What are some ways to discover Paris for first time visitors?

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Answered by: Jeff, An Expert in the Traveling in Paris Category
Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Its unique architecture and rich history make it a gem for those looking to explore the city and see its various sites. Upon looking at a map, one will initially discover that the city is divided into twenty neighborhoods, or arrondissements, as the French refer to them. Since each of the twenty neighborhoods has its own distinct flavor and vibe, first time visitors will sometimes feel uncertainty over where they should go or what they should see during their trip. Luckily, Paris is a relatively small city and much of it can be explored in just a few days. In any case, it is always good to acquaint one’s self with a new city before an initial visit.

Even though Paris is equipped with a reliable and convenient metro system, one of the best ways to see the city is by foot. In fact, French people even have a word for this: flânerie, which is essentially the act of wandering around a city and experiencing whatever it has to offer. For the more adventure types, Paris boasts its own bike sharing system called Vélib, which, for a small fee, allows users to take advantage of the many bike-friendly roadways within the city. Biking around is a great way to see many of the city’s neighborhoods in a short amount of time. The most prominent geographical feature in Paris is the Seine, the famous river the flows through the middle of city and separates the Right Bank from the Left. The banks of the Seine are oftentimes full of activity, especially during warm summer nights when people gather with friends to enjoy an evening drink while basking in the picturesque setting.

Those looking to explore the city’s most popular tourist attractions might be happy to learn that a lot of it can be accomplished within one day, assuming that careful planning is involved. The Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Louvre are all centrally located, with the same being true for the Luxembourg and Tuileries Gardens. Although a bit out of the way, one of the most frequented tourist spots can be found in the 18th arrondissement. Sitting atop a hill and offering sweeping views of the city is a church called Sacré Coeur. The church’s unique architectural features, along with the beautiful city views, makes this area a preferred destination for many first time visitors to the city. Moreover, the surrounding neighborhood hosts an abundance of delicious restaurants and interesting shops that are located on charming, narrow streets.

For visitors seeking exploration in less touristy areas, the neighborhoods located in the northeastern part of the city are places that should definitely be checked out, namely the 10th, 11th, 19th, and 20th arrondissements. Many middle class Parisians live in these neighborhoods because rent has been historically cheaper and they have therefore attracted lots of students and families. These neighborhoods have also developed a reputation for being cool, hosting a vibrant artistic community along with several popular restaurants. With so much to do and see in Paris, it is no wonder why the city has remained such a popular tourist destination for years.

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