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Overview to Paris: Travel Guide and Tourist Information

Paris on the Seine River

A poll conducted recently in the UK found Paris to be the number one city for a lovers' getaway. But this merely confirms what artists, writers, songwriters and travelers have been saying for hundreds of years; Paris is simply gorgeous, and jaw-droppingly romantic.

The city is broken up into distinct districts (arrondissements) numbered from one to 20 that radiate out from the center. A surprisingly compact city, even those passing a long weekend there tend to feel that they've got to know it quite intimately.

The River Seine winds through the city. At its heart lies the evocative Ile St-Louis and the Ile de la Cite, home to big-name sights like the vast, Gothic Notre-Dame Cathedral and the stunning stained glass of Sainte-Chapelle.

A short stroll away takes you to the steps of the Louvre, arguably the world’s greatest art gallery. A vast treasure trove of some of the best works in the world, the Louvre’s permanent collection includes such masterpieces as the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.

If the River Seine is the city’s central artery then the Champs Elysees is its spine, running through the west of the city up to the impressive Arc de Triomphe. Nearby, like a postcard brought breathlessly to life, is the Eiffel Tower; the city’s most iconic landmark.

Elsewhere, to the north of Paris, bohemian Montmartre is home to the beautiful basilica of Sacre Coeur. Crowning the city’s highest point, it boasts stunning views of the urban sprawl below - a glorious patchwork quilt of different neighborhoods which spreads out at its feet.

The 1st arrondissement includes the lively quarter of Beaubourg and the Pompidou Centre. As well as being home to the mighty Pantheon, the Quartier Latin in the 5th is stuffed with laidback cafés and bistros, while nearby Rue Mouffetard has a vibrant market.

To the south lies Montparnasse, whose famous cemetery (along with Pere-Lachaise) is one of the city’s major attractions. Both contain a roll call of stars, from Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison to French icons like Gainsbourg, Piaf and Sartre.

Other wonderful parts of the city include the lively gay scene of the Marais (spanning the 3rd and 4th) and the attractive St-Germain (in the 6th and 7th). But, really, it ripples with life in every corner, and everywhere you look there’s something new to explore.

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