Paris

What you need to know before you go

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    Visitors flock to Paris from every corner of the globe for a taste of Europe's resplendent past – whether that means marvelling at the outlandish Gothic grandeur of Notre-Dame Cathedral, or coming face-to-face with the enigmatic Mona Lisa in the legendary Louvre art museum.

    But scratch between the refined surface of the iconic French capital and you'll find a multicultural modern metropolis, replete with cutting-edge galleries, quirky flea markets and dress-to-impress nightclubs. It's also a culinary juggernaut, where you can feast on French staples like succulent steak frites and mouth-watering mussels in garlic and wine sauce.

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    Let a Paris city break whisk you away on a journey into a wealth of history, haute cuisine, and fine arts. Stroll back to your Paris hotel hand-in-hand across the River Seine at twilight and discover your very own City of Light.

    Get your bearings

    The River Seine flows through Paris, separating the central area into the Right Bank and Left Bank. The Right Bank starts with the Louvre Museum and Renaissance-era Marais district, with the tree-lined Avenue des Champs-Élysées and major department stores further north. On the Left Bank, south of the River Seine, the Latin Quarter borders the Luxembourg Gardens. The Eiffel Tower dominates the skyline further west. Sitting in the middle of the Seine are two islands: the Île de la Cité, crowned by Notre Dame Cathedral, and Île St-Louis, a quiet enclave of 17th-century houses.

    Centuries of culture

    A day at the Louvre Museum gives just a hint of the treasures collected over the centuries – da Vinci’s enigmatic Mona Lisa is just one of 35,000 works of art on display. Spend the afternoon with Degas, Renoir and other French Impressionists at the Orsay Museum, and discover new angles on art at the Pompidou Centre in the Marais district. Dress up for an evening of opera or ballet at the opulent Palais Garnier or glossily modern Opéra Bastille. Alternatively, come as you are to hear traditional French songs by candlelight in Belleville, the multicultural district Edith Piaf called home.

    Parisian wining and dining

    Sipping an aperitif or coffee at an open-air café is an essential Paris city break experience, from hill-top Montmartre to the Latin Quarter. Order champagne and burgundy by the glass at mirror-lined wine bars in the Marais backstreets, then travel back to the 19th century at ornate brasseries in Montparnasse. Every neighbourhood has its local bistro serving fluffy omelettes and rich game dishes like rabbit and duck. The Belleville district specialises in Middle Eastern, Vietnamese and other ethnic cuisines.

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