Explore our free Paris travel guides, written by locals who love Paris
Why We Love Paris: Known as the “City of Light,” Paris is home to some of the most impressive and well-known monuments in the world. The city has attracted artists, writers, and scientists for centuries. Today, the memories of these great thinkers are everywhere. You’ll see important architecture and some of the best shopping you’ll find anywhere. The city may be ancient, but it still has something for everyone. Intimate cobblestone alleys line the streets of wide, 19th-century boulevards, full of artist studios, luxury stores, and more. Paris is the perfect city for romantics, art lovers, historians, shoppers, and lovers of the old and unusual.
Best of Paris
Paris offers everything from the classic to the strange. These top attractions will take you around the city, helping you see different neighborhoods at the same time.
- The Louvre – The world’s most famous museum has 35,000 works of art on display. Plan your trip before you go to see your favorites!
- Notre Dame – The iconic Gothic-style cathedral is still spectacular despite the 2019 fire that burned its spire.
- Wall of Love – This wall in a Montmartre garden square has tiles with “I love you” written in 311 languages.
- Père Lachaise cemetery – This scenic graveyard is the final resting place of Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, and other notable people.
- Opéra Garnier – The opera house from Phantom of the Opera is a real place! Peek at the gilded interior or see a world-class performance.
✨ Read the full list of best things to do in Paris.
Paris offers many great places to stay throughout its 20 arrondissements, or “districts.” You can stay anywhere from the heart of Paris to tucked-away neighborhoods.
- The 1st Arrondissement – The central 1st district has attractions like the Louvre, the Tuileries, the Palais Royal, and lots of luxury shopping.
- The 7th Arrondissement – The Left Bank’s 7th district is home to the Eiffel Tower, but is still peaceful and residential.
- The 8th Arrondissement – The Right Bank’s 8th district has everything from the calm Parc Monceau to the bustling avenue of Champs Élysées.
Read the full guide to where to stay in Paris.
🛎️ Best Hotels
French hospitality can be excellent despite Paris’s reputation as being a snobby city. Paris has hotels that offer warm welcomes for all budgets.
- Hotel de Crillon – This luxury hotel was once a noble’s house. Today, it provides top-tier service in the city center.
- L’Hotel – This hotel is on a small street in the St. Germain neighborhood. It’s a haven of calm in an exciting area.
- La Belle Juliette – This hotel in the 6th has the decor and amenities of a more expensive one–including a champagne bar!
🍽️ Best Restaurants
French cuisine is celebrated for a reason. From sidewalk cafés to Michelin-star restaurants, there’s something for every taste and budget in Paris.
- Restaurant Palais Royal – This 2 Michelin-star restaurant has a surprisingly affordable fixed-price lunch in a glamorous park.
- Café de Flore – Famous writers visited this café for years. It’s pricey now but worth a lunch for the people-watching.
- Cour de Vosges – This hidden patisserie has a small, but fresh and delicious breakfast and lunch menu.
- Le Procope – Le Procope is the oldest café in Paris. It offers multiple private rooms for intimate dinners.
- Parcelles – This bistrot provides new takes on classic dishes, but look out, it books up far in advance!
- The Loire Valley – You can get to the Loire Valley by train to tour its many castles and sample its world-famous wines.
- Giverny – Visit Monet’s country home to see the real water lilies that inspired his paintings in the Orangerie Museum.
- Champagne Region – Travel two hours by car from Paris to visit the world-famous sparkling wine region and taste its best local products.
- Barbizon and Fontainebleau – Visit the “artists’ town” of Barbizon, then tour the castles and forest at Fontainebleau, in less than a day.
- Normandy – See the D-Day beaches, eat fresh seafood, and even ride horses—just a 2-3 hours’ drive from Paris.
👉 See the full guide to the best day trips from Paris.
- St. Germain-des-Près – This Left Bank neighborhood borders the Seine and features a musical church at its heart.
- Montparnasse – This bustling area was once home to famous writers including Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce.
- The Marais – This Right Bank area is famous for its galleries, boutiques, and small garden squares.
- Montmartre – This area is far from the center of Paris and feels like a separate village with its cobblestoned hills.
- Champs Elysées – This neighborhood features expensive real estate, luxury designers, and the Arc de Triomphe.
👉 See the full guide to all neighborhoods in Paris.
🍸 Best Bars
- Little Red Door – This Marais bar is a fixture of Paris for its inventive cocktails and intimate atmosphere.
- Hemingway Bar – This bar is named after its most famous patron: the writer, Ernest Hemingway. Plan on spending a lot!
- La Fée Verte – This bar is famous for one of France’s most notorious drinks: absinthe.
- Chope des Compagnons – Chope is an inexpensive wine bar with many natural selections in an expensive area.
- Les Souffleurs – This inclusive LGBTQ+ friendly bar is an establishment in an area once known for its queer community.
🖼️ Best Museums
- The Musée d’Orsay – This museum is in an old train station and focuses on Impressionist artwork from the 19th century.
- Rodin Museum – The Rodin Museum features sculptor Auguste Rodin’s works in the extensive house and gardens.
- The Musée Carnavalet – This Paris history museum shows you how the city began and grew, with amusing artifacts.
- Cluny Museum – This medieval museum is housed in one of the oldest private houses in Paris and features famous tapestries.
- The Museum of Hunting and Nature – Hunting fans will love this museum full of taxidermy and hunting implements.
🏞️ Best Parks
- Buttes Chaumont – Buttes Chaumont is in the 19th arrondissement, off the beaten path, and has rolling hills and stunning landscapes.
- Tuileries – These gardens in the 1st arrondissement feature fountains and sculptures that line its manicured paths by the river.
- Luxembourg Gardens – This large park in the center of the Left Bank area has hidden charms, such as the Medici Fountain.
- Place des Vosges – This garden square is perfect for picnicking surrounded by mansions, including the mansion of the writer, Victor Hugo.
- Parc Monceau – This peaceful park has small waterfalls and surprising features that make you feel like you’re outside the city.
⛪ Best Churches
- Sacré Coeur – The cathedral at the top of Montmartre is enormous and provides unparalleled views over Paris.
- Sainte Chapelle – This church full of stained glass art is also known for the Catholic relics it houses.
- Saint Germain-des-Prés – This church hosts classical music concerts, including free organ recitals at the end of each month.
- Saint-Roch – This large church in the 1st arrondissement interestingly blends a variety of architectural styles.
🛍️ Best Shops
- La Samaritaine – One of Paris’s original department stores. It was recently reimagined as a modern luxury shop.
- Shakespeare & Co. – This iconic Paris bookstore still offers a wide selection of English-language literature.
- Merci – This Marais institution may look small from the outside but has everything from fashion to used books inside.
- Bon Marché – This Paris department store has great sales several times a year, as well as an exceptional food hall.
- Officine Universelle Buly 1803 – This French apothecary is a modern revival of the classic 1803 shop that served France’s elites.
🍓 Best Markets
- The Marché aux Puces – You can find anything from antique clocks worth thousands to trendy clothing at this famous French flea market.
- The Marché d’Aligre – This market in the 12th arrondissement is inside a covered area but extends into the surrounding streets.
- The Marché des Enfants Rouges – This covered area in the Marais neighborhood is a historical monument and functioning market.
- The Paris Flower and Bird Market – This market on the island, Île de la Cité, is open every day. It will stop selling birds over the next few years.
- The Marché de Montorgueil – This combination of market/street in the 2nd arrondissement is the perfect place to go when you’re hungry.
Paris Travel Advice
Summer is the most popular time to visit Paris, but it’s not necessarily the best. Heat waves, crowds, and closures make Paris more appealing at other times.
- 🌼 Spring – Late spring is the best time to see Paris. You’ll have great weather but fewer crowds and closures.
- 🍂 Fall – September is known as the “rentrée” (re-entry) and is a busy time full of cultural offerings before it gets too cold.
- ❄️ Winter – The “City of Light” lives up to its name around Christmas, but you also have cold weather and holiday closures.
- 🌞 Summer – Crowds, heat waves, lack of air conditioning, and August closures make summer a less convenient season to visit Paris.
👉 Read the full guide to the best time to visit Paris.
🚌 Getting Around
Getting around Paris by car has become increasingly difficult because of the city’s efforts to be more green. Public transportation options are good overall.
- 🚶♀️ Walking – Paris is easy to see on foot. You can walk from end to end in about 2.5 hours!
- 🚗 Driving – Driving is difficult and slow in Paris. Use other transportation when possible.
- 🚇 Public Transit – Paris has the Métro subway and an extensive bus line. Tickets are €2.10 and worth it!
- 📲 Ride Share – Uber is most popular in Paris, but it can be slow. Lyft does not operate here.
- 🚴♀️ Biking – Velib’, a bike-sharing program with traditional and electric choices, makes Paris biking easy.
👉 Tips & Things to Know
- 🇫🇷 – Practice politeness – Say “bonjour” (hello) when entering a shop or restaurant and “merci” or “au revoir” (thank you/goodbye) when leaving.
- 🚬 – Sit inside to avoid smoke – Paris’s terraces are famous but often filled with smokers (and their smoke!). However, smoking is illegal inside restaurants.
- 🍷 – Choose wine – Wine is much better and cheaper than cocktails. In most places, you can get a good glass for less than a Coke.
- 🚇 – Avoid driving – Low city speed limits and one-way streets make driving in Paris slow. Public transport is faster.
- 🛴 – Don’t plan on scootering – Scooters are banned in Paris as of September 2023. Consider a bike-share like Velib’ instead.
🧳 What to Pack
- 👟 – Walking shoes – Paris is a very walkable city. You’ll want to bring some comfortable walking shoes!
- 🌂 – Umbrella – Paris can be unexpectedly rainy in the spring and fall. Umbrellas can be expensive here, so pack a light foldable version.
- 💳 – Multiple cards – Inform your credit card company of your trip to France in advance, but bring a backup card if possible, just in case.
- 🎒 – Foldable tote – Most shops charge a few cents for carrier bags. Do like the French do and bring a foldable tote with you for your purchases.
- 🧳 – Additional suitcase – Paris is a great shopping city. Avoid expensive shipping fees by bringing an empty duffle bag or suitcase with you.
🤓 Facts & Info
- Census Population (2020) – 2,148,271 (city), 11,017,000 (metro area)
- Time Zone – CET Time (UTC +1 / UTC +2 during Central European Summer Time)
- Area Codes – 33 (country code), 01 (Paris), 06 (cell phones)
- Airports – Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), Paris-Orly Airport (ORY), Paris Beauvais Airport (BVA)
- Nickname – City of Light
- Demonynm – Parisian(s)
- Region – Île de France
- Country – France
💵 Costs & Budgeting
- 3 Star Hotel Room – $150-$250/night
- 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – $100-$200/night
- Rental Car – $80
- Public Transit Ticket – $2.30 ($12.43 to the airport from the center)
- Ride Share from Downtown to Airport – $45+ (registered taxis have fixed prices)
- Take Out Meal for Two – $35
- Sit Down Dinner for Two – $50
- Draft Beer – $7
FAQs About Visiting Paris
Is Paris safe for tourists?
Most parts of Paris are safe for tourists who take precautions. In particular, guard against pickpockets on public transportation. Take care traveling alone at night in quieter areas, as you would in any big city. For more information, see our full Paris safety guide.
Is 3 days enough for Paris?
3 days is enough for Paris to visit the highlights like seeing the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, etc. A week is better if you want to explore Paris in-depth.
How should I visit Paris?
The best way to visit Paris is to group your plans by neighborhood. This will allow you to see different quarters of the city in-depth.
What is the best way to get around Paris?
The best way to get around Paris is by walking. The Métro subway system and bus are good alternatives if you have a disability or the weather is bad. Biking is doable if you’re familiar with Parisian driving.
Meet Our Paris Travel Expert
Rachel Kapelke-Dale is a travel writer and novelist originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and now a local of Paris. She moved to France in 2009. She has written about her early days in Paris in her memoir, Graduates in Wonderland, with Jessica Pan. She is the author of the novels The Ballerinas, The Ingenue, and The Fortune Seller, as well as co-host of the podcast We’ll Always Have Paris.
📰 Paris Travel Guides
Paris is a global center for a reason. It’s home to some of the most incredible museums and monuments in the world, and it’s filled with charm. But France has so much more to offer beyond the “City of Light.” Below are guides our team has put together to help you experience the best of Paris and beyond.
- Paris Itinerary | A Local’s Foolproof 5 Day Planner (2023)
- Is Paris Safe for Travel in 2023? (Honest Local Advice)
- Best Time to Visit Paris in 2023 (By a Local)
- London vs Paris – Which Is Best for You? (Pros & Cons)
- Where to Stay in Paris (Best Places & Areas in 2023)
- 20 Best Neighborhoods in Paris for 2023 (By a Local)
- 23 Best Day Trips from Paris in 2023 (By a Local)