Bonjour and welcome to Paris. This was my first time traveling to Europe, and I knew the first place I had to go to was Paris. Few cities are as fabulous as the City of Light, as it offers the best of everything—from historic cathedrals and incomparable museums to stylish boutiques and unbeatable cuisine.
Before you begin planning your trip, here are some things you should know:
Best time to go:
I would say depending on what you plan on doing. Winter is cold, Spring is wet, Summer is touristy, and Fall weather is all over the place. I went in March (not by choice, it was the time I could go) and it rained and snowed the whole time I was there. Nonetheless, I never let the weather stop me from walking everywhere and being happy.
Where to stay:
The city has districts called “arrondissements” that spread out across Paris in a spiral shape.
The 1st and 2nd are popular because it's centralized and has the hussle and bustle of Paris shops and cafes, and easy walks to the Seine.
The 2nd arrondissement is where a lot of Parisians work, so it’s more affordable, and it has the highest collection of metro lines so that you can shorten the walking distance to your favorite attractions.
The 3rd and 4th arrondissements are known as the Marais; this is the heart of Paris. The Notre Dame Cathedral is here. It is also, unfortunately, probably the most expensive place to stay in Paris, but you can find affordable AirBnB's in the area.
The 5th and 6th are the central arrondissements of the capital and are notable for being the location of the Quartier Latin, a district dominated by universities, colleges, and prestigious high schools.
The 7th includes the Eiffel Tower.
The 8th arrondissement is also very pricey probably because it's magical. You can walk along the Rue de Champs-Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe and see the Grande Palais.
The 9th through the 12th arrondissements are further away from the center of Paris and the 12th, in particular, has a bunch of cheaper hostel types of lodging.
The 14th arrondissement is where Montparnasse is which is bohemian and artsy.
(This is where I stayed) The 18th arrondissement includes the district of Montmartre which consists of the Moulin Rouge cabaret, other historic features, and the prominent Sacré Cœur basilica which sits atop the hill.
It’s probably not the best location for families with children to stay.
Hotel: Hotel Bonsejour Montmartre
We booked our hotel on Expedia. We wanted a hotel outside the touristic areas; however, to get to the attraction spots, you have to take the train or walk about 50 mins to the Eiffel Tower. The neighborhood is nice and relatively quiet up until blocks down where the Moulin Rouge is.
The hotel was nice low key, perfect for sleeping and going.
Okay, its time to dive in.
Airline Norwegian Airline:
Worst experience: This was our first time taking Norwegian Airlines, and our experience was horrible. Our flight was redirected from Newark Liberty International Airport to John F Kennedy, then delayed (departing AND arriving) and they gave us issues about our luggage being less than a pound overweight. Due to everything that happened we lost a whole day in Paris. I would recommend checking the airline website multiple times before and on the day of your travel, mainly if you purchased your flights through secondary agencies such as Skyscanner, for any changes.
**Note: This was our first experience with Norwegian Airlines and can only speak of our experience. Please read other reviews of frequent fliers before making your decision. Also, Norwegian did compensate us 600 Euro for the delay out of New York.
Getting to and from the airport:
We always use Google Maps on our travels. What I do is search up all the places we want to go to whether its restaurants, parks, monuments and then I save the points on to the map so that they stand out. It's easier for me to plan out the day according to the places ahead each other. Also, I downloaded the google maps area so that it's accessible offline since we didn’t have wifi on the go.
We took a Direct 1 bus out of the airport 12€ to the city and then hopped on the metro. €1.50
(We later realized that we could save 2 Euros by taking the metro all the way to the airport and chose this route upon departing.)
The metro was fairly easy to use, and if you map out your sites on google maps the app will tell you exactly which train to take.
Coquelicot - We found the GREATEST bakery about 1 block away from the hotel called Coquelicot. All their pastries were fresh, and their hot chocolate is delicious. I’m a sucker for chocolate, and this one was so rich and perfect I had it two mornings in a row.
As for dinner within our area, we noticed that most restaurants had almost the same choices and what truly set them apart is the ambiance of the place.
Places we went:
Note: For the sites that require tickets I would STRONGLY suggest getting ''skip the line tickets'' beforehand. Even on the non-touristy seasons there always seems to be a line
Catacombs of Paris: The Catacombs of Paris are underground ossuaries in which hold the remains of more than six million people in a small part of a tunnel network built to consolidate Paris' ancient stone mines. *The line to enter was 2 blocks long, thankfully we had skip the line tickets.
Jardin Du Luxembourg
Rue Cremieux: This charming cobbled backstreet may be the most Instagram-perfect block in Paris.
Arc De Triomphe du Carrousel
Jardins du Trocadero: This is the garden looking towards Eiffel Towel.
The Wall of “I Love You”
Vincent Van Gogh House: This was the last house Vincent Van Gogh lived in.
There is so much to see and do, you really can’t go wrong. But having a plan beforehand is always a good idea. I know this was a lengthy guide, but I wanted to give you the very best guide to Paris ever.