France Travel Destinations

France Travel Destinations


The lie de la Cite and lie St-Louis sit at the center of the city, while the Seine, flowing east to west, splits Paris into two large expanses: The Rive Gauche (Left Bank) to the south and the Rive Droite (Right Bank) to the north. The Left Bank, with its older architecture and narrow streets, has traditionally been considered bohemian and intellectual, while the Right Bank, with grand avenues and designer shops, is more ritzy. Administratively, Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements (districts; e.g. 1 er, 6eme) that spiral clockwise around the Louvre. Well-known sites are packed into the central arrondissements (1 er through 8eme), though the peripheral ones should not be overlooked. Refer also to this book’s color maps of the city.

RIVE GAUCHE (LEFT BANK). The Latin Quarter, encompassing the Seme and parts of the 6eme around the Sorbonne and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts), has been home to students for centuries; the animated boulevard St-Michel is the boundary between the two arrondissements. The lively rue Mouffetard in the 5eme is quintessential Latin Quarter. The area around east-west boulevard St-Ger-main, which crosses bd. St-Michel just south of pi. St-Michel in the 6eme, is known as St-Germain des Pres. To the west, the gold-domed Invalides and the stem Neoclassical Ecole Militaire, which faces the Eiffel Tower across the Champ-de-Mars, recall the military past of the 7eme and northern 1 oeme, now full of traveling businesspeople. South of the Latin Quarter, Montparnasse, in the 14ewe, eastern 15eme, and southwestern 6ewe, lolls in the shadow of its tower. The glamorous boulevard du Montparnasse belies the surrounding residential districts. The eastern Left Bank, the 13eme, is a new hot spot, centered on place d’ltalie.


RIVE DROITE (RIGHT BANK). The Louvre and rue de Rivoli occupy the sight- and tourist-packed ler and the more business-oriented 2eme. The crooked streets of the Marais, in the 3eme and 4ewe, escaped Baron Haussmann’s redesign of Paris and now support many diverse communities. From place de la Concorde, at the western end of the ler, avenue des Champs-Elysees bisects the Seme as it sweeps up toward the Arc de Triomphe at Charles de Gaulle-Etoile. South of the Etoile, old and new money fills the exclusive 16eme, bordered to the west by the Bois de Boulogne park and to the east by the Seine and the Trocadero, which faces the Eiffel Tower across the river. Back toward central Paris, the 9eme, just north of the 2eme, is defined by the sumptuous Opera. East of the 9eme, the lOeme hosts cheap lodgings and the Gare du Nord and Gare de I’Est. The lOeme, 3eme, and the lleme, which claims the newest hip nightlife in Paris (in Bastille), meet at place de la Republique. South of Bastille, the 12eme surrounds the Gare de Lyon, petering out at the Bois de Vincennes. East of Bastille, the party atmosphere gives way to the quieter, more residential 20eme and 19eme, while the 18eme is home to the quaint and heavily touristed Montmartre, which is capped by the Sacre-Coeur. To the east, the lleme begins in the red-light district of Pigalle and bd. de Clichy, and grows more elegant toward the Etoile, the Opera Garnier, and the 16eme. Continuing west along the grande axe defined by the Champs-Elysees, the skyscrapers of La Defense, Paris’s newest quarter, loom across the Seine from Bois de Boulogne.


Public Transportation: The efficient Metropolitan, or Metro (M), runs 5:30am-12:30am. Lines are numbered and are generally referred to by their number and final destinations; connections are called correspondences. Single-fare tickets within the city 1.30; carnet (packet) of 10 9.60. Buy extras for when ticket booths are closed (after 10pm) and hold onto your ticket until you exit. The RER (Reseau Express Regional), the commuter train to the suburbs, serves as an express subway within central Paris; changing to and getting off the RER requires sticking your validated ticket into a turnstile. Watch the signboards next to the RER tracks and check that your stop is lit up before riding. Buses use the same 1.30 tickets (bought on the bus; validate in the machine by the driver), but transfer requires a new ticket. Buses run 6:30am-8:30pm, Autobus de Nuit until lam, and Noctambus (3-4 tickets) every hr. l:30-5:30am at stops marked with the bug-eyed moon between the Chatelet stop and the portes (city exits). The Mobilis pass covers the Metro, RER, and buses only (5 for a 1-day pass in Zones 1 and 2). A weekly pass (carte orange hebdomadaire) costs 13.75 and expires every Su; photo ID required. Refer to this book’s color maps of Paris’s transit network. Taxis: Alpha Taxis (01 45 85 85 85). Taxis 7000 (01 42 70 00 42). Cabs are expensive and take 3 passengers (there is a 2.45 surcharge for a 4th). The meter starts running when you phone. Cab stands are near train stations and major bus stops. Car Rental: Rent-a-Car, 79 r. de Bercy (01 43 45 98 99). Open M-Sa 8:30am-6pm. Bike Rental: Paris a velo, 2 r. de Fer-a-Moulin, 5Sme (01 43 37 59 22). M: Censier-Daubenton. Bike rental 14 per day. Open M-Sa 10am-12:30pm and 2-7pm.


Tourist Office: Bureau d’Accueil Central, 127 av. des Champs-Elysees, 8eme (08 92 68 31 12; M: Georges V. Open in summer daily 9am-8pm; off-season M-Sa 9am-8pm, Su llam-7pm.

Embassies: Australia, 4 r. Jean-Rey, 15feme (zr01 40 59 33 00; M: Bir-Hakeim. Open M-F 9:15am-noon and 2-4:30pm. Canada, 35 av. Montaigne, 8eme (01 44 43 29 00; M: Franklin-Roosevelt. Open M-F 9am-noon and 2-5pm. Ireland, 12, av. Foch, 16feme (sOl 44 17 67 00; M: Trocadero. Open M-F 9:30am-lpm and 2:30-5:30pm. New Zealand, 7ter r. Leonardo de Vinci, 16feme ( 01 45 01 43 43; www.nzembassy.comfrance). M: Victor-Hugo. Open July-Aug. M-Th 8:30am-lpm and 2-5:30pm, F 8:30am-2pm; Sept.-June M-F 9am-lpm and 2-5:30pm. South Africa, 59 quai d’Orsay, 7feme (01 53 59 23 23; M: Invalides. Open M-F 8:30am-5:45pm; visa services 9am-noon. UK, 18bis r. d’Anjou, 8feme (01 44 51 31 00; M: St-Augustin. Open M and W-F9:30am-12:30pm and 2:30-5pm,Tu 9:30am-4:30pm. US, 2 r. St-Forentin, ler (mOl 43 12 22 22; M: Concorde. Open M-F 9am-12:30pm and l-6pm; notarial services Tu-F 9am-noon. Skip the long line; go to the right and tell them you are there for American services.

Currency Exchange: Hotels, train stations, and airports offer poor rates but have extended hours; Gare de Lyon, Gare du Nord, and both airports have booths open 6:30am-10:30pm. Most ATMs accept Visa (“CBVISA”) and MasterCard (“EC”). Credit Lyonnais ATMs take AmEx; Credit Mutuel and Credit Agricole ATMs are on the Cirrus network; and most Visa ATMs accept PLUS-network cards.

American Express: llr. Scribe, 9feme (01 47 14 50 00), opposite the back of the Opera. M: Opera or Auber. Mail held for cardholders and AmEx Traveler’s Cheque holders. Open M-Sa 9am-6:30pm; exchange counters open Su 10am-5pm.


English-Language Bookstore: Shakespeare and Co. 37 r. de la Bucherie, 5eme, across the Seine from Notre-Dame. M: St-Michel. A Paris fixture for anglophones, with a quirky, wide selection of new and used books. Open daily noon-midnight.

Gay and Lesbian Services: Centre Gai et Lesbien, 3 r. Keller, llfeme (01 43 57 21 47). M: Ledru Rollin or Bastille. Info hub for all gay services and associations in Paris. English spoken. Open M-Sa 2-8pm, Su 2-7pm. Les Mots a la Bouche, 6 r. Ste-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 4feme ( 01 42 78 88 30;, is Paris’s largest gay and lesbian bookstore and serves as an unofficial info center. M: Hotel-de-Ville. Open M-Sa llam-llpm, Su 2-8pm.

Laundromats: Laundromats are everywhere, especially in the 5feme and 6feme. Arc en Ciel, 62 r. Arbre Sec, ler ( 01 42 41 39 39), does dry cleaning. M: Louvre.


Emergencies: Ambulance: 15. Fire: 18. Police: 17. For non-emergencies, head to the local gendarmerie (police force) in each arrondissement.

Crisis Lines: Rape, SOS Viol (08 00 05 95 95). Call free anywhere in France for counseling (medical and legal). Open M-F 10am-7pm. SOS Help! (01 46 21 46 46). Anonymous, confidential English-speaking crisis hotline. Open daily 3-1 lpm.

Hospitals: HSpital Americain de Paris, 63 bd. Hugo, Neuilly (a 01 46 41 25 25). M: Port Maillot, then bus #82 to the end of the line. Hdpital Franco-Britannique de Paris,

Barbes, in the Parisian suburb of Levallois-Perret (01 46 39 22 22). M: Anatole France. Has some English speakers, but don’t count on it. Hdpital Bichat, 46 r. Henri Buchard, 18feme (01 40 25 80 80). M: Port St-Ouen. Emergency services.

Pharmacies: Every arrondissement has a pharmacie de garde which opens in emergencies. The locations change, but their names are posted on every pharmacy’s door. Pharmacie Dhery, in the Galerie des Champs 84, av. des Champs-Elysees, 8eme ( 01 45 62 02 41). M: George V. Open 24hr. British & American Pharmacy, 1 r. Auber, 9eme (s01 42 65 88 29). M: Auber or Opera. Open daily 8am-8:30pm.

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