Updated: Oct 17, 2019
The French capital is one that has been drawing visitors for centuries. From the gorgeous historic monuments to its exceptional cuisine, it is a destination unlike any other. People wander in and out of the museums, cafes, farmers markets, beautiful gardens, and enjoy the romance of the city. This ultimate Paris travel guide will help you plan an unforgettable trip!
Language & Currency
French is the most commonly spoken language, yet there are plenty of people who speak English as well making it easy to adapt and find your way around. The currency is the Euro while most places take credit cards. The touristy areas will even have ATMs and it is wise to carry some cash as your smaller venders may not take cards. Download the Currency Converter App for easy to follow Euro to US currency.
When it comes to the cuisine avoid the big tourist areas, instead opt for the areas where you see the locals eating. If you are a bacon and eggs for breakfast person you may want to google restaurants who serve those type of foods, due to the fact that most French breakfast consists of pastries. Personally I am not a pastry fan. Even I had to do McDonald’s a few times, there are plenty of them around. Let me tell you the European coffee is where I fell in love with coffee, there is nothing in America which I have found that compares. Lunch is always light as well, because Europeans do Dinner in a grand fashion. You will tend to notice that most restaurants have tables outside, this is my favorite thing about Paris with dinner usually being late at night. This was an adjustment since I was waking up at 6am naturally on my own ready to see anything and everything. Remember that dinner is like an event that easily lasts 2 hours; traveling solo this is where I peruse a book and watch everyone who passes by. The waiters will not bring you a check. You must ask for it they will never rush you in the way that American restaurants get you in and out. This is an experience to relax and enjoy.
Public transportation in Paris is a very useful and inexpensive way to get around. As a tourist though the subway confused me until it was explained in detail. The Paris Metro has 301 stations and is one of the most extensive underground transportation systems in the world. The trains being running at 5:3 0am and run un til 1:15 am, Friday and Saturdays until 2 am. The Metro stations will be labeled with a large “M”, always note the zone to which you want to travel. This way you can be sure that you buy the appropriately priced ticket. Each Metro line is labeled by a number that are all colored coded. If you happen to get on one going the wrong direction don’t worry you can get off at the next stop, then get on the correct train without having to purchase another ticket. Once I even opened my maps on my phone and thought “oh no wrong way I am getting further not closer”. There are ticket station windows, although sometimes an employee seems to vanish for 5 to 10 minutes. Each station will have ticket machines some of which take cash, but if you use a card it must have a chip on it. The machines are in several languages so don’t worry about the language barrier. There are multiple ticket types you can choose from, but I recommend purchasing zone 1-2 Carnet which is a book of 10 single use tickets which will cost 12.70 euros. These tickets are valid on the Metro, bus, tram, the Montmartre Funicular, and RER. There are also free maps at the ticket windows. The subway is safe, but be careful of pickpockets.
You can choose to fly into Charles de Gaulle International Airport and can easily reach Paris by train if you are coming from a surrounding city or country in Europe. It is 9 Euros to get into the city from the airport via the RER (the train system). Do not take a taxi they are very overpriced.
Depending on the train you may get a direct one or one that stops at every stop, it is worth it to save your money. If you don’t feel confident in trying to find your hotel/hostel via the train system you can always take the RER to Gare Du Nord, then take a taxi from there. You will save yourself at least 40 euros by doing that.
Must See Places:
Eiffel Tower- It’s not a trip without visiting the Eiffel Tower, however, there is a cost to go up it. Check your Ticket Lens App for the best pricing on all tickets. $35 ticket
The Louvre Museum- The world’s largest art museum and historic monument. This is where the Mona Lisa is stored, it is not as large as I anticipated it to be. I can’t wait for you to see it. You need a full day, if not two days to see everything. It all depends on how much you stop and spend time looking at each piece of art. One of my favorite things was getting a tour guide on Egyptian history and how mummies were preserved. The ticket is $19 or you can get a fast pass with an audio guide for $43.
Catacombs of Paris Underground Ossuaries- This holds the remains of more than 6 million people, otherwise known as the “Gate of Hell”. This was one of my favorite places to tour. If you are a horror movie buff watch “As Above So Below” before going. Ticket $33
Palace of Versailles- The principal royal residence of France from 1682, under Louis XIV until the start of the revolution in 1789. Ticket with audio guide $30
Notre Dame- This historical monument was completed in 1345, it has been the religious heart of the city. Considered the finest example of French Gothic architecture on Earth. Despite the large crowds it won’t be hard to be awed by the famous stained glass and the gargoyle framed panoramas of the city. The fire of 2019 burned the inside of the cathedral, but the outside remains worth seeing.
Top Tip: If you can plan your trip for the first Sunday of the month you can get free entry to all the city’s museums! If your travel plans aren’t flexible the Paris Museum Pass which will save you a lot of money. For $54 you can get a 2-day pass which will give you access to over 60 museums.
Walking Tours, Bikes, & Scooters
Paris Greeters is a free walking tour I recommend taking. It is made up of volunteers who take tourists on walking tours, giving you the opportunity to donate before or after the tour. I take a tour of every place I see, if they offer one. I love to hear about the history and culture of a city.
Paris is an incredible destination for travelers who love history, art, and the finer things in life. There is so much to see and do remember to take your time exploring the top sights leaving room in your itinerary to discover a few spots that are off the beaten track. Paris is a bicycle friendly destination and renting a bike is a great way to see the city. Although you can rent a motor scooter, everywhere I go I rent a scooter for a day driving all over the city to take it in. It is around $83 a day so I only do one day, yet it is usually a 24-hour rental.
List of Things you need
Universal Travel Adapter International
Head Phones Wireless Bone Conduction
Phone Charger Cord
Copies of Passport (Email yourself a copy)
Credit Card & Bank contact info
1 Body Glove full piece swimsuit
1 Lightweight Jacket North Face
Tampons or Pads
Shampoo & Conditioner In One Professional
I have never had anything stolen when traveling but I always say if you cannot afford to lose it don’t take it. I like to buy good quality products that will last for years but are super affordable. You will never see me on vacation with a Louis Vuitton wallet or a $400 backpack. Which I have neither haha.
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