Standing at about 325 meters tall, the Eiffel Tower defines Paris's skyline. The first level features a transparent floor, making you feel as though you're hovering. Use the telescopes on the second level to admire the City of Light, and buy a separate ticket to the third level to observe l'Île-de-France (the Island of France) and regions beyond. The Louvre Museum, housed in a former royal palace, is the most-visited museum in the world. It features complex architecture, with Renaissance and neoclassical motifs adorning its facade, and a large collection of masterpieces dating back to ancient times. Make sure to check out the Mona Lisa and Nike of Samothrace, the museum’s undisputed highlights. See Notre-Dame de Paris, the downtown area's famous Gothic cathedral. Climb its two 70-metre-tall towers to observe the skyline of Paris, and wonder at the colourful rose windows inside. The cathedral, which has great acoustics, often hosts outstanding classical music concerts.
The Champs-Élysées (the Elysian Fields), Paris's famous boulevard, is where you can browse shops, watch films in cinemas, and enjoy the city's nightlife. While there, climb the famous Arc de Triomphe (Triumphal Arch), preferably at dusk, to enjoy the finest views of the Eiffel Tower. Alternatively, see Le Marais, a trendy Parisian district from the 17th century. Tour its mansions-turned-museums, and visit Place des Vosges, a green oasis surrounded by colourful buildings. Visiting the Paris Catacombs is highly recommended during trips to Paris. Walk through the tunnels abounding with skeletons and learn how Parisians coped with their shortage of insufficient burial grounds centuries ago. The exterior of the Paris Opera House, featuring Corinthian columns, gilded sculptures, and busts, reflects the opulence inside. Take a guided tour of the venue and learn about its legendary resident, the Phantom of the Opera.
The layout of Paris follows the Axe Historique (Historical Axis). Flat for the most part, the City of Love features many green areas and streets with houses painted in vivid colours. Historic Montmartre (Mount of Martyrs), which offers views of the entire city, is where you'll find the best restaurants in Paris. When selecting a restaurant, keep in mind that French gourmands are often as passionate about smoking as they are cuisine, so some of the best dining establishments will have full ashtrays. For some fresh air and to take part in recreational and educational activities, head to the large, green areas flanking the city such as Boulogne Forest, Park Montsouris, Vincennes Forest, and Park Villette. Take a blanket an basket to dig into a proper Parisian picnic! To get around easily, consider a Paris car hire – the city is a big place with infinite things to see and do.
If you rent a car in Paris, be prepared for heavier traffic in the city centre and plenty of traffic lights. Drive along the Boulevard Périphérique (Ring Road) before taking a turn to your destination, which should be easy to find with a Paris map and GPS. The speed limit is 50km/h in the city and 70km/h on the Ring Road. Driving over these limits can result in a fine or licence suspension. To drive in France, you have to be older than 18. Drive on the right-hand side of the road, ensure that all passengers have fastened their safety belts, and don't use a hand-held phone while driving. Driving under the influence can cost several thousand euros, so be careful not to exceed the blood alcohol limit of 0.05%.