If you've never been to Paris but have dreamed of spending your honeymoon in France's City of Light and decided this is the time to plan to go, you're in for a treat. For centuries, lovers have agreed there's no place more romantic than Paris. The food and wine... the art and architecture... the charming hotels... the lazy afternoons people-watching at cafés... even the elegant sound of the French language are among the city's seductions.
But do prepare for a honeymoon in Paris; it'll help you to avoid disappointment and enhance the trip.
Where to Start
- Decide When to Visit Paris: If you're like most couples, you'll want to take your honeymoon shortly after the wedding. Know that Paris is different in every season and that certain events such as Paris Fashion Week (which occurs twice a year, in September and January), the French Open, and the Paris Jazz Festival may make it difficult to secure a room at a top hotel without plenty of advance planning. So choose your dates and proceed.
- Book a Hotel in Paris: With thousands of hotels, ranging from classic to ultra-modern, how do you select one where you should spend your honeymoon? Thanks to the Metro, the city is relatively easy to get around, so don't feel as if you need to lodge on the Champs Élysées or in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower if you are on a budget. (Even if you have a well-funded honeymoon, prepare for sticker shock. Paris hotels are not cheap.)
- Book a Flight to Paris: Two international airports, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, serve Paris. Both are less than 20 miles away from central Paris. Although many airlines fly into Paris, one, in particular, is worth considering on a honeymoon trip: Open Skies. Flying from New York and Washington, DC to Orly, this all-business-class airline offers comfortable, affordably priced seats.
- Get in the Mood for Paris: Some of the world's best-loved films, many of them romantic, have been set in Paris. Choose from these Top 10 Romantic Movies about Paris, France to screen to get an inkling of the city's charms.
- Learn a Little French: It may seem as if tout le monde in Paris — except for the two of you — speaks French. But you can learn.
- Paris Restaurant Vocabulary
- Have an iPhone or another smartphone? Go to your app store, type in "French" and you'll find a variety of language apps that translate and speak, and you can buy them for a few bucks. Consider iSpeak French, TripLingo French, and SpeakEasy French.
- Pricey but usually successful with students, Rosetta Stone French teaches through your computer and works on mobile devices.
- Berlitz offers virtual classrooms.
- Consider Your Wardrobe: Haute couture began in France, and French designers — such as Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Yves St. Laurent, Jean Paul Gaultier, Hedi Slimane, Azzedine Alaia, and many others — have dressed the world's most elegant women and men. Their Paris ateliers and flagship stores remain beacons for the best-dressed. While couture clothing is out of the price range of most, Paris residents still manage to turn themselves out in style. To avoid being identified as a tourist, leave home your shorts, cargo pants, sneakers, and T-shirts worn as outerwear. If you want to be treated with respect, pack items in subdued colors and plan to accessorize with a jaunty scarf.
- Orient Yourselves: Even lifelong Parisians have been known to whip out a map once in a while (new streets are added, and sometimes old ones change names), so don't feel embarrassed to use one. Another good way to get your bearings is to take a Hop-on/Hop-off bus tour. In addition to getting the big picture, you can see Paris at your own pace, alighting from the bus and reboarding at your leisure within a 24- or 48-hour period.
If you'd like to hire a tour guide, you can book a private English-speaking guide from Viator.
- Plan Your Expeditions: What do you want to see and do while you're in Paris? Marvel at the Mona Lisa in the Louvre? See the city from atop the Eiffel Tower? Stroll along the Champs Élysées? Sail the Seine in a bateau-mouche? Linger in a café and people watch? You can do it all!
While I believe you should allow yourselves plenty of free time in Paris, there's something to be said for scheduling some activities ahead of time. Your hotel concierge may be able to help out. If you'd rather do it before you go, these are among the Paris delights a couple can reserve in advance:
- Eiffel Tower Dinner and Seine River Cruise
- Paris Louvre Guided Tour
- Versailles Palace and Gardens Tour
- Arrange Airport Transportation: Arriving in Paris after a long flight, the last thing you want to do is stress over how to get from the airport to your hotel. Carrying luggage onto trains can be difficult and taxi rates are steep. Pre-arranged airport pick-up can be a more affordable option. For a reasonable price, a professional driver will meet you at the airport, load the bags, and deliver you to a centrally located hotel.
Travel Outside Paris
- Explore Europe Beyond Paris: Paris is a thrilling and romantic city to honeymoon in, but it's not the only place in France worth visiting. If you have the time, think about combining your visit to Paris with one to other French tourism regions or even spending a week on a barge trip through Burgundy.
Paris is also not the only place on the continent that appeals to lovers. Although you can find cheap flights, the best and easiest way to travel is by high-speed train. Consider these journeys via Rail Europe's Eurostar trains that can speed you to London in under two and a half hours and Brussels in less than an hour and a half.
What You Need
- Plenty of cash
- Good walking shoes