Paris is the political, cultural, and intellectual capital of France, and is also the single-most visited city in the world. It has drawn waves of immigrants, expatriate artists and intellectuals, and global traders for centuries, attracting by virtue of its vibrant economy, rich political and artistic history, an unusual number of noteworthy tourist sites, outstanding architecture and cultural life, and overall high standard of living. Situated at the crossroads of Europe and in close range of the English channel and other strategic places for military and trade, Paris is a true powerhouse in continental Europe.
Key Facts About the City
Population: Approximately 2.24 million people, according to the 2010 census (around 3.6% of France’s total population
Average yearly high temperature: 16 degrees C (60.8 degrees F)
Average yearly low temperature: 9 degrees C (48.2 degrees F)
Average visitors per year: Over 25 million
High tourist season: Approximately March through September, with peaks in the summer. The Christmas season is also especially popular among visitors.
Time zone: Paris is 6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and 9 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time.
Currency: Euros (Universal Currency Converter)
Paris Geography and Orientation
Elevation: 27 meters (90 feet above sea level)
Surface Area: 105 square km. (41 square miles)
Geographical Situation: Paris is located in Central Northern France, at the heart of a region (departement) called Ile de France. The city does not border any major body of water and is relatively flat.
Bodies of water: The famous Seine river cuts through the city center East to West. The Marne river flows through many of the suburbs east of Paris.
The City’s Layout: Getting Oriented
Paris is divided into sections North and South of the Seine, more commonly known as the Rive Droite (Right Bank) and Rive Gauche (Left Bank), respectively.
The city, often described as being shaped like a snail shell, is broken into 20 districts or arrondissements. The first arrondissement is at the center of the city, near the Seine river. Subsequent arrondissements spiral out clockwise. You can easily find out what arrondissement you’re in by looking for street plaques on corner buildings.
The Boulevard Périphérique, Paris’ beltway, generally marks the boundary between Paris and its near suburbs.
Our Advice: Take a Tour to Get Oriented
Paris boat or bus tours can help you get oriented on a first trip, and also offer a relaxed and pleasant first encounter with some of the city’s most important monuments and places.
For boat tours, you can book basic tours & dinner cruise packages online (via Isango). We recommend reading up on popular tour operators, including Bateaux Mouches and Bateaux Parisiens, to find the right Seine river cruise or tour packages.
Tourist Welcome Centers in Paris
The Paris Tourist Office has welcome centers around the city, providing free documentation and advice to visitors. You can find maps and pocket-sized guides to Paris sights and attractions at one of the welcome centers.
On average, Paris rates poorly for accessibility. While major efforts are underway to improve accessibility in the city, travelers with limited mobility may find the city difficult to get around in.
The Paris tourist office website has a helpful page on how to get around in the city, with tons of tips on transport and specialist services.
In addition, the following Paris Metro and bus lines are accessible to people with limited mobility or disabilities:
- Metro line 14, RER Line A
- Bus lines 20, 21, 24, 26, 27, 30, 31, 38, 39, 43, 53, 60, 62, 63, 80, 81, 88, 91, 92, 94, 95, 96.
Taxis are required by law to accept passengers with wheelchairs.