Audrey Hepburn said it best when she proclaimed “Paris is always a good idea.” Paris is a place full of rich history, beautiful art and architecture, mouth-watering food, and high fashion. No matter the season, Paris is truly a magical place to visit.
During college, I lived in Paris for four months, explored every nook and cranny of the city, and fell in love with all things French. While the classic tourist sites, like the Louvre and Eiffel Tower, are a must-see; there are so many hidden treasures that exist that are well-worth visiting.
Here are some insider tips and tricks for fellow travelers heading to France from a Parisian wannabe.
Pack comfortable shoes
Paris is a fantastic place to promenade. The cobblestone streets yearned to be explored; and the Seine is a great river to stroll up and down admiring the ancient bridges and buildings nearby. When going to Paris, pack comfortable shoes! You WILL be walking all day and your feet WILL be sore by the end of the day. My husband and I walked over 13 miles in our first day in the city this spring. Pack a few pairs of comfortable shoes so you can rotate them throughout your trip and spare your feet.
Purchase a metro pass
Even though Paris is a great walking city, you’ll want to take the metro throughout your vacation. In addition to being a great way to get around the city, you’ll hear talented musicians performing lively music and see the famous Guimard architecture of the metro entrances. Purchase the three-day metro pass and you can go anywhere in the city limits for a flat rate.
Do not have your cell phone in your hand while waiting for or riding the metro.
**Safety note** Do not have your cell phone in your hand while waiting for or riding the metro. Thieves will quickly grab your phone out of your hand and take off with it—I saw it happen twice! Keep your phone in your pocket until you are out of the metro station. Be aware of pickpockets. Often, one person will distract you by asking you questions, while someone else tries to empty your wallet or purse. Never keep all your cash and credit cards in one place, in case you are robbed.
The weather can change rapidly from warm and sunny to stormy. Pack in layers so you can add or detract clothing throughout the day. A scarf is an essential item, along with a light jacket or coat. Layers are stylish and practical when visiting Paris. You’ll also want to dress in neutral colors so you can blend in, look like a native, and stay safe. Bring a bag that you can carry with you exploring so you can place purchases and food in it throughout the day.
Schedule your days
Make sure to plan how you’ll spend each day. You’ll want to allow time for aimless wandering, but, you’ll also want to prioritize your time since there is so much to see in Paris. Many of the museums are closed on Mondays or Tuesdays, so check on the specifics before heading out for the day. On days the museums are closed, it’s a great time to check out the many gardens, walk the Seine, or visit Versailles. Use Tripidee to gather all of your travel ideas and to schedule your days.
Eat a lot
The food and pastries in Paris are AMAZING! If you don’t have a pastry or baguette in your hand at all times your trip is not complete. Start the day off by visiting a pastry shop and enjoying a pain au chocolat and an espresso. The Latin Quarters and Marais have so many restaurants that are affordable and have a fun, lively environment. You must visit L’as du Falafal in the Jewish district. SO, SO GOOD!
If you don’t have a pastry or baguette in your hand at all times your trip is not complete.
Visit these places
Every attraction in Paris is wonderful. However, these four places are especially wonderful, in my opinion.
- Musee de l’Orangerie—This is a small museum in the Tuileries filled with giant paintings of Monet’s water lilies. You’ll feel as if you’ve jumped into a postcard in this museum.
- Tuileries Palace—Located between the Louvre and La Place de la Concorde, the Tuileries are public gardens filled with beautiful fountains, rambling lawns, and benches. Take an afternoon to sit in the gardens, read a book, and simply observe.
- Arc de Triomphe—The Arc de Triomphe is a truly remarkable monument at the end of the Champs Elysee. Climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe and you’ll get an incredible view of the city. Also, the line is always shorter than the line for the top of the Eiffel Tower, and the price is much more reasonable.
- Notre Dame—Notre Dame is one of the most spectacular cathedrals you’ll ever see. It’s immense height, impeccable detail, stone work, and history are awesome. Climbing to the top of the bell tower is also well-worth your time. The line can get long waiting to go up, but it’s a great experience to see the entire city and Seine from the top. If you don’t make it to the top, don’t worry! You can still enjoy the beauty by simply sitting in the gardens and observing your surroundings.
Paris is a city with endless things to do. I lived in the city for months and could have stayed for years without getting bored. These are just a few of my suggestions for fellow travelers heading off to the city of lights. Bon voyage!
Check out the Tripidee Paris starter trip to begin your trip planning! It has all of the top places for your first visit to Paris.
About the Author:
Sage Singleton is a freelance writer with a passion for literature and words. She enjoys writing articles that will inspire, educate, and influence readers. She loves that words have the power to create change and make a positive impact in the world. Some of her work has been featured on sites like MSN, Huffington Post, Bustle, Paste and Babble. In her free time she loves traveling, reading, and learning French. She lives in Salt Lake City with her husband, who happened to be her high-school sweetheart.