Paris, the enchanting capital of France, has captured the hearts of travelers for centuries. From its iconic landmarks and world-class museums to its charming streets and delectable cuisine, the City of Love offers a unique blend of romance, culture, and history. Planning the perfect Paris trip requires careful consideration and insider knowledge to ensure you make the most of your experience. In this guide, we will reveal the secrets that will help you craft an extraordinary journey filled with unforgettable moments and cherished memories.
The first couple of times I visited Paris, I was admittedly a bit disappointed. It took living there and knowing Parisians for me to recognize the important parts of a Paris trip.
Visiting the Eiffel Tower is probably on your list. France’s capital is home to numerous internationally renowned monuments and museums; the Eiffel Tower is one best experienced from a distance. This is why I suggest skipping it. More than anything, this advice is to get you in the right mindset to experience Paris.
For the sake of time and money, pick a couple landmarks that genuinely intrigue you and make a day of each. With the rest of your time, try to get a feel for the Paris way of life and explore! Here are some essentials:
Secrets to the Perfect Paris Trip
A Croissant a Day…
Embarking on a journey to Paris is like stepping into a dream. By following these secrets to the perfect Paris trip, you will unlock the city’s hidden treasures and create memories that will last a lifetime. From indulging in culinary delights to embracing the art and culture, Paris offers a kaleidoscope of experiences that will captivate your heart.
Tearing off a piece of buttery flaky goodness is without a doubt the loveliest way to wake up. So, make sure to eat a delectable croissant each and every day.
Scope out the best bakery within walking distance of where you’re staying. Look for the boulangerie with the longest lines or even find some reviews online. Once found, this little hub of sleepy-eyed Parisians and toasty baguettes is your morning’s first stop. Of course, I do not attest to mixing it up with a pain au chocolat or a croissant aux amandes. I just think that so much sugar is overkill for breakfast.
Warning: the croissants might take a toll if you stay longer than a week. I might have a French last name, but I certainly don’t have enough French genes to survive on buttery pastries.
Musée d’Orsay’s Impressionism Gallery
What comes to mind when you think of French art? Probably something along the lines of Monet’s lily pads and Degas’ ballet dancers.
Whether you’re an art history major or think art is for snobs, you won’t regret getting up close to the rosy cheeks of Renoir’s pastel portraits or the tiny dots of Seurat’s pointillism. I have yet to meet anyone disenchanted with French impressionism.
The Musée d’Orsay is filled with beautiful collections and exhibits. And, like many of Paris’s museums, it boasts an interesting history that is especially evident in the Main Hall. The museum was once the train station of Orsay, built just in time for the World Fair of 1900. The station was later renovated and reconstructed into a museum in the ‘70s. The interior of the Main Hall still closely resembles the old station with a large clock at one end, a beautiful glass ceiling and an in-ground floor where the tracks used to be.
Sacred Heart of Paris
Although Montparnasse and Sacré Coeur are flooded with tourists, this giant hill overlooking Paris is on my list. At least there are no lines, unlike the Eiffel Tower. Not to mention, the Sacré Coeur Basilica is arguably more impressive than the view itself.
Experienced travelers will know not to engage anyone approaching you at tourist trap areas like this, especially if they’re holding products to sell. Despite the crowds, this charming neighborhood is not to be missed.
Swing into Jazz Nightlife
After the U.S. there is no one that appreciates jazz more than the French. Many jazz places are below street level, called “caves du jazz” or jazz basements. A great sensual setting for a date or just a groovy place to chill with friends. They often have super food and drink too.
Attending a jazz concert in Paris is worthwhile for everyone, even for non-jazz lovers. It’s fun to drop in without preconceived notions however checking bands out online first is a good idea. It could save you from hours of lofty modern jazz improv.
Finding a jazz club isn’t difficult; just ask around. Since I like to voice my opinion on everything, though, I recommend Duc Des Lombards and Caves de la Huchette.
In Paris, everyone goes to the market—not just yuppies. Some are bigger than others, but most neighborhoods have one every Saturday morning. Early morning, after the vendors have set up, the stands explode with colorful produce, artisanal cheese, local honey, hanging meat and more. All the fresh ingredients will inspire you to start up cooking when you get back to your kitchen.
There’s always a fair share of prepared foods, and the fruits, cheeses and bread are enough to make a feast of a picnic. The Saturday morning hours just beg for a picnic lunch in one of Paris’s beautiful parks.
For foodies, there are always organic vendors present. In any case, you don’t need to worry as much about local conventional food as you do in the States. France’s agriculture is more regulated in terms of pesticides. Rest assured, a serving of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide isn’t on the menu here.
Dine à la Française
Eat French food when in France. Actually, I want you to take it further. Opt out of one of your shopping sprees, and set that cash aside for a meal in true French form. Depending on the place, this could mean anything from three to six courses. Shoot for a four to five course meal. You might want to skip a meal or two along with that shopping spree. French servers and chefs are still sticklers against food waste.
When you pick a restaurant, look for ‘traditionnel’ and ‘menu dîner’ versus ‘menu à la carte.’ Eating ‘à la carte’ will land you a hefty bill at the end of your night. Above all, avoid tourist areas. High tourist count means high prices and bad food.
First is the pre-dinner drink, or “apératif.” Afterward, the “hors-d’oeuvre” which comes before the appetizer, or “entrée.” Next, the main plate, ‘le plat principal’ and finally, a cheese plate or dessert. Sometimes, small salads or sorbet are provided between courses to cleanse your palate. See why I said skip lunch?
Skip the Eiffel Tower, skip lunch, but don’t skip telling us your own secrets to a perfect Paris trip!
FAQs about the Perfect Paris Trip
When is the best time to visit Paris?
The best time to visit Paris is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to November) when the weather is pleasant, and the city is less crowded.
How many days should I spend in Paris?
To fully experience the city, plan to spend at least four to five days in Paris. This will give you ample time to explore the major attractions and immerse yourself in the Parisian way of life.
Are Parisians friendly to tourists?
While stereotypes may suggest otherwise, Parisians are generally friendly and welcoming to tourists. Learning a few basic French phrases and adopting local customs will enhance your interactions.
Is it necessary to book tickets in advance for popular attractions?
To avoid long queues, it is advisable to book tickets in advance for popular attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and the Palace of Versailles.
What is the best way to get around Paris?
Paris has an excellent public transportation system, including the metro and buses, which are convenient and cost-effective. Walking is also a great way to explore the city’s neighborhoods and soak in its charm.
Can I use English in Paris?
While French is the official language, English is widely spoken in tourist areas, hotels, restaurants, and major attractions. However, learning a few basic French phrases will be appreciated by locals and can enhance your experience.