Paris, the City of Light, is filled with thousands of hotels, attractions, shops and restaurants. If this is a first-time visit, or even if you know the city, this guide aims to help focusing on where to stay, where to eat, where to go and more basic information you need before you go to Paris.
Paris is one of the most popular destinations in the world, which makes it quite easy to access.
It is a major hub for many airlines, and a great starting point or stopover during a European vacation. Since it is so popular, there are also many great bargains on airfare, lodging or vacation packages.
For more information:
- France Air Travel & Airports
- France's Rail System
- How to Choose the Right Rail Pass
- Speed Between Paris and London in 2.5 Hours
Paris is divided into arrondissements, or neighborhoods. These arrondissements run in a circular spiral starting at the center of the city and winding outwards. The city is also divided by the Seine River, and the two sides are the Left Bank and Right Bank.
Public transportation in Paris is extensive, including the popular Metro trains, France's train system running to points outside the city, a bus system, and more.
Consult the following resources for more information:
Where to Stay
There are hundreds of hotels in Paris, which can make it a pretty daunting task to isolate the right one for you. The best thing to do is to determine which attractions you want to see most and which arrondissements there are within easy distance (the map link above will help). Once you do that, search for lodging within that arrondissement or close by.
Many of the most popular attractions are within the first five arrondissements.
Once you've done that, you need to decide how much to spend and whether your room should be luxurious or basic. The French government regulates the star ratings, which is very helpful. You will pay the least (and therefore get the least) with one and two star hotels. Three star hotels are usually reasonably priced and comfortable enough for most travelers. Or you can live it up in four-star accommodation.
For help finding a place to stay, visit these pages:
Where to Eat and Drink
One of the great indulgences on a visit to Paris is definitely the food. Some of the best gourmet restaurants in the world are located here. Even cheap cafe eats or street crepe vendor food is wonderful.
It can help to do some research first about where you want to dine. For some of the most popular restaurants, you can even make reservations online. You can also ask your concierge for help booking reservations, or for suggestions on where to eat. Note that in Paris, dinnertime is commonly later than in the U.S.A., and is around 7 or 8 p.m. Unlike smaller French cities where it can be tough to find an open restaurant between lunchtime and dinnertime, however, there is always somewhere in Paris to grab a bite.
Look out for brasseries which have all-day opening hours though there might be a restricted menu between main meal times.
Paris is also packed with several hip nightclubs, jazz clubs and fun cafes.
For help navigating France's world of cuisine, visit:
- Restaurant tipping in France
- How to order coffee in a French cafe
- Paris Restaurant & Cuisine Photo Gallery
The city of light has many of the world's most visited attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and Arc de Triomphe. It's impossible to see them all, but do your homework first and prioritize. With a numbered list, you can start with the most important. Then, anything you miss will be less important.
To help you decide which attractions are most important, take a look at these articles:
Paris is ideal for a romantic getaway, a honeymoon, and anniversary trip, secret plans to propose, or any venture for a couple. Find out how to plan a visit with your sweetie with these links:
Even during a vacation in Paris, you might need to stay in touch with work, friends or family while visiting. No need for concern, though. There are several cyber cafes in the city, wi-fi (wireless internet connection) is increasingly surfacing, cell phones can be rented and calls to home are relatively inexpensive from public pay phones (with the use of phone cards, or telecartes available at any convenience store.
For more information, visit:
- Top Bags for Traveling with Gadgets
- Using Your Cell Phone in France
- Take Your Laptop to France
- Using French Keyboards
France isn't just about Paris by any stretch. Find out about excursions outside of Paris with:
- Short Day or Overnight Trips from Paris
- Disneyland Paris: Before You Go
- Vaux-le-Vicomte Chateau
- Museum of Camille Claudel, Rodin's lover
- Great Gothic Cathedrals around Paris
There are several other resources available on this site and many others for your trip. Some must-see resources are: