Paris France – the World’s No. 1 Travel Destination: What to do in Paris?

Paris is perennially one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. As a matter of fact, with over 74 million visitors in 2009 (latest available numbers from the World Tourism Organization), France ranks number 1 as the most visited country in the world. Paris itself is the most popular tourist destination in the world, with about 45 million tourist visits per year. Here are a few useful tips for your Paris holiday:

Paris was completely changed from 1852 to 1870: the urban planning reforms of Baron de Haussmann erased about 60% of medieval Paris and created the grand boulevards that we see today. This was brought on by poor hygiene standards that had resulted in cholera epidemics in the first half of the 1800s.

The Paris Museum Pass will help you with access to over 70 museums and monuments. A 2-day pass is 35 Euros and has to be used on consecutive days. There are also many free museums in Paris; for example, the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay offer free access every first Sunday of the month.

Paris has an excellent public transportation system with efficient buses and subways and offers one-day and multi-day passes. The “Metro” has 384 stops and 16 lines and will get you close to most place you’d want to see. 10 tickets can be bought for 12 Euros. 1, 2, 3 and 5 day tickets are available as well.

Late spring and summer are the most expensive seasons for a holiday in Paris. Hotels charge higher prices during that time. During low season budget hotels may be available from about 25 to 40 Euros a night, but this will be simple accommodation with shared bathrooms. If you are staying for several days, a reasonable alternative may be to rent a furnished apartment where you can cook your own meals. Some studio rentals might go for as low as $99 a night.

A great way to discover the City of Lights is through various guided tours of Paris. “See Paris with a Parisian” are free walking tours where you get the chance to explore the city with a local.

Bicycling is a great way to get to know Paris. “Velib” is a public bicycle rental program with about 17,000 bicycles and 1200 stations, with one station every 300 metres throughout the city. There are also many guided bicycle tours that you can take to get to know the city. You could also rent a scooter or a Segway and get around without getting sweaty.

Paris is one of the most photogenic destinations in the world. Taking photos in Paris is a wonderful way of preserving unforgettable moments. Regardless of whether you are beginner or a pro, take a photo tour and visit some of Paris’ most visually captivating places.

For some getaways from Paris, take the TGV (Train a Grande Vitesse, or high-speed train) and jet off to places like Brussels, Lyon or Marseille. The TGV has transported about 2 billion passengers since 1981 and reaches speeds up to 320 km/h.

There are many outstanding restaurants in Paris, but some of them can be rather pricey. Many restaurants also offer reasonably fixed-price meals for lunch. A 3-course prix-fixe meal might set you back about 15 Euros. Make your mid-day meal your biggest and you will save money in restaurants.

To save even more money on food in Paris, try one of the many food stands that serve sandwiches, crepes, Chinese food, falafels and much more. Or head to a supermarket, buy a baguette, some cheese, a bottle of wine and enjoy a nice picnic. Also check out some of the outdoor food markets for inexpensive prepared foods.

Paris is quite safe and has relatively little violent crime. Do be aware of your surroundings though and protect yourself against purse snatchers and pickpockets, particularly in crowded areas such as the subway and outdoor street markets.

Here are some great day trips from Paris that can be reached in about 30 minutes by train : Fontainebleau (a lovely historic town with a gorgeous chateau), Chartres with its 12th century Gothic cathedral, Versailles – King Louis XIV’s dream palace. Even Normandy, Brittany and the Loire Valley are easily reachable from Paris.

The Sacre-Coeur Basilica is located on Montmartre Hill, at the highest point of Paris and was consecrated in 1919. Montmartre Hill is also a popular nightclub district and is host to a large artists’ community. Vincent van Gogh, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso all had studios here. It’s a great place to snap some atmospheric photos in Paris.

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