First Timers Guide To Paris

paris guide
I have been to Paris twice and honestly, it is never enough time. I could spend a summer there and still not see everything. So I created this quick guide to Paris for people passing through on a quick trip and looking to see as much as possible. On my first trip, I was in Paris for just over 48 hours and my second trip just over 24 hours – so it is possible to fit a lot in with a short trip.
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Before You Go:

  • Summer is always the busiest time to visit with the best weather – which means bigger crowds and higher price tags. However, in August Parisians take vacation and you will find a lot of restaurants and places closed – butt he weather will still be nice.
  • For lower prices and crowds, try visiting during shoulder season in March-May & September-November
  • Main International airport: Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)
  • Getting into the Paris City Center is about 45 minutes to an hour drive from CDG (depending on traffic)
  • French is very widely spoken and I struggled on both trips to find fluent English speakers – it would be wise to learn some basic French, but not required. People were more responsive to me when I took initiative to understand their language
  • Currency: Euro – I would highly recommend having cash for street vendors as I do not recall them having credit card machines
  • ATM’s are widely available
  • Tipping: Most restaurants already include tax and a 15% gratuity on their bills
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Notre-Dame

Where To Stay:
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I highly recommend the Hilton Paris Opera. Stacked with high ceilings, beautiful chandeliers and stunning architectural touches, you will be amazed in person to see the detailing of this historic hotel.
The hotel offers 268 rooms of your choosing. The hotel was recently renovated and the rooms are outstanding. Light, bright and airy is how I would describe them – with small accent colors like light blues, yellows and greys. The warmth of the room is very welcoming.
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One of the things I enjoyed most about my room was being able to open the windows slightly and take in all of Paris. The smell of baguettes and macarons fill the street, along with other delicious pastries.
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The hotel does have an executive lounge filled to the brim with snacks and beverages. The first thing I looked for when I arrived was French treats – and surely, I found them. They had macarons in there and my heart was happy.
There are different types of foods and snacks throughout the day in here, so stop in when you’re hungry and see what they have.
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Bonus: They have an entire shelf of CANDY!
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Double Bonus: FREE BREAKFAST (in the executive lounge)!! Words that are music to my ears. Not only do they offer a free breakfast buffet, but it is luxurious! Smoked salmon, cheeses, pastries, fresh squeezed juices, bacon, fruits, and the list goes on. When you get free breakfast at a luxury hotel – you know it is going to be good.
Hotel Details:

  • Address: 108 rue Saint-Lazare 75008 PARIS
  • Located in the Opera District
  • Free WiFi throughout the hotel
  • HHonors participant
  • Gym inside the hotel
  • Lift available
  • Direct access to rail: Gare Saint-Lazre

MUST do things in Paris:
Everyone will have their own list, but this is my list, my favorite things, and the ones I think that everyone will love.
Eiffel Tower:
One simply does not come to Paris and skip the Eiffel Tower. An notable icon of both Paris and its country, France. The tower is stunning both during the day and at night. I prefer at night when it twinkles.

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Eiffel Tower – at night

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Eiffel Tower – during the day

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Eiffel Tower in the spring

Take a Cruise down the Seine River
You would be hard pressed to find a bad view during this cruise. I love all the architecture and bridges. Its truly a beautiful way to see some of Paris.

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Seine River

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Seine River

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Palace of Versailles
This is definitely a day trip. I did it in half a day but was extremely rushed and did not get to see all of the gardens.
Versailles has some of the most gorgeous grandeur – no detail was missed in the creation of this palace and its very opulent.
Tips for visiting Versailles:

  • Take the train from the Paris City Center
  • Arrive very early as lines can get very long (I waited over 2 hours to get inside midday in off season)
  • Purchasing a private tour allows you to skip lines and get more knowledge about the Palace – I did not do this but wish I had
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Versailles

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Versailles

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Versailles

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Visit the most colorful street: Rue Crémieux
In all of my travels, I think this street is the most colorful. Every house different and special in its own way.

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Rue Crémieux

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Rue Crémieux

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Rue Crémieux

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Rue Crémieux

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Rue Crémieux

Tips for visiting:

  • About a 7 minute walk from Bastille Metro stop
  • Keep an eye out for the street, it is mostly businesses surrounding the area
  • Keep social media updated abroad by getting a Skyroam
  • People do live in these homes, respect their privacy and if they ask you not to photograph their home, don’t.

Visit Sacre-Coeur & explore Monmartre:
Located at the highest point in Paris, Montmartre Hill, this is a must when visiting. The Montmartre neighborhood is my favorite in all of Paris. The cobblestone streets, vendors, the food – it was love at first site.

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Sacre-Coeur

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Tuileries Garden 
I loved walking around Tuileries Garden. Such a gorgeous spot in Paris. This is definitely the place you go for the Parisian picnic or for the stroll to see the beauty of the city.

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Tuileries Garden

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Tuileries Garden

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Tuileries Garden

Moulin Rouge:
Would it be a trip to  Paris if you didn’t at least walk by and see the infamous Parisian club?

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Moulin Rouge

Eat your weight in carbs and cheese!
If we are being honest with ourselves, a trip to Paris is synonymous with croissant. <3

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Croissant

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Macarons

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Baguettes

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All the cheese

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Cute Cafe

Catch a sunrise or  sunset:
The city is truly magical when the sky lights up.

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Sunset

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Sunrise

Visit the Louvre:
Its truly a masterpiece at night – but going during the day too if you want to see the Mona Lisa and other works of art on the inside.

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Louvre

Things to note:

  • Plan ahead for museums and major attractions – there are usually lines and they can get very long
  • Pickpockets are around and I know several people who have fallen victim –  watch your stuff and try to keep your belongings in front of you
  • I think Paris is more beautiful at night – but with all cities, take precautions when you are out in the dark

Picnic
Have a perfect Parisian picnic overlooking the Eiffel Tower.
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7 Comments

  1. November 7, 2017 / 4:24 am

    I don’t see myself going to Paris anytime soon but wow, your photos are beautiful!

    • November 7, 2017 / 12:52 pm

      Never say never! I never thought I would go either and somehow ended up there twice.

  2. November 8, 2017 / 12:07 pm

    These tips are really practical and helpful and I will definitely reread them before I decide to go to Paris, Nicki! Would you recommend it as a good winter destination?

    • November 8, 2017 / 12:43 pm

      Thanks for stopping by! I have never been in the winter – BUT I would go. Prices are cheaper, less crowded, and I can’t imagine anything more magical than a snowy Paris

  3. March 30, 2018 / 12:38 pm

    Great post, Nicki.
    If visitors don’t have a lot of luggage, I recommend taking a train directly from Charles de Gaulle Airport into the city or taking an Air France bus. These buses drop off passengers at a variety of stops within Paris.\
    I love Paris, but do watch out for the many pick pockets and the like who cluster around the most popular sightseeing points.

  4. Emma
    August 30, 2018 / 2:04 pm

    Great post. I love Paris and always looking for something different to do when I’m there next or just to get someone else’s thoughts

  5. Simone
    October 25, 2018 / 11:05 pm

    Hey, how did you get the picture of the eiffel tower in the sunset?? (What location so I can go!)

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