An overview of Paris geography shows that the City is a relatively flat place, making our Walking Tours an leisurely and enjoyable way to experience this most beautiful of European cities.
Paris geography is oval shaped, approximately 9 miles east to west and 6 miles north to south, giving the City an area of 33.5 square miles, 86.7 square kilometers.
The highway that encircles Paris, known as the Périphérique, basically defines the city limits. It's about 22 miles around the Périphérique. The greater metropolitan area of Paris, the region of Ile de France,includes the suburbs around the city itself and covers an area of 4,661 square miles, 12,072 square kilometers.
The elevation of Paris geography is 35 meters, 114 feet, above sea level. The highest point of elevation is not, as commonly believed, on the hill of Montmartre where the Basilica of Sacre Coeur is located. The elevation here reaches 130 meters, or 426.5 feet, above sea level. The highest point in the City of Paris is located on the hill of Bellville, on Rue du Telegraphe, where the elevation is 148 meters, 485.5 feet, above sea level, 18 meters higher than Montmartre. The lowest point is 24 meters, 80 feet, above sea level, marked on the Seine river at the western edge of the city limits.
The Seine river cuts an arc through Paris, flowing from the south-east to the south-west. The north side of the river is the Right Bank, le Rive Droite (reev dwat), and the south side of the river is the Left Bank, le Rive Gauche (reev go-shh).
One of the most basic of Paris facts is when looking downstream, towards the west, the Left Bank is on your left and the Right Bank is on your right. Simple enough, right?
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Paris is divided into 20 districts called "arrondissements" and they are numbered 1 to 20.
The other arrondissements spiral from this center in a clockwise direction.
This is the basic map of Paris arrondissements:
Notice the clockwise spiral of the arrondissements from the center 1er arrondissement.
You will see permutations of this map all over the city. This is the first layer, so to speak. This basic map will be over-laid with a metro map, a street map, the bus routes, a monument map, a department store map, etc.
The Metro offers a variety of free maps available at the ticket windows. They are large, easy to read maps of the major streets, the Metro, Buses and the RER Trains , the municipal components of the Paris Transportation System.
For another example, below is a clickable map that will give you more detailed maps of each arrondissement.
Getting to know this basic layout of the City will make your wanderings in Paris more enjoyable.
However, for thoroughly navigating your way through the City, a good street map is very helpful.
We offer these two recommendations:
Michelin Paris Street Map (Michelin Maps)
A. Leconte Edition of Paris Ref.# 415
This Leconte Edition of Paris map book is easy to read and easy to put away. It can be bought in the book department of BHV, the Bazaar Hotel de Ville, located on rue de Rivoli, directly opposite from the Hotel de Ville.
Streets signs in Paris are attached to the corner buildings and look like this:
See the number above the street name? That is the number of the arrondissement. Knowing that will help you keep your bearings.
Each arrondissement is divided into quarters or Quartiers ("car-tee-ay") making for 80 distinct neighborhoods within the City.
The census of 1999 places the population of Paris at 2,125,246. The "estimated" census of 2004 brings the number up to 2,144,700. The greater metropolitan area of Paris, the region of Ile de France, containing 8 departments, has an estimated population of 11 million people. The number of people living in France is 60.4 million.
The population of Paris peaked in 1921 at 2.9 million, declining by 27% as of 1999.
People have asked, "When is the best time to visit?".
As for the weather, Spring and Fall are the most temperate. The middle of Summer can get rather hot and uncomfortable, which explains why many Parisians abandon the city to the tourists during August.
Temperature recording began in 1837 with the lowest temperature marked on December 10, 1879 at -23.9°C, -11°F. The highest temperature was recorded on July 28, 1947 at 40.4°C, 104.7°F. The heatwave of 2003 peaked at 38.1°C, 100.6°F.
That said, because of the ocean influence on Paris, a mid-summer downpour is not uncommon. Though the Paris area has some of the lowest rainfall totals in all of France, you may still want to pack a small umbrella.
The almost clichéd movie-scenes of Parisians standing under doorways while waiting for the rain to stop is a very real occurrence. Often, the rain comes in short showers, so, it won't be long until it lets up enough to brave the sidewalks again.
|Weather averages for Paris|
|Average high °C (°F)||6.9 (44)||8.2 (47)||11.8 (53)||14.7 (58)||19.0 (66)||21.8 (71)||24.4 (76)||24.6 (76)||20.8 (69)||15.8 (60)||10.4 (51)||7.8 (46)||15.5 (60)|
|Average low °C (°F)||2.5 (37)||2.8 (37)||5.1 (41)||6.8 (44)||10.5 (51)||13.3 (56)||15.5 (60)||15.4 (60)||12.5 (55)||9.2 (49)||5.3 (42)||3.6 (38)||8.5 (47)|
|Precipitation mm (inches)||53.7 (2.1)||43.7 (1.7)||48.5 (1.9)||53.0 (2.1)||65.0 (2.6)||54.6 (2.1)||63.1 (2.5)||43.0 (1.7)||54.7 (2.2)||59.7 (2.4)||51.9 (2)||58.7 (2.3)||649.6 (25.6)|
|Source: World Weather Information Service  2008-04-14|
The five digit Postal Code for Paris begins with 75. It ends with the number of the arrondissement. For example, the 1st arrondissement postal code is 75001, the 3rd is 75003, the 15th is 75015 and so on.
The convenience of this is that when you look at the address of a hotel or restaurant and see the postal code, you'll have an idea of which part of the City it is located....more
The Country Code for France is 33. The City Code for Paris is 1. You will see phone numbers printed in this format +33-(0)1-55-55-55-55.
The "+" symbol indicates the number you dial for an international line. For example, if you were calling from the USA with its international connection number being 011, you would dial 011-331-55-55-55-55.
If you were calling that same number from within France you would, of course, drop the international code and the country code of "33", replacing it with a "0" and dial 01-55-55-55-55. If calling a Paris number from within Paris, you still need to dial "01" first.
That is the meaning of the "0" in parentheses.
To use the public telephones in Paris a phone card must be purchased first. These are available at all tobacco shops and brasseries which sell tobacco. Newspaper and magazine shops also sell phone cards. They come in various price ranges starting at 7.50 euros which will give over 30 minutes of time.
On the public telephones, located below the receiver, is a slot to insert the card. Keep the card in the slot until you finish your call but, don't forget to retrieve it when you are through.
An essential of Paris facts is the electrical current. In Paris, as well as all of Europe, the current is 220-240 volts/50 Hv. The electrical outlets accept both double and triple-pronged plugs, sometimes both, sometimes only the double-prong plug.
Electrical conversion adapters can be purchased before you leave home, or they can be bought when you arrive in Europe.
And, speaking of Paris facts, there are 6,100 streets in Paris..
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