Paris is the capital of France and has an area of 105.40 km², which makes is the second largest metropolis and the most densely populated city in Europe after London. It lies in the north of France in the region of Île-de-France and has a population of 2.2 million people. The Metropolitan area even counts 12.3 million people. Paris has 20 districts (arrondissements) and is divided into a northern part (Rive Droite) and a southern part (Rive Gauche) by the river Seine. The districts are numbered from 1 to 20 and are arranged around the centre clockwise in the form of a snail shell. The city is surrounded by two city forests, which serve as local recreation areas for its inhabitants. Paris lies in the temperate climate zone with an average yearly temperature of 10.8 °C. The warmest month is July.
Lutetia, which is what the City of Love was called when it was founded, emerged as a Celtic settlement on the present-day territory of the Île de la Cité in the 3rd century. While the city had its time of prosperity under Francis I in the 16th century, it owes its baroque style to the "Sun King" Louis XIV. Over 47 million tourists come to Paris every year, which make the city one of the most frequently visited destinations on earth. Besides Paris' landmark, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral on the Île de la Cité, Montmartre Hill with the Basilica of the Sacré Cœur and the Champs Èlysées with the Arc de Triomphe are popular sights. With a variety of beautiful buildings, squares and streets as well as 200 art galleries, 160 museums, 650 cinemas and about 100 theatres, it is not surprising that the city is so popular. Large parts of the bank of the Seine are part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. Popular museums are the Musée d'Orsay, the Musée de l'Orangerie, the Musée Rodin, the Musée national du Moyen Âge ("National Museum of the Middle Ages") and the Musée du quai Branly. Important squares are the Place de la Concorde, the Place de la Bastille, the Place Charles de Gaulle and the Place des Vosges. The Tueleries Garden (Jardin des Tuileries), the Luxembourg Garden (Jardin du Luxembourg) and the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont are the most beautiful parks and gardens. In addition, travellers should not miss out on attractions such as the Opéra Garnier (or "Palais Garnier"), the L'Hôtel national des Invalides, the Hôtel de Ville (an administrative building), the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Panthéon, the Catacombs, the church La Madeleine and the bridge Pont Neuf. The latter is the oldest bridge over the Seine in Paris which could be preserved in its original state. Many famous people rest in peace on the best-known cemetery on earth, the Père Lachaise Cemetary (Cimetière du Père-Lachaise).
Paris is the home of gourmet food. With over 10,000 restaurants and countless cosy street cafes, the city is an eldorado for connoisseurs. However, this is also reflected in the prices. Nevertheless, holidaymakers should definitely taste the different types of cheese, the chocolate from La Maison du Chocolate ("the house of chocolate") and the pastries from the patisseries. Paris is equally known as a fashion city and a shopping paradise. From flea markets, weekly markets and small shops to exclusive boutiques - the city offers everything the heart desires. The nightlife is very varied and caters for all tastes. A world-famous location is the Moulin Rouge, the cabaret with the red mill on its roof. The theatre was founded in 1889 and is most of all known for its frivolous shows and the can-can dancers. Today, it is the location of various kinds of shows and concerts.
Paris can easily be explored by bike. You find numerous bicycle rentals (Vélib) all over the city. Travellers have to be careful regarding road traffic but more and more cycle paths are being built and many roads in the city centre are car-free on Sundays and holidays. This way, you have the opportunity to discover different areas at first hand. Other ways of exploring Paris are a boat trip on the Seine, by helicopter high above the city or on a hop-on/hop-off bus. Although the sights are distributed over a large area, many of them can be reachesd on foot. Travellers can, for example, go for romantic walks along the Seine or through the beautiful parks. The city's romantic atmosphere is one of the reasons why Paris is a popular destination for weddings and honeymoons. The fantastic architecture and the charm of the Seine constitute the perfect backdrop for photos which are meant to be part of a wedding album. A very romantic and popular destination in Paris is the Palace of Versailles. Families enjoy visiting the nearby Disneyland. Another interesting location is the Fondation Monet in Giverny with gardens and the water-lily pond.
Arriving in Paris could hardly be any easier because the city has three airports and six railheads. This makes Paris an important traffic hub both in France and in the whole of Europe. Within Paris, you best use the public transport. The Métro Paris has length of 219.9 kilometres and 303 stops, which makes it one of the largest underground systems on earth as well as the fourth-oldest in Europe after London, Budapest and Glasgow.