Name: Amanda Bambury
Attractions: Paris is home to countless attractions and places to visit. (Each site is listed with the arrondissement in which it is located.)
Frequently-visited sites include the Eiffel Tower (7th arr.), la Musée du Louvre (1st arr.), Place de la Concorde (1st arr.), Notre-Dame (1st arr.), l’Hôtel des Invalides (7th arr.), l’Arc de Triomphe (1st arr.), les Champs-Élysées (1st arr.), la Musée d’Orsay (7th arr.), Sacré-Coeur (18th arr.), and the Catacombs (14th arr.).
Some of the following sites and attractions may not immediately come to mind when one thinks about Paris, but are certainly deserving of a visit:
Le Centre Georges Pompidou (4th arr.), Paris’ modern art museum.
La musée Rodin (7th arr.), home to works of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin.
Palais Garnier (9th arr.), the Paris opera house built from 1861 to 1875.
L’Opera Bastille (12th arr.), a modern theatre.
Moulin Rouge (18th arr.), Paris’ famous cabaret.
Le Jardin des Tuileries (1st arr.) and le Jardin du Luxembourg (6th arr.), two of Paris’ beautiful gardens.
Le Bois de Boulogne (16th arr.), a large public park.
Parc de la Villette (19th arr.), a large park in Paris which is home to numerous concert venues, la Conservatoire de Paris, and Europe’s largest science museum.
La Conciergerie (1st arr.), a former prison which held some prisoners before they were taken to the guillotine, including Marie Antoinette.
La Musée nationale du Moyen Âge (5th arr.), also known as the Cluncy, houses an impressive collection medieval artifacts and the building itself is a beautiful example of medieval Parisian architecture.
Le Panthéon (5th arr.), a mausoleum which holds the remains of famous French citizens.
Place de la Bastille (at the intersection of the 4th, 11th, and 12th arr.), the site of the Bastille prison which was destroyed during the French Revolution.
Pont des Arts (6th arr.), a bridge connecting l’Institut de France and the Palais du Louvre, a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site which extends from the Eiffel Tower to the end of Île Saint-Louis. However, it is best known today for being the bridge covered in “love” locks.
Le Grand Palais (8th arr.), an exhibition hall. museum, and historical site.
La Cimetière du Père-Lachaise (20th arr.), the resting place of figures such as Oscar Wilde, Édith Piaf, Sarah Bernhardt, Frédéric Chopin, and Eugène Delacroix.
If you have the time, explore and walk through some of Paris’ neighborhoods. Especially recommended are Montmartre (18th arr.) and le Marais (3rd and 4th arr.). If you’re interested in modern architecture, visit la Défense, Paris’ major business district which is nicknamed the Manhattan of Paris. If you want a different way to see Paris, Bateaux Mouches offer sightseeing while cruising down the Seine.
Faith: Paris is home to places of worship for a wide variety of religions:
La Cathédrale Notre-Dame is a must-see in Paris and needs no introduction. If you wish to go to Mass at Notre-Dame, be sure to not wait in the long line for visitors. Mass-goers may go directly into the cathedral
La Basilique du Sacré-Cœur is a stunning basilica in the neighbor of Montmartre, in the 18th arrondissement. The basilica sits atop a hill and offers a great view of Paris, which is especially gorgeous at night.
Nestled in the 7th arrondissement of Paris is la Chapelle de la Médaille Miraculeuse. Ste. Catherine Labouré saw the Blessed Virgin Mary on three occasions in 1830. On November 27, 1830, Ste. Catherine was instructed by Mary to bring the Miraculous Medal into the world. These apparitions occurred in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. It’s a very popular pilgrimage site; one visit will show you why!
Sainte-Chapelle is a Gothic chapel in the center of Paris, in the 1st arrondissement. It was commissioned by St. Louis IX (King of France from 1226 until 1270) to house his collection of Passion relics, including the Crown of Thorns. While the chapel no longer houses these relics, it is one of the most extensive and stunning collections of stained glass in the world.
Paris is also close to the cities of Lisieux, home to Ste. Therese, and Rouen, where Ste. Jeanne d’Arc was martyred.
Other Christian churches in Paris include the American Cathedral in Paris (8th arrondissement) which is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the interdenominational American Church in Paris (7th arrondissement).
La Grande Mosquée de Paris is located in the 5th arrondissement and one can find la Grande Synagogue de la Victoire in the 9th. The largest Buddhist temple in Europe is located just outside of Paris, in a suburb called Bussy-Saint-Georges. This is the European headquarters of rht Fo Guang Shan monastic order.
Food: Paris will never leave you wanting for good food. For a cheap meal, walk around the Latin Quarter surrounding Place Saint-Michel (5th arr.). Be sure to visit a boulangerie for some delicious baguettes and other breads, and treat yourself to some pastries at a pâtisserie. Food in Paris can be quite expensive, but you will find delicious, inexpensive food at grocery stores (try Monoprix, Franprix, or Carrefour) and boulangeries/pâtisseries. Most restaurants post their menus outside so you can look at the price range before deciding on a place to eat.
The macaron is a particularly loved and treasured French pastry. Founded in 1862, Ladurée is one of France’s most well-renowned pâtisseries offers delicious, classic macarons. If you’re interested in wonderful macarons with unique flavors, visit one of the pâtisseries belonging to Pierre Hermé, named the “Picasso of Pastry.” Most Parisians have a fierce loyalty to either Ladurée or Pierre Hermé…which will you choose?
Housing: Students participating in a study abroad program in Paris live in the Foundation des États-Unis at the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris, located in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. The Cité Universitaire is a complex made up of dormitories representing various nationalities and situated around gardens and courtyards. The Foundation has about 200 rooms, 50% of which go to students from the U.S. All rooms are single-occupancy and are furnished with a bed, nightstand, lamp, desk, chair, closet, and sink. There are about three shared, co-ed bathrooms with showers and a toilet on every floor. Each floor also has a shared kitchen, and there are several common areas in the Fondation.
Local Celebrations: The Fête de la Musique takes place on June 21st of every year and features all music lovers playing their instruments all throughout the city.
Le 14 juillet, known as Bastille Day, unsurprisingly takes place on July 14th every year and is France’s national holiday.
Paris Plages (Paris Beaches) take place from late July until mid-August every year and transform the side of the Seine into a vibrant beach.
Nuit Blanche (White Night) is an annual festival in Paris which takes place around the beginning of October. During this night, countless attractions in Paris (including museums, galleries, city halls) remain open all night and give free entry to visitors.
Les Journées du Patrimoine (Heritage Days) were established by the European Union in 1991. This celebration takes place during a weekend in September and offers (often free) access to well-known, off-bounds, and sometimes unusual historical monuments.
From the end of November until the beginning of January, Christmas and winter festivities appear all around Paris. Be sure to visit multiple Marchés de Noël (Christmas markets, including locations at les Champs-Elysées, la Défense, Montparnasse, and Saint-Germain-des-Prés) and take in the beautiful Christmas lights on the Champs-Elysées.
Paris Fashion Week takes place in early March and hardly needs an introduction. During Fashion Week, you will run into countless models and designers if you hang out in the Jardin des Tuileries.
Miscellaneous: While in Paris, it is essential to adopt a city-appropriate attitude. For those accustomed to living in and/or visiting large cities, some of these precautions may come naturally. Regardless of whether you are used to being in a big city or not, Paris has its own set of unspoken rules:
1) No eye contact: For women, making even accidental eye contact with a man you do not know may be perceived as an invitation to flirt. While this rule is especially applicable in public transportation (where there aren’t many places to look), it applies everywhere. In Paris, people do not make eye contact with or smile at the strangers around them, they keep to themselves.
2) Do not chat with strangers: This applies even in line at the grocery store. This “rule” is also a cultural norm in Paris.
3) Keep a low profile: Avoid looking like a tourist at all costs. Tourists are perceived as easy targets for pick pocketers. Avoid speaking English loudly in public, stay away from crowds milling around with no apparent focus, and try not to go out in large groups of obviously American students.
4) Use common sense and street smarts: Be aware of your surroundings at all times, do not travel alone at night if you can avoid it, and always travel in well-lit areas when traveling at night.
Pick pocketing is common in Paris, but taking a few precautions makes it avoidable. A general rule is don’t act like a tourist and be extra cautious in areas that are heavily populated with tourists. Make sure any bags or purses you carry with you are well-sealed so that they would pose a hassle to potential thieves. Men: do not keep your wallets in your back pockets. Women: keep one hand physically on your purse or bag at all times. Pick pocketers in Paris are skilled and know how to blend in; for example, they may be well-dressed in business attire to appear as regular commuters during rush hour. Even children are often recruited to pick pocket.
Transportation & Travel: Using public transportation is necessary to get around Paris. The modes of public transportation in Paris are the Métro, RER, tramway, and bus. RATP (Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens) operates the public transportation in Paris, including all four modes previously mentioned. Their website (ratp.fr) offers helpful information, including a service which tells you how to get from one stop to another according to whether you want the quickest route, the route with the fewest transfers, or if you prefer to stick with one particular mode of transportation. RATP has an app for iPhone and Android users, which is extremely helpful for navigating public transportation on the go. It is also a good idea to carry around a métro map; pocket-sized maps are available for free at numerous stops and easily fit into your wallet.
You can either purchase individual tickets of a transportation card to use public transport. For long-term visitors or those living in Paris, purchasing a card is by far the most economical way of using public transportation. There are two primary options, the Navigo and the Carte Imagine R. For more information, visit www.navigo.fr and www.imagine-r.com.
For travelling outside of the city, Paris is an excellent, central location to travel from; there is no shortage of places you can travel to and Paris offers the opportunity to take day trips to a variety of nearby cities in France. The most common forms of travel from Paris are the SNCF (French train system) and the three Paris airports: Roissy–Charles de Gaulle (CDG), Orly (ORY), and Beauvais-Tillé (BVA).
SNCF offers numerous discount cards, including the Carte Jeune for people ages 18–27. A Carte Jeune costs 50 € and gives you a 25–60% discount on all train tickets purchased through SNCF (the discount depends on the type of train you take and when you purchase your ticket). You can purchase a Carte Jeune at a train station or online at www.sncf.fr. To use the trains in Europe, you can also purchase a Eurail pass before you leave. Eurail pass details change each year. Get information from Raileurope.com, Anthony Travel on campus, or your travel agency at home.