Oh, man I know this post is way overdue, but it’s finally live! ICYMI: I went to Paris in March for a birthday trip. It took us a hot minute to cull through the hundreds of photos we took, and it also took some time for me to get around and finally schedule this post on my edit calendar. Whoops!
Anyway: I fell in love with Paris, and this is one city I know I definitely want to go back to. I’ll update this guide over time the more visits we make! A full disclaimer about Tom & I before reading this guide: we don’t like super touristy stuff. Obviously, there are some tourist spots we had to hit in Paris. However, we like to live like a local as much as possible while traveling.
Paris Travel Guide:
Getting There & Getting Around
For flights, you have the option to fly into either Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) or
Orly Airport — these are Paris’ two International airports. CDG is about a 45-minute drive from the airport, give or take for traffic. You can Uber to/from the airport. However, it’s not the most cost-effective option. I’d recommend taking either the train or arranging for a shared arrival shuttle to get you into town.
Getting around town, we took the Metro as much as possible, and occasionally took Ubers. We found that the Metro was not only faster, but much cheaper — and as long as you have Google Maps on your phone, you can navigate yourself throughout the city with ease.
Paris Travel Guide Tip: We rented a WiFi hotspot and picked it up at CDG for our trip, so we could use the internet and iMessage when we weren’t at our Airbnb. While my cell phone carrier (Verizon) had an international phone plan, it was $10/day — and I didn’t feel like paying $80 extra on my phone bill!
Where to Stay
For our trip, we opted to stay in an Airbnb in the 11th Arrondissement. We didn’t want to stay in a super touristy area, and the 11th was the perfect area for any foodie or art lover. It’s almost the equivalent of Brooklyn in Paris, and we could easily access other parts of town via the Metro.
99% of the folks we encountered in the 11th spoke English — except for one little cafe that was across the street from us. I took French classes for five years and was able to order food without issue, but I would brush up on basic French phrases just in case if you plan on staying in this area!
Paris Travel Guide: Things to Do
Here are some of the touristy things that are 100% worth it, plus a few other gems:
Eiffel Tower: Duh. Knock this off your bucket list. Start at the Trocadéro to get this shot above, then walk down to the river, and up to the tower. IMO, there’s no need to wait in line and go up to the top of the tower. Have a little wine & cheese picnic underneath the Eiffel Tower at sunset and/or at night — it’s one of the most beautiful sights ever.
Jardin du Palais Royal: Another great spot to have a picnic and do some sightseeing. Since it was still technically winter when we visited, we didn’t get the chance to view the trees and all their foliage. However, it’s still a gorgeous spot no matter what the season.
The Louvre: If you’re going to the Jardin du Palais Royal, you can easily walk over to The Louvre. It’s a long tour, and since we were pressed for time, we did not go inside of the museum. I would definitely buy your tickets in advance to avoid a long wait!
Rue Crémieux: If you’re a color lover, head over to this charming cobbled backstreet and check out some of the most brightly colored houses in town. Afterward, roam around the 12th Arr. and grab dinner or drinks.
Airbnb Experiences: We booked 2 Airbnb experiences during our trip. First, we did a Vintage Night Tour in an old-school Peugeot and got to see some of the most iconic Paris sites at night — and learn some really fun history. The tour is limited to 4 people, and I loved being able to chat with the driver and ask him pretty much anything about the city!
Second, we did a Cheese Tasting in a 17th Century Cheese Cellar, and it was one of the highlights of my trip. Definitely had some of the best cheese of my life here!
Paris Travel Guide: Where to Eat & Drink
La Cave de Septime: A natural wine bar that we visited three times during our stay. So good, and super friendly service!
Le Chalet Savoyard: A delicious raclette spot that left us both in a food coma (in the best possible way!)
The Moose: If you need a break from French fare, come here and enjoy Canadian cuisine.
Holybelly: My favorite brunch spot we visited, hands down. It’s a Melbourne style Café serving a mix of Australian, American, and French dishes. They don’t take reservations, and we did have to wait in line for ~20 minutes — but it was worth it.
L’Oiseau Blanc: This is the rooftop bar at The Peninsula Paris — has the best view of the Effiel Tower, and some incredible gems on the menu (we had a charcuterie rolled in mozzarella, and we still dream about it til this day!)
Easy Day Trips from Paris
While in Paris, we did day trips to London and Reims (AKA the Champagne region of France). You can view my London guide here, and I’ll post the Reims guide in a few weeks (and update this post!)
Have you ever visited Paris?
Photos by Tom McGovern