Business travel expert Mark Frary's travel guide to Paris. Need a great value hotel? Want to know the city's movers and shakers on Twitter? Looking for ways to spend your down-time in Paris? The answers are all here.

 

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Paris is one of Europe's great capitals and is buzzy, beautiful and big (Greater Paris is Europe's biggest metropolis). In the 2013 Economist Intelligence Unit survey of global cities, Paris ranked as the 7th city in the world for competitiveness and 16th for live-ability (well ahead of London on 55th).

The French capital also has one of the highest concentrations of the world's biggest companies and is home to the headquarters of oil company Total, investment bank BNP Paribas, global communications agency Havas as well as the UN's cultural organisation UNESCO. In recent years, a number of start-ups have come out of the city, although few have made a global impact in the way that those from Silicon Valley have. Notable exceptions include the pioneering online flash sale site Vente Privee and music streaming site Deezer. The city has also hosted, since 2004, the seminal tech conference

LeWeb founded by husband-and-wife entrepreneurs, Loïc and Geraldine LeMeur. Paris is also one of the world's fashion capitals, along with New York, London and Milan. It's home to many of the most famous haute couture houses and it hosts Paris Fashion Week twice a year.

Express Essentials

From Heathrow, British Airways flies to both Charles de Gaulle (eight times a day) and Orly (four) while Air France has eight daily services to CDG, giving the two capitals excellent air connections.

Charles de Gaulle, 25km north west of central Paris, is on line B of the RER express train network and the journey to the centre of the city takes 25-30 minutes, costing €9.50 one way. A taxi takes a similar amount of time when traffic is free flowing - expect to pay €50 to 70.

Orly is less well connected and you need to take a bus or light train to connect with the RER system. Most business visitors choose to take a taxi from the airport, 17km south of the city centre. Expect to pay €40-55 depending on traffic.

Paris's public transport system is comprehensive. The metro has 303 stations on 14 lines while the RER express network has a further 257 on five lines. Single journeys by metro, RER, bus or tram in the city are €1.70 and a day pass starts at €6.80. Paris is also home to the world's largest communal bike scheme, Vélib’.

Paris Metro Sign

Paris has a huge amount of accommodation: a few years back, it had the most hotel rooms of any city in the world.

If you are looking for a good compromise between space and cost, the Helzear apartment-hotel, in the 14th arrondissement near to Montparnasse station, is a great choice. Helzear's 14 apartments cluster around a shady courtyard and the decor is modern and clean. A one bedroom apartment with kitchenette and free wi-fi costs from around €228 if booked well in advance.

In summer, all eyes will be on Avenue Kléber for the opening of Peninsula Paris, the first European property of the group known best for its iconic Hong Kong hotel with its fleet of Rolls Royce limousines. The hotel opens in August in the 16th arrondissement in what was originally the Hotel Majestic. The new Peninsula will compete with its near neighbour, the Four Seasons George V, for the upper end of the business market looking for a very central hotel.

If you are visiting a client in La Défense business district or attending a conference at the Center of New Industries and Technologies (CNIT), the Novotel Paris La Défense‎ is a good mainstream business hotel. It's comfortable, not too flashy and reasonable value for a four-star hotel, from around €195 a night.

La Defence Business District

Culture Shot

Paris has some of Europe's greatest museums. A personal favourite is the Musée d'Orsay on the banks of the Seine. This disused 19th century railway terminus has been reworked as a modern art museum with an impressive collection including Van Gogh's Starry Night and Rodin sculptures.

It's not everyone's idea of fun but Paris's cemeteries are a great place for a wander in between business meetings. Take the Montparnasse cemetery, for example. The architecture of some of the tombs is breathtaking and you will also spot a few famous names on the graves – Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir are both laid to rest here. Elsewhere, at the Père Lachaise cemetery, you will find the final resting place of Jim Morrison, singer of the Doors.

Montparnasse Cemetery

The Black Book

Need to grab some free WiFi and a coffee? Cafe Loustic at 40 rue Chapon, close to the Pompidou Centre, fits the bill. Expat Brit Channa Galhenage brews up creamy lattes in a cosy setting. Munch on a moist muffin while you fire up your laptop.

For something grander, La Coupole at 102 boulevard du Montparnasse is one of the greatest Parisian brasseries, all Art Deco glamour, steak frites and people-watching.

Sept Cinq at 54 rue Notre Dame de Lorette in the 9th arrondissement is a concept store that sells trendy gifts made by independent French designers, such as funky jewellers Chic Sick Chic Paris and bag and belt designers MySuelly.

If you have children studying French, a classic way to inspire them is through comic books such as the Asterix series. The best children's bookshop in Paris is Chantelivre at 13 rue de Sèvres in Saint Germain des Prés.

Business Insiders

Follow these influencers to get a local's eye view of Paris:

  • Amy Thomas of the God, I Love Paris blog to find out about the best chocolates, sweets and hot chocolates in the city
  • Haven in Paris for the latest insider tips on where to go and what to do in the city @haveninparis
  • Laurent Buanec shares photos of Paris's most interesting buildings, always under blue skies, with his near quarter of a million followers
  • Time Out Paris, the popular listings magazine, tweets a mix of art, culture, food and music in the capital - @Time_Out_Paris



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