Whether you're in Paris on business or pleasure, this is the one city where it's a sin not to indulge yourself. How can an art lover pass up Musee d'Orsay or a day at the Louvre? How can a shopper not make a pilgrimage to Rue du Faubourg St Honore? And how can anyone with a sense of taste not plan at least one very special meal?
Paris - chic, cosmopolitan, lively, a little pompous, very proud - reigns as the grande dame of world capitals. The City of Light wears its premium blend of ancient and modern culture and its intoxicating aura of romance with complete confidence. A gathering of markedly different neighbourhoods - miniature villages, really - ensures that no two days of a visit to Paris ever feel the same.
Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements, or districts, which spiral outward clockwise from its centre - Ile de la Cite, the island birthplace of Paris, in the Seine River. Knowing the arrondissements will help tremendously I navigating the city.
Along the Right Bank (Rive Droite) lie grand boulevards (such as the Champs Elysees), stately facades, the Arc de Triomphe, the Opera Garnier and the Louvre. Tucked away in the midst of all this grandeur is the trendy, labyrinthine Marais, Paris' own Greenwich Village. Montmarte, the northernmost area of the Right Bank, resembles a little village, with steep cobblestone streets, tiny, ivy-covered houses and quiet squares. The area around the Bastille has become one of the trendiest pockets of Paris, with numerous cafes and clubs (and now the Opera Bastille, new home of the Paris Opera Company).
The Left Bank (rive Gauche) is slightly funkier than the Right. many of the streets are reserved for - or taken over by - pedestrians. The cafes of St Germain, where Simone de Beauvoir and Sartre once sat debating existentialism, are still a favourite gathering place for" philosophers" and seekers. Montparnasse, formerly the home of Picasso, Giacometti and other artists, is a bustling neighbourhood adjacent to St Germain. It's crowded with cinemas and famous brasseries.
La Defense refers to the cluster of skyscrapers northwest of Paris that make up the modern business district. The landmark of this quarter is La Grande Arche - a massive, futuristic arch of glass, granite and marble that serves as a modern echo of Napoleon's Arc de Triomphe.
Note: In this profile, the ordinal number in parentheses following each street address indicates the arrondissement in which an address is located. For example, "7th" refers to the 7th arrondissement. When there is no exact address, the nearest Metro stop is given. Also, in an address, don't be confused by the work "bis" after a street number. If you see "10bis," for instance, it will be the door or building next to Number 10.