Your Ultimate Paris Travel Guide 2023
Paris is a city that needs no introduction. Known as the “City of Love” and the “Fashion Capital of the World,” Paris is a destination that every traveler should experience at least once in their lifetime. With its charming cafes, iconic landmarks, world-renowned museums, and unparalleled shopping scene, there’s something for everyone in this stunning city. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned Parisian, our ultimate Paris travel guide will help you plan an unforgettable trip to this beautiful destination. So grab your beret and croissant, and let’s explore the magic of Paris!
Top 5 Things To See And Do In Paris
- The Eiffel Tower: No visit to Paris is complete without seeing the Eiffel Tower, which has become the symbol of the city. You can climb the tower or take the elevator to the top for stunning views of Paris.
- The Louvre: The Louvre is one of the world’s most famous museums, home to a vast collection of art and artifacts from ancient civilizations to modern times. Some of the highlights include the Mona Lisa and the Winged Victory of Samothrace.
- Notre-Dame Cathedral: This stunning Gothic cathedral is one of the most iconic buildings in Paris. You can climb the tower for incredible views of the city, or simply admire the intricate stonework and stained glass windows.
- Montmartre: This charming hilltop neighborhood is home to the famous Sacré-Cœur Basilica and a maze of narrow streets lined with shops, cafes, and artists’ studios. Don’t miss the panoramic view of Paris from the top of the hill.
- Seine River Cruise: A river cruise along the Seine is a great way to see the city from a different perspective. You can choose from a variety of options, from a short sightseeing tour to a romantic dinner cruise.
Best Paris Tours
Tours in Paris are an excellent way to explore the sights and nearby areas. Unless you intend to rent a car in Paris (which I don’t recommend), tours offer the most convenient means of transportation while keeping costs in check. The expenses for getting around can accumulate rapidly, making tours a wise choice for navigating the country.
Where To Stay In Paris
- Le Marais: Located in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements, Le Marais is a trendy neighborhood known for its narrow streets, medieval buildings, and art galleries. It’s also home to the Jewish Quarter and several gay bars and clubs. If you’re into fashion, you’ll love the chic boutiques and vintage shops. Le Marais is a great option for foodies, as it’s full of delicious bistros, cafés, and pastry shops.
- Montmartre: If you’re looking for a bohemian and romantic vibe, Montmartre is the place for you. Situated in the 18th arrondissement, this neighborhood is famous for the Sacré-Cœur Basilica and its narrow winding streets. You’ll find many artists, musicians, and performers in Montmartre’s squares and parks. It’s also a great spot to enjoy panoramic views of the city.
- Saint-Germain-des-Prés: Saint-Germain-des-Prés is located on the left bank of the Seine river and is known for its literary and intellectual history. This chic and upscale neighborhood is home to art galleries, museums, high-end boutiques, and trendy cafés. It’s a great option for travelers who appreciate architecture and culture.
- Champs-Élysées: This famous avenue stretches from the Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde and is lined with luxury shops, cinemas, and restaurants. Staying in this neighborhood puts you within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and the Tuileries Gardens. Champs-Élysées is perfect for shoppers, theater-goers, and art lovers.
- Latin Quarter: The Latin Quarter is located in the 5th arrondissement and is home to the Sorbonne University, the Panthéon, and several famous cafés. This vibrant and lively neighborhood is full of history, culture, and student life. You’ll find many affordable restaurants, pubs, and jazz clubs in the Latin Quarter.
Top Paris Hotels
- The Ritz Paris: One of the most iconic and luxurious hotels in Paris, The Ritz Paris offers opulent accommodations, a world-class spa, and an unbeatable location in the heart of the city’s chicest neighborhood, the 1st arrondissement.
- The Four Seasons Hotel George V: Another top luxury option, the Four Seasons Hotel George V boasts lavish rooms and suites, three Michelin-starred restaurants, and a gorgeous interior design that combines classic Parisian elegance with modern comfort.
- Hôtel Costes: If you’re looking for a hotel with a more contemporary and stylish vibe, Hôtel Costes is the place to be. This boutique hotel in the trendy 1st arrondissement is a popular haunt for fashion and music industry insiders, thanks to its chic decor, cool lounge bar, and top-notch restaurant.
- Hotel Plaza Athénée: With its iconic red awnings and grand facade, Hotel Plaza Athénée is a true Parisian institution. Located on the chic Avenue Montaigne, this luxury hotel offers spacious and elegant rooms, a stunning courtyard garden, and an excellent spa.
- Le Bristol Paris: Situated in the posh 8th arrondissement, Le Bristol Paris is another top choice for discerning travelers who appreciate old-school glamour and impeccable service. With its exquisite interiors, Michelin-starred restaurant, and famous rooftop swimming pool, Le Bristol is a hotel fit for royalty.
Where To Eat In Paris
Paris is a haven for food lovers, with countless restaurants and cafes scattered throughout the city. From Michelin-starred fine dining to charming street-side cafes, there is something for everyone in the City of Light. Here are the top 5 places to eat in Paris:
- L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon: This two-Michelin-starred restaurant is a must-visit for foodies. Led by the legendary Joël Robuchon, the restaurant offers a modern take on French cuisine in an elegant setting. Dishes like truffle and foie gras ravioli and the famous mashed potatoes are not to be missed.
- Le Comptoir du Relais: This intimate bistro in the trendy Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood is known for its traditional French fare and bustling atmosphere. The menu changes daily, but favorites include the steak frites and the charcuterie board.
- L’Avenue: This chic restaurant on the famed Avenue Montaigne is a favorite among celebrities and fashionistas. The menu offers classic French dishes like steak tartare and escargots, and the outdoor seating is perfect for people-watching.
- Breizh Café: For a taste of the best crêpes in Paris, head to this cozy spot in the Marais neighborhood. The menu features both savory and sweet crêpes made with organic ingredients and creative fillings like goat cheese, honey, and figs.
- Chez l’Ami Jean: This lively bistro in the trendy Oberkampf neighborhood is known for its hearty, Basque-inspired dishes. The signature dish is the côte de boeuf, a massive ribeye steak served with a side of creamy mashed potatoes.
How To Get Around Paris
Paris is a big city with plenty of sights to see, so it’s important to know how to get around efficiently. Here are some of the most popular modes of transportation in Paris:
- Metro: Paris’ metro system is one of the easiest ways to get around the city. It’s reliable, affordable, and covers most areas of the city. There are 16 different lines, each of which has its own color and number. Tickets can be purchased at vending machines or ticket offices in the metro stations.
- Bus: If you prefer traveling above ground, the bus system in Paris is also extensive and can take you just about anywhere you need to go. While it may not be as fast as the metro, it does offer a chance to see the city from a different perspective.
- Bicycle: If you’re feeling active, Paris has a bike-sharing system called Velib’. There are over 20,000 bikes available at over 1,800 stations throughout the city. You can buy a pass at any station or online.
- Walking: Paris is a walkable city, and many of the top attractions are within walking distance of each other. This is a great option if you want to explore at a slower pace or if you want to take in the scenery.
- Taxi: Taxis are available throughout the city, but they can be expensive and difficult to hail during peak times. It’s recommended to use an app like Uber or Bolt instead.
No matter what method of transportation you choose, be sure to plan your route in advance and check for any disruptions or delays. With a little bit of preparation, navigating Paris can be a breeze.
Paris is known for its temperate climate, with mild winters and warm summers. However, it can also experience occasional heatwaves, rain, and chilly winds. Understanding the weather patterns can be helpful in planning your trip to Paris. Here’s what to expect in each season:
- Spring (March – May): Paris starts to warm up in March with average temperatures ranging from 9°C (48°F) to 14°C (57°F). April sees a steady rise in temperatures to an average of 12°C (54°F) to 18°C (64°F). May is generally sunny, with temperatures ranging from 15°C (59°F) to 21°C (70°F).
- Summer (June – August): Paris in the summer can be hot, with average temperatures ranging from 17°C (63°F) to 24°C (75°F) in June. July and August are the warmest months, with average temperatures ranging from 20°C (68°F) to 25°C (77°F). It’s important to note that summer in Paris can also be humid, making it uncomfortable for some.
- Fall (September – November): Paris in the fall has cool but comfortable weather, with average temperatures ranging from 10°C (50°F) to 20°C (68°F). September is typically warm, while October and November start to cool down and can be wet with occasional showers.
- Winter (December – February): Paris experiences a chilly but bearable winter with average temperatures ranging from 2°C (36°F) to 8°C (46°F). December and January are the coldest months, while February can have occasional snow showers.
Best Time To Visit Paris
Paris is a city that can be enjoyed at any time of the year. However, certain seasons may be more appealing to some travelers depending on their preferences and interests. The high tourist season in Paris is from June to August when the weather is warm and pleasant, but this is also when crowds are at their peak. The shoulder seasons of April to May and September to November offer cooler temperatures and fewer crowds, making it an ideal time for sightseeing, shopping, and exploring Parisian neighborhoods.
For those looking to experience Paris in its winter glory, December to February may be the perfect time. With the holiday lights and Christmas markets, winter can be a magical time to visit Paris. Additionally, museums and attractions are less crowded during this time, making it easier to explore the city. Overall, the best time to visit Paris is based on individual preferences and interests. Plan accordingly and check the weather forecast to ensure an enjoyable experience.
How To Stay Safe In Paris
Paris is generally a safe city, but like any other city in the world, there are areas that are more dangerous than others. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings, especially at night, and take precautions to keep yourself safe. Here are some tips:
- Be Vigilant In Crowded Areas: Tourist hotspots like the Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame Cathedral are usually crowded, which can make you a target for pickpockets. Keep an eye on your belongings, and don’t leave your bag unattended.
- Keep Your Valuables Safe: Don’t carry too much cash or expensive items with you. Keep your passport and other important documents in a hotel safe. If you’re carrying a bag, make sure it’s closed and secured.
- Be Careful On Public Transportation: Pickpockets often operate on buses, trains, and the metro. Keep your bag in front of you, and don’t display your phone or wallet. Avoid empty train carriages at night.
- Know The Emergency Numbers: If you find yourself in an emergency situation, dial 112 (European emergency number) or 15 (ambulance), 17 (police), or 18 (fire).
- Be Cautious At Night: Avoid walking alone at night, especially in secluded areas. Stick to well-lit and busy streets, and use licensed taxis or Uber to get around.
- Watch Out For Scams: Tourist scams are common in Paris. Be wary of people offering to help you with your luggage or taking photos with you, as they may ask for money afterwards.
By following these tips, you can stay safe while enjoying all that Paris has to offer. Remember to use your common sense and trust your instincts.
Paris Customs and Etiquette
Paris is a city that values tradition and manners similar to Rome. As a traveler, it’s important to be aware of the local customs and etiquette to avoid offending locals and ensure a smooth trip. Here are a few things to keep in mind when visiting Paris:
When meeting someone new in Paris, it’s common to shake hands or give a kiss on the cheek (or two kisses in some regions). Addressing someone with “Monsieur” or “Madame” is also considered respectful.
Parisians have a reputation for being stylish and well-dressed. While there is no specific dress code, it’s a good idea to avoid wearing sweatpants or athletic wear, as it can be seen as disrespectful to locals.
When dining in Paris, it’s customary to wait for everyone to be served before starting to eat. Also, it’s considered impolite to add salt or pepper to your food without trying it first. When drinking, it’s common to clink glasses and say “Santé” (health) or “À la vôtre” (to your health).
France is known for its relaxed attitude towards smoking, but be mindful of non-smoking areas and those around you who may be sensitive to smoke.
While it’s not necessary to speak French, locals appreciate when visitors try to communicate in their language. Knowing a few basic phrases like “Bonjour” (hello) and “Merci” (thank you) can go a long way.
Overall, being polite, respectful, and following local customs will help ensure a pleasant experience in Paris.
Other Things To Know About Paris
Before packing your bags and jetting off to Paris, there are a few practical things you should know about this vibrant and historic city. First off, Paris is the capital of France and its official language is French. While it’s not necessary to be fluent in French to get by in Paris, it can certainly be helpful to learn a few key phrases such as “Bonjour” (hello) and “Merci” (thank you). The currency in Paris is the Euro, so be sure to exchange your money or withdraw some from an ATM once you arrive.
Paris is located in the Central European Time Zone, which is six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST). This means that if it’s 12:00pm in New York, it’s 6:00pm in Paris. It’s important to keep this time difference in mind when booking flights or scheduling activities, as it can take some time to adjust to the new time zone.
One other thing to note about Paris is that smoking is prohibited in many public places, including bars and restaurants. However, many French people still smoke, so don’t be surprised to see smokers on the streets. Additionally, it’s considered rude to begin a conversation with a stranger without first saying “Bonjour” or “Bonsoir” (good evening) depending on the time of day. Overall, Paris is a wonderful city full of culture, history, and delicious food. By keeping these practical tips in mind, you’ll be able to fully enjoy all that the city has to offer.
Paris Travel Costs
Paris is known as one of the world’s most expensive cities, but it is possible to explore it on a budget. Your Paris travel costs will depend on your travel style and preferences. Here’s a breakdown of the costs you can expect in Paris.
Paris offers a range of accommodation options, from budget hostels to luxury hotels. On average, you can expect to pay around €50-100 per night for a budget-friendly hotel or hostel, while mid-range options cost between €100-250 per night. Luxury hotels can range from €250-500 per night and up.
Paris is known for its delicious cuisine, but dining out can be expensive. On average, expect to pay around €15-25 for a meal at a casual restaurant, and around €50-100 per person for a fine dining experience. To save money on food, consider eating at street markets, food trucks, or trying a picnic in one of the city’s beautiful parks.
Paris has a well-connected public transportation system that includes the metro, buses, and trains. A single metro ticket costs €1.90, while a carnet (a set of 10 tickets) costs €16.90. Taxis and Ubers are also available, but they can be expensive.
There’s no shortage of things to do in Paris, and many of them are free. Popular attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and Notre-Dame Cathedral have admission fees that can range from €10-25 per person. To save money, consider visiting during off-peak seasons or taking advantage of free admission days.
Miscellaneous expenses in Paris can include shopping, souvenirs, and other activities such as visiting the opera or theater. You can expect to spend anywhere from €50-150 per day on miscellaneous expenses, depending on your interests and preferences.
Overall, a budget-friendly trip to Paris can cost around €60-100 per day, while a mid-range trip can cost between €100-250 per day. A luxury trip to Paris can cost €500 or more per day. To save money, consider staying in budget-friendly accommodation, eating at local markets, and using public transportation.
Finding Affordable Flights To Paris
Paris is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, which means that finding affordable flights can be a bit of a challenge. However, there are ways to save money on your airfare to Paris. Here are a few tips to help you find affordable flights:
- Be Flexible With Your Travel Dates: Flights to Paris can be cheaper during certain times of the year or even certain days of the week.
- Book Your Flight Early: Flights to Paris tend to get more expensive the closer it gets to your travel date, so try to book your flight at least two to three months in advance.
- Look For Flight Deals: Many airlines offer promotions and discounts on flights to Paris, so make sure to keep an eye out for these deals.
- Consider Alternative Airports: Flying into smaller airports near Paris, such as Orly or Beauvais, can sometimes be cheaper than flying into the main airport, Charles de Gaulle.
- Use Flight Comparison Websites: Websites like Skyscanner, Expedia, and Kayak allow you to compare prices from multiple airlines, making it easier to find the best deal.
Remember, finding affordable flights to Paris takes time and research, but it is possible. By following these tips, you can save money on your airfare and have more to spend on exploring the City of Lights.
Backpacking Paris Suggested Budgets
If you’re planning a backpacking trip to Paris, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your budget. Fortunately, with a bit of planning and some smart choices, it’s possible to enjoy this city without breaking the bank. Here are a few suggested budgets for backpacking in Paris:
Budget: $40-50 per day
- Stay in a hostel dorm room for around $20-30 per night
- Buy groceries from markets or supermarkets for meals, spending around $10-15 per day
- Walk or use public transportation to get around, spending around $5 per day
- Spend the rest on attractions or occasional eating out
Mid-Range: $70-90 per day
- Stay in a private hostel room or budget hotel for around $50-60 per night
- Enjoy a mix of street food and sit-down restaurants, spending around $25 per day
- Use public transportation and occasionally taxis or ride-sharing services, spending around $10-15 per day
- Allocate the rest for attractions, shopping, or nightlife
Comfortable: $120-150 per day
- Stay in a mid-range hotel or Airbnb for around $100-120 per night
- Eat at mid-range restaurants and cafes, spending around $40-50 per day
- Use taxis or ride-sharing services, or consider renting a bike or scooter, spending around $20-30 per day
- Use the rest for upscale attractions or experiences, shopping, or leisure activities
Keep in mind that these budgets can vary based on your travel style, time of year, and other factors. You may also be able to save money by booking ahead or using discounts. Whatever your budget, make sure to plan ahead and enjoy all that Paris has to offer!
Paris Money Saving Tips
Paris is known for being a luxury destination, but that doesn’t mean it has to break the bank. Here are some money saving tips to help make your Paris trip budget-friendly:
- Visit Museums for Free: Many of Paris’ museums offer free entry on the first Sunday of the month, so plan accordingly.
- Utilize Public Transportation: Paris has a great public transportation system that includes buses, metro, and RER trains. A day pass for unlimited rides is cheaper than individual tickets.
- Picnic in Parks: Paris has beautiful parks, including the famous Jardin du Luxembourg and the Tuileries Garden. Save money on meals by packing a picnic and enjoying the scenery.
- Opt for Street Food: While Paris is known for its haute cuisine, there are also plenty of affordable street food options like crepes and falafel.
- Look for Discounts: Check out websites like La Fourchette for discounts on restaurant meals, and get discounts on tourist attractions by purchasing a Paris Pass or the Museum Pass.
- Stay in Budget Accommodation: Skip the luxury hotels and opt for budget accommodations like hostels or Airbnb rentals. They offer affordable lodging without sacrificing comfort.
- Walk or Bike: Walking and biking are great ways to see Paris and also save money on transportation costs.
By following these tips, you can experience the magic of Paris without breaking the bank.
What To Pack For Paris
Paris is a fashionable city and it’s important to pack accordingly. Here are some essential items you’ll need for your trip:
- Comfortable Shoes: Paris is a city that’s best explored on foot, so pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes.
- Clothing: Pack versatile clothing that can be dressed up or down. Jeans, blouses, and dresses are all great options. And don’t forget a jacket for cooler weather.
- Accessories: Parisians are known for their fashion sense, so bring along a scarf or statement jewelry to add some flair to your outfit.
- Umbrella: Paris is known for its rainy days, so be sure to pack a small umbrella.
- Power Adapter: France uses European-style power plugs, so don’t forget to bring a power adapter.
- Camera: You’ll want to capture all the beauty and charm of Paris, so bring along a camera to snap photos.
- Toiletries: Bring along any toiletries you’ll need, including sunscreen, lotion, and makeup.
- French Phrasebook: It’s always helpful to know some basic French phrases when traveling to Paris.
By packing these essentials, you’ll be well-prepared for your Parisian adventure.
Can You Drink Tap Water In Paris?
If you’re planning a trip to Paris, you might be wondering if it’s safe to drink tap water in the city. The good news is that tap water in Paris is safe to drink! The city’s water supply is strictly regulated, and the water is tested regularly to ensure its quality. However, while tap water in Paris is safe to drink, it might not taste great. This is because the water is treated with chlorine, which can give it a slightly chemical taste. If you’re used to drinking bottled water, you might find the taste of tap water in Paris a bit off-putting.
If you prefer the taste of bottled water, there are plenty of options available in Paris. You can buy bottled water at grocery stores, convenience stores, and even from vending machines on the street. However, keep in mind that bottled water is more expensive than tap water, and it’s not very environmentally friendly.
If you’re worried about the environmental impact of bottled water, you can bring a reusable water bottle with you to Paris and fill it up with tap water. This is a great way to save money and reduce your carbon footprint. Overall, tap water in Paris is safe to drink, but it might not be to everyone’s taste. If you prefer bottled water, there are plenty of options available in the city. And if you’re looking to reduce your environmental impact, consider bringing a reusable water bottle with you on your trip.
Other Things To See And Do In Paris
Paris is known for its rich history and stunning architecture, but there are plenty of other things to see and do in this incredible city. Here are a few suggestions:
- Take a Seine River Cruise: Seeing the city from the river is a great way to take in all the iconic sights of Paris. You can choose from a variety of different river cruise options, from romantic sunset tours to sightseeing cruises that stop at popular landmarks.
- Visit the Palace of Versailles: Just a short train ride outside the city, the Palace of Versailles is a must-see for any history buff. Explore the opulent gardens and grand halls of this stunning royal residence.
- See a Show at the Moulin Rouge: The famous cabaret is known for its high-energy performances and elaborate costumes. Be sure to book your tickets well in advance, as shows often sell out.
- Explore the Paris Catacombs: Venture beneath the city to see the bones of over six million Parisians that were relocated to these underground tunnels in the 18th and 19th centuries.
- Shop at the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen: This sprawling flea market is a treasure trove of antiques, vintage clothing, and unique souvenirs. Spend a morning browsing the stalls and haggling with vendors.
- Take a Food Tour: French cuisine is world-renowned, and a food tour is a great way to experience the best of Parisian dining. Sample pastries, cheese, and wine as you explore the city’s vibrant culinary scene.
- Visit the Père Lachaise Cemetery: The final resting place of famous figures like Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, and Edith Piaf, this cemetery is also a peaceful retreat from the bustle of the city.
- See a Film at an Outdoor Cinema: During the summer months, Paris hosts several outdoor cinemas where you can enjoy classic French films under the stars.
With so much to see and do, you’ll never run out of things to experience in Paris. From iconic landmarks to hidden gems, this city is sure to capture your heart and leave you wanting more.
The Bottom Line
Paris is an incredible destination that has something to offer everyone. From the stunning architecture and iconic landmarks to the rich culture and delicious cuisine, there are endless things to see and do in the city of love.
To make the most out of your trip, be sure to plan ahead and do your research. Choose the best time of year to visit, pack appropriately, and budget accordingly. With these tips and suggestions, you’ll be well on your way to an unforgettable Parisian adventure. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, Paris is a destination that will leave a lasting impression. Bon voyage!