The French capital is one that has been drawing visitors for centuries. From its wonderful historic monuments to its exceptional cuisine, it is a destination unlike any other. Wander in and out of museums, cafes, farmers markets, beautiful gardens and enjoy the romance of the city. This ultimate Paris travel guide 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.
You’ll find that cafes and shops are more expensive the closer they are to the main attractions such as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triumph. Walk a few blocks from the main areas to find more authentic and less expensive establishments!
Climate: The weather in 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.
My Experience as a Curvy Traveler in France
I used to live in Paris, and visit France almost every year. As a plus size traveler, I learned very quickly that there are still far fewer plus size clothing stores there compared to the US. Do not count on being able to buy affordable plus size clothing easily. Now I pack one of each ESSENTIAL (swimsuit, jeans, jacket, etc) in my carry on. This way if my luggage is lost, I’m not stuck with just toiletries.
Getting Around in Paris
Paris is separated into twenty arrondissements; each offering a unique flavor of the city! The most popular communities worth visiting are:
Le Marais: Located in the third and fourth arrondissement, this area of Paris has long been where aristocrats have lived. It now has a vibrant Jewish community along with some of the city’s best hotels and art galleries.
1st Arrondissement: 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 Arrondissement: A popular area of the city that is home to several impressive palaces, along with the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysees.
11th Arrondissement: This area is a popular part of the city for those looking to enjoy the nightlife. There’s a good range of restaurants to enjoy, plus it’s home to the Edith Piaf Museum.
La Defense: On the edge of the city, this part of Paris has some wonderful modern art displayed and architecture. This is also one of the city’s main business areas.
Variety of Apartments, Good Prices, Several Locations. This is a good option for those looking to get an authentic taste of Paris life. Just be sure to read reviews and do your research as not all the available accommodations are top notch.
Location: City of Paris
Four Seasons Hôtel George V
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.
Be sure to stop by one of the 3 Michelin starred eateries in the hotel!
Location: 8th Arrondissement
Travel back to the 19th-century at this hotel with its lush decor and style. If you’re looking for a world class upgrade, consider booking the Grand Palais Suite. This room comes with Eiffel Tower views from a private balcony, two private bars, a wine cellar and non-stop personalized service.
Location: 8th Arrondissement
Mandarin Oriental Paris
There are so many hotels to choose from in the city which can be extremely overwhelming. I had the chance to stay at Mandarin Oriental Paris and with its luxurious rooms, amenities, and unforgettable food, it was the experience of a lifetime.
Location: Rue Saint-Honoré
Hotel Le Bristol
If you’ve ever wanted that iconic photo of a big balcony window open to views of the Eiffel Tower, this is the place to capture it. Modern amenities such as a fitness center, spa, steam room and indoor pool mix with elegant 18th-century decor giving you the perfect Parisian stay.
Location: 6th Arrondissement
The Ritz Paris
The Ritz Paris comes with top notch service and upscale 18th-century design. This is known as one of the most luxurious hotels in the world and has housed some of the most famous designers, celebrities, and royals.
Location: 1st Arrondissement
Located in the Bagnolet district this edgy and hip hotel is off the beaten path and budget friendly. the rooms are modest with quirky decor. The focus of the hotel is its ground-floor restaurant and lounge. Mama Shelter also has a terrific breakfast buffet!
Location: 20th Arrondissement
Located in a quieter part of Paris, this simple and modern budget hotel will make your stay in the city pleasant and comfortable. Walk to the Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen (Europe’s biggest flea market) or stay at the hotel and enjoy rooftop terraces, a farm-to-table restaurant and tons of after-dark events!
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
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. They have fast service and all of the most famous French dishes on the menu.
Cafe de Flore in the 6th
This icon of Parisian culture has changed very little since it was first fitted with its beautiful Art Deco interior. It has been a favorite haunt of many celebrities both for its coffee and great food. A great place to see the wealthy of Paris go by!
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 American themed interior.
Le Camion Qui Fume
The best place in the city for those with a yearning for an American style burger. They serve beautifully cooked burgers and great fries!
Be Aware: This is a food truck (Paris’ first) and its reputation means it can have quite a wait.
In the west of the city, the chef Jean Louis Nomicos offers great value for high quality food. They have reasonably priced lunch options and a great set of menus that include wine with the price.
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
For top quality French cuisine, this restaurant is hard to beat. The seasonal dishes make the use of top quality produce sourced from across France and beyond.
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. Check the spectacular collection of art and sculptures. If you want more insight into the famous artworks, you can sign up for a guided tour of the museum.
Sign Up for a Walking Tour
This is a great way to see the main sights of the city in a couple of hours. Book a walking tour with local guides and get an insight into the city’s history, culture, and architecture. They work for tips and offer some great insights into the attractions of the city.
See the 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. You can also admire this landmark from the nearby parks which are great places for a picnic!
This 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.
Paris Museum Pass
While all visitors to Paris can explore the city’s museums for free on the first Sunday of the month, this pass provides access to over sixty museums for two, four or six consecutive days, and is great value.
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.
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 a bike for up to two hours is a 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. This tour provides a great introduction to the artists that operate around the city and some of their most distinctive pieces.
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.
Meet Locals with Paris Greeters
With no fixed schedules or itineraries, meeting a Paris Greeter is a great way to take a 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.
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.
Book a Tour with Take Walks
To make the most out of your time, I’d highly recommend joining a Take Walks tour! Find the one that speaks to you! I’ve been on tours with Take Walks all around the world and am always so intrigued by what they have to offer—plus it’s a great way to see the city in a whole new light!
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