Bienvenue in Paris! The capital of France is simply a gem of a city and, in our opinion, one of the best destinations for an exciting city break in Europe.
Paris is romantic, distinctive, magical, partly contradictory and, above all, packed with impressive sights. A walk through Paris often feels like visiting a film set .
In this blog article we have summarized all our tips for your perfect city trip to Paris. We’ll show you the most beautiful sights, reveal our favorite cafés and of course our insider tips for Paris.
1. Paris at a glance: First tips & FAQs
Exciting facts & interesting facts about Paris
- Paris is quite small in terms of area. Nevertheless, more than 2 million people live in the urban area. Apartments (and hotel rooms too) therefore have a legitimate reputation for being quite small.
- The main attraction of Paris is – no surprise – the Eiffel Tower. Every evening after dark, a 5-minute light spectacle begins on the hour, during which the 20,000 lights begin to flash.
- Paris is an incredibly popular city for city breaks and at peak times there is definitely a feeling of overtourism . If you want to experience the city empty, you have to get up early.
- The Seine meanders through the city , the lifeline of Paris, so to speak. Countless impressive bridges cross the Seine and a walk along the banks is definitely a must on a trip to Paris.
- Paris is considered an expensive travel destination. The city owes this reputation in particular to its top cuisine. Yes, dining out in Paris isn’t exactly cheap, but don’t worry, you really don’t need to spend a fortune on a great city break.
Paris Bucket List: What can I do in Paris?
Before we introduce you to the most important sights in Paris later in this article, we would like to give you a quick overview of what to expect in Paris. Here is our small but fine bucket list for your trip:
- Experience the sunset from the Tour Montparnasse and marvel at what is probably the most spectacular view of Paris.
- Try macarons in all possible flavors. Our favourite: those from the Pierre Hermé pastry shop.
- Stroll through the enchanting Montmartre district and enjoy picture-book Paris vibes.
- Visit the Louvre and catch a glimpse of the world-famous Mona Lisa .
- Get up early to catch the sunrise on the banks of the Seine .
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How many days do I need to see the main attractions in Paris?
The density of impressive sights in Paris is enormous. When you think you’ve seen it all, the next highlight comes along. In this respect, we can only warmly recommend planning as much time as possible for a city trip. Our tip: It’s best to stay…
- 2-3 nights if you want to get a first glimpse and visit the most important sights in a relatively short time.
- 4-5 nights if you prefer a more leisurely approach to sightseeing.
- a week if you want to give yourself a lot of time and also want to go on one or the other excursion (e.g. Disneyland or Versailles).
When is the best time to travel to Paris?
To make it short: if possible outside of the main travel season and if possible not at the weekend or over a holiday. That’s when Paris is particularly crowded.
A good time for a city trip is spring and autumn during the week. It is particularly romantic when the trees are in bloom in spring, which is the case from mid/late April to early May.
If you don’t mind cold or bad weather, then the winter could also be interesting for a trip to Paris. Then there are generally fewer tourists in the city.
2. Sights in Paris: Our tips & experiences
Let’s start with the symbol of Paris and undoubtedly the most famous sight: the Eiffel Tower (called “Tour Eiffel” in French). The 300 meter high iron framework tower characterizes the cityscape of Paris like no other building. It has been towering over the Parisian sky since 1889.
The Eiffel Tower is visible from countless points in the city and makes a great photo opportunity . Well-known views include:
- Vom Ende der University Street
- From the banks of the Seine (e.g. from the Bir-Hakeim bridge)
- Von den Trocadero Gardens
- From the Tour Montparnasse or the Arc de Triomphe (more information will follow in this blog article)
Climbing the Eiffel Tower: Our tips
Of course, many visitors to Paris (including us) not only want to admire the Eiffel Tower from below, but also want to climb it. You have to know that there are roughly two options:
- Visit to the second floor at 116 meters (Accessible by elevator or by stairs. Here you also pass the 1st floor where, for example, the 58 Tour Eiffel restaurant is located.)
- Visit to the top at 276 meters (Accessible only by elevator, changing at the second floor.)
Our tip: The rush at the Eiffel Tower is usually enormous. We strongly recommend that you book your ticket online in advance. This is easily possible on the official website. The problem: the tickets are often fully booked weeks in advance. It’s worth checking the website a few days in advance, sometimes additional ticket quotas are activated.
An alternative is to book a ticket via Getyourguide. There are a variety of tours on offer, such as this one: Tour Eiffel Tower Top .
Important: Before you are allowed to enter the area below the Eiffel Tower (this is where the elevators and stairs are located), you have to go through a security check . Plan to wait again before your chosen timeslot. (Depending on the rush, it is usually 10 to 30 minutes.)
More info & tickets: Eiffel Tower (official website)
City Island with Notre-Dame and Sainte-Chapelle
The Île de la Cité (“City Island”) is a small island between the two arms of the Seine. The district is considered to be the oldest part of Paris and is home to two of the most important sights: Notre Dame and Sainte-Chapelle.
Since the devastating fire at Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral in April 2019, you can only visit the city’s most important church from the outside. The construction work is in full swing, so that the local conditions are always changing. In any case, you can enjoy a nice view of Notre-Dame from the small bridge in front of the cathedral.
Also on the Île de la Cité, just a 5-minute walk from Notre-Dame, is another famous Parisian sacred building: the Sainte-Chapelle. It has an impressive church interior that exudes a very special flair thanks to the gigantic stained glass windows.
You can book your ticket (with selected timeslot) in advance via the official website. (We would also definitely recommend it!) Nevertheless, at peak times there are often waiting times in front of the security checkpoints.
More info & ticket: Sainte-Chapelle (official webs
Montmartre & Sacred Heart
One of the most famous districts of Paris is Montmartre, which rises on the hill of the same name in the north of Paris. The Sacré-Cœur basilica, one of the most important sights in Paris, is enthroned at the summit and can be seen from afar.
For many, the slightly artistic Montmartre is the epitome of Parisian flair: Picturesque alleys, picturesque houses, artists, street musicians and photo opportunities on every corner. The famous variety show Moulin Rouge is also located on the outskirts of Montmartre. Sometimes in Montmartre you really feel like you’ve landed in a movie.
However, this is also because Montmartre is unspeakably touristy . You stroll through the streets with an estimated 99 percent of tourists. But it doesn’t matter – it’s still picturesque!
A stop at the Sacré-Cœur Basilica is also a must . Especially at sunset, the square in front of it is incredibly popular and almost bursting at the seams. From here you can enjoy a nice view over Paris. Attention: Please pay special attention to valuables!
One of the top sights in Paris is the legendary Musée du Louvre. It is considered one of the most important museums in the world and houses one of the most famous oil paintings of all time: Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
Almost 10 million (!) people (as of 2019) visit the Louvre every year. This makes it the most visited art museum in the world. In this respect you can already imagine what a visit means: people, people, people!
In high season, a seemingly endless line forms in front of the main entrance at the legendary glass pyramid. Incidentally, the same applies to the room in which the Mona Lisa is located. Speaking of the Mona Lisa, you can hardly miss this one. Information signs guide you away from the entrance on the fastest way to the world-famous work of art.
Our best tip: Be sure to book your ticket in advance, ideally for the very first timeslot of the day. It usually gets really crowded around 11 a.m.
More info & ticket: Musée du Louvre (official website)
Opera Garnier (= Palais Garnier)
The gigantic Opera of Paris is one of the sights that particularly impressed us. There are performances here in the evenings. However, you can visit the opera during the day as a visitor.
The opera, built in neo-baroque style, is an eye-catcher from the outside, but its true beauty is hidden inside. Splendor and splendor wherever you look. We were most impressed by the breathtakingly beautiful, opulent Grand Foyer.
You cannot enter the auditorium itself during an individual tour, you can only take a look inside via a balcony. Overall definitely one of the most beautiful sights in Paris.
More info & ticket: Palais Garnier (official website)
The Marais with Center Pompidou and Places des Vosges
One of the trendiest districts in Paris is the fashionable “Le Marais”, the Jewish Quarter. It is incredibly lively here and boutiques, cafés and bars are lined up next to each other.
The Marais district is also home to a fairly well-known Paris attraction: the iconic Center Pompidou. With its unusual industrial-style architecture, it draws everyone’s attention. The Center Pompidou houses an art and culture center that shows works by Picasso, Kandinsky and Chagall, among others.
Also worth a visit is the pretty Place des Vosges, one of the five “Royal Squares” of Paris. It is square and surrounded on all sides by city palaces made of red brick. Locals meet on the meadow to relax and have a picnic.
The heart of the Marais district is the Rue des Rosiers with its countless bakeries, bars and shops. One thing will immediately catch your eye here: Falafel! These are sold on almost every corner. The most legendary are those of “L’as du Fallafel”. The queue there is often the longest.
Arc de Triomphe mit Avenue des Champs-Élysées and Place de la Concorde
Another iconic sight and landmark of Paris is the monumental Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile. As the name (Étoile = star) suggests, it is located in a star-shaped place.
You can see the course of the street particularly well if you climb the roof terrace of the Arc de Triomphe , which we can highly recommend. A rather narrow spiral staircase leads up inside. From the top you can enjoy a fantastic 360 degree view over Paris.
More info & tickets: Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile (official website)
Arguably the most famous boulevard in Paris, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, leads east from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde. Even if the Champs-Élysées is quite busy, it is a good idea to walk along this route, which is about two kilometers long.
Once arrived at the Place de la Concorde , you will also be impressed by the dimensions. The Place de la Concorde is actually the largest square in Paris. The gigantic obelisk, which comes from the temple of Luxor, attracts everyone’s attention.
Our tip: once you cross the square, you get to the pretty Jardin des Tuileries. This French baroque garden is definitely worth a short stop.
Walk along the Seine
Simply part of a Paris city trip: A leisurely stroll along the Seine. The Seine meanders through the heart of Paris and divides the city into a right or north bank (“Rive Droite”) and a left bank (“Rive Gauche”).
Numerous famous bridges worth seeing lead across the Seine, including the imposing Pont Alexandre III. It connects the shore at the Invalides and the Grand Palais. The oldest surviving bridge is the Pont Neuf. This impressive stone bridge spans the Île de la Cité.
We can highly recommend a walk along the Seine. On the right bank of the Seine, for example, there has been a footpath right by the water for a number of years. There are always stairs down all over the city.
Not a sight in the classic sense, but certainly the best view of Paris awaits you at the Tour Montparnasse. Paris lies at your feet from this skyscraper.
An elevator takes you up to the viewing platform inside in no time. Then a few more stairs lead up to the open-air roof terrace. There are panes of glass, but there are several places where you can take good photos. In summer there is also a rooftop bar on the roof terrace.
Our tip: if the weather cooperates, we recommend a visit before sunset. The sun sets almost perfectly behind the Eiffel Tower in summer. It’s worth waiting until nightfall, because the illuminated Eiffel Tower offers you another very special view.
More info & tickets: Tour Montparnasse (official website)
Jardin du Luxembourg
Before visiting the Tour Montparnasse, make a stop at the nearby Jardin de Luxembourg. This magnificent palace park is considered one of the most beautiful gardens in Paris – and we can absolutely confirm that. We particularly liked it here.
A spacious, incredibly well-kept garden awaits you with numerous sights such as the Palais du Louxembourg and the fountain in front of it.
There are countless chairs throughout the garden that invite you to linger. You meet families, students and tourists alike. Our conclusion: An oasis of calm and perfect for a break in between.
3. Fotospots in Paris
So photogenic! In Paris, photo opportunities await you around every corner. Some of them are now so hyped that crowds of people gather in front of them.
In principle, you only have to walk through the streets in Paris with your eyes wide open and you will be rewarded with the greatest photo motifs. Nevertheless, there are particularly popular and well-known places, including:
- La Maison Rose & Le Consulat in the Montmartre district.
- The magical Cafe de Flore.
- The Jardins du Trocadéro with the iconic view of the Eiffel Tower.
We’ll give you even more tips on the best photo opportunities in Paris in our detailed blog article: Photo spots in Paris.
4. Food & Drink: Tips for cafes & restaurants in Paris
The selection of great cafes and restaurants in Paris is gigantic. Paris lives up to its reputation as a culinary hotspot. The more than 100 starred restaurants in Paris bear witness to this.
Unfortunately, eating out in Paris is not exactly cheap. But don’t worry: it’s not as expensive as feared. The following restaurants have made it into our favorites list.
Mesa de Hoy: We had an excellent lunch at this friendly, vegan, boho-style restaurant. We definitely recommend the lunch menu (about 22 euros) because the portions are quite small. Creative fusion cuisine with a touch of fine dining is served. Highly recommended! In the evening, however, it gets more expensive.
Pink Mamma: This Italian restaurant is the culinary Instagram hotspot par excellence in Paris. The tables are often fully booked weeks in advance. (We definitely recommend a reservation!) Italian classics are served – from pasta to pizza to tiramisu, everything is included. In any case, the price-performance ratio is really good (despite its great popularity).
Macarons by Pierre Hermé: In our opinion, the best macarons in Paris can be found at Pierre Hermé. Yes, things are pretty cute, but also kinda pretty good.
You can find even more tips for great cafes and restaurants in our detailed blog article: Paris Food Guide.
5. Stay: Our hotel tip for Paris
We have been looking for the perfect boutique hotel for our Paris city trip for a long time and finally found it: At the Hôtel Le Ballu you stay extremely comfortably and in an ideal location. Highly recommended!
The style of the hotel is reminiscent of a combination of Art Deco and Parisian charm. The design runs through the entire house. In any case, we felt incredibly comfortable.
The rooms are extremely comfortable: from the extremely comfortable beds to the Nespresso machine in the room. As everywhere in Paris, the rooms are on the small side, but we found even our standard room to be absolutely fine in terms of size.
The great location deserves a special mention . The Hôtel Le Ballu is located in a quiet alley in the immediate vicinity of Montmartre (5 minutes’ walk to the Moulin Rouge), but completely removed from the (touristy) hustle and bustle. All around are numerous great cafes and restaurants. And the nearest metro station is just a stone’s throw away.
Our conclusion: We would not hesitate for a second and stay here again. A feel-good hotel with a great price-performance ratio in a perfect location.
Here you can book the hotel: Hôtel Le Ballu
6. Other practical tips: Transport, security & Co.
Locally from A to B: Public transport in Paris
Although Paris is rather small in terms of area, a city trip is hardly possible without public transport. Metro, RER trains and buses are of particular interest here.
With the Paris Metro you can reach almost all sights comparatively quickly and comfortably. “Comparatively” because we believe that accessibility is unreasonable (or non-existent). escalators? elevators? None! If you take the Paris Metro, you have to be prepared for countless stairs and long walks.
After a few days we got a taste for the buses . This saves you the sometimes endlessly long underground walkways and you can also see something of the city while driving. You get in at the front and validate the ticket there (more on that in a moment).
Our tip: You can now easily find the fastest way from A to B in Paris using Google Maps . So it’s best to download the app before you go on vacation.
Extra tip: weekly pass for Paris (“Pass Navigo Découverte”)
Inexplicably, multi-day ticket options for public transport in Paris are quite a complicated endeavor. The ticket with the absolute best value for money is the so-called Pass Navigo Découverte, usually simply called the Navigo Pass.
It entitles you to unlimited use of all public transport for a whole week, across all zones. This is of particular interest for reaching Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle Airport (CDG) or the Palace of Versailles! The price is EUR 22.80 plus a one-time EUR 5 issuance fee (i.e. EUR 27.80). After that, the pass can theoretically be used for 10 years.
The pass is not available from machines, only at counters in Metro and RER stations . Important: You need a passport photo! (We took it with us directly from home, but you can also do it on site at the photo booths.) Because we wanted to use the pass from CDG airport, we had it issued directly there. Unfortunately, there are often long waiting times – so you have to assess for yourself whether you want to wait.
Important: The Navigo Pass is always valid from Monday to Sunday. So if you are planning your trip over the weekend until Monday or Tuesday, for example, the pass may not be worthwhile. Then the Paris Visite Pass could be something for you. As we say: complicated!
Here you can find more information: Pass Navigo Découverte (official website of the Parisian public transport company RATP)
From the airport to the city
If you land at Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle Airport (CDG), you can easily take the RER train (B) to Paris. You can then change to the metro at Gare du Nord, for example.
If you buy the Navigo pass at the airport (see above), this route is already included. Otherwise you have to buy a single ticket (cost: around 10 euros).
It is even more convenient to take a taxi. The price for a one-way journey into the city is now fixed as a flat rate taxi and is 50 euros for all destinations in the city area on the right bank of the Seine and 55 euros for all destinations in the city area on the left bank of the river Seine.
For other transport options (also for Orly airport) check the official website of the Paris transport company RATP: From the airport to the city .
Security: How safe is Paris?
For tourists, Paris is basically no more dangerous than other big cities. BUT: Pickpocketing is actually a big problem. We have observed it ourselves and can only urgently advise you to pay special attention to valuables such as mobile phones and money.
You should be particularly careful in the metro or where there are many people (e.g. Sacré-Cœur or around the Eiffel Tower) and carry your bag/backpack in front of your body if necessary.
Beware of any kind of distraction attempts . If strangers approach you or bump into you in front of famous sights, be particularly vigilant.
The so-called banlieues, i.e. the suburbs, have a bad reputation in Paris. In some of them you really don’t want to land at night, but don’t worry: As a visitor to Paris, you hardly get past here anyway.
In any case, what you should be prepared for is an increased police presence , among other things in view of the terrorist attacks. Armed security guards stand in front of all major sights.
7. Map: Sights & tips at a glance
Finally, we have drawn all the important sights and tips for you on this interactive map. Our tip: If you want to use the map on site, click on the rectangle at the top right and save the map in your Google Maps app . This is how you can navigate from one place to the next in Paris.