Everyone I have ever met has either travelled to Paris or wants to. I hold Paris very close to my heart, because it was the first European destination I ever went to for vacation. And it is also one of the most beautiful, with picturesque streets that take you right back in time, calm walks by the river Seine, countless monuments with fine detailing, the fragrance of haute cuisine, serene parks with modern architecture, shopping experiences that remind you of the chicest movies, and of course the Eiffel Tower.
I guess with this much, it’s an easy destination for travel guides to write about and offer tours, the most important thing to remember while visiting Paris would be to not fall into tourist traps, but just take enough help from the guides and passes to experience the city in all its glory.
I could have made this a weekend tour guide like some of the other destinations I have featured, but you probably want to stay there longer than a weekend, because there is so much to experience – history, architecture, art, fashion, food, culture. And that’s why I decided to split this article into two (or maybe three) so I can take my time and detail out each nice element!
Also, if you’re flying to Paris for the first time, make sure to get the window seat to see it from the top. River Seine’s characteristic trajectory will make it very easy to spot major landmarks like Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower and Jardin des Tuileries.
When to Visit
Paris is too full with tourists in summer, so if you want to avoid that, be sure to travel in spring, when it’s still a little cold, but you’ll get to experience everything much better. here’s an example of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, two images, one taken in March vs. the other taken in June:
Where to Stay
Most of the tourist destinations are huddled around the center of the city, somewhere between 1st to 7th Arrondissement. If you want to have easy access to those, staying close to the Eiffel Tower or Louvre Museum would be best. Alternatively, if you’re in the city for longer and want relaxed time, try staying outside the hustle bustle, but it’s a good idea to be near the metro stations so you’re well connected and find metro/cabs easily. In fact, it’s handy to get metro pass while you’re in Paris that lets you make unlimited rides for selected days. Check it out on this website.
Things to Do
Much has been written about Paris, so I’m going to focus on four things here: art, architecture, romance and shopping.
La tour Eiffel is the top pick for most. Beware of the really scary long lines of tourists wanting to take the elevator to go to the top. To avoid all those lines, take the stairs to the first or second floor, and then take the elevator from there. Also, one option is to visit the Eiffel tower at night, because it’s fun to view the night lights of Paris, plus the tower lights up in shimmery lights every hour.
The Louvre Museum
The Louvre is where Mona Lisa is, so you find long lines here too. Every tourist is going to be there, so keep your belongings with you and don’t lose your party. Also it’s helpful to get a Paris Museum Pass or Paris Pass, which gives you fast track entry to the museum. You can buy the Paris pass ahead of time at their website. Do visit their courtyard that has the hugely famous Louvre glass pyramid, designed by architect I.M. Pei.