A GUIDE TO PARIS
Travel Tips for a long weekend in the city of love
Everyone should make it to Paris at least once in their lifetime. It is a city full of history, containing amazing landmarks, and best of all, great eats! As with any other destination, we had plenty of questions going in, inspiring us to compile a list of things we thought might be helpful.
- How many days should I spend in Paris?
- What should I see in Paris?
- What should I eat while in Paris?
- Where should I go to view the Eiffel Tower?
- What else is there to do around Sacré-Coeur?
- How long are the lines at the Catacombs?
- How do I get from Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) to Paris center?
- Is public transportation within Paris city limits easy to navigate?
Q: How many days should I spend in Paris?
We found four days (three nights) to be just the right amount of time, albeit busy, to experience Paris and see the things on our list. Of course, there is nothing wrong with stretching this out over a longer period of time. The city offers plenty to do and numerous ways to relax and absorb the atmosphere. Grabbing a drink and bite to eat at one of the hundreds of open air cafés can be a good way of taking it all in.
Q: What should I see in Paris?
This is certainly not a comprehensive list, but we have tried to hit the highlights.
- Eiffel Tower
- The Catacombs
- The Louvre Museum
- Arc de Triomphe
- Notre-Dame Cathedral
- Moulin Rouge
- Palace of Versailles
We can’t speak personally to Palace of Versailles but have heard great things. It’s a little off the beaten path but train tickets can be purchased separately. After traipsing around Paris for four days we were out of energy to squeeze this one in. A longer stay may be more accommodating, but it is definitely on our list for when we return! Keep reading to see helpful hints on some of the other landmarks!
Q: What should I eat while in Paris?
For the traveler on a budget, here is our suggestion: skip the fine dining and indulge on the delicious snacks. On almost every street is a café or patisserie where you can pick up a delicious treat on the go. Some of our favorites are listed below:
- Croque-Monsieur: Ham and cheese sandwich topped with a creamy Béchamel sauce and grated cheese.
- Croque-Madame: A variation of the Croque Monsieur, topped with a poached or lightly fried egg.
- Ham and cheese anything (sandwich, croissant, omelet)
For one of your evenings, grab a bottle of champagne and enjoy a charcuterie board in the shadows of the Eiffel tower.
Our favorite spot was a wonderful street called Rue Mouffetard Market. This narrow market street is lined with shops offering a multitude of fresh foods. Vendors filled the street with fresh produce, fish on ice, flakey pastries and other assorted goods. We were brought there by our search for one of the top 10 ice cream places in the world, Berthillon Glacier. Their main location was temporarily closed for renovations but were still selling their famous Glacé at a small stand in the Rue Mouffetard Market.
Another must stop is L’as du Fallafel, serving…you guessed it…falafel! This place was so good it rivals other falafel in Israel. However, make sure to budget some time for this one. We went the same morning our train was leaving and were surprised to find about a hundred people in line. I’m still extremely glad we stopped as it was well worth the wait!
Q: Where should I go to view the Eiffel Tower?
There are a couple classic locations for viewing the Eiffel Tower and both provide great views. I would recommend making a point to get to these both. One is from “Trocadero”, located across the Seine, providing a slightly elevated view of the tower with fewer obstructions. The other is a large park on the opposite side of the tower. Walking along “Champ de Mars” offers several different perspectives and provides a great location for a picnic. Go in the evening, relax and wait until dark when the tower lights up and then sparkles on every hour. Of course, I would still recommend making your way underneath the structure as that provides a unique perspective.
If skyline views are what you are looking for, you can climb the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, or enjoy the view from the rooftop terrace of the shopping center Galleries Lafayette. The shopping center also hosts a lavish dome that can be quite impressive itself.
Q: What else is there to do around Sacré-Coeur?
Aside from the obvious historical architecture and sweeping vistas from this basilica set on a hillside, the whole neighborhood of Montmarte is a nearby perk! Several shops line the approach to Sacré-Coeur and there is a great market on top of the hill. After taking in Sacré-Coeur, venture around the corner and enjoy the market, Place du Tertre, a lively square filled with cafés, street artists, and tasty treats.
Q: How long are the lines at the Catacombs?
The Catacombs were another highlight of our trip. While almost too easy to dissociate the person from the bones, this was an incredible way to dive down into Parisian history. If you want to save some money on skip the line tickets, get there about a half hour to an hour before it opens. You will get in without waiting for two hours and still have the afternoon to explore other areas of Paris.
Q: How do I get from Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) to Paris center?
While flying around Europe can definitely save time on some of your longer journeys, the airports are often farther outside the city center in comparison to the train stations. Paris offers a few options for transportation. The cheapest by far is going to be bus, but you will likely have to deal with multiple transfers between bus and metro stations. With luggage in tow, it can be a pain to figure out the city’s public transportation system. Uber does operate in Paris, and generally speaking ,that would be my preference as the rates are predetermined. Unfortunately, we had a very difficult time linking up with our driver at the airport. The pickup location forced us to walk across the airport and when we got there, there was clearly no spot for the driver to pull over. We ended up going back towards the baggage claim area where the taxi stand was easily accessible. We were pleasantly surprised to find flat rates from airport to different areas of Paris. It only came out to €5 more than Uber (€50 in our case), felt safe, and definitely worth the convenience.
Q: Is public transportation within Paris city limits easy to navigate?
The metro system is easy to navigate and can get you close to just about anything inside the city. As long as you are somewhat mobile and don’t mind a short walk, this is the best (affordable) method of getting around the city. As with most metro systems, there are passes available for single rides, single day, and multiple day trips.
We hope you find these tips useful…. Feel free use the comments below if there is anything we missed! Let us know if you have any questions and we’ll see if we can get you answers.