Paris is considered one of the world's most enchanting cities, and meeting planners are not immune to its allure. From Louis XIV's grand art salons to the 19th-century Universal Exhibitions, the City of Light has cemented its reputation as a first-class hostess. Now a hub for both global commerce and leisure adventures, Paris dazzles as many as 11 million visitors with its charming beauty and 1,777 events offer an unparalleled wealth of cultural opportunities each year.
As expected of a city with hundreds of museums and innumerable cultural icons, Paris does not lack in unique event space. Host a welcome reception aboard a Seine river cruise boat, or rent out the Carrousel du Louvre's four function rooms. For a taste of legendary Parisian decadence, gather attendees at the iconic Moulin Rouge cabaret. Cocktail receptions and dinner parties at this grand spectacle are a great way to show attendees that conducting business in Paris is anything but ordinary.
Traditional conference facilities abound in Paris, the largest of which is the 220,000-square-meter Paris Expo Porte de Versailles. The venue is the top-ranked exhibition center in France, attracting more than 200 events each year. The Palais des Congres de Paris boasts four theaters, 18 meeting rooms and over 19,000 square meters of exhibit space used to host everything from medical symposiums to black-tie receptions.
Guests need not worry about getting lost in the streets as they navigate from one venue to the next. Paris boasts one of the world's most comprehensive metro systems, with 16 lines and 300 stations strategically placed throughout the city's 20 arrondissements, or districts, and extending into the inner suburbs. Getting to the city itself is also hassle-free, thanks to its two international airports serving 340 cities in 120 countries worldwide. European travelers can make use of 425 high-speed trains that travel daily to Paris.
For delegates, the greatest lure of an event held in Paris is not accessibility, but rather the prospect of what lies beyond the boardroom. The city's dining, nightlife and cultural scenes are incentive enough to undertake an overseas trip or cross-nation train ride, and the possibilities for group outings are endless. Special tours may be organized at nearly all of the city's museums, while early arrivals might enjoy a day trip to Versailles or to famed artist Monet's home in Giverny. From Michelin-rated restaurants and the elegant Champs-Elysees to charming sidewalk cafes and the beautifully landscaped gardens of the Jardins du Luxembourg, Paris sets forth a magnificent stage for events of every variety.
Although Paris has always been the economic nucleus of France, the past century saw this capital city become one of the world's most powerful business centers. An impressive 25 of the Fortune Global 500 companies are based here. Included in these are BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole, Peugot and France Telecom. Major international organizations, such as UNESCO and the International Chamber of Commerce, also call Paris their home.
Dating back to 4200 BC, Paris has evolved into one of the world's most distinctive and famous cities. It has been the setting for historic events such as the storming of the Bastille in 1789, victory marches of Napoleon and the 1870 siege during the Franco-Prussian War. Kings, emperors and presidents have seated their governments here, as did the short-lived Commune of Paris.
Covering approximately 33 square miles, Paris instantly brings to mind images of cobbled streets and graceful shuttered buildings with wrought-iron balconies – a look that was by no means an accident. In 1852, Napoleon III hired Georges-Eugene Haussmann to develop a plan for the modernization of Paris. Baron Haussmann's plan called for broad, sweeping avenues, uniform building heights, grand new public buildings and lush green spaces. He arranged boulevards to showcase famous landmarks, such as the Arc de Triomphe and Palais Garnier, increasing the dramatic aesthetics of the city's layout.
Although Haussmann designed his plan for a smaller city, his careful arrangement has withstood the test of time and population growth. Today, Paris proper is home to over two million people, with an additional 10 million people living within the greater metropolitan area. Nearly 20 percent of Paris' population was born outside of France, giving it an ethnic diversity that adds to the city's contagious energy. Experience the delights of a Tunisian bakery in the city's famed Latin Quarter, or delve into the heritage of the Maghreb region at the popular Institut du Monde Arabe.
As Paris has expanded and diversified, however, it has maintained its unparalleled reputation in at least one traditional area: food. French cuisine is renowned the world over, and with good reason. The country boasts 571 Michelin-rated restaurants, many of which are located within the Paris region. Lucky for the budget-friendly traveler, eating well need not be expensive in Paris. Stop into any boulangerie or patisserie to indulge in a freshly baked pain au chocolat or pastel-colored macaron. Or, purchase a fresh-pressed panini or tantalizing crepe from one of the many street vendors. For a quintessential Parisian experience, pack a bottle of wine, a baguette and some cheese for a picnic along the Seine.
In addition to its culinary excellence, Paris has dominated the art world. Since the earliest royal art salon in 1673, France has shown great admiration – and high expectations – for its artists. Today, the city hosts some of the most prestigious art museums in the world; Musee du Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Musee Picasso and the Musee Rodin are just a few of the most popular destinations. Hundreds of smaller galleries dot the streets, providing plenty of opportunities for art lovers to soak up local culture.
After the museums and art galleries close, the City of Light lives up to its nickname thanks to a glamorous nightlife scene. From dance clubs and chic cocktail lounges to quiet neighborhood cafes and student-filled jazz clubs, nighttime in Paris presents an eclectic range of options to explore. Whether sampling local cuisine or soaking up the city's artistic and architectural gems, visitors will not quickly forget the abundant opportunities for discovery in Paris.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Paris features an oceanic climate that rarely sees extreme temperatures. Summers are warm, with temperatures averaging between 24°C and 12°C. Winter temperatures average between 9°C and 1°C.
Rainfall in Paris is low, and snowfall is even rarer. Average yearly precipitation is 642 millimeters. Thanks to its consistent climate, any month is a great one to be in Paris. Many guests find springtime and fall great seasons for enjoying Paris' outdoors to the fullest.
CNIT Paris La Defense
Located in Paris' major business district La Defense, CNIT Paris La Defense boasts a sleek, streamlined design. Now an architectural wonder, the building is instantly recognizable for its vaulted, triangular shape.
Inside, the multi-purpose complex boasts offices, a hotel, a shopping mall and a conference and exhibition space. Planners can take advantage of 307,850 square feet of space, spread among 35 meeting rooms and two auditoriums seating 750 and 1,200 people. The spaces at CNIT Paris La Defense have hosted large-scale events such as Trade Tech, Losangexpo and APEC exhibitions.
Le Palais des Congres de Paris
Opened in 1974 by the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the 441324-square-foot Palais des Congres de Paris has played an important role in Parisian business life since its beginning. After expansions in 1997 and in 2004, the vast facility now offers over 204,516 square feet of exhibition space. Additionally, the center boasts 18 meeting rooms seating up to 380 people, 70 business suites and four amphitheaters ranging in size from 400 to 3,723 seats. A number of multi-media facilities are also available, including two television studios with high-definition capabilities, a digital control room and a teleport.
In between meetings and seminars, attendees can take advantage of amenities that include an on-site shopping mall with nearly 100 stores, a post office, a business center, movie theaters and an Air France travel agency. The facility also features 4,000 on-site hotel rooms and an underground parking lot for 1,500 vehicles. With all it has to offer, Palais des Congres not surprisingly sees over one million visitors each year.
Paris Porte de Versailles
The 2.45-million-square-foot Paris Expo Porte de Versailles is currently ranked as the number-one exhibition center in France and is the 7th-largest such facility in Europe. Made of up of eight halls, ranging in size from just over 129,168 square feet to around 77,501 square feet, the Porte de Versailles can be configured to accommodate audiences of 2,000 to 4,000 people. Additionally, the eight halls are divisible into 32 separate reception rooms, while 24,000 square meters of outdoor space are available.
The halls at Paris Porte de Versailles offer telephone connectivity, Wi-Fi access and state-of-the-art audio-visual technology. Catering and décor services can also be arranged. Guests inside the facility can travel between halls on a moving sidewalk, while arriving to the facility itself is easy thanks to nearby Metro, bus and tram stops. Over 8,300 hotel rooms are also within walking distance.
Not surprisingly, Paris Expo Porte de Versailles is the venue of choice for over 200 events each year, hosting about six million annual visitors. Past events have included the Salon et Congres des Maires, an annual gathering for all mayors in France; Salon Nautique de Paris; and the Concours General Agricole, an agricultural competition.
Charles de Gaulle International Airport (CDG)
Approximate taxi fare: 36.35 EUR
Serving close to 60 million people each year, Charles de Gaulle International Airport is the largest airport in France and the 2nd busiest in Europe after London Heathrow. In 2007, the airport ranked number one in Europe for both aircraft movement and cargo traffic, proving its importance for international travel and business. Each day 200,000 passengers arrive or depart from one of the airport's three main terminals, all of which are connected by free shuttle buses.
To pass time between flights, travelers can enjoy the airport's large selection of bars and restaurants, which range from fast food eateries and grab-and-go kiosks to full-service restaurants. Charles de Gaulle also has a number of high-quality shops, including Hermes, L'Occitane, Koba and Swatch. Business travelers can take advantage of Terminal 1's dedicated business center, which offers eight meeting rooms and fax and photocopy services. Terminal 2 boasts two lounges equipped with wireless Internet access.
Charles de Gaulle was one of the world's first airports to feature an on-site train station, and now travelers can take a roughly 50-minute ride into downtown Paris on the RER line B for approximately $12 USD. From 12:30 to 5 AM, the Noctilien night bus can be used to reach the city center from the airport. The airport also has three parking lots with a total of 9,185 parking spaces.
Charles de Gaulle International's location about 23 kilometers northeast of Paris was selected to accommodate potential expansions, some of which are now in the works.
Airline Carriers Serving Charles de Gaulle International Airport
Paris-Orly Airport (ORY)
Approximate taxi fare: 26.88 EUR
At one time the largest airport in Paris, Paris-Orly became the city's secondary airport after the opening of Charles de Gaulle International in 1974. Despite having only two terminals, the South Terminal and the West Terminal, the airport continues to outpace Charles de Gaulle International in terms of domestic traffic. It ranks second among airports in France for overall passenger traffic.
Paris-Orly offers a limited number of restaurants, but what it lacks in eateries it makes up for in retail options. The large shopping selection includes well-known labels such as Printemps, Relay, Swatch, Virgin, Cecile et Jeanne and Pure and Rare. The Paris-Orly Business Center offers offices for up to three people and meeting rooms for up to 50 people, available for hire by the hour, half-day and whole day. Audio-visual and catering services can also be arranged for private corporate functions.
Located about 10 miles south of the city, Paris-Orly operates shuttle buses to the two nearest RER stations: the RER C station "Pont de Rungis" and the RER B station "Antony." Shuttle trips range in cost from approximately $9 USD to $19 USD. The airport also offers seven parking areas.
Airline carriers serving Paris-Orly Airport
Six major train stations are located in Paris: Gare d'Austerlitz, Gare de l'Est, Gare de Lyon, Gare Montparnasse, Gare du Nord and Gare Saint-Lazare. Gare Saint-Lazare and Gare Montparnasse exclusively service domestic destinations, while the remaining four stations service both international and domestic destinations.
Nearly all railways in France are operated by the Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer Francais (SNCF). SNCF also owns partial shares in many international lines, including Thalys and Eurostar, which operates out of Gare du Nord with service to London via the "Chunnel".
The Regie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP) is Paris' main transportation operator. It oversees the Metro, Reseau Express Regional (RER) and all city bus services. Founded in 1948, RATP is currently administered by the country's Transportation Ministry.
A basic RATP ticket costs approximately $2.50. Booklets of 10 tickets are available for approximately $17 USD. Passes are also available for one, two, three or five days, and provide unlimited access to all RATP services. Tickets may be purchased at all metro and RER stations, bus terminals and Paris Tourist offices, as well as the city's two airports.
Metro By far the most popular form of transport in Paris, the Metro is used by 4.5 million passengers each day, making it the 2nd busiest metro system in Europe after Moscow. The Metro system includes 16 lines and 300 stations, most of which lie within the city proper.
The Metro system opened in 1900 during the Exposition Universelle. The original Art Nouveau style of the station entrance signs was designed by Hector Guimard, and these markers have since become iconic symbols of the city. Interiors of certain stations, such as that of The Louvre, Bastille and Saint-Germain-des-Pres, have been designed to reflect their surroundings, making these stations something of an attraction themselves.
The Metro operates daily from 5:20 to 1:20 AM. Saturday night service is extended to 2:20 AM. Basic tickets are valid for transfers up to 90 minutes after first use.
Reseau Express Regional (RER)The Reseau Express Regional, more commonly referred to as the RER, opened in 1977 as a supplement to the Metro. Whereas the Metro is concentrated mainly in Paris proper, the RER extends into the inner and outer suburbs. There are five RER lines; plans are currently under way to expand Line E, which opened in 1999.
The RER operates daily from 4:45 to 1:30 AM. Basic tickets are valid for transfers up to 90 minutes after first use.
BusesThe RATP operates 59 bus lines within Paris proper, and an additional 205 lines throughout the city's suburbs. Roughly 950 million bus journeys are taken each year.
Buses run from 5:30 AM until 8:30 PM; some lines operate until 12:30 AM. At night, the Noctilien bus service runs from 12:30 to 5 AM.
Velib is a highly successful public bicycle rental program that is used regularly by both locals and tourists. Velib consists of 20,000 bicycles and 1,450 stations, which are located throughout the city. Bicycles may be rented 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can be returned to different stations than those from which they are rented.
The first 30 minutes of each rental is free. The second half-hour costs €1, an hour-and-a-half costs approximately $3 USD, and each additional half-hour increment costs $6 USD.
Many rental car agencies operate in Paris, including Avis, Hertz, National, Budget France, Europcar and Sixt. Both Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly airports provide rental car services, and most agencies offer other locations throughout the city as well.
Paris is home to numerous taxi companies, all of which operate on a meter system. The city has approximately 15,500 taxis, which can usually be hailed from the streets or from one of the city's taxi stands. When a taxi is available, the "Taxi Parisien" sign on the roof of the vehicle is illuminated.
It is customary to tip taxi drivers approximately 10 percent. The standing pickup charge is approximately $2 USD. Increased rates apply during evening hours and to journeys to the suburbs. Extra fees apply for fourth passengers and luggage.
Taxi stands at Charles de Gaulle International are located at the end of baggage areas at each arrival terminal. Fares to downtown Paris average €50. Paris-Orly taxi stands are located at exit M of the South Terminal and at exit B of the arrivals level at the West Terminal. Rates to downtown Paris average $50 USD.
There are no current promotions in Paris, France.
Interested in placing a promotion? Call Cvent for information on advertising opportunities at 1-866-318-4358.