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paris notre dame in spring

More than a destination of majestic architecture, bourgeois absolutes and just-baked baguettes, Paris offers great sightseeing, incredible shopping, and leisure dining that always comes with desserts in the form of delicate trays of the finest chocolates and macarons.

Paris goes far beyond the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre-Dame and the Louvre. On your next trip, stroll the Marais and shop along rue des Francs Bourgeois or walk under the arches of the oldest square in Paris, Place des Vosges. Take time to explore the Latin Quarter to see the Church of St-Severin, the Sorbonne and rue Mouffetard -- not just because it's where Joyce, Orwell, Balzac and Hemingway once lived, but also for the rows and rows of fresh food glistening like bouquets of colorful blooms under the street market's faded awnings. Stop by the booksellers' stalls along the banks of the Seine around Notre-Dame for antique and second-hand books, comic strips, postcards and posters at great prices.

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St-Germain-des-Pres and the stately Church of St-Sulpice's beautiful Delacroix murals are a must-see on this trip -- as is the Church of St-Germain-des-Pres, the city's oldest -- before heading down the neighborhood's enchanting streets, through the old squares and artists' studios that surround it. Don't forget to leave time to head up to the little village of Montmarte and the old cobbled streets where Renoir, Lautrec and van Gogh lived and worked; there are wonderful views of the city.

Paris is basically divided twice, first into 20 municipal quarters called arrondissements and second by the Seine, which divides the city into the Right Bank to the north and the Left Bank to the south, linked by dozens of bridges. Bridges also lead to two small islands at the heart of the city: Ile de la Cite, the city's birthplace and site of Notre-Dame, and Ile St-Louis, an oasis of 17th-century architecture. The quarters spiral out like a snail, beginning with the first arrondissement in the center of the city.

The best way to find an address is by checking out the arrondissement first. This is indicated by a number followed by "e" or "er," which in English means "th" or "st" (i.e., 7e, 1er). It's also indicated by the last two digits of a postal code (i.e., 70007 = the 7e).

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