“Most of us are lucky to see Paris once in a lifetime. Please, make the most of it by doing as little as possible. Walk a little. Get lost a bit. Eat. Catch a breakfast buzz. Have a nap. Try and have sex if you can. Eat again. Lounge around drinking coffee. Maybe read a book. Drink some wine. Eat. Repeat. See? It’s easy.” – Anthony Bourdain
What’s the best way to get around Paris?
Paris is one of the most walkable cities I’ve ever been too. I strongly recommend booking a hotel in a central location so you can walk to most of the attractions. By walking through Paris, you will not only see the major attractions but also discover hidden gems of Parisian life.
Where to stay in Paris?
Most hotels are well priced and you can find a romantic hotel with a view for under $200 per night. If you’re traveling with a group or family, look for an AirBnB. You will see plenty of remodeled apartment with at least two bedrooms (which is uncommom for Europe since they don’t have dedicted “living rooms”). We stayed in The Republique.
Getting to your central hotel from the airport (CDG) is extremely easy. You can get a taxi, Uber or the train. After a short walk from the station, you’ll be at your home. Unfotunately, we exited the station at a wrong side and had to walk for a coule of miles through a somewhat sketchy area. To be fair, the locals were just as surprised to see us walking through their neigborhood as we were.
First Time in Paris?
If this is your first trip to Paris, see all the main attractions right away to get it out of the way. The Louvre, St. Michel-Notre-Dame, Place Louis Lepine, Luxembourg Garden and Musée d’Orsay are all located within a short-ish walk from each other. You can see it all in one day without rushing. All and all you will walk around 10-12 miles so café stops are recommended. Take a break, grab a glass of coffee or prosseco and people watch.
I recommened spending another day exploring a few of the Parisian neighborhoods or Arrondissements. There are 20 Arrondissements in Paris spiral out from the center of the city (Ile la Cite).
Walking through Paris Guide
My personal favorite is Montmarte. It’s rising 130 meters above the city and provides amazing views of Paris, Eiffel Tower, etc. Nothing is more European than windy cobblestone paths, staircases, unique boutiques and cafes. The major attraction in Montmarte is the Sacre Coeur Basilica. Montmarte deserves at least a half day or even a full day of your time. Wander on your own or book a guided tour to explore the hidden gems.
Recommended in Montmarte:
For major sightseeing, you will head to the Ile de la Cité. It’s an island in the middle of the Seine where you will find historic monuments such as Norte-Dame Cathedral, Saint-Chapelle, the Louvre, the Conciergie, and Palais de Justice. If you’re visiting Paris in spring/summer time, don’t hesitate to get a bottle of bubbly and crepes to have a picnic in one of the parks.
Make it bougee:
$$$$ Les Deux Magots
$$$$ Le Café Marly
La Marais is another unique area to explore. It’s both a gay and a Jewesh community with cobblestone alleys, beautiful architecture, designer boutiques, restaurants, art galleries, and nightlife. It’s a must see in Paris and if this is your first time in Paris, stay here. Think of La Marais is Castro of Paris.
The Latin Quarter is another favorite of mine. There are a lot of things to see and do, places to eat and drink, and explore the beautiful alleys and architecture. The famous book store called Shakespear and Co is located here and it’s a must visit.
In my experince you can walk all three Arrondissement in one day. Make your reservations ahead of time and buy a “skip the line” tickets to the museums to save time.
Champs-Élysées is the famous shopping area for mostly luxury shopping but you can find a few more casual stores there as well. If you’re on a mission to bring an expensive gift back from Paris, this is it.
While you’re here, make sure to visit the Arch de Triumph. It’s a bit of a hike if you’re coming from the Ile de la Cité but again, plenty of little cafés are their for your rest breaks.
Eiffel Tower – Champs de Mars is the most iconinc place to visit for most. Here you will find several historical museums, amazing architecture, modern art galleries and Parc du Champs-de-Mars. Growing up, I always dreamed of having a bagette at Champs-de-Mars like the Parisians do.
Make sure you go to the top of the Eiffel Tower to see the city from above, ride the lift, and of course drink champagne! By the way, the restaurant on the second floor of the tower is a must! It’s well priced and the food/wine is delicious and high quality which I didn’t expect from a touristy pit-stop.
Book ahead for the top floor access as the tickets sell out weeks in advance.
Visit one of the wine regions. Unfortunely, I was not able to make it to our tour to the Champagne and Burgundy BUT I cannot wait to go back. Even if you’re not into wine, seeing the French country side is lifechanging. You can rent a car or book a guided bus tour. Based on your level of interest in wine, you can choose from plenty of options taylored to your preferences.
1st Arrondissement: Louvre
2nd Arrondissement: Bourse
3rd Arrondissement: Temple
4th Arrondissement: Hôtel-de-Ville
5th Arrondissement: Panthéon
6th Arrondissement: Luxembourg
7th Arrondissement: Palais-Bourbon
8th Arrondissement: Élysée
9th Arrondissement: Opéra
10th Arrondissement: Entrepôt
11th Arrondissement: Popincourt
12th Arrondissement: Reuilly
13th Arrondissement: Gobelins
14th Arrondissement: Observatoire
15th Arrondissement: Vaugirard
16th Arrondissement: Passy
17th Arrondissement: Batignolles-Monceau
18th Arrondissement: Butte-Montmartre
19th Arrondissement: Buttes-Chaumont
20th Arrondissement: Ménilmontant
This schedule is set to be pretty packed everyday because you want to have a few days to walk through Paris and just get lost without a set plan.On average, we walked 10-14 miles each day which was tiring but absolutely double. We also spent a couple of days just wandering around Republique, drinking wine by the river, picnicing in the park and window shopping.
What to do outside Paris?
If you have enough time, book a trip to the Versailles (it was closed due to COVID-19 when we were in Paris), Burgundy Wine Tasting Tour, Normandy D-Day Battlefields, Mont Saint Michel Tour (try to find a hotel to spend the night). Feeling even more adventurous? Take the train to London or Brussels.
Check out other European guides here