Paris is a city full of history, magic, beautiful art, and imposing architecture. It’s a city that has something for everyone: if you want history, you’ve got it; if you want to visit art museums and see the work of famous artists, Paris has more than enough. If you are a hopeless romantic, looking for long walks by the river and beautiful views over the city, Paris is the right place for you. It also has great nightlife to satisfy the party people and, finally, if you are traveling with kids, Disneyland is only a short train ride away.
Paris is a city with a fantastic history, of kings and queens, of conquest and defeat. Who hasn’t heard about King Louis XIV, also cold the Sun King? Or the stories surrounding Marie Antoinette and her tragic fate? The Palace of Versaille has been the subject of many films, both fiction, and documentaries, so even if you did not study a lot of France’s history chances are you’ve heard about it. Going more into fiction, you will certainly remember the stories surrounding the four musketeers.
A perfect place to stay in Paris is A Room In Paris Bed And Breakfast.
Getting to Paris
Paris is very well connected to pretty much the entire world. The main airport is Charles de Gaulle, and it is the largest airport in France and the second largest in Europe. Some also call it the Roissy Airport, after the name of the local district. There’s also a second airport you can use, called Beauvais. It is located in a town with the same name and it is mostly used by low-cost companies. Despite this, it is the tenth busiest airport in France with close to four million passengers annually. Its main downside is the distance – it is located 85 km outside of Paris. However, there are several buses going to and from Beauvais, so getting around will not be an issue.
For those already in France or in neighboring European Union countries, the train or even the bus are great options. The train from London to Paris will only take 2 hours and 16 minutes and it only costs between 30-40 euros, depending on the reservation type. For those who are not in a hurry, want to pay even less, while also having better scenery while on the road, the bus will be the perfect option.
Things to do
Paris is definitely a city where you will not get bored easily.
- Notre-Dame Cathedral. The 69 meters tall cathedral is one of Paris’ gems. Under the square where the Cathedral is located, is the largest archeological crypt in Europe. Don’t be scared by the long waiting line – it usually goes very fast, and you’ll be inside in no time.
- Louvre Museum is probably the best-known museum in Paris and the world’s greatest art museum, and it holds the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and Winged Victory. Don’t be afraid to get a bit lost, you will most certainly stumble upon something memorable. If you want to visit as much as possible and hate wasting time waiting in line, I suggest booking your ticket in advance. Otherwise, the lines can get pretty long, especially in tourist seasons.
- The Tuileries garden is the largest in Paris and its 2800 trees are still there today, looking just like Louis XIV’s gardener designed them. In parallel to these gardens is Rivoli Street, home to many small shops, cafes, and restaurants. And if you walk all the way from the Tuileries to the Louvre, you will see the statue of Joanne D’Arc.
- The Concorde Square is the largest square in Paris and it was built between 1754 and 1763. The fountains that can be seen here were built by Jacque-Ignace Hittorf, who is also the architect behind the eight statues placed in the four corners of the square, that symbolize eight French cities: Lille, Strasbourg, Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, Nantes, Brest, and Rouen.
- Arc de Triomf, which dominates the Champs Elysee, named by the most beautiful avenue of the world, is 50 meters tall and gives a beautiful perspective over a “line” that begins with the Louvre, continues with the Tuileries, the Concorde Square, and finally, La Defense.
- Pompidou Center is a contemporary art museum. President George Pompidou decided to build it in 1969. However, it is not just the collection of art that is worth seeing. The exterior and interior of the building are quite spectacular as well.
With so many things to do in Paris, you may be wondering when is the best time to visit. I think you should to spend Spring in Paris.
- The Basilica of the Sacred Heart, also known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica is an impressive building located on a hill that seems to watch over the city of Paris.
- Montmartre is a Parisian neighborhood located near Sacré-Cœur Basilica. Its narrow streets, the market, and the artists located here will conquer your heart at first sight.
- The Gardens of Luxembourg are another beautiful place to spend time relaxing in nature, read a book, or just rest a bit after a day of walking.
- Orsay is another well-known art museum in Paris, Orsay contains famous works from artists like Van Gogh, Cézanne, Monet, Manet, Degas, Gaugin, and others.
- The Eiffel Tower is probably the best-known symbol of Paris. It was hated for a long time by Parisians who called it a monstrosity. Eventually, it became a real symbol of the city. The waiting line may be long to get to the top, but the wait is definitely worth it.
Day trips around the city
If you stay for more than just a few days in the capital city, you should definitely consider some of these day trips outside of Paris.
The Versailles Palace is situated just outside of Paris. You can get there relatively easily with the RER C, or by taking the train from Montparnasse. Personally, I used the RER as it was closer to me, and it is also cheaper, a ticket costs about 7 euros. I suggest planning an entire day to see Versailles, that is if you want to have time to visit everything. The place is huge and absolutely stunning. I arrived at around 9 a.m. in an attempt to reduce the waiting time to enter the palace and stayed until after 3 p.m. and I can tell you some things I felt I rushed through. So, there’s definitely plenty to do for an entire day.
Be aware that if you do not arrive early, or you don’t book tickets in advance, the waiting time in the peak season can go well beyond one hour. Once inside try to visit the royal chapels and the chambers in the main chateau. Also, take care not to miss the famous Hall of Mirrors. Don’t forget about the Grand and Petit Trianon or the Queen’s Farm. There are also plenty of restaurants and cafes at Versailles, so no need to worry about getting too hungry to visit.
Palaces of Fontainebleau, Château de Chambord, Château de Blois
If you want to venture further away from Paris and see some more historical places, there are quite a few palaces that can be visited within a day. You will need to rent a car or find a guided tour bus if you want to do the three of them on the same day. Otherwise, there are some options for shuttle buses and trains for each of the three castles.
Fontainebleau is located 55 km outside of Paris and it has been the residence of French monarchs like Louis VII and Napoleon III. Currently, the palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It contains 1500 rooms, so I suggest to either book a group tour or get an audio guide on-site, to be able to visit everything that matters.
Chambord is considered by many as the most beautiful castle in France. It is the largest castle on the Loire Valley, but it was abandoned after the French Revolution, as many felt it was reminiscent of the old regime. It is here that many paintings from the Louvre were hidden during World War II.
The Blois Castle might not be as big or as famous as the previous ones, but it is here that a special event in French history took place: Joanne D’arc went to Blois in 1429 to receive blessings from the Archbishop of Reims before she left to fight the English army at Orleans.
If you want to see more visit these Seven Must See Places To Visit In Nothern France. Alternately, if you want to go to southern France there are Ten Must See Places To Visit In South France.
Additional Information & Tips
Take time to visit the road less traveled. Get lost in the areas that are less known. The objectives listed above are some of the best-known places in Paris, and a must-see, especially if you are short on time. But if you have an extra day, use it to go into areas that only the locals visit. An example and a place I absolutely love is Mouffetard Street. Here you will find a local market, with traditional foods (and a lot of cheese). You’ll also find many small restaurants.
And here comes another important tip. If you want to sit down and have a proper lunch, DON’T eat near the tourist spots. Everything will be more expensive and the French atmosphere will most likely miss. Mouffetard street, which is not far from Notre Dame is a great example of a street where you will find local restaurants, that serve true French food at affordable prices. In many areas of France, not only Paris, local restaurants offer a delicious lunch deal, where they offer a few foods you get to combine and create your menu of the day. Depending on the types of foods you want, prices will be between 10-17 euros. But get this, we are talking about a 2-course meal (either soup + main course, or main course + dessert), with bread, salad, and water included in the price.
Paris is a wonderful city, where you could easily spend weeks without getting bored and having new things to see each day. I hope you found this guide helpful and that you have a wonderful time in France when you decide to visit.
I am Laura Vegh and I’m the blogger behind The Creators’ Tribe. I am a computer engineer, fitness trainer, recently turned digital nomad, with a passion for helping others live healthier, happier lives. I also want to help bloggers and small business owners to share their ideas, so I created a series of interviews, called Creative Business Diaries, to do just that.