37 Paris Travel Tips for the Ultimate Trip
Paris is a city that you either love or find completely overrated. I personally think it’s a fantastic city, and anyone who disagrees hasn’t really experienced it properly. I’ve now been eight times, and I make it a point to visit at least once a year. After so many visits I’ve collected a lot of Paris travel tips, so I finally wanted to share them all in this post. Hopefully, this is your end-all, be-all guide to one of the most magical cities in the world!
18 Major Things to Do in Paris
1. Climb the Eiffel Tower
I can’t start this article without immediately mentioning the absolute top sights in Paris: the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower is located on the left bank of the Seine, in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. It was built by Gustave Eiffel between 1887 and 1889 for the Exposition Universelle in 1889.
Although the Eiffel Tower was terribly hated by the locals in its early years because of the “tasteless” design, the structure is now the symbol of the city, and it lights up in the evening with a beautiful light show.
2. Visit the Arc de Triomphe
In the 8th arrondissement, at the end of the Champs-Elysées, is the most famous triumphal arch in the world. Built in 1806 to celebrate Napoleon’s victory in Austerlitz, its construction took 30 years.
3. Check out the Sacré-Coeur
Towering high above the rest of Paris sits the Sacré-Coeur Basilica. Located on a hill in Montmartre, they couldn’t pick a place closer to heaven. The snow-white building remains one of my favorites for a visit (also because of the nice Montmartre district by the way). After climbing 222 steps you stand in front of the church and you have a spectacular view of the gigantic cosmopolitan city
4. Explore Montmartre
If you ask me what my favorite neighborhood to stay in Paris is, the choice is between Montmartre and Les Marais … but I think Montmartre would win. I just think it’s such a charming area. Of course, it was once the artists’ quarter of Paris. Picasso and Vincent van Gogh, among others, have lived there. Nowadays you can still find artists in Montmartre, for example on the Place du Tetre. Stroll through the neighborhood and enjoy the atmosphere and the nice restaurants.
5. Visit the Notre Dame
In the absolute heart of the city, on the Ile de Cité (the city island), lies the most famous church in the world: Notre Dame. As you know, the gothic cathedral was severely damaged during the April 2019 fire, but luckily the exterior has been preserved, and you can still admire it from a distance. The church was built between 1163 and 1345, and the first stone was even placed by the pope.
6. Walk along the Champs Elysee
This is the most famous shopping street in Paris, and it runs between the Place de la Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe. That may not seem that long, but put on your walking shoes, because it’s over 1.9 kilometers long. This is such a street that you should have seen at least once, simply because it is so famous, but where you will not return to Paris the second or third time because it is so touristy. There are many famous retail chains, so a good place to go if you want to shop.
7. Visit the Place de la Concorde
The Place de la Concorde is a historic square that lies between the Champs-Elysées and the Jardin de Tuileries. During the French Revolution this was the place where a guillotine stood, and where more than a thousand executions took place, including those of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette.
The most famous building on the square is the 23-meter high obelisk from Egypt, which dates from 1250 BC. It was a gift from the viceroy of Egypt.
8. Visit Hôtel des Invalides
This building may have a strange name, but it got its name because it served as a home for 4,000 former soldiers who became disabled during their service. It was started in 1671 by Louis XIV (that of Versailles fame, you know).
The striking building is a special appearance with its golden dome. Even more special is when you actually visit it, because inside you can admire the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte. Buy priority tickets here.
9. See an opera at the Opéra Garnier
It is really one of my absolute dreams in life to ever admire a ballet in the beautiful Opéra Garnier. The building from 1861 is not only absolutely beautiful from the outside, it is even more special on the inside. Gold leaf, red velvet… Everything is pulled out of the cupboard into an eclectic and extravagant mix that makes your mouth fall open.
The building was once the largest opera house in Europe, but that is no longer the case. Although nowadays opera is mainly performed in Opera Bastille, this the opera house that helped inspired Phantom of the Opera. As a result, opera remains connected to this location forever. Book your entrance tickets with a discount here
10. Relax in Les Marais
As I said before, Les Marais is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Paris. I always stop by, because you can find nice restaurants and trendy boutiques here, and it’s a nice place to stroll through. My favorite places are the famous Place des Vosges (the oldest park in Paris!) And, among others, the Jewish part of the neighborhood, where you can eat the best falafel in all of Paris.
11. Check out the Pantheon
Admittedly it’s not as impressive as the Pantheon in Rome. But the Pantheon in Paris is also a special building that you should definitely check out when you are in Latin Quarter. Although it is somewhat reminiscent of the Roman one, it is also quite similar to St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. It is no longer a church but a mausoleum for famous French people such as Voltaire, Rousseau, and Victor Hugo. Buy your entrance tickets here.
12. Walk along Canal Saint-Martin
A super nice place for a walk is along Canal Saint-Martin. You will find many nice restaurants in the area, especially in the area of Place de la Republique. Also nice: get a sandwich and eat it at the quay.
13. Go a little off the beaten path at Île Saint-Louis
Although I love Île de Cité, Île Saint-Louis is actually even more authentic. It is the smaller island in the Seine, in the heart of the city. Unlike the larger neighboring island, Ile Saint-Louis is an oasis of tranquility. You will not find very many sights there, but it is one of the oldest places in the city. Stroll through the cozy alleys, enjoy delicious food, and enjoy the beautiful view from the quay.
14. Explore Les Passages Couvert
Covered shopping arcades were built in Paris in the 18th and 19th centuries: les passages couvert. You’ll walk straight into history. Check out these stately galleries with glass roofs and beautiful tiled floors. The Vivienne Gallery is perhaps the most beautiful.
15. Walk around Pere Lachaise Graveyard
Visiting a cemetery may not sound like a very attractive activity, but I always find it a wonderful insight into history here. The Cimetière du Père-Lachaise is the largest cemetery in Paris, in the 20th district. You will find the graves of celebrities such as Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Getrude Stein and composer Chopin. With three million annual visitors, it is the most visited cemetery in the world.
16. Picnic in the Parks
Paris has a number of amazing parks that are worth a visit. Score a croissant, put a baguette under your arm, and have a nice picnic. Or enjoy the beautiful landscaped flower parks and ponds. These parks are worth a visit.
Jardin des Plantes
This is a botanical garden from 1635 with more than 10,000 named plant species. You can find it in the 5th district, right on the Seine. There is also a zoo.
Jardin des Tuileries
Between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde is the Garden of the Tuileries. This used to be the palace garden of the Tuileries Palace, but it no longer exists. The garden was laid out by Catharina de Medici in Italian style in 1553.
Jardin du Luxembourg
One of my favorite places in the city is Jardin du Luxembourg, perhaps the most famous city park in Paris. This park was also built by the Medici’s in 1612. Don’t forget to visit the large pond in the middle of the park.
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
Lesser known than the previous parks, but secretly the coolest, I love the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Perhaps it is because of its location in the 19th district that it is less visited. What I like is the many height differences, which gives you a great view of Paris. The park generally has something “more natural,” less “laid out” than the other parks. I also like the lake with the island and the temple.
In the 8th arrondissement you will find the dreamy Parc Monceau, a wonderful oasis in the busy buildings of the city. It is a very romantic park full of Greek influence and numerous gazebos. Fun fact: the very first parachute jump took place in 1797 from a hot air balloon above this park. The parachutist survived the jump and landed safely under loud applause.
17. Admire the most beautiful museums in Paris
Paris has some of the best museums worldwide, which is not surprising, since the city has been the center of literature and art over the centuries. Art lovers in particular will be able to indulge in the many museums. These are, in my opinion, the best museums in Paris:
Perhaps the most famous museum in the world, with its glass pyramid at the entrance. The Louvre is absolutely huge, so you will never be able to see everything during one visit. So make sure you plan your visit well, also because the lines can be very long (with these tickets you skip the queue!). What you really should not skip is, of course, the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci.
On the other side of the art spectrum, you will find the futuristic building of Center Pompidou. Here you will find modern art. Just like the building with its colorful tubes and pipes on the outside, the collection is also a matter of: you love it or you hate it, but it is special anyway.
This is not one of the most famous museums in Paris, but perhaps my favorite! I love “home museums” that give you an insight into how residents used to live, and this is one of a top level. This is a staggering 19th century mansion where an eccentric banker / artist couple lived and collected classic art. Buy your entrance tickets here.
Musée D’Orsay is one of the absolute top artists in the field of art museums. The collection covers Western art between 1848 and 1914, and exhibits works by Monet, Renoir, Rodin, Vincent van Gogh, and many others. Buy your entrance tickets here.
Speaking of Rodin … true lovers of his sculpture will of course go to Musee Rodin. This museum with sculpture park was opened in 1919, in the building where Rodin once lived, and shows art by the French sculptor.
Musée Marmottan Monet
Another famous French artist who has his own museum in Paris is Claude Monet. The museum is named after art historian Paul Marmottan, who donated his city palace and art collection to the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1932. The museum has the largest collection of Monet’s artworks worldwide.
Too many artist-dedicated museums yet? I hope not. In this museum you get an overview of the work of Pablo Picasso. You can also find the artist’s personal art collection here. Buy your entrance tickets here.
Musée Nissim de Camondo
On the edge of Parc Monceau you will find the Musé Nissim de Camondo, another nice house-museum. This museum is housed is a stately home from 1911 and full of 18th century French furniture and art. The museum looks like a private home and has been kept in its original state.
You can’t miss the large glass exhibition hall on the Champs-Elysée. The hall was built for the Exposition Universelle of 1900 and now houses exhibitions and its own science museum. In 2024, the hall will be the location where the fencing and taekwondo competitions will be held during the Olympic Games.
The smaller sister of the Grand Palais was also built for the Exposition Universelle of 1900. Here you will find an art museum with both ancient and modern art from, among others, Rembrandt. Buy your entrance tickets here.
Maison de Victor Hugo
Les Miserables fans can visit the house where writer Victor Hugo lived on Place des Vosges. He even wrote most of the book when he lived here. In any case, I thought it was great, especially because there was live music when I visited it. A number of the rooms have been restored and look the way they would have looked when he lived there.
18. Stroll over the most beautiful bridges in Paris
There are no fewer than 37 bridges that connect the two sides of Paris, separated by the Seine. Not all of them are worth visiting, but I still want to highlight three.
- Pont Neuf: This is the oldest bridge in the city, built between 1578 and 1607. The arch bridge connects Île de la Cité with the rest of Paris.
- Pont Alexandre III: This Art Nouveau bridge dates from 1896 and is certainly worth a visit, due to the many fairy-tale decorations. You will find the bridge between the Hôtel des Invalides and the Champs-Elysées.
- Le Pont des Arts: This bridge may have the most beautiful view of the city, if you ask me at least. You have a view of Île de la Cité, Notre Dame, and the Louvre, among other places. The steel bridge was built in 1802, and can only be entered by pedestrians. This, by the way, was also the bridge where couples put their love locks, but it’s no longer allowed.
My Personal Paris Travel Tips
19. Descend into the Catacombs
Maybe a bit of a lurid tip, but very cool and a different side of Paris than you are used to. Underneath the city is a 190-kilometer tunnel complex. Part of it is the kingdom of the dead: an ossuary. You can visit 1.7 kilometers from this complex, and then you’ll walk through tunnels full of bones. The bones were stored here when the cemeteries of Paris were emptied in 1780 after people realized they were a threat to public health. Buy your entry tickets online here.
20. Admire the stained glass windows of Sainte-Chapelle
On the Île de la Cité you will find the Gothic chapel of Sainte-Chapelle. The church is super old, dating back to 1241. But the most special aspect of the church are the beautiful stained glass windows. There is a total of no less than 670 square meters of stained glass, which showcase some biblical history. Many of the windows are original. Buy your admission tickets here.
21. Enjoy the view from Galerie Lafayette
The most famous department store in France is the Galerie Lafayette. But did you know that you can also have a beautiful view from the roof of the department store? You can find the view on the 7th floor. There you cn see pretty much all the important monuments.
22. Work on your tan at the beach
What I always like is how cities really come alive in the summer, and how they try to make a warm urban environment as livable as possible. On the city beaches of Paris Plage, for example, you can enjoy real sand under your feet for a few weeks. You will find the best known between Pont Neuf and Pont de Sully,
23. Stroll across Île de Cité
As far as I am concerned, the most romantic part of Paris is the Île de Cité: the ultimate heart of the city. This is where the city was founded in the early Middle Ages. The city island is also the place where you can find the famous Notre Dame. Take some random streets, walk along the quay, and you will find that you can soon leave the tourist crowd behind.
24. Pose on the Palais Royal square
You will probably have seen the Palais Royal square on Instagram. It is namely a favorite location for selfies and other photo shoots. The square is part of the Palais Royal, a former royal palace that now (among other things) houses the French Ministry of Culture. The palace itself cannot be visited, but the garden and the courtyard with its funny pillars are.
25. People Watch at a Cafe
Is there a better activity in Paris than people watching? That is what the traditional cafés with their wicker chairs and canopies are made for, right? For the best tea and sweets you go to classics such as Angelina, Carette, and Laduree. After all, it would be almost criminal not to taste some macarons, right?
26. Grab a movie in a vintage cinema
Paris is full of cinemas, but the best thing is to visit one of the vintage cinemas. The most eclectic of the couple is Le Louxor. This cinema dates from 1920 and is therefore one of the oldest active cinemas in France. And because of the Egyptian interior you imagine yourself in Egypt from a bygone era.
27. Picnic in the Jardin du Luxembourg
I love scoring a few snacks in the summer months, and then finding a nice place to have a picnic. You can find the best croissants at my favorite bakery: Du Pain et Des Idees. And as far as I am concerned, there is no nicer place to have a picnic in the Jardin du Luxembourg. In the summer months it can be super busy on the weekends with locals meeting with their groups of friends, but that is also a very authentic experience.
28. Take a boat trip on the Seine
I still remember my boat trip on the Seine. It was SO cold, haha. Not a very smart idea, because I just stayed inside, while the best view is of course outside. When the weather is nice, go on a boat trip of the bateaux mouches, and sail in an hour past the main sights (with explanation).
29. Go cycling in Paris
Are you a real Dutchman if you don’t go cycling in Paris? I find it a more fun way to discover a city nowadays. The cheapest way is to rent a public bicycle: a Velib. This costs €1 per day, as long as your journeys last no longer than 30 minutes. Of course you can also go on an organized tour, for example this one!
30. Look for gems at the flea market
Every time I visit a flea market in Paris I dream of such a moment that I suddenly see a vintage Chanel bag, and the seller doesn’t know what the bag is worth, and that I score a real gem. But that has never happened to me, haha. Yet I always like to wander around such a market. It’s like stepping into a time machine. The Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen is the largest flea market in the world, so you cannot skip it if you like flea markets.
31. Visit Versailles
It is one of the most impressive buildings in the world: the Palace of Versailles. The construction of the fairytale castle started in 1632, but the version that you now know was realized by the Sun King: King Louis XIV. The palace was to serve as an escape from the busy court in Paris, and as a location for crazy entertainment. At the height of the castle there were between 3,000 and 10,000 people who worked for the royal family in one way or another.
The castle is located 20 kilometers outside of Paris, and quickly takes 2-3 hours (apart from travel time) to visit. The gigantic gardens last even longer. Perfect for a day trip so. You can see my guide for visiting Versailles here.
32. Enjoy Paris in the Rain
Paris is a kind of open-air museum, full of amazing buildings and history that is just not dripping off the façades. Can you actually enjoy Paris in the rain? Yes! I’d say it’s even more romantic that way.
5 Budget Paris Travel Tips
How much does a trip to Paris cost? I find that it is not very cheap but also not particularly expensive. In terms of cost, I find it comparable to Amsterdam. The only reason that you spend a lot of money is because you probably eat out several times a day, and do a lot of activities, which of course you wouldn’t do at home. But fortunately there are also many ways to save money in Paris.
33. Buy your metro tickets in a bundle
The best tip to save money on your metro tickets is to buy a “carnet” of tickets. Then you buy ten tickets (€14.90) instead of one (€1.90). From 1 September the metro will be free for children up to 11 years, so that’s good to keep in mind!
34. Do a nice free walking tour
Paris is full of beautiful sights so you can really enjoy it just by taking a nice walk and seeing the beautiful buildings. But even more fun is to do a free walking tour. This way you pass by all the sights, but you also learn more about their history. And with a free walking tour, you only pay a tip afterwards (€5 per person as a minimum is so neat)
35. Take advantage of the free museums on the first Sunday of the month
There are a number of tips to save money at the fantastic museums in Paris. For example, some of the famous museums (such as the Musée d’Orsay) can be visited free of charge on the first Sunday of the month. The Louvre can be visited free of charge on the first Sunday evening of the month.
36. Museums under the age of 26 are free
Another nice tip is that you can save a lot if you are younger than 26. You then have free access to the Louvre, Musée D’Orsay and the Arc de Triomphe, among others, and much more. Take proof of identity with you so that you can prove your age :).
37. Save on food
Eating out in Paris will be one of your biggest costs. And for me, one that you have to make good use of, because nothing is quite like French food.
Anyway, a little balance is good, of course. For example, I always try to book a budget hotel in Paris that includes breakfast, because that is already one expense less. Of course you can eat out for lunch, but you can also just score a sandwich at a boulangerie. And for dinner you can cook at home if you’re staying in an Airbnb or just score some groceries and picnic in a nice park!
So … pffft. It took me more than two business days to write this entire article for you, haha. But now you have all my best Paris travel tips! With this article (and the articles to which I linked) you know all my tips about the city of love, and I am convinced that you will fall head over heels like I have!
What is your favorite Paris travel tip?
General Travel Tips
- For accommodation, I always check Airbnb or Booking.com for the best prices.
- If your insurance at home doesn’t cover travel, you may want to look into SafetyWing for an affordable option.
- I always recommend checking Get Your Guide for the best tours in Europe.