The views from the Institut du Monde Arabe's rooftop terrace are breathtaking.

Paris Guide: Planning Your Trip

••• Michel Setboun/Getty Images

Planning a trip to Paris? Congrats. Before you go, it's essential to learn a bit about when to visit, what to see and do, where to stay and eat out, and how to get around. Whether you're embarking on a first-time visit or already know the city well, this at-a-glance guide will help you take the necessary steps to plan your trip with ease—and enjoy the capital fully once you're there.

Planning Your Trip

  • Best Time to VisitGenerally, the best time to visit Paris is between late spring and late summer, when outdoor activities, lively events, and nearby day trips allow you to experience the city to the fullest. The winter holiday season is also a festive and cheerful time to go, but cold weather may detract some.
  • Language: French is the official language in Paris. Many speak English fluently or somewhat fluently, but make sure to use polite greetings in French.
  • Currency: The Euro (€) is the official currency.
  • Getting Around: Paris is easy to navigate by metro, bus, and commuter-line trains (RER lines).
  • Travel Tip: If you do choose to visit Paris in high season (roughly April to early October), try getting up early to visit museums and other attractions; if possible, avoid big-ticket attractions like the Eiffel Tower on weekends.

Things to Do

Paris is home to many globally-renowned attractions, including the Eiffel Tower; Notre-Dame Cathedral; and the Louvre, the largest museum in the world. It's impossible to see and do it all during a single trip, but we recommend experiencing at least a few of the city's most iconic sights and museums during a first visit. You should also make time to get a taste of France's world-famous cuisine; attend an annual festival or gallery opening; and explore the city at night, when it's arguably at its most enchanting.

Explore more attractions with our full-length articles on the best things to do with kids in Paris, Paris' best art museums, and the top shopping districts in the city.

What to Eat and Drink

As the capital of France, Paris is globally renowned for its excellent and creative cuisine—not to mention its fine French wines. There are 122 Michelin-starred restaurants in the city, and with classic brasseries, mouth-watering patisseries, and open-air markets to boot, there are so many delicious ways to "eat your way" through the capital.

Even though Paris itself doesn't produce much wine of note these days, it's still a great place to learn about—and taste—some of the finest French bottles. Spend an evening at one of the city's best wine bars, or learn more about the history and production of wine at the Musée du Vin. Care for a creative and beautiful cocktail in an intimate setting? These secret bars in Paris offer a stimulating and intriguing evening out on the town. And if beer is more your speed, head to one of the best craft breweries in the capital.

To hone in on the best places to eat out, see our complete guide to dining in Paris, as well as features on the most romantic restaurants in the capital, dining out while vegetarian or vegan, and the best budget-friendly French restaurants to try.

Where to Stay

There are hundreds of hotels in Paris, which can make it a pretty daunting task to choose the "right" one. The best approach might be to first get an overview of the different Parisian districts and neighborhoods ("arrondissements" in French) and decide which one is most suited to your tastes, budget, and travel requirements.

When choosing a hotel, you'll want to decide whether you value design and boutique-style charm over the reliable, predictable comforts offered by international hotel chains such as Marriott and Sofitel. Some travelers would happily forego creature comforts such as large elevators, bathtubs, and spas in favor of more design-focused boutique establishments with perhaps fewer amenities. Finally, rental apartments can provide a more local experience; equipped with small kitchens, they can potentially save you money since you'll be able to cook at home some of the time.

Read our full guide to choosing the right accommodations in the capital, then browse recommendations on the best hotels in Paris and the best boutique hotels in Paris.

Getting There

Paris is one of the most popular destinations in the world, which makes it relatively easy to access by air and rail. You should be able to find competitive deals on airfare, lodging, or vacation packages—provided you compare prices and book several months ahead of your trip. A major hub for most international airlines, Paris is served by three major airports:

  • Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport is Europe's busiest international hub and the largest airport in Paris. It's located roughly an hour northeast of the city; central Paris can be easily accessed via the RER B commuter line train, as well as by coach or taxi.
  • Orly International Airport is located roughly ten miles south of central Paris and is a secondary hub for Air France. It's an excellent option for connecting to or from Paris and other European destinations, and can feel degrees less stressful than CDG. The RER line B train connects from Orly to central Paris.
  • Paris-Beauvais/Tillé is located around 50 miles northwest of Paris and is served by numerous budget airlines, including Ryanair, Air Moldova, and Blue Air. This can be a good option if you're after ultra-low fares for flights from within Europe; on the downside, it will take extra time and expense to get to central Paris.

See more about the major airports of Paris in our full guide, and read up on the pros and cons of taking a taxi to and from the airport.

Culture and Customs

  • While most locals in Paris speak some English, it's always recommended to learn some basic French travel expressions ahead of your trip. Polite greetings, questions, and expressions of gratitude will enrich your experience and smooth communication with Parisians, who often value efforts made by travelers to use a few words in French.
  • It's customary to tip in Paris, but the practices are likely different from the ones you're familiar with in your home country. See our complete guide to tipping in Paris for some useful advice.
  • The city is generally quite safe for travelers, although pickpocketing and scams targeting tourists remain a significant problem. See our full guide to staying safe in the French capital for more information.

Money Saving Tips

  • Make sure to book flights and hotels well in advance to get the best deals, especially if you plan to go in late spring or summer when prices are at their highest.
  • To save on getting around the city by public transport, consider buying the Paris Visite Pass. The pass, which can cover one or several days in the capital, offers unlimited use of metro, bus, trams, and RER trains. It also comes with discounts on select attractions and restaurants.
  • Take advantage of the city's free museums, including the Petit Palais, Musée Carnavalet (Museum of Paris History) and the Modern Art Museum of the City of Paris.
  • Annual events, such as Paris Museum Night and Nuit Blanche, open many of the city's top museums and art collections to the public for free.
  • In the summer, free public events such as Seine-side beaches (Paris Plages) and open-air cinema can help to moderate the high cost of airfares and hotels. They're also a lot of fun. Meanwhile, many other summer festivals, such as the Jazz Festival at the Parc Floral, are inexpensive ways to enjoy a day of live music or other performances.
  • If you choose to take a taxi, make sure it has a visible meter and an illuminated "Taxi Parisien" sign on the rooftop. Otherwise, you may become an unwitting victim of "unofficial" taxis that inflate fares for tourists.
  • Instead of eating out in restaurants for every meal, consider staging a Parisian-style picnic instead. Stock up on French bread, pastries, quiche, and cakes at a neighborhood bakery, and get the rest of your picnic items at a local market or supermarket.
  • Learn more about how to make the most of a trip to the capital on a tight budget by exploring the best free things to do in Paris.
Article Sources
TripSavvy uses only high-quality, trusted sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Euro, the European Currency."

  2. Pascale Filliâtre, Atout France. "7 Tips for a Successful Visit to the Louvre." June 15, 2018.

  3. MICHELIN Guide. "Paris Restaurants."