Insider tips: Planning a trip to Paris
Paul & Mark are full time travel bloggers who discover hidden gems and local specialities on their blog Anywhere We Roam. They've travelled to Paris many times and discover a new side to the city every time.
What should I do on my first trip to Paris?
One of the best experiences in Paris is strolling down the Champs-Élysées inspecting the designer outlets, unique grand architecture and eye-wateringly expensive cafes. Climb the Arc de Triomphe at the end of the Champs-Élysées to catch one of the best views of Paris. The other unmissable experience is sitting on the steps of the Sacré-Cœur overlooking Paris as the sun goes down. Afterwards, enjoy the nightlife in the Montmartre neighbourhood which is full of hidden bars and cool restaurants.
What are some hidden gems to see in Paris?
Set on a hillside tucked into neighbourhood streets, the Vignes du Clos Montmartre is a tiny vineyard that produces 27 varieties of wine. It’s a wonderful hidden gem in Paris which you can visit during the annual grape harvest party on a guided tour. While Paris is known for world-renowned art, 59 Rivoli is a gallery with a difference. Originally occupied by squatters, it was only legalised in 2006 from where it grew to become one of the coolest art spaces in the city.
How much time should I spend in Paris?
To get a good feel for Paris and see most of the major attractions, you'll need to allow at least 3 days. This will be enough time to visit the major museums and galleries, wander some of the most interesting neighbourhoods and experience the local food and bar scene. Adding an extra day will allow you to include a day trip, such as an excursion to the lavish Palace of Versailles.
What food is Paris known for?
Duck confit was originally devised as a method to preserve this expensive meat for longer. Today, however, it's a well-known Paris staple and a great local dish to try. The dish consists of duck thigh cooked in its own fat until it's crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. It's usually accompanied with potatoes which are also cooked in duck fat. It's also hard to visit Paris without trying a croissant, the buttery, crescent-shaped, baked delight. With so many top-quality artisanal bakeries in the city, the best approach is to try several until you find the best one.
What is the best way to get around Paris?
Paris is a very walkable city with many attractions close together and the connecting streets interesting in themselves. The Paris metro is easy to use and convenient for getting to neighbourhoods slightly further away. Purchase a “Carnet” of 10 tickets when you first arrive from the vending machines in the train stations which will save you time and money.
What are the best months to visit Paris?
Paris is great to visit any time of year, but it gets very busy during the high season: July to August. The shoulder periods from April to June and September to November are the best time to visit when the crowds are fewer, and the weather is still good. The Paris Beer Festival is a 5-day event usually in September, designed to showcase the craft brewing talent across the city. The Pitchfork Music Festival held over 3 days in November, focuses on bands from punk, rock and jazz.
What are the best neighborhoods to visit in Paris?
One of the best neighbourhoods to visit in Paris is Le Marais. It has an excellent local art scene, trendy shopping and a concentration of hip restaurants lining the cobbled streets. The ornate Hôtel de Ville building and the modern Pompidou Centre mark the cultural spectrum of Le Marais. It’s also the centre of the gay scene in Paris where you’ll find LGBT-Friendly bars, cafes and bookstores.
What are the best neighborhoods for food?
One of the best areas for upscale restaurants in Paris is Saint-Germain-des-Pres. This left bank neighbourhood has eateries oozing with old school charm, often with live jazz. As the student area, the Latin Quarter is a great place to go for cheap eats, while Montmartre's centre is packed with traditional historic bistros complete with brass fittings and its backstreets conceals all sorts of hidden gems.
What are the best neighborhoods for shopping?
The chic boutiques, ornate arcades and covered passageways around the Louvre and Tulleries district are the perfect place to shop for high-end fashion and designer homewares. One of the best is Galerie Vivienne with rare bookstores, fashion, and luxury brands. Another great area is Le Marais with independent fashion, vintage finds and the occasional bargains.
What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit Paris?
Le Marais is a great choice to base yourself while spending time in Paris. It's close to most of the major attractions with good transport links to other parts of the city. From trendy brunch spots to innovative cocktail haunts, the bar and restaurant scene in Le Marais is one of the most diverse. Another great option is the Latin Quarter which has a laidback local atmosphere occupying a good central location.
What is the best family-friendly thing to do in Paris?
Paris is a very family friendly city with many of the best sites spread around a relatively small, very walkable area. Kids will love Parc des Buttes Chaumont with mysterious grottos, waterfalls and bridges spread over the beautiful 25-hectare park. Centre Pompidou is a modern-art museum with a space for kids aged 2 to 10, and the spooky Catacombs could be a great option for older kids.
What is the best thing to do in Paris for solo travelers?
With some of the best art in the world, you could easily spend plenty of time on your own admiring collections in the exquisite galleries of Paris. An organised bike tour of the city is a great way to see more while meeting other travellers at the same time. Another great activity for solo travellers is the Great Mosque of Paris where you can grab a mint tea in the beautiful courtyard before booking yourself on an hammam experience.
What is the best thing to do in Paris for couples?
There's no shortage of activities for couples in Paris which is regarded as one of the most romantic cities in the world. The Canal Saint-Martin stretches for 2 picturesque kilometres and it's the ideal place for a late afternoon stroll under the shade of the tree-lined paths. For a classic date night, the Grand Action cinema shows old films in their original format in a delightfully vintage setting.
What are the best annual events in Paris?
On the 3rd Sunday of May every year, museums throughout Paris are open free of charge from 7pm to 1am for the Nuit des Musées. It's a great opportunity to see some interesting art and save a lot of money at the same time. Paris Quartier d’Eté is a colourful annual event held between mid-July and mid-August ever year where the squares of Paris come alive with theatre dance and concerts. Most events are free of charge.
What are the best things to do around Paris?
For outdoor activities in a big city, you're spoilt for choice in Paris. Jardin des Tuileries is the oldest and largest public space in Paris with manicured lawns, water features and beautiful gardens. The views towards the Arc de Triomphe are some of the best in Paris. With a prestigious botanical school at its heart, Jardin des Plantes has a staggering array of plants that can be admired while getting lost in their hedge maze.
What are the best beaches around Paris?
Surprisingly, Paris has an excellent beach culture. Every year from mid-July to mid-August the Seine riverbanks are transformed into inner-city beaches complete with deckchairs, palm trees and grassy banks. The Right bank beaches are well suited to a relaxing afternoon with pop up bars where you can pick up a glass of wine. The Left Bank beaches are better for games, activities, live music and dancing.
What's a local recommendation for neighborhood Montmartre?
The quick stroll down from Montmartre to Pigalle uncovers a cool under-visited area of Paris which is great if you like getting slightly off-the-beaten track in a major city. Although the Moulin Rouge attracts tourists in the area, there are plenty of hidden bars and speakeasys which make it a great neighbourhood for a very local night out. Dirty Dick has a weird and wonderful cocktail list served by super friendly staff.
What are some tips for visiting the top attractions in neighborhood Montmartre?
Because most of the tourist attractions in Paris are incredibly popular, it's a great idea to book them in advance and avoid the queues. It's also important to keep in mind that most museums in Paris close Monday and/or Tuesday. They also have very different opening times, so plan your Paris itinerary carefully in advance and book skip-the-line ticket so you see all the big highlights while avoiding the long queues.
Which neighborhood has the best nightlife?
Paris has a diverse nightlife scene with something for all different tastes and budgets. The Latin Quarter & St-Germain is all about old, established cafes and restaurants. Montmartre & Pigalle is good for trendy nightclubs and burlesque shows. Bastille is good for live music and Le Marais is the LGBT area.