The fascination of the French capital, ‘the city of cities’, as Victor Hugo put it – is eternal. It has been growing and changing for over 2,000 years, and each of its many layers is rich in history and intrigue. Unlike many European cities, it was left almost unscathed by the two world wars, and its celebrated streets, monuments and museums still work their centuries-old magic today.
Paris is a city ideal for strolling – there is always something completely different around the next corner; begin at place de la Concorde, and before you realize it you can have walked through the Napoleonic arcades of rue de Rivoli and the charming squares and lanes of the Marais to the Bastille, or past the riverside quais and street markets on the Rive Gauche (Left Bank) of the Seine to the famous bohemian gathering-points in the cafés of St-Germain. Associations with all the thousands of famous past residents – artists, writers, thinkers, musicians, decadents – are intertwined with the life of the city.
Surrounding the capital, the Ile de France offers the glories of the palaces of Versailles and Fontainebleau, the thrills of Disneyland and the serenity of the forest of Chantilly – all easily reached by train from the city center.