100 Travel Tips for Paris

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Visiting Paris is an experience that every traveler should have. Paris is the first city I fell in love with. More than 70 countries later, it’s still my favorite city in the world.

Since my first trip at the age of 16, I’ve returned seven more times, trying to uncover more layers of the city on each visit.

I’ll never succeed in peeling back every layer. Paris, like New York and London, is one of those cities that will have portions of it forever shrouded in mystery, no matter how hard you explore. Nobody could ever get to the core of Paris.

But you don’t need to know everything. You just need to know how to have a great trip to Paris.

I’ve collected 100 travel tips on everything about Paris: things to do, where to eat, how to get off the beaten path, and whether French people are really that rude.

I hope your trip to Paris is the first of many. Enjoy this list!

100 Travel Tips for Paris

General and Etiquette

The French have a reputation for being rude. It’s more accurate to say that they are formal and minimize interaction with strangers. Don’t expect to talk to them like you would with someone in America. To be polite in France is to keep your distance rather than pal up, to keep a neutral expression rather than a wide grin, and to only speak when necessary.

Always say, “Bonjour, monsieur,” or “Bonjour, madame,” whenever you enter a shop or restaurant. In France, this is basic manners and something that children are taught at a young age. Failing to do this may earn you rude treatment in return. Say, “Au revoir,” when you leave, too.

Speak as much French as you can. Making a genuine effort to speak French will almost always get you better treatment than leading with English. At minimum, learn bonjour and au revoir, sil vous plaît and merci, pardon and excusez-moi, numbers 1-10, je voudrais (I would like — use when ordering in restaurants), and parlez-vous anglais?

Paris Marais


There’s no need to stay at a hotel near the airport unless it’s for one night and you have a very early flight the next day. Paris’s airports, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, are both far outside the city center.

Cobblestone Paris Rentals is perfect accommodation for when you want something special. The apartments are so Parisian and beautifully decorated. (Plus: tell them Adventurous Kate sent you and you’ll get a free Seine river cruise!)

If you want to stay in a Paris hotel, compare the best rates here. Paris hotels can be expensive, but there are deals to be had.

For more on where to stay in Paris, check out this comprehensive guide.

Paris Metro Sign


Use Skyscanner to find flights to Paris. There are tons of direct and connecting options, and Skyscanner tends to have the lowest prices.

The metro is an easy, comprehensive, and safe way to travel through Paris. If you’re up for a bit more of a challenge, consider taking the bus.

If you’re traveling through Paris, it’s often best to buy a carnet — a set of 10 metro tickets. This is often the best value choice for travelers.

Get a free app with a Paris metro map for your phone. There are several of them and they’re all very similar. It’s much easier than lugging around a map with you.

The best way to get to Paris from Charles de Gaulle Airport is to take the train. It will take you into the heart of the city, including major stations like Gare du Nord where you can take the metro to your final destination. Taxis will be very expensive.

There is absolutely no need for a car in Paris. If you insist on one, know that you’ll be dealing with crazy driving, expensive parking, and a lot of hassle.

Taxis are abundant in Paris and Uber exists as well, though it’s limited compared to other cities. Perfect for if you want to get somewhere quickly and privately, though be aware that rush hour traffic can make a journey longer than the metro.

A dish topped with several snails cooked in a green sauce.

What to Eat in Paris

Parisians tend to eat dinner at 8:00 PM or later. You may not find restaurants open until this time. Unlike other countries, it’s rare to find nicer restaurants open between meal times, but cafes are open all the time.

Try some traditional French dishes that you may not have tried at home. My recommendations? Escargots (snails cooked in garlic and butter), steak tartare (raw beef mixed with spices and an egg), confit de canard (duck cooked in its own fat), cassoulet (a dish with beans, sausage, and confit de canard), quiche lorraine (quiche with cheese and ham), and moules marinières (mussels cooked in white wine, garlic, and spices). And plenty of macarons, baguettes, and pains au chocolat, of course!

The proper French meal ends with cheese. And it’s serious business in a country with a cheese for every day of the year.

For an ultimate steak frites experience, visit Le Relais de L’Entrecôte. You’re served a mini steak frites, and after you’re finished, they bring you another steak and some more frites.

L’as du Falafel has the most famous cheap meal in Paris. Their falafel is outstanding and it’s best eaten on a bench in the nearby Place des Vosges.

Crepes are everywhere, both as street food and in restaurants, but make sure you try the real thing. Head to Breizh Cafe for an authentic buckwheat galette followed by a salted caramel crepe with chantilly cream.

Be sure to visit a traditional boulangerie, or bakery. Pick up some baguettes, some pastries, or whatever mysterious item looks delicious. One that I recommend is Du Pain et Des Idées in the 10th.

Believe it or not, there is a restaurant that is very Parisian, with nice food, not too touristy, and with reasonable prices (for Paris, that is). It’s called Chartier and it’s in the 9th. Prepare to wait in line, as it’s very popular.

Go for a picnic at least once. Pick up some baguettes, some cheeses, some fruits, and a bottle of wine and head to the nearest park. The Champs de Mars, in front of the Eiffel Tower, is a classic place to do this, but Paris has parks all over the city.

Don’t miss out on ethnic dining in Paris. If you’re getting sick of French food, consider going out for Middle Eastern, Vietnamese, Japanese, Indian or North African food. These cuisines in particular are found all over the city.

Are you a vegetarian? There are lots of dishes to try in Paris. Crêpes and omelets, which the French eat for lunch or dinner, are always good options. If no vegetarian main dishes are on the menu, meat-free vegetable sides and salads are always available. Also consider the ethnic options listed above.

Are you a vegan? It’s more of a challenge, but not impossible. In addition to considering the ethnic options listed above, some vegetarian restaurants catering to vegans include Pousse-PousseMacéo, Le Potager du Marais, and Le Bar des Artisans.

Gluten-free in Paris? Definitely doable. Celiac disease and gluten intolerance are becoming increasingly understood in Paris. Learn the translation or bring cards (see below). If all else fails, order a plain grilled hunk of protein.

Do you have food allergies or dietary restrictions? Consider traveling with French food allergy cards, which explain what you can and can’t eat in a way the French can understand.

Go on a Paris food tour. Eat your way across the city and learn from a guide. Consider a Latin Quarter food and walking tour, a Marais food tour with wine and cheese tasting, or a chocolate and pastry tour.

Take a Paris cooking class. Whether you end up making croissants, macarons, or a full meal from produce you picked out at a local market, there’s nothing like learning French cooking techniques in the heart of Paris. Learn how to make a three-course French meal that will impress your loved ones. Something more specialized? Learn how to make baguettes and croissants, or learn how to make macarons — or if you’re gluten-free, learn how to make a variety of gluten-free Parisian desserts!

Join a dinner party at a Parisian home. Most famous is Jim Haynes’ epic Sunday dinner parties, which he’s hosted for 30 years. For greater variety, check out EatWith.

Paris 1st

Paris Neighborhoods

Paris is a collection of arrondissements — numbered neighborhoods. The 1st is in the dead center of the city and the neighborhoods spiral outward from there, with 1-12 being the most central. You can tell the arrondissement by the last two digits in an address’s postal code.

The 1st is the geographical center of the city and home to some of central Paris’s top destinations, including the Louvre, the Tuileries Gardens, and part of Ile de la Cité. Here you’ll also find Les Halles.

The 3rd/4th (the Marais) is a funky little neighborhood that has historically been home to the city’s Jewish and LGBT populations. Today it’s a ritzy yet funky neighborhood brimming with boutiques and parks. Also here are the Centre Pompidou, Ile Saint-Louis, Place des Vosges, and the Hotel de Ville.

The 5th (The Latin Quarter) is home to the Sorbonne and Pantheon and is popular with students and young people to this day. Parts of it are a joy to visit; parts are absolute tourist traps. Tread lightly.

The 6th (Saint-Germain) is where you’ll find the former haunts of Camus, Sartre, and Hemingway. It’s also filled with a wide variety of boutiques and cafes and the Jardin du Luxembourg. Some cafes of note include Les Deux Magots and Cafe de Flore.

The 7th is home to the Eiffel Tower. This is a ritzy residential neighborhood and there isn’t a lot to do beyond seeing the Tower and Les Invalides, home to Napoleon’s tomb.

The 8th is home to the Champs-Elysées and shopping central. Also here are the Arc de Triomphe and Place de la Concorde.

The 9th is home to the Opéra and it makes a nice uphill neighborhood bridge between the popular shopping areas and Montmartre. This is where I recommend people visit to find a central neighborhood that isn’t as touristy.

Belleville, spanning the 10th and 11th with parts of the 19th and 20th, is the up-and-coming artsy area of Paris. Full of vibrant immigrant communities, art, edgy shops, and lower prices than you’d expect in some of the more traditional neighborhoods, Belleville is well worth a visit.

Montmartre (the 18th) is a hilly neighborhood home to the Sacré-Coeur, the Moulin Rouge, and the artist-filled Place du Tertre. This has historically been a bohemian neighborhood. While areas like Rue Lepic and its offshoots have lots of charm, the Pigalle area is seedier and home to many sex shops.

Notre-Dame, Paris

Things to Do in Paris

The Paris Pass gives you free or reduced admission to lots of attractions, plus transportation. Unfortunately, it’s fairly expensive. Tip? Add up the costs of what you want to do, then compare it to the Paris pass and see if you’re better off buying the pass or buying individual tickets. Another option is the Paris Museum Pass.

Many places let you book tickets ahead of time. The Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Eiffel Tower, among other destinations, allow you to book tickets in advance to cut down on waiting in line. This is a smart option, especially during the busy summer months.

Want the best view of Paris? Go to the top of Galeries-Lafayette in the 9th, the Centre Pompidou (Beaubourg), the top of the Montparnasse Tower, the top of Notre-Dame, the top of Sacré-Coeur, or the top of the Arc de Triomphe. The view from the top of the Eiffel Tower has no Eiffel Tower in it, and isn’t that what you want when taking a photo of Paris?

Climb to the top of Notre-Dame. While the cathedral is worth visiting on its own, it’s even better to climb to the top of the bell towers and take in the view. If you’ve ever wanted the iconic photo of gargoyles looking over Paris, this is where to get it!

Gawk at the stained glass at Sainte-Chappelle. This church isn’t as famous as Notre-Dame, but the detail in the stained glass windows is spellbinding.

Get your portrait drawn at Place du Tertre in Montmartre. If you’ve dreamed of being drawn by a Parisian artist, this is where to come. Ignore the artists who rove the streets and offer to draw you; instead, wander the square and find a sitting artist whose work you like.

Climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower. It couldn’t be more of a cliché, but you’ve got to do it! Keep in mind that lines can be very long here — this is one of the best places to buy tickets in advance. You can skip the line and join a small group with a guide, too.

Seeing the show at the Moulin Rouge is very expensive — but an incredible spectacle. It may be a tourist trap, but the show features wonderful dancing and is full of surprises. You can add a three-course dinner if you’d like, or just see the show without a meal.

Visit the Arc de Triomphe. There are wonderful views from the top of the Arc, leading straight to the Louvre on one end and La Défense on the other. The Eiffel Tower is nice and close, too. Added bonus: watching the crazy traffic circle around the Arc is surprisingly entertaining! I recommend buying skip-the-line tickets.

Take in a performance at the Opéra-Garnier. Not only is this one of Paris’s most beautiful buildings, there are concerts, ballets, and operas performed throughout the year. They also offer after-hours tours.

Take a cruise along the Seine. There’s no better way to see Paris! Take a basic Seine river cruise or book a dinner cruise with a three-course meal.

Centre Pompidou, Paris

Museums in Paris

The Mona Lisa is tiny and underwhelming — but that’s not all there is to see at the Louvre. You could spend days seeing all the brilliant art the Louvre has on display. Don’t be one of the tourists who goes in, photographs the Mona Lisa, and leaves. I recommend getting skip-the-line tickets.

The Musée d’Orsay is home to the best Impressionism collection in the world. Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Renoir, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec — many of their best works are here. It’s a beautiful setting, too. I recommend getting skip-the-line tickets here, too.

The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays; the Musée d’Orsay is closed on Mondays. If you visit the Louvre on a Monday or the Musée d’Orsay on a Tuesday, you’ll be in a long line with many travelers doing the same thing.

The Centre Pompidou (a.k.a. Beaubourg) has one of the world’s best collections of modern art. You’ll have a thought-provoking day here; also, go to the top floor for a clear view of the Eiffel Tower set against beautiful buildings in the Marais. (That view is the Pinterest image for this post!)

Save the Musée Rodin for a beautiful day. The museum is wonderful, but the sculpture garden is even better.

Don’t forget about Paris’s lesser-known museums. Some to visit include the Musée des Arts Forains (Museum of Fairground Arts), Musée de la Magie (Museum of Magic), Musée de la Chasse et la Nature (Museum of Hunting and Nature), Musée d’Histoire de la Médecine (Museum of the History of Medicine), and the Musée Edith Piaf.

Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Cheap and Free Things to Do in Paris

Paris has a multitude of free walking tours available. Discover Walks has free tours through several neighborhoods in Paris; Sandeman’s New Europe has one free tour that takes in the most famous sights. Keep in mind that these are tip-based tours and your guides only receive a small percentage of your tips; the company keeps most of them. 10 euros per person is a good minimum tip; more is welcome.

Père-Lachaise Cemetery is one of Paris’s best free attractions. See the graves of Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, Molière, and Frederic Chopin, before seeing the most famous grave in the world: that of Jim Morrison.

If you’re a student, bring your student ID. You can get discounts and freebies on everything from transportation to museum admission. Also consider getting an ISIC (international student identity card).

Go ice skating in the winter, when rinks dot the city. It’s free to skate and skate rentals are cheap.

Paris is filled with beautiful parks. From the vast Bois de Boulogne in the west to the Jardin du Luxembourg in the 6th, as well as little treasures like the Parc Monceau and Place Vosges scattered throughout the city.

Bring a book set in Paris and read it on the banks of the Seine. Some recommendations: Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris (a.k.a. The Hunchback of Notre Dame), Julia Child’s My Life in France, Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife, David Sedaris’s Me Talk Pretty One Day, Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and my personal favorite book of all time, Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.

Place des Vosges, Paris

Off the Beaten Path in Paris

Go on a scavenger hunt at the Louvre. For a museum with a side of adrenaline, THATlou offers scavenger hunts where you work out clues leading you to different works of art. Competitive? This is for you! Both public and private hunts are available.

Go to a hammam for a scrub. Paris is home to several hammams, or Turkish baths, and they’ll get you cleaner than you’ve ever been in your life. Some are O’Kari, Les Bains du Marais, and the hammam at the Grand Mosquée de Paris. For a guide on how to hammam in Paris, read this post.

Visit the Promenade Plantée. Are you familiar with the High Line park in New York City? Paris has long had the Promenade Plantée, its own park built on an elevated railroad track. Note to New York: Paris did it first.

Visit La Cité des Sciences et de L’Industrie. Ever thought you’d come to Paris and see a science museum? Why not? This museum is filled with fascinating exhibits (also in English!) about French science and technology and it’s great for families, too.

Visit the church from Midnight in Paris. Owen Wilson jumped into his time-traveling taxi outside St. Etienne du Mont in the 5th.

Head into the sewers. It sounds disgusting, but the Paris sewer tour is one of the most fascinating looks at the city that you’ll ever see. It’s one of the few places in Paris where you can see thousands of years of history and architecture all at once.

Visit La Pagoda. Believe it or not, there is a Chinese pagoda just steps from the Champs-Elysées. Originally a hotel, today it’s worth visiting for its ornate Chinese architecture and collection of art.

Visit La Défense. Located to the west of the city, La Défense is Paris’s business center, a gleaming neighborhood of glass and chrome. It’s completely different from the rest of Paris and you can get a great view of the city from the Grande Arche.

Creep along the catacombs. This is not for the faint-hearted — Paris’s catacombs are home to the remains of six million people, and you’ll see lots of piles of skulls and bones. Definitely something different. Book a two-hour skip-the-line tour here.

Two women walking past a Boulangerie Patisserie covered in graffiti.

Shopping in Paris

Want to hunt for bargains? Paris’s soldes (massive sales throughout the city) are regulated and scheduled by the government, taking place in January and July each year.

Come to Galeries Lafayette for the ultimate department store shopping experience. You’ll find all the designer brands. Visit the one on Boulevard Haussmann in the 9th, which is famous for its decorative glass ceiling overlooking several floors.

If you’re looking for eclectic, independent, high-end boutiques, the Marais is the place to go. This is where you look for that where-on-Earth-did-you-buy-that?! accessory.

Shopping on the Champs-Elysées is a famous French experience, but don’t go expecting a paradise. It’s pretty much Paris’s Times Square. Worth seeing? Of course. But it might not be as chic as you expect.

Paris’s flea markets are home to treasures you won’t find anywhere else. The best one is Marché de Puces de Saint-Ouen at Porte de la Clignancourt; some others are Les Puces de Montreuil and Les Puces de Vanves.

If you’re a bibliophile, don’t miss Shakespeare & Company. This cozy bookstore, filled with English language titles, is a Paris landmark and well worth perusing for a few hours.

Chartres Cathedral, a tall gothic cathedral with two mismatching towers in front of it.

Day Trips from Paris

The Palace of Versailles, just outside the city, is Paris’s most famous day trip. Wander the extensive castle grounds and imagine the decadent life of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. Visit independently (though I recommend buying a skip-the-line pass) or book a group tour that includes the gardens.

Chartres is home to a UNESCO World Heritage-listed cathedral and a beautiful country town. It’s on the same train line as Versailles, so you could do both in a single day trip if you wanted to.

You can visit Monet’s home and gardens at Giverny in Normandy. It will feel like you’ve been there before, as you’ve seen it in so many paintings! Book a tour from Paris here.

Take the train to the Champagne region for a glass of bubbly. The town of Reims is home to tasting centers like Taittinger, G.H. Mumm, and Pommery; if you have time, visit the town of Epernay, too. Tours from Paris can be pricey; I recommend traveling to Reims by train then booking a cheaper tour from Reims, or just visit places independently.

If you’re ambitious, you could visit another country for the day. Brussels is one hour and 15 minutes from Paris by train; both London and Luxembourg City are two hours from Paris by train; Amsterdam is three hours from Paris by train.

Jardin Luxembourg

When to Visit Paris

Paris is worth visiting every month of the year. Trust me — a trip to Paris is never a mistake, no matter what time of year.

Your best bet is to visit in the shoulder season. From April to June and September to November is probably the closest thing to a perfect time to visit Paris. The weather is good for the most part and the crowds are much smaller than during the summer.

Christmas in Paris is a wonderful time to visit. You’ll find Christmas markets all over, from Montmartre to La Défense to the Champs-Elysées, and the stores go all out with their decorations.

Summer brings the beach. Paris Plages takes place from roughly mid-July to mid-August each year, when sections of the Seine are filled with sand, deck chairs, and all the amenities you’d expect on a beach.

August is a mixed bag. Traditionally, this is a time when Parisians flee the city and tourists arrive in droves. If you stick to Parisian areas and aim for a local experience, it can be pleasantly quiet; if you’re trying to hit all the major tourist sites, you’ll face long lines and huge crowds. It can be still worth it, but know what you’re in for.

June 21 is Fête de la Musique, a day when musicians take over Paris! You’ll see performers on street corners and in parks all over the city. If you’re coming in June, keep this in mind.

July 14 is Bastille Day, known locally as La Fête Nationale. France’s national holiday arrives with parades, parties, and lots of fireworks!

You can even visit Paris on a layover to another city! I recommend you have at least a minimum of a five-hour layover, and ideally longer, but here is my guide to doing Paris on a layover.

Ladies in Paris

Packing Tips for Paris

Most Parisians dress in a neat and chic way. If you want to blend in, you’re best off avoiding shorts, t-shirts, and sneakers. Think nice jeans, ballet flats, boots, a nice pashmina or scarf, well-cut dresses, tasteful accessories.

Comfortable shoes are essential, but that doesn’t mean you need to wear ugly shoes. The Walking Company does the most amazingly comfortable shoes in the world, even for people like me who need arch support. I love their black ABEO flats and wear them whenever I’m in Paris.

Don’t forget a universal converter for your electronics. Bonus: it will work in most places around the world. If you’re bringing multiple electronics to charge simultaneously, bring a mini power strip as well.


Safety and Security

Don’t even think of going to Paris without travel insurance. Whether you cut yourself and need to go to the hospital for stitches, whether you get your phone stolen on the metro, or whether an injury means you need to cancel all or part of your trip, travel insurance will help you out. I use and recommend World Nomads as travel insurance for Paris.

Be wary of pickpockets. As Paris is such a popular tourist destination, pickpockets prey on tourists in particular. Only take one card and as much money as you need for the day, and leave your passport at home. Use a crossbody purse that zips up and keep your hand on it.

Buy a portable safe, put your valuables inside (think passport, jewelry, extra cash and credit cards, and electronics), and lock it to something sturdy in your room like a radiator or pipe. I consider it the most important thing I pack and I take it everywhere.

Other Paris Tips

Bring a guidebook. Guidebooks are not dead — they’re extremely useful! These days I buy digital PDF guides and keep them on my phone. (I love my Kindle Paperwhite, but I don’t like reading guidebooks on it — I much prefer a PDF format for my phone.) I recommend a digital version of Lonely Planet Paris.

Free public bathrooms are rare. In fact, public bathrooms, period, can be tough to find. Be sure to use the bathroom whenever you’re at an attraction or in a restaurant.

Free wifi is becoming more common in Paris. You’ll find it at many cafes these days, something that seemed unthinkable a few years ago.

Take your umbrella everywhere you go. Paris is part of Northern Europe, which is home to frequent rain. The weather also changes quickly — you could have four seasons in a day! Bring a small but chic umbrella to blend in with the Parisians.

More on Paris:

What’s your favorite travel tip for Paris? Share away!

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117 thoughts on “100 Travel Tips for Paris”

  1. That’s a pretty great collection of tips! As a french native I can’t help making a couple of comments, if you don’t mind: First is that “I would like” is “je voudrais”, not “vorrei”.

    Second, people do not usually say “Bonjour monsieur/madame” when entering shops, rather just “Bonjour”. To be honest I would find it quite weird and old fashioned if I heard this from someone 🙂 Another good thing to remember is to also say “au revoir” when you leave the shop. I think not saying it is almost as rude as not saying”bonjour” when entering.

    1. I can’t believe I had such a big brain fart that I used the ITALIAN word for “je voudrais” and didn’t notice as I went through a million drafts! Maybe because I just got back from Sicily? Thanks!

      1. Hi

        Theres nothing mentioned about how it is in first week of December.

        Since i am travelling in first week of December for my Honeymoon

        So any tips useful for December please let us know

        Thanks in advance

        1. That is my favorite time of year to go to Paris! The lights crossing the streets in all the neighborhoods are turned on December 1, the shops and large stores are all decorated for the holidays, the tree at Notre Dame is lit. There is a fun market along the Champs Elysee. Be sure to ride the carousel so you enjoy the lights along the Avenue down to the Arc and take a pedicab from the Eiffel Tower to the Concorde! It’s so romantic! There are no crowds and everyone is cheerful because the holidays are approaching. Enjoy!

    2. This is a habit that I picked up when I lived in Paris that I’ve never been able to shake. Somebody once told me that it’s like not saying hello and goodbye when you enter or leave someone’s home, especially if it’s a small boutique or a cafe where you’re clearly dealing with the business owner. Now that I’m back in the US I always try to catch someone’s eye on the way out of a restaurant or store to say goodbye and thank you. 🙂

  2. I still remember the first time you came to visit me in Paris and we found the steps of the Midnight in Paris church! And then that time we walked along the Christmas markets… good times 🙂

  3. Wow that is a seriously impressive list! Must have taken you so long to put together, so helpful thank you :). I’d add one extra tip to this list… if you’re visiting at New Year, try and resist the urge to see in midnight by the Eiffel Tower. As romantic as it sounds, I hate to say that it was a bit of an anti-climax! No fireworks and only a bit of sparkle on the tower itself. From the sounds of it, the Champs Elysees is a much better bet!

    Great post Kate!


    1. I agree! It was beautiful to see the Eiffel Tower be all sparkly, but it did that on every half hour (if I remember correctly). I also was expecting something more robust for a welcoming into 2012. I’m glad that I got to experience it regardless to the anti-climatic ending!

  4. Ahhh Paris. This was my first overseas trip- I spent 3 months on exchange in the North of France when I was 16 and I lived for the weekends I’d be going to Paris. Montmarte is still my favourite part of Paris, I had the most perfect night there once.

    Paris is also my first stop when I leave for 10 months. There is something about the familiar that wanted me to make it my first destination, well that and I have to activate my French working holiday visa!

  5. I lived in Paris and I couldnt have written a better guide myself. This is straight up brilliant. I would add that Mont Saint-Michel is very nice day trip from Paris with good planning (the bus schedule is a bit weird), the roof deck of Musee d’Orsay has really lovely views; Quartier Latin is a good area for cheap eats – French and foreign alike; visiting an Hotel Particulier, a converted former mansion, such as Musee Carnavalet, is an utterly charming experience; and Plais de la Decouvert, Paris’s Science Museum, is one of the best museums I have ever visited – anywhere of any kind (crazy fun and interactive for people of all ages).

    PS – “The proper French meal ends with cheese. And it’s serious business in a country with a cheese for every country of the year.” — did you mean “every day”? Also, where would you recommend to go for cheese sampling? I always feel bad mooching off the fromageries.

    1. Yikes! Fixed that line. 🙂 Thank you so much!! I’d love to go to Mont Saint-Michel too.

      For cheese sampling, if you don’t want to actually buy from the fromageries (which you should!), go to a grocery store! Hit up a Carrefour and grab a bunch of cheeses that look great for cheap!

  6. Knowing that they generally don’t talk to strangers much, how would you say does that apply in meeting new people? Can you not just approach people on the streets, museums, etc. or is this a taboo?

    1. I think a great way to meet people is to join meetups or events! You can try to talk to random people on the street but I warn you that most (not all) French people will be taken aback at the very least.

      1. Vicky Zebrower

        I was in Paris too many years ago now and my sister and I were making our way to our hotel off the bus and a man noticed that we were looking lost and he asked us in French where we wanted to go. Another time during that trip I spoke with a man who was walking his dog and he was very nice about answering me. We were in the 12em and it was quiet. My sister was so impressed that I was speaking French. We also met a very nice woman who was sitting near us in a restaurant because we were speaking English. She was with her English husband and had lived in the States and wanted to talk to us about that. We ended up meeting them for dinner the next night at a great restaurant that they loved. I think because we were two women alone we may have had an easier time talking to people. Thank you so much for this great article and all your work on it. You are so smart to do what you have done in life. I hope to get back to France next year and your article will make our trip better than it would have been. Many thanks Kate!

  7. Love this list! Paris was my first trip abroad and was only a short trip! But I’m hoping to visit it again sometime in the future as there is always much more to see!

  8. I’ve never once found Parisians to be rude, my experience was quite the opposite. This is nothing more than a stereotype that I’ve found to have no merit. I’ve read that there was a push by the government years ago to help teach Parisians to be more friendly to tourists. I don’t know if this is true and/or helped, but I’ve found them to be pleasant and willing to help. Yes, attempt to speak French as a courtesy and if they don’t understand or can’t speak English, this isn’t a sign of being rude. I only encountered one man that I had a complete language barrier with and we worked through it with gestures. Paris is an amazing city!

    1. I cannot agree more. I have been to Paris twenty times anon one has EVER been rude to me. The first time (1972) I went with my sister and her boyfriend (now husband of 40 + years) and when we could not figure out the turnstile at the Metor the first time, a woman went through, saw our dilemma, and walked back to help us through. This has not been uncommon. It is a shame that the stereotype still prevails.

  9. Great compilation! I love Paris too and it’s one of my favorite destinations. Have you ever used a Sanisette? The “self-cleaning” public toilets? What an experience! Also, I loved going on hunts for the beautiful Wallace Fountains all over the city.

    1. We almost did! We were in line to use one outside of Sacre Coeur. A lady in front of us didn’t wait for the cleaning cycle, she walked in before the door closed behind the person who was just out. Let’s just say, people could hear her screams several blocks away and she came out looking like a drowned rat!

      We also passed another one on the way to Père Lachaise cemetery. A homeless woman apparently fell asleep on the toliet because as we were walking by, the door suddenly flung open and there she was, sitting on the “throne!” Needless to say, she woke up then! After those two experiences, I avoided them at all costs! 🙂

      1. So long as you know not to enter during a cleaning cycle, the public toilets are LIFE SAVERS. And they’re all over the city! They have spared me from embarrassing pee dances many a time, in many an arrondissement…

      2. Christine Jordan

        I so wish we could “like” comments on here. Yours definitely deserves a thumbs up! Thanks for the laugh! 🙂

  10. Excellent post!! A couple of things I wanted to add (you might have an opinion on it, would love to hear it!). I’ve only been to Paris twice but both times I got the Museum pass. It saved us some money plus we didn’t have to stand in line forever. Loved using it at Versailles! Another tip is, we bought our tickets to the Eiffel Tower before we went. We got to avoid the two hour long wait and went straight to the elevator. We also bought the metro passes as well but I do warn people to be careful. Several times we had teens “crowd” right behind us as we were going through the gate to get in for free and tried to steal our ticket. Just a word of caution. 😉

    I do have a question! I did read somewhere once that the French use their thumb to indicate “one”. So if you want to order 1 item, you stick your thumb up. For two items, it’s your thumb and first finger. Is this true? My friend did it once and they looked at her like she was crazy.

  11. Wow, Kate, what a post! I was just in Paris two weeks ago (my first time in August!) and I was surprised how different the city feels with so many restaurants and bakeries closed — but by avoiding the islands and getting up rather early I barely encountered any tourist crowds at all. And I finally managed to spent hours sitting by the Seine just reading by myself, which was magical, but our epic June picnic might still be the best thing I ever did in Paris 🙂

  12. Pour yourself a nice glass of wine and put your feet up, lady! Epic post, truly. It made me want to head back to Paris right now 🙂
    I benefited a lot from Rick Steves’ app that has free audio guides and walking tours of Paris, the Louvre, Orsay, Versailles and others. It’s downloadable that you don’t even need wifi to listen to them.

    Off topic: I just got back from Malta and enjoyed it immensely! Thanks for the tips!

  13. Fantastic Paris run down! I completely agree that you should at least know the French basics as leading with English does not go down well with the French. I have visited France on eight different occasions, two of which were to Paris, and I have honestly only had one person be rude to me, a waiter in Paris. I found France to be an extremely friendly country if you make an effort and have had people go out of their way to help me on numerous occasions. I actually found the Italians much ruder, even when speaking basic Italian

  14. Thank you for the great tips! I will be in Paris next week and am so excited I can hardly wait but I also want to visit as many places as I can and be a gracious tourist!

  15. Wonderful tips! Thank you especially for the food allergies suggestions!

    ps – tip 101 – this is for really adventurous ones – sneak into private club Cercle de l’Union Interalliée. If you’re a member of a “sister club”, then you can experience the most historic and beautiful palace-like ambiance.. and maybe bump into a couple of royals. I was fortunate to be able to spend sometime there, because my man is a member of a “sister-club” in LA. But I think I would have for sure crashed some party there, if he wasn’t : )

  16. Oh, I’m so nostalgic for Paris now!

    I will say that I found L’as du falafel to be overrated and at this point slightly overpriced. Check out Maoz for awesome falafel right in the shadow of Notre Dame (well, on the other side of the river!). I love your advice about checking out ethnic foods. Some of the best meals I had when I lived in Paris were sushi, Thai food and Moroccan food. Also, there are tons of affordable restaurants, you just have to know where to look and where not to look. A lot of places do a formule, where for 25-30 euro you can get either an appetizer/entree or an entree/dessert. It’s a great deal. When my family came to visit me there, I typed in the name of their hotel and searched for restaurants nearby–we found some great places!

    For great views in Paris, I would also recommend Parc Buttes-Chaumont, near Belleville. It’s the most incredible hodgepodge of park-itecture, and right in the middle there’s a crag with a gazebo at the top–you can see Sacre Coeur from there! It is kind of a haul, but it’s a phenomenal view.

    1. OH, also, depending on how long you’re staying and how much metro travel you intend to do, it’s possible to get a weekly unlimited Navigo pass. I actually can’t remember if I ever did this (I was a student there so I got an Imagine-R card, which was unlimited for a year), but I remember struggling mightily my first couple of weeks to keep track of the tickets from my carnet. Something to consider!

    2. I keep thinking of more stuff! For my money–well, actually just the cost of the train ticket to get there–the best view of the city is from Suresnes-Mont Valerien. You have to take the train from St. Lazare, and there’s an American WWII cemetery there, plus a look-out point with an incredible panoramic view of the city. I went there on Bastille Day and you could see, but not hear, the fireworks and the whole Eiffel Tower.

  17. Thank you for this wonderful post! I have been following you on Snapchat and I have to say you have inspired me to plan for much more travel in years to come. I have been to Paris with family but I have been discussing my boyfriend and I going during the holidays (he has never been). My family played it safe..visiting the main attractions, staying in a chain hotel and even going as far to only eat in the hotel. I will definitely be using your post as a guide for my boyfriend and I! Thanks again 🙂

  18. Great list!! I will admit I haven’t loved Paris both times I’ve gone but I think it had to do with my lack of knowledge about the city and how to dig a bit deeper. Maybe third time’s the charm? I’m glad you recommended Chartres, I thought it was a lovely town and highly recommend visiting Maison Picassiette while there, so beautiful! It’s a house and garden that is completely covered in mosaic. Gorgeous. I have some pictures here! http://www.andaluciabound.com/maison-picasette-day-trip-from-paris/

  19. Beautiful post, Kate! I’ve only been to Paris once for a few days, but found it lovely and inspiring. I can’t wait to get back there, hopefully next Autumn, and this time with Nathan!! I will definitely be referring to this list for tips of where to go—especially for dining!!

    Merci beaucoup!

  20. Enjoyed your list very much! A small tip but one that we enjoyed. If it’s your first trip take the bus instead of the metro. You’ll appreciate the sights and sounds of the neighborhoods, districts (arrondissements) and how they interface with each other. We spent two weeks in Paris and purchased 6 carnet (10 rides) for the bus; they also have them for the metro so be specific.

    1. Do you know I still haven’t taken the bus, John? I’m very much a subway/metro girl everywhere I go, but there’s something to be said about taking buses! And having a data plan for your phone and Google maps makes it easier. I couldn’t have survived navigating London’s night buses without data and Google Maps.

  21. Your list is great Kate, well done ! I also recommend Canal St Martin and the 11th for an off the beaten path neighborhood, the restaurants are great near Rue Oberkampf. For nightlife, try the Bastille neighborhood. Belleville is a great recommendation. Funny how tourists always want to stay in the 7th, near the Eiffel Tower, but its actually not a great area for tourists, as you mention, its quite residential and expensive. I highly recommend the Marais (3rd, 4th) , it has a great mix of everything a tourist would need or want. I also love Musee Carnavalet, a free way to get the know the history of Paris while peeking inside of its great old mansions. The falafel on Rue Des Rosiers are the best falafels Ive ever had, but note that if there is a long line at L’As Du Falafel (which there almost always is), the one just across from it is just as good. (Mi Va Mi). Walking tours are also a must (I prefer self-guided) to learn what it is youre looking at ! Shopping on Rue De Rivoli near Metro Chatelet is also less expensive than shopping on Champs Elysees (you can find H&M, Zara, C&A, Promod etc, cheaper stores than Champs Elysees or even the big department stores). Rue De Bretagne is one of my favorite streets with the Marches Des Enfants Rouges food stalls. Thank you so much for the Cobblestone Paris link !

  22. I lived in Paris for 9 months (study abroad) and there were many things on this list that I wouldn’t have thought of! I’ll have to check them out when I go back to Paris. One thing I would add to shopping: If you want to go to a department store that has literally just about everything you can think of, go to the BHV (Bazaar de l’Hotel de Ville) in the 1st. You can spend so much time there just looking around.

  23. Such a useful post, I’m definitely saving this for future reference! I’ve been to Paris once and that was a few years ago with my family. I’d most prefer to go back with a lover and have a real Paris experience but hey, you can’t have everything…

  24. Great tips Kate!
    I’ve been to Paris many times and I still continue to love it LOL!
    My tip, if you’re going to visit Paris then budget for it. It would be a shame if people were in France and all they could afford were raw tomatoes and a bit of stinky cheese! Also, travellers should try to dress up a little when visiting places so that they won’t stick out as “American!”
    Lastly, travellers and visitors shouldn’t feel intimidated by snooty staff. Walk in there like you own the place and even though one might speak hardly any French at all, attempt to do so anyway LOL!

  25. May be helpful to add Orly airport as some budget carriers fly into Orly. From Orly, there’s an Air France bus that takes you directly to Gare Montparnasse from where you can catch the metro to points beyond. The bus fare is pretty cheap.

    1. RyanAir flies into a third airport, Beauvais, and it’s really, really far out. You have to either drive or take an expensive bus to get there!

  26. Christine Jordan

    What an amazing list, thank you so much! I’m going to Paris this spring. I must have read 100 articles, and you still managed to have a bunch of things I hadn’t heard of yet. Can’t wait!

  27. I must confess that the blog title seemed like it would possibly be overflowing with too much information. Yet the more I read, the more I was impressed with how organized your travel tips were. Will definitely take a further look at your blog to learn more suggestions. Hope to return to Europe again someday.

  28. The reason everyone has a picnic at Champs de Mars is because it’s the only park in Paris that you’re allowed to go on the grass! All the others forbid people on the grass.

  29. Thanks for all the great advice! And thanks for including some tips for vegans visiting Paris. I have to say going to Paris as a vegan has greatly improved in the last few years. I usually go once or twice a year to visit a friend, but I haven’t tried Pousse-Pousse or heard of Macéo! Places for my next trip. 🙂 I wasn’t a huge fan of Le Potager du Marais, although I know it’s popular. My personal favourite is Gentle Gourmet, it’s definitely worth a visit and my non-vegan friend loves it there! Another favourite – not the most exciting food ever, but if any vegans want to experience a typical brasserie, vegan-style, I recommend Brasserie Lola in the 15th.

  30. The Rodin museum is a definite must! It is my favourite museum, as well as my father’s. And don’t forget Napoleon’s tomb. It is quite incredible. Also, if you are taking a breath of fresh air in the Tuileries you aught to stop in the Musèe de l’Ornagerie where the Monet Water Lilies are kept. The line is usually pretty short (less that twenty minutes to no line, at least in the off season) and there are other exhibitions that cycle through in the lower story of the building.

  31. Great tips to travel Paris. Paris is my dream city and some day I would love to visit this wonderful city. I would love to read more about. As this city is always attract me towards it.

  32. Thank you for the wonderful tips Kate! I can’t wait to explore Paris and your post is really detailed!
    I am planning my first ever solo trip to Paris, could I ask some advise please? For solo female, and definitely avoiding dim alleys. My main agenda is really to see Paris at night – namely Eiffel and The Louve, followed by a dinner at a local restaurant after, would that be a good idea? Hope to hear from you soon! Thanks in advance!

    1. Of course! Go ahead and do just that! Just be conscientious of your surroundings. I walk in Paris at night all the time, and so do the many women who live in the city.

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