*Since Paris is so photogenic this is going to be an image heavy post.
Paris is a city that I could visit again and again and again, it has so much to offer – museums, monuments, churches, history, fashion, cafés, parks,stunning architecture and not to forget the Eiffel tower. It’s easy to see why the city of lights is one of the most famous and visited cities in world.
However it can be busy and it can be rather expensive and with the European football championship taking place in France this summer, Paris is going to be even busier. So below are some tips to help you make the most of your time in Paris whether you are going to a match (for more information click here) or just visiting for the weekend.
Getting in from Beauvais or Charles de Gaulle
Beauvais – The easiest and cheapest way to get into the city centre from Beauvais is by bus. The bus leaves from outside arrivals 20 minutes after each arrival and will bring you to Porte Maillot (this is where you will get the bus for the return journey) where you will be able to grab a metro to your destination in Paris. The bus takes about 40 minutes and costs €4.
Charles de Gaulle – There is also an Air France bus from Charles de Gaulle to Porte Maillot, they go every 15 minutes and the journey costing €17 takes about 50/60 minutes. However the easiest and cheapest way to get to Paris from Charles de Gaulle is by train. Take the RER B train from the airport into central Paris and from here you are able to access the Paris metro system, the journey takes about 30/40 minutes and costs €9.50.
Getting around Paris
Getting around Paris is easy by Metro, it’s an inexpensive way to get around the city and it connects all major tourist attractions. A single use ticket costs €1.80; you can buy a book of 10 tickets for €14.10. However, if you think that you will be using the metro a lot during your stay, you can buy a Paris Visite ticket; these tickets can be valid for 1, 2, 3 or 5 consecutive days, starting at €11.15 for a 1 day pass.
If you are going over for the European football championship and want to get to the Stade de France, you take you need to take the RER D train to St. Denis-Porte de Paris or RER B to La Plaine Stade de France.
Another great way to see the city and my favourite, is to just walk. By walking you will get to see so much more and even if you get lost its not a bad thing, I stumbled upon a great little spot with stunning views of the Eiffel tower when I got lost on my way to find a place for lunch. A great app I used for getting around Paris was Mappr. Mappr allows you to download a map and pin places of interest, it then finds the quickest route for you to get there and best of all, you can use it offline so as to avoid those data roaming charges.
Accommodation in Paris
As I said earlier Paris can be expensive, especially when it comes to accommodation costs even a dorm room in a hostel can cost anything from €20-€40 with doubles costing almost €80!
If you want to stay in a hotel, my advice would be stay a little bit out of the centre, on my last trip I stayed in Hotel Residence Foch near Porte Maillot, the room was small but the hotel was clean and near to the metro station.
However if you want something more central and comfortable I’d recommend going with an AirBNB rental, it’s certainly a more affordable accommodation option and there are so many great apartments/rooms on offer in Paris especially around Le Marais and Montmarte.
Food in Paris
Again, not cheap, a cup of coffee can cost €4 and dinner can cost anything from €30 including wine at a nice restaurant! But there are some ways for you to save money, avoid tourist areas as they will charge you more, eat your main meal at lunch if you can as its cheaper and go to a market buy fresh baguettes and delicious French cheese and go for a picnic along the Seine or in one of Paris’s many parks.
Things to do in Paris
Right, now that we’ve covered some tips for travelling in Paris it’s time to get to the important stuff, what you should do when you are there. As I’ve already mentioned there is so much to do is Paris and you would probably struggle to see everything in one visit, but you can use this as an excuse to return a few times. Below I’ve outlined some things that I think should not be missed.
The Eiffel Tower
This must be the top of everyone’s list of things to do when visiting Paris. Make sure to visit it during the day and at night, where you will get to witness the magnificent lightshow on the hour every hour once it gets dark. If you want to go to the top of this 300-meter tower then get there early as queues are generally long, especially on a clear day.
Photograph tip – If you want to find a quiet spot to take some photographs of the Eiffel Tower, go to Avenue de Camoens or Square Rapp where you will have it all to yourself.
Visit Paris’s art museums
I’m a real art lover and there is nowhere better to see work by the masters than Paris. There are so many art museums in Paris but two of my favourites are the Louvre and the Musée D’Orsay.
To really see what the Louvre has to offer you would need a few days to wander around, however you can see all the highlights like the Mona Lisa in a few hours if you are prepared and you stay focused. The Louvre is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Paris so to avoid the huge queues you need to arrive very early in the morning before 9.00am or you could use the Louvre’s secret entrance. The Carrousel du Louvre is the shopping center right beside the Louvre where you will find ‘La Pyramide Invresée’, the inverted pyramid made famous in The Da Vinci Code, however it also contains another entrance to the museum. To get to the shopping center on Rue de Rivoli take the metro to the Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre stop.
The Musée D’Orsay is great for lovers of Impressionism with works of art by Renoir, Mónet, Van Gogh, Gaugin, Cézanne etc. The Musée D’Orsay is housed in a former train station so be sure to check out the view through the station’s former giant glass clock face of the Sacré-Ceour which you will find on the second floor.
Money saving tip – Museums are all free to visit on the first Sunday of every month. If you are not lucky enough be in Paris on these dates then you can purchase a Museum Pass – €42 for 2 days, €56 for 4 days and €69 for 6 days, this pass gets you access to all museums and monuments around Paris.
Montemarte – Sacré-Coeur
Be sure to take some time to wander the old narrow streets of Montemarte and admire the spectacular view of the city from the Sacré-Ceour. If your feet get tired from all the exploring take a break at one of the great cafés you will find dotted about the area like the perfectly located Le Consulat and just watch the world go by. Get the metro back to the city center from Pigalle station and get a quick glimpse of the famous Moulin Rouge.
Le Maison Rose in Montemartre
Arc De Triomphe and the Champs Élysées
When visiting Paris you can’t miss the Arc De Triomphe, it stands in the center of Place Charles de Gaulle and it’s one of the most famous monuments in Paris. Be sure to climb the 284 steps to the top for stunning panoramic views of the city.
The Champs Elysees is probably the most famous shopping street in the world along with 5th Avenue in New York and Oxford Street in London and it leads all the way from the Arc De Triomphe to the Louvre. It’s always busy but if shopping or even window shopping is your thing, make sure to take a stroll down it and admire all the stylish Parisian men and women.
Notre Dame Cathedral
Make sure to visit Notre Dame when in Paris, an exquisite example of Gothic architecture. If you are visiting during the busy season be sure to go early in the morning to avoid queues to get inside, where you can admire the impressive rose window. The cathedral is open from 9am in the morning.
Photography tip – Go across the river Seine to Odette on Rue Galande in the Latin Quarter for a coffee and a great view of Notre Dame.
Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen
If vintage finds and flea markets are you thing be sure to visit Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen, metro stop Porte de Clignancourt. This is one of the biggest markets in the world and hosts 15 markets bringing together various artists, antique dealers, designers and artisans. Wandering around the markets is a great way to spend a few hours in Paris and if you are lucky you might end up going home with a beautiful antique or a great piece of art.
Day trip to Versaille
No trip to Paris is complete without a day trip to the spectacular and elaborate Palace and Gardens of Versailles. Buy your tickets in advance to skip some of the queues that can get long, especially during the busy season. To get to the Palace which is located 20km southwest of you will need to get the RER C to Versailles Chateau Rive Gauche and the palace is about a 10 minute walk from the station. The cost of entering the Palace and Gardens is €18 for an adult and €15 for the Palace only. If you get hungry on your visit, stop by Angelina, one of two restaurants on the palace grounds and try their famous hot chocolate, yum!
Hallways in Versailles
Halls of Mirrors
Some other things that I would recommend in Paris – Explore the narrow streets of Le Marais, the Latin Quarter and St-Germain where you will find so many cafés, restaurants and boutiques to visit.
Pretend that you are on photo shoot at the very photogenic Colonness de Buren at the Palais-Royal.
Make sure to go strolling and picnicking along the Seine, you can pick up fresh cheese, breads and wine from one of the markets in the city.
Browse the books, both old and new, at Shakespeare and Company on Rue de la Bucherie. If you are an avid reader like me then this is a must. Once you have finished exploring all the nooks and crannies of the shop you can get yourself a coffee at the café beside the shop, read your latest purchase all while admiring the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral.
Try the coffee at Café Verlet, near the Palais-Royal where they have been specialising in coffee since 1880. Another great little spot for good coffee is Blackburn Coffee on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, you can stop here when you are returning from Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen.
I hope you have found this guide to Paris helpful, if you have any questions or others tips please feel free to get in contact with us by using the form below.