Destination guide: Paris, France

Paris is the capital of France and one of the most famous cities in Europe.

Each year, thousands of tourists arrive in the so-called "City of Love" to visit the Eiffel Tower, the River Seine, the Moulin Rouge, the Olympic Stadium, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre Museum, the Champs Elysees and Notre Dame Cathedral, as well as many other attractions.

Paris has a bohemian, inspiring and sublime atmosphere, which is why it's normal to see artists looking for their muses, poets reciting their poetry and people reading in public. Plan your trip to Paris and discover all the charm this city has to offer.

  • Paris - Things to do

    Sights

    Musée du Louvre

    The vast Palais du Louvre was constructed as a fortress by Philippe-Auguste in the early 13th century and rebuilt in the mid-16th century for use as a royal residence. The Revolutionary Convention turned it into a national museum in 1793. The paintings, sculptures and artefacts on display in the Louvre Museum have been amassed by subsequent French governments. Among them are works of art and artisanship from all over Europe and collections of Assyrian, Etruscan, Greek, Coptic and Islamic art and antiquities. The Louvre’s raison d’être is essentially to present Western art from the Middle Ages to about 1848 (at which point the Musée d’Orsay across the river in the 7e takes over), as well as the works of ancient civilisations that formed the starting point for Western art.

    When the museum opened in the late 18th century it contained 2500 paintings and objets d’art; today some 35,000 are on display. The ‘Grand Louvre’ project inaugurated by the late President Mitterrand in 1989 doubled the museum’s exhibition space, and both new and renovated galleries have opened in recent years devoted to objets d’art such as the crown jewels of Louis XV (Room 66, 1st floor, Apollo Gallery, Denon Wing). Daunted by the richness and sheer size of the place, the Louvre may be the most actively avoided museum in the world by locals and visitors alike. Eventually, most people who visit, get lost on their way to da Vinci’s La Joconde, better known as Mona Lisa (Room 7, 1st floor, Salle de la Joconde, Denon Wing). Your best bet – after checking out a few that you really want to see – is to choose a particular period or section of the Louvre and pretend that the rest is in another museum somewhere across town.

    The most famous works from antiquity include the Squatted Scribe (Room 22, 1st floor, Sully Wing), the Code of Hammurabi (Room 3, ground floor, Richelieu Wing) and that armless duo, the Venus de Milo (Room 7, ground floor, Denon Wing) and the Winged Victory of Samothrace (opposite Room 1, 1st floor, Denon Wing). From the Renaissance, don’t miss Michelangelo’s The Dying Slave (Room 4, ground floor, Michelangelo Gallery, Denon Wing) and works by Raphael, Botticelli and Titian (1st floor, Denon Wing). French masterpieces of the 19th century include Ingres’ The Turkish Bath (off Room 60, 2nd floor, Sully Wing), Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa (Room 77, 1st floor, Denon Wing) and works by Corot, Delacroix and Fragonard (2nd floor, Sully Wing). The main entrance and ticket windows in the Cour Napoléon are covered by the 21m-high Grande Pyramide.

    Tickets are valid for the whole day, so you can come and go as you please. They are also valid for the Musée National Eugène Delacroix on the same day. The Louvre is divided into four sections: the Sully, Denon and Richelieu wings and Hall Napoléon. Sully creates the four sides of the Cour Carrée (literally ‘square courtyard’) at the eastern end of the complex. Denon stretches along the Seine to the south; Richelieu is the northern wing running along rue de Rivoli. The split-level public area under the Grande Pyramide is known as the Hall Napoléon. The hall has a temporary exhibition hall, a bookshop and souvenir store, a café and auditoriums for lectures and films. The centrepiece of the Carrousel du Louvre, the shopping centre that runs underground from the pyramid to the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, is the pyramide inversée (inverted glass pyramid) , also by Pei.

    Free English-language maps of the complex (entitled Plan/Information Louvre ) can be obtained from the circular information desk in the centre of the Hall Napoléon. An attractive and useful memento is the DVD entitled Louvre: The Visit (€26). All are available from the museum bookshop.

    English-language guided tours lasting 1½ hours depart from the area under the Grande Pyramide, marked Acceuil des Groupes (Groups Reception), at 11am, 2pm and (sometimes) 3.45pm Monday to Saturday, excluding of course Tuesday. Tickets cost €5 in addition to the cost of admission. Groups are limited to 30 people, so it’s a good idea to sign up at least 30 minutes before departure time. Self-paced audioguide tours in six languages, with 1½ hours of commentary, can be rented for €6 under the pyramid at the entrance to each wing.

    Latitude: 48.8606210420099 / Longitude: 2.3375988006592
    Sub-Type: Museum
    Telephone Number: +33 1 40 20 53 17
    Opening Hours: 9am-6pm Mon, Thu, Sat & Sun, to 10pm Wed & Fri
    Pricing: permanent collections/permanent collections & temporary exhibits adult €9.50/14, after 6pm Wed & Fri adult €6/12, permanent collections free for EU resident under 26yr, everyone under 18yr & after 6pm Fri for 18-25yr, 1st Sun of the month free for all Address: place du Louvre
    Extras: 1er
    TransportationType: underground rail
    Details: Palais Royal–Musée du Louvre
    Email: info@louvre.fr
    Website: www.louvre.fr

    Cathédrale de Notre Dame de Paris

    This is the heart of Paris – so much so that distances from Paris to every part of metropolitan France are measured from place du Parvis Notre Dame, the square in front of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Paris. A bronze star across the street from the cathedral’s main entrance marks the exact location of point zéro des routes de France. Notre Dame, the most visited unticketed site in Paris with upwards of 14 million people crossing its threshold a year, is not just a masterpiece of French Gothic architecture but was also the focus of Catholic Paris for seven centuries. Built on a site occupied by earlier churches, it was begun in 1163 according to the design of Bishop Maurice de Sully and largely completed by the early 14th century. The cathedral was badly damaged during the Revolution; architect Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc carried out extensive renovations between 1845 and 1864.

    The cathedral is on a very grand scale; the interior alone is 130m long, 48m wide and 35m high and can accommodate more than 6000 worshippers. Notre Dame is known for its sublime balance, though if you look closely you’ll see all sorts of minor asymmetrical elements introduced to avoid monotony, in accordance with standard Gothic practice. These include the slightly different shapes of each of the three main portals, whose statues were once brightly coloured to make them more effective as a Biblia pauperum – a ‘Bible of the poor’ to help the illiterate faithful understand Old Testament stories, the Passion of the Christ and the lives of the saints.

    One of the best views of Notre Dame is from square Jean XXIII, the little park behind the cathedral, where you can appreciate better the forest of ornate flying buttresses that encircle the chancel and support its walls and roof. Inside, exceptional features include three spectacular rose windows, the most renowned of which are the 10m-wide one over the western facade above the 7800-pipe organ, and the window on the northern side of the transept, which has remained virtually unchanged since the 13th century. The central choir, with its carved wooden stalls and statues representing the Passion of the Christ, is also noteworthy.

    There are free 1½-hour guided tours of the cathedral, given in English. The trésor in the southeastern transept contains artwork, liturgical objects, church plate and first-class relics, some of them of questionable origin. Among these is the Ste-Couronne, the ‘Holy Crown’, which is purportedly the wreath of thorns placed on Jesus’ head before he was crucified, and was brought here in the mid-13th century. It is exhibited between 3pm and 4pm on the first Friday of each month, 3pm to 4pm every Friday during Lent, and 10am to 5pm on Good Friday.

    Latitude: 48.8529832421452 / Longitude: 2.3500013351440
    Sub-Type: Architecture
    Telephone Number: +33 1 42 34 56 10
    Opening Hours: 8am-6.45pm Mon-Fri, to 7.15pm Sat & Sun, information desk 9.30am-6pm Mon-Sat, 9am-6pm Sun
    Pricing
    : audioguide €5
    Address: 6 place du Parvis Notre Dame
    Extras: 4e
    Transportation Type: underground rail
    Details
    : Cité
    Email: info@cathedraleDeParis.com
    Website: www.cathedraledeparis.com

    Eiffel Tower

    There are many ways to experience the Eiffel Tower, from an evening ascent amid the lights to a meal in one of its two restaurants, and even though some seven million people come annually, few would dispute the fact that each visit is unique. Like many Parisian icons (the Centre Pompidou or the Louvre’s glass pyramid), it has gone from being roundly criticised by city residents to much loved – though the transformation didn’t take place overnight.

    Named after its designer, Gustave Eiffel, la Tour Eiffel was built for the 1889 Exposition Universelle (World Fair), marking the centenary of the French Revolution. At the time it faced massive opposition from Paris’ artistic and literary elite, and the ‘metal asparagus’, as some Parisians snidely called it, was almost torn down in 1909 – spared because it proved an ideal platform for the transmitting antennas needed for the newfangled science of radiotelegraphy.

    Today, the three levels are open to the public (entrance to the 1st level is included in all admission tickets), though the top level will close in heavy wind. You can either take the lifts (in the east, west and north pillars) or, if you’re feeling fit, the stairs in the south pillar up to the 2nd platform. Highly recommended is the online booking system that allows you to buy your tickets in advance, thus avoiding the monumental queues at the ticket office. Note that you need to be able to print out your tickets to use this service or have your ticket on a smart-phone screen (eg Blackberry or iPhone) that can be read by the scanner at the entrance.

    Latitude: 48.8582493546056 / Longitude: 2.2945117950440
    Sub-Type: Tower
    Telephone Number: +33 8 92 70 12 39
    Opening Hours: lifts & stairs 9am-midnight mid-Jun–Aug, lifts 9.30am-11pm, stairs 9.30am-6pm Sep–mid-Jun
    Pricing: to 2nd fl adult/12-24yr/4-12yr €8.10/6.40/4, to 3rd fl €13.10/11.50/9, stairs to 2nd fl €4.50/3.50/3
    Transportation Type: underground rail
    Details: Champ de Mars–Tour Eiffel or Bir Hakeim
    Website: www.tour-eiffel.fr

    Centre Pompidou

    The Centre National d’Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou (Georges Pompidou National Centre of Art & Culture), also known as the Centre Beaubourg, has amazed and delighted visitors since it was inaugurated in 1977, not just for its outstanding collection of modern art but also for its radical architectural statement.

    Latitude: 48.8605363408234 / Longitude: 2.3523509502411
    Sub-Type:Gallery
    Telephone Number: +33 1 44 78 12 33
    Opening Hours: noon-10pm Mon & Wed-Fri, 11am-10pm Sat & Sun
    Pricing
    : full €10.00, concession €8.00, Prices are for Musée Nationale d'Art Moderne: entry free 1st Sun of month, under 18 free, price varies for exhibitions & events. Forum du Centre Pompidou free
    Address: place Georges Pompidou
    Extras: 4e
    Transportation Type: underground rail
    Details: Rambuteau
    Website: www.bpi.fr

    Musée de l’Orangerie

    This museum in the southwestern corner of the Jardin des Tuileries is, with the Jeu de Paume, all that remains of the once palatial Palais des Tuileries, which was razed during the Paris Commune in 1871. It exhibits important impressionist works, including an eight-panel series of Monet’s Decorations des Nymphéas (Water Lilies) in two huge oval rooms purpose-built in 1927 to the artist’s specifications, as well as paintings by Cézanne, Matisse, Renoir, Rousseau, Soutine and Utrillo. Add €2 for temporary exhibits. A 1½-hour guided tour in English at 2.30pm on Monday and Thursday costs €8/6; an audioguide is €5.

    Latitude: 48.8637478271607 / Longitude: 2.3226267099381
    Sub-Type: Gallery
    Telephone Number: +33 1 44 77 80 07
    Opening Hours: 9am-6pm Wed-Mon
    Pricing: adult/student & 18-25yr €7.50/5.50, permanent collections free for EU resident under 26yr, everyone under 18yr & 1st Sun of the month
    Extras: 1er
    Transportation
    Type: underground rail
    Details: Concorde
    Website: www.musee-orangerie.fr

    Shop

    E Dehillerin

    Founded in 1820, this two-level shop carries an incredible selection of professional-quality matériel de cuisine (kitchenware). You’re sure to find something you desperately need, such as a coupe volaille (poultry scissors) or even a turbotiére (turbot poacher).

    Latitude: 48.8637019502353 / Longitude: 2.3427808284760
    Sub-Type: Home & Garden
    Telephone Number: +33 1 42 36 53 13
    Opening Hours: 9am-12.30pm & 2-6pm Mon, 9am-6pm Tue-Sat
    Address: 18-20 rue Coquillière
    Extras: 1er
    Transportation Type: underground rail
    Details: Les Halles
    Website: www.dehillerin.com

    Fromagerie Alléosse

    In our opinion, this is the best cheese shop in Paris and worth a trip across town. Cheeses are sold as they should be – grouped into five main categories: fromage de chèvre (goat’s milk cheese), fromage à pâte persillée (veined or blue cheese), fromage à pâte molle (soft cheese), fromage à pâte demi-dure (semihard cheese) and fromage à pâte dure (hard cheese). Ask for advice.

    Latitude: 48.8789954000000 / Longitude: 2.2964221920000
    Sub-Type
    : Food & Drink
    Telephone Number: +33 1 46 22 50 45
    Opening Hours: 9.30am-1pm & 4-7pm Tue-Thu, 9am-1pm & 3.30-7pm Fri & Sat, 9am-1pm Sun
    Address
    : 13 rue Poncelet
    Extras: 17e
    Transportation Type: underground rail
    Details: Ternes
    Website: www.alleosse.com

    La Maison de l'Astronomie

    If you’ve ever had the inclination to gaze at the stars, visit this large shop just west of the Hôtel de Ville. The 1st floor is positively crammed with telescopes, some of which can run into tens of thousands of euros. It also stocks astronomical books, periodicals, sky maps, binoculars and globes.

    Latitude: 48.8576060400000 / Longitude: 2.3506428110000
    Sub-Type: Games & Hobbies
    Telephone Number: +33 1 42 77 99 55
    Opening Hours: 10.30am-6.40pm Tue-Sat
    Address: 33-35 rue de Rivoli
    Extras: 4e
    Transportation Type: underground rail
    Details: Hôtel de Ville
    Website: www.maison-astronomie.com

    Eat

    Bistrot du Sommelier

    This is the place to choose if you are as serious about wine as you are about food. The whole point of this attractive eatery is to match wine with food, and owner Philippe Faure-Brac, one of the world’s foremost sommeliers, is at hand to help. The best way to sample his wine-food pairings is on Friday, when a three-course tasting lunch with wine is €50 and a five-course dinner with wine is €75. The food, prepared by chef Jean-André Lallican, is hearty bistro fare and, surprisingly, not all the wines are French.

    Latitude: 48.8748501100000 / Longitude: 2.3177716330000
    Sub-Type: French
    Telephone Number: +33 1 42 65 24 85
    Opening Hours: lunch & dinner to 10.30pm Mon-Fri
    Pricing: starters €13.50-22, mains €24-30, lunch menu €33, with wine €43, dinner menus €65/80/110
    Price Range: High
    Address
    : 97 blvd Haussmann
    Extras: 8e
    Transportation Type: underground rail
    Details
    : St-Augustin
    Website: www.bistrotdusommelier.com

    Le Maquis

    If you're in Butte Montmartre and despairing over the choice of eateries (overpriced with poor service), give the Butte the boot and head the short distance north to rue Caulaincourt and this typical bistro with cuisine traditionelle (traditional cooking). The name refers to the neighbourhood and not the French Resistance or the herbal underbrush of Corsica. The set lunch includes a 25cL pichet of wine.

    Latitude: 48.8894887200000 / Longitude: 2.3349883740000
    Sub-Type: French
    Telephone Number: +33 1 42 59 76 07
    Opening Hours: lunch & dinner to 10pm Tue-Sat
    Pricing
    : starters €10, mains €17, menus €14 (lunch only), €21 & €32
    Price Range: Moderate
    Address: 69 rue Caulaincourt
    Extras: 18e
    Transportation Type: underground rail
    Details: Lamarck–Caulaincourt

    L’Ambassade d’Auvergne

    The ‘Auvergne Embassy’ is the place to head if you are a truly hungry carnivore. This century-old restaurant offers traditional dishes from the Auvergne such as salade tiède de lentilles vertes du Puy (warm salad of green Puy lentils; €9), a great lead-up to the house speciality: saucisse de Parlan à l’aligot (Auvergne-style pork sausage served with a potato and cheese purée; €14).

    Latitude: 48.8630067332193 / Longitude: 2.3533862829208
    Sub-Type:
    French
    Telephone Number: +33 1 42 72 31 22
    Opening Hours: lunch & dinner to 10pm
    Pricing: starters €8-17, mains €14-23, menu €20 (lunch only) & €28
    Price Range: Moderate
    Address
    : 22 rue du Grenier St-Lazare
    Extras: 3e
    Transportation
    Type: underground rail
    Details: Rambuteau
    Website: www.ambassade-auvergne.com

    Entertaiment

    Angélina

    Take a break from the long trek along the Tuileries gardens and line up for a table at Angélina, along with lunching ladies, their posturing poodles and half the students from Tokyo University. This beautiful, high-ceilinged tearoom has exquisite furnishings, mirrored walls and fabulous fluffy cakes. More importantly, it serves the best and most wonderfully sickening ‘African’ hot chocolate in the history of time (€6.90), served with a pot of whipped cream. It’s a positive meal replacement (though breakfast is €16.50 to €27.50).

    Latitude: 48.8652017510082 / Longitude: 2.3279750347138
    Sub-Type: Tea
    Telephone Number: +33 1 42 60 82 00
    Opening Hours: 8am-7pm Mon-Fri, 9am-7pm Sat & Sun
    Price
    Range: Low
    Address: 226 rue de Rivoli
    Extras
    : 1er
    Transportation Type: underground rail
    Details
    : Tuileries

    Harry’s New York Bar

    One of the most popular American-style bars in the prewar years (when there were several dozen in Paris), Harry’s once welcomed such habitués as literature writers F Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, who no doubt sampled the bar’s unique cocktail and creation: the Bloody Mary (€12.50). The Cuban mahogany interior dates from the mid-19th century and was brought over from a Manhattan bar in 1911.

    There’s a basement piano bar called Ivories where Gershwin supposedly composed An American in Paris and, for the peckish, old-school hot dogs (€6) and generous club sandwiches to snack on. The advertisement for Harry’s that occasionally appears in the papers still reads ‘Tell the Taxi Driver Sank Roo Doe Noo’ and is copyrighted.

    Latitude: 48.8692113500000 / Longitude: 2.3320217350000
    Sub-Type: Cocktail Bar
    Telephone Number: +33 1 42 61 71 14
    Opening Hours: 10.30am-4am
    Address: 5 rue Daunou
    Extras: 2e
    Transportation Type: underground rail
    Details: Opéra

    Académie de Billard

    Beneath stained-glass ceilings, this old-fashioned pool hall lit by antique lamps is staffed by bow tie-wearing waiters, who deliver your drinks while you snooker your opponents. Players must be over 18; bring photo ID.

    Latitude: 48.8829065887053 / Longitude: 2.3275244235992
    Sub-Type: Sports
    Telephone Number:  +33 1 48 78 32 85
    Opening Hours: 11:00-06:00
    Pricing
    : pool per hr from €5
    Address: 84 rue de Clichy, 18e
    Transportation Type: underground rail
    Details: Place de Clichy

    Events Overviews

    Innumerable festivals, cultural and sporting events and trade shows take place in Paris throughout the year; weekly details appear in Pariscope and L’Officiel des Spectacles. You can also find them listed under ‘What’s On’ on the website of the Paris Convention & Visitors Bureau (www.parisinfo.com) . The following abbreviated list gives you a taste of what to expect throughout the year.

    Month by Month

    January & February

    Grande Parade de Paris

    The Great Paris Parade is relatively subdued after the previous night’s shenanigans.It takes place on the afternoon of New Year’s Day, with marching and carnival bands, dance acts and so on. It used to be held in the small backstreets of Montmartre but has become so popular that it has spread to the Grand Boulevards, from rue du Faubourg St-Denis at bd Bonne Nouvelle in the 10e to place de la Madeleine in the 8e.

    www.parisparade.com

    Louis XVI Commemorative Mass

    On the Sunday closest to 21 January, royalists and right-wingers attend a mass at the Chapelle Expiatoire marking the execution by guillotine of King Louis XVI in 1793.

    www.monuments-nationaux.fr

    Fashion Week

    Prêt-à-porter, the ready-to-wear fashion salon held twice a year (in late January and in September), is a must for fashion buffs and takes place at the Parc des Expositions at Porte de Versailles in the 15e (metro Porte de Versailles), southwest of the city centre. For haute couture (high fashion) and other collections, see Mode à Paris (www.modeaparis.com).

    www.pretparis.com

    Chinese New Year

    Dragon parades and other festivities are held in late January or early February in two distinct Chinatowns: the smaller, more authentic one in the 3e, taking in rue du Temple, rue au Maire and rue de Turbigo (metro Temple or Arts et Métiers); and the larger, flashier one in the 13e in between porte de Choisy, porte d’Ivry and bd Masséna (metro Porte de Choisy, Port d’Ivry or Tolbiac).

    www.paris.fr

    Salon International de l'Agriculture

    A 10-day international agricultural fair with produce and animals turned into starter and main-course dishes from all over France, held at the Parc des Expositions at Porte de Versailles in the 15e (metro Porte de Versailles) from late February to early March.

    www.salon-agriculture.com

    March - April

    Banlieues Bleues

    The ‘Suburban Blues’ jazz, blues and R&B festival is held over five weeks in March and April in the northern suburbs of Paris, including St-Denis, and attracts some big-name talent.

    www.banlieuesbleues.org

    Salon du Livre

    The largest international book fair in France takes place over six days (usually Friday to Wednesday) in mid-March at the Parc des Expositions at Porte de Versailles in the 15e (metro Porte de Versailles).

    www.salondulivreparis.com

    Printemps du Cinéma

    Selected cinemas across Paris offer film-goers a unique entry fee of €3.50 over three days (usually Sunday, Monday and Tuesday) sometime around 21 March.

    www.printempsducinema.com

    Foire du Trône

    This huge funfair, with 350 attractions spread over 10 hectares, is held on the pelouse de Reuilly of the Bois de Vincennes (metro Porte Dorée) for eight weeks from early April to late May.

    www.foiredutrone.com

    Marathon International de Paris

    The Paris International Marathon, usually held on the first or second Sunday of April, starts on the av des Champs-Élysées, 8e, and finishes on av Foch, in the 16e, attracting some 40,000 runners from around the world. The Semi-Marathon de Paris (www.semideparis.com) is a half-marathon held in early March; see the website for map and registration details.

    www.parismarathon.com

    Foire de Paris

    This huge modern-living fair, including crafts, gadgets and widgets as well as food and wine, is held from late April to early May at the Parc des Expositions at Porte de Versailles in the 15e (metro Porte de Versailles).

    www.foiredeparis.fr

    La Nuit des MusÉes Européenne

    Key museums across Paris throw open their doors at 6pm for one Saturday night in mid-May – the European Museums Night – and don’t close till late. Some also organise special events.

    www.nuitdesmusees.culture.fr

    Art Dt-Germain des Prés

    Some 70 galleries in the 6e come together in mid-May to showcase their top artists.

    www.artsaintgermaindespres.com

    Ateliers d’Artistes de Belleville

    More than 200 painters, sculptors and other artists in Belleville (metro Belleville) in the 10e open their studio doors to visitors over four days (Friday to Monday) in late May in an event that has now been going for two decades.

    www.ateliers-artistes-belleville.org

    June & August

    Foire St-Germain

    This six-week-long festival of concerts and theatre from early June to mid-July takes place on the place St-Sulpice, 6e (metro St-Sulpice) and various other venues in the quartier St-Germain.

    www.foiresaintgermain.org

    Festival de Saint Denis

    This prestigious cycle of classical music concerts takes place in the Basilique de St-Denis and various other venues in St-Denis just north of Paris throughout the month of June. Book tickets well ahead.

    www.festival-saint-denis.com

    Fête de la Musique

    This national music festival, now in its third decade, welcomes in summer on summer solstice (21 June), caters to a great diversity of tastes (jazz, reggae and even classical) and features staged and impromptu live performances all over the city.

    www.fetedelamusique.fr

    Gay Pride March

    This colourful Saturday-afternoon parade (called Marche des Fiertés in French) in late June through the Marais to Bastille celebrates Gay Pride Day, with various bars and clubs sponsoring floats, and participants in some pretty outrageous costumes.

    Día del Orgullo de Gays, Lesbianas y Transexuales

    The colourful Gay Pride Parade sets out from the Puerta de Alcalá in the early evening, and winds its way around the city in an explosion of music and energy, ending up at the Puerta del Sol.

    www.gaypride.fr

    Paris Jazz Festival

    There are free jazz concerts every Saturday and Sunday afternoon in June and July in the Parc Floral de Paris (metro Château de Vincennes).

    La Goutte d’Or en Fête

    This week-long world-music festival (featuring rai, reggae and rap) is held at square Léon, 18e (metro Barbès Rochechouart or Château Rouge) in late June.

    www.gouttedorenfete.org

     

    Paris Cinéma

    This 12-day festival in the first half of July sees rare and restored films screened in selected cinemas across Paris.

    www.pariscinema.org

    Bastille Day (14 July)

    Paris is the place to be on France’s national day. Late on the night of the 13th, bals des sapeurs-pompiers (dances sponsored by Paris’ firefighters, who are considered sex symbols in France) are held at fire stations around the city. At 10am on the 14th, there’s a military and fire-brigade parade along av des Champs-Élysées, accompanied by a fly-past of fighter aircraft and helicopters. In the evening, a huge display of feux d’artifice (fireworks) is held at around 11pm on the Champ de Mars in the 7e.

    Paris Plages

    Initiated in 2002, ‘Paris Beach’ is one of the most inspired and successful city recreational events in the world. Across four weeks, from mid-July to mid-August, two waterfront areas with different themes are transformed into sand and pebble ‘beaches’, complete with sun beds, beach umbrellas, atomisers, lounge chairs and palm trees. They make up the 1.5km-long stretch along the Right Bank embankment (Voie Georges Pompidou) from the Pont Neuf (metro Pont Neuf) in the 1er to the Pont de Sully (metro Sully Morland) in the 4e, with a tropical feel to it; and a kilometre or so along the Bassin de la Villette in the 19e from the Rotonde de la Villette (metro Jaurès) to Rue de Crimée (metro Crimée), devoted to boating and other water sports. The beaches are open from 8am to midnight daily.

    Tour de France

    The last of 21 stages of this prestigious, 3500km-long cycling event finishes with a race up av des Champs-Élysées on the third or fourth Sunday of July, as it has done since 1975.

    www.letour.fr

    September & October

    Jazz à La Villette

    This super two-week jazz festival in the first half of September has sessions in Parc de la Villette, at the Cité de la Musique and in surrounding bars.

    www.jazzalavillette.com

    Festival d’Automne

    The Autumn Festival of arts, now around for almost three decades, has painting, music, dance and theatre at venues throughout the city from mid-September to late December.

    www.festival-automne.com

    Journées Européennes du Patrimoine

    As elsewhere in Europe on the third weekend in September – known as European Heritage Days in English – Paris opens the doors of buildings (eg embassies, government ministries, corporate offices – even the Palais de l’Élysée) normally off-limits to outsiders.

    www.journeesdupatrimoine.culture.fr

    Techno parade

    Part of the annual festival called Rendez-vous Électroniques (Electronic Meeting), this parade involving some 20 floats and carrying 150 musicians and DJs wends its way on the periphery of the Marais on the third Saturday of September, starting and ending at place de la Bastille, 12e.

    www.technoparade.fr

    Nuit Blanche

    ‘White Night’ (or more accurately translated as ‘All Nighter’) is when Paris ‘does’ New York and becomes ‘the city that doesn’t sleep’. It’s a cultural festival that lasts from sundown until sunrise – from 7pm to 7am – on the first Saturday and Sunday of October, with museums and recreational facilities such as swimming pools joining bars and clubs and staying open till the very wee hours.

    Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre

    This festival is held over five days from Wednesday to Sunday on the second weekend in October following the harvesting of grapes from the Clos Montmartre, with costumes, speeches and a parade.

    www.fetedesvendangesdemontmartre.com

    Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain

    Better known as FIAC, this huge contemporary art fair is held over four days in late October, with some 160 galleries represented at the Louvre and the Grand Palais.

    www.fiac.com

    November & December

    Africolor

    This six-week-long African music festival is held for the most part in venues in the suburbs surrounding Paris (eg St-Denis, St-Ouen, Montreuil) from mid-November to late December.

    www.africolor.com

    Jumping International de Paris

    This annual showjumping tournament features the world’s most celebrated jumpers at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy in the 12e (metro Bercy) over nine days in the first half of December. The annual International Showjumping Competition forms part of the Salon du Cheval at the Parc des Expositions at Porte de Versailles in the 15e (metro Porte de Versailles).

    www.salon-cheval.com

    Christmas Eve Mass

    Mass is celebrated at midnight on Christmas Eve at many Paris churches, including Notre Dame, but get there by 11pm to find a place.

    New Year's Eve

    Bd St-Michel (5e), place de la Bastille (11e), the Eiffel Tower (7e) and, above all, av des Champs-Élysées (8e) are the places to be to welcome in the New Year in the City of Light.