Paris City Guide

The ultimate European destination, Paris is a chic dream. Spend hours getting lost in the Louvre, enjoy a macaron (or two) along the Seine & fall in love with the Eiffel Tower as it sparkles. 

This time around, Spring had sprung in Paris and the city streets were filled with tourists! We were lucky to have amazing weather the 5 days we were there and we managed to squeeze in A LOT of things! Here is a list of the things we were able to do, as well as some helpful tips for you:

Sandeman’s New Europe Walking Tour

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Our first morning in Paris we were able to take a free walking tour with Sandemans. We always love doing these in every city we visit because you learn a lot about the history, architecture and hidden gems of a place. The best part about the tour is that you decide the amount the tour was worth and tip your guide accordingly! We spent our first morning in Paris, learning lots from our enthusiastic tour guide Paul.

Musée de l’Orangerie

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Later that afternoon, we decided to visit the Musée de l’Orangerie, home to many famous impressionists works of art. I’ve never been a huge fan of museums, but I really loved this one. They had two large circular rooms filled with Monet’s water lily paintings. You can purchase a combo ticket which also grants you entrance to the Musee d’Orsay – which I recommend if you have the time. When we visited in the afternoon, the lines were not very long, but if you have already purchased your ticket, there is a shorter line for you.

  • Cost: €16 (combo ticket) €9 (on its own)
  • Reserve spots online here: Musée de l’Orangerie
  • Estimated time needed: 1-2 hours

Eiffel Tower 

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Every hour on the hour from 9pm till 1am, the tower sparkles for 5 minutes. It’s truly magical and I think it’s something I could never get sick of seeing. The first night we viewed the light show from the stretch of grass behind the tower. There seemed to be less people in this area, and we were able to view it from a close distance. We also viewed the light-show from Trocadero (a metro stop on lines 6 or 9). It’s one of the best views in Paris, but can get very crowded.  One night we also caught the end of the light show from the top of the Arc de Triomphe, which is quite an amazing view. (I’m convinced that anywhere you see it is spectacular, though).

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If you are hoping to climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower, book your tickets in advance online (at least 2-3 months before your visit) or expect to wait in line for hours! We unfortunately didn’t get online tickets in time and chose not to wait in line, but we did manage to see some impressive views of Paris from other places.

Notre Dame

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It is important to note that you can no longer enter Notre Dame or climb the towers due to the fire that structurally damaged the building in 2019. However, you can visit it and admire it’s beauty from the outside! (I also suggest visiting Notre Dame at night. The area is much less crowded and the view is just as grand).

  • Cost: Free
  • Estimated time needed: 30 minutes

Claude Monet’s Gardens

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The perfect day trip from Paris takes you into the French countryside to Claude Monet’s house & gardens in Giverny. Here is where he got a lot of inspiration for some of his most famous paintings! Check out our blog post here, for more details about our trip there!

Le Vieux Bistrot

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We were lucky enough to stumble upon a quaint little restaurant called Le Vieux Bistrot in the Latin Quarter near our hotel. We had THE MOST AMAZING meal at this place! It was so good, we came back again for our last dinner in Paris. They have a wide selection of meals, including fondues (cheese, meats and deserts) or a select menu for a three course meal. I am still dreaming about their beef bourguignon!

  • Cost: €19.50 (Three Course meal off set menu)
  • Estimated time needed: 2-3 hours

Versailles

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The Chateau de Versailles is another easy day trip from Paris. It’s a quick train ride outside of the city (abut 30 minutes) and truly takes you back in time to French royalty. If you don’t feel like going inside the Palace, you can actually walk around the gardens for free! I highly recommend purchasing your ticket in advance if you wish to tour the Palace though, since the lines can be extremely long. For more information about visiting Versailles, check out our blog post here.

Montmartre

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Montmartre is a neighborhood of Paris known for its art. It’s home to the famous Moulin Rouge & Sacre Couer Basilica. Check out our previous post here for more information.

  • Cost: Free (to walk around)
  • Estimated time needed: 2-3 hours

Musée d’Orsay

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The Musée d’Orsay was once a railway station but was converted to a museum in the 1970’s. It holds a lot of Monet, Van Gough and Renoir. In my opinion, the best things are on the top floor, so start there (so you have the most energy) and work your way down.

  • Cost: €16 (combo ticket) €9 (on its own)
  • Reserve spots online here: Musée d’Orsay Tickets
  • Estimated time needed: 2-3 hours

Boat Cruise

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There are many river cruise companies in Paris (some offer dinner and drinks) so you have lots of opportunities to do this. We were able to get discounted tickets after our Sandeman’s Walking tour, so opted only for the one hour sightseeing cruise. If you are in Paris for only a short amount of time, I recommend doing this, since you see most of the main sights from the boat. You can choose to sit below, with windows or above in the open air. (Sit in the front or back of the top for the best view). The best time of day to go is around sunset. It’s the best of both words since you catch Paris by day and night. By the time you are docking, you can watch the Eiffel Tower Light show from the boat. It’s perfect!

The Louvre & Jardin des Tuileries

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The Louvre is one of those iconic sights you can’t miss while in Paris, but there is a lot to do and see so try to pick out things that are most important to you. We wrote an entire post about how to explore this museum here. After visiting the Louvre, you can make your way through the Jardin des Tuileries, which is in front of the Louvre. They have lots of green chairs in the park, for people to relax in.

  • Cost: €15
  • Reserve spots online here: The Louvre
  • Estimated time needed: 1 hour

Champs É’lysées

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From the Jardin des Tuileries you can walk to the Champs É’lysées. This street is famous for being one of the best shopping streets in the world. It’s home to many famous restaurants, theaters and shops. The annual Bastille day parade is held on the Champs É’lysées in July.

  • Cost: Free
  • Estimated time needed: 1 – 2 hours

Arc de Triomphe

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The Arc was built to honor those who fought in the Napoleonic wars. Napoleon commissioned the arc, hoping he would be able to march under it on his return home, victorious from battle but he never saw it completed. It is now home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Arc de Triomphe is at the end of the Champs É’lysées and is in the middle of a large roundabout with 12 avenues jetting off from it.We recommend going at night to catch the Eiffel Tower light show from the top!

Panthéon

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The Panthéon was once a church dedicated to St. Genevieve but was later converted to a Mausoleum. The front was modeled after the Pantheon in Rome. It is now the resting place for Marie Curie, Victor Hugo, Voltaire and Rousseau.

  • Cost: €7 (to enter)
  • Reserve spots online here: Panthéon Tickets
  • Estimated time needed: 1 hour

Jardin du Luxembourg

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Near the Panthéon, you can find Luxembourg Gardens. Originally the palace and gardens were built in 1612 but now the building is home to the French Senate. The gardens are open to the public and there are many beautiful flower beds and tree-lined walkways, making it the perfect spot for a stroll.

  • Cost: Free
  • Estimated time needed: 30 minutes – 1 hour

Accommodation

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Our first trip to Paris, we stayed in a private room at St. Christopher’s Inn Paris Canal Hostel. It was walking distance to the metro which was most important for us during our short weekend trip. For our second time to Paris, we stayed at Hotel Des Nations: St. Germain in the Latin Quarter with our Moms. This was a great location to walk to Notre Dame, the Louvre and some wonderful restaurants.

Paris Travel Tips

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  • Transportation
    • The Paris metro is the fastest way to get around the city
    • Although a lot of neighborhoods are walkable, a lot of things are spread out
  • Tipping
    • Tipping is not really expected in France as it is in the US, because most servers are not dependent on tips
    • Some spare coins is a nice gesture if you enjoyed the meal or service
  • Weather
    • Paris is known for being gray and rainy, so it’s best to prepare for that. Summer is definitely peak season so try to go during the shoulder season when possible!
      • Winter: 35-50 F
      • Summer: 60-80 F
  • General
    • Watch out for gypsies and pickpockets in Paris, especially in crowded, touristy areas
    • Try to avoid restaurants with pictures of food on the menu. The further you wander from the main sights, the better the restaurants will get!
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A trip to Paris involves a balanced diet of baguettes, macarons & champagne. It truly is the city of lights and there’s nothing that beats seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time. Paris is one of those places you can never get enough of, and we continue dreaming about the day we’ll be able to return.

Au Revoir! Amanda

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Last edited: April 2020


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