Best Time to Visit: April-September
Weather: Pretty nice for most of the year actually. Summer is when the city dazzles with temperatures hitting a comfortable 20-25C (68-77F). Winter’s are grey but with a city this beautiful and enough museums to cover rain checks, anytime of the year is good for a visit.
Reasons to Visit:
The City’s Vibe: This is one of those intangibles that you can feel but have a hard time describing. We have felt something close to the phrase “Love is in the air” when we’ve walked past the Pont des Arts (when the locks hadn’t been removed), along the Seine or near the Eiffel Tower, among other places. Food and drink are incredibly relaxed affairs where just sipping coffee and watching the world go by takes an hour.
Museums & Landmarks: Too many to write down and we haven’t covered atleast half of them. Most of the places below have incredibly long lines and we have some tips on minimizing the wait.
- Tip: Get to your top destination of the day before 9 am if you don’t have a ticket.
- Tip: Security lines are the big bottleneck so if you do not have a timeslot ticket (e.g. Versailles), get there by 9-9:30 before the bus groups arrive.
- Tip: Free museums and specific free days for popular museums are listed here.
- Tip: Museums are FREE for under-26 EU/EEA residents (includes folk on a visa living in EU) and for all under-18. Full time student in EU was also free when we visited last summer but can’t seem to find that on the Lourve website.
- Tip: For a longer stay to cover museums, consider buying a 6 days (74 Euro) Paris Museum pass. We don’t feel the 2 days pass is of value because each museum takes atleast half a day so we wont be able to cover more than 3 museums making 48 Euro spend unjustifiable.
- Eiffel Tower: Online tickets, specific time slots, pre-bought tickets have a separate security line.
- Musée du Louvre: Ok to not buy online tickets, smallest security lines through the mall entrance marked “Carousel Entrance”. Read the TripAdvisor description.
- Palace of Versailles: Colossal security lines, buying online tickets isn’t helpful even when we reached by 10 am.
Getting Lost: Paris is an incredibly beautiful city architecturally. One of our favourite things to do is look up a cafe/brasserie to go to, eat something and then walk around in the arrondissement aimlessly. You’ll stumble upon something you’ll like, say a book store, a wine shop, a garden. Walking around in Paris is a treat.
Cafes, Brasseries, Boulangeries & Patisseries: Paris is a foodie’s dream. Knowing these 4 words tell’s your how to get you coffee, meal, bread and dessert fix respectively. More in the Food & Drink section below.
- The 3 major modes of transport to get around Paris are the Metro, suburban trains (RER) & bus, operated by RATP.
- Getting into the city centre from the aiports is a matter of taking an RER train. The AirFrance buses from CDG are also comfy & take you to parts of the city like Montparnasse without needing to transfer.
- The metro covers most tourist areas within central Paris. Buy tickets for them in 10 ticket carnet form (14 Euros vs 1.8 per ticket) if taking less than 5 rides a day.
- For more than 5 rides a day or when going out of the city centre (e.g. Versailles) buy a Mobilis ticket (day ticket) for the zones that apply. Sample fares can be seen here & tickets can be used on all modes of transport. Multi day tickets are also available.
- If you have an early morning flight (like we did), catch the Night bus to the airport from Gare de l’Est to achieve legend status. Fares & schedule here.
Food & Drink:
- Paris has 14,207 restaurants listed on TripAdvisor and so many brasseries are so nice that you are best choosing your own adventure, below is a list of our favourites.
- 6th Arrondissement has a huge number of restaurants next to each other at this map reference, decent food choices, quite affordable & next to some tourist spots (e.g Notre Dame)
- Pierre Hermé has some decadent macaron based pastries.
- Every neighbourhood has a boulangerie where one can get freshly baked bread & croissants for breakfast. One that we recommend is Boulangerie de la place near Montparnasse station.
- Finally, many chains exist in Paris famous for their chocolate. The one we went to time & again has been Maison Georges Larnicol mostly because of their chocolate art as seen below.