Dreaming of your first Paris trip? Let me show you exactly how to plan a trip to Paris like a pro!
This post about how to plan a trip to Paris for the first time was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
If you’re on your fifth rewatch of Emily in Paris but have never visited the French capital, what are you waiting for?! Learn how to plan a trip to Paris today and turn your silver-screen dreams into a reality!
The City of Light is home to five UNESCO sites and is the second most-visited capital city in Europe. With several famous museums, restaurants, and one of the most iconic landmarks in the world, there are so many things to see and do in this elegant, cultural city.
There are so many options that planning a Paris vacation, especially if you’re visiting Paris for the first time, can feel like an enormous task.
No sweat! This simple guide will take you through the Paris travel planning process step-by-step so you can build your perfect Paris trip!
Don’t have time to read a bunch of Paris blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Paris with kids.
Popular Paris Tours/Activities
- Scavenger Hunt at the Musee d’Orsay (my kids voted this the BEST thing they did in Paris)
- Paris Food Tour (We ate SO many yummy treats on our Food Tour)
- Tootbus (this is a kid-friendly hop-on-hop-off bus)
- Eiffel Tower (skip the line and go straight to the top)
- Day Trip to Giverny and Versailles (it’s a great city break)
- Flytographer photo shoot (they are easy to book and really affordable)
Kid-Friendly Paris Hotels
14-Step Guide on How To Plan a Trip to Paris
Step 1: Check Your Passport and Visa Requirements for France
The first step of how to plan a Paris trip is the first step of planning any trip! Check that you and your family have at least six months of validity left on your passport and which visas you need.
For US citizens, France is in the Schengen Area, which means you’re allowed 90 days visa-free in any of the 27 participating EU countries. From 2025, the visa waiver form you’ll fill out will be the ETIAS.
Step 2: Figure Out the Length of Your Trip to Paris
Next, decide how long you are going to spend in Paris. This will likely be a compromise between how long you want to spend in Paris and how much time you have.
If this is your first time in Paris, you need to spend at least three days in Paris at the absolute minimum. I mean, if you only have two days in Paris, it’s still worth it. But four or five days in Paris is much more ideal.
Don’t rule out a Paris trip plan of more than a week because you can always take day tours or side trips!
Step 3: Research the Best Time to Travel to Paris
You’ll soon realize when planning your trip that there isn’t a bad time to visit Paris.
Paris has a continental climate that is warm in the summer and wet in the winter. Summer temperatures are around 59 – 77°F (15 – 25°C), and extreme heat is uncommon.
Low temperatures in winter are around 37°F (3°C), with some frosty mornings and evenings, but grey skies and rain are more likely.
When planning a trip to France, summer is the most popular and expensive time of year to travel. The shoulder seasons of spring and fall are a good balance between warm weather, fewer crowds, and lower costs.
Step 4: Create a Budget for Your Parisian Vacation
So, how much does a trip to Paris cost? It depends on a lot of factors: the time of year, the length of your trip, the size of your family, and your travel style.
If you would like a rough idea, Trip.com estimates that the total cost of a trip to Paris for 7 days is around $1,233 – $2,880.
Want to know how to plan a trip to Paris on a budget? Aside from booking your trip during the off-season, use Paris’s cheap and convenient metro system instead of taking taxis.
Visit during the first Sunday of the month when many museums are free. Eating picnic lunches in the public gardens with the incredible produce you can get at the boulangeries is a quintessential Paris experience!
These are just a few ways for you to save money during your trip.
Step 5: Book Your Flights to Paris, France
Figuring out how to plan a trip to France is made so much easier with all the direct flights from the US to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, where most international flights land.
Another Paris airport is the Paris Beauvais, where low-cost and chartered flights land, mostly from other connecting flights.
New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, Dallas, Fort Worth, Seattle, and many other cities have non-stop flights to Paris.
Flying from these airports is the best way to travel to Paris! But finding easy connections at any time of year won’t be difficult.
Step 6: Plan Your Parisian Vacation Itinerary
You’ve finally got to the fun part of creating your Paris travel plan! How to plan a trip to Paris will depend on how many days you are spending in Paris. Here are some ideas for your Paris itinerary:
- 3-day trip to Paris – Take a walking tour to learn more about the city center, see the Eiffel Tower, and visit the Arc de Triomphe on your first day. Spend your second day at Notre Dame and museums like Musée d’Orsay or the Louvre, and your third day with a half-day trip to Versailles followed by a late afternoon in Montmartre.
- 4-day trip to Paris – You can visit the Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre, as well as spend one whole day in Versailles plus visit a garden like Luxembourg or Jardin des Plantes.
- 5-day trip to Paris – Take a day tour!
You can also insert short food tours in between your itinerary. It’s like hitting two birds in one stone!
But if you’re planning to tour around Paris for more than a week, maximize your time to go around this huge city.
Step 7: Choose a Day Trip From Paris
Unless you are visiting for three days or less, the best way to plan a trip to Paris is to include a day tour.
There are so many great options! Here are some of the most popular ones:
- How to plan a trip to Versailles – Take an RER C train, which stops at nine stations in Paris and two in Versailles. Book your Palace of Versailles in advance to guarantee entry.
- How to plan a trip to Giverny – Book a small group tour to where Monet painted waterlilies or take the train from Gare Saint-Lazare to the small town of Vernon.
- How to plan a trip to Disneyland Paris – You can book coach transfers from the city to Disneyland when you buy your park tickets.
- How to plan a cultural trip in Paris – Paris is home to different cultures, its Latin Quarter being one of the best places to visit. You can book a day tour here.
- How to plan a trip to Paris and London – Yes, you can easily visit London for the day from Paris! Book tickets on the Eurostar train and make sure you meet the visa requirements to enter the UK.
Step 8: Book Accommodation in Paris
Paris has hundreds of hotels, whether you prefer budget-friendly or luxury hotels, making the city the best option for a city break when you visit France. Storing your luggage before and after check-out is always super handy.
But if your fantasy is to stay in a typical Parisian loft apartment up five flights of stairs with a cat that roams the hallways, go for it! There are lots of short-term rental apartment options in every arrondissement, too.
Note that Paris charges a tax to everyone who stays in any type of accommodation in Paris. Depending on the quality of accommodation, expect a per-night sum of 20 cents to €4 to be added to your bill.
Step 9: Purchase Attraction Tickets, Transfers, and Tours
There are some attractions that are worth buying tickets in advance so you can skip the line. Investing in the Paris Museum Pass allows you entry into 60+ museums, and you can skip the line in every single one.
Consider the Paris Museum Pass as an all-in ticket that could save you time and money.
If you want to climb the Eiffel Tower, that is one attraction you should book in advance. But consider another viewpoint, like the Arc de Triomphe, so that you actually get the Eiffel Tower in your photos!
You can take buses or regional express trains from all three Paris airports. But that might sound like a nightmare if you’re juggling your kids and luggage!
Book a private airport transfer in advance so you don’t have to stress about finding a taxi when you arrive.
Want to learn how to make macarons or visit the Emily in Paris locations? Special activities, like a guided tour, are also things you should book in advance. Spaces are usually limited to small groups and will sell out.
Step 10: Organize Travel Insurance for Your Trip to Paris
It’s good practice to buy travel insurance as soon as you purchase your flights. This means any money you spend on your trip is protected should anything go wrong.
However, the most important thing that travel insurance protects is your health! So as long as you take out a policy before you fly, you won’t have to pay up if you have a medical emergency.
You may already have travel insurance through your credit card benefits so check before you purchase a separate plan.
Step 11: Figure Out Phone, Credit Card, and Currency
When you plan a trip to France, the Euro is the currency there. Almost everywhere in Paris will accept credit card payments but it never hurts to have a small amount of local currency in cash.
American Express isn’t as widely accepted as Mastercard or Visa, so bring a backup card.
Some cafes and museums in Paris have WiFi, but it’s useful to be able to use data out and about. Get an eSIM if you do not have an international plan.
If you’re heading to London as a side trip, make sure you have coverage there, too!
Step 12: Watch Movies and Read Books Set in Paris
Watching Parisian movies and reading books about France is probably the reason you want to learn how to travel to Paris in the first place! It’s a great way to get excited about your trip.
Some movie recommendations are Midnight in Paris (2011), and Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (2022). If you’re a bookworm, check out The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George and A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway.
Step 13: Pack Your Suitcase Full of Parisian Outfits
Do as the Romans (or Parisians) do and pull out your best ‘effortlessly chic’ outfits to blend in with the ultra-stylish Paris locals.
Luckily, most Parisians forgo heels during the day and opt for comfortable flats or sneakers. Trench coats are perfect in spring and fall and you can still wear your light, floaty dresses in summer.
You may need to cover your shoulders to enter some churches, so pack a light scarf if you prefer to wear tanks or strappy dresses.
Step 14: Go To Paris!
Once you’ve finished all the steps of how to plan a Paris trip, it won’t be long before you’ll be venturing on your dream trip to Paris.
You won’t be able to see all the exhibits at the Louvre, and you can’t escape the crowds, but Paris will charm you into a return visit regardless.
Planning a Trip to Paris FAQs
How far in advance should I plan a trip to Paris?
You don’t need to plan a trip to Paris far in advance. Paris is built for tourism with lots of hotels and restaurants, and organizing your travel documents (if you’re from the US, for example) should be easy.
However, advance tickets to big attractions like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower start selling out about three months ahead. Book flight tickets and accommodation as soon as possible for the best choice and price!
What is the cheapest month to go to Paris?
The cheapest month to go to Paris is usually November, January or February.
Basically, all the winter months around the holiday season are usually the best times for cheaper flights and accommodation.
How much French should I know before visiting Paris?
You don’t need to speak French fluently; you only need to learn these essential French words before going to Paris: Hello = Bonjour, Goodbye = Au Revoir, Please = S’il Vous Plait, and Thank You = Merci.
Although it would be nice to communicate with them in their language, you can easily pick up easy and useful French phrases for your next trip.
That’s not to say everyone in Paris speaks English, but almost everyone working in hospitality will be fluent.
How To Plan a Trip to Paris Wrap-Up
With this Paris trip planner, it should make it much easier to figure out how to plan a trip to Paris so that you don’t forget to do something essential, like booking hotels.
Or so you don’t miss a quintessential Parisian experience that you have to do when traveling to Paris for the first time.
You can’t visit Paris without tasting macarons or visiting at least one art museum!
Seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up at night across the Seine for the first time will make all your Paris trip planning efforts worth it.