When to go. Where to stay. What to do.
Hello Travelers! Well. I’ll be the first to admit, this time last year looked a whole lot different. Oh, Paris, where I start? This bucket list destination is known as the city of love, the city of romance, and too many, the most magical place in the world. Aside, from its historical sites; the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame, the Louvre, and the Moulin Rouge this must-see tourist destitution is famous for its café culture, delicious pastries, and expensive fashion.
Getting to Paris France
Depending on where you are flying in from the most practical way to get to Paris is to fly into Charles de Gaulle International or if you are coming from surrounding countries or cities in Europe then the option to travel by train is there. The first time I traveled to Paris (October 2016), we flew from Edinburg, Scotland to Paris-Orly Sud (this flight was approx. €95.00). The second time I traveled to Paris (May 2019), we flew direct from Person International to Charles de Gaulle International - I will warn you, this is the second-busiest airport in Europe.
Now. The dreadful drive from the airport to your accommodations…I always find this the worst part about traveling LOL. I’ll be the first to admit, I always look for the quickest and easiest way to out (of the airport) … meaning if I can’t figure out the public transportation system or there’s a language barrier… I will always just call an Uber or Lyft (at that time I don’t seem to care about the cost) – it’s a horrible habit I know, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do! If you are looking to save money, I do suggest pre-booking your airport transfer. To get from the airport to your destination there are five options:
Taxi: There is NO lack of taxi drivers in France. Personally, I do not recommend taking a taxi as it can get to be very expensive.
Uber: Uber is very active in France – it is one of the most popular modes of transportation. I highly suggest this option if you are traveling with a group of people. I will warn you that the traffic heading into the city is HORRIBLE so be prepared to be in the car for quite some time.
Rental Car: This option is always available and very easy to access straight from the airport! I recommend this option if you are traveling with a large group or with your family. This option tends to be more expensive.
REP Train: From Charles de Gaulle to central Paris, this train is the fastest and most reliable mode of transportation! It takes approximately 50 mins to reach the city and costs only €10.00. I highly recommend this option if you are traveling solo or if you are headed right into the heart of the city.
Private Shuttle: If you're staying in a hotel or hostel some will provide a private mode of transportation. Make sure you contact your accommodation to set this up.
Getting Around Paris
I’d say traffic in Paris is some of the worse I've seen. It is absolutely chaotic, especially during rush hour. I highly suggest taking the Metro. From what I can remember back in 2016 – it was quite easy to use and navigate once we got the hang of it. As for May of last year, we only ever took Ubers everywhere LOL. How pathetic? I highly, recommend sticking to public transportation. Another option is to book a two-day Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour ticket. Keeping reading for more info on the Hop-on Hop-off.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Paris is when the weather is mild and enjoyable. It is recommended not to visit during the summer because of the tourist crowds. I'd say the best months to visit are from April to June and October to early November.
If you are traveling on a budget then the best months to visit are December, January, and February.
Where to Stay
Now. You can probably imagine how expensive it is to stay in the heart of Paris. A girl can dream, right?
The first time I visited Paris, we stayed in an Airbnb in the outskirts. I don't have the exact details... (as it was over 4 years ago).
Easy to locate
Located in an area in walking distance of supermarkets and cafes
Offered all the amenities we needed (wifi, full kitchen, towels, hairdryer, etc.)
Located about 15 minutes outside of Central Paris by Metro
The second time around, we stay at the Aparthotel Adagio access la Defense Puteaux - I can not recommend this accommodation enough.
Easy to located and get to
Approx 10 min Uber ride to Central Paris
Very spacious - we had a studio with two-bedroom connecting rooms
Full kitchen with everything included
Offered all the amenities we needed (wifi, coffee, towels, gym, luggage storage, concierge)
In walking distance of supermarkets and cafes
Quite the drive from the airport
Our room was not ready when we arrived
My advice for any travelers; whether your traveling solo, backpacking, with a family, in a group, etc., when it comes to choosing accommodations I suggest that you search a couple of KM's outside the city center for cheaper prices. Do your research and read everything before booking.
Where to Eat
I'll be honest - we had a very difficult time finding restaurants that catered to everyone's food preferences. Within a 3-5km radius of the Eiffel Tower, there are endless food options for those who are not picky eaters (wink, wink). Most of these cafes have very similar items on their menu; charcuterie boards, salads, seafood, etc., all these restaurants have beautiful patios where you can sit with a glass of wine and enjoy the breathtaking sights of the Eiffel Tower.
Yes. It sounds like a dream to sit under the Eiffel tower while sipping on wine but my advice is to check out the food stands. They are EVERYWHERE and they are SO yummy! You will find everything from delicious sandwiches, to rich hot chocolate, to fresh croissants and plenty more - I may be biased because I love street food - but Paris definitely has some of the best!
Ladurée: Located on the Champs-Élysées, you MUST stop here. 10/10 recommend gabbing a sweet treat from here. Famous for there macaroons; you will NOT be disappointed. They are delicious!
Must See and Do
There's no shortage of recommendations for what to see or do in Paris. We stuck to the tourist areas and attractions; if crowds aren't your thing stay away from highly populated tourist areas during popular hours. Of course, you have your must-see historical sites; the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame site, the Louvre, the Champs-Élysées, and the Moulin Rouge. Eiffel Tower: Obviously, this is at the top of the list for everyone to see and do when in Paris. Both times that I visited we used the company: GetYourGuide. I can recommend this tour company enough! They have great guides, great customer service, and very affordable prices. We did the Eiffel Tower Skip-the-Line Ticket & Seine River Cruise (approx. $63 CAD) I recommend purchasing the Skip-the-Line ticket and picking the earliest tour time... especially if you want the best pictures when in the Eiffel Tower; fewer people in the early morning.
Notre Dame: I was lucky enough to see this beautiful, historical piece before it burned down - I still recommend paying your respect to the site itself.
Lovre: Home of Mona Lisa - this measure is a must! Surprisingly enough, I loved this tourist sight! It was a great way to spend the afternoon... I do recommend giving yourself 2-3+ hours to visit as there is SO much to see! I also suggest purchasing your tickets prior; this way you save time and money!
Champs-Élysées: This well-known, glamorous shopping area is a must-see even if you do not enjoy shopping! The street is filled with designer shops, elegant cafes, and beautiful architecture! Grab a coffee, a fresh croissant, and just walk - this is a great way to spend your early morning or late afternoon!
Moulin Rouge: I've heard nothing but amazing reviews about this must-see, unfortunately, I was never able to visit due to timing but if you have the time I suggest seeing! Hop-on-Hop-off Paris: I LOVE hop-on-hop-off tours! They are the perfect introduction to the city and a different way to take in the panoramic views of all the iconic sights! I love that you can either sit and listen to your guide or pick and choose your stops! I highly suggest this option whenever visiting big cities! We used Big Bus Paris - I've used this company in plenty of other counties across Europe and I can not recommend them enough. They have great guides, customer service, and prices.
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris: I am so happy we visited this not so hidden gem! This popular landmark is beautiful and filled with history. One of my favourite things about Paris was visiting this landmark - we grabbed a fresh sandwich and laid on the grass for the afternoon.
Seine River Cruise: I highly suggest this cruise in the evening - it is such a lovely way to see the city all lite up at night! When it comes to purchasing tickets there are many different options but I suggest the one-hour evening cruise. Like I said. There's no shortage of recommendations for what to see or do in Paris. The options are endless; there is something for every type of travelers. Personally, my favourite thing to do was to walk the streets aimlessly and to just enjoy everything that the city had to offer.
Paris Tips: Everything You Need to Know About Paris
Language: The official language is French. You don't need to be fluent in French to communicate with Parisians, but knowing the basics will make a huge difference.
Currency: Euro (1 Euro = 1.51 CAD)
Cash VS. Credit Card: Visa is the most widely accepted credit card in Paris. (Master Card is accepted some places) Credit cards will work at most hotels, restaurants, shops, and tour operators. Cash is important for shopping at local markets/shops and for street food. Also, restaurant tips are normally given in cash.
ATM's: I recommend exchanging cash prior to leaving on your trip and/or using airport ATM's. The most popular/reliable ATMs in Paris are BNP Paribas and Barclays.
Wifi: Wifi is everywhere! You can find it in most bus terminals, coffee shops, and restaurants.
SIM Cards: There are so many options for France prepaid SIM cards. Depending on how much data you need and your number of days in France - the three main providers are Orange Prepaid Holiday SIM Card, SFR Prepaid SIM Card, and LeFrenchMobile Prepaid SIM Card. I just use Roger's Home Like Home plan, this saved me the hassle of purchasing a plan, and plus it is only $12/day!
Respect the culture
Know what to do in an emergency - I can not stress this enough (dial 112 for emergencies)
Beware of pickpockets
Service is actually included in your bill. However, a tip of 5-10% is appreciated
Crazy, chaotic traffic - look in all directions
Stick to public transportation
Except Sunday closures
Have your student ID (discounts everywhere)
Always be aware of your surroundings
Beware of common travel scams (I fell for this)
Explore off the beaten path
Free bathrooms are rare - we had a very difficult time finding one
Until next time.
The Blonde Traveler