This week we’ve scoured the internet, enlisted the help of our traveling friends and put out a call to action to other travel writers to bring you their versions of the best things to do, see and eat in Paris, France.
We hope this roundup of tips and tricks will inspire you to visit one of the leading cultural centers of the world, the City of Light, Paris.
Top Paris Tips
Paris is known as the city of love for a reason. From kissing underneath the Eiffel Tower to taking a night cruise on the Seine to getting your caricature drawn with your partner, the city is made for lovers. Raphael shares his tale of love at A Journey Of Words.
Paris may be one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but it also has a bit of a deserved reputation for petty crime. Elaine gives some hard-earned tips on how to avoid being the target of pickpockets at Trip Wellness.
Visiting Paris for the first time can be overwhelming, with so many great neighborhoods, cafes and sights to see. Emma from Emma’s Travel Tales shares her enthusiastic point of view on your first time visiting Paris.
If there’s a truly magical way to spend the holiday season, then Christmas in Paris must be at the very top of that list. Our good friend Heidi from Wagoners Abroad shares her family’s Christmas experience in Paris.
Paris on a Budget
Like other famous European cities like London and Venice, Paris has a reputation for being expensive. It is easy to spend money on great restaurants and on entrance fees to museums and shopping, but taking advantage of free walking tours, free festivals and museum admission discounts can make Paris much more affordable.
If you’re looking to get our of the city, one option may be to rent a car in Paris for day trips. There’s a lot to see in the countryside, and trains do run a lot of places, but you’ll have a lot more time and freedom if you rent a car.
Car rental makes the most sense if you travel as a group, or if you’re traveling as a family, since you can spread out the rental cost between several people.
Rent a car for Day trips
If you’re looking to get our of the city, one option may be to rent a car in Paris for day trips. There’s a lot to see in the countryside, and trains do run a lot of places, but you’ll have a lot more time and freedom if you rent a car. Car rental makes the most sense if you travel as a group, or if you’re traveling as a family, since you can spread out the rental cost between several people.
Tripadvisor put together a helpful list of the most affordable places to shop in Paris for the budget traveler interested in checking out some of the city’s best shopping.
While it’s easy to spend money in Paris, just soaking up the “je ne sais quoi of a city like no other” is free. Check out these great tips from Bethaney at Flashpacker Family taking advantage of the Vélib (a city-wide bike rental service) and picking up a museum pass to help you enjoy the spirit of the city.
If you’re traveling with little ones, you can save money by visiting the Eiffel tower at night when it’s lit up with thousands of blinking lights. The Flower & Bird Market (held every Sunday at the Place Lois Lepine) and the Stravinsky Fountain’s 16 works of sculpture with moving and spraying water are sure to be hits with the kids and grownups. Check out this post over at The Parent Spot.
Paris with Kids
There are plenty of great things to do an a rainy day in Paris with the little ones. From checking out the catacombs (careful, as these may be too scary for little ones or sensitive kids), taking a boat ride down the Seine on the covered Batobus and even visiting a bandes dessinees (comic book) store, Vero at All Over The Map gives you some great ideas for those not so sunny days.
Though there’s a small entry fee, this playground near the Jardin du Luxembourg has everything from standing zip lines to standard playground equipment to keep kids from 1 to 12 busy. Shelly from Travels with Baby shares memories of her favorite playground in Paris.
While most child-friendly guides to Paris focus on younger kids, tweens might enjoy the medieval items at the Musee de Cluny and the grounds and gardens next door to the Louvre. Talon at 1 Dad, 1 Kid gives you the lowdown on tackling Paris one monument at a time.
This huge list of things to do with kids in Paris is packed with ideas like carousels, cooking classes for kids, guided walks, haunted houses and science and learning museums.
While Paris is often thought of as a romantic adult destination, it can be a wonderful place to visit with kids. Paris is filled with familiar things that kids will relate to: from the Mona Lisa to the Eiffel Tower, and it’s easy to explore on foot with kids in tow. Lisa from Gone with the Family shows that the City of Light can also be the City of Kids.
The Luxembourg Gardens are a huge hit with families, as they offer lovely gardens plus plenty of other activities from art displays and jogging trails to concerts and even a puppet theatre. Lance from Trips By Lance offers some insights to a place your kids are going to love.
Where to Stay and Visit in Paris
With 20 arrondissements (neighborhoods) to choose from, first time visitors to Paris can be overwhelmed with choices about where to stay. The 3rd and 4th arrondissements allow first time visitors to be immersed in the Marais, a neighborhood full of modern, hip shops and old French village charm. Jennifer at The Vacation Gals gives you the lowdown on some of the best neighborhoods to stay in while in Paris.
A small island in the Seine, Ile de la Cite was where Paris was born over 2,000 years ago. Today, the Ile de la Cite houses Paris’ oldest bridge, the pont Neuf, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Conciergerie and Sainte-Chapelle. Rhonda at Travel? Yes Please! gives us a good walk through of the major attractions on Ile de la Cite.
Convenient to tourist attractions, Montparnasse is brimming with corner cafes, fromageries, boucheries and brasseries. Allan from Live Less Ordinary gives us a decent rundown of this corner of the city.
Arguably Paris’ most famous arrondissement, the Latin quarter houses the Sobonne, the Place St. Michel and the Pantheon. Tom at Journey Tom waxes poetically about a few places you shouldn’t miss while you’re in this neighborhood.
Vanessa from Turnip Seed Travel suggests purchasing a private guided tour that includes your general admission to help avoid the Louvre’s infamous crowds and long lines. That’s only one tip, the others are just as good.
The Best Eats in Paris
The quality of French pastries is the stuff of legend. You can’t miss trying these mouth watering treats. Elena’s guest post on Indie Travel is sure to leave a sweet taste in your mouth.
It’s hard to know whether Paris is more famous for its pastries or baguettes. Either way, enjoying a fresh baguette in Paris is simply a rite of passage. Stéphane Secco, locally known as the Pink Bakery, may just be the best place in Paris to snag a fresh baguette. Chloe’s post on A Luxury Travel Blog will have you craving for one of the best baguettes in Paris.
Colorful little confections made of a smooth, firm exterior and thick layer of cream filling, macarons are quintessentially Parisian. Cassie at Ever in Transit had the difficult job of trying out a handful of Paris’ best bakeries, and Pierre Hermé came out on top as the best place to buy macarons in Paris.
If you’re in the mood for a luxurious dining experience in Paris, Le Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower may be the ultimate. Le Jules Verne sits sits a flight above the highest observation deck the stair-climbing tourists can go, and offers spectacular views, a luxury menu and a price tag to match. Jennifer from The Vacation Gals shows you what a luxury meal is all about. The best part, ambiance is included in the cost.
In the heart of Montmartre, Restaurant Chartier serves up surprisingly affordable French bistro-style meals in an authentic century old Parisian building. Theodora’s post at Worldfoodist let’s you know that decent food can be had in the heart of Paris that won’t break your wallet.
Pastry chef David Lebovitz shares his long list of favorite places to get a good meal in Paris. The good news, most of his picks are moderately priced if you’re working within a budget.
Off the Beaten Track – Quirky Paris
Did you know Paris houses an early Neolithic settlement thought to be over 6000 years old on the banks of the Seine? Or that you can see Roman artifacts at the Musée de Cluny, or that Napoleon brought an ancient Egyptian influence to the city? Thomas’ post at Archaeology Travel rounds up some great info about Paris.
Perhaps Paris’ worst kept quirky secret, the Shakespeare and Company bookstore is packed with rare, new, second hand and author signed books. It’s on the Left Bank opposite the Notre-Dame and Cherise’s post from Four Seasons of Travel tells you all about it.
While most trips to Paris center on iconic sights like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, Paris also has a gritty, more modern side. Underground Art Tours offers a look at street art outside of the museums. Luckily for you, Sue from Philatravelgirl got to experience it firsthand.
Not sure of the difference between a macaron and a macaroon? Anette from Bucket List Journey didn’t either until she took a course and learnt to make caramel beurre salée, raspberry jam and black currant with passion fruit macarons in Montmartre. Jealous much?
Hayley at Lovepuffin (it may be worth it to read this article for the blog name alone) shares her misadventures visiting Paris. A tip to the wise, a little research can go a long way.
Lizzie at Wanderful World gives us a a different look at colorful, busy, ornate Paris showcased in lovely black and white photos.
More Information About Paris
These guides should give you a helpful overview of Paris.
Have you visited Paris before? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the very best of the city in the comments below!
Eiffel Tower photo on Flickr by Omarukai.