Last Updated on January 18, 2024 by Kelly
Paris is one of the most popular places to visit in Europe. With over 30 million visitors each year, Paris offers travelers an overwhelming amount of museums, galleries, parks, and cultural sites. To make the most of your trip, it’s important to know how to navigate around Paris and know what to see. I’ve been to Paris numerous times, and I’m sharing 21 tips so that you can make the most of your visit to Paris!
21 Tips for Visiting Paris
1. Book Tickets for Paris Attractions in Advance
Before you arrive in Paris, make sure you have your tickets purchased for popular attractions. We recommend getting your tickets in advance for the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, especially if you’re visiting during the summer. Those attractions in particular can sell-out during peak visiting hours, or they can have really long lines. If you already have your tickets, it’ll make visiting the most popular attractions in Paris a breeze!
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2. Choose the Right Arrondissement (Neighborhood)
If you hear someone mention an arrondissement, it refers to a municipal district of the city. Paris is divided into 20 distinct arrondissements. The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th arrondissements are now grouped together as part of Paris Central. We recommend staying in Paris Central if you’d like to walk to most attractions. We stayed at the Hotel du Louvre during our last visit, and we were able to walk to almost everything we wanted to see! If you’d like to save money, it’s usually cheaper to find a hotel in one of the other arrondissements. If that’s the case, make sure your hotel is near a subway stop so that you can easily get to Paris Central.
3. Consider Buying a Pass for Multiple Attractions to Save Money
If you plan on visiting multiple attractions in Paris, consider buying the Go City Paris Pass. You can potentially save lots of money by buying just one pass. You can easily download the pass on your phone, so it’s really easy to see all Paris has to offer. Another option is to purchase the Paris Pass. The Paris Pass covers lots of things, like tickets to the Eiffel Tower or a cruise along the Seine River. We recommend that you carefully review how many attractions you would visit to see if it’s worth buying the pass. If you only visit a handful of attractions, it may be more affordable to purchase tickets separately at each location.
|See our post: How to Spend One Day in Paris
4. Learn About the Seine River
You’ll see guidebooks and maps mention the Left Bank (Rive Gauche) and Right Bank (Rive Droite) of the Seine River. The Left Bank refers to the area south of the river, and the Right Bank refers to the area north of the river. It’s helpful to know what these areas refer to as you navigate the city.
5. Book a Hotel Near the City Center
If you only have a few days in Paris, you don’t want to spend half your day navigating public transportation (or traffic!) trying to get into the city center. Instead, book a hotel near the main attractions. It will be well worth the extra money if you have the budget for it. We stayed at the Hotel du Louvre (booking information linked here), and would highly recommend it to others. (You can read all about our review of the hotel.)
6. Check for Museum Closure Days
Many of the most popular museums are closed sometime during the week. For example, the Louvre is closed every Tuesday. If you’re set on seeing the Mona Lisa, make sure you don’t schedule your visit to the Louvre on a Tuesday. The Musée d’Orsay, on the other hand, is closed on Mondays. It can be disappointing if it’s your last day in Paris only to find out that you can’t see the museum you had wanted to see. Make sure to look at the museum schedules in advance!
7. Consider Buying the Paris Museum Pass
If you plan on visiting several museums, you can save money by buying the Paris Museum Pass. This pass will allow you entry into dozens of museums in Paris. The best part is that it’s easy to purchase online, and then you just have to show the pass when you enter. Because there are so many museums in Paris, it’s really helpful to have this pass. You’ll be easily to “pop in” to a smaller museum without having to think of additional ticket fees adding up.
8. Learn Some French
Many people speak English in Paris, but there’s some essential phrases you should learn how to say before you arrive. These include bonjour (hello) and merci (thank you). It can be considered rude to approach someone and ask them in English, “Do you speak English?” It puts the onus on the local citizen to cater to you, and it can make someone feel put on-the-spot if they don’t speak English. Instead, we recommend asking locals if they speak English in their own language. It will go a long way! Simply ask, parlez vouz anglais?
9. Download Offline Maps
If you’re traveling from the United States, you may not have a data plan that allows you to use your phone abroad. (If that’s the case, you’ll only be able to use navigation when you have access to WiFi.) If that’s the case, be sure to download offline maps prior to your departure. That way, you’ll be able to navigate through the city. If you forget to download offline maps, make sure to enter your GPS destination while you’re connected to WiFi. Make sure to also pack a power bank, so that your phone doesn’t run out of battery. If all else fails, having a Paris guide book or hard copy map of Paris is the way to go!
10. Have a Plan, but Take Your Time
If you only have a few days in Paris, make sure you plan your itinerary in advance. It will save you time to make sure that you have tickets and times booked for the must-see attractions. However, we also recommend that you leave some space in your itinerary for wandering, accidental discoveries, and resting at a cafe. You want to enjoy the day, without being rushed. We recommend having a few hours a day unscheduled, or even a full day!
11. Make Restaurant Reservations in Advance
Paris is world-famous for its culinary scene. Paris is known as one of the best food cities in the world. As such, it’s worth doing some research and making your restaurant reservations in advance. The most famous restaurants do reach capacity, especially during peak season, so make sure you plan for your meals. For example, it can be difficult get a reservation at Septime. If you’re looking for 3 Michelin Star restaurants in Paris, you might consider Le Cinq, Pierre Gagnaire, or Épicure.
12. Visit Paris During the Shoulder Season
Traveling to Paris can be quite busy during the summer, so you might consider visiting in May or September. I’ve visited Paris in the spring, summer, and winter, and I have loved each and every visit. I’ve personally visited Paris on two separate occasions during the summer and I can attest that it is very busy. If you’re traveling during the summer too, just make all your ticket reservations in advance and you should be in good shape.
13. Be Polite
In French culture, when you enter a store or establishment, it’s polite to greet the shopkeeper with a bonjour. Be a respectful visitor when traveling. Follow all laws and guidelines.
14. Wear Comfortable Shoes
You might see fashion influencers walking around Paris in high heels, but we wouldn’t suggest it. You’ll be walking a lot of miles, so choose shoes that you know are comfortable. I’ve linked the shoes that I’ve used abroad, as well as a pair of sandals that are super comfortable. I’ve worn my Tevas all over Europe, and they have been great! (Also pack bandaids just in case. You don’t want to get a blister on vacation.)
15. Pack a Voltage Converter
If you’re traveling from the United States, you’ll need a voltage converter for your electronics. Many of the hotels do have USB charging ports which is quite helpful, but you’ll need a voltage converter for your larger accessories.
16. Have Back-Up Currency and Credit Cards
You don’t want to have all your money and credit cards in one wallet, in case it’s stolen or you misplace it. Instead, make sure you have a back-up credit card and back-up currency stored in your main luggage. I’ve never experienced theft while abroad, but you do want to be prepared just in case. If you lose your entire wallet, you would be in a big predicament. If you have access to at least one additional credit card, you’ll be able to navigate the situation better.
17. Buy Medical Insurance
Most medical plans in the United States only cover health care during domestic travel. If you’re traveling internationally, make sure you have health insurance for abroad. If you can’t afford the medical insurance, then you can’t afford the trip. It’s that important. Most plans are fairly affordable, so make sure to buy a policy before you leave.
18. Take Photos of Identification and Credit Cards
Make sure to take photos of your passport and credit cards (including the number on the back of the credit card). If you lose a credit card, you’ll be able to call the number on the back and you’ll be able to see the full credit card number. This will help you to protect your account, should you need to while you’re abroad. It’s also a good idea to have a photo copy of your passport. If you lose your passport, you’ll at least be able to show the consulate a copy with your full passport number.
19. Notify Your Bank
Prior to your departure, call your bank to let them know you’ll be out of the country. That way, they don’t mark any purchases you make abroad as suspicious of fraud. (You don’t want a bank to freeze your credit card while you’re traveling.
20. Order Euros in Advance
I like to make sure that I have Euros with me before I arrive in Paris. I personally don’t like to rely on international exchange kiosks at airports, because there can be long lines, I might forget to get cash by the time I land, or they might be closed. Instead, I visit my bank and ask them to order Euros for me in advance. It’s always good to ask for some small change too, so that you can give tips. The Euros that you get in advance can help to carry you over until you get settled at your destination. It can take some time for the banks to order the Euros, so I like to make sure to get the request in at least a few weeks before departure.
21. Stop by a Pâtisserie
Paris is filled with pâtisseries (bakeries), and you have to make sure you stop by at least one. Whether you order a croissant, pain au chocolat, an eclair, a macaron, or a tartelette, you will be in heaven. One of the most famous pâtisseries in Paris is Ladurée. We bought a box of macarons as a souvenir, which have a global reputation!
Summary: Best Tips for Paris
Paris is one of my favorite cities to visit. Whether you plan to visit Michelin-starred restaurants or grab street-side crepes, you’ll be sure to have an amazing time in Paris. I hope that this list of tips is helpful to you as you plan your trip! Bon voyage!
Disclaimer: We always strive for content accuracy. Since the time of publishing, travel-related information regarding pricing, schedules, and hours may have changed. Please look up such information directly from each vendor or institution for the most current information.