Using this complete Paris, France travel guide, discover the City of Lights’ magnetic charm and timeless allure while exploring its’ iconic landmarks.
From regal Eiffel Tower to the Gothic grandeur of Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris is sure to captivate you.
Stroll along the Seine River, where charming bridges and bookstalls line the banks, or wander through the artistic haven of Montmartre with its narrow streets and vibrant bohemian spirit.
Bienvenue à Paris, where every moment tells a story, and every street corner whispers a secret of its own.
I have visited this magical city 5 times over the years, and every time find new neighborhoods to fall in love with.
My last visit was at the end of August 2023 with my oldest daughter to celebrate her 28th birthday in this perfect mother/daughter or girls’ trip destination.
This post is part of a four part series on visiting Paris. You can read the top things to see and do in Paris here, tips on a day trip to the Palace of Versailles here, and a guide to a day trip to Veuve Clicquot in Reims here.
In a rush?
Paris Travel Guide
- The Little Details
- Best Places to Stay in Paris
- Best Places to Eat and Drink in Paris
- Top Things to Do in Paris
- Eiffel Tower
- Louvre Museum
- Arc de Triomphe and Champs de Elysees
- Walk Along the Seine River
- Notre Dame Cathedral
- Sacre Coeur
- Jardin des Tuileries
- Jardin de Luxembourg
- Sainte Chapelle
- Saint-Eustache Church
- Palace of Versailles
- Avenue Montaigne
- La Galerie Dior
- Saint Germain des Pres
- National Library of France
- Cemetery du Pére-Lachaise
- What to Wear in Paris in Summer
- Our Full 12 Day Itinerary in a Nutshell
The Little Details
How to Get to Paris
Paris has two major airports: Orly (ORY) and Charles de Gaulle (CDG).
CDG, to the northeast, reigns as a major international hub, serving a vast array of long-haul international flights.
While ORY, situated to the south, focuses more on domestic and European flights.
CDG’s sheer size and multiple terminals can initially be overwhelming, while ORY’s more streamlined layout often provides a smoother and more straightforward journey, especially for shorter-haul destinations.
As you make your choice, consider the location of your accommodation, the airlines operating at each airport, and the nature of your travel itinerary.
For my August 2023 trip, I flew on American Airlines from San Diego to Dallas and then Dallas to CDG (my daughter met me in Paris a few days later).
On this trip, the second half of our adventure was in London for which we took the Eurostar from Paris. After 3 days in London, we flew home together on the British Airways nonstop flight to San Diego ;).
Traveling on the Eurostar is an incredible experience as well as relatively simple. Purchase your tickets in advance on the Eurostar website.
If you can swing it, I highly recommend booking the Business Premier class which gives you access to the lounges in Paris, London, and Brussels as well as very comfortable seating on the train.
How to Get Around Paris
Paris is an extremely walkable city. If you are looking for a place to help you get a some steps in on vacation – look no further.
The city has minimal hills (minus Montmartre) so wandering around on foot is not super strenous.
Another fun way to get around the city is the Batobus. This hop on hop off river boat is a unique way to get to all the big landmarks in Paris as well as see a different viewpoint from the Seine River.
Uber, buses and the metro are also viable options for getting around Paris (we used Uber when we weren’t walking ;)).
Best Time of Year to Visit Paris
While I personally have only visited Paris in summer (FOUR TIMES!) and then once in December, I know we always hit peak tourist season.
Now that my kids are all adulting in the real world, I hope to stay home June, July, and August and do my exploring any other time of the year.
December was also busy season in Paris but all the Christmas lights and festivities make up for the crowds ;).
All this to say – if you can avoid June, July, and August, I would.
I have read that Paris is magical even in the cold of February and I would also love to see fall colors in Paris someday which would be a late October vacation ;).
How Many Days You Need in Paris
Even on this last trip to Paris with six full days in the City of Lights, I still left wanting to come back and sit at more cafes ;).
You can see the big landmarks in 3 days so I wouldn’t try to plan a trip with less than that but 4 or 5 would be most ideal.
Money and Plugs Details in Paris
Paris, like the rest of France, uses the Euro (€) as its official currency.
The three pronged plug is the mainland Europe standard.
Best Places to Stay in Paris
When planning my 2023 trip, I wanted a high end hotel but didn’t want to pay 1000’s of dollars.
Enter Madame Reve ;). The location is perfect for walking to the Louvre as well as the artsy 6th arrondissement neighborhood of the city.
Once my daughter arrived in Paris, I moved with her to a rental next to the Eiffel Tower in the 7th arrondissement. In fact, the guest that stayed at our rental before us was Katie Holmes ;0.
This boutique hotel chain is one of my favorites. It’s hip and stylish, relatively reasonably priced, and in a great location in Paris.
Photos courtesy of The Hoxton Instagram
For our Christmas trip to France in 2018, we stayed at the Hotel Lancaster which is right off the Champs Elysees. It is obviously perfectly located and a wonderful place to stay to explore all the neighborhoods of Paris.
Photos courtesy of Hotel Lancaster Instagram
Located in the fabulously artsy 6th arrondissement and owned by the same group that owns the famous Les Deux Magots Cafe, this boutique hotel is most certainly where I plan to sleep during my next visit to Paris!
Best Places to Eat and Drink in Paris
My daughter did some great planning for her birthday trip to Paris in August 2023 ;). One of her coworkers gave her a list of all her own favorites.
With our five full days in the City of Lights, we managed to eat (or drink!) at quite a few of those recommended places. Here are our favorites:
Located on the Trocadero with incredible views of the Eiffel Tower, this high end restaurant was worth every penny!
Reservations can be a challenge to get but do as my daughter did and keep trying for that cancellation (which is how we got our reservation on my daughter’s actual birthday ;)).
Another Trocadero find that is also worth it! This was our first dinner together in Paris and after 9:30p the restaurant had a DJ and dancing ;0.
This Parisien literary cafe has been visited by many a famous writer, including Ernest Hemingway.
Be sure to allow plenty of time to sit on one of their outdoor chairs and watch the city’s magic. Even if it’s a hot summer day like it was for us – be sure to try their famous hot chocolate!
We were lucky and did not have to wait at all (with no reservation!) but I have read their can be a long line so book online to experience this iconic brasserie.
Located in the Palais de Tokyo museum across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower, the brunch here is heavenly. Be sure to make a reservation online ;).
Okay – this one had to be put on the list because of the memorable experience that it is, however the food and drink is just mediocre.
There are many dinner river cruise companies but Bateaux Parisiens is the best ;).
Be sure to pay the extra for the “privilige service” so that you are next to the window for the views. We booked the sunset timed cruise in August at 8:30pm.
Located in one of my favorite neighborhoods in Paris, Le Consulat is an Instagram famous cafe.
And despite this popularity, I would still recommend sitting down for a cup of onion soup!! It was honestly my first time having this classic French dish, and now I cannot have it anywhere else ;0.
Not only is this little pastry shop so fun to photograph, the views of Notre Dame from the top floor are worth climbing the three floors up!
I ordered a couple of cream puffs and a Diet Coke (I am not a coffee drinker ;0) and went upstairs for about an hour. I met multiple other guests and had lovely conversations with them – all while enjoying the views out the little window.
This is a must stop in my opinion!
Supposedly the best crepe in all of Paris (minus the little carts in the jardins of the city!).
With multiple locations throughout the city, I went to the Odeon location. This location is on a quiet side street with plenty of people watching opportunities ;).
The next three bars were all on our itinerary thanks to my daughter’s coworker and wow did she not lead us astray!
Bar Hemingway, nestled within the Ritz Paris hotel, exudes timeless elegance and literary charm, offering an intimate and sophisticated atmosphere where patrons can savor expertly crafted cocktails in the very footsteps of the legendary writer Ernest Hemingway.
This bar is quite small in size and does not take bookings. We got to the Ritz at 5:30p on the dot right when it opened and were able to be seated right away :).
The aperitifs and cocktails we had while enjoying our time in this cozy bar were divine.
The views. Do I need to say more?
Oh and again, the aperitifs and cocktails were insane.
I mean – it is one of the most expensive hotels in Paris I guess (oh and if you can splurge and get a room here – DO IT!!). Someday I will stay at the Peninsula Paris…
The above one of a kind Hermes Bugatti was parked out front for the evening we visited the rooftop. Little did we know when taking that photo how special it is (or that it is worth 6 million Euros ;0).
Last bar on this list, but certainly equally as gorgeous and with delightful aperitifs and cocktails just like the others mentioned on this list!
A small Laduree shop is next door so we brought our treats to Le Meurice to enjoy with some amazing cocktails and other snacks.
Be sure to peak in to Restaurant le Meurice Alain Ducasse at the entrance to the hotel – the design is inspired by a salon room in the Chateau de Versailles and is truly a breathtaking ballroom.
If you can – try to have brunch, tea, or even dinner in this room (I will be doing so on a return visit I hope ;)).
The tables in my photo below were moved to the side while they were cleaning the carpet in the room but the staff let me take a peak anyway!!
This list is an abbreviated version of my blog post with the best things to do in Paris that you can read here.
But if you are looking for just a quick list – here are my suggestions for what to do in Paris…
Arc de Triomphe and Champs de Elysees
Walk Along the Seine River
Notre Dame Cathedral
Palace of Versailles
La Galerie Dior
Saint Germain des Pres
What to Wear in Paris in Summer
It was quite warm for us during our end of August/beginning of September visit to Paris.
Since this is a heavy walking destination, my biggest suggestion is great walking shoes!
We wore light sweaters on and off during our week in the city…
Our Full 12 Day Itinerary in a Nutshell
- Day 1 Fly San Diego to Paris via Dallas on British Airways
- Day 2 Arrive Paris
- Day 3 in Paris
- Explore Louvre grounds
- Walk along the Seine River to Saint Germain des Pres neighborhood and Odette Pastry Shop
- Walk to Jardin du Luxembourg
- Tour Sainte-Chapelle
- Day 4 in Paris
- Day trip to Versailles (while my oldest daughter arrived in Paris)
- Dinner at Cafe de l’Homme
- Day 5 in Paris
- Brunch at Monsieur Bleu
- Walk along Seine to get different viewpoints of the Eiffel Tower (best is Passerelle Debilly)
- Dinner at Girafe Cafe
- Day 6 Day trip to Reims to tour Veuve Clicquot champagne house
- Day 7 in Paris
- Eiffel Tower (11am tickets)
- Walk down Avenue George and Avenue Champs-Elysees (see Arc de Triomphe) and Avenue Montaigne
- La Galerie Dior (3:30pm tickets)
- Drinks at Bar 228 in Le Meurice Hotel
- Dinner at Les Deux Magots
- Drinks (again) at Le Rooftop at the Peninsula Hotel
- Day 8 in Paris
- Brunch at Le Consulat
- Walk around Montmartre
- Visit Sacre Coeur and the sinking house and photo booth
- Drinks at Hemingway Bar at the Ritz
- Seine River dinner cruise
- Day 9 – take Eurostar to London
- Visit Leadenhall Market and Sky Garden
- Day 10 in London
- Walk through St James’s Park to Buckingham Palace tour (11am tickets)
- Lunch at Harrods Department Store
- Go to Camden Market
- Day 11 in London
- Brunch at Sketch
- Walk around Covent Garden and Neal’s Yard
- Dinner at Mamma Mia the Experience at the O2
- Day 12 fly home to San Diego nonstop on British Airways
I hope you found this Paris travel guide helpful in planning your Parisian getaway.
Whether you’re exploring the Louvre’s hallowed halls, sipping wine in a sidewalk café, or simply taking in the city’s romantic ambiance, Paris invites you to surrender to its magnetic charm and create memories that linger long after you bid adieu.
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