There are no shops before the security check zone. When you shop in the post-security check zone, it's not genuinely tax-free, as you can receive a tax refund for those purchases as well.
Contrary to what one may expect, there is no L'Occitane; cheese is limited to soft sorts (and there are no ripe varieties); wines start at €11 and some popular sorts like Chinon can't be found; the sausage selection is extremely limited.
There are no mid-range clothes or shoe stores, only luxury brands.
For getting to or from Paris, the RER commuter train, line B, has stations in T3 (from where you can take the free CDGVAL shuttle train to T1) and T2. Trains to Paris leave every 7-8 minutes and stop at Gare du Nord, Châtelet-Les Halles, Saint-Michel Notre-Dame, Luxembourg, Port-Royal, Denfert-Rochereau and Cité Universitaire. Adult tickets cost €11.45 (May 2023), and for children between 4-9, the fare is €8 each. The train takes around 35 minutes to Gare du Nord and 45min to Denfert-Rochereau, making this the fastest way to get to the city. Tickets can be purchased either through green (sometimes blue) automated ticket vending machines ("Billetterie Ile-de-France") or through the ticket office serviced by transport authority personnel. Engineering works near CDG Terminal-1 and Aulnay-Sois-Bois stations are conducted between 11pm and midnight every day, so you must take a coach (bus) from Terminal 3 to the station where you can take the RER B train to Paris. The fare is included in the train ticket you purchase.
If you have a long layover in CDG and want to see the city, it's recommended to purchase a daily pass for €28.50 (May 2023). This will allow you to ride to and from CDG on the RER, as well as unlimited usage of public transportation in Paris. If you are using the machines to purchase the ticket, keep on scrolling down on the screen until you see an option called "Paris Visite" which costs €28.50, and purchase it. This cost equals rides to and from the airport + two metro rides, so if you're planning on using the metro more than twice that day it's totally worth it. The ticket you'll receive is exceptionally small in size, so make sure to keep it in a safe place as it's easy to lose.
Trains for Paris usually leave from platforms 11 and 12. Look for signs saying "RER B" or "All trains go to Paris". When using the ticket from and to the airport (as with tickets for the RER commuter trains in general) you have to use it to enter and to exit the train. Always keep the ticket handy as the SNCF officials sometimes check for tickets, and if you are without one you may be fined €40. This means that after you put the ticket into the entry gate and are cleared to pass, you must retrieve the ticket from the machine and keep it with you until you leave the train system including any connections.
Gangs target travelers with pick-pocketing especially when the train heads southwards towards Gare du Nord. They also operate forceful snatch-and-run operations. During non-peak hours, RER B runs alternate non-stop train service towards the central of Paris that bypasses all such stations. Be aware and take these trains as they cost the same fare as those train that stops on all stations, as these stations are the ones that are considered to be notorious. Even if you are taking the "express RER B" be careful when it stops at Gare du Nord (see below for train connections).
A safer (but more expensive by a few euros) is to take the alternative public transport run by the same company, the Roissybus, that takes you from CDG Airport directly to the city center (Paris Opera House). If you are getting a Navigo Weekly card this may be worthwhile.}}
There is also a TGV station in T2 for high-speed connections, mostly towards Lille and Brussels, but there are also some trains that head west to eg. Rennes and Nantes, bypassing Paris.
Taxis to and from Charles de Gaulle Airport are charged at a flat fare regardless of traffic conditions or time of day; the fares are set at 53€ to the right bank (north of the Seine) and 58€ to the left bank (south of the Seine)
Uber are also common (and active as of Dec 2019), and operate for slightly less if you take UberPool.
Allow extra time due to distance and congestions are to be expected.
Alternatively, the Roissybus service (13.70 €, ignore the prices in the English site, the have yet to be updated) connects all terminals directly to Opéra Garnier in central Paris, but it's subject to traffic jams and rush hour, so it averages 60-90 minutes even on a good day. 350 and 351 now require only one t+ ticket per passenger (1.90 €) and is the cheapest way to reach Paris dispite a longer journey time. The tickets can be purchased at newspaper stands, at ticket machines, or from the driver for a higher price and they need to be validated with a device next to the driver's seat. Night bus services are available on Noctilien lines N140 (1-4am on the hour, 1½ hours) and N143 (midnight-5am on the half-hour, 55 minutes) to/from Gare de l'Est for two t+ tickets, which can be purchased from the driver.
Be careful when using buses to get to CDG. There are frequent traffic jams on the motorways leading to the airport - the Air France bus normally may need 50 minutes to get to CDG, but it may take 1½ hours as well. Your best bet for arriving on time with the buses is to take them very early in the morning or during other times when there isn't much traffic.
Non-shared (limo service) transfers are also available and can be booked on-line:
Do not get into a taxi which is not clearly marked "taxi," or (when at the airport) is picking up other than at the designated Taxi stands. You may be approached by touts at the baggage claim exit; ignore them and follow the signs to the official queue. Taxi services between CDG and Paris should not exceed the €55 flat fare (plus any reservation fee); scammers will try to charge you €225 or more.
A post office only exists in B and D terminals. However, you can send postcards buying post stamps in a newspaper stand, and dropping them into a postbox (both exist in every terminal).
IATA: ORY. This airport is southwest of the city, and served by a southern branch of the RER-B line that heads in the direction of Saint-Rémy-les-Chevreuse (not Robinson). This older international airport is used mainly by Air France for domestic departures, and international departures by European carriers.
Orly is roughly 30 min from Paris via the OrlyBus, which departs from Métro Denfert-Rochereau (ligne 4, 6); the price is €9.50. There are buses every 10 minutes from the Orly Sud (Platform 4) and it stops at Orly Ouest on its way to the city. Tickets can be bought at a counter near the baggage claim area or directly at the counter in Platform 4. The tickets need to be validated once on the bus.
The Orlyval light rail connects the two terminals to each other and to the RER B line at Antony. It runs every 4-7min and cost €12.20 for transfer to Paris, including connections to central area metro stations. The RER B from Antony runs through Paris to Aéroport Charles de Gaulle.
As with Charles de Gaulle, taxis between Paris and Orly Airport are a flat fare: €32 for the left bank (south of the Seine) and €37 for the right bank (north of the Seine).
IATA: BVA. This airport, a distance north of the city, is a smaller regional airport that is used by some low-cost carriers such as Ryanair and WizzAir. Like many small airports, there is a cartel in operation in the form of the airport-operated shuttle service connecting with the Métro at Porte Maillot station. Buses run even during the small hours of the morning (06:00). Buses leave 20min after each flight arrives, and a few hours before each flight departs. The exact times can be found on the Beauvais Airport website. The journey will take about an hour in good traffic conditions, and costs €17 (or €15,90 if bought online in advance) each way, there is no reduced price for children over the age of 2 years. Alternatively, you can search for a trip on BlaBlaCar.fr, it's usually €6-8.50 and they are pretty abundant.
In addition to public transport, Air France operates shuttles (Les Cars Air France) between Charles de Gaulle and Paris (€17), Orly and Paris (€12) and between the two airports (€20). Discounts apply for young/group travelers and online booking. Note that if you have connecting Air France flights that land and depart from different airports, you would still generally need to collect your luggage after landing, catch either the Air France shuttle or a taxi (readily available at all airports) to the other airport, and check-in again. This altogether could take up to 2 hours particularly if traffic is at its worst. It is also common to lose time during disembarking, as passengers often need to get off at the tarmac and get on buses which will bring them to the terminal building. Be sure to have sufficient time between flights to catch your connection. Note that check-in desks usually close 30min before the flight departs, longer if flights are international carriers.You can buy Les Cars Air France tickets online (note: don't worry about barcodes not showing up on your tickets, although the website mentions them - the driver didn't care - 2014), on the bus, or at the automated machines in their waiting area at CDG. There is a designated, well-labeled stopping spot for each shuttle line, so make sure you're in the right place. Someone will take your luggage, ask you where you're going, and put it in the appropriate compartment. Then, at the destination, a porter will take out all the luggage destined for that stop.
If you want to take RER B and catch an early flight, make sure you bring enough change, because you can only buy tickets at the coins-only machines before the counter opens.
If you arrive to CDG Airport at night you'll need a Noctilien bus to get to the city center. The bus stops in all three terminals (in terminal 2F it will be the second level in the departure section - it is very difficult to find, but it really exists). The bus leaves every 30min after 12:30 (see timetable). The buses you'll need are N121 and N120; the price is €7.
Located just 7 miles (11 km) northeast of the city center, Paris Le Bourget Airport IATA: LBG is a 24-hour airport dedicated exclusively to private aviation and business jet operations, as well as military and government flights. The busiest executive airport in Europe since 2007, there are 7 private terminals for fast and discrete travel, and companies like Air Charter Advisors  and Priority Jet  offer access to a variety of aircraft at Le Bourget and around the world for charter, ranging from economical single and twin-engine props to luxury Gulfstreams and business jets.
Paris is well connected to the rest of Europe by train. There is no central station serving Paris and the six different stations are not connected to each other. You will probably want to know in advance at which station your train is arriving, so as to better choose a hotel and plan for transport within the city. In clockwise order, they are
In your tickets, the prefix Gare de/du/d' may be replaced with Paris- to prevent confusion. So Paris Nord in regional and international tickets means Gare du Nord in Parisian local terms. A possible exception to this is Paris Gare de Lyon which is named in full because, well, Lyon is another city in France where the train goes to, eh?
Lately, snatch thieves and pickpockets are known to operate around that area since a majority of international trains terminates at that station there and also connect to the poor and notorious regions (as described above in RER B). Do not act as if you are a tourist. If offered in Eurostar or Thalys, buy the t+ tickets at their cafe counters to first place your bags in your hostel/hotel. Even though it is more expensive (they charge a small convenience fee), it is much more worth it than to risk having your valuables snatched away while queuing up for the tickets. You have been warned.
All SNCF, Eurostar, and Thalys tickets can be bought in railway stations, city offices, and travel agencies (the latter with convenience fees). The SNCF website allows you to book and buy tickets up to two months in advance. There are significant discounts if you book weeks ahead. Reduced ticket prices are different for each day and each train and can be used only on the train the reservation is for. Surprisingly, round-trip tickets (aller-retour) with a stay over Saturday night can be cheaper than a single one-way ticket (aller simple).
There are a number of different kinds of high speed and regular trains:
For all train stations, either take the free shuttle to Gare de Lyon or Metro line 14 to the same and follow the directions given from Gare de Lyon.
OUIBUS, part of the French transport network, now offers bus service to London, UK, with service to/fro Victoria terminal.
Several autoroutes (express/motorways) link Paris with the rest of France: A1 and A3 to the north, A5 and A6 to the south, A4 to the east, and A13 and A10 to the west. Not surprisingly, traffic jams are significantly worse during the French school holidays.
The multi-lane highway around Paris, called the Périphérique (BP), is probably preferable to driving through the center. Another ring road nearing completion; L'A86 (also A186 and A286) loops around Paris about 10km further out from the Périphérique. A third, incomplete ring road is much further out and called La Francilienne (N104).
It's advisable not to drive in the Paris Metro Area. It's better to drive to a suburban train station with a parking lot and then use the train to continue your trip throughout Paris. Most of Paris' roads were created long before the invention of cars. Traffic inside the city tends to be heavy, especially at rush hour; driving, however, may be rather easy and efficient in the evening. Parking is also difficult. Furthermore, the medieval nature of parts of the city's street system makes it very confusing, and traffic will almost never allow one to stop or slow down to get one's bearings. If you are unfamiliar with the streets and still insist on driving in the city, make sure you have a navigator in the passenger seat with you. Paris is currently investing in the systemic removal of existing parking spaces to encourage people to use its available and vast public transportation system.
The best and cheapest way to get around Paris is on foot, and secondly, using the Métro.
Walking in Paris is one of the great pleasures of visiting the City of Light. It is possible to cross the entire city in only a few hours (only if you can somehow keep yourself from stopping at numerous cafés and shops).
Paris walking 101To get a great orientation of the city on foot while seeing many of Paris' major sights, you can do a West to East walk from the Arc de Triomphe to Ile de la Cite (Notre Dame). This walk takes about 1-2 hours without any stops. Start at the top of the Champs Elysees (at the Arc de Triomphe) and begin walking down the Champs Elysees towards Place ('square') de la Concorde.
Another interesting walk in the city lets you discover the top sights of Montmartre in a few hours. This includes the Sacré-Coeur, Place du Tertre, the Bateau Lavoir, the Moulin de la Galette and all the sights that made Montmartre world famous. The smartest travelers take advantage of the walkability of this city and stay above ground as much as possible. A metro ride of fewer than 2 stops is best avoided since walking will take about the same amount of time and you'll be able to see more of the city. That said, pay attention to the Métro stations that you may pass by on your journey; the Métro network is very dense within the city and the lines are virtually always located directly underneath major boulevards, so if you become lost it is easy to regain your bearings by walking along a major boulevard until you find a Métro station.
Despite fines as high as €180 and extensive street cleaning operations, dog droppings persist across the city, so walk with caution.
It's always fun to experience the city by foot, and there are numerous walking tours around Paris, whether self-guided (with the help of a guidebook or online guide) or with a touring guide (booked through your travel agency or hotel). The city is best explored on foot, and some of the most marvelous memories you will have of Paris is walking through secret found places.The nice thing about Paris is that (at least inside the Boulevard Peripherique) there are no unattractive areas (like ugly housing or industrial sections) to cross while going from one interesting district to another.
Keep your ticket or pass with you at all times as you may be checked. Strangely, there's no sign, audio, or message written on the tickets or stations to inform you that it's obligatory to keep the ticket until you go out of the metro. You will be cited and forced to pay on the spot (between 35-50 euros, depending on the officer, they accept credit cards and usually won't speak English) if you do not have a ticket. The most likely spots for being checked are just behind the turnstiles at big Métro stations or during Métro line changes. RATP agents may be present in the Métro stations even on Sunday nights.
Visitors with heavy luggage or handicap should find out in advance about the facilities at each station to be used. (Specific online information about elevators and escalators is hard to find. You may have asked at ticket counters at major stations, perhaps tourist information kiosks.) Getting to boarding platforms from street level, or going between platforms to change lines can be difficult even at major intersecting stations at most times, and everywhere during rush hours. It usually involves walking up and down multiple flights of busy stairs. Elevators are seldom seen, many aren't working, and in major outlying stations, any escalator will likely support only exiting to the street level. If you have any lingering concerns about station facilities, check bus routes and timings to find a convenient bus service instead; failing that, use a taxi.
If you ask the locals about directions, they will answer something like: take line number n toward "end station 1", change at "station", take the line nn toward "end station 2" etc.
The Métro and RER move staggering numbers of people into, out of, and around Paris (6.75 million people per day on average), and most of the time in reasonable comfort. Certain lines, however, are operating at or near capacity, sometimes being so full that you'll have to let one or two trains pass before being able to board. If you can help it, avoid Métro lines 1, 4, 9, & 13 and RER lines A & B during rush hours as these are the most congested lines in the system.
You can look up what these codes mean on information panels in the station, but the easiest and fastest way is often to check the information screens along with the platforms.
Ile-de-France Mobilités is the transport authority for Paris and its region. It regulates prices and publishes tickets. It coordinates the operation of RATP (Paris métro, buses, and part of the RER), SNCF Transilien, and various other affiliated bus companies.
All transport companies in Ile-France (and thus Paris) use the same ticketing system available at the rail, metro stations, and RATP boutiques.
As both RATP and SNCF use the same tickets, the only advantage is knowing who the operator is in case of strikes (RATP may strike without SNCF doing so or the other way round). Current fares can be found on their websites. Basically, as you move farther from Paris (into higher zones), tickets get more expensive.
Ile-de-France's public transport network is organized around zones. The standard Paris ticket (€1.90 if one ticket is bought) covers zones 1 & 2 for RER and all zones for métro (métro only). If you wish to visit La Défense, you may use a standard ticket (Ticket T+) to use on the métro or purchase a single ticket or use a zones 1 to 3 pass.
The paper tickets that you receive from RATP Ticket Machines are very prone to be wiped or corrupted by mobile phones or other devices so be very careful. If your ticket doesn't work then the ticket office may change them for you!
Starting June 2019 Ticket T+ will be phased out and replaced by a contactless cardboard ticket, similar to that used in Amsterdam, called Navigo Easy that can be charged with tickets. The price of tickets will remain unchanged (€1.90 single or €1.49 if bought in multiples of ten). These tickets are designed for tourists.
Métro stations have both ticket windows and automatic vending machines. The majority of machines do not take notes, only coins or European credit cards with a pin-encoded chip on the front. Therefore, to use either euro bills or a non-European credit card with a magnetic stripe, it is necessary to make the purchase from the ticket window. Be advised that some ticket vending machines do not give change, so use exact change or go to the ticket window. If you look at the vending machines closely, you may find one in the group that takes euro bills and will give change; these machines can be found at major or touristy stations such as Tuileries, Gare de Lyon, or La Défense-Grande Arche.
Some larger stations have secondary entrances, where there is no ticket booth. These are labeled voyageurs avec billets (passengers with tickets (only)).
Be aware of ticket touts who used to stay near single vending machines, which have much higher rates for tickets, eg. €7 for a single ride ticket!
For the Metro, a single ticket (ticket t+) costs €1.90. A pack of 10 tickets (carnet) can be purchased for €16.90 at any station. Tickets named tarif réduit may be purchased for children under the age of 10 but only in a carnet of 10 for €7.45. (Prices from 16 June 2018) Both tickets are valid for unlimited Metro/RER for 2 hours (without leaving the system) or Bus/Tram transfers for 90 minutes. RER + Métro and Bus + Tram are two separate systems, but they use the same tickets. This means you have to use a new ticket if you transfer from Bus to Metro or vise versa. Once purchased, tickets do not expire.
Single tickets can also be purchased on board buses, costing €2.00 and only valid for one trip without transfers.
Remember to consider the price for all members of your group/family, including children, which days you are traveling on, and in which zones you will be traveling.
Note that carnets are not bound to an individual and the tickets may be given by others.
Although not as good a deal for adults in most cases as the Mobilis or Navigo, there are also 1-,2-,3- and 5-day tourist passes, called Paris Visite, available, which are a bargain for kids of ages 4-11, starting at €6.00 per day for travel within zones 1-3. Adult tickets start at €12.00. However, unlike the Navigo tickets, these are valid from the moment of purchase and not bound to a fixed day of the week. They may be usefully combined with weekly passes when you arrive, say, on Saturday.
A one-day ticket, a weekly pass and a monthly pass are also available. The price varies according to the zones for which the ticket can be used.
The cheapest 1-day ticket called Mobilis, is valid for zones 1-2, with a price of €7.50. Once bought, it is necessary to write in the spaces provided on the ticket the date the ticket is being used in European notation of day/month/year (valable le), the last name (nom), and the first name (prénom).
Note 1: The Mobilis pass is only valid between 12:00am and 11:59pm on a given calendar day. For example, if you purchase a Mobilis ticket at midday, it is only valid to 11:59pm on the same day. The Mobilis pass is worth 5 tickets from a carnet, or 4 single tickets, therefore can be a good value pass for frequent travelers.
Note 2: The Mobilis ticket is not valid for use for travel to/from Charles de Gaulle Airport.
For travelers under the age of 26, there is a special ticket (Jeunes 26) that you can purchase for use on the weekends or holidays. The price varies depending on the number of zones you wish to cover (Zones 1-3 is €3.85 and Zones 1-5 is €8.35; there are other zone combinations available as well) and the ticket is good for one day of unlimited usage of the metro, RER, bus, and trams.
If you are staying a bit longer, consider the regular weekly or monthly Navigo passes starting at €22.80 for 1-5 zones Navigo Semaine and €75,20 for 1-5 zones Navigo Mois.The Navigo pass is non-transferrable and requires the user to provide information on the pass after the sale. The pass is sold for a €5 fee. It requires your last name (nom), your first name (prénom), and a small photo. Large stations will have nearby photo booths where you can take your photo for an additional €5. After the initial pass expires, you have to refill your pass with a recharge hébdomadaire (one-week refill), or a recharge mensuelle (one-month refill). You have to choose at least two of the contiguous "zones": Paris is the first zone, La Défense is in the third zone, and Versailles in the fourth. Everything related to a "Navigo" pass is in purple (like the target for the pass in the turnstiles).It might look like a lot of money, but the monthly all-zones pass might be economical even for a two week-stay because it covers airport access.
Avoid suburban chargesIf you have any tickets or Navigo passes for zone 1-2 (inside the Paris area, the lower rate) and want to go to La Défense from Châtelet, you have to take the Métro (Line 1). You can take the RER A (and save a few minutes), but you have to pay an additional fare because even though you arrive at the same station, the RER exit is supposed to be outside of Paris! On the other hand, Métro fares are the same, even in the suburbs. So be careful as there are usually a lot of ticket examiners present when you get off the RER A.
Renting a bike is a very good alternative over driving or using public transport and an excellent way to see the sights. Riding a bike anywhere in the city is far safer for the moderately experienced cyclists than most towns or cities in other countries. The French are very cognisant of cyclists, almost to a point of reverence. A few years ago Paris wasn't the easiest place to get around by bike but that has changed dramatically in recent years. The city government has taken a number of steps in strong support of improving the safety and efficiency of the urban cyclist as well as establishing some separated bike lanes but, even more importantly, instituted a policy of allowing cyclists to share the ample bus lanes on most major boulevards. Paris also has many riversides which are perfect for cycling. The Paris bike network now counts over 150km of either unique or shared lanes for the cyclist. In addition, the narrower, medieval side streets of the central arrondissements make for rather scenic and leisurely cycling, especially during off-peak hours of the day when traffic is lighter. Do remember to bring a good map, since there is no grid plan to speak of and almost all of the smaller streets are one-way.
There are a few different bike rental programs in Paris:
You can find here a map for a 12km route along the Seine using velibs.
While the streets of Paris are generally fairly easy on novice cyclists, there are some streets in the city that should be avoided by those who do not have experience cycling in traffic and the proper mentality for dealing with it. In particular, 'Rue de Rivoli,' 'Boulevard de Sébastopol/Strasbourg,' 'Boulevard Saint-Germain,' 'Avenue de Flandre,' and most of the Quais that run along the river are especially bad during rush hours but are at least somewhat busy at all times. While most of these do have cycle lanes, "sharrows," or other such accommodations, the sheer volume of traffic means that it may be a better idea to take an alternate route through the side streets. Traffic will also be particularly thick on the peripheral 'Boulevards des Maréchaux' (not the Boulevard Périphérique, which lies to the outside; more on this anon), and on main roads that lead to a 'Porte' at the edge of the city (eg: 'Boulevard de la Chapelle' and 'Avenue de la Grande-Armée'). If you find yourself on one of these routes, stick to the bike lanes whenever possible.
There is also a great deal of congestion around the main train stations, particularly around Gare du Nord/Gare de l'Est on the 10th, Gare de Lyon on the 12th, and Gare Montparnasse in the 14th. Bus and taxi traffic will be particularly thick in these areas and certain streets may be reserved just for them, so stay alert.
There are a few portions of the city that you probably should not cycle unless you are very confident in your abilities to ride in an urban environment. The 'Avenue des Champs-Elysés' and the 'Boulevard Magenta/Boulevard Barbès' axes can be especially hairy, though the latter more because of some inopportunely-placed interruptions in the bike lanes and other non-vehicular obstacles. The area around 'Place de la Bataille de Stalingrad' is well-provisioned with bike lanes, but they are somewhat haphazardly laid out and traffic is very heavy.
Also, the city has a number of large roundabouts which, while quite logical once you've got the idea of priorité à droite, are not at all a good idea for the timid or inexperienced. 'Place de l'Etoile' is the most well-known of these, but also be wary around 'Place de la Nation,' 'Place de la Bastille,' and 'Place d'Italie.' If possible, look for an alternate route - in particular, Place de l'Etoile and Place de la Nation have ring roads running around the outside which make for a good bypass route.
Finally, there are a few roads in Paris which are entirely forbidden to cyclists, in particular the 'Voie Georges Pompidou' (the high-speed express lanes running along the Seine), the tunnels underneath Les Halles, the Boulevard Périphérique beltway, and certain other ramps, tunnels, and underpasses. These will all be marked with a sign showing a bicycle on a white background, surrounded by a red circle.
You can find an excellent map of the bike network called Plan des Itinéraires cyclables at the information center in the Hôtel de Ville.
Since the Métro is primarily structured around a hub-and-spoke model, there are some journeys for which it can be quite inefficient, and in these cases, it is worth seeing if a direct bus route exists, despite the complexity of the bus network. A bus ride is also interesting if you want to see more of the city. The Parisian bus system is quite tourist-friendly. It uses the same single-ride Ticket t+ and Navigo fare system as the Métro, and electronic displays inside each bus tell riders its current position and what stops remain, eliminating a lot of confusion.
These same payment devices are also valid in the Noctilien, the night bus. Noctilien route numbers are prefaced with an N on the bus stop signage. Night buses run regularly through the central hub at Chatelet and from the mainline train stations to outlying areas of greater Paris. There is also a circle line connecting the main train stations. It pays to know your Noctilien route ahead of time in case you miss the last Métro home. Women travelers should probably avoid taking the Noctilien on their own to destinations outside Paris.
When boarding the bus, you'll have to validate your ticket. If you have a Navigo pass, simply hold it up to one of the purple scanners (usually on a pole near the door) and wait for the tone and the green light. If you're using a single-ride ticket, look for the ticket validating machine, a roughly shoebox-sized device with a few lights on top and a slit for the ticket at the bottom. Insert your ticket in the slot, and wait for it to stamp it and spit it back out. Check for the time stamp, in case the printer is out of ink. As on the Métro, your ticket is proof of payment, so hold on to it until you arrive at your destination lest the transit police fine you for not paying your fare. All-day tickets only need to be validated once. If you don't have any tickets (and there's not a Métro station or Tabac nearby that sells them), you can buy a "ticket de dépannage" directly from the driver; these cost €2 and must be validated immediately.
Be aware that you cannot transfer between the Métro and the Bus with a single-ride Ticket t+. However, you can transfer from bus to bus, or between the bus and the tram, within 90 minutes of validating the ticket. The "ticket de dépannage" sold on the bus does not let you make a transfer to another line.
Unlike the RER, you do not need special tickets to take the bus outside of the city (for example, line 350 to CDG airport), but you may need to validate several tickets rather than just one (for example, you'll need three t+ tickets to travel between the city and the airport).
Another option for travelers who want to see the sights of Paris without a stop on every street corner is the Paris L'Opentour Bus, an open-topped double-decker bus that supplies headsets with the most up to date information on the attractions in Paris. Your ticket is good for four routes ranging in time from 1-2h. Get off when you want, stay as long as you need, get back on the bus, and head for another site. You can purchase tickets at the bus stop. A one-day pass is €31 for adults and €16 for children. A two-day pass is €36 for adults or €19 for children.
Taxis are cheaper at night when there are no traffic jams to be expected. There are not as many taxi cabs as one would expect, and sometimes finding a taxi can be challenging. In the daytime, it is not always a good idea to take a taxi, as walking or taking the metro (See: Métro) will be cheaper and, depending on traffic, faster. If you know you will need one to get to the airport, or to a meeting, it is wise to book ahead by phone (see below).
Remember if a taxi is near a taxi stand, they're not supposed to pick you up except at the stand where there may be other people in line ahead of you. Taxi stands are usually near train stations, big hotels, hospitals, major intersections, and other points of interest, and are marked with a blue and white "TAXI" sign.
Some taxi driver does not accept payment card, they expect cash. Ask before you ride if he/she accepts payment by card.
To stop a taxi... watch the sign on the roof: if the white sign is lit, the taxi is on duty and available, if the white sign is off and colored light is lit under it (blue, orange), it's on duty and busy, if the white sign is off and no colored light is on, the taxi is off duty. Same thing with the colored signs (the two systems exist in Paris, but it tells nothing about the company): if the wide sign is green, the cab is available, if it is red, the taxi is busy if it is off, the taxi is off
There are a number of services by which you can call for taxis or make a reservation in advance. The two largest are Taxis G7 and Taxis Bleus:
Taxis net Paris, ☎ +33 6 24 14 15 69, [x]. edit
As in many other cities, a taxi can be difficult to stop; you may have to try several times. When you do get a taxi to stop, the driver will usually roll down his window to ask you where you want to go. If the driver can't (or doesn't want to) go where you want, he might tell you that he's near the end of his workday and can't possibly get you where you want before he has to go off-duty.
There is a €6.50 minimum on all taxi journeys mandated by city law, but the meter does not show this amount, which can result in being asked to pay more than the metered amount on short rides. Frequently the taxi driver will not want to drive you all the way to the doorstep but will prefer to let you out a block or so away if there are one or more one-way streets to contend with. Try to look at this as a cost-savings rather than an inconvenience. You should pay while still seated in the cab as in New York and not through the front window London style.
The driver will not let you sit in the front seat (unless there are 3 or 4 of you, which is a rare case usually expedited by more money). Taxi drivers come in all types, some nice, some rude, some wanting to chat, some not. Smoking in taxis is generally not allowed, however it might be that the taxi driver himself wants a cigarette in which case the rule might become flexible.
To avoid bad surprises, make sure you download Taxibeat, a taxi-hailing app available for iOS and Android that enables you to choose your taxi driver based on user ratings. Unlike radio taxis, the service comes at no extra cost for passengers - but be aware of the approach fare, and drivers associated with Taxibeat tend to offer better value service. (Most speak fluent English, offer free Wi-Fi onboard, etc).
Many drivers prefer that you avoid using your mobile phone during the journey; if you do have to, make an apologizing gesture and sound and do make a short call.
If for any reason you wish to file a complaint about a Paris taxi, take note of the taxi's number on the sticker on the lefthand back seat window.
Taxi fares to and from Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports are flat-rate: as of June 2021, for Charles de Gaulle a one-way trip will cost 53€ from the right bank (north of the Seine) and 58€ from the left bank (south of the Seine), while for Orly a one-way trip is 32€ for the left bank and 37€ to the right bank. These prices are the same regardless of traffic or time of day, though you might have to pay a modest fee (usually no more than 5€) if you have made a reservation for your trip. But to unknown tourists, they tend to charge the highest e.g. 55€ to the north of the Seine.
Uber, Lyft, and Chauffeur Privé car services are also present in Paris. Sometimes Uber or Kapten cost more than the usual taxis. Uber is not anyway cheaper than normal taxi services.
Beware of illegal taxis (see the 'Stay Safe' section).
Livery or Black Car or Limos- Known as car services or livery cabs, these cars may only be called by phone, are flat rate rather than metered (ask for the fare before getting in), and are not allowed to cruise the street or airports for fares. There are two types of license: the "Grande Remise" that allows the car & driver to pick up & drop off passengers anywhere in France, and the "carte verte" that allows pick-up and drop-off in the department or region where the company is based. The Grande Remise cars have a GR on their front plate. They provide more service than a normal cab.
There are several excellent boat services that make use of the Seine. As well as providing easy, cheap transport to much of central Paris, excellent photo opportunities abound. You can buy a day or 3-day ticket and hop on and off the boat as needed. The boats take a circular route from the Eiffel Tower, down past the Louvre, Notre Dame, botanical gardens then back up the other bank past Musee D'orsay. Batobus offers a regular shuttle service between the main touristic sights (closed in January); other companies such as the famous Bateaux Mouches offer sightseeing cruises. By taking one of these popular tours, you can also enjoy a romantic evening dinner on the Seine. It is a unique chance to enjoy the night sightseeing, with the lights of the Eiffel Tower and other monuments of Paris.
In a word: don't. It's generally a very bad idea to rent a car to visit Paris. Traffic is very dense during the day, and finding street parking is exceedingly difficult in all but the most peripheral neighborhoods of the city. This is especially true in areas surrounding points of interest for visitors, since many of these are in areas designed long before cars existed. A majority of Parisian households do not own cars, and many people who move to the city find themselves selling their cars within a month or two.
That said, driving may be an option for going to some sights in the suburbs such as Vaux-le-Vicomte castle or the town and chateau of Fontainebleau, or for travelling to other places in France. You may prefer to rent from a location not situated in Paris proper.
Traffic rules in Paris are basically the same as elsewhere in France, with the exception of having to yield to incoming traffic on roundabouts. However, driving in dense traffic in Paris and suburbs during commute times, can be especially strenuous. Be prepared for traffic jams, cars changing lanes at short notice, and so on. Another issue is pedestrians, who tend to fearlessly jaywalk more in Paris than in other French cities. Be prepared for pedestrians crossing the street on red, and expect similar adventurous behaviour from cyclists. Remember that even if a pedestrian or cyclist crossed on red, if you hit him, you (in fact, your insurance) will have to bear civil responsibility for the damages, and possibly prosecution for failing to control your vehicle. North American drivers should be warned that in nearly all of downtown Paris there are no lane markings to keep traffic in lines. People drive wherever there is a space and suddenly entering a large roundabout with 9 unmarked lanes of uncontrolled traffic with 13 entrances and exits can be a new experience in terror. Use transit or stay outside the first ring road.
Paris has several ring road systems. There is a series of boulevards named after Napoleonic-era generals (Boulevard Masséna, Boulevard Ney, and so forth), and collectively referred to as boulevard des maréchaux. These are normal wide avenues, with traffic lights. Somewhat outside of this boulevard is the boulevard périphérique, a motorway-style ring road. The périphérique intérieur is the inner lanes (going clockwise), the périphérique extérieur the outer lanes (going counter-clockwise). Note that, despite the looks, the périphérique is not an autoroute: the speed limit is 70km/h and, very unusually, incoming traffic has the right of way, at least theoretically (presumably because, otherwise, nobody would be able to enter during rush hour).
DirectionsIf you find yourself lost in the streets, a good idea is to find the nearest Hotel and ask the concierge for directions. Unlike the majority of Parisians, most concierges speak English well. A simple "Bonjour Monsieur, parlez-vous anglais?" should suffice.
Paris is an incredibly open city, with its many 'grande boulevards' and monuments with large open spaces around them. This makes for a city perfect to be explored and viewed from on a scooter. A lot of people think it is a dangerous city to ride a scooter or motorbike and when you're sitting in a corner café watching, it may look that way but, in reality, it is actually quite a safe city because the drivers are very conscious of one another, a trait that drivers certainly do not have in some other countries of the world! There are so many scooters in Paris, for so long, that when people learn to drive here they learn to drive amongst the scooters. The French do drive quite fast, but they respect one another and it is rare that a driver will suddenly change lanes or swing to the other side of the road without signaling. When you're driving a scooter or motorbike in Paris you can expect to be able to 'lane-split' between the rows of cars waiting in traffic and go straight to the front of the lights. For parking, there are plenty of 'Deux Roues' (two-wheel) parking all over the city. Do be careful parking on the footpath though, especially on shopping streets or around monuments.
A few well-known Vespa Tour companies propose scooter rentals and tours of Paris. It can be a good way to get a vision of the city in a day. A great thing to do if you just stay a few days in Paris:
Paris is one of the best cities for skating. This is due to the large, smooth surfaces offered by both the pavements and the roads. Skating on the pavement is legal all around Central Paris (zone 1) and its suburbs (zones 2+). See our Do section below for more information. Still, bear in mind the historical aspect of Paris. Some surfaces might switch over to cobblestones, especially when entering junctions.
Also, some cycle lanes have raised dividers, separating them from car lanes. These might be too narrow for skating while joining the car lanes might also be unwise.
First and foremost, French (le français) is of course the country's official language. Any native French person will speak French and it helps if you can speak a bit of it. In the parts of the city that tourists frequent the most (Tour Eiffel, Le Louvre, Champs-Elysées), the shopkeepers, information booth attendants, and other workers are likely to answer you in English, even if your French is advanced. These workers tend to deal with thousands of foreign tourists, and responding in English is often faster than repeating themselves in French. This is not the case for the rest of the city.
Reading upBefore you leave you may want to read a book like French or Foe by Polly Platt or Almost French by Sarah Turnbull — interesting, well-written records from English speaking persons who live in France.
For most Parisians, English is something they had to study in school, and thus seems a bit of a chore. People helping you out in English are making an extra effort, sometimes a considerable one. Parisians younger than 40 are more likely to be competent in English. Immigrants, often working in service jobs, are less likely (often, still struggling to learn French.)
If it's your first time in France you will have some problems understanding what people are saying (even with prior education in French). Unlike most language education tapes, French people often speak fast, use slang and swallow some letters.
When attempting to speak French, do not be offended if people ask you to repeat, or seem not to understand you, as they are not acting out of snobbery. Keep your sense of humor, and if necessary, write down phrases or place names. And remember to speak slowly and clearly. Unless you have an advanced level and can at least sort of understand French movies, you should also assume that it will be difficult for people to understand what you are saying (imagine someone speaking English to you in an indiscernible accent, it's all the same).
When in need of directions what you should do is this: find a younger person or someone reading a book or magazine in English, who is obviously not in a hurry; say "hello" or "bonjour" (bon-zhor); start by asking if the person speaks English, "Parlez-vous anglais?" (Par-LAY voo on-glay?) even if the person can read something in English, speak slowly and clearly; write down place names if necessary. Smile a lot. Also, carry a map (preferably Paris par Arrondissement); given the complexity of Paris streets, it is difficult to explain how to find any particular address in any language, no matter how well you speak it. If anything, the person may have an idea as to the place you are looking for, but may not know exactly where it may be, so the map always helps.
On the other hand, you will probably get the cold shoulder if you stop someone in the métro (such as a middle-aged hurried person who has a train to catch), fail to greet them, and simply say "where is place X or street Y".
If you speak French, remember two magic phrases : "Excusez-moi de vous déranger" [ex-kuh-zay mwuh duh voo day-rawn-ZHAY] ("Sorry to bother you") and "Pourriez-vous m'aider?" [por-EE-AY voo may-DAY] ("Could you help me?") especially in shops; politeness will work wonders.
One of the best value and most convenient ways to see the sights of Paris is with the Paris Museum Pass, a pre-paid entry card that allows entry into over 70 museums and monuments around Paris (and the Palace of Versailles) and comes in 2-day (€48), 4-day (€62) and 6-day (€74) denominations. Note these are 'consecutive' days. The card allows you to jump lengthy queues, a big plus during tourist season when lines can be extensive and is available from participating museums, tourist offices, Fnac branches, and all the main Métro and RER train stations. You will still need to pay to enter most special exhibitions. To avoid waiting in the first long queue to purchase the Museum Pass, stop to purchase your pass a day or more in advance after mid-day. The pass does not become active until your first museum or site visit when you write your start date. After that, the days covered are consecutive. Do not write your start date until you are certain you will use the pass that day and be careful to use the usual European date style as indicated on the card: day/month/year.
Planning your visits: Several sites have "choke points" that restrict the number of visitors that can flow through. These include The Eiffel Tower, Sainte-Chapelle, The Catacombs, and the steps to climb to the top of the Notre Dame Cathedral. To avoid queues, you should start your day by arriving at one of these sites at least 30 minutes before opening time. Otherwise, expect a wait of at least an hour. Most museums and galleries are closed on either Monday or Tuesday. Examples: The Louvre museum is closed on Tuesdays while the Orsay museum is closed on Mondays. Be sure to check museum closing dates to avoid disappointment. Also, most ticket counters close 30-45min before final closing.
All national museums are open free of charge on the first Sunday of the month. However, this may mean long queues and crowded exhibits. Keep away from Paris during Easter week due to crowding. People have to queue up at the Eiffel Tower for several hours even early in the morning. However, this wait can be greatly reduced, if fit, by walking the first two levels, then buying an elevator ticket to the top. Entry to the permanent exhibitions at city-run museums is free at all times (admission is charged for temporary exhibitions).
These listings are just some highlights of things that you really should see if you can during your visit to Paris. The complete listings are found on each individual district page (follow the link in parenthesis).
Good listings of current cultural events in Paris can be found in 'Pariscope' or 'Officiel des spectacles', weekly magazines listing all concerts, art exhibitions, films, stage plays, and museums. Available from all kiosks.
NOTE: Eiffel Tower staff held a strike on May 22nd, 2015 as a result of increased pickpocketing gang activity in the vicinity. The company in charge of the tower's management said it will be increasing security for patrons and staff. Still, visitors should be vigilant of their belongings and surroundings when visiting the monument.
NOTE: Notre Dame Cathedral was struck by a massive fire on April 15th 2019 resulting in the collapse of the roof and the spire.
All national museums et monuments are free for all every first Sunday of the month. Most public museums, as well as many public monuments (such as the Arc de Triomphe or the towers of Notre-Dame), are also free for citizens of the European Union or long-term residents (over three months) if they are under 26 years old.
It seems like there's almost always something happening in Paris, with the possible exceptions of the school holidays in February and August, when about half of Parisians are to be found not in Paris, but in the Alps or the South or the West of France respectively. The busiest season is probably the autumn, from a week or so after la rentrée scolaire or "back to school" to around Noël (Christmas) theatres, cinemas and concert halls book their fullest schedule of the year.
Even so, there are a couple of annual events in the winter, starting with a furniture and interior decorating trade fair called Maison & Object in January.
In February le nouvel an chinois (Chinese New Year) is celebrated in Paris as it is in every city with a significant Chinese population. There are parades in the 3rd,4th and 20th arrondissements and especially in the Chinatown in the 13th south of Place d'Italie which is not only Chinese but also present Asian organizations, Martial Arts clubs, and strangely, Brazilian culture-based groups. Also in February is the Six Nations Rugby Tournament which brings together France, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Italy, so expect to see strong guys in kilts in the streets.
If sport is not your thing, the Salon international de l'Agriculture (International farming fair/festival)allow you to huge animals indoors (bulls, cows, goats, and pigs from every corner of the country) and to taste the best regional products, such as wine, cheese, delicatessen, honey, spices... Each region of France, including exotic overseas territories, pr