Paris: The Ultimate Guide

Updated: Dec 30, 2021



Paris is the kind of city that you hear mixed opinions about, but either way you have to visit it at least once. For as long as I can remember, I've loved Paris. Well, I loved the idea of it at least. It was always a dream of mine to visit the city of love, or to even live there one day. When my friend and I decided to visit, I got really nervous that I would get there and end up hating it (which is kind of funny because I tend to see the positive attributes of every place I visit). As expected though, I loved it!! It is now one of my favorite cities! There is so much to see and do, and the city is MASSIVE! We were honestly so impressed with how spread out everything is. With that being said, let's talk about the best way to get around the city:


 

TRANSPORTATION


Paris has a super convenient and cheap metro that takes you practically everywhere in the city. The downside of taking the metro is that you're underground, so you don't get to see much of the city. If you're down to walk a ton, walking is a good way to see things that are pretty central. If you're traveling longer distances and don't want to take the metro (or if you are traveling to/from the airport), I would recommend taking an Uber. Taking an Uber everywhere is really expensive and may not be time efficient (depending on route and time of day), so use Uber wisely in Paris. I do not recommend renting a car in Paris. The roads can be confusing, and it's a big city so you can run into traffic or parking issues.


 

ACCOMMODATIONS


Les Jardins d'Eiffel


Les Jardins d'Eiffel offers decently-sized rooms in a great location! We splurged a bit and got a hotel room with a view of the Eiffel Tower and it was totally worth it. You can watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle every night from your window! The hotel is close to two metro stops on different routes, but it is also close enough to walk to some of Paris's most popular attractions, like the Eiffel Tower and museums. There are restaurants and shops nearby, too!



Other Accommodations


There are a bunch of different types of hotels in Paris, from hostels to luxury hotels. The same thing goes for Airbnbs; you can find luxury airbnbs or simple inexpensive studios to stay in while you're there.


 

FOOD


There are SO MANY places to eat in Paris; it can honestly be hard to choose a place sometimes. Here are a few of my favorite places in Paris:



Laudurée


This is a super popular place to get macarons and pastries. The macarons are beyond delicious and they have so many different flavors! I recommend you at least get the vanilla!! An American guy I met (shoutout to the Apple store employee) suggested that my friend and I get the vanilla macaron from there and it did not disappoint!!




Angelina


Another really popular place to go for macarons and other sweets is Angelina. They have quite possibly the BEST hot chocolate I've ever had. It's thick and rich (but not too rich)! It's the perfect drink for a chilly day!




La Taverne de Montmarte


When you're in France, you obviously have to try some traditional French dishes. Why not have a cup of French onion soup? La Taverne de Montmarte has delicious onion soup! I also discovered racliflette and tartliflette at La Taverne and now I'm obsessed. Raclette cheese, potatoes, onions... I don't even think I need to say the rest of the ingredients! It's amazing! You can also get raclette on potatoes, meats, and veggies, or you can get fondue! They even have chocolate fondue!! It's the perfect place for dinner after walking up and down all the steps for the Sacre-Coeur.




La Petite Rose des Sables


You cannot leave Paris without having a feast at La Petite Rose des Sables! Mamie will treat you like royalty! As soon as we sat down, Mamie brought us sangria and a meat plate "on the house". We also had a cheese plate and salads. For dinner I ate roasted chicken, French fries, and salad, and my friend ate vegetable soup. Afterward, we had little desserts that Mamie made for the day. Then, as we attempted to get the check, Mamie invited us to sit inside (we sat outside for dinner) for some drinks, again "on the house". Mamie then poured us a homemade drink; we think it was homemade limoncello, but there was a big language barrier as Mamie speaks very, very little English. Once we finished that, Mamie then poured us two cups of tea. Mamie took our order, made our food, and served us all while treating us so well and giving us gifts during the entire two hours that we were at the restaurant. I like to say that it wasn't just dinner, it was an experience!




Tout Atour du Pain


Tout Atour du Pain has the best croissants I've ever eaten and let's just say I tried a lot of croissants in France. It's a small place, but they have a wide variety of pastries and breads! Stop here for a breakfast pastry and coffee on the go!




Maison Marnay


Maison Marnay is yet another amazing boulangerie (bakery)!! It's a great spot for breakfast, a snack, or even a small lunch! They have many options of breads, pastries, and sandwiches! I got a jambon-beurre and financier and both were delicious!




Mille & Un


This French-Korean boulangerie/patisserie has a wide variety of treats, from breads to tarts and everything in between. Stop here for some afternoon tea and pastries! The lemon tart (tarte au citron) is delish!


Paris

 

ACTIVITIES


Louvre Museum


The Louvre is one of those places that you have to visit, whether you're a museum person or not. I can't spend hours in a museum, but I will admit that the Louvre was awesome. It's the largest museum in the world, so as you can imagine, it is massive! Not only are all the exhibits so cool, but the architecture of the museum is also amazing! You can't visit the Louvre without seeing the Mona Lisa. There is a line to see the painting, which I was worried about when I visited, but it wasn't as long as I expected. I spent about an hour in the museum and for me that was a good amount of time. I could've spent more time there, but I knew I would not see everything in one visit (you won't see everything, even if you spent the entire day there).


Note: We visited the museum at 10am on a Saturday in the beginning of August. It didn't take us too long to get in and the museum wasn't very crowded




Musée de l'Orangerie


If you're wanting to see some Claude Monet and other unique artwork, you must visit Musée de l'Orangerie! Musée de l'Orangerie is much smaller than the Louvre but equally incredible. There are two rooms with four beautiful Monet paintings each. The rooms are quiet and have benches for you to sit and take in the beauty of the paintings.


We booked our Musée de l'Orangerie for noon (2 hrs after our Louvre entry time). We left the Louvre after about an hour, walked to a nearby store, and walked back to the Musée de l'Orangerie, and I thought it was perfectly timed. I recommend visiting the Musée de l'Orangerie on the same day as the Louvre because they are really close!



Notre Dame


Because of the fire a few years ago, Notre Dame is under construction (meaning you obviously cannot enter). It is still an iconic Parisian attraction that you should take time to see. It is still beautiful and it is pretty close to the center of the city! Île de la Cité, the island that Notre Dame is on, is also very picturesque and a great area to walk around. There are some cafés nearby to grab a quick bite to eat or you can stroll through Marais after visiting one of the most popular cathedrals in the world!



Catacombs


I'm not a fan of going underground, but the catacombs are worth it! It's just halls and halls of bones laying on top of each other. So cool! Most bones are organized; some skulls are organized in the shape of a heart or a cross. While you're walking around the halls of bones you'll learn all about the catacombs and where the bones came from. If you're willing to book a last minute (day of) ticket, book your tickets early on the day that you want to go. The tickets are cheaper if you book them online last minute.



Eiffel Tower


You must go to the Eiffel Tower at sunset! Go up to the top right before the sun goes down and enjoy the view as the sun sets. It's beautiful and totally worth the money!! You can go to the nearby Fanprix, grab some great snacks, and have a picnic in front of the tower before you go up in the tower! Between nightfall and 1a.m., the Eiffel Tower sparkles for the first five minutes of every hour and it is so magical!


Note: Unless you really want to climb a lot of stairs, I recommend getting the tickets to take the elevator to the second floor and top floor!



Versailles


A short train or car ride away is Versailles! While in Versailles, obviously check out the palace! It's huge, full of gold and marble, and has amazing gardens. Before you head to the palace, stop by Antoinette Boulangerie to grab some breakfast! You won't regret it!


Even if you only have a long weekend in Paris, Versailles is definitely worth the day trip! We arrived in Paris early on a Friday morning, Uber-ed to Versailles on Sunday morning, took a train back to Paris that afternoon, and left Paris on Monday evening, and I thought it was worth the visit! Check out this post to learn more about day tripping to Versailles from Paris.


Galeries Lafayette


I'm not a huge shopping person, but you have to do some shopping if you're in the fashion capitol of the world!! Plus, Galeries Lafayette Haussmann has one of the best views of Paris. The idea of Galeries Lafayette is similar to department stores, like Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus, (and most other Galeries Lafayettes that I went into were definitely departments stores) but Galeries Lafayette Haussmann is HUGE! It's seriously like a mall, with everything from moderately-priced clothing, home goods, shoes, etc. to the most high-end, designer brands you can think of (they sell over 3500 brands). When you walk in and look up, you'll see beautiful stained glass as you're surrounded by Hermés, Chanel, Dior, and other designer perfumes. Up on the 8th floor (basically the rooftop), there is a terrace for you to look out at the city and sometimes there is a pop-up restaurant!



Champs Élysées & Arc d'Triomphe


Champs Élysées is a touristy street that's home to restaurants and famous stores, like Louis Vuitton, BVLGARI, Zara, etc. On one end of Champs Élysées is the Arc d'Triomphe, a monument to honor those who fought for France in the Napoleonic Wars. At the other end is Place de la Concorde, the spot where Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were guillotined. Walk from the Arc d'Triomphe all the way to the spot where members of French royalty were beheaded and stop at your favorite stores on the way!


Explore the Neighborhoods


Paris has so many different areas that have their own unique characteristics. Go for a walk around the neighborhoods and take in the beautiful French architecture. You could even gab some sort of Parisian snack or drink in some districts to find the best ones in the city!


 

NEIGHBORHOOD


Like I said earlier, Paris is huge and has so many different neighborhoods. Some areas of Paris are very unique and make you feel like you're in a village rather than a large city. I'll highlight a few of the popular areas and some of my favorites. Also, districts in large French cities are called arrondissements.



Le Marais (3rd & 4th arrondissement)


If you're looking for the BEST croissants you'll ever put in your mouth, you have to visit Le Marais. I almost didn't visit this area and I definitely would've been missing out! Le Marais is so picturesque and full of shops and restaurants. Stroll around 3rd and 4th arrondissements and hit up the spots highlighted on this food tour ('Spain Revealed's Food Tour). My friend, who is from Paris and visits often, recommended that tour to me and it was awesome! There are so many stops to try different French food! This tour introduced me to Tout Atour du Pain! I wanted to try other places, but we were there in the beginning of August and most places had just closed for holiday vacations (so know that some places will be closed if you plan on visiting in August).



Montmarte (18th arrondissement)


This area is like a cute, little hilltop village in the middle of a big city! At the top of the hill is Sacré-Coeur (Basilica of the Sacred Heart), a beautiful basilica consecrated in 1919. Climb up all the stairs to take a peek into the basilica and to soak in the incredible views of Paris! After you've rested from all the stairs, go back down the stairs and stroll around the charming streets of Montmarte. Don't forget to stop by La Taverne de Montmarte for a relaxing and delicious dinner!



Louvre (1st arrondissement)


As you can tell by the name of this district, the Louvre is housed in the 1st arrondissement. The Musée de l'Orangerie, other museums, Place Vendôme, and Palais Royal (the former royal palace) are all located in the 1st arrondissement. This district is fairly small and easy to get around on foot!



Elysée (8th arrondissement)


8th arrondissement is where part of the Arc de Triomphe, the Place de la Concorde, and Champs Élysées are located. The Palais de l'Élysée (Élysée Palace), the French president's official residence, is also located in 8th arrondissement. Because 8th arrondissement neighbors 1st arrondissement, you can easily walk between the two and explore!



Eiffel Tower (7th arrondissement)


Again, the name of this district tells you what is located here: the Eiffel Tower! The Musée d'Orsay is also located in the 7th arrondissement. The northern side of this district stretches along the Seine River, making it the perfect area to walk around before your Eiffel Tower experience. This district has a lot of restaurants, shops, and hotels (like Les Jardins d'Eiffel), so it is a great district to stay in! As you walk through the streets of 7th arrondissement, you'll catch glimpses of the Eiffel Tower in all its glory hahah. Due to its popularity, it can also be one of the more expensive areas of Paris to stay in.



6th Arrondissement & Latin Quarter


Last but not least, I'd like to highlight 6th arrondissement! This district, which is just east of 7th arrondissement, contains Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Luxembourg Gardens, and part of Latin Quarter! Latin Quarter is known for its bookshops and universities. The Panthéon, which houses the remains of famous French citizens like Marie Curie, is also located in Latin Quarter. Saint-Germain-des-Prés is home to the oldest abbey in Paris (Eglise Saint-Germain-des-Prés), which dates back to 543! Saint-Germain-des-Prés is known for its cafés where 19th century painters and writers used to meet and work. Luxembourg Gardens is a huge park with fountains, flowers, ponds, and the Luxembourg Palace (originally a residence, but now home to the French Senate).


 

SOME MORE INFO


Weather


Summer: The highs in the summer are in the 70s (Fahrenheit) and the lows are in the 50s. The summer months also see a few days of rain, so make sure to pack your umbrella or raincoat!


Autumn: The high temperatures in autumn are in the 60s, while lows are generally in the 40s. Paris also sees leaves change into beautiful fall colors!


Winter: Winters in Paris see highs in the 40s and lows in the 30s, but don't let that detract you from visiting during this time! While December is typically a rainy month, Paris doesn't typically receive snow and February clears back up.


Spring: Spring temperatures generally range from the 50s or 60s during the day and 40s or low 50s at night. Spring is a rainy time of year in Paris, but you can catch the beautiful blooming flowers toward the end of spring.


Currency


The Euro is used all throughout France, including Paris.


Language


A lot of people in Paris speak English, however, don't assume that everyone speaks English. In my experience, a few people that I interacted with did not speak English. If you're in a non-English speaking country, it's always best to try to speak the common language spoken in the country you're visiting.


 

Whether you're visiting the "City of Love" with the person you love, with friends, or on your own, you are bound to enjoy Paris! Grab a croissant, spend some time in Luxembourg Gardens, and enjoy the artwork in some of the world's best museums before shopping for a nice outfit to wear to the top of the Eiffel Tower!

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