We have tips for visiting Paris for you today. However, most of these tips will work in any city that you plan to visit.
Instead of giving you a day to day wrap up of my trip to Paris last week, we are breaking it down into several “tips” posts. The first one was last week when we shared tips for getting the Ralph Lauren look in your home’s outdoor areas. You can read that post here. Today we are going to share my tips for visiting Paris. This most recent trip was my eighth time to visit the City of Lights. If you have been there, then you know that there are tons of things to do, to see, to experience, and to eat. It might be fun if you add your own tips in the comments below so that we can have a collection for anyone who is going there. I am sure that you have some ideas that I haven’t even thought about.
Let me just preface this by saying that I traveled with my friend Missie. I have been to Paris alone, with Jordan, and also with my husband. I have been reluctant to travel to Europe with a friend because I didn’t know just how that would go. However, Missie and I were perfect travel companions. My two requirements are that you have to be low maintenance and high energy, and Missie was. We spent around 10 to 12 hours a day “out on the streets” and even walked over 11 miles one day. So, here are some of my tips for visiting Paris:
Plan A Flexible Itinerary Before You Go
Since this was Missie’s first trip to Paris, I wanted her to see as much as possible. Before we left, I put together a rough day to day itinerary so that we could visit spots that were in same area of the city. That would make our days flow better, and make better use of our time.
Map Out Each Day
Once we knew what we were doing each day, we spent time each evening deciding which order we would visit our sites the following day. Based on how far they were from our apartment and from each other determined if we walked or rode the metro. Then Missie used a map of the city to write down the metro routes and walking routes we would use. That saved a ton of confusion and uncertainty when we were out and about. We were confident in where we were going and knew just how to get there.
Listen to Podcasts Before You Go
I listened to tons of “Join Us in France” podcasts before we went so that I could refresh my memory on all things Parisienne.
Buy the Paris Museum Pass Before You Go
We bought a two-day Paris Museum Pass and spent extra money to have it delivered to my home before we left. You can buy a two-day, four-day, or six-day pass, but they have to be used on consecutive days. (The museums close on different days so know their schedule before you buy a pass.) Since we were going to be there six full days, we only wanted to spend two days visiting museums. We used our pass on the second and third day in the city and visited the Picasso Museum, the Louvre, L’Orangerie, and Musee D’Orsay on day one. That was a lot, and we were exhausted at the end of the day. On the second day of the pass, we used it at Versailles and the Arche de Triomphe. We both agreed that buying this pass was so worth it. It saved us money on the entry fees, and we didn’t have to wait to purchase tickets at each museum.
We were lucky enough to be at the Arche de Triomphe when they were about to begin their Armistice Day ceremony. I told three of the French soldiers that my father had been shot on three different occasions by the Germans while he was fighting for the French.
They were so pleased that we were escorted to a special area to observe the ceremony.
Stay in a Neighborhood Where You Are Comfortable
Just like in any city, all neighborhoods are not created equally. There are good ones and seedy ones. I have always stayed in the Marais area (4th arrondisement) because I know the area, and I feel safe there during the day and in the evening. That’s important for women traveling unescorted.
Plan Something Really Special Each Day
Just being in Paris is special, but we still had a highlight on each day. For instance, one day we took a cooking class from a French chef in his apartment. Another day we had tea at the Ritz Hotel. And yet another day we went to mass at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, a special Paris church for Catholics. Pick things that you love, and then do them.
I have always said “Having fun is hard work.” We took breaks during the day when our bodies told us it was time to. We stopped for a cappuccino, a sweet treat, or a glass of wine. It was a great way to regroup and do some people watching.
Eat At Local Restaurants
We ate most of our meals in our neighborhood. We often had a French breakfast in one and our evening meal in another. Parisiennes will tell you that all of their restaurants are good, and we agree. We did not have a bad meal.
Prepare for Crowds by Having a Plan B
We chose to travel in November for many reasons, and one of them was to avoid the huge crowds of summer. We had no waiting at any of the museums, including the Louvre. However, on the Saturday that we were in Paris, there were huge crowds in certain areas, and we were not willing to wait in a long line to visit Saint Chappelle. We made a plan B to get away from the people, and we went to the famous cookware shop, Dehillerin. The sites are more fun when things aren’t so packed.
Plan A Free Day
We set aside our last day as a free day to do anything that we did not have time to do before. It was an easy day, but a full day since we chose to do some shopping in different parts of the city. We both made sure we didn’t over pack so we would have space in our suitcase to put the things that we just had to have. You know how that goes.
Okay…..those are my tips. You can actually use these tips for visiting Paris or in almost any city that you visit. Remember to share any of your special tips in the comments. Bon voyage!