Table of Contents
- Traveling to Paris for the First Time – Paris Trip Planner
- 1. Best Time to Visit Paris
- 2. Paris Travel Planner: Booking your Flight /Train Tickets
- 3. Documents for your Trip to Paris
- 4. Where to Stay in Paris
- 5. Accommodation in Paris
- 6. What to Wear in Paris
- 7. How to Get from Paris Airports to City
- 8. What to do in Paris for First-Timers
- 9. Transportation in Paris
- 10. Eating in Paris
- 11. Last but not least . . .
- Visiting Paris for the First Time on a Short Layover?
- Join France Bucket List – Our France Travel Planning Facebook Group
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Traveling to Paris for the First Time – Paris Trip Planner
Visiting Paris for the first time? Does travel planning take so much of your time and effort? Don’t you know where to get reliable information for your first trip to Paris? Paris for first-timers can be overwhelming, that’s why we decided to help! Our Paris Travel Planner is the best tool to plan a trip to Paris, with many Paris travel tips for your first time in Paris.
READ MORE – Top Insider Tips for a Unique Trip to Paris
Good reads before visiting Paris
1. Best Time to Visit Paris
“Paris is always a good idea” and there is never a bad time to visit Paris. The city has great parks and beautiful avenues and streets but it has also some of the best museums in the world and other interesting indoor options.
If you are flexible with dates, consider are the low /high season and the weather in Paris. If you are traveling on a budget, choose the cheapest days to fly (usually Tuesday and Wednesday). This is what you need to know:
Best Season to Visit Paris (Paris Annual Weather)
What is the best season to visit Paris? This graphic below represents the weather in Paris year-round, average temperatures (in Celsius) and average rainfall (%).
Spring in Paris means lots of green, trees in flower and the city is famous for its cherry blossoms. However, temperatures are still fresh (minimums of 4C° to 10C°), with frequent rains. Don’t forget to pack an umbrella and a jacket in your Paris day bag.
Paris is one of the best summer destinations in Europe. Indeed, summer in Paris means longer days, a nice temperature (maximums of 23C° to 25C°) and there are festivals and outdoor options everywhere. However, summer is also the high season in Paris which means more tourists, long lines to visit Paris’ main attractions and higher prices.
Fall is in our opinion the best time to go to Paris. During fall in Paris, the colors of the trees are gorgeous, temperatures are still nice (maximums of 11C° to 21C°) and there are definitely fewer people around. Last couple of years we could organize outdoor activities until mid-November, with nice and sunny days.
Winter in Paris is not the best time to visit Paris in terms of weather (minimums of 2C° to 7°C and only 4 to 5 hours of light). However, some people love visiting Paris in the wintertime to see Paris at Christmas, especially the best Christmas markets in Paris. Also, there are lots of romantic things to do in Paris for Saint Valentine’s Day in February.
Tourist Season in Paris
The high season in Paris is considered from 1st April to 31st October. It means nice weather and more hours of daylight and many people will tell you this is the best time to visit Paris. But at the same time, high season in Paris is not the best season to plan a trip to Paris in terms of budget (best accommodation sold out, higher prices). Also, the city is too crowded with tourists while locals are somewhere else on holiday.
The low season in Paris goes from 1st November to 31st March, with the exception of Paris at Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Paris. This is the cheapest time to visit Paris and the best time to visit Paris to avoid the crowds. If you decide to travel off-season, you will get a more local experience and it will be easier to find good deals on accommodation, for example.
In the end, Paris is a movable feast and (sun or rain) you will have a great time.
Best Time to go to Paris: Our Paris Travel Tips
Be flexible with your dates. Flexibility is key, especially if you are planning a trip to Paris on a budget. Flight tickets or train tickets to Paris will be more expensive:
» During the school holidays ;
» During holidays in France or Europe;
» If you are arriving /leaving on the weekend;
» During days like New Year’s Eve or Saint Valentine’s Day.
If you are a museum lover, the best time to go to Paris for you will be probably the first weekend of the month. On the first Sunday of the month, many museums in Paris can be visited for free. Some of these museums have this offer all the year while other museums, instead, are only for free during the winter.
2. Paris Travel Planner: Booking your Flight /Train Tickets
Paris has 3 airports: Paris Charles de Gaulle (North of Paris), Paris Orly (South of Paris) and Paris Beauvais which, despite its name, is in the city of Beauvais (80 km North of Paris). If you are traveling overseas, you will probably land to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. If you are traveling with a low-cost airline like Ryan Air, you will probably land at Paris Beauvais Airport.
Charles de Gaulle Aiport and Orly Airport are more or less at the same distance from Paris so if you are traveling from Europe, you can choose whatever flight (or flight company) you like. We don’t like Orly that much so we always try to book flights from /to Paris Charles de Gaulle. But this is just our opinion.
We always search for flights with Kayak.com, it is one of our favorite booking sites and very easy to use. With Kayak there are no additional costs at the end of the booking process: since the beginning, we know what we will pay by introducing our preferred payment method and items to check-in.
If you are traveling to Paris from Europe, high-speed trains are a good option. Paris has many train stations so depending on your origin you will arrive at a different Paris train station. Here are some of the main European destinations served from the stations in Paris.
» Gare du Nord: London (Eurostar), Brussels, Cologne, and Amsterdam (Thalys)
» Gare de l’Est: Germany, and Luxembourg
» Gare de Lyon: Switzerland (Geneva, Zurich), Italy, and Catalunya (Girona, Barcelona)
» Gare d’Austerlitz: Western Spain.
We always use Rail Europe to book our train tickets from /to Paris. The website is very easy to use, proposing interesting promotions from time to time.
3. Documents for your Trip to Paris
France is one of the 26 Schengen countries. Citizens of the European Union, other EEA countries (Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland can enter and exit the Schengen area by right, and only require a valid national identity card or passport to cross its borders and remain for as long as they wish. If your country does not make part of this list, please check with your local authorities what documents you need to go to Paris.
IMPORTANT: If you need a Schengen visa to enter France or another European country in the Schengen Area, you must have international health insurance. A letter from your insurance company is required for your Schengen visa application. This needs to mention that you will be covered in Europe for any medical, evacuation and repatriation expenses during your whole stay. The Schengen travel insurance needs to cover medical expenses for at least $35,000 or 30,000 euros. No travel insurance = no Eiffel Tower.
4. Where to Stay in Paris
Planning a trip to Paris for the first time can be challenging, especially when it comes to deciding which area you want to stay in Paris.
Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements (districts of Paris) which are also administrative divisions. In each Paris Arrondissement, there is a town hall and a mayor, as well as elected officials, a council, a politician, and so on. Of course, each division is still subject to the overall policy of the city and the mayor of Paris, the socialist Anne Hidalgo.
To find your bearings in Paris there is a little trick: the 1st Paris arrondissement is in the center of Paris, then the other Paris arrondissements are located forming a spiral turning clockwise, to finish in the 20th in the east.
Choosing where to stay when you visit Paris for the first time is a difficult decision because each Paris Arrondissement has its own character and charm. You may find helpful our Arrondissements of Paris posts. On these posts, we give you the essence of each arrondissement and our tips to explore Paris like a local. We started this series of posts in April 2017 so it will take us some time to reach Paris 20 but we will make it!
5. Accommodation in Paris
So you got your train or flight tickets for your trip to Paris and the countdown starts! In the previous chapter, you have more or less decided where to stay in Paris (the Arrondissement of Paris). The next step of our Paris Trip Planner is to book your accommodation.
Hotels and Hostels in Paris
In a city like Paris, there is accommodation for all budgets, the sky is the limit!
If you are traveling on a budget, check our post with the best hostels in Paris (dorms but also private rooms). You will be surprised at how cute our proposals are but in a city like Paris, it could not be otherwise!
For those people with a higher budget and looking for hotels that give a distinctive feel, we hand-picked some unique hotels in Paris with themed rooms for couples to visit the City of Light in style.
Finally, if your budget is even higher, treat yourself and book a room in one of the best historic hotels in Paris, fabulous Palace Hotels in Paris and 5-star Hotels in Paris with a rich history and excellent facilities. If you want to enjoy the essence of Paris also from your room. go for a Paris hotel with Eiffel Tower view.
When it comes to booking your bed in Paris, the best site to search and compare different accommodation options in Europe is Booking.com because you have everything from hostels to luxury hotels. What we have found quite regularly on Booking.com is that you can get a room in a small hotel for the same price as a hostel. Research makes all the difference!
Furnished Apartments in Paris
For a much more local experience, consider renting an apartment in Paris. This is definitely a much more local option than a hotel or a hostel, plus it has some other advantages. For example, a Paris furnished apartment will give you a little more room to spread out and be comfortable, there are more privacy and freedom than in hotels or hostels and you can even cook some of your meals to save money. If you decide to rent an apartment in Paris we recommend Booking.com which also does apartment rentals for travelers with very good service.
Have in mind that this kind of apartments is very requested in Paris. For this reason, owners prefer bookings for longer stays rather than just a weekend.
In the end, both hotels and apartments for travelers have their pros and cons. Your best option mostly depends on the type of experience you are looking for and the length of your stay.
Accommodation in Paris: Tips and Tricks
» Book in advance. Paris is one of the cities attiring most visitors in this world so if you book in advance you will have more options and better prices. Arriving in a hostel or hotel without a reservation and trying to negotiate the price for long stays does not work in Paris.
» Avoid Famous Places in Paris if you are traveling on a budget. Accommodation located in iconic places in Paris like Montmartre or Ile de la Cité tends to be more expensive. And it is not only about the hostel or hotel itself, usually in these areas restaurants, bars and food are also more expensive.
» Check our Recommendations. On our Arrondissements of Paris posts, we handpicked some cool options in each price bracket for a specific district of Paris. We spent some time (there are more than 1500 hotels in Paris!) checking their exact location, facilities, and client reviews to be sure you get good value for your money.
6. What to Wear in Paris
What should you be packing for Paris? You would like to wear comfortable clothes and shoes but you don’t want to look like a tourist. How to dress like a local in Paris?
Women’s outfits are simple, chic and beautiful. Parisian women’s motto is “Less is More”, with a minimum of items which are versatile and easy to combine. Parisians’ wardrobe has affordable basics mixed with great accessories. Most Parisian women wear classic outfits that you probably have in your closet already. Have a look at our Paris Packing List Fall /Winter and Paris Packing List Spring / Summer.
Paris Chic Inspiration on Amazon
The Parisian man, instead, wants to have his own style, without showing off. He does not wear unusual colors or logos. The Parisian male loves to layer (putting a shirt on underneath a sweater, which is underneath a coat . .) creating effortlessly cool outfits, like if they have chosen it with no thought at all. Have a look at our Paris Packing List for Men Fall /Winter and Paris Packing List for Men Spring /Summer.
7. How to Get from Paris Airports to City
If you don’t live in Europe you will probably arrive in Paris by plane. Currently, there are 153 air companies flying to Paris so you can fly to the City of Light from anywhere in the world!
There are three airports near Paris: Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG Airport), Orly Airport (ORY Airport) and Paris Beauvais Airport, located more or less far from the city center. You have different options to get to Paris, depending on which airport you land.
Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris
Private Transportation – The Most Comfortable:
We like Welcome ‘s transfer services, with good cars and the best English speaking drivers in Paris. Their flight monitoring means their drivers are always on time. Welcome proposes the same price as a regular Taxi from the line but they are waiting for you and they know the best way to bring you to your hotel at a fixed price (no taximeter stress). With Welcome, you can also pre-book some essentials for your stay in Paris like sim cards or hot spots. These essentials are delivered by your Welcomer so you are all set since you land to Paris!
Public Transportation – The Fastest: take the train from CDG Airport to Paris (RER B). The single train ticket costs 10.30€ for a train journey from Paris airport to the city center of 40 minutes. You can use the same ticket inside Paris during the next hour and a half after the first validation.
Public Transportation – The Cheapest:
Take bus #350 (CDG Airport to Gare de l’Est) for a journey from Paris airport to the city center of 60-80 minutes from the starting point and a frequency of 15-30 min. Click here to find all the bus stops and its schedule (“horaires de passage”).
Take the bus #351 (CDG Airport to Place de la Nation) for a journey 70-90 minutes from the starting point and a frequency of 15-30 min. Click here to find all the bus stops and its schedule (“horaires de passage”).
You can pay for this bus with 3 single tickets T+. Every single T+ ticket costs 1,90 €. If you buy a pack of 10 tickets (“carnet de 10”, total cost 14,90€) you will be paying 1,49€ per single ticket so the bus ride will cost you 4.47 €. If you decide to buy this ride directly on the bus the cost will be 6€.
Orly Airport to Paris
Private Transportation – The Most Comfortable:
We like Welcome ‘s transfer services, with good cars and the best English speaking drivers in Paris. Their flight monitoring means their drivers are always on time. Welcome proposes the same price as a regular Taxi from the line but they are waiting for you and they know the best way to bring you to your hotel. With Welcome, you can also pre-book some essentials for your stay in Paris like sim cards or hot spots. These essentials are delivered by your Welcomer so you are all set since you land to Paris!
Public Transportation – The Fastest:
Use the combination Orly Val + Train (RER B). The combined ticket costs 12.05 € for a journey from Paris airport to the city center of 6min (Orly Val) + 33 min (train). If you buy the tickets separately you will pay 9.30 € + 10.30€ (=19.60 €).
There is also a direct bus, Orly Bus, leaving from Place Denfert Rochereau (Paris 14) to Orly Airport. The price of this bus ticket is 8.30€ for a total ride of 25-30 min, depending on the traffic.
Public Transportation – The Cheapest:
If you are traveling on a budget and you have lots of time, take the tramway #7 + Metro. With one single T+ ticket, take the tramway to its last stop, Villejuif – Louis Aragon. There you can take the Parisian metro (line 7) to your final destination in Paris. The total ride lasts around 45 minutes.
How to get from Beauvais Airport to Paris
Beauvais airport has a shuttle service from Paris Beauvais to Porte Maillot Bus Station. The ticket costs 17€ (or 15.90€ if you buy it online in advance) for a journey of 1h 15min. Once you arrive at Porte Maillot Bus Station you can take the metro at Porte Maillot metro station (line 1). Your shuttle ticket does not include the metro ride so you will need to buy a T+ metro ticket to reach your final destination.
8. What to do in Paris for First-Timers
Main Paris Tourist Attractions
What to do in Paris? If you are traveling to Paris for the first time you will probably want to visit the main Paris tourist attractions. The top tourist attractions in Paris (by the number of visitors) are the following *:
- Musée du Louvre 8.7M visitors
- Tour Eiffel 6.9M visitors
- Musée d’Orsay 3.4M visitors
- Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie 1.9M visitors
- Grand Palais 1.77M visitors
- Arc de Triomphe 1.76M visitors
- Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle 1.67M visitors
- Musée de l’Armée (Les Invalides) 1.41M visitors
- Musée du Quai Branly 1.3M visitors
- Tour Montparnasse 1M visitors
X*Latest Published Source: Bilan de l’Activité Touristique de l’Année 2015 by Paris Région
The Louvre Museum
If you are a museum lover, there are 99% of chances that you may want to visit the Louvre Museum and the best of Louvre Palace. Visiting one of the biggest museums in the world spontaneously is not a very good idea, it is better to have a plan! Learn how to get the most out of the Louvre in 2 hours or less.
Lines to visit the main Paris tourist attractions are guaranteed. Long lines. If you are planning a trip to Paris and you want to visit most of these famous places in Paris you may find convenient to buy a Paris Museum Pass.
The Paris Museum Pass offers visitors direct access to 55 of Paris top attractions and museums in Paris. If your time is limited and you want to visit as many Paris Tourist Places as you can, the Paris Museum Pass is for you. There are three available options: a 2-day pass, a 4 days pass or 6 days pass. You can purchase the Paris Museum Pass in different places like Paris airports, Paris museums included in the Paris Museum pass or dedicated kiosks. To avoid the hassle, we recommend purchasing this pass online. Your pass starts working only when you visit the first Paris attraction so you can buy it months in advance without any problem. Find all you need to know about the Paris Museum Pass in our Paris Museum Pass Review.
If you want to visit only few Paris monuments or attractions but still you hate the idea of wasting your time waiting in line, probably the best option for you is to buy separate Paris skip the line tickets or tours. We recommend buying Skip the Line Eiffel Tower and Louvre Skip the Line Tickets online. Also, the Paris Catacombs Tour Skip the Line is worth the investment.
Unique Things to Do in Paris /Paris Off the Beaten Path
Apart from the top sights in Paris, there are other fantastic, sometimes quirky, things to do and visit up and down the city. On this blog, we spend lots of time exploring these unusual things to do in Paris. Check our Paris Bucket List and our Paris Hidden Gems to explore Paris Off the Beaten Path.
Feeling overwhelmed? No, please! We have some cool Paris Travel Itineraries to help planning your days in Paris. Check this 2 days in Paris Itinerary or this 3 days in Paris Itinerary, all with our best tips!
Best Day Trips from Paris /Best Paris Day Tours
If you have a couple of extra days in the city, go and visit the surroundings of Paris. Apart from Disneyland Paris or Versailles Palace and Gardens, there are many other interesting side trips from Paris to see awesome French châteaux or cute small towns. Most of these day trips from Paris are very easy to reach by public transportation.
9. Transportation in Paris
Paris is a very walkable city and the best way to get around Paris is on foot. However, there are other means of transportation in Paris which are also very handy:
Visit Paris by Metro
The Parisian Metro is Europe’s best subway system and allows locals and visitors to go from one point to another one quickly and cheaply. The Parisian metro is the second oldest metro in the world, it is working since 1900! When you visit Paris by metro remember that it has some really beautiful metro stations worth the visit.
Navigate Paris by Bike
Environmentally friendly, cheap, healthy and surprisingly convenient for navigating perilously congested city streets, the bike is becoming the preferred mode of transportation in Paris. World In Paris has a soft spot for bikes, especially for beautiful vintage bikes! If you want to use the bike in Paris, check our Paris by Bike Quick Guide, with all that you need to know if you want to bike in Paris.
Explore Paris by Electric Kick Scooter
It is official: electric kick scooters for adults are a trend in Paris! Today, many Parisians are opting for foldable electric scooters to get to work or simply have fun in the park and the streets. Have a look at the best electric kick scooters for adults, get the one you like, and explore Paris differently.
In our opinion, la Seine is the most beautiful avenue in Paris and if you are traveling to Paris for the first time you should consider a boat cruise on the Seine River. Admire Notre Dame, Les Invalides, the famous Eiffel Tower and life in general from another perspective, from the water!
If you are not interested in a tourist river cruise, the city of Paris proposes alternative Batobus. The Batobus works like a bus, with 9 different stops along the Seine and without the blah blah for tourists. Boats are smaller (up to 200 people), passengers can carry their own bike and it is definitely a much more local experience.
10. Eating in Paris
Do you want to know what to eat in Paris? Check our Yummy Paris page, with all about food in Paris: famous food in Paris, where to eat in Paris (with tips from the locals!), French food festivals in Paris, cheap eats, food tours and much more.
11. Last but not least . . .
Never leave home without travel insurance. Unfortunately, s**t happens and if it happens while traveling you will want to be covered. Check our post about different types of Travel Insurance for Paris or Europe to get the full picture.
We use and recommend SafetyWing.com, specially designed for travel nomads and travelers in general. Summer or winter travel, sightseeing city breaks or adventure travels, SafetyWing has the best insurance proposal to cover your needs.
Now that we have covered all the aspects of Planning a Trip to Paris, we only need to wish you Bon Voyage!
Visiting Paris for the First Time on a Short Layover?
If your first trip to Paris will be a short layover only, check our Layover in Paris post, with some ideas on things to do and our best tips. This post was specially written for those people who are traveling to Paris for a few hours only, but who still want to get a glimpse of the City of Lights.
Join France Bucket List – Our France Travel Planning Facebook Group
You are also welcome to join France Bucket List our France Travel Planning Facebook Group – it is a great resource to enable you to ask questions about your upcoming trip to Paris or France!
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