Hello my traveling friends! As many of you know, I studied for 7 months in France when I was in college and I am just finishing up my 6 weeks of winter in Paris as I write this. I get questions all the time about what to do in Paris, where to stay, and allll the insider info. Since I’ve been here I’ve finally started compiling a comprehensive guide & Paris overview for my friends who want to visit the City of Love. Enjoy!
+ Latin Quarter
+ Champs-Élysées (also magical at night)
+ Le Marais
+ 20e Arrondissement
(I only noted it for Champs-Élysées, but all of the above are magical at nighttime.)
Attractions (Apart from Museums)
+ Jardin du Luxembourg (latin quarter)
+ Sacré-cœur (Montmartre)
+ Opéra (worth it to book an inside tour or try to see a show there)
+ Galleries Lafayette - next to the Opera; go to roof for beautiful view of Paris
+ Arc de Triomphe
+ Tour Eiffel (start at pl. Trocadéro for a great view and walk closer from there)
+ Shakespeare & Co (latin quarter)
+ Often amazing dance shows at Theatre du Champs Elysees or other theatres if you find)
+ Cemetery Pere Lachaise – super cool to walk around if you have the time. Famously Jim Morrison is buried there but there are a ton of amazing people (Balzac, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf) entombed there. At all of the entrances there’s a list/key of notable people buried and where.
+ Botanical Garden & Grande Mosquee de Paris (next to each other)
Note: there are some pickpockets in Paris. Be careful especially at big monuments (Sacre Coeur, Arc de Triomphe, Tour Eiffel) and in train stations.
+ Musée d’Orsay (the #1 must visit in my book and my favorite museum in the world)
+ The Louvre
+ Pompidou (one of the coolest museums I’ve ever visited both the outside and the exhibits inside)
+ Musee d’Orsay (pricey for how little is inside the museum but if you love Monet it’s a must visit)
+ Musee Rodin (note: half the museum is outdoors so plan for that weather-wise)
+ Musee Picasso
+ The Jewish Museum (if you’re jewish this is a must visit. It’s one of my favorite museums of all time. They have just a ton of gorgeous old jewish artifacts)
+ L’Eclaire de Genie for eclairs (Marais)
+ Happy Nouilles (this amazing little asian fusion spot by Reamur-Sebastopol)
+ Chez Marie
+ Les Fondus de la Raclette (2 locations)
+ Les Canailles Menilmontant
+ Laduree for the experience (there is also a little counter in CDG so you can grab some to take back home)
+ Monoprix, the Target of France, is my favorite store in the world. Absolutely go in and browse the candy section for some very european and incredible choices. You’ll find one every few blocks in Paris.
My go-to for finding restaurants abroad is google maps and choosing whatever has generally good reviews – this will work especially well in France because all the french cuisine is just so damn good.
What To Order
+ Moules frites (mussels/fries - delish and so french)
+ Escargots are good to try once! You can get great escargots on Rue de la Huchette
+ Raclette is a must-eat while in France. It’s a meal centered around cheese!
+ Croissant/pain au chocolat/fresh baguette at any boulangerie in the morning
+ Crepe on the street at night (I like nutella crepes) Note: crepe sarrasin is made with gluten-free flour
+ Diabolo fraise to drink is my favorite thing in France - a sweet strawberry syrup you mix with either still or sparkling water
+ Kir Royal is a must drink - champagne mixed with creme de cassis (gooseberry) liquor
+ French cuisine in general is amaaaazing. Anything that looks good to you on the menu will probably be amazing!
The two day trips are to Giverny and Versailles. Both are amazing for separate reasons. If it’s blooming season for the flowers at Giverny there’s no contest for me for why you should choose that over Versailles (unless it’s closed when you go - as it is in the winter). It’s beautiful in the fall as well. Versailles is just a marvel. It depends on what you’re interested in!
How To Group Days
Paris is very small. You could walk from the top to the bottom in about an hour and a half. You could also get totally lost in the little side streets and spend a whole day in a 3KM radius. I’d recommend grouping the activities this way:
+ South of the Seine: Luxembourg, Notre Dame, Louvre, Orsay
+ North of Seine: Trocadero, Tour Eiffel, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysees, Tuilieries, Opera, Galleries Lafayette, Pompidou
+ Montmartre & 20th arr.
I would give a couple days south of the Seine, a couple days north and a day or half day in Montmartre. DOn’t forget to walk along the Seine too! Right next to Montmartre is Pigalle which is a really cool spot too (Paris’s answer to Amsterdam’s red light district/the music neighborhood) but not very safe as night (neither is Montmartre). I would highly recommend going during the day to Montmartre. My biggest suggestion is pinning everything you want to see on Google Maps so you can check while you’re wandering to see what you might not have realized you’re just around the corner from. Many of the best things to do are basically on the same three streets.
The 20th arrondissement is an absolute gem of the city. This is the favorite arrondissement for a non-touristy feel of Paris. Pere Lachaise is amazing, and if you’re in the neighborhood you’ll have your best meal of the trip nearby at Les Canailles Menilmontant. Near that if you walk near the Theatre de Menilmontant you’ll see the best street art in Paris. And a little ways from that ascend the stairs to Rue Jules Siegfried for the sweetest little corner of Paris (tiny houses with gardens - like a pocket of paradise in the city)!
Where to stay/extra info
These arrondissements (neighborhoods) are the best to stay in in terms of safety and location/centrality: 8e, 9e, 2e, 1em 7e, 6e, 4e. Any of the other neighborhoods are also fine, but I would avoid staying in Montmartre or the northeast arrondissements (19e, 18e)
The subway system in Paris is amazing - almost every line connects with every other line! Google maps is great to see what route to take but I also find it fun and rewarding to figure out with a map where to go based off what stations I am closest to at the moment. Each ride is 1 euro 90 cents and make sure to keep your ticket with you until you are out of the station – sometimes the police will do “contrôles” to check to make sure everyone paid for the ride and you have to show them your ticket. It’s more expensive to go to Giverny, Versailles and Disneyland Paris.
The weather in Paris is pretty ideal. In the winter months (Nov-Feb) it almost never drops below 45. The best time to visit is spring or fall as it is very hot in the summer and the French “don’t believe” in air conditioning. Always have a little umbrella with you too as Paris is prone to quick showers during the day!
A Word on the Language
The biggest thing I hear from Americans who had a sub-par Paris trip is that the french are just so rude. I’ll defend the French by saying they just have the classic American attitude: ‘Why doesn’t everyone just speak our language?’ The French and above all the Parisians all speak English but they will be incredibly rude to you if you don’t make a little effort to speak French. They only want the tiniest amount of effort on your part and then they switch to English and are the nicest. Most important phrases:
Hello! Bonjour! (bahn-johr)
Thank you! Merci (mehr-see)
I would like (to order)... Je voudrais… (shjuh voo-dray)
Do you speak English? Parlez-vous anglais? (pahr-lay vooz ahn-glay)
Goodbye, have a good day! Au revoir, bonne journee! (oh-vwah bohn shjohr-nay)
How much does this cost? Ca coute combien? (sahh kewt kohm-bya)
Worried about speaking French in Paris? I have a survival phrases PDF you can keep on your phone for the trip with sound recordings of how to pronounce + helpful insider tips! Please email me to purchase the package for $10.
I make custom itineraries! If you are interested in having me build an itinerary for you, please email me to discuss the process.