I’m going to begin this post with a story. A story that shows that I fell so deeply in love with this amazing city that even being scammed, I couldn’t be dragged down from cloud nine!
We were making our way to the Musée d’Orsay along the banks of the Seine River, soaking in the gorgeous architecture all around us. A man who was walking slightly ahead suddenly stooped to pick up what appeared to be a gold wedding band. Turning to look at us, he seemed surprised that he stumbled on such a treasure. He showed me the inscription of 18k and I exclaimed that it was his lucky day! (Coincidentally it’s always been my dream to find a piece of jewelry on the street so I could conjure up stories about where it had been and who it had belonged to.)
He tried the gold band on his finger and sadly it didn’t fit. He had me hold out my finger and voila – fit like a glove! He shrugged his shoulders as if to say “I guess it was meant for you” and began to walk away. To my surprise, less than a minute after leaving us he returned asking for money. I quickly realized it was a scam but I was so impressed by his ingenuity that I decided to give him a few euros. He didn’t think it was enough, of course, and followed us for a while before finally getting the hint that he’d gotten all he could out of the foreigners.
Now, I have a ring that I absolutely adore. Not because it is worth a dime – I have no doubt that it will turn my finger green if I wear it for more than an hour – but because the city of Paris is so spectacularly lovely that I even found a scamming experience to be enjoyable!
Preparing for your Trip to Paris
Paris is like a pristine Disneyland for adults. But instead of going on thrilling rides and meeting actors dressed like princesses, you’ll wander down cobblestone streets while sipping perfectly brewed coffee and marveling at the spectacular ancient architecture looming above you. Cafes, bakeries, and pubs line the pedestrian-friendly streets and with so many options you’ll find it impossible to decide which one to choose. Stick to our favorites so you don’t miss any highlights!
Know Before You Go
- Paris is the capital of France and is also the largest city with over 2.2 million residents.
- The predominant language is French but you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t speak English.
- Learn a few key phrases before your trip! “Bonjour” is “hello”, “merci” is “thank you”, “au revoir” is “goodbye” and “s’il vous plaît” is “please”. And, of course it may come in handy to know “je ne parle pas français” which means “I don’t speak French”.
- A 10% tip is commonplace when dining out but make sure that a service charge hasn’t been added to your bill or is already included in the price of your food before you dole out more.
- France is an incredibly safe country even for solo female travelers. However pickpocketing and scams (similar to the one I mentioned above) can be common. Keep an eye on your wallet and leave additional cash and your passport in your hotel room.
- Tap water is 100% safe to drink everywhere in France. Bottled water will cost you a pretty penny so best to keep a reusable water bottle with you.
- France is a member of the EU and their currency is the Euro. It is also a member of the Schengen Agreement meaning that you should be sure you’re not overstaying your welcome in the participating countries combined.
Best Time to Visit Paris
Some people may argue that a visit to Paris in the springtime is a must as the weather is divine and the flowers are in bloom. While the peak seasons of spring and summer offer warmer temperatures, they also bring large crowds and long lines. If you happen to be in Paris during spring or summer make sure you plan your days carefully to avoid the extremely long lines at top Paris attractions like the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, and Musée d’Orsay.
The winter time can be chilly but you’ll find far fewer tourists as well as a plethora of Christmas markets which are a delightful place to do your last minute gift buying.
July is the hottest month and during the summer you can expect temperatures to be in the mid-70’s. The winter months of November through January see temperatures in the 30-40°F range. The wettest month is May with an average of 26mm of rain so don’t forget a rain jacket!
How Long to Stay in Paris
Well of course the longer you can stay in Paris the better. There is enough to see in this amazing city to last a lifetime. We think that 3 days is the bare minimum to see the main sights without feeling completely overwhelmed. But even if you’re short on time you can squeeze a lot in to a single day in Paris if you plan it out carefully.
Getting to Paris
Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) is a major international airport. The metro system in Paris is massive and fairly easy to navigate. You can opt for Uber or taxis anywhere in the city. Taxis conveniently have lights on their roofs that are lit up green when the taxi is available and red when they are not.
If you are already in Europe then it’s easy to get to Paris by train as there are dozens of trains coming and going from Paris everyday. There are 3 train stations in Paris – Saint Lazare, Gare du Nord, and Gare de l’Est – so make sure you confirm which train station you’ll be leaving from or arriving to before your trip. As an added bonus all 3 station are close to the center of paris so you’ll be able to avoid the long Taxi ride in from Charles de Gaulle Airport!
Get the Parisian Look:
Guide to Paris, France
Where to Stay in Paris
Hôtel Rochester Champs Elysées
The Hôtel Rochester Champs Elysées is a stunningly beautiful 4-star hotel centrally located in the city center. From the moment you arrive to this luxurious hotel you will feel right at home, except that your home just got a whole lot more extravagant! Plush rugs, colorful modern decor, and textured walls greet you in the lobby which is an enticing spot to relax while waiting to be escorted to your room by the welcoming staff.
Offering 106 spacious rooms and suites with luxuriously soft bedding, a television with 80 channels, free wifi, a stocked minibar, and all of the toiletries you could wish for – you’ll want for nothing during your stay!
Take advantage of the wellness center which offers guests a spa, massage treatments, a fitness room, and a Turkish bath to help you relax and recharge. After a long day spent exploring the city of Paris, you’ll look forward to spending a lazy evening lounging on your cozy king-sized bed!
Start your morning by enjoying the lavish brunch spread served bright and early from 7:00am until 1:30pm for the late risers. An impressive selection of meats and cheeses as well as freshly baked breads, fruit, yogurt, and hot dishes are the perfect start to your day of exploring the city. And end your days in the cozy lounge bar where the bartender is serving up both classic and signature cocktails until midnight.
For more recommendations on where to stay check out this guide on the best neighborhoods in Paris.
Where to Eat in Paris
- For amazing crepes and speedy service try Crêperie Genia.
- For delectable onion soup try Brasserie Baroche but don’t expect an attentive waitstaff.
- For a warm, melt-in-your-mouth quiche lorraine, stop at Patisserie la Galette des Moulins while exploring the Montmartre neighborhood.
- For the most mouth-watering Croque Madame in all of Paris try Au Petit Suisse.
- Don’t miss afternoon tea at The Peninsula Paris.
Where to Drink in Paris
- For the richest, most decadent hot chocolate, don’t miss Angelina.
- For delicious hot wine while you rest your weary feet after a visit to the Musée de l’Armée Invalides, stop by Au Coin de la Rue.
- For a glass of wine while enjoying views of the city, check out Bar le Perchoir, a trendy rooftop bar.
Top Sights to See in Paris
Musée du Louvre
Originally built by King Philippe Auguste II as his royal palace, the Louvre officially opened it’s doors to the public on August 10, 1793.
Today it is the world’s largest museum with 460,000 works of art and is the most visited museum on the planet. If you spent just one minute gazing at each piece of artwork, it would take you 64 days to view the entire exhibition. If you don’t have that kind of time, just be sure not to miss our favorites:
- The Mona Lisa – described as “the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world”, the Mona Lisa is absolutely not-to-be-missed when visiting the Louvre!
- Aphrodite known as the Venus de Milo – this goddess statue is shrouded in mystery as the missing pieces of marble make it difficult to discern whether she is the goddess Aphrodite or the sea goddess Amphitrite.
- Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss – representing the god Cupid awakening the lifeless Psyche with a kiss, it is considered to be a masterpiece of Neoclassical work.
- Hermaphrodite Endormi – an interesting statue as the subject has breasts that appear to belong to a female as well as male genitalia.
- Portrait of Louis XIV – known as the “official portrait” of Louis XIV.
- Capital of a column from the audience hall of the palace of Darius I – an impressive column that was one of 36 and was constructed in Iranian style.
This museum is incredibly impressive not just because it holds the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world, but also because of the building that they are housed in.
A former railway station that was built between 1898 and 1900, the architecture is absolutely stunning! It’s worth spending an entire afternoon here but if you don’t have enough time, be sure not to miss the large clock offering stunning city views or these exhibits:
- Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Parisian Life
- Charles Garnier’s Opera House
- The Impressionism Room
Musée de l’Orangerie
Originally constructed in 1852 to provide a shelter for the orange trees that lined the garden of the Tuileries Palace, this museum is now famous as it houses the large panels of Monet’s Nymphéas (Water Lillies). Monet gave the instructions for the design of the two elliptical rooms where the masterpieces are still on display today.
Be sure to stay for sunset in the gardens where you’ll have enticing views of the Big Wheel at Place de la Concorde (the giant ferris wheel) and the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
Musée de l’Armée Invalides
An impressive collection of elaborately decorated steel armor and intricately carved weapons are on display here. If you are lucky, you may catch a war reenactment show going on in the courtyard! Spend some time wandering around the exhibits and then head to Napoléon’s massive and impressive tomb.
Notre-Dame de Paris
Meaning “Our Lady of Paris”, the Notre Dame is a medieval Catholic cathedral in a classic gothic style. A massive cathedral known for the menacing gargoyles guarding the building from the roof, this beautiful structure is impressive from all angles. Tourists should begin by wandering around the interior of the cathedral and then head to the queue around the corner to ascend the stairs of the tower. You’ll be rewarded with sensational views of the city and be able to view the gargoyles up-close and personal!
1,113 scenes from the Old and New Testaments are portrayed on the picturesque stained glass windows standing 49 feet tall. Visitors to the cathedral will be amazed by the intricate detail that went into these impressive works of art.
Arc de Triomphe
This giant, 165 foot tall arch which sits in the center of a major traffic circle was inaugurated by the French king, Louis-Philippe in 1836 and was dedicated to the armies of the Revolution and the Empire. The Unknown Soldier was buried at the base of the arch where a flame of remembrance burns in honor. Climb to the top for spectacular city views!
A competition to “study the possibility of erecting an iron tower on the Champ-de-Mars with a square base 410 feet across and 1,063 feet tall” was launched to design an entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair and to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the French Revolution. 107 projects were submitted and one by Gustave Eiffel was selected as the winner. The first digging began on January 28, 1887 and the project was completed just over 2 years later – on March 31, 1889. It was established as a veritable technical feat.
Today the Eiffel Tower is a symbol of Paris and is recognized all over the world. Visitors can shop at the gift shops, dine at one of the many restaurants, or take the lift all the way to the top for spectacular city views.
3-Day Paris Itinerary
Wake up to watch the sun rise from the comfort of your room at the Hôtel Rochester Champs Elysées and then head to the dining room to enjoy brunch. You’ll be starting your day with a trip to the Eiffel Tower as it is the number one must-see landmark in Paris! Have a walk around the park surrounding the tower to view it in it’s splendor from all angles and then take the lift to the top if the weather is clear!
Your next stop is about a 30 minute walk from the tower – the Musée d’Orsay where you’ll want to spend several hours exploring this stunning museum. Be sure to purchase the 2-day Paris Museum Pass here. Your next stop is the The Sainte-Chapelle which will take about 20 minutes to walk to but it is a lovely trek along the bank of the river where you’ll be rewarded with views the whole way. The cathedral is fairly small and it won’t take you long to admire the brightly colored stained glass.
The Notre Dame is just a few blocks away so it’s your next stop. Check out the interior of the cathedral and then make your way to the top for gorgeous city and gargoyle views. If it is a Wednesday or a Friday the Musée du Louvre will be open late so you should have plenty of time to grab dinner before making your way to your last stop of the day.
Plan on a minimum of 2 hours to explore this massive museum and hit the Mona Lisa first to be sure you don’t miss it! Finally grab a bottle of wine at one of the many Nicolas liquor stores nearby and relax in the comfort of your hotel room!
Opt for breakfast in bed today! A friendly staff member will deliver a nice selection of treats directly to your room so no need to get out of bed until you’re good and ready!
Your first stop on day 2 of your tour of Paris is the Arc de Triomphe. The best photos of this amazing landmark can be taken from the small center lane in the middle of the busy street but be careful! Then head to the top for epic views!
If you got an early start, consider stopping at the Musée des égouts de Paris for a stinky but fascinating look at the Paris sewer system.
You’ve got 2 museums left to see today! The Musée de l’Armée Invalides and the Musée de l’Orangerie.
The gardens surrounding each are lovely and worth strolling through. If the weather is clear, consider taking a ride on the Big Wheel at Place de la Concorde (the giant ferris wheel) right outisde of the Musée de l’Orangerie for a fun and unforgettable experience!
Spend your day strolling through the quaint Montmartre neighborhood where the cobblestone streets are lined with cute boutiques, art galleries, and cafes for blocks.
Be sure to spend some time relaxing on the stairs in front of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica where you are likely to be entertained by live music and spectacular people-watching.
You’ll want to spend the afternoon snacking, imbibing, and shopping in this darling area of Paris. Catch a show at the Moulin Rouge for the ultimate Parisian entertainment!
If you love cheese, wine, art, shopping, and history you’ll fall in LOVE with this “City of Love”!
Planning a trip to Paris? Check out our favorite books!
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