Paris Travel Guide
Who doesn’t love Paris right? I recently took a trip with my girlfriend to Paris and we had a blast! We both studied here when we were younger in college so we are pretty familiar with it and always enjoy going back to live that Parisian life. There are a few newer places we didn’t get a chance to check out (but I will still include them here for you) and a few old ones that are always winners. I’ve put together this guide for anyone that has never been and needs the full 411. This one will have everything you need and if you are a creator (or just want pretty pics) make sure to check out my post on Instagram worthy spots in Paris!
Keep reading below for all things Paris… what to expect, where to eat, what to see and more.
Where to eat:
Let me use preface with this: in France, good food is abundant and on every corner and at every price, but here are some good spots to get you started so you don’t feel so lost.
- Giraffe: This place is super famous and well known so you have to make a reservation way ahead of time (honestly a lot of places you need to reserve before now). The rooftop has a gorgeous view of the Eiffel Tower and is so chic!
- Cafe Marly: This place is adorable and right next to the Louvre, so you can check the museum out and then stop by for a bite. Service was so slow and food was ok in my opinion but I love the view so I had to recommend
- Entrecote: If you are a lover of steak frites 100% make a stop and absolutely go here (pictured above as first pic)! This is a fave. While it isn’t exactly instagram gorge like some places in Paris it does have the best steak frites (literally what they specialize in) and a cute outdoor seating area.
- Cafe de Flor: This used to be a hot spot for famous creatives like Hemingway and Picasso and later became a known hot spot for locals. Today it’s pretty popular and well know but it still has a lot of charm and the food is delicious
- Carette: This spot has delicious food but is mostly known for their delish and Pinterest-worthy pastries. They are definitely worth a stop! Grab a pastry, or three, some coffee or tea and enjoy!
- La Duree. This macaroon joint is famous for a reason. They are so good! Definitely make a stop if you are a lover of macaroons. I can not stress enough how good these are. I promise there is nothing like these, plus the boxes and bags are so beautiful you may want to even take a photo.
- La Maison Rose- Adorable, pink little building with green shutters on a very picturesque corner. I’m sure you’ve seen it all over Pinterest. The place is cute for a photo and also has great food.
- Le Train Blue- This place really impressed me because I did not expect it! It’s a restaurant inside of the train station at Gare D’Lyon. It’s absolutely stunning! The place is so gorgeous the walls look like they are straight out of Versailles and the service is pretty good too. Not only is this place gorge but the food is well worth the price. My friend got a steak and I got the chicken and they were both excellent. If price is an issue, they have a more casual dining area in the back but the fancy area is truly worth it.
- Pink Mama for lunch- I never made it here so I can’t tell you if the food is good but it looks good and super cute! I’ve heard the truffle pasta is 100% worth it.
Things to see:
- Sacre Couer, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triumph, Notre Dame Cathedral are obvious choices but MUST STOPS for first timers visiting Paris. They are famous attractions for a reason and all absolutely beautiful. Don’t miss out on seeing these once in your life. My favorites being Notre Dame and of course, The Eiffel Tower.
- Les Marais District: My favorite place to get some shopping done, which also has cute little restaurants. They have all the most chic French stores, cute, quaint streets to walk down and great local coffee shops. I never miss visiting this area when in Paris.
- Eiffel Tower sparkling at night. I’m sure you’ve seen those videos of the Tower sparkling.. but its not ALWAYS doing that. The tower sparkles only at night at the beginning of every hour for 5 minutes. It’s truly a sight to see in person and so beautiful!
- Explore Montmartre: This area of Paris is so beautiful! It’s inspiring, creative and romantic. It’s lined with cobblestoned streets and has breathtaking views of all of Paris. Visit Sacre Couer and catch the sunset or just walk around and find a local artist to paint your portrait in the Place du Tertre.
- Père Lachaise Cemetery: This cemetery is super interesting and my favorite one I’ve been to. If you like history, plus a touch of gothic and darker vibes this place is it. While it’s eerie like any cemetery, it’s also kind of beautiful and serene. Some of the most famous people are buried here from Chopin to Jim Morrison (which is why I personally always love going).
- Versailles: Just outside the main area of Paris is the Versailles Palace. I recommend taking a full day to really enjoy this place and not miss this beauty. It’s an absolutely breathtaking place. Going during the week and first thing in the morning is the best. Don’t forget to buy your tickets online ahead of time to save you time.
Museums: So many amazing museums in France! Of course the Louvre is the most famous. Is it worth it? personally I am not a fan (too big, too many crowds and art that I’m not really into), but it is impressive as far as how much art it contains and for the sake of history it is interesting. If your goal is to see the Mona Lisa, I just want to warn that it’s a lot smaller than you would expect and is always surrounded by a lot of people. I think there are other museums that are smaller, more interesting and a better overall experience. My absolute favorites are the Rodin because its relaxing and outdoors and the Musee d’Orsay. They have some beautiful work from Van Gogh and other impressionist painters (my fave) and the actual museum itself is gorgeous (an old train station). A few others you may want to check out are George Pompidou and Palais de Tokyo. For my fashion lovers out there you also may want to make the treck to the Louis Vuitton Museum. Its a little further away than others but great to see.
Free Things to do:
There is so much to see and do in Paris but a lot of people (especially first timers) miss out on all the amazing free things there are to do in Paris. I honestly love the free stuff because it makes me feel like more of a local.
- Enjoy the beautiful parks. There are so many parks you can walk around, lay out a blanket and have a baguette and drinks or just read a book or people watch. Jardin du Luxembourg and Jardin des Tuileries are both great ones to get you started.
- Watch the sunset on the Seine. Many locals gather around the Seine at sunset and enjoy good conversation and some food, snacks and drinks. It’s a fun, positive vibe and also beautiful! You will see people putting out their blankets with an easy little snacking situation like cheese with crackers and a glass of rose. My favorite area along the seine is closer to Notre Dame.
- Walk thru Montmartre or any gorgeous neighborhood and just stroll and explore.
- Free Museums: There are actually quite a bit of free museums in Paris! A few of them being the Paris Museum of Modern Art, Maison de Victor Hugo and Musée Carnavalet . Some special collections may have to be paid for the Paris Museum of Modern Art but the main permanent collection is free. Do a google search to see what other ones are free! My favorite museum (Musee D’Orsay) is free every first Sunday of the month!
Where to Stay:
Airbnbs: Airbnbs are a great option for anyone that may want to save a bit of money by cooking at home and maybe have a little more space.
I’ve stayed in a few airbnbs while in France, but this is the one I stayed at last. It’s small but great for two people. It’s really all about the location! The location is amazing, only a short walk away from famous restaurants Cafe De La Flor and Deux Mageuts, a close walk to the seine and a COMFY bed. The place had a beautiful balcony view with a tiny view of the Eiffel Tower (just the top, but still awesome). I will say, however, it is not the most luxurious when it comes to bathroom and shower. Tiny Tiny Tiny (but that’s true almost everywhere in France) and a bit noisy but it felt safe and it was nice for the price.
Hotels with views of the Eiffel Tower or Arc of Triumph:
Other great hotels:
Things to know before visiting:
- Best time to go (in my opinion) is definitely Fall or Spring because the weather is ideal, the tourists are sparser and the city looks gorgeous with all the changing of colors in the Fall (plus chic Parisian-style dressing) and the colors are super vibrant in the Spring. Summer days are fun, but Paris can feel very hot in the Summer and the smells can also get kind of intense (lots of dog pee, sweaty metro smells and more… just like any other big city).
- NO AC in most spots: Speaking of best times to go, Keep in mind a lot of France doesn’t have AC (check with your airbnb and hotels ahead of time if you go in Summer).
- Public transportation and walking. Paris is HUGE– a lot bigger than it seems. Best way to travel around, though, is by foot or by taking the metro everywhere because there can be a lot of traffic if you take a car. The metro is incredibly easy and cheap so don’t be intimidated. You can buy metro tickets at the stations. There are also bikes around the city you can rent (I personally never did it so I’m not sure how easy it is but I think all you need is internet to download and use the app).
- EVERYONE speaks English. Well, almost everyone. While most Parisians do speak English (for those of you that may not speak French), start a conversation by trying out a few words in French! The French are very proud of their language and will appreciate it.
- Pack accordingly: The elevators are mostly tiny and not everyone has them. If you have never visited France this may come as a shock when you arrive. Our recent airbnb in Paris only allowed for one person with their luggage per trip. That was me, my large documented suitcase and one small carry on. If you stay at an airbnb, check ahead of time if they have an elevator or else you may have to lug your large suitcase up many flights of stairs.
- Take an adapter: Do not forget your universal travel adapter so you can plug in cell phones, computers, hair dryers or anything else that needs a power outlet.
- Plan ahead: Paris has so many tourists visiting that the lines to get to the most popular places (Louvre, Eiffel Tower) can get super long! Make sure to check online beforehand to see if you need tickets before arriving or if you can buy tickets ahead of time to save you time.
- Take walking shoes. Unless you plan on spending a lot of money on taxis everywhere (which I don’t recommend, because its not the best way to travel around Paris), then I recommend taking your best waking shoes. You will be walking more than you think and a lot of the streets are cobblestoned or not perfectly paved. If you go somewhere fancy maybe do like the Parisians do and throw your heels inside your bag and change them before going in. You will find, however, that many Parisians wear very chic yet more comfortable flat shoes or small comfy heels. Stilettos are going to make your life miserable.
Shooting photos in Paris:
Since a lot of you that follow me are creatives I wanted to also include this part. Shooting in Paris is a dream. EVERY single corner is picturesque but a lot of the popular attractions to shoot at are always packed with people. I suggest taking a day maybe just walking through the city, enjoying the views and getting to know Paris and then choose your locations. Go during sunrise to beat the crowds and have that great light or figure out a less crowded spot (or work those angles to cover crowds) at sunset. I personally did both and just knew where to shoot to avoid people. If you plan on shooting at the Eiffel Tower I think shooting farther away rather than right underneath is 100% better. There are lots of people there lining up to take shots and its way too big to get it all in the shot. Further away is the way to go. You may also want to check out my guide here on Instagram worthy spots in Paris.
- Do not overpack. I would say plan your outfits very carefully because carrying around big suitcases in France where everything is smaller (hallways, apartments, cars, elevators) isn’t the best idea. Plus, the shopping is the best considering its the fashion capitol so you may want to pack lighter and shop there. Heading in the winter? Definitely check out this guide to make sure you are being the most efficient with your space and staying warm.
- Don’t forget travel converters for all outlets like I mentioned above. You can buy one here.
- Packing cubes really helped me out while packing! I was able to keep everything compartmentalized and fit so much more in my suitcase!
- Take a few (at least 2) diff types of walking shoes because your feet will probably get tired. Or leave room to buy some cute sneakers or comfy shoes in Paris. Since they walk everywhere they have the best and most stylish comfy shoe shops.
- Paris weather is fickle so it could rain even in the summer. You may want to pack a tiny travel umbrella or a good packable rain coat. I personally don’t take them because I always figure I can buy one there (or hotels will have one for you), but if you don’t want to be caught in the rain this could be an option. A poncho is also a great idea because its easier to pack (this one is cute).
- Sleep Mask and ear plugs. If you are jet lagged and stay in an airbnb that happens to be loud (we had construction going on in the middle of the day at ours) then you will be miserable if you can’t nap in the middle of the day. Sleep is crucial when traveling internationally so make sure you are prepared. I even take a sleeping pill for the first day to acclimate to the new time change.
If you follow me on IG then you know I have an IG skating account and absolutely love roller skating so I had to include this section. If you want to skate in the city, here are some things you need to know:
- I prefer to travel with my Flaneurz because you can walk the city with the shoes in parts that aren’t great for skating and then throw on the skates when there isn’t any cobblestone. Plus they are lighter.
- If it rains and you still want to skate, try Marche Saint Honore where its covered so you won’t get wet.
- For community events: Every Sunday (check their IG to make sure) at Aubervilliers there’s a dance on feet and wheels event. There is also a group I was told of Roller Cover that does meet ups! Hit them up on IG and see when the next one is.
- Skating locations: I didn’t get a chance to go, but a local told me that people meet at the Louvre to skate in the evening! Sounds like fun. Along the seine is great too because it’s perfect for walking and the street is well paved. Rue de Rivoli from Bastille to the Louvre is fully cycle-able and smooth and flat as well. Another spot that could be great to skate (never got to go on skates but I walked by it) is Trocadero. It’s right in front of the Eiffel Tower. It can get pretty packed with tourists so I would suggest to go earlier in the day and definitely sunrise If you want the place to yourself.
- There are so many skaters in Paris so make sure to look on Instagram and reach out to locals to see what’s going on. If you are a new skater, the skate community Is pretty welcoming so send a DM and see if you are able to skate with others while out there!
- If you want to shoot video with the Eiffel Tower like I did in this video that went viral, then check out Bir Hakeim bridge! The floor is deceptively uneven and definitely better for biking but a great spot to shoot a video! Less cars, less people and a beautiful view of the tower.
- The city has so many bike lanes and pedestrian lanes so parts of it can be great for skating! Just make sure to keep an eye out because of course traffic signs are different. Take a moment to understand how the city layout works before jumping into the traffic on skates.
- Best wheels to pack are outdoor wheels (I love my Radar Energy).
- You can travel with your skates just take them as carry on to save space and weight on your documented bag.
Thanks for reading and hope this was helpful! xx Francesca