The city of lights, the city of love, the fashion capital of the world, whatever it is that first lured in your fascination, I can guarantee you after a trip to Paris she will leave you wanting more. There’s no shortage of sights to see in this great city. If you’re like me and try to cram it all in in a couple days, then you’ll need to be prepared.
Tip #1 Use the Metro
Make sure you pick a place to stay that’s near a metro station. It is super easy to navigate and if you don’t have a lot of time you won’t be able to walk everywhere. It will also save you money compared to taking a cab or uber.
It’s helpful to download the Paris Metro app (you can use it offline). Note the difference between the Metro (numbers) and RER trains (letters) used interchangeably with the Metro.
Tip #2 Learn the lay of the land
Study a map and get your bearings you’ll want to know the which direction each landmark is. When you get out of the metro look for a landmark, so you know which way to walk.
Another way to acclimate yourself quickly is to do a hop on hop off bus or dinner river cruise when you arrive.
Tip #3 Have a general plan
I’m not saying you must plan minute by minute, but certain attractions are closed on certain days. You don’t want to save the Louvre for the last day you are there, only to find out it’s closed that day.
Here’s a list of when some of the most popular attractions are closed...
Versailles Palace (the grounds open every day)
Musée d'Orsay (classical arts)
Musée du Quai Branly (indigenous art)
Musée Carnavalet (history of Paris)
Musée d'Art Moderne de la ville de Paris (municipal modern art museum)
Grand Palais (may depend on the exhibition)
Musée des Arts Décoratifs (design)
Musée des Arts et Métiers (arts and crafts)
Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie (La Villette technology museum)
Centre Pompidou (national modern arts museum)
Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle (natural history museum)
Musée de l'Orangerie (Monet’s water lilies)
Tip #4 Buy a museum pass
It pays for itself just by being able to cut the lines, but it is also a good value if you are going to a couple attractions every day. It comes with the options of 2 days, 4 days, or 6 days and can be bought online before you depart and picked up at the airports or museums.
You can buy yours here and I will be able to assist before, during, or after should you need it...
*You will need to make a reservation for the Louvre so plan ahead
**This does not grant access to the Eiffel Tower that is separate. Make sure you purchase tickets to go all the way to the top!
Tip #5 Take in the views and gargoyles
Did you know you can climb up the towers of Notre Dame and get a up close view of the gargoyles and one of the best views of the city! If you want to do this, you need to plan ahead. You can get a time slot in advance online or from the computer on the side of Notre Dame (if you are looking at the front it’s to the left) or from the app duck the line. You won’t be able to go there and walk in.
Tip #6 Wander the streets
There’s no better way to discover Paris than wandering the streets aimlessly. Put down the phone, put down the gps, forget all the advice and recommendations and get lost! The best neighborhood to stumble around is Le Marais (3rd & 4th arrondissements).
Tip #7 Visit Rue Cler
Stroll down the original cobblestone street of Rue Cler, one of the best market streets in Paris. Here you will find a delicious assortment of pastry shops, greengrocers, butchers, cheese shops, delicatessens and lovely cafes. This is where many locals do their daily shopping so grab a seat next to a Parisian and take it all in.
Tip #8 Make an effort
I've heard numerous things said about the French, but in my numerous times to France I have only encountered friendly, accommodating, helpful people. You shouldn’t automatically assume people in France are going to or want to speak English. Think of it from their perspective, you are in their country where the official language is French, the least thing you can do is learn to say hello, goodbye, and thank you. I’ve never encountered a “rude Parisian” but that’s because a little effort goes a long way. I promise your experience will be exponentially better by learning just a few phrases...
Bon soir! (bohN-swahr)
Au revoir! (ohr-vwahr)
S’il vous plaît. (seel vooh pleh)
De rien. (duh ryahN)
Pleased to meet you.
Do you speak English?
Parlez vous anglais? (pahr-ley vooh ahN-gleh?)
Je voudrais (zhuh-voo–dreh)
We would love to see and hear about your time in Paris, post your photos and stories on our Facebook page or hashtag #travelwithchelax. Have a fabulous time in Paris!
*If you use the links in the post I will be able to assist before, during, or after should you need it.