Paris – the magnificent capital and The City of Lights of France, where I said countless times “bonjour”, “au revoir”, “merci”, to anyone who I met. The French are like that, when meeting each other, they do not regret a greeting, although not acquainted. Paris may be my most visited city in Europe, partly because I often apply for a visa to enter France first. But, Paris has never been boring for me, the Eiffel Tower is still beautiful, the Seine is as dreamy as the day we met, and, the French people are always romantic like that. In this article, I share some tips and experiences for eating, sleeping and hanging out in Paris, summarized after many trips to Europe.
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- What to know before traveling to Paris? — 13 things to know before traveling to Paris
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So, is Paris worth visiting, how to visit Paris, what to do in Paris and how to plan a budget trip to Paris for the first-time perfectly? Let’s check out our Paris travel blog (Paris blog) with the fullest Paris travel guide (guide to Paris, Paris tourist guide, Paris city guide, Paris guide) from how to get to Paris, best places to visit, best time to come, what to eat as well as top things to do in Paris to help you maximize your trip as follows!
Paris city guide: When is the best time to visit Paris?
Normally in big cities in Europe like Paris, the hot and cold seasons are very differentiated. In the summer, it is sunny most of the time, not too hot because it is a temperate country, but you will have to face the large number of tourists flocking to the capital of France. In the winter it is still sunny, but it is cold and gloomy. In my experience, the best time is that you should come to Paris at the end of April and May, it will still be cold but pleasant, or in the autumn the weather is also very beautiful. The period between April and November is a low tourist season that you can save the maximum trip costs as well as cheap hotel price when traveling to Paris.
In addition, you can refer to some information about attending free events and festivals in Paris, but also help you to understand more about the culture and history of this famous city. Some events include military parades and fireworks on the Bastille day (July 14 every year), activities on the artificial beaches in the Paris Plages river area in August such as sunbathing, sports, arts, etc .., Nuit Blanche (White Night) in October when public transport, exhibitions, museums are completely open for free, and then Christmas in December, .. You should check in advance on websites like Bonjour Paris or About Paris for information about the time and venue of festivals.
If you come to Paris in the middle of April, you will have the opportunity to watch the beautiful cherry blossom season. The most beautiful place to see cherry blossoms in Paris is this Cherry Blossom Park – Parc de Sceaux, remember to go on the right time because the flowers bloom and fade quickly. This park is on the edge of the city so it’s a bit far from the center.
Paris travel guide blog: Guide to travel in Paris
If you come to Paris and landing at Charles de Gaulle Airport
When going from Charles de Gaulle Airport, you always remember to find the way to the airport’s tramway gate to get to Terminal 2, take the RER B train to the city center with the fare around €10 (you should buy tickets directly at the arrival hall where there is an information counter in the airport, because if you buy tickets at the train station often have to queue for a long time and risk because the ticket machine may not accept your credit card). You can choose a stop anywhere in the center depending on your hotel or where you want to go, this route running through some stations such as Notre Dame (right next to Notre Dame Cathedral), or Gare de Lyon.
In addtion, you can rent a private transfer service from Klook that faster and convenient if you travel in a large group: Private Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) Transfers for Paris
If you landing at Orly airport
Orly airport is the second largest airport in Paris after CDG, arriving here you can take the shuttle bus to the center of Paris and the last stop is Denfert-Rochereau station. To go to Orly Airport you also take the bus from this station but remember that the last trip of the day ends at 10pm, because at night there are no operating flights. Ticket price is about €8-10/way.
Traveling in the city center
The single ticket for each trip is €1.8, if you take Metro a lot, you should consider buying a metro pass for 10 trips for around €14.
Paris travel blog: Where to stay? Hotel (hostel/couchsurfing) in Paris
The map below depicts the locations of the districts in Paris, the central districts are from District 1 to District 7, where most of the museums and tourist attractions are concentrated. If you can stay at Couchsurfing when you come to Paris, it is a good thing because you can communicate and exchange culture with indigenous people, sometimes they also take you to visit somewhere if they have free time but also introduce many places that only local people know.
Couchsurfing or Airbnb is the best way to reduce costs, especially in Paris, one of the most expensive cities in Europe. Couchsurfing is a 100% stay for free, and Airbnb is a paid stay (if you are new to AirBnb can come here to open an account, they will give $25 to the account to book a room). If you are not stay at Couchsurfing, you can easily find a hostel through Booking.com and Agoda.com, but I recommend that you choose hostels/hotels located in the contiguous area between the center and suburbs of Paris, these are areas that the room rates are not too expensive but going into the city is quite convenient. There is no special secret besides you going up there to read reviews, see if the location is near to the attractions or near the metro stations to choose from.
You can refer to the two Hostel I have stayed in Paris, Aloha Hostel (Agoda.com or Booking.com) and Perfect Hostel (Agoda.com or Booking.com), these are hostels with the above criteria and the service I rated is very good, friendly staff, clean rooms and convenient for traveling around because surroundings is full of restaurants and supermarket, the room rates is only €15-20/night.
These two Hostel are located in the central area so do not be too afraid of walking, although the location is also near the suburbs. If you choose a hostel in the central, it is very expensive but not necessary because you have to walk around Paris to visit.
Some mid-range and upscale hotels with nice view
If you want a more advanced option, do not miss the opportunity stay in the rooms with views of the Eiffel Tower or other symbols of Paris such as Arc de Triomphe, Panthenon, … You can rent on Airbnb or Booking with many choices.
In addition, you can choose other hotels with beautiful views of the Eiffel Tower such as Pullman, Shangri-La. Shangri-La (Agoda.com or Booking.com) is probably with the most beautiful Eiffel Tower view hotel in Paris. Another extremely famous hotel, also known as with the stunning view of the Arc de Triomphe, is Splendid Etoile (Agoda.com or Booking.com).. Do not forget to enjoy breakfast right in the room with a view overlooking the most central part of this magnificent city.
Below we recommend more best cheap, budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
Paris blog: What and where to eat in Paris?
If you are a backpacker with the main purpose is to go to sightseeing, then Sandwich is the cheapest, French bread is delicious and cheap that only about €3-4/pcs including sausages that can be bought in supermarkets. Or if you want to change meals, you can buy food at supermarkets like Pasta and Pizza to bring to the hostel to cook by yourself, which is also a very good way to save money. Drinking water can be used immediately at the tap without having to buy bottled water because the water in developed cities in Europe is very clean.
Eat Vietnamese or Asian food
If you want to eat Vietnamese food, you can try some at Vietnamese bread shops in the city center. Vietnamese bread in Paris is also very delicious, made by Vietnamese people, is a favorite dish of those who live abroad for a long time and Vietnamese students. To find Vietnamese food you can go to District 13. If you are a fan of Pho noodle soup, Pho 13 is located at 66 Avenue D’ivry, which is a good location, reasonable price and quite delicious. District 13 is a district with thousands of Asian restaurants from Vietnam to China, hunting for Asian food, you just take metro to come here and try.
Eating at French restaurants and French specialties
Coming to Paris, of course, you have to enjoy French cuisine. You can choose a cafe along the way to enjoy a French breakfast brunch with coffee and aromatic croissant cake. French bread at supermarkets is also very diverse for you to choose, remember to eat during the day because the bread will be hard for a long time.
Besides, famous French crepe shops are also everywhere, sidewalks or cafes. Macarons is a popular cake with tourists because it is a typical French cake and can be used as a gift.
If you want to eat better and experience a bit more, do not be afraid to try French cuisine at French restaurants for your lunch or dinner. The French restaurants are very good, you just need to search around the location you stand where there are restaurants with high ratings on Tripadvisor and jump in, don’t be too important what to eat or search in advance. The food I eat mostly in a restaurant in Paris which is French steak with beef and mashed potatoes. Or traditional French flam, French beer or call a hotpot of aromatic mussel.
In addition, if you want to eat well at a restaurant but want to save money, you should choose to eat at noon instead of the evening, although still very expensive but maybe the price will be reduced by about 1/3 compared to the evening. Note that in some restaurants tips are included on the bill so you won’t need to pay for extra service. If you do not like to go to restaurants, you can try some street foods that are cheap like crepes in Latin Quarter, falafel in Marais, walking and enjoying these foods are also a very interesting experience.
Another special cafe is the Cafe Marquis, Rue des Francs Bourgeois mentioned by Will Traynor in the movie “Me before you”, the level of romance of this movie is enough to ensure the romance that you will feel here it is. A cup of hot coffee, a little new Croissant cake and a bit of Paris light is enough for a special feeling, or a romantic lunch with beef steak is also very delicious, nothing more wonderful.
Paris travel blog (Paris trip blog): Best places to visit and top things to do in Paris
Paris is very large and a lot of “must-visit” places if this is the first time you come here, including Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre Museum, Notre-Dame de Paris. It is important to note that these locations are quite far apart and if you choose to walking will be very long and exhausting, so you should mark on the map, planning and make a day itinerary to visit and experience tourist attractions and museums here up to the maximum.
Cost of admission to some main attractions, churches and museums when traveling to Paris:
- Louvre Museum: € 12
- National Museum of Modern Art in Center Pompidou: € 13.00
- d’Orsay Museum: € 11 (€ 16 for the l’Orangerie Museum combo)
- l’Orangerie Museum: € 9
- Sainte Chapelle: € 8.50
- Eiffel Tower (to the top): € 15.00
- Palace of Versailles (Palace and Grounds): € 18
- Catacombs of Paris: € 10
- Arc de Trimophe: € 9
If you are a museum lover, you can buy Paris Museum Pass for unlimited access to most museums, famous attractions in Paris including the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Palace of Versailles… You can buy it at tourist information counters or via Klook for 2 days for € 48 here.
Paris blog, Paris travel blog: Must-visit places in Paris
This is a definitely you must visit place when you come to Paris, the dream destination of any visitor and taking photos at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. The tower is located right next to the Seine River to the east of Paris and in the Champ de Mars park. If you just stand to watch the tower, it does not cost you, but if you decide to go to the top of the tower to see the city, you will have to queue for hundreds of meters and can take up to hours. In my opinion you should wait until near the evening, at which time the tourists less crowded, and it is also the best time to see panoramic Paris from above when the entire city lights up. In addition, the Eiffel Tower also has a flash system for flashing at times such as 7pm, 8pm, 9pm …, each lasting about 10 minutes.
The ticket to the top of the tower by elevator is ~ € 17, and if you decide to climb to the 2nd floor, it will only take you ~ € 7. If you intend to go to the top of the tower, you should buy tickets in advance online because the visitors lining up at the foot of the tower are very crowded, with reserved tickets you will not have to queue, tickets can buy here.
Another special but also quite delicate thing that I noticed during the trip to Paris is that at the foot of the Eiffel Tower is probably the only spot with free public toilets, you will be very difficult to find it when traveling around Paris (like so many other cities in Europe)! But according to the share of Thuy Van blogger, you can go to this website to see the map: http://www.paris.fr/. Here they list nearly 400 public toilets in Paris, all for free. An information to be said is very useful because only those who walk all day on the streets in Paris in the cold weather is understand in this “suffering” how it is! (^_^).
Address: Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France
Notre Dame Cathedral
This church is too famous and is known through the work “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. There is no admission to enter the church but you have to queue (faster than going to the Louvre Museum), you can go from CDG airport to Notre Dame station directly by RER B train. If you want to visit the top of the church on the bell towers, you will have to buy a ticket for about EUR10.
Address: 6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France
Avenue des Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe
Avenue of Champs Elysees is a place where you can walk on the most typical streets of Paris with marble roads, very long and wide. The end of the avenue is Arc de Triomphe, all roads lead to here. You can stand below or climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe for a ticket price of € 9 (2015), and also buy tickets in the evening to see the entire architecture of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower in the distance when it lights up, extremely majestic.
Address: Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris, France
Musée de Louvre (Louvre Museum)
This is a museum that took me over 2 hours to line up to get in, even though it was noon. In fact, if you are not passionate about art, you do not need to spend much effort to come here to see because you can only walking around the outdoor areas, but want to see artworks like Mona Lisa paintings, you have to buy tickets.
Tips: Going to the Louvre from the main entrance will take a long time to queue, but if you enter from the secondary gate it will save a lot of time. The Louvre has an entrance from the underground trade center Carrousel du Louvre. You find the metro to Rue de Rivoli and then to the Carrousel du Louvre shopping center located on this road, in which there will be a sign leading to a entrance to the Louvre, through which usually queues very quickly or almost without queueing. Also remember that the Louvre is open free on the first Sunday of each month from October to March every year.
The Louvre Museum is quite close to Notre Dame Cathedral and some other attractions that you can combine with such as Tuileries garden, Luxembourg garden, Sainte Chapelle, La Conciergerie (these 3 locations are quite close to each other and near the Louvre museum) finally, Concorde square, straight from the square is Champs-Élysées avenue.
Palais Royal Palace
Located right next to the Louvre Museum, the Palais Royal Garden (Jardin du Palais Royal) is a leafy road and the Palais-Royal Palace. Revealing to you this palace is also an extremely virtual living photo spot with many pillars painted in black and white. There are also luxury fashion boutiques and the famous Le Grand Véfour restaurant where Napoleon meets Joséphine.
Address: 8 Rue de Montpensier, 75001 Paris, France
Montmatre Hill and Sacré-Cœur Basilica
Montmartre is a neighborhood of Paris, located on a big hill of District 18. Once a gathering place for many famous painters, plus Sacré-Cœur church, small streets, cafes, restaurants … Montmartre is one of the most attractive places to visit in Paris. To get to Montmartre you can stop at the last Metro stops of Abbesses or Lamarck Caulaincourt (line 12 Porte de la Chapelle – Mairie d’Issy); Anvers or Blanche (line 2 Porte Dauphine-Nation) then walk a short distance.
On this hill there is a wall written “I love you” in many languages in the world located in the Abbesses garden also in the Montmartre area, looking real is not as shimmering as in photos or taken but it is worth to visit.
Palace of Versaille
If there’s plenty of time you can consider going to the Versaille palace because it doesn’t look as good as expected and queues are super long. When traveling on metro or attractions, public squares, you have to be careful because there are many pickpockets or robbers in groups that can take action at any time.
From central Paris to Versailles you need to go to the last station of Metro Versailles – Rive Droite. First you need to go to one of the following main stations: St. Michel-Notre Dame, Musée d’Orsay, Invalides, or Champs de Mars-Tour Eiffel, these stations will connect directly to Versailles via the RER C train. After reaching the Versailles – Rive Droite terminal, you can walk a bit to reach the palace. If you buy a one-way ticket, the price is EUR4.2, you should buy a round-trip ticket more economical for only EUR 7.
Address: Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles, France
Boating or strolling along the Seine River
The Seine River is famous for romantic stories that you cannot miss, stroll along the river, watching the bridges have gone into poetry and literary works. Come here, remember to visit the bridge Pont des Arts also known as the bridge of love with thousands of locks hooked up here (but it seems that the government has removed all the locks here and not allow tourists hook their locks on the bridge).
La Défense – the Parisian Business District
Most of the tourist attractions in Paris above are the old and ancient attractions. But Paris has a new and most modern district in Europe with skyscrapers, busy commercial centers like Tokyo or Seoul. That is La Défense.
La Défense concentrating the leading economic enterprises in Europe and the world, many office buildings with modern architecture. Coming to La Défense, you can think of the Digital Media City – Technology City of Seoul – South Korea. Although located quite far from the center, it is also quite easy to travel with 2 metro routes and 16 bus routes that take you here. La Defense is suitable for those who want to see a modern Paris, and passionately photographed cityscape.
Other tourist attractions and experiences to visit
On days with good weather you can consider going to the gardens and parks around the city like the Promenade Plantée near an old railway area, the botanical gardens at Jardin des Plantes. If you are a fan of museums, you should keep in mind the first Sundays of each month and many museums are open for free like Musée d’Orsay, Musée du Quai Branly, Pompidou Center and Picasso Museum.
Many museums and places of interest free entrance for EU citizens under the age of 26, the Louvre Museum for free to tourists under the age of 26 on Friday evenings after 6pm.
If you are interested in seeing Paris from above, in addition to some places such as the top of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, also has the Montparnasse tower (can look directly to the Eiffel) with the ticket going to the top by elevator is 15 Euro. There are also some free spots overlooking the city from above such as outside Sacre Cœur Basilica, the top of the Pompidou Centre, the cafe on the roof of Galleries Lafayette, the sky garden at Institut du Monde Arabe and Parc de Belleville in district 20.
In Paris, there is an old town that still retains its ancient features, that is Le Marais where writer Victor Hugo once lived, walking around this neighborhood feels like you are lost in central Paris in the 19th century.
A small note is that some places or some churches in Paris will be closed on some days of the week, you can see the list here to have an accurate plan for your schedule.
Paris travel blog: Shopping in Paris
For those who love shopping, it is impossible not to miss the luxury shopping center in Galleries Lafayette, located in the north of Paris. However, the price here is very expensive, if you want to buy souvenirs or items you should go to Avenue du Professeur André Lemierre, the price here is much cheaper. Cheap and miscellaneous items are also available at the Marché des Enfants Rouges on the Rue de Bretagne, an old Paris market or the Chatelet indigenous shopping place with many traditional French goods.
Some shopping malls (department stores) that you can spend all day shopping for:
- Galeries Lafayette focuses on high-end and luxury brands
- Printemps area near Saint Lazare, or just below Saint Lazare station is also a large shopping mall.
- Shopping mall in Chatelet area is full of shops
- Westfield Les 4 Temps Shopping Centre (4 seasons) in La Defense, shopping combine with visiting new modern area in Paris
- Shopping mall at the foot of the Louvre museum also focus on many high-end brands
- An outlet area at the edge of Paris that not many people know about – Val d’Europe
For women who want to buy cosmetics, there are many pharmacies, but if you have time, you should go to the city pharmacy (Pharmacie). This store is not very much in Paris, also have to search for a while, usually quite crowded but there are many cosmetic pharmacies from many brands, many and cheaper than most other conventional pharmacies in Paris. In the shop, there are always staffs who advise on products. Or you can find genuine French cosmetics, very often with promotions, but the tag price here is cheaper in Vietnam already, but super good, such as Yves Rocher, there are very much in Paris but the material is completely natural.
In addition, if you want to buy good second-hand at good price, you can find two famous Parisian second-hand (flea) markets in Paris are Saint-Ouen Porte de Clignancourt (Address: 75018 Paris, France) in Northern Paris, open on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays selling lots of antiques and paintings, perfumes and clothing, and the Porte de Vanves market is located in district 15 (Address: 5 Avenue de la Porte de Vanves, 75014 Paris, France) adjacent to the outskirts of Vanves, in the south of Paris, open on weekends (Saturday and Sunday), selling lots of clothing and souvenirs.
Sales season in Paris takes place in January and July every year, these are really big sales promotions including many brands both medium and high-end plummeted. Vietnamese in France often collect goods in these sales to sell to Vietnam, cosmetics, clothes, perfumes, etc. Yves Rocher lipsticks normally sell for 5 EUR and sometimes in the season, they have 1.2 EUR, too cheap, right?
Paris travel guide blog: Day trips from Paris
If you’ve been to Paris many times, you can refer to some places near Paris to make some day trips from Paris. Depending on your preference to choose, may go to small villages, towns, ancient cities, or even go to the beach.
Some locations for reference:
- Disney Land Paris: Located in Zone 5 very suitable for those who travel with families with young children, a huge population of many interesting games.
- Palace of Versailles: Zone 5 and only takes 1 hour by train
- Rouen and Mont Saint-Michel: Both are beautiful locations in Normandy region, the northern of France. Rouen is old and the castle of Mont Saint Michael is too famous. Refer Mont Saint Michel Full Day Tour from Paris.
- Strasbourg and Colmar: Other famous cities are about 2 hours away from Paris, Strasbourg is the largest Christmas market in Europe.
- Ecological complex of painter Claude Monet’s house: Refer here.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Paris you can refer to
- Paris Museum Pass
- Paris Pass with 1-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
- Bruges Day Tour from Paris
- Paris Big Bus Hop-On Hop-Off Tours (Open-Top)
- Paris Open Tour Bus Pass
- Eiffel Tower Skip-the-Line Ticket
- The Louvre Museum Skip-the-Line Guided Tour
- 4G SIM Card (Paris/Airport Pick Up) for Europe from Orange
- Disneyland® Paris Ticket
- Eiffel Tower Skip-the-Line Ticket
- [Sale] Seine River Sightseeing Cruise in Paris by Bateaux-Mouches
- Mont Saint Michel Full Day Tour from Paris
- Paris: 1-Hour River Seine Cruise
- Paris: Eiffel Tower Direct Access Tour to Summit by Elevator
- Disneyland Paris 1-Day Ticket
- Paris: 1-Hour Illuminations River Cruise
- Louvre Museum: Tour
- Klook Pass Paris
- Disneyland Paris Theme Park Tickets
- The Louvre Museum Priority Entrance Ticket and Tours
- Eiffel Tower Ticket, Tours and Experiences
- Versailles Palace Entrance Ticket and Tours
- Seine River Sightseeing Cruise in Paris by Bateaux-Mouches
- Mont Saint Michel Ticket and Tours
- Orsay Museum with Monet & Van Gogh paintings Ticket
- Seine River Lunch and Dinner Cruise Experiences
- Sainte-Chapelle Entrance Ticket in Paris
- Paris: Moulin Rouge Cabaret Show Ticket with Champagne
Above are the experiences I have gained when traveling to Paris on my European trip, completely self-sufficient traveling without tour, experiencing by myself. Have a good trip! Are you looking for more top things to do in Paris: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Let’s check it out here and here.