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 you need 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 often important to set out your itinerary and study everything there is to see in Paris. The sheer number of attractions makes this step essential to make the most of your time, but sometimes some equally important practical details are overlooked.

That's why in this article I'll give you some simple tips to help you make the most of your trip. Sometimes it's the little things that can make the difference between a great experience and a troubled stay, such as knowing how to get around the city or the possibility of buying a tourist card to save a little money and increase your comfort.

1. Visit the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower when the crowds aren't too high

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

If there are two places you should always visit when travelling to Paris(even if you only spend 1 day in Paris) it's the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. Their importance, however, can make them too crowded and the experience not as satisfying as you would like it to be.

To try to avoid the crowds you should take into account the busiest times, as well as which are, in principle, more conducive to seeing both attractions more calmly:

  • As for when to go to the Louvre Museum, it would be ideal not to visit the museum between 11:00 and 16:00, as this is the time of day when you can find the most crowds. Remember that it opens its doors around 9:00 am, so getting up early in the morning to have time to see the Louvre at your leisure could be the solution. You can also go in the evening or take advantage of the days when the Louvre is open 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 of this period, the crowds are much thinner, but my advice is to try to get there early, before 10.30am. Another good time to go up is after 17:00 or at night.

Buy your tickets for the Eiffel Tower

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

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

Paris is one of the cities in the world that receives the most tourists every year. One of the consequences of this attraction is the endless queues that form in front of its main tourist sites. These queues, apart from being inconvenient, 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 in Paris offer this option to avoid having to endure long waits, from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower, as well as other of the most emblematic monuments in Paris:

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

Buy your tickets for the museums in Paris

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

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

The French capital has a very efficient public transport network, with the metro being the main way to get 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 is the 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.
  • Paris Visite: there are several types depending on the duration of the ticket (between 1 and 5 days) and the areas you want to visit. It also includes discounts for some of Paris' tourist attractions.
  • Navigo Pass: In principle, this pass is cheaper than the previous one if you are going to stay in Paris for about a week. The main disadvantage is that it is a bit more complicated to obtain, as you need a passport-sized photograph and to pay a non-refundable €5.

4. Save on your visits with the Tourist Card

Paris Pass| ©AntisocialClub
Paris Pass| ©AntisocialClub

Unless you're lucky enough to be able to extend your stay in Paris for more than 7 days, to make the most of your time you'll need to make a list of what you want to see. On the financial side, which is also important, it is worth investigating the options that the French capital has to offer.

Possibly the best way to save money on your visits is the Paris Pass tourist card. This is a card that gives you significant discounts on entry to more than 60 attractions, including entry to the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe and the Basilica of Saint-Denis.

It's also worth knowing that on the first Sunday of every month you can enter many museums free of charge.

Buy your Paris Pass

5. Discover Paris on a tour or with 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 a hassle. Getting from one place to another takes time you may not have, not to mention time spent researching how to get to each monument. To avoid this, one of the best options is to book one of the many tours available in Paris. Practically everyone will find one to suit their interests:

Another option to save time are the sightseeing buses. You can hop on and off as many times as you like and they usually take you to the most interesting places in the city. On the one hand, you can get a seat on the Big Bus; on the other hand, you can reserve a seat on the Toot bus, which also includes two self-guided walking tours of different areas of the capital.

Finally, you can always take advantage of an interesting option the city offers its visitors: the Batobus. This is a boat that travels along the Seine under 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's always going to depend on how long you're in a city, personally one of my favourite tips is to go off the beaten track. In the case of Paris, with its many hidden charms, you can discover amazing places if you decide to walk around Paris' neighbourhoods.

These are places that are less visited by tourists, but which will delight anyone who comes across them. Here is a short list of these places, but you can certainly 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. Paris by night Its streets and many of its monuments are illuminated and life continues to buzz in a multitude of places.

Although everyone has a different way of travelling, there are some attractions in Paris by night that you shouldn't miss. Here's a short list of the must-sees 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 gaze at it from a nearby point or make a night-time ascent of the Eiffel Tower to see the metropolis from above. Finally, if the weather is fine, you can also sit on the Champs de Mars and have a little evening picnic.
  • Enjoy the nightlife: although it is a cliché that applies 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 chance to dine and watch the Moulin Rouge show. Others 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, such as taking one of the night-time cruises along the Seine or simply strolling along its banks and admiring its beautiful bridges.

Getting around Paris at night

Given that transport timetables are limited, getting around at night will depend on the time of day. For example, the metro runs until 1:00 (2:00 on weekends). After that, you'll have to find another way to get around, such as the Noctilien bus service, which runs between 00:30 and 07:00 in the morning, or take a taxi.

Book tickets for the Moulin Rouge with dinner and transport

8. Adapt to Paris timetables

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 traveller 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, lunch is usually eaten between 12:00 and 13:30, so it is relatively common for many kitchens to close at 14:00.

On the other hand, dinner is usually served from 19:30 - 20:00, which means that if you want to have a snack, you will also have to move the time forward quite a bit.

9. Include French gastronomy among the attractions to be discovered in Paris

Creep by Au Petit Grec| ©Auptitgrec
Creep by Au Petit Grec| ©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 to know its culture and is something I recommend you don't miss.

Among the most typical dishes you'll find in the French capital you can find:

  • Foie gras.
  • Escargots (snails).
  • Boeuf bourguignon (a veal stew with red wine).
  • Quiche Lorraine (a kind of savoury tart with meat and cheese).
  • 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 wonderful sweets. If you have a sweet tooth, you can't miss them:

Book your tour of Paris patisseries

10. Here are a few more tips to make your visit to Paris a perfect one

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

To make your trip a complete success there are a few little tricks that can help you and are 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 on occasion. 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 politeness. Never forget to say "hello" or "please" in restaurants or at 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 hefty.
  • 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 you might want to know about is that being drunk in public carries the possibility of being fined. Obviously, you won't get a fine for drinking wine while picnicking in a park, but be careful not to exceed a certain limit.