The City of Light is a sensory wonderland: world-renowned boutiques, cozy street-side cafes, aromatic bistros, grand avenues, jazz clubs, galleries and museums collectively cast a spell on this enchanting city. A must-visit destination for romantics and artists alike, Paris is full of urban parks and gardens, and the beautiful Seine River runs right through its heart.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
7 hours from NYC, 13 hours from LA, 8.5 hours from Chicago
Metro (subway), bus, taxi
When To Go: Paris at its best
May, June, September, October
November to February
Why To Go
Take pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower (come back at night when crowds thin out to see the city in all its glittering glory), the stately Arc de Triomphe (erected by Napoleon to celebrate his military prowess), the tourist-laden Champs-Elysees, and the majestic Sacre-Coeur. For a nice overview of city vistas, hop on one of the Bateaux Mouches (motorboats that tour Paris via the Seine).
Top designer shops dot avenue Montaigne, rue du Faubourg-St-Honore, and Place des Victoires. Head toward Place Vendome for jewelry, the area around St-Germain-des-Prés for specialty boutiques, and Les Halles for trendy threads. Grands magasins
(department stores) near the opera house include Galerie Lafayette and Au Printemps. Memorize these words: soldes
("sale" -- January and August are the best months), tout doit disparaitre
("everything must go"), and coin des affaires
Works of art:
Must-see museums include the Louvre (once a fortress, now a sprawling museum), the Orsay Museum (which includes an excellent Impressionist collection, Art Nouveau furniture, and a Belle Epoque restaurant), the whimsical Pompidou Center (home to the Modern Art Museum), the Picasso Museum, and the Rodin Museum. Gain entree to 70 museums and sites -- and go to the front of the line! -- with a Carte Musees et Monument (museum pass) available at museums, the tourist office, and major Metro stations.