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Categories: Europe > Paris


Romance, charm, world-class cuisine and elegance all come to mind for the legendary city of Paris. As France's largest and capital city, Paris is a center of government, culture and activity. The major metropolitan city is located on the banks of the river Seine in the northern region of France. Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world and is considered a leader in the arts, fashion, culture, media and business.

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Nicknamed the City of Lights, Paris is divided into 20 different districts known as arrondissements, which start with the first in the center of the city and proceed to spiral clockwise to the outer rings of Paris. The Seine River snakes its way through the city and divides Paris into two unique sections — the north side is referred to as the Right Bank (Rive Droite) and to the south, the Left Bank (Rive Gauche). The Parisian neighborhoods house many of the city's most famous attractions in addition to their own cultural characteristics. Paris is easy to navigate with its extensive subway and train system, called the Metro.

Some of the world's best museums and landmarks call Paris home. The Eiffel Tower is recognized around the world as the most iconic Paris landmark, soaring high above the city. Art museums abound and the most notable is the sprawling Louvre Museum, which is housed in what once was a royal palace and can barely be seen in a day with its grandiose collection of historic art. The Musee d’Orsay is a more manageable size. It's located in a renovated train station and provides a wonderful array of historic art pieces. Beyond the massive museums are those dedicated to specific artists such as the iconic Picasso museum and the stunning sculptures of Rodin. Other standout attractions include the Notre Dame Cathedral and the grand boulevard known as the Champs Elysees, which leads to the Arc de Triomphe. Royal gardens, cathedrals, cafes, shopping and art make this city spin and its historical attractions are just as appealing as the modern day life buzzing through the streets at all hours.

The cosmopolitan capital is a real treat for the senses. From the characteristic sidewalk cafes to the chic boutiques, Paris is an unforgettable city that is often esteemed as the most romantic and lovely city in the world.

Quick Facts

  • U.S. travelers: 

    Valid passport needed for entry

  • Official language:

    French (English is spoken but not preferred)

  • Official currency:


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Categories: Europe > Paris



The red-and-white-striped South Point Lighthouse, located at the southernmost tip of Barbados in Christ Church Parish, was built by William Gordon and shown at London's Great Exhibition in 1851. The lighthouse was then dismantled and reassembled in 1852 in Barbados, where it became the first lighthouse on the island.

The town of Oistins is the fishing capital of the island and worth a visit—particularly to buy freshly caught fish from the market and to see the fishing boats and the local fishermen repairing their nets. Return at night for a fish fry.

Christ Church Parish is also home to the dining, entertainment and street-party hub of St. Lawrence Gap. Neighboring St. Philip Parish is also worth a visit.



Paris, "The City of Light," has been written about, filmed and photographed countless times. Although it seems as if we all know Paris even before we see it, nothing compares to actually being there. Going to the top of the Eiffel Tower, walking along the Seine at dusk or sipping coffee at an elegant sidewalk cafe are quintessential Parisian experiences—and the wonder of it is that real life takes on an aura of magical make-believe, so that it seems just like being in the movies.

Whether you're in Paris for work or for fun, do as the Parisians do and enjoy yourself in this romantic city. For the art lover, the Musee d'Orsay and the Louvre offer priceless collections, while the designer shops and chic boutiques of Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, Boulevard Saint-Germain and Avenue Montaigne tempt the serious shopper.

And for anyone who enjoys good food, Paris' restaurants, from inexpensive neighborhood bistros to the most refined and elegant gourmet establishments, will provide delightful meals.

Must See or Do

Sights—The Eiffel Tower; the Arc de Triomphe; La Basilique du Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre; cruise on the Seine on one of the sightseeing boats.

Museums—The art treasures of the Musee du Louvre; the famous impressionist paintings at the Musee d'Orsay and the Musee de l'Orangerie; the modern art of the Centre Pompidou; the timeless sculptures at the Musee Rodin; Louis XIV's Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris.

Memorable Meals—Dinner at Restaurant Alain Ducasse at Plaza Athenee; dining at a small neighborhood restaurant such as Au Passage; exquisite French steak at Le Severo; after-dinner coffee on the terrace of Cafe de Flore; a picnic along the banks of the Seine or in front of the Eiffel Tower.

Late Night—Sip champagne and cocktails at the trendy Pershing Hall; drink like expats F. Scott Fitgerald, Gloria Swanson and Ernest Hemingway at Harry's New York Bar; experience some of the best international jazz talent at New Morning.

Walks—From the Arc de Triomphe down the Champs-Elysees, through the Jardin des Tuileries to the Louvre; from Notre-Dame through the Latin Quarter to the Pantheon and through the Jardin du Luxembourg; along the Seine from Pont de l'Alma to Musee d'Orsay on the walkable river banks, crossing Ile de la Cite or Ile Saint-Louis; a midnight stroll along the romantic streets of Montmartre; along the Canal Saint-Martin at dusk, often referred to as one of Paris' most romantic spots.

Especially for Kids—Palais de la Decouverte, a children's science museum; La Menagerie, Paris' oldest zoo; Jardin d'Acclimatation, a 25-acre/10-hectare park in the Bois de Boulogne; the Jardin des Plantes with its small zoo.

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Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements, or districts, which spiral outward clockwise from the center of the city. Knowing the arrondissements will help tremendously in navigating the city. For example, in an address with a Parisian postal code such as 75008 or 75018, the first numbers indicate Paris and the last two digits tell you the arrondissement (in this case, the 8th and 18th, respectively).

Along the Right Bank (Rive Droite)—that is, along the north bank of the Seine—lie the grand boulevards (such as the Champs-Elysees, in the 8th), stately facades featuring Haussmanian or art-nouveau architecture, the Arc de Triomphe, the Opera Garnier (9th) and the Louvre (1st).

Tucked away in the midst of all this grandeur are the trendy, winding streets of the Marais District (4th), where you can see several of Paris' oldest surviving buildings. Montmartre (18th), the northernmost area of the Right Bank, resembles a little village, with steep, cobblestoned streets, oft-photographed staircases and tiny, ivy-covered houses. The area around the Bastille (11th)—where the infamous prison once stood—has become one of the trendiest pockets of Paris, with numerous cafes and clubs, as well as barge restaurants on the refurbished Bassin de la Villette (19th).

Although the Left Bank (Rive Gauche) has the reputation for being slightly funkier than the Right, it is also very chic and home to some of the most expensive real estate in Paris. The Latin Quarter (5th) is always buzzing with activity, especially with students of Sorbonne University.

The cafes of Saint-Germain-des-Pres (6th) are experiencing renewed interest among followers of such philosophers as Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, who once gathered there to debate existentialism. Montparnasse (14th), formerly the home of Picasso, Alberto Giacometti and other artists, is a bustling neighborhood adjacent to Saint-Germain-des-Pres. It's crowded with cinemas and famous brasseries.

La Defense refers to the cluster of skyscrapers on the northwestern edge of Paris that makes up the modern business district. The landmark of this quarter is La Grande Arche—a massive, futuristic arch of glass, granite and marble that serves as a modern echo of Napoleon's Arc de Triomphe.

Note: In this guide, the ordinal number in parentheses following each street address indicates the arrondissement in which an address is located. For example, (7th) refers to the 7th arrondissement. The nearest metro stop is given after the arrondissement. Also, in an address, don't be confused by the word bis after a street number. If you see 10-bis, for instance, it indicates the door or building next to No. 10.


Paris started out as a little village inhabited by a tribe of people known as the Parisii. The original settlement was located on an island in the Seine River that later became the Roman island-city of Lutetia; today it is Ile de la Cite, the site of Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Over the centuries, Paris expanded onto the right and left (north and south) banks of the river, and the city's defensive walls were pushed outward in ever-expanding concentric "circles" to accommodate the growing population; there are places in Paris where you can still see remnants of the first walls commissioned by Philippe Auguste in the 12th century. During the Middle Ages, Paris buzzed with the construction of Notre-Dame, and the swampland on the right bank was drained, creating the area now called the Marais, or "marsh."

The Middle Ages and Renaissance also brought to Paris some of France's most powerful kings, including Louis IX (or "St. Louis" as he was later known) and Henri IV, who was the first of the Bourbon kings to rule. Henri IV enacted the Edict of Nantes in 1598, which ended the religious wars in France between the Catholics and the Protestant minority.

In the 1660s, as France moved into the "Grand Century," Louis XIV—the Sun King—built Les Invalides in Paris as a home for aging and unwell soldiers, and the magnificent attached domed chapel called L'Eglise Saint-Louis des Invalides. He also ordered the expansion of the Palace of Versailles, which had been a relatively modest royal retreat, into a formidable palace. He moved the court from Paris to Versailles to escape rising unrest in the Paris streets.

Under Louis XVI and his queen, Marie Antoinette, French subjects rose up and started the French Revolution in 1789 (by tearing down the infamous Bastille prison), which brought the executions of thousands of people by guillotine—the king and queen among them—in 1793.

After the fervor of the revolution died down, Napoleon Bonaparte ruled France as emperor (after a coup d'etat in 1799) until his final defeat at Waterloo in 1815. Under Napoleon's rule, Paris gained some impressive monuments, including the Arc de Triomphe, and France gained the Napoleonic Code of law. In 1861, Napoleon's body was transferred from St. Helena and laid to rest in a monumental tomb under the Dome of Les Invalides.

A series of short-lived empires followed the Napoleonic era, but they were replaced by the Third French Republic in 1870 (which remained in place until Hitler's army marched into Paris in 1940). The avenues and broad boulevards that have come to symbolize the city date from 19th-century urban planner Baron Haussmann, who carved them out of the winding medieval districts. (The wider streets not only looked impressive, but they also could support rapid troop deployment in case of civil rebellion.)

The late 19th century ushered in France's richest artistic period in centuries, with the impressionist and postimpressionist movements. The belle epoque, the period of fine and peaceful years before the outbreak of the First World War, also coincided with art nouveau, an art movement that spawned the famous Guimard metro entrances. Renoir, Monet, Degas, Manet and Toulouse-Lautrec all lived or worked in the city during the late 19th century, and Gustave Eiffel oversaw the construction of what would become Paris' most-celebrated landmark, originally built as a temporary structure for the 1889 Universal Exposition.

The period of World War I cast a dark shadow over Paris and all of Europe, but the city rebounded in the 1920s and 1930s during the ebullient Jazz Age. Paris became home to such performers and writers as Josephine Baker and Ernest Hemingway, as well as many painters, including Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso.

During World War II, Paris was occupied by the German army, and resistance fighters working with the French government in exile were pitted against sympathizers of the so-called Vichy government.

Today, as throughout its history, Paris is one of Europe's most important artistic, political, cultural, educational and commercial centers. There are plenty of monumental contemporary landmarks in the city, too: the pyramid at the Louvre, the Pompidou Center and the stunning Bibliotheque Nationale are prominent examples.

Paris is a city in constant flux, with many new faces, styles, ethnic groups and different religious persuasions, but it is also a city firmly rooted in its traditions. It is this constant pull between old and new that makes it such a vibrant and endlessly fascinating place to visit.


When the Eiffel Tower was unveiled at the 1889 Paris Exhibition, there were many protests about the avant-garde structure. But 2 million people still managed to climb it that year, solidifying it as a cornerstone of Paris architecture.

The Latin Quarter (the area on the Left Bank surrounding the Sorbonne University) got its name because it was the first center of higher learning in France during the Middle Ages, a time when scholars did all their studies in Latin.

The construction of Notre-Dame Cathedral took more than 170 years to complete. It contains the largest pipe organ in France. In the late 1990s, Parisian officials decided to clean the sooty facade of the church. High-powered lasers were used to burn off the outside grime. The steeple was left with the dirt on it to remind everyone of what it used to look like.

When the Pere Lachaise Cemetery opened in 1804, it didn't have any customers at first as people thought it was too far from the city center. Someone had the bright idea of transferring the bodies of Abelard and Heloise, the famous medieval lovers, and it has been a tourist attraction and busy cemetery ever since.

Paris' nickname as the City of Light has nothing to do with nature's light; it was one of the first cities to implement gas lamp street lights in the early 1800s. The nickname also refers to the artists and intellectuals who flocked there, making it a city of enlightenment.

Despite its name, Pont Neuf (the New Bridge) is the oldest surviving Seine bridge of Paris. It was built between 1578 and 1607. The most recent Seine bridge is the Pont Simone de Beauvoir, which opened in 2006.

Paris has been (and continues to be) the backdrop of many famous movies, ranging from An American in Paris (1951) and the erotic Last Tango in Paris (1972) to The Da Vinci Code (2006), Amelie (2001), Paris Je T'aime (2006) and Midnight in Paris (2011). Even Disney got into the act with 2007's popular Ratatouille.


There are two ports in the Paris area. The first one, Arsenal, is situated on Canal Saint-Martin in the heart of Paris, very close to Bastille (12th arrondissement). It has 170 berths and can receive boats up to 82 ft/25 m long.

The second port, Villette, is situated northeast of Paris. It has 24 berths and can receive boats up to 50 ft/15 m.

Arsenal is the most conveniently located port, as it offers relatively easy access to restaurants, cinemas, metro stations, taxis and the opera house.



A quiet respite 56 mi/90 km northwest of Portland, Paris, Maine, is home to one of the largest lilac collections in New England. The breathtaking flowers grow in McLaughlin Gardens (http://www.mclaughlingarden.org). Just down Highway 26 is West Paris, where you will find Perham's, a mineral and gem museum and gift shop worth visiting.

Below Paris is South Paris, a town full of historic charm. Hannibal Hamlin, Abraham Lincoln's vice president, lived in the town. His former home is now a private residence on Paris Hill. Beside Hamlin's home is the Hamlin Memorial Library (http://hamlinlibrary.org), housed in a stone building that served as the county's first jailhouse. A small museum on the second floor of the library contains a collection of local gems and historic artifacts. Two houses down from the library is the old county courthouse, now a private residence. Paris Hill is full of sprawling federal-style houses that are not to be missed. They display a period in history that has been carefully preserved by the residents of the town.



Hilly and given to landslides (the island's highest point is found there), St. Andrew Parish of the Scotland District is less built up than the others, and contains Barbados' last little bit of rain forest at Turner's Hall Wood. The sea is wild on this northern coast, but the long beaches are stunning. Many protected natural reserves are found there. The Scotland District is so named because the early settlers believed the area's lush setting looked like Scotland.

St. Andrew Parish is also home to the potters of Chalky Mount, which is a popular spot for visitors interested in craftsmanship.



Lush and rural, St. John Parish, Barbados, is dotted with quaint villages and plantations, many of which are still working. Its beautiful parish church is usually open for viewing, and the panorama below is worth a trip. So is Bath Beach, and beyond it, Codrington College.

The oldest theological seminary in the hemisphere by some accounts, Codrington's Oxford-modeled buildings sit in breathtaking surroundings that are an inspiration in themselves. It's also an archaeological site of major importance, although that aspect has not yet been developed for public consumption.



Some of the most stunning coastal scenery in Barbados is in St. Joseph Parish, from the spectacular views of Bathsheba to the quiet beaches of Cattlewash. The historic Atlantis Hotel in Tent Bay is a perfect spot from which to take in the views.

Traditionally, this area is where locals go to spend their summer holidays and get away from it all. It is ideal for surfing, making it popular with locals, and international surfing competitions are often held there. Because of its foamy surf, this area is affectionately named the Soup Bowl.

The parish is also home such natural beauty as Hunte's Gardens at Castle Grant and Andromeda Gardens.



At the north coast of the island, St. Lucy Parish is Barbados' wildest and most barren area, with steep cliffs battered by the Atlantic Ocean. North Point offers great views, but be wary of getting too close to the cliff edge—the waves rise spectacularly high, and chances are you'll get wet.

Interesting stops in St. Lucy include River Bay, a popular picnic spot with cliffs where you can also wade and ramble; Cove Bay, with a trail that leads to Pico Teneriffe; and Little Bay, with rocky pools suitable for a dip when the tide's not too high.

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