Oh Paris.. the city of love. The first time I was in Paris was in 2008 and fell in love immediately. It’s been almost 10 years and I finally got to return to one of my favorite cities. It felt like it was my first time all over again! There is so much to explore! I was there for a week with Galeries Lafayette and U by Uniworld and it was still was not enough! Paris is definitely a city for everyone and not just for the hopeless romantics. So if you’re visiting Paris for the first time, here’s the first timer’s guide to Paris on everything you should do, see and eat!
Things to know before your trip:
- Most people speak English but try learning a few French phrases before the trip
- Take the metro. It’s super convenient and cheap. Never throw away the ticket, you will need it to exit
- Avoid visiting in August (many shops are closed as the French take vacation this month)
- Most places accept credit cards but always best to have some cash (euros)
- Tipping is not required, although it is appreciated
- Bring a portable wifi with you. I used Global Wi-Fi and it worked great, however, I suggest choosing a service more than 500mb per day
- Beware of pickpockets!!! I personally had an incident in the metro when a young lady tried to steal my wallet out of my backpack! Luckily I caught her so I was very lucky I got my wallet back, always keep your bags close to you!
WHERE TO STAY
There are many great hotel options in Paris but a few hotels I experienced and enjoyed are below. All are affordable depending on the season and very convenient to the metro, shops, and restaurants.
U by Uniworld is a luxury boutique ship on The Seine. It’s the perfect travel experience for millennials and very affordable, you can read about my full experience with U by Uniworld river cruises for millennials.
Hotel du Collectionneur is near Arc de Triomphe, the hotel allows guests to relive the elegance and sophistication of the 1930s.
WHAT TO DO
VISIT THE EIFFEL TOWER DURING THE DAY & AT NIGHT
Of course, everyone has to visit the Eiffel Tower but for anyone who is visiting for the first time, they really should go up the tower for the views and the experience. Some may say it’s not worth it but I always like to try everything once. The tower at night is also one of the prettiest when the lights sparkle every hour. If you love photos like me, I recommend going during sunrise and taking photos from Trocadero.
The Louvre is the world’s largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris. The famous Mona Lisa painting by Leonardo da Vinci is inside. It can get crowded so I highly recommend visiting when it first opens or purchase advance tickets. Sunrise photos at the Louvre are also beautiful.
JARDIN DU PALAIS ROYAL
After a visit to the Louvre, go explore the Jardin du Palais Royal which is across from the museum. The Palais Royal was once a royal palace but now many tourists visit to take a break from the hustle and bustle of Paris. Spend an hour or so exploring the property and enjoy some peace and quiet.
WATCH MOULIN ROUGE
I watched Moulin Rouge the first time I was in Paris and remembered it to be an awesome show! For first timer’s visiting Paris, watching the famous cabaret show is a must.
Montmarte is a famous area not too far from Moulin Rouge. It’s perched on a hilltop with a unique ambiance with quaint sidewalk cafes, art and boutique shopping. Spend a few hours strolling the streets visiting Sacré-Coeur Basilica, take photos at the famous pink building La Maison Rose and the sinking building. The sinking building is not really sinking but just an illusion from the angle of how people take the photo, so don’t worry! It’s located near Sacre Coeur.
ROOFTOPS AT GALERIES LAFAYETTE & PRINTEMPS
Paris is known for its famous rooftops and some of the best ones are at Galeries Lafayette and Printemps!
DAY TRIP TO PALACE OF VERSAILLES
Versailles is a must when visiting Paris! It’s less than an hour away by train or car. The Palace of Versailles is a royal château and currently a museum. The building is magnificent with a history dating back to the 11th century.
EXPLORE LE MARAIS
Le Marais is a cute neighborhood with tons of restaurants, shopping and some of the best vintage shops. I recommend stopping by Merci, a unique concept store that also has a bookstore coffee shop on the first floor.
ARC DE TRIOMPHE
Arc de Triomphe is the most monumental of all triumphal arches. It was built around 1806-1836 and tourists are allowed to climb up to the top for stunning views of Paris. There is a total of 284 steps and it’s well worth it. It’s located around Champs-Élysées, an avenue in the 8th district of Paris with the most luxurious shopping.
VISIT THE CATACOMBS
It can be a little creepy but if that interests you, The Catacombs is worth a visit. The ossuary houses the remains of more than six million people, gradually transferred between the end of the 18th century and the mid 19th century. Visitors can now discover a presentation of death with bones arranged in a romantic macabre decor.
PICNIC ALONG THE SEINE
Everyone loves a picnic, especially in Paris. There are numerous spots to enjoy a picnic in Paris so depending on the view you’re looking for you can choose to have a picnic near Notre Dame, Alexandre III Bridge or the Eiffel Tower.
BIKE RIDE ALONG THE SEINE
A great way to see many of Paris’s iconic sites is by bike. The ride will allow you to admire views of the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedral, Musée d’Orsay, Pont Alexandre III, the Grand Palais and so much more!
NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL
Notre-Dame is a medieval Catholic cathedral. It’s a stunning building and guests can visit inside.
WHERE TO EAT
Galeries Lafayette le Gourmet – Galeries Lafayette has an entire food hall with a great selection of macarons, eclairs, caviar and so much more! I highly suggest going to La Maison de la Truffe and getting their special truffle pasta!
Cafe Charlot – Located in Le Marais, it’s the perfect spot for brunch. Go early to snag a seat outside. What to order: Escargot (best ones I had in Paris) and eggs benedict!
Bistrot Pual Bert – For the best French bistro food in town. It’s also been featured by Anthony Bourdain. What to order: steak au poivre
Les Arlots – Delicious French comfort food. The menu changes daily so it’s fresh and bound to always be phenomenal
L’Atelier de l’Éclair – Best eclairs in Paris!
Parisian crepes – sold all around Paris, but do not leave without getting an authentic crepe from the street carts!
Did I miss anything? Comment below!
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