According to the Global Destination Cities Index by Mastercard, Paris was the third most visited city in 2016. It is no surprise, given the countless attractions that can be found here for any preference. Here are a few travel tips and top attractions to help you plan your trip to Paris and have an unforgettable vacation!
Where to Stay in Paris
As it is a big city, there are plenty of accommodation options. To maximize your time in Paris – and your budget, as, for instance, metro tickets depend on how many zones you need them to cover in a day –, choose a hotel in a tourist area and close to several means of public transportation. For instance, I stayed near Montparnasse station – and I had a great view over Paris from the hotel plus easy access to several lines of metro, many restaurants within walking distance, and several attractions in the area, also very close on foot.
How to Explore Paris
When planning your trip to Paris, try to make an itinerary by grouping the attractions in a given area. Choose a part (or two) of Paris and explore it/them thoroughly in a day, thus spending less on public transportation and wasting less time getting from one place to another. You can plan your trip in advance using an online map – check out the neighborhoods, or arrondissements, and see which attractions are available in each one.
Try to combine attractions open during the day with those that can be visited later in the evening. For this, you should check the schedule in advance of each place you intend on visiting. You might discover that some close early. The Tuilleries Gardens, for example, are not open all the time. Their schedule depends on the season. They close at 7:30 PM from the last Sunday in September to the last Saturday in March (that’s what I didn’t know and so I only saw them from the sidewalk). If you want to explore the gardens, you need to make sure you check the official website for the complete schedule.
Also, the Eiffel Tower can be visited later in the evening – so you can go in other places too, and admire Paris by night from the Eiffel Tower. Another tip is to try to find different places for a great panorama of the city. You can see France’s capital from the Eiffel Tower during the evening and you can see it during the day from the Montparnasse Tower Panoramic Observation Deck , for example.
Book your tickets online – this is something I wish I’d known before going to Paris. It would have saved me some precious time – so make sure to check the official websites of the places you want to visit to see if you they offer special benefits for those who buy the tickets online (smaller price or faster access).
Use the metro (and RER trains) to get around Paris. Even if you try to avoid rush hours, the metro remains one of the best and easiest ways to travel from one place to another in Paris. The maps in various stations are really useful and you can always ask for help – directions and tips – from the ticket offices.
Think of one-day trips as there are plenty of lovely places to visit near Paris, including the famous Versailles Palace, Mont Saint-Michel or the Loire Valley Castles.
As for when to visit Paris, spring through autumn are great ideas – though I wouldn’t recommend early spring (no flowers in bloom, no arranged gardens, bad weather may impede boat trips on the Seine river, etc.), even if the lines at the tourist attractions are smaller (I had one person in front at the Versailles Palace and bought the ticket for Louvre in less than five minutes).
Top Attractions in Paris
From beautiful gardens to impressive museums, Paris has a lot to offer to all types of travelers. Art aficionados have so many museum options that is hard to choose only a few. From the Musée d’Orsay to the Louvre Museum , Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée de l’Orangerie, Musée Rodin, and Petit Palais, to name just a few of the lovely art museums.
Speaking of museums, don’t think that Paris has only a plethora of them dedicated to art. No. There are many others just as interesting such as the Musée Carnavalet, focused on the history of Paris, Musée de Cluny, with exhibits that are 600 years old, the beautiful botanical garden Jardin des Plantes (Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle), Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine, an architecture museum or the National Museum of Natural History.
Don’t miss the chance to see the Luxor Obelisk and to take a walk on the Champs-Élysées. Admire the Palais Garnier and Palais de l’Élysée and see the famous Arc de Triomphe. Discover Jardin des Tuileries, Coulée verte René-Dumont (ex-Promenade Plantée), Parc de Belleville, Jardin de Luxembourg et Parc des Buttes-Chaumont if you like open air walks.
When planning your trip to Paris, make sure to include the famous churches on your itinerary as well. You simply can’t miss Notre-Dame Cathedral, Sacre Coeur Basilica, St. Sulpice Church, or La Madeleine.
As you can see, there are plenty of things to see and do in Paris. Make a list of the most important attractions but also try to leave some spare time in order to be able to discover other gems (museums, parks, alleys) or just to stroll the streets of the city and go off-the-beaten-path. Paris is definitely worth at least a visit!
About Our Guest Blogger
Violeta-Loredana Pascal is a public relations specialist and freelance writer from Romania who works with clients worldwide. She loves to travel, discover new places and cultures. Loredana shares her traveling experiences and tips on Travel – Moments in Time and Earth’s Attractions.