An important settlement for more than two thousand years, Paris takes its name from the original inhabitants - the Parisii, a Celtic tribe. Romans conquered the area in 52 BC, creating a forum, palaces and ampitheatre. Following recurrent plagues, the Hundred Years War and the French Wars of Religion, Paris became centre stage for the French Revolution with the storming of the Bastille in 1789 and the destruction of the monarchy via the infamous 'guillotine'. Upon Napoleon's defeat, the city was conquered by the Russian Cossacks after which followed the Restoration period and the accession to the throne of Louis XVIII and Charles X. The French desire for independence once again led to revolution and the Second Republic in 1848. The industrial revolution brought railways and Haussman brought the wide boulevards that replaced medieval winding streets. The Parisian "Commune" government, in defiance of Versaille, was bloodily defeated in 1871 thanks to these same boulevards. Decades later, German army tanks rolled down the same streets during World War II. A few years later, De Gaulle and the Free French entered Paris through Napoleon's Arc De Triumph.
Parisian culture is unique and fascinating. Up until World War II Paris was the world capital of culture. Art, literature, music, philosophy fashion… artists, thinkers and creators from all over the world lived in Paris and led the way. Picasso, Jean Paul Sartre, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Debussy, Poulenc. It was the birthplace of cubism, surrealism, existentialism. Legends live on today and innovations continue. No wonder there's so much for visitors to enjoy today on their Paris city breaks in the art galleries and museums and everywhere. The cuisine is also outstanding, influenced by all the French regions are gastronomical cultures. There are numerous iconic landmarks and world famous institutions… take them all in on one of the many organised bike rides and walks.
What to do in Paris? You have endless choice. Don't miss the Eiffel Tower, created for the 1889 Universal Exposition. Famous landmarks include Napoleon's Arc de Triomphe, Chateau de Versailles, Notre Dame Cathedral, Saint Chapelle, Opera Garnier, Pantheon, Sacré Coeur church, Centre Georges Pompidou, Picasso Museum, Les Invalides, Musée D'Orsay, Musée Rodin, Musée de l'Orangerie.
Located on the River Seine in the heart of the Ile de France region. Most of the city is flat but there are a few hills - the highest is Montmatre at 130m.
For centuries Paris was typified by medieval narrow streets and half-timber houses, but the city was transformed in the 1850s under Napoleon III to fulfil his neoclassical vision. Haussmann levelled entire districts to create a network of wide boulevards and neo-classical buildings. Today there are still restrictions over the height of all buildings in the city… as a consequence the skyline is magnificent and uncluttered.
When you're deciding what to do in Paris, consider timing your trip to coincide with one of the many major annual events. Fashion Weeks take place in March and October, the French Tennis Open takes place in May. Bastille Day is on 14th July with the Bastille Parade. Also in July, the Tour de France cycling race starts and ends in Paris.
It's easy to travel around to see all the Paris tourist attractions. The RAPT control the Metro, three tramways, the SNCF rail network and an extensive reliable bus network. Nearby airports include Paris Charles de Gaulle, Orly and Beauvais.