La ville de l'amour. It’s easy to see why Paris is on the top of so many travel lists. After trekking through Europe and visiting amazing cities including Brussels, Amsterdam, and Luxembourg City, you won’t be surprised that Paris surpassed them all. Paris is not to be missed with its quaint, yet high-fashion streets, locals carrying their daily baguettes, and endless cultural allure.
With only a few days on the itinerary, like all of our trips, we had a list of to-dos as long as the Eiffel Tower. With a good pair of shoes (don’t learn the hard way) and baguettes in your backpacks, take a look at our Paris Itinerary: Iconic Places, Food & Travel Tips:
Places to visit your first time in Paris
There are so many places to visit in Paris that it can get overwhelming. We felt that way when planning our trip, as we wanted to see and eat everything but we only had a few days. Luckily, it’s not hard to find travel blogs on Paris and after a little bit of research, we had a good game plan.
The Eiffel Tower
There is no way you can go to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower, however, be smart and purchase tickets in advance online. Don’t be like us and end up waiting in a 90-minute line in the rain. Some people may not think it’s worth the money to go up, but the view is spectacular and is a “must” at least once. Also, try to visit the tower during the day and at night to see both sides…we’ll let you decide which one is the best!
Arc de Triomphe
This iconic monument is recognized worldwide and is another absolute picture opp. It sits at the western end of the Champs-Élysées so add it to the itinerary. The Arc de Triomphe has a great vantage point of the Eiffel Tower and the rest of the city but it is a steep climb up to the top. Please be aware that there a lot of steps and it is quite windy. If you have bad knees or health conditions, please inquire if the lift is operating before you go through security and purchase your tickets.
This medieval Catholic Cathedral will have a long line but it is definitely worth the trip. While you wait in line, take in the beauty of the intricate architecture on the exterior facade and appreciate the time and detail. Be respectful when you go inside, service may be in session.
As the world’s largest museum, the Louvre can take days to explore and if you are pressed for time, you won’t even know where to begin. I have to say, if you are going to splurge on a tour, this is where it makes the most sense. Our tour guide took us to the most iconic areas of the museum including the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo & The Winged Nike and entertained us with the local history and folklore along the way. There are also tours that offer an underground cheese and wine tasting to add your Paris itinerary.
This underground burial site is absolutely amazing, concealed directly beneath modern-day Paris. If the thought of six million people’s bones compacted in a labyrinth of tunnels makes you squirm…I would stay away from the Catacombs. If you are like us and found it fascinating, then buy tickets online before you go to visit.
Iconic food you must try in Paris
The city of Paris has amazing food and it is unbelievable to think that we didn’t even make a dent in the food scene. Paris offers one of the longest lists of Michelin rated restaurants in the world if you are ready to drop some serious coin.
There are also tons of amazing dining options that won’t break the bank. Here are some of our most noteworthy and affordable recommendations for your Paris itinerary:
La Crêperie Bretonne is a cozy crêperie wedged between other small shops on a quintessential Parisian street. The hostess spoke very little English, but that made the experience even more authentic. We ordered a savory version with fried egg and mushrooms and out came a delicious crispy piece of heaven. We cannot stress how amazing this crepe came out and absolutely blew away anything we have ever tasted anywhere in the US including Chicago, San Francisco, DC, and New York.
We may be the only couple in the world that did not have an affinity for French macaroons. With that in mind, we weren’t even planning on having one when we were in Paris. That would have been a mistake we would have regretted for a lifetime.
We convinced ourselves to at least try one, however, did not feel the need to splurge on the infamous Ladurée due to the hefty price tag but did find a Gerard Mulot nearby (which also didn’t come cheap)! The macaroons were amazing and changed us forever. The pistachio raspberry was my favorite and it just melts in your mouth. If you are like us and don’t have a taste for macaroons, we would urge you to try it in Paris…trust us!
We felt right at home when we saw people of all ages carrying a baguette in their backpack like an afternoon snack. I did try that when I got back to Florida and it just didn’t have the same feel ;) If there is one affordable food item in Paris, it is the baguette or a Sandwich au poulet (chicken baguette). Fill yourself up…because that fluffy air load of carbs just isn’t the same in the US.
For dinner on the town, we yelped a happening Italian restaurant, Da Roco, handing out black truffles like endless breadsticks @ Olive Garden. This place was hip, featured great music, and every single table was packed! After dinner, there is also a hidden lounge in the back to relax and unwind. Don’t forget to make reservations to secure a table, especially on the weekends.
Travel Tips when you visit Paris
We are so grateful that in today’s day and age you can find anything and everything online including where to eat, what to see, when to go…but there are still a few things that you only learn from experience and traveling yourself.
Learn the public transportation system
If you take a minute to understand how the public transportation system works, you’ll save so much money throughout your trip. Uber is easily available but comes at a price that you could spend on baguettes and macaroons instead. (Can you tell I like baguettes?)
If you do learn the metro and use it as your mode of transportation, remember to keep your ticket stubs as you leave the platform. We were stopped by local law enforcement and I had just thrown my ticket out in the garbage as we left the train to head to the airport. They would not let me pass and I had to go digging for in the trash!
Get a tour of the Louvre
I can’t emphasize this enough. If you have a short time or layover in Paris and want to still see everything without the requisite time…the tours do a great job and you can ask your tour guide for local recommendations/hotspots in Paris!
Use Airbnb when the hotels get expensive
Airbnb is a lifesaver in so many ways. Hotels can add up and even though we have points, we don’t want to spend 30K points on an average hotel room when we could live like a Parisian with reasonable prices through Airbnb. Even though our flat was close to 300 square feet, it was located above the Yves Saint Laurent store on a beautiful and quiet street. It was also a 10-minute walk to the Louvre, so the location was ideal. To offset some of your costs while you are traveling - try listing your place back home on Airbnb like we do!
Buy tickets in advance
If you are planning on doing the must-sees for the first time, buy your tickets in advance. You can shave hours off the waiting time by simply planning a few of these activities in advance. If you don’t mind waiting and enjoy being part of the last-minute crew then, by all means, enjoy the lines!
View all the sites during the day and at night
The magic of Paris comes alive at night. When you see the Eiffel Tower filling the night sky, you immediately want to pull your loved ones close and adore the sight in awe.
Similarly, the majority of Paris’ main attractions possess an entirely different allure between the day and night. If you don’t want to learn the metro, like suggested in tip 1, then perhaps one of the big bus tours are for you. The tours offer a pass that takes you to all the different sights during the day (where and you can get on and off as many times as you wish) and a night tour which will allow you to take pictures from the bus but does not allow an off and on option.