The French capital is one that has been drawing visitors for centuries and, from its wonderful historic monuments to its exceptional cuisine, it is a city that has a lot to offer visitors.
These Paris travel tips will help you plan an unforgettable trip!
What to Expect in Paris
- Language: While some people may speak English or other European languages, French is by far the most spoken language in the city.
- Currency: The Euro is the currency throughout France and in many other European countries.
- Credit Cards and Banks: All tourist areas will have ATMs with most hotels and restaurants accepting credit cards, although it is wise to carry some cash as small retailers may not take cards.
- Climate: Paris is generally quite mild for most of the year, with a reasonable amount of rain throughout the year.
Cold season: Daytime temperatures between November and February rarely get above ten degrees Celsius, but seeing Paris in the snow can add a whole new dimension to this lovely city.
Hot season: July and August are usually the hottest months in Paris.
Getting Around in Paris
Paris is separated into twenty arrondisements; each offering an unique flavor of the city! The most popular communities worth visiting are:
- Le Marais: Located in the third and fourth arrondisements, this area of Paris has long been where the aristocrats have lived, and now has a vibrant Jewish community along with some of the city’s best hotels and art galleries.
- 1st Arrondisement: Home to many of the city’s main sights including the Royal Palace and the Louvre, this is usually the starting point for those visiting Paris for the first time.
- 8th Arrondisement: A popular area of the city that is home to several impressive Palaces, along with the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysees.
- 11th Arrondisement: This area is a popular part of the city for those looking to enjoy the nightlife, with a good range of restaurants to enjoy too, as well as being home to the Edith Piaf Museum.
- La Defense : On the edge of the city, this modern part of Paris has some wonderful modern art displayed in public spaces, along with great modern architecture and is one of the city’s main business areas.
“My favourite neighbourhood has to be Le Marais. Place des Vosges is beautiful and I think one of the oldest squares in the city. It’s amazing for window shopping or actual shopping (if the budget allows!) Le Marais is also great for falafel- one of the few cheap eats in Paris and it is so good! Be sure to sweet talk the server to get extra hummus and caramelised aubergine!”
– Naomi of Todd’s Travels
“When you arrive in Paris at Charles De Gaulle Airport, do not take a taxi. It is 9 Euros to get into the city from the airport via the RER (the train system). Depending on the train, you may get a direct one or one that stops at every stop- it’s worth it to save your money. If you don’t feel confident in trying to find your hotel/hostel from the train, take the RER to Gare Du Nord then take a taxi from there. You will save yourself at least 40 euros by doing that.”
– Roni of The Travel Guru
Where to Stay in Paris
Paris may be known for top hotels and restaurants, but there is plenty of well priced accommodation too.
Budget-Friendly Accommodation in Paris
- Plug Inn in Montmartre (best Hostel): Dorms and Private Rooms, Free Wi-Fi and Breakfast, 24/7 Reception. With dorm beds beginning from 25EUR the North Paris location is a great base for exploring the city, and the Plug Inn offers great facilities such as showers for those arriving early and stylish, modern rooms.
- Cecilia’s Guest House (Budget Guest House): Good Transport Links, Studio Rooms, Lovely Garden. Offering beautifully appointed and compact rooms within 6 minutes of the city center, Cecilia’s Guest House is a great choice for those looking for a well priced room.
- Air BnB (Rent an Apartment for under $100): Variety of Apartments, Good Prices, Several Locations. This is a good option for those looking to get an authentic taste of Paris life, as Air BnB connects visitors with owners of apartments and rooms to rent at a good price.
“The Plug Inn is a great little boutique hostel that is set in the magical and artistic Montemartre district of Paris. The largest dorm room offered is a 6-share, and all rooms offer ensuites – so no wandering down the hall in nothing but your towel and shower shoes! It’s reasonably priced, stylishly decorated – and even includes breakfast, WIFI & towels! I found it to be perfect for my 5-day visit to Paris and highly recommend this boutique hostel to anyone looking to go to Paris on a budget.”
– Melissa of The Mellyboo Project
I personally stayed at this amazing little apartment within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower that I found on Air BnB for only $100 a night. It offered all the comforts of home, even a laundry unit, which was great as I was backpacking for quite some time through Europe. If you’re traveling as a couple or as a pair, this is a great little spot.
Check it out: Apartment close to Eiffel Tower
The Best of Paris Accommodation
- Hôtel George V (Luxury): Operated by the Four Seasons chain of luxury hotels, the Hotel George V has a great location near the Champs-Elysees, and is sumptuously decorated with historic art and excellent furnishings.
- Mama Shelter (Trendy & Modern): Within easy reach of the city center, the Mama Shelter Hotel is a great option for those looking for stylish accommodation with classy touches like iMac computers and beautifully decorated rooms in a modern style.
- Intercontinental Opera (Historical Parisian): With over 150 years serving visitors to Paris, the Intercontinental Opera has exquisite views over the Opera House, lovely rooms and access to the delightful La Verriere restaurant which has its own winter garden.
“Space is at a premium in Paris and, for this reason, most people visiting the city will find that rooms are usually fairly compact. Keep in mind most hotels in Paris are exactly the same. Small room, micro sized elevator which looked like it was installed in the 19th century – somehow part of the charm, though. ” – Mike Goldberg
What to Do in Paris
Paris is famous for its historic sites and cultural activities!
- Free Walking Tour with Discover Walks: A great way to see the main sights of the city in a couple of hours, the Discover Walks tours are free tours with local guides. They work for tips and offer some great insights into the sights and attractions of the city.
- Eiffel Tower: Built for the 1889 World Fair, this iron tower stands at 324 meters tall, and while there is a cost for going up to the viewing platform, the views back over the city from this landmark are truly impressive.
- Louvre: Most famous for being the home of Da Vinci’s masterpiece the ‘Mona Lisa’, the Louvre is one of the most impressive museums in Europe, with a spectacular collection of art and sculpture to explore.
- Paris Museum Pass: While all visitors to Paris can explore the city’s museums for free on the first Sunday of the month, the pass provides access to over sixty museums for two, four or six consecutive days, and is great value.
- Notre Dame: The iconic cathedral is one of Paris’ most distinctive landmarks, and while it may not currently have a hunchback, it is an amazing example of French Gothic architecture that has been at the heart of religious life in the country ever since it was completed in 1345.
- Friday Night Roller Skating: Every Friday night, locals meet up for a roller skating tour through the city called Pari Roller. It’s the world’s biggest weekly street skating event.
- Champs Elysees: This busy street is lined with trees on both sides and is a spectacular way to approach the Arc de Triomphe. It’s also a wonderful shopping and dining street and is home to the climax of the annual Tour de France cycling race. It is a true sight to behold.
- Rent a Bike with the Vélib’ bike rental system: Paris is surprisingly bicycle friendly and renting a bike is a wonderful way to explore the city. While short rides of up to half an hour are free, even renting the bike for up to two hours is great value.
- Paris Underground Street Art Tour: While the city is most famous for its classical art, a vibrant street art scene is also present, and this tour provides a great introduction to the artists that operate around the city and some of their most distinctive pieces.
- Meet Locals with Paris Greeters: With no fixed schedules or itineraries, meeting a Paris Greeter is a great way to take a surprising look at the city through the eyes of a local. It is also staffed by volunteers meaning they are genuinely enthusiastic about showing off the city.
- Pack a Picnic and Sit by the Seine: The Seine is a romantic river that winds its way through the city. Making a picnic and enjoying a nice spring or summer afternoon by the Seine is a great way to enjoy the city and to watch the locals go about their daily lives.
- See the Catacombs: Having once served as stone mines for the city, the tunnels beneath much of the south of Paris are home to the remains of over six million people. The tour takes visitors through two kilometers of these tunnels.
“Paris is a great place to seek out free walking tours in various parts of the city. But, while you may be tempted to just go with the standard SANDEMAN’s New Europe tours (which offer free tours in major cities across Europe), I suggest checking out Discover Walks instead. These free walking tours also operate across Europe, but are a little lesser-known (meaning less crowded), and also usually only employ local guides. I did a Montmartre tour in Paris with Discover Walks, and our guide had actually lived her whole life in the neighborhood. It was a great, informative walk, but didn’t last 4+ hours (it was only 90 minutes), meaning I had time to explore the neighborhood more on my own afterwards.”
– Amanda of A Dangerous Business
“If you’re going to the Eiffel Tower, make sure you book in advance, as otherwise you will face a ridiculous queue, which no one will enjoy, but is particularly unappealing if you are with kids. If you pre-book you can just walk through security. Also, book to go all the way to the top. Otherwise, you will have to queue again if once you’re inside.”
– Sarah of Family Travel Times
“If you’re uncertain whether or not you’ll get the full value from a Paris Museum Pass, consider this: You can visit the Louvre for just an hour each day if you like- particularly convenient if you have young kids. Or, if the weather is crummy at the Arc de Triomphe on your first visit, you can return for a better Christmas card photo if there’s a sun break later on in your stay.”
– Shelly of Travels with Baby
“We were walking along the Seine all of a sudden hundreds of people skated past us on roller blades having a blast! They closed down the whole street for this event so we had to ask to find out if this was a normal event. Yes it is! Every Friday night hundreds even thousands leave from Place Raoul Dautry in the 14th Arronidissement to Montparnasse. Even if you don’t skate its fun to watch the party.”
– Nancy of Europe Travel Fanatic
“Use the Vélib’ bike rental system. It’s the best way to get around the city in the warmer months as it costs next to nothing and you get to see this beautiful city from above ground rather than just being stuck on the Metro. On Sundays, Paris closes off some key roads to cars allowing cyclists, runners and roller bladers free access to some of the best roads along the Seine, in the Marais and in Montmarte.”
– Bethany of Flashpacker Family
“Paris is one of my favorite cities to walk and explore. While I can get lost inside the art of the Louvre or the Musee D’Orsay, for my last visit, I wanted to be outside the museums of Paris and view the street art- which is so much more than graffiti. Underground Paris runs a walking tour in the Belleville section that is affordable and interesting.”
– Sue of Philatravelgirl
“When I was in Paris I did a free walking tour with a group called Paris Greeters – basically it’s locals that take you around their local neighborhoods and fave spots that absolutely no one knows about and shows off their city. It’s free, and Parisians just do it because they like to show a different side to the city and meet new people, it’s a really cool concept! I went with a guy Mathieu around the Marais and he showed me his favorite chocolate and tea shops, local hidden gardens, things I would have never known about otherwise.”
– Elizabeth of Young Adventuress
“The best way to spend an evening during the summer – chill out with a bottle of wine and some cheese along the banks of the Seine. One of the best spots is Quai de la Tournelle behind the Notre Dame”
– Colm of Look Share Repeat
“A MUST SEE are the catacombs! The city of Paris was made from stone quarried from right underneath the city streets creating many underground tunnels under the city. In the 18th century Paris was running out of room for its dead and began filling the underground tunnels with the bones of the departed. It’s the craziest, weirdest thing ever and something many people miss when they visit Paris. I highly recommend it!”
– Cailin of Travel Yourself
Stuck for things to do in Paris? Sabine is a friend of mine who has visited Paris regularly over the last four years and has made it her mission to find the best the city has to offer. Check out her thorough Paris list on Foursquare for the best of what the city has to offer. As she says, “It’s the city that makes everything possible, chic, alternative, cultural, creative, no matter what you like, you’ll find it.”
Where to Eat in Paris
From felafel and traditional favorites to the best international cuisine!
- Guy Savoy (Innovative Gastronomy): Having achieved three Michelin stars Guy Savoy certainly has a reputation to uphold, and with excellent innovative food in a small welcoming dining room, it is definitely a special culinary experience.
- Le Bouillon Chartier (Traditional French): Having served food from its Montmartre location for over a century, Bouillon Chartier is a great place for those looking for a well priced taste of French cuisine, with fast service and all of the most famous French dishes on offer.
- Cafe de Flore in the 6th (Quintessentially Parisian): This icon of Parisian culture has changed very little since it was first fitted with its beautiful Art Deco interior, and has been a favorite haunt with many celebrities both for its coffee and great food, along with being a great place to see the wealthy of Paris go by.
- Renoma Cafe (Local’s Hangout): This stylish and modern venue has both a restaurant and bar, with truly wonderful food, a great cocktail selection and an atmosphere that stands out with its American themed interior.
- Le camion qui fume (Paris’ First Food Truck): The best place in the city for those with a yearning for an American style burger, with beautifully cooked burgers and great fries, although beware that its reputation does mean it can have quite a queue.
- Les Tablettes (Best Lunch): In the west of the city, the chef Jean Louis Nomicos offers great value for high quality food, with reasonably priced lunch options and great set menus that include wine with the price.
- L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon (best of the best): For top quality French cuisine, this restaurant is hard to beat. The seasonal dishes make the best use of the top quality produce sourced from across France and beyond.
“I had dinner last Friday at Guy Savoy and it was amazing! Best dinner ever. It’s worth worth every penny and they have outstanding service.”
– Pablo of Un Riojano por el Mundo
“I love Cours de Commerce for a romantic date if you’re travelling as a couple. This small cluster of bistros is tucked away behind Place St. André des Arts and popular among locals. For more budget-conscious traveller, Rue de la Harpe and other roads surrounding are filled with lots of delicious international foods from around the world. The area is popular with students so it’s super affordable.”
– Cristina of Chasing Travel