Where is my favorite city in the world? Although it’s hard to answer this question, as Paris, the City of Light is the first city in my “100 ___ Travel Tips” series, you know the answer. It might seem cliché, some will even say that it is a highly overrated city and I know their reasons.
Now let me reveal the answer to this mystery. Visit Paris on a day trip hopping from one landmark to another without immersing yourself in the culture, and you will most certainly dislike Paris. But if you take it slow, go past the surface and explore its core, Paris will be the most beautiful city you’ve ever seen.
Here I’ve listed down 100 tips to help make your first trip to Paris as enjoyable as possible!
1. Paris is a big city, and like people of any other big cities, Parisian minimize unnecessary interaction. But it doesn’t mean that they are rude. Ask them direction and they will still answer you, just very straight to the point.
2. Always say Bonjour when you walk into a shop and say Au revoir before you step out. It’s basic manner in France. and mark my words: politeness will work wonders.
3. I once read this somewhere on the internet: Treat English like a surprise cookie. Yes, if you manage to find someone who speak the language, then great! If you don’t, remember this is France, and Frenchs are proud of their language and those that try to help you in English are actually making an extra effort. Try to speak as much French as you can, people will appreciate your effort and tend to treat you better.
4. The Euro (€) is the currency in France.
5. You can stop by the Paris tourist office first to compare transport passes and pre-book attraction tickets.
6. If you are a museum buff, a Paris Museum Pass is a great investment. It offers access to over sixty museums for a couple of days.
7. The Paris Pass is expensive, but it provides free metro rides, free admission and the convenient “skip the line” access to a lot of attractions. Do some research to find out if you need one.
8. If you are buying individual tickets, always book tickets ahead of time to minimize waiting time.
9. Students don’t forget to flash your student cards for a reduced rate. I used to have problems using my Russian Student Card so I got myself an ISIC (International Student Identification Card) instead.
10. Paris has the maritime climate. Winters are cold although snow is not common; July and August are the warmest months in Paris, but it can rain a lot too! Prepare to greet 4 seasons in a day because the weather changes like a girl changes clothes.
11. While I was in Paris in the beginning of July, the daytime temperature dropped to 15 and the wind destroyed my umbrella. Bring a raincoat instead.
12. I used Couchsurfing to save up and to mingle with the locals.
13. Airbnb is always my next best choice if CS doesn’t work out. It gives you a glimpse into an authentic Parisians’ life, and not to mention, a lot of privacy. (Click here to get €33 off your first stay!)
14. I just found out about Cobblestone Paris Rentals after my trip to Paris. Suitable for those looking for Parisian apartments.
15. Not all hotels are expensive. Search for deals of the day on Booking.com here.
16. My recommendation for hotels: Hôtel Le Relais des Halles Paris, Saint-James Paris, Hôtel Comete Paris.
17. Pick the right neighborhood. Stay further away from major attractions if you are on a budget. The metro day pass is cheap anyway.
18. There are a lot of Budget-Friendly hostels in Paris. Compare the best rates on Booking.com.
19. My recommendations for hostel: Le Regent Hostel Montmartre Hostel & Budget Hotel, Le Montclair Montmartre Hostel & Budget Hotel, Arty Paris Hostel & Budget Hotel.
Transportation From the airport (CDG)
20. To get to the city center from Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports, check here.
21. You can either take an RER B (regional train), stopping at Gare du Nord, Châtelet-Les Halles, Saint-Michel Notre-Dame, Luxembourg, Port-Royal, Denfert-Rochereau and Cité Universitaire. This is the fastest way to get to the city.
22. RoissyBus costs €11 and takes 50–90 minutes (subject to traffic jams and rush hour).
23. Air France buses stop at Porte Maillot and Montparnasse and they take 50-minute on a good day.
24. The best way: WALK everywhere, Paris is very walkable. Plus, you’ll get the most out of walking.
25. Batobus is a hop-on, hop off boat “taxi” boat with 9 stops along the Seine River. (Close in January)
26. Use the Metro! A day pass covering the central zones only cost 7.50€, if you are a youth traveling on weekends, you can even buy the same ticket at only 3.85€.
27. If you don’t intend to use metro that much and you are traveling in a group, a carnet (a set of 10 metro tickets) can be an option. A single ticket costs €1.90, while a carnet of ten cost only €14.50.
28. There are 16 metro lines in Paris and I know, it can be very confusing, especially for new visitors. Thank God there is a free Paris metro app available on iTunes and GooglePlay. So that you don’t have to carry a map around.
29. Rent a bike from the Vélib’ bike rental system.
30. Paris L'Opentour Bus is an open-topped hop-on-hop-off double decker bus. A one-day pass cost €31 for adults and half-price for children.
31. You don’t have to rent a car in Paris. In fact, you should not rent a car due to heavy traffic and difficult parking.
Where to Eat in Paris
32. Look for restaurant deals from TheFork.com. They offer discounts up to 50 percent.
33. Visit bakeries or boulangerie. If you are on a budget, you don’t have to go to those high-end ones, walk around and you may find some hidden gems around the corner. This is how my travel partner and I found our favorite bakeries in Paris.
34. Drinking water is free at any of the 800+ water fountain dotted throughout Paris.
35. Visit the morning markets if you happen to visit on weekends. The biggest one is held on Boul Richard Lenoir (near the Bastille). Read: Parisian Market Guide
36. Eat in the parks once in a while. It is the easiest way to make friends as locals and travelers will join you for the picnic.
37. Le Relais de L’Entrecôte serves amazing steak frites, but expect a long line.
38. L’as du Falafel at Le Marais is an excellent choice for budget travelers, serving falafel hummus and caramelized aubergine.
39. Look for Traiteurs serving Chinese food for more cheap eats.
40. I came across a lot of bigger travel blogs highly recommending Chartier. We’ve been there with 2 Japanese and a Taiwanese solo traveler, all 5 of us didn’t feel that it live up the hype, plus, we met a snobby waiter that entirely destroyed the experience. It is a very touristy place so be prepared to wait in line. Hence I say, skip Chartier and head to Rue de la Harpe in the Latin’s Quarter.
41. Try some modern Paris’ cuisine at Restaurant David Toutain or Agape Substance. You won’t be disappointed.
42. The best innovative food can be found at Guy Savoy (Innovative Gastronomy). Note that they had achieved three Michelin stars!
43. Le camion qui fume is Paris’ First Food Truck and some say it serves the best burger.
44. Are you a vegetarian? Then try Aquarius, Le Grenier de Notre-Dame, La Victoire Suprême du Coeur, Pousse-Pousse, Macéo, Le Potager du Marais, or Le Bar des Artisans.
How to eat well in Paris
45. Eat out during lunch. Dinner is the most expensive meal of the day anywhere, no exception.
46. Go for the set menu/ special for more affordable meals. You will get an appetizer, an entree, a dessert and a glass of wine for one set price, ranging between 10€ to 15€.
47. Go groceries shopping like a local in supermarchés (Casino, Monoprix, Franprix, etc). Don’t look down on cheap wines (3€ and above), they are often high-quality wines.
48. Don’t miss a food tour in Paris! There are a lot of good tours in the city, for example: Paris by Mouth, Culinary Tours of Paris, and Flavors of Paris. If you feel like doing this on your own, you can download this comprehensive guide by my friend, ___.
49. Why not bringing back some kick-ass French cooking skills as souvenirs? Take a French cooking class by a reputable cooking school like La Cuisine Paris, Le Foodist, and Paroles de Fromagers.
50. Join a dinner party and experience French hospitality. Jim Haynes has been hosting Sunday dinner parties for more than 30 years!
51. Want locals to show you where locals eat? Check on Couchsurfing hangout or EatWith.
What to eat
52. Think French, think Baguettes. buy some cheese to go with it.
53. I can tell you up front that France is home to the best pastries in the world. So go for a pastry hunt in Paris. Here are some ideas for you! Check out my dessert bucket list too!
54. Crepes are my favorite. Go sample them in the markets! Salted caramel crepes are the best.
55. While in Paris, you simply have to devour a full course of traditional French cuisine. Here are some of my recommendations.
56. French food is classic, but ethnic's food is as exciting. We had a delicious bowl of Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) in China Town.
57. Lunchtime hours starts from around 11 a.m. to 2 or 3 p.m, while dinner starts at 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. Don’t be surprised to find restaurants closed between these time.
58. Mind your table manners, you are in Paris.
Neighborhoods in Paris
59. Paris is separated into 20 arrondissements spiraling outwards like a snail shell. The arrondissements can be identified by the last 2 digits in postal codes.
60. The 1st Arrondisement (Louvre) is the geographic center of the city where many major points of interest are located, for example, the Louvre, Jardin des Tuileries, Place Vendôme, Les Halles, Palais Royal.
61. The 3rd and 4th arrondissements (Temple and Hôtel-de-Ville) is an artsy area. Visit Le Marais. Explore Place des Vosges, check out the Jewish corner, shop in the boutiques and visit the art galleries.!
62. The 5th Arrondissement (Panthéon) is my favorite place to satisfy my stomach. The Latin Quarter is always the go to place if you are traveling on a budget and need a good meal. Note that some of them are tourist traps.
63. The 6th Arrondissement (Luxembourg) is home to Jardin du Luxembourg, Place Saint-Michel, Église Saint-Sulpice... Go to Cafe de Flore for a coffee if you have time.
64. The 7th Arrondissement (Palais-Bourbon)? The Eiffel Tower! Nuff said!
65. The 8th Arrondissement (Élysée) is home to Arc de Triomphe, Place de la Concorde, and the high-end Champs-Elysees.
66. The 11th Arrondissement (Popincourt) is famous for its nightlife and cafe scenes.
67. The 18th Arrondissement (Butte-Montmartre) is a gem filled with bohemian vibes. Check out Sacré-Coeur and Place du Tertre.
68. If you have time, check out the very edge of the city, La Defense. It is an 180-degree turn from the old Paris and here you can see some very modern buildings dominating the skyline.
Things to Do
69. Book a Seine River Cruise and marvel at the city from the water.
70. Look for the best Panoramic View of Paris. Read more >>
71. Look for the best view of the Eiffel Tower. Read more >>
72. Admire the stained glass in churches like the Notre-Dame and Sainte-Chappelle. Some say the Sainte-Chappelle has a more beautiful interior than the Notre Dame. You be the judge.
73. Become a model for a Parisian artist at Place du Tertre in Montmartre. Get your portrait as the reward.
74. Watch a ballet or opera performance at the Opéra-Garnier or Moulin Rouge.
75. Winter in Paris means a whole new different experience. Go ice skating for free/ a cheap fee.
76. Look for treasures in Marché de Puces de Saint-Ouen at Porte de la Clignancourt (flea market).
77. Chill out in an outdoor cafe. Try your luck in Cafe de Flore.
78. Go window shopping at Champs Elysees, Galeries Lafayette and go for the actual shopping experience at Le Marais.
79. Architecture geeks will love Paris. Go to the Notre Dame for its iconic French Gothic architecture.
80. Bookworms will be thrilled to find Shakespeare & Company, a famous bookstore.
81. Visit a museum. The city of Paris is filled with museums from art museums like Lovre, Musée d’Orsay to lesser known museums like La Cité des Sciences et de L’Industrie (science) and Musée d’Histoire de la Médecine (Medicine). Go to Rodin Museum for the beautiful garden.
82. If you like creepy destinations, try the catacombs located in the underground of Paris. If the remains of millions don't scare you, you earn my respect.
83. Join the Paris sewer tour if you want to see something different.
84. Look for interesting free things to do in Paris! Read more >>
Festival and Events
85. Shopaholics, please mark your calendar now. Paris’s soldes are scheduled by the government in January and July annually.
86. Musicians around the world flock to Paris in June for Fête de la Musique on the 21st. You’ll get to enjoy an endless stream of street performance.
87. The fireworks on July 14 (Bastille Day) is spectacular. Don’t miss the parade too!
88. Christmas markets are all over the city in December. It is a great time to visit Paris (if you don’t mind the high accommodation cost)!
Day Trips from Paris
89. If you plan to visit a few nearby cities, purchase a France Rail Pass that grant unlimited travel on SNCF (French Rail).
90. If you are just visiting places just outside of the city, a Paris Visite transportation card should be sufficient. It brings you to the Palace of Versailles and Disneyland.
91. Go to Palace of Versailles to visit the interior of the castle or wander the garden for free! We paid since there are suppose to be musical fountain shows but unfortunately there was just 1 show throughout the day. We felt cheated but its okay, maybe we are just extremely unlucky. Life goes on. Book a room near Versailles.
92. Chartres is a stop on the same train line as Versailles, there you’ll find a beautiful 12th-century cathedral, the Notre-Dame, one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites.
93. Fans of Monet should visit Monet’s home and gardens at Giverny and see what inspired his paintings.
94. Mont St Michel in Normandy is one of the most magical places in France. However, beware of high tides, don't stray from the designated path!
95. Fontainebleau has long been the favorite weekend getaway for Parisians. It is just 35 minutes from Paris, famous for its scenic Forest.
96. and how about a trip to Reims, Champagne for a glass of champagne? Book a tasting session at Veuve Clicquot,Taittinger or Pommery
97. Visit a town in Loire Valley! I’ve been to Tours, Amboise and Chenonceaux, and let me tell you: They are spectacular. Do not miss it, stay at least 2 days if itinerary allows.
98. Rouen is a charming town about an hour and a half away. Come here to photograph the colorful half-timbered houses and the astronomical clock tower.
99. Lille is a 1 hour TGV ride away from Gare du Nord. The capital of northern France is renowned for its Flemish-style architecture.
100. Although I don’t recommend you to do this, London is just a straight away, and you can also reach Brussels in an hour or Amsterdam in 3 hours time. Your trains will depart from Gare du Nord.
Some EXTRA Tips that can be applied to the whole of Europe
2. Beware of tourist scams. Read: 22 Travel scams I encountered and how to avoid them.
3. Look out for pickpockets.
7.Sometimes shit happens and you may have to buy a new train ticket. If it is clearly not your fault, learn how to apply for a refund from SNCF here.
📌For more travel tips, like Eat Love Travel Breathe with Miss HappyFeet.
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* Photos above (except the last one) are from Pixabay.
Thank You for Reading!
This post is based solely on my honest opinion or personal experience. If you have a different opinion, feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below!