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10 Tips for Visiting Paris for the First Time

10 Tips for Visiting Paris for the First Time

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Planning a trip to Paris for the first time and don’t know where to start? Keep scrolling for my top tips for visiting Paris for the first time including when to go and what to do!
This list of tips for visiting 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.

Planning a trip to Paris for the first time?

You’re in for a treat – Paris is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world for a reason. It truly has something for everyone.

There are amazing historical landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, and modern amenities like trendy boutiques and restaurants. Plus lots of Paris hidden gems!

Paris is also known as an art capital. There are museums like the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay, and even street art throughout the city. No matter what you’re looking for, Paris has it all.

This Paris travel guide has all the tips and tricks you need to know before you go. We’ll tell you where to stay, what to see, and where to eat.

Keeps scrolling to find out my top tips for visiting Paris for the first time!

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

Kid-Friendly Paris Hotels

Traveling to Paris Tips For an Amazing Vacation

When to go to Paris

The best time to go to Paris depends on what you want to see and do.

If you want to see the leaves on the trees turn beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow, then fall is the best time to go. If you want to see Paris beautifully decorated for Christmas, then winter is the best time to go.

However, if you want to avoid the crowds of tourists, then you should visit in the fall or winter. Keep in mind that some attractions are closed for renovation in the winter, so you’ll need to do your research before you go.

Image of two boys holding toy boats in front of a man-made pond at Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris.
My kids love doing the toy boats at Jardin du Luxembourg in warm weather. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Paris in the summer is a dream come true for many travelers. The weather is beautiful, the days are long, and there are so many activities to enjoy.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that Paris is a very popular destination, which means that attractions can be quite crowded. And the weather can get quite warm.

Paris is actually one of the best spring break destinations in Europe. It’s a great time to avoid summer crowds, plus you’ll probably see cherry blossoms in Paris.

Whatever time of year you visit Paris, you’re sure to have a wonderful time.

Planning Your Paris Visit

The first step to making the most of your time in Paris is having an idea about what you want to see and do before arriving. This will help avoid feeling overwhelmed or lost while exploring this glamorous city.

Before you go to France, list the places that will be on your Paris itinerary. You’ll want enough time at each tourist attraction to fully visit and also have time to wander around and enjoy the ambiance.

Most visitors to Paris have a general idea of what they want to see and do, but it’s helpful to have a more specific plan in mind before arriving. This also gives you an opportunity to reserve tickets for top attractions so you can avoid long lines.

Image of a woman standing in front of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris
Most people plan to see the Arc de Triomphe.

First, decide what Paris attractions you want to see. The Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre Museum, and the Eiffel Tower are all popular tourist destinations. But there are also many other interesting places to visit.

Consider spending some time exploring the city’s adorable neighborhoods, parks, and gardens.

Once you know what you want to see, start figuring out how you’re going to fit it all in. Paris is a big city! Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day or two (or even a week). This is one of my top tips for visiting Paris.

How Many Days in Paris?

For our last trip to Paris with kids, we did 5 days and it was a nice amount of time. We were able to see a lot of Paris attractions, do a few Paris tours, and even spend the day at Disneyland Paris. Check out our 5 day London itinerary.

Image of a boat in the river with the Eiffel Tower in the background
There are tons of Paris activities and attractions for any length of stay.

With 2-3 days in Paris, you will be able to see several Paris sights and do a few activities. It’s a doable amount of time if you are planning on also heading to the Paris countryside or taking the Chunnel to London.

If this is possibly your only trip to Paris, you might want to plan for 5-7 days in order to check as many things off your Paris bucket list as possible. You won’t run out of things to do in Paris with your family!

How to Get Around Paris

Paris is a large city with a lot to see and do. The public transportation system makes it easy to get around and explore all the different neighborhoods.

Image of a woman walking up the stairs of a Metro station in Paris
The Metro is the most afforable way to get around Paris.

The Metro is the fastest way to get around and covers all the main tourist areas. There are also a number of bus and tram lines that run through the city.

The RATP app is a great resource for planning your journey. It has maps of all the different public transportation options and shows you the best route to take.

Image of a taxi in front of the Moulin Rouge in Paris
Taxis are a fast and comfortable way to get around Paris.

Taxis are another great option if it fits your Paris budget. There’s even a Paris taxi app so you can book one right from your phone. The taxis in Paris also have their own lane so they can zip around town a bit faster than other cars.

Uber does NOT have this privilege so that’s why we recommend taxis over Ubers in Paris. That’s one of our best travel tips for Paris.

Another option is to rent a car in France. This is helpful if you plan on doing a lot of day trips or will road trip around the country.

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    Where to Stay in Paris

    There’s no shortage of great places to stay in Paris. Depending on what you’re looking for, you can find just the right neighborhood to fit your needs. There are lots of arrondissements to stay in Paris.

    If you’re looking for a trendy area with lots of shops and restaurants, the Marais district is a great option. It’s also one of the top LGBTQ-friendly neighborhoods in Paris. Plus you can check out the Musee Victor Hugo where the famed Les Mis writer lived.

    Image of the Boulangerie Saint Michel in the Latin Quarter in Paris
    The Latin Quarter is a popular place to stay in Paris for the first time.

    The Latin Quarter is perfect for visitors who want to be in the heart of the city. It is also home to many of Paris’s most famous landmarks including the Pantheon, National Museum of Natural History, and the Shakespeare & Company bookstore.

    Image of a 6-story boutique hotel in Montparnasse Paris
    We loved the Hotel Aiglon in Montparnasse. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

    For a more quiet and residential experience, Montparnasse might be a good choice. This is where we stayed on our most recent trip to Paris and we loved how it was away from the hustle and bustle but still had lots of great restaurants and shops nearby.

    There are also several neighborhoods located on the outskirts of the city that offer cheaper lodging options. But, you’ll want to factor in transportion costs.

    No matter what neighborhood you choose, be sure to research your hotel or Airbnb carefully in order to find one that fits your needs and budget.

    Be Prepared to Walk

    Unless you’re from a big city, you might not be used to the amount of walking you’ll do in Paris. It’s easy to walk 5-10 miles each day, even when you’re using public transportation or taxis.

    You’ll definitely want comfortable shoes that can handle the cobblestone roads. This is one of my best Paris tips for travelers.

    Image of a dad carrying a 5yo boy while another boy walks behind them on the sidewalk in Paris
    Be prepared to walk a LOT in Paris. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

    I suggest bringing two pairs of shoes with you so you can alternate. One pair can be sandals or comfortable wedge heels if you’re visiting Paris in the summer.

    If you wear shoes without socks (or with the no-show socks), I recommend also packing Band-Aids for your heels. Almost everyone we saw had Band-Aids where their shoes rubbed their skin from walking so much (me included).

    What to Wear in Paris

    No matter what time of year you visit Paris, you’ll always find people well-dressed and looking their best. However, that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank or pack your fanciest clothes.

    In Paris, you can dress up or dress down and be comfortable either way.

    Image of a mom wearing a pink dress, two boys wearing grey sweaters and shorts, and a dad wearing a blue button down shirt and slacks walking down a street in Paris.
    It’s always nice to dress up in Paris! Photo credit: Kirill in Paris with Flytographer

    In the summertime, the weather is usually mild with some occasional hot days, so pack light clothes that you can layer. Summer dresses and lightweight jackets are very popular.

    You’ll want to be prepared for chilly weather and rain the rest of the year. Waterproof shoes and rain jackets are a smart idea. But don’t let that deter you from visiting. There are tons of fun things to do in Paris in the rain.

    In terms of what to wear during the day, jeans and a T-shirt are always a safe option, but you can also dress up with a nice skirt or blouse.

    If you’re going to be doing a lot of walking, sneakers or flats are best; but if you’re planning on hitting some of Paris’s famous museums or churches, heels are acceptable.

    Paris is a great place to try out new fashion trends, but make sure you’re comfortable in what you’re wearing; after all, there’s nothing worse than being uncomfortable in your own clothes.

    With these guidelines in mind, enjoy exploring one of the most fashion-forward cities in the world!

    Book a Family Photo Shoot

    Whenever we travel, we almost always book a family photo shoot with Flytographer. They are super easy, affordable, AND guarantee that I’ll be in some photos. You can get $25 off if you book through this link or use the code HAWAIITRAVEL.

    What to Eat in Paris

    No matter what your budget or culinary preference, Paris is a food lover’s dream. The city is home to some of the most famous restaurants in the world, as well as countless bistros, cafes, and street vendors. There is truly something for everyone.

    If you’re looking for a Michelin-starred dining experience, you won’t be disappointed. Some of the best chefs in the world call Paris home, and they create masterpieces that are sure to impress.

    But even if your budget is more modest, there are still plenty of great options. Many casual bistros serve up equally delicious fare at a fraction of the price.

    And don’t forget about all the amazing produce and snacks available at the markets and street vendors around the city. From fresh fruits and vegetables to piping hot crepes, there’s no shortage of deliciousness to be found.

    Image of a Laduree bag in front of the Laduree shop in Paris
    Laudree is one of the most famous places to get macarons in Paris!

    Of course, you’ll also want to visit lots of Paris bakeries! While most people know of Parisian croissants, they also make some other incredible pastries. And don’t forget about macarons!

    So whether you’re looking for a gourmet meal or a quick bite on the go, Paris will not disappoint.

    Where to Shop in Paris

    If you love to shop, Paris is the perfect city for you! There’s something for everyone here, from high-end designer boutiques to street markets.

    Image of the Louis Vuitton store in Paris
    Louis Vuitton is one of the most famous Paris shops on the Champs-Elysees.

    For luxury brands, head to the Champs-Élysées or the Saint-Germain-des-Prés district. You’ll find all kinds of brands you recognize as well as French brands you’ll want to check out.

    If you’re looking for bargains, the Marais district is home to many discount stores, while the Les Halles area is great for finding fresh produce and meat.

    For a more eclectic shopping experience, check out the trendy Canal Saint-Martin or Bastille neighborhoods. And don’t forget to browse the stalls at one of Paris’ famous open-air markets!

    Families will definitely want to stop at Monoprix. They have locations all over Paris and it’s very similar to Target. You can pick up snacks, clothing, toys, and bath/beauty products here.

    Image of the interior of an ornate 3 story department store with gold decorations
    Gallerie LaFayette is totally worth a stop!

    Foodies will want to hit up Gallerie LaFayette. They have a gourmet market where you can pick up all the best food items in Paris in one place (think caviar, foie gras, chocolate, French sausage, etc). But, it’s also one of the most famous department stores in Paris.

    With so many great shopping options, you’re sure to find everything you’re looking for (and more!) in Paris.

    What to do in Paris

    If you’re looking for a city that has it all, Paris is the place for you. From world-renowned landmarks to excellent cuisine, there’s something for everyone in the City of Light.

    Here are just a few of the things you can do while visiting Paris:

    Image of a Paris carousel with the Eiffel Tower in the background
    Make sure to hit up the carousel next to the Eiffel Tower or grab ice cream there! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

    One of the most famous landmarks in the city is the Eiffel Tower. Standing at over 1,000 feet tall, this metal tower was built in 1889 as an exhibit for the World’s Fair.

    Today, it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Paris, with millions of visitors each year. If you’re looking for a breathtaking view of the city, be sure to take a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower. It’s by far one of the most Instagrammable spots in Paris!

    Image of Notre Dame cathedral with a construction wall around it
    They are still re-building Notre Dame but it’s still worth a stop. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

    Another iconic landmark in Paris is Notre Dame Cathedral. This Gothic cathedral was completed in 1345 and is known for its beautiful architecture and stained glass windows. It attracts millions of visitors every year and is a must-see for any visitor to Paris.

    If you want to experience some of the history and culture of the city, Notre Dame Cathedral is a great place to start. It’s currently being renovated after the fire, but you can still admire it from outside.

    Image of a taupe building with a large courtyard with a handful of people walking around
    This is the courtyard of the Louvre museum, which is massive!

    The Louvre Museum is also a must-visit attraction in Paris. It is the largest art museum in the world, with over 380,000 pieces of art on display. It’s free to walk around the courtyard but you’ll definitely want to head inside and say hi to the Mona Lisa!

    These are just a few of my favorite things to do in Paris!

    Book Paris Attractions & Tours in Advance

    Even if you are the type of traveler who likes to go with the flow, you will want to book at least a few things ahead of time. This will save you a lot of time waiting in line and it will usually also save you money.

    Image of a mom and boy taking a selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
    We loved skipping the long, long line at the Eiffel Tower! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

    And when you are booking Paris activities, check to see if they have a skip-the-line option. We did this for the Eiffel Tower and it saved us SO much time!

    I suggest booking one or two activities per day and leaving the rest of the time open to check out parks/gardens, walk around neighborhoods, or go shopping.

    Money in Paris

    If it’s your first time to Paris, you’ll want to know that France uses Euros. But, if you’re also visiting the United Kingdom, they use British Pounds. You will need to have both currencies if you plan on using cash in both places.

    You should be able to use your credit card for most purchases in Paris, but we like to get cash to tip our Paris tour guides, buy things from markets, and have as a backup in case our credit card doesn’t work.

    Get a Travel Adapter

    If you plan on bringing anything that might need to be plugged in a wall (like a hair dryer, straightener, or laptop computer), you’ll need an adapter.

    We usually bring a universal adapter when we travel but this trip we brought a voltage converter. You’ll just need to do some research to make sure your items will work with the different voltages.

    Thankfully, USB chargers will work in any USB port you might have at your hotel or on a train. Otherwise, you’ll need to plug it into either a converter or a European plug.

    Safety and Awareness in Paris

    Paris visitors are advised to remain vigilant at all times and take precautions for their own protection.

    You may be asking yourself, is Paris safe?

    In recent years there has been an increase in crimes across the city which means that more than ever before people need to be aware of what they’re doing both outside as well as inside buildings.

    Image of three French police officers inside a Paris train station with people walking around
    You’ll spot French police in train stations and other busy areas.

    You’ll definitely want to be hyper-aware when you are in Paris train stations. We’ve had some close-calls with pick pocketers here and it can be scary.

    Be aware of your surroundings, especially when you’re trying to find somewhere new or unfamiliar. Of course, Paris is a big place, so it’s easy to get lost or confused if you’re not paying attention.

    How to Travel Paris FAQs

    What are some things to know about Paris?

    Wondering what to know before visiting Paris? Paris is a major city in Europe with fantastic public transportation options. Some of the most famous Paris attractions are the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Louvre Museum. Paris is divided into different districts called arrondissements. Paris is part of the European Union and uses Euros as its currency.

    Is Paris worth visiting with kids?

    Absolutely! There are so many fun things to do in Paris with kids like sailing toy boats, riding on carousels, and eating macarons. And the city is very kid-friendly. Just be sure that your Paris trip itinerary isn’t too aggressive. I recommend booking some Paris private tours for your family to make the most of your Paris vacation.

    What are the best day trips from Paris?

    The most popular day trip from Paris is the Palace of Versailles. It’s less than an hour from Paris so it’s an easy Paris day trip. If you are an art enthusiast, you’ll want to check out Giverny, which was the home of Claude Monet. It’s about 1-2 hours from Paris and definitely worth the hype.

    Tips for Traveling to Paris Wrap Up

    Paris is one of the most beautiful and culturally rich cities in the world, making it a top travel destination for people from all walks of life.

    Whether you’re interested in art, history, fashion, food, or just want to absorb the unique atmosphere of the city, Paris has something for everyone.

    Although it can be overwhelming to plan a trip to such a popular destination, this travel guide will help you make the most of your time in Paris.

    From tips on how to navigate the city’s metro system to advice on where to find the best food and drink, you’ll be prepared to explore all that this magical city has to offer. Bon voyage!

    Looking for more Paris content? Check out my kid-friendly Paris 5 day itinerary, whether or not it’s worth visiting Versailles with kids, things to do in Paris at night, hidden gems in France, how to hire a Paris photographer, the best Paris tours for families, day trips from Paris by train, Paris vs London, things to do on a Paris family vacation, Paris weekend itinerary, and how to visit Paris with teens!

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