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Paris - Around Town : Greater Paris (part 1)

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Central Paris has more than enough on offer to keep any visitor occupied, but if time permits you should make at least one foray out of the centre, whether your interest is in the sumptuous Palace of Versailles, former home of the “Sun King” Louis XIV, or in the Magic Kingdom of Disneyland Paris. The excellent metro system makes for easy day trips to the area’s two main parks, the Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de Vincennes, for a wide range of outdoor activities, from boating to riding or in-line skating, or just strolling amid pleasant greenery. In contrast to these bucolic pleasures is the cutting-edge modern architecture of La Défense. Visually stunning, it comprises Paris’s stylish new business district to the west of the city, with added attractions in its exhibition centres. Two large cemeteries outside the centre are worth a visit for their ornate tombs.

The Treaty of Versailles

France, Great Britain, the USA, Italy and the German Republic negotiated this agreement after World War I at Versailles, which required Germany to demilitarize parts of its territory, reduce the size of its army, abolish conscription, cease trading in military equipment and to pay compensation. The Treaty was signed on 28 June 1919.


Sights
  1. Versailles

    The top day-trip from Paris has to be Versailles. This stunning chateau, begun by Louis XIV in 1664, is overwhelming in its opulence and scale. Plan carefully what you want to see as even a full day may not be long enough. Much of the palace is only accessible on a guided tour, so arrive early as on sunny days the queues can be long .

    • Versailles 78000

    • RER line C to Versailles-Rive Gauche

    • Open Apr–Oct: 9am–6:30pm Tue–Sun; Nov–Mar: 9am– 5:30pm Tue–Sun (gardens open daily)

    • Admission charge

    • www.chateauversailles.fr

    Versailles
  2. Disneyland Resort Paris

    Visitors with children will probably have no choice about whether they visit the Paris branch of Disneyland or not. However, even parents will enjoy the hi-tech workings and imagination behind such attractions as “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “The Haunted House” . The new Walt Disney Studios Park involves visitors interactively through film, with a professional stunt show at the end and special effects rides.

    • Marne-la-Vallée

    • RER line A to Marne-la-Vallée Chessy/Disneyland

    • Open Sep–Jun: 9am–8pm daily; Jul–Aug: 9am–11pm daily (Studios Sep–Jun: 9am–6pm daily; Jul–Aug 9am–8pm daily); times vary for Walt Disney Studios Park

    • Admission charge

    • www.disneylandparis.com

  3. La Défense

    French vision and flair coupled with Parisian style are clearly shown by this modern urban development. This new business and government centre was purposely built to the west of the city to allow the centre to remain unmarred by skyscrapers. More than just offices, however, the area is also an attraction in its own right, with stunning sights such as the Grande Arche, a cube-like structure with a centre large enough to contain Notre-Dame, and surrounded by artworks, a fountain, cafés and restaurants.

    • Metro Esplanade de la Défense or RER line A to Grande-Arche-de-la-Défense

    Grande Arche, La Défense
  4. Bois de Vincennes

    Southeast of the city lies the Bois de Vincennes, which has several lakes, boating facilities, lovely formal gardens, a Buddhist centre and a summer amusement park. The Château de Vincennes was a royal residence before Versailles and has the tallest keep in Europe. The more energetic can walk here all the way from the Bastille along the Promenade Plantée, formerly a railway viaduct.

    • Vincennes, 94300

    • Metro Château de Vincennes/ RER Vincennes

    • Park: open dawn–dusk daily; château: Sep–Apr 10am–5pm; May–Aug 10am–6pm

    • Closed public hols

    • www.chateau-vincennes.fr

  5. Bois de Boulogne

    This enormous park is the Parisians’ favourite green retreat, especially on summer weekends when its 865 ha (2,135 acres) can become crowded. There is plenty to do, apart from simply walking and picnicking, such as cycling, riding, boating or visiting the various attractions. These include parks within the park, two race courses  and an art and folk museum. The park is open 24 hours a day, but avoid after dark.

    Bois de Boulogne
  6. Parc de la Villette

    More than just a park, this landscape was created in 1993 to a futuristic design. It provides the usual park features of paths and gardens, but modern sculptures, zany park benches and several major hi-tech attractions offer a different edge. These include the interactive science museum, the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, a 60-seater mobile hydraulic cinema, an Omnimax cinema, play areas for younger children and a music institute .

    • 30 ave Corentin-Cariou, 75019

    • Metro Porte de Pantin

    • 01 40 03 75 75

    • Opening times vary depending on the attraction

    • Admission charge

    • www.villette.com

    Parc de la Villette
  7. Montparnasse

    Montparnasse’s location is highly visible due to the 209-m (685-ft) Tour du Montparnasse which offers spectacular views. Five minutes’ walk away is the area’s main draw, the Cimetière du Montparnasse, where the great writers Maupassant, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Baudelaire and Samuel Beckett are buried. For breathtaking views of Paris by night visit the rooftop restaurant “Le Ciel de Paris.”

    • Metro Gare Montparnasse

    Tour du Montparnasse

    Cemetery

    • open 8:30am–5:30pm daily

    • free

  8. Cimetière du Père Lachaise

    This is the most visited cemetery in the world, largely due to rock fans who come from around the world to see the grave of the legendary singer Jim Morrison of The Doors. There are about one million other graves here, in some 70,000 different tombs, including those of Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Balzac, Edith Piaf, Colette, Molière and Delacroix (see Graves). There are maps posted around the cemetery to enable you to find these notable resting places, or a more detailed plan can be bought at the kiosks around the grounds.

    • 16 rue du Repos

    • Metro Père-Lachaise

    • Open 8am–5:30pm Mon–Sat, 9am–5:30pm Sun, but phone to check

    • 01 55 25 82 10

    • Free

    Cimetière Père-Lachaise
  9. Parc Monceau

    This civilized little park is no further from the city centre than Montmartre, yet it goes unnoticed by many visitors. It was created in 1778 by the Duc de Chartres and is still frequented by well-heeled residents. The grounds are full of statues and an air of well-being.

    • Blvd de Courcelles, 75008

    • Metro Monceau

    Parc Monceau
  10. Musée Marmottan-Claude Monet

    Paul Marmottan was an art historian and his 19th-century mansion now houses the world’s largest collection of works by Claude Monet, including his Impression Soleil Levant which gave the Impressionist movement its name. The collection was donated by the artist’s son in 1971, and includes the artist’s collection of works by Renoir and Gauguin.

    • 2 rue Louis-Boilly, 75016

    • Metro Muette

    • Open 10am–6pm Tue–Sun

    • Admission charge

    • www.marmottan.com

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