As the capital of France, Paris has so much to offer so it’s no wonder it’s one of the most-visited cities in the world. It has a reputation as being a romantic city, which is why it’s often dubbed the City of Love as well as the City of Light. Neither name quite does it justice though. Paris is so many things so it’s hard to describe it in just three little words. Paris is chic and elegant, full of history, culture, the arts, cuisine, fashion, entertainment and luxury. There are cafes, gardens, museums, farmers markets, nightlife and so much more.
If you’re visiting Paris or even considering relocating there, here’s our luxury travel guide which will outline some of the main things you need to know about this wonderful and romantic city.
When are the Best Times to Visit Paris?
France is beautiful and exciting at any time of year, but there are certain times that are better to visit than others:
- Spring: The prettiest time of year to visit Paris is during the spring from April to June. Summer crowds haven’t picked up yet and you won’t be in the hottest season.
- Summer: July and August are the hottest months in Paris, and the summer is the busiest tourist season.
- Autumn: October to November is another excellent time to visit Paris because the weather is mild and tourism is low.
- Winter: The cold season in Paris runs from November to February and temperatures stay below 10 degrees Celsius. Snow is common during the winter, too, and the city looks especially whimsical and pretty after a snowfall. You’ll also be treated to plenty of Christmas lights and festivities.
Paris’ weather is mild practically year-round, but it does see a lot of rainfall, as well as more extreme temperatures during the summer and winter.
While French is the most commonly spoken language in Paris, visitors will find many people also speak other European languages including English. It’s common to find people who speak English in the tourist-heavy parts of the city, but you’ll find it helpful to learn some basic French before your trip.
Like many other countries in Europe, the currency in France is the Euro. Visitors to Paris will easily find plenty of ATM’s in tourist-heavy parts of the city as well as in most hotels and restaurants. However, since some businesses and retailers won’t accept cards and ATM’s aren’t always close by, it’s a good idea to carry some cash on you.
You’ll also find it helpful to have a basic understanding of the rules surrounding. As a rule of thumb, for hotel concierges and other employees, a small tip is expected. Taxi drivers charge a set rate and do not expect a tip. Restaurants typically include a service charge in the bill, but you can add an additional tip if the experience was particularly great.
Travelling to Paris
Getting to Paris couldn’t be easier. Many overseas visitors will fly directly into Charles de Gaulle Airport or if you’re travelling from a nearby city or another European country, then there are plenty of train routes into Paris.
From the airport, you can either take a taxi into the city or make use of the train system which has direct links into the city. This is often quicker and more convenient. Once you’re in the city, you can always get a taxi to your hotel.
Best Ways to Get Around Paris
When it comes to getting around Paris, you’ll find it much easier and more convenient to either walk or use public transport. Traffic can get busy in Paris and quickly become backed up, so it can take you longer to get where you’re going if you rely on a car or even a taxi or Uber. You have a lot of options even without a car, though.
One of the best ways to get around Paris is to walk. If you are staying in a central location you can easily walk to all of the main landmarks and areas you want to see. Alternatively, you can take a train or bus to a different arrondissement to explore those areas on foot. Another good way to get around Paris is to rent a bike from one of the many rental stations situated around the city.
The Metro, Paris’ underground subway system, isn’t as intimidating as it may first seem, especially with all of the useful smartphone apps you can download to get where you’re going. In addition to the Metro, you can take a bus or tram to get around the city. There’s also a late-night bus system if you’re enjoying the nightlife. If you’re venturing outside Paris for the afternoon, take a high-speed RER train.
For a truly luxurious experience, consider booking a vintage convertible and chauffeur. You may still get caught in traffic, but the ride is part of the experience, so you won’t be in too much of a rush to reach your destination. Your chauffeur may also take you on a tour of the city and share his knowledge and expertise about the area.
Where to Stay
Best Places to Stay in Paris
There are 20 arrondissements or neighborhoods in Paris, each a bit different from the next. Here’s an overview of the most notable arrondissements:
- First arrondissement: Set on the right bank of the Seine, this is where you’ll see many of Paris’ top tourist sites, like the Louvre and the Palais-Royal. Most people who are visiting Paris for the first time start their experience in the first arrondissement. It’s also close to the business district and is one of Paris’ oldest arrondissements.
- Fourth arrondissement: The Le Marais part of Paris is home to a vibrant community, art galleries and some of the city’s best hotels. It also has an excellent nightlife scene and a backdrop of Medieval Paris.
- Sixth arrondissement: Check out this cozy neighborhood if you’re looking to move to Paris. With a classic Parisian atmosphere, the sixth arrondissement abounds with chocolate and sweet shops, cultural activities and an overall artsy vibe.
- Seventh arrondissement: The seventh arrondissement is close to the Eiffel Tower, making it another great option if you’re visiting Paris for the first time. The neighborhood is chic and perfectly located for sightseeing.
- Eighth arrondissement: The Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Élysées and numerous palaces are located in the eighth, and you’ll be right near the best shopping Paris offers.
- Eleventh arrondissement: If part of your Paris experience is nightlife, you’ll want to stay in the eleventh arrondissement or at least head there once the sun sets. On top of the numerous restaurants to visit, you can also stop in to the Musée Edith Piaf.
Also consider visiting La Défense. Set on the edge of Paris, La Défense has beautiful architecture and modern art, and it’s also the main business hub of the city.
Things to Do in Paris
If you’re interested in Paris’ nightlife, you have a number of options. Why not, see a comedy show or concert at Théâtre des Variétés or take in a show at the famous Moulin Rouge. You can also visit an independent theatre to see a small film festival. There are a number of late-night bars and cafes to choose from, too.
Popular Tourist Attractions in Paris
Even if you want a little taste of local life for part of your stay, don’t worry about looking like a tourist for the rest of it – the sights in Paris are so wonderful that you have to visit them at least once in your lifetime.
- Arc de Triomphe: This monument was built in the early 1800s and its remained a symbol for those who fought in France during the Napoleonic Wars.
- Catacombs: Tour the tunnels underneath the city, which hold the remains of more than 6 million people. You can also book a VIP tour to access parts of the catacombs that are usually closed off.
- Champs-Élysées: This busy, tree-lined street leads to the Arc de Triomphe. It’s excellent for shopping and dining, and it’s also where the Tour de France race finishes.
- Eiffel Tower: Initially built for the World Fair in 1889, the iron-made Eiffel Tower is 324 metres tall. You can head up to the viewing towers to get a can’t-be-missed view of the city. There are also restaurants in the Eiffel Tower where you can dine, with Le Jules Verne being the most exclusive.
- Louvre: The Louvre, home of the Mona Lisa, is one of Europe’s largest and most impressive museums. It has an extensive collection of art and sculptures, and you can take a guided tour to gain insight into the pieces.
- Musée d’Orsay: This museum, which is set in a former railway station, has a fantastic collection of art, including famous impressionist paintings.
- Notre Dame: One of the world’s most iconic cathedrals and one of Paris’ top landmarks, Notre Dame is a shining example of French Gothic architecture dating back to 1345.
- Palace of Versailles: Tour the entire Versailles estate (and stick around for the musical fountain show) to see how French royalty lived in the 17th and 18th
- Palais Garnier: Home to the Paris National Opera, you can see a performance at the Palais Garnier or simply take a tour of the interior.
You can see the city’s top sights in a few hours with a walking tour. There are a lot of local guides who can show you around and tell you about the history of Paris. With Paris Greeters, you can book a tour with a local volunteer who is truly passionate about the city. Also, if you love seeing all of the art the city has to offer, consider getting a museum pass for entry into several of Paris’ museums, and consider taking an underground street art tour.
Luxury Experiences in Paris
Paris does luxury better than any place in the world, and there are so many experiences to choose from that you may have to extend your stay. We’ve mentioned several luxury experiences already, but here are a few more you might want to consider:
- Cruises on the Seine: Have dinner and wine as you cruise along the Seine, passing famous landmarks and sights during your trip. There are also glass boats that travel along the Seine, which are ideal if your main goal is sightseeing. Consider a sunset cruise, too, with accompanying piano and violin music.
- Luxury Shopping: Few places have better shopping than Paris, and you’ll find top designers like Alexander McQueen and Chanel on the Rue Saint-Honoré. Explore the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen for rare antiques and secondhand items like artwork, furniture and one-of-a-kind items. The covered Galerie Vivienne has a number of boutiques, including wine shops and the flagship Jean-Paul Gaultier store.
- Spas: At Villa Thalgo, you can indulge in a seawater treatment by floating in a pool that’s surrounded by screens with holiday-scapes. At Biologique Recherche, you’ll get a custom skin consultation and then a treatment that’s perfectly tailored to your skin. Free Persephone is designed to look like nature, and you can get all sorts of beauty treatments, from manicures and pedicures to aromatherapy massages. Men can visit Bonhomme for skin treatments and hair services.
There are also several bespoke experiences you can arrange through a luxury travel company. You can visit a museum after-hours, have a Michelin-starred chef prepare a private dinner or meet dancers from the ballet. These can be one-day or multi-day experiences or trips.
Where to Eat in Paris
France is famous for its love of food so it’s no surprised that some people visit Paris for the gastronomy alone. Whether you’re grabbing a coffee and pastry in the morning or ordering a multi-course dinner, here are some of the top restaurants that are worthy of a reservation:
- Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée: This restaurant is dripping with luxury, and it’s a prime establishment for seafood, with dishes like golden caviar and baby red snapper.
- L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon: Order seasonal dishes inspired by the in-season produce in France.
- Bouillon Chartier: Famous French dishes are served here, giving you a true taste of authentic French cuisine.
- Café de Flore: Iconic and very Parisian, this restaurant has an Art Deco interior, plus coffee, great food and possible celebrity sightings.
- Le Camion Qui Fume: Order an American-style burger and fries or the special burger-of-the-moment.
- Epicure: Designed for the foodie, one of this Michelin-starred restaurant’s signature dishes is the stuffed macaroni with black truffle, artichoke and duck foie gras.
- Guy Savoy: This Michelin-starred restaurant has innovative food served in an intimate dining room.
- Hotel Costes: Order just drinks or have dinner by candlelight at Hotel Costes’ restaurant. Classic French dishes are prepared with ingredients that have been sourced from local markets.
- Renoma Café Gallery: This stylish, modern restaurant and bar has a great cocktail selection and an American-themed interior.
To satisfy your sweet tooth, visit the Saint-Germain neighborhood, where you’ll find so many chocolatiers it’ll be hard to choose just one – or visit them all and taste as you go.
Must See Events in Paris
There’s so much to do in Paris no matter what month you’re visiting. Here are just some of the phenomenal events you can look forward to:
- Chinatown, which is located in the thirteenth arrondissement, celebrates the Chinese New Year (in January or February) with parades, paper lanterns and other festivities.
- Valentine’s Day in the most romantic city on the planet is what you’d expect – specialty dinners are offered at just about every restaurant, and you can also take a romantic cruise on the Seine.
- In March, you can attend a fair that’s been held for centuries.
- The Paris Marathon in April welcomes athletes and spectators from around the world.
- Head to Saint-Germain in May for the Jazz Festival.
- Every two years, there’s an air show held in June.
- The Tour de France comes through in July.
- In August, you can soak up the rest of the summer with plenty of outdoor concerts and movies.
- European Heritage Days in September give you the chance to see treasures from Paris’ many institutions.
- In October, you can attend the Grape Harvest Festival in Montmartre.
- Christmas markets start appearing across Paris in November.
- During December, there are lots of Christmas celebrations to choose from, as well as classical music concerts.
Twice a year, fashion week blows into Paris, and while it’s difficult to get a seat at the biggest shows, there are accessible runway shows held at the Galeries Lafayette. The fashion crowd also congregates at the Place de la Concorde and Place Vendome, so head there to be around the buzz.
Something For Everyone
As you can see, there so much to see and do in Paris. You can easily spend a lifetime exploring this beautiful and vibrant city. There really is something for everyone.