Paris

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Image used under Creative Commons from Moyan_Brenn

Travellers can soak up the Parisian atmosphere just two hours after take-off from Shannon. Perfect for short-breaks, a stop-off on a longer stay in France and the destination of choice for many honeymooners.  Visitors to Paris, especially first-timers, will be over bowled over by what the world’s City of Love has to offer.

If you’ve landed in Beauvais, a direct coach journey from the airport will deliver you to the city centre in just over an hour.  Trains and buses operate from Charles de Galle to the centre of town.  Kids under the age of four travel for free.

On arriving in the city, you’ll be greeted by a masterpiece of architectural inspiration with buildings and monuments such as the Louvre Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, the church of Sainte-Chapelle, the Basilique du Sacre-Cœur, and the Arc de Triomphe. Of course, the iconic centre piece of the city, the Eiffel Tower, stands like a shining beacon – both literally and figuratively – ahead of the rest. The Tower was installed only as a temporary structure to be exhibited at the 1889 World Fair. Since then, it has become the enduring symbol of the French capital and should be top of the ‘must-see’ list during your stay.

Getting Around

Take the Metro on your trip to see the famous sites, all of which are clearly marked on a handy map which you can pick up at any tourist information centre, bus or train station. Both single journey tickets and three-day passes for unlimited travel are available.

Paris is home to over 80 Michelin-starred restaurants, the most to be found in any city in Europe and second only to Tokyo in global terms. However, dining in one of the city’s leading gourmet hotspots is likely to swallow a large portion of your spending money. It’s just as well then that there are roughly another 8,900 restaurants to choose from, ensuring budgets of all sizes are catered for.

While Paris’s reputation as a centre of gastronomic excellence has grown, it’s best not to fork out a small fortune for a mediocre meal. Pay attention to price lists, especially as competition for business is fierce. It’s not polite to haggle of course, but shopping around for value is a must here.

As one of the leading cities of the world, visitors can expect to find accommodation designed to suit all budgets. Luxury and mid-range hotels, as well as hostels for younger visitors, are aplenty. For those on a jaunt to Disneyland, there’s a large selection of hotels in the area, while the resort itself has lots to choose from too.

Great Shopping

It’s not just the awe-inducing buildings, fantastic food or romantic retreat reputation that attracts millions of tourists to Paris each year. The array of shopping options also cause many to flock here and again, all comers from designer divas to bargain hunters are well served. Window shoppers won’t have to look far to whet their appetites either – an aimless stroll down a busy Boulevard in the city and you’ll see why Parisians are held in such high regard for their fashion sense and adventurous couture!

There’s also plenty of excitement in store for football, rugby and tennis fans. Local football club Paris Saint-Germain attracts huge support at home games at the Parc des Princes in the city limits – it’s well worth a visit to see the colorful and raucous fans get behind the team. Stade Francais will be a familiar name to rugby buffs, while the stars of the tennis world take their chances in one of the four major tournaments when the French Open kicks off at Roland Garros every year.

Five for free

  • Say hello to Mona Lisa

    Entry to the world-famous Louvre, the home of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, is free on the first Sunday of every month so timing is everything here. Under 25s can view the world’s most celebrated work of art for nothing on Friday evenings after 6pm. Predictably, the queues can stretch as far as the eye can see on these days so get there early!

    Image used under Creative Commons from bryangeek

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  • Don’t Despair

    If waiting in line doesn’t float your boat, there’s plenty more museums and galleries in the city that waive an entrance free on a more regular basis. The Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville, on the opposite side of the Seine from the Eiffel Tower, houses permanent collections of works by Picasso and Matisse, among others.

    Image used under Creative Commons from y.caradec

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  • Take time out

    There are lots of open green spaces to relax and recuperate during a busy day of sight-seeing. The steps and green area in front of the Basilique du Sacre-Cœur is one of the city’s most popular spots.

    Image used under Creative Commons from borkur.net

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  • Find the plot

    Irish visitors to the Pere-Lachaise Cemetery will find the final resting place of Oscar Wilde. For the revelers among you, Jim Morrison’s more modest plot is located here too.

    Image used under Creative Commons from mckrista1976

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  • Enjoy a concert

    Free hour long bell-ringing concerts take place every Wednesday at 2pm at the Eglise St. Germain-l’Auxerrois, the former church of the Louvre when it had its day as a royal place. The American Church in Paris also puts on a free show of classical music and the blues every Sunday at 5pm. (September to November and January to June).

    All prices correct at time of publishing – December 2013

    Image used under Creative Commons from Allie_Caulfield

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