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Guide to Ile de France and Paris, France
Paris is one of the world’s great cities with endless amount of things to do. Despite the massive size of the city, Paris is also an easily navigable destination as the city centre itself is relatively compact and all areas of Paris are connected by a highly efficient public transport system.
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Paris is the capital of France and one of the world’s great cities with endless amount of things to do. Despite the massive size of the city, Paris is also an easily navigable destination as the city centre itself is relatively compact and all areas of Paris are connected by a highly efficient public transport system.
Paris boasts more than 80 museums and around 200 art galleries and contains fine architecture from every period in a long and rich history, together with every amenity known to science and every entertainment yet devised
The Parisian flea markets are located at several spots just outside of the Paris city limits, where they are a phenomenal success. Their current popularity is no secret when all the major labels can be found at half price and numerous secondhand articles that are still very fashionable are on sale.
Nearby is the Disneyland Resort Paris. This is open all year-round and lies to the east of the capital, a complete vacation destination located at Marne-la-Vallée, 32km (20 miles) from Paris.
Disney’s first European venture has become one of the most popular attractions in France. The site has an area of 1943 hectares (5000 acres), one-fifth the size of Paris, and includes hotels, restaurants, a campsite, shops and a golf course, and has as its star attractions the Disneyland Paris Theme Park and Walt Disney Studios. Inspired by previous theme parks, Euro Disneyland features all the famous Disney characters plus some new attractions especially produced to blend with its European home. The site is easily accessible by motorway, regional and high-speed rail services, and by air.
The surrounding area of Ile de France enjoys the best of both worlds. Despite its proximity to Paris, it has wide open spaces, densely wooded rural areas and charming villages. Yet Paris is within quick and easy commuting distance using the efficient urban train network – the RER
The various kings and queens of France also thought it the ideal getaway retreat, so the region has more than its fair share of palaces, châteaux and vast forests used for their hunting expeditions.
There are 12 regional open air and leisure centres in the region offering total recreational freedom. They are open all year round and there are 3000 hectares of forests, trails and open spaces complete with lakes and beaches where you can water ski, windsurf or just relax on the beach
There are more than 60 golf courses in the region all with excellent reputations often located close to historical sites offering the chance to combine some sightseeing with a game.
If you are interested in equestrian sports or cycling there are lots of opportunities to enjoy yourself in the forests and trails of the region
There is no better place to discover Mother Nature's hidden treasures and secret trails than in Paris Ile-de-France. Plan your trek as you see fit and hike, cycle or canter through the heart of the region's forests and natural parks, or along the rivers and through the valleys, taking in the beautiful landscape along the way.
There are many comprehensive and informative guidebooks and maps available in the travel section of large bookshops in most countries. Many can be ordered on-line before departure.
The SNCF runs an excellent rail network throughout France and the TGV, [high-speed trains] are fast, comfortable and generally run on time. There are adequate buffet cars, although for long journeys it may be wise to take some food and drink. If a change is necessary, local links are good. Ticket reservations can be made at SNCF stations and travel agents. Before you board the train, always stamp your ticket at the little orange composteurs located by the platforms. Inspectors can impose hefty fines if you are caught without it.
The principal stations in Paris link with most regions in France, they are:
Gare du Nord [18.104.22.168.]
Gare de l'Est [46.07.17.73.]
Gare de Lyon [22.214.171.124.]
Gare d'Austerlitz [126.96.36.199.]
The stations are open June-October 8am-9pm, November-March 8am-8pm except for the Gare d'Austerlitz, which is opens 8am-3pm all year. All stations are closed on Sundays.
The RER [Reseau Express Regional] is a high-speed urban and suburban railway that interconnects with the metro at major stations. Service starts at 5.30am-12.30am. and trains run every 15 minutes [more in the center]. Metro tickets are valid on RER journeys within Paris. For journeys into the Ile-de-France and airports, purchase a separate ticket. It is useful for trips outside the city including Versailles, Fontainebleau and Disneyland.
The metro is easy to use and covers the whole city. There are 13 lines and each direction is indicated by the last stop on the line. They open daily from 5.30am and run until well after midnight with the last train leaving end lines at 12.45am . Some of the Art Nouveau stations are worth a visit in their own right. Tickets can be bought at all metro stations and one ticket will take you anywhere on the metro. A Carnet or block of ten tickets is relatively good value at about 10.50 euros.
Roissy-Charles de Gaulle is some distance outside Paris. The two terminals are far apart and served by different buses, so it is important to check which terminal your flight will be leaving from. There is a courtesy navette [free shuttle] which runs every five minutes between the RER station and terminals 1 and 2, stopping at both arrival and departure levels. Tickets to the center of Paris can be bought at the station. Trains run every 15 to 20 minutes and take between 45 minutes to one hour.
The Roissy bus is a good means of transport into the city. A one-way ticket can be bought from ticket dispensers or on the coach. The bus leaves every 15 minutes from 6am to 11pm daily and takes 30 to 45 minutes.
An Air France bus leaves every 20 minutes from both terminals and stops at Port Maillot and Charles de Gaulle-Etoile [the Arc de Triomphe]. You buy your ticket as you board the bus. Services run from 5.30am to 11pm daily.
Taxi is the most expensive and least reliable means of transport to and from Paris. If there are no taxis at the Arrivals area, press the small button at the front of the taxi rank to call up a cab from the underground car park. Journey time into the capital varies from between 40 to 70 minutes, depending on the traffic.
Orly Airport is closer to Paris. Air France buses leave from both terminals every 15 minutes and stops at Les Invalides, Porte d'Orleans and Gare Montparnasse. Services from 6am-11pm daily.
Orlyval is a high-speed shuttle that runs from the Antony station on the RER B line in the south of Paris every 5 minutes from 6.30am to 9.15 pm.
A taxi into town takes 30 to 40 minutes
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Glitzy Gastronomic Delights in Paris
Getting to Ile de France
Both of France's major international airports are located in the Ile de France and between them they handle flights from just about every part of the world.
Paris is around 290km and 2.5 hours away from Calais
Paris is easily accessible by TGV from London and Brussels. The Eurostar from London takes around 3 hours. The public transport system in Paris is one of the best in the world. Fares are reasonable and the services frequent and reliable
Offbeat Paris: Hidden Tourist Gems of Paris and the Ile De France
Ile De France (Michelin Regional Maps)
Adventure Guide to Paris and Ile De France (Hunter Travel Guides)