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. I imagined 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. Then, 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 walked away. To my surprise, less than a minute after leaving us he returned asking for money. I quickly realized it was a scam. However, 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. He 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!
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Paris, France Travel Basics
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. You’ll marvel at the spectacular ancient architecture looming above you. So many cafes, bakeries, and pubs line the pedestrian-friendly streets, you’ll find it impossible to decide which one to choose. Stick to our favorites so you don’t miss any highlights!
Things to 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”. It means “I don’t speak French”.
- A 10% tip is commonplace when dining out. However, 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 its currency is the Euro. It is also a member of the Schengen Agreement. That means that you should be sure you’re not overstaying your welcome in the participating countries combined.
Best Time of Year to Visit Paris
Some people may argue that a visit to Paris in the springtime is a must. The weather is divine and the flowers are in bloom in that season. While the peak seasons of spring and summer offer warmer temperatures, they also bring large crowds and long lines. If you happen to visit Paris during spring or summer, make sure you plan your days carefully. That way you can avoid the extremely long lines at top Paris attractions like the Louvre and Eiffel Tower.
The wintertime can be chilly. You’ll find far fewer tourists as well as a plethora of Christmas markets. They 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-70s. 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 three 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 into a single day in Paris if you plan it out carefully.
Getting to Paris
Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) is a major international airport. When you visit Paris, you’ll notice the metro system 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. The taxi will light up green when available, and red when it is 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 every day.
There are three 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 at before your trip. As an added bonus, all three stations are close to the center of Paris so you’ll be able to avoid the long Taxi ride in from Charles de Gaulle Airport!
Where to Stay in Paris
The Hôtel Rochester Champs Elysées is a stunningly beautiful 4-star hotel centrally located in the city center. From the moment you arrive at 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. It 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. It 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 am until 1:30 pm for the late risers. An impressive selection of meats and cheeses, as well as freshly baked bread, 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.
- Is it a delectable onion soup you want? 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.
- If it’s a delicious hot wine you crave 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.
The 8 Top Things to See in Paris
1. Musée du Louvre
Originally built by King Philippe Auguste II as his royal palace, the Louvre officially opened its 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.
Hours: Open Monday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 9 am – 6 pm. Open Wednesday and Friday from 9 am – 9:45 pm. Closed on Tuesdays.
Entrance fee: Adults will pay 15€/person.
2. Musée d’Orsay
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 where they are housed in.
The architecture is absolutely stunning! It was formerly a railway station built between 1898 and 1900. 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
Hours: Open daily from 9:30 am – 6 pm except for Mondays. Thursdays the museum remains open until 9:45 pm.
Entrance fee: 12€/person. Free on the first Sunday of the month.
3. Musée de l’Orangerie
The museum was originally constructed in 1852 to provide shelter for the orange trees that lined the garden of the Tuileries Palace. Now it is 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 for the enticing views of the Big Wheel at Place de la Concorde (the giant Ferris wheel) and the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
Hours: Open daily from 9 am – 6 pm with the last admission at 5:15 pm. Closed on Tuesdays.
Entrance fee: Adults will pay 9€/person.
4. 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.
Hours: Open every day from 4/1 – 10/31 from 10 am – 6 pm, and from 11/1 – 3/31 from 10 am – 5 pm.
Entrance fee: Adults will pay 12€/person for access to the permanent collections, the church of the Dome, the tomb of Napoleon I, the cathedral of Saint-Louis des Invalides, the Historial Charles de Gaulle, the temporary exhibition, and the museum of the Order of Liberation and the Museum of Relief Plans.
The Paris Museum Pass – Is It Worth It?
The Paris Museum Pass is a 2, 4, or 6-day pass that you can purchase for entry to over 60 museums and monuments in and around Paris. For a flat fee, you can see as many of them as you can pack, including some spots like the Arc de Triomphe. The pass allows you to skip the long line for the ticket office. If you follow our 3-day itinerary, you would spend about 80€/person to see all of the sites along the tour. So the Paris Museum Pass will save you about 32€/person.
- 2 consecutive days pass – 48€/person
- 4 consecutive days pass – 62€/person
- 6 consecutive days pass – 74€/person
5. 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.
Begin by wandering around the interior of the cathedral. 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!
The Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral and its surroundings were closed to the public on April 15, 2019, due to an unfortunate fire to the structure. Currently, securing and consolation work is in progress before restoration efforts begin, so there’s no set date when it’ll reopen to the public. It is still worth a trip to the cathedral and gazing at it from the streets or the bridges over the Seine. For more information, you can visit its site.
6. The Sainte-Chapelle
1,113 scenes from the Old and New Testaments are portrayed on the picturesque stained glass windows standing 49 feet tall. You’ll be amazed by the intricate detail that went into these impressive works of art. And the multicolor light streaming in through the towering windows certainly makes the Sainte-Chapelle one of the most beautiful churches in Europe.
Hours: Open every day from 10/1 – 3/31 from 9 am – 5 pm, and open from 4/1 – 9/30 from 9 am – 7 pm. Last admission 30 minutes before closing.
Entrance fee: Adults will pay 10€/person.
7. Arc de Triomphe
This giant, 165-foot tall arch sits in the center of a major traffic circle. It was inaugurated by French King Louis-Philippe in 1836 and 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 one of the best views of the Eiffel Tower and all of Paris!
Hours: Open from 1/2 – 3/31 from 10 am – 10:30 pm daily. Open from 4/1 – 9/30 from 10 am – 11 pm daily. Open from 10/1 – 12/31 from 10 am – 10:30 pm daily.
Entrance fee: Adults will pay 12€/person to climb to the top.
8. Eiffel Tower
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. The project was completed just over two 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.
Hours: Open from 6/15 – 9/1 beginning at 9 am and the last lift entry is at 11 pm for the top. Open the rest of the year beginning at 9:30 am. The last lift entry is at 10:30 pm for the top.
Entrance fee: Adults will pay 25€/person to ride the lift all the way to the top. If you would prefer to walk to the 2nd floor and then take the lift to the top, adults will pay 19€/person. Prices are reduced if you only want to visit the 2nd floor.
A Complete 3-Day Paris Itinerary
Wake up to watch as the sun rises 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 its 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 two-day Paris Museum Pass here. Your next stop is 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 two 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!
Your first stop on day two of your visit to 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 two 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 outside of the Musée de l’Orangerie for a fun and unforgettable experience!
Spend your day strolling through the quaint Montmartre neighborhood. 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. You are likely to experience 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!