Île-de-France contains the city of Paris, but its attractions in fact extend beyond the Eiffel Tower and coffee houses that have been the inspiration for the café culture in this bohemian city. While the City of Light is undeniably one of the world’s most exciting places, around it you’ll find some truly great locations. From the ex-capital Versailles to the lush Forest of Fontainebleau, if you’re staying outside the city, there’s plenty to enjoy. Why not explore the relaxing landscapes outside the capital as well as the city itself – just as impressive as the city lights of Paris itself.
Places to go in Paris
You’ll probably wander into some of the different departments and communes of the Île-de-France without even noticing – since they’re all squeezed together; you’ll likely visit Hauts-de-Seine, Seine Saint Denis and Val de Marne just by travelling around Paris. If you’re looking for something more laid back, make some time to explore the little towns and villages of Seine et Marne east of the city – which are slowly being absorbed into Paris and larger new towns. On the west you’ll find Yvelines, the department that boasts the Palace of Versailles, Louis XIV’s seat of power – a taste of grandeur matched by few other grand houses – unmissable!
Our Top Picks in Paris
We want you to enjoy the best that Paris has to offer and so here's a selection of our favourite things to see and do;
While in Paris, do as the Americans do…and the British and the Italians and the Spaniards. While it may be something of a clichéd Parisian activity, it is nevertheless very much worth doing if you haven’t before. This iconic tower is the tallest building in Paris and the second tallest in France. As such, you’ll be glad to hear an elevator have been installed – but if you fancy a bit of exercise, there are 300 steps between the ground floor and the first floor which will ensure you are even more breathless when you take in the breath-taking views!
Hall of Mirrors
The draws of Versailles are numerous, but the Hall of Mirrors is a must-see. The most impressive feature of Louis XIV’s third building campaign of the Palace of Versailles is the Hall of Mirrors and its seventeen-mirror clad archways that reflect the seventeen arcaded windows overlooking the grand landscaped gardens outside. If you feel the need for a relaxing escape from the buzzing French capital – albeit in an insanely ornate setting – then the Hall of Mirrors is sure to fit the bill! If you ever wondered what Louis XIV actually did during his 72 year reign, you’ll get a good idea when you take a trip here!
The Louvre is the biggest national museum in all of France, and is the most visited museum in the entire world. It is one of the city of Paris' central landmarks, located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the city's 1st arrondissement (neighbourhood) and is an absolute must see for any first time Paris visitor, especially anyone fond of beautiful and exotic art. The museum contains more than 380,000 objects and displays 35,000 works of art, the most famous of which are the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. It is truly a unique place inside and outside, you can spend a whole day inside or just a couple of hours, or you can simply visit the site and marvel at the glass pyramid that stands over the entrance to the main building and the inverted pyramid in the underground lobby that featured in the book The Da Vinci Code and the 2006 film based on the book.
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