10 tips for travelling to Paris

Visiting Paris, the City of Lights, is a dream come true for many. Its monuments, museums, gardens and charm make it one of the most visited cities in Europe, but for everything to go well it is necessary to follow a few tips.

Joaquín Montaño

Joaquín Montaño

10 min read

10 tips for travelling to Paris

Aerial View of the Arc de Triomphe at Night | ©Alexus Goh

When you start planning a trip to Paris, it is usually important to establish some tours and study everything you can visit in Paris. The large number of attractions makes this step essential to take advantage of the time, but sometimes some equally important practical details are left aside.

For that reason, in this article I leave you some simple tips to make the trip go well. Sometimes it's the small details that make the difference between a great experience and a troubled stay, such as knowing how to get around the city or the possibilities of buying a tourist card to save a little and increase comfort.

1. Visit the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower when the crowds are not too high

Photo of the Eiffel Tower| ©Valentin Antonucci
Photo of the Eiffel Tower| ©Valentin Antonucci

If there are two places that should always be visited when traveling to Paris(even if you only spend 1 day in Paris) those are the Louvre museum and the Eiffel Tower. Their importance, however, can make it too crowded and the experience may not be as satisfying as you wish.

To try to escape the crowds you should take into account the busiest times, as well as which are, in principle, more conducive to see both attractions with more tranquility:

  • As for when to go to the Louvre Museum, the ideal would be not to visit the museum between 11:00 and 16:00, as this is the time of day when you can find more crowds. Remember that it opens its doors around 9:00 am, so getting up early to have time to see the Louvre more quietly could be the solution. Likewise, you can also go in the afternoon or take advantage of the days when the opening hours are later, usually until 21:30 or so.
  • Climbing the Eiffel Tower during the high season, in summer in Paris, usually involves long queues, especially on weekends. Outside this period, the crowds drop off quite a bit, but my advice is to try to get there early, before 10:30. Another good time to go up is from 17:00 or at night.

Buy your tickets for the Eiffel Tower

2. Book your tickets in advance for the most visited places

Catatombs of Paris| ©MykReeve
Catatombs of Paris| ©MykReeve

Paris is one of the cities in the world that receives more tourists every year. One of the consequences of this attraction is the endless queues that form in front of its main tourist sites. These waits, in addition to generating discomfort, end up being a great waste of time, especially in cases where the stay is short, and, to avoid them, there is only one solution: buy tickets in advance.

Fortunately, many of the attractions of Paris offer that option to avoid having to endure long waits, from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower, as well as other of the most emblematic monuments of Paris:

Oh, by the way, if you are going to visit Disneyland Paris, don't forget to buy your one or two-day tickets in advance.

Buy your ticket for Paris museums

3. Save money on the metro with one of the available passes

Metro in Paris| ©FranceHouse
Metro in Paris| ©FranceHouse

The French capital has a very efficient public transport network being the metro the main way to move around the city quickly, as it will allow you to avoid the existing traffic.

In my article How to use the metro in Paris I explain all the factors you should take into account. Among them, the great usefulness of the "Next Stop" application , which includes a practical map of the lines in operation and allows you to calculate itineraries without having to be connected to the internet. Among the different types of tickets we can find:

  • Ticket t+: this is the single ticket. If you are not going to use the metro much, it will be enough for you.
  • Paris Visite: there are several modalities depending on the validity (between 1 and 5 days) and the areas you want to visit. It also includes discounts for some of the tourist attractions in Paris.
  • Navigo Pass: in principle, this pass is cheaper than the previous one if the stay is going to be about a week in Paris. The main disadvantage is that it is somewhat more complicated to obtain, since you need a passport-sized photograph and pay 5 € non-refundable.

4. Save on your visits with the Tourist Card

Paris Pass| ©AntisocialClub
Paris Pass| ©AntisocialClub

Unless you are lucky enough to be able to extend your stay in Paris for more than 7 days, to make the most of your time you will have to make a prior list of what you want to see. In the economic aspect, also important, it is interesting to investigate the options that the French capital offers.

Possibly the best way to save on your visits is the Paris Pass tourist card. It is a card with which you have significant discounts when entering more than 60 attractions, including entry to the Louvre Museum, the Arc de Triomphe or the Basilica of Saint-Denis.

In addition, it is also worth knowing that the first Sunday of each month you can enter many museums for free.

Buy your Paris Pass

5. Discover Paris by taking a tour or the tourist bus

Paris Sightseeing Bus| ©Tilemahos Efthimiadis
Paris Sightseeing Bus| ©Tilemahos Efthimiadis

The sheer size of Paris (plus the surrounding area) and the sheer number of places to visit can make sightseeing complicated. Getting from one place to another takes time that you may not have, not to mention the time spent researching how to get to each monument. To avoid this, one of the best options is to hire one of the many tours that can be done in Paris. Practically everyone will find one that suits his or her interests:

Another option to save time are the tourist buses. These allow you to get on and off as many times as you want and usually tour the most interesting places in the city. On the one hand, we can get a seat on the Big Bus; on the other hand, we can reserve a seat on the Toot bus, which also includes two self-guided walking tours through different areas of the capital.

Finally, you can always resort to an interesting option that the city offers its visitors: the Batobus. It is a boat that travels along the Seine with the same conditions as a tourist bus, as it allows you to get on and off at its many stops near the most important attractions.

Book a tour of Paris

6. Dare to get to know the other Paris

Montmartre district of Paris| ©Ed Webster
Montmartre district of Paris| ©Ed Webster

Although it will always depend on how long you are in a city, personally one of the tips I like to follow is to go a little off the beaten path. In the case of Paris, with its many hidden charms, you can discover breathtaking places if you decide to walk through the neighborhoods of Paris.

These are places less visited by tourists, but that will delight anyone who finds them. Here is a short list of these places, but surely you can find more on your own:

Book a tour of the covered passageways and galleries of Paris

7. Experience Paris by night

Paris by night| ©Luciano Teixeira
Paris by night| ©Luciano Teixeira

When the sun goes down, the city of Paris transforms and shows a different face. In Paris by night Its streets and many of its monuments are illuminated and life continues to buzz in a multitude of locals.

Although everyone has a different way of traveling, there are some attractions of Paris by night that you should not miss. Here is a small list of the most essential ones so you can find the ones that best suit your interests:

  • Visit the Eiffel Tower: the icon of Paris lights up at night to show its imposing figure to the whole city. To enjoy it you can simply contemplate it from a nearby point or make a night climb to the Eiffel Tower to see the metropolis from above. Finally, if the weather is nice, you can also sit on the Champs de Mars and have a small picnic at night.
  • Enjoy the nightlife: although it is a cliché applicable to many cities in the world, it can be said that Paris never sleeps. The livelier ones will find plenty of bars and nightclubs to enjoy late into the night.
  • Go to a cabaret: many say that Paris is the birthplace of cabarets. The most famous is undoubtedly the Moulin Rouge, which offers the possibility to dine and watch the Moulin Rouge show. Other equally interesting are the Lido, the Crazy Horse or the Paradis Latin.
  • The Seine at night: the river that crosses the capital also offers visitors several possibilities to enjoy it at night as one of the night cruises on the Seine or simply stroll along its banks contemplating its beautiful bridges.

Getting around Paris at night

Since transportation schedules are limited, moving around at night will depend on the time of day. Thus, the metro is in operation until 1:00 (2:00 on weekends). Later you will have to find another way to get around, such as the bus service called Noctilien which operates between 00:30 and 07:00 in the morning, or take a cab.

Book tickets for the Moulin Rouge with dinner and transportation

8. Adapt to the Paris timetable

Taking a photo at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris| ©Sebastien Gabriel
Taking a photo at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris| ©Sebastien Gabriel

Although the opening hours in Paris are somewhat more flexible than in smaller French towns, the differences with Spain are still noticeable, especially when it comes to restaurants in Paris.

Any traveler should adapt to the customs of the country they are visiting unless they want to run the risk of finding everything closed. In the French capital, people usually eat between 12:00 and 13:30, so it is relatively common that many kitchens close at 14:00.

On the other hand, the dinner time is usually located from 19:30 - 20:00, which means that if you want to snack you will also have to advance the schedule significantly.

9. Include French gastronomy among the attractions of Paris to discover

Au Petit Grec's Creep| ©Auptitgrec
Au Petit Grec's Creep| ©Auptitgrec

For those of us who love to discover the gastronomy of the places we visit, Paris is a great opportunity. Trying different dishes is the best way to get closer to its culture and it is something that I advise you not to miss.

Among the most typical dishes that you will find in the French capital are:

  • Foie gras.
  • The escargots (snails).
  • The boeuf bourguignon (a beef stew with red wine).
  • Quiche Lorraine (a kind of savory pie with meat and cheese).
  • The croque-monsieur (a classic baked cheese and ham sandwich).
  • French cheeses, best accompanied by a glass of vio or champagne.

And, of course, there's always room for the **country'**s great sweets. If you have a sweet tooth, you can't miss them:

Book your tour of the pastry shops of Paris

10. Learn a few more tips to make your visit to Paris perfect

Champs Elysées Avenue.| ©Josh Hallett
Champs Elysées Avenue.| ©Josh Hallett

To make your trip a complete success there are some little tricks that can be useful and easy to follow:

  • Learn a few phrases in French. You don't need to become bilingual, but learning to say bonjour (good morning), merci (thank you) or s 'il vous plaît (please) will help you on some occasions. If you add monsieur or madame, the result will be even better.
  • Closely related to the above is the great importance given in France to manners and education. Never forget to say hello or ask "please" in restaurants or ticket offices and always try to avoid "tuteo".
  • It may well not occur to you, but you should still know that feeding pigeons is strictly forbidden. The fines, moreover, can be quite high.
  • Bathing in the Seine is also forbidden, even in summer. If you can't resist the urge, just go to the so-called Paris Plage.
  • One last prohibition that may be useful for you to know is that showing up drunk in public carries the possibility of being fined. Obviously, you will not be fined for drinking wine while having a picnic in a park, but try not to exceed a certain limit.