Paris has been a thriving metropolis and a center of intellectual and artistic achievement for centuries. The city's roots reach to the 3rd century B.C., and influences as diverse as Celtic, Roman, Scandinavian, and English are woven into the city's rich heritage.
Paris is divided into sections North and South of the Seine, more commonly known as the Rive Droite (Right Bank) and Rive Gauche (Left Bank), respectively. The city, which French people often describe as being shaped like a snail shell, is broken into 20 districts or arrondissements. The first arrondissement is at the very center of the city, near the Seine river. Subsequent arrondissements spiral out clockwise away from the center. To obtain the best send of how lives are lived in Paris, the best district to visit is the Marias, which especially comes alive at night. It features good restaurants, wonderful delicatessens, trendy nightspots and the Picasso Museum (Musee Picasso).