Paris, the city of love, is one of our favourite places on this earth. Bryan and myself do still be in shock when we hear a person has not been to Paris, it’s such a beautiful city. We have been a number of times now and always want to go back so thought it was time we did a guide to the city of lights as well as share our experience.
If you have not been to Paris yet add it to your list, it’s a picture perfect city with great food and a tonne of things to do to keep you occupied.
We are going to go through the essentials you need to know to get in and around the city as well as give you ideas on where to stay and eat.
Getting to Paris and getting around Paris:
There are a number of airports in Paris but if you are flying from Dublin or the majority of the world you will most likely fly into Charles de Gaulle. Aer lingus provides daily flights to Paris and from our experience the average fair is €130 per person but could go up or down depending on the time of year. Ryanair do fly to Paris too however not into Charles de Gaulle, but instead flying into Bauvais Airport and after experiencing this once we would not reccommend it. Bauvais is about 1.5-2 hours by bus into the city and the airport is very small, for us we would rather fly into Charles de Gaulle as it has many options to get into the city.
Now that you have arrived you need to get around, again if coming from Charles de Gaulle you can take the train to the city centre. When in the city you can use the metro which is very easy to use. Similar to the Subway in the US or the Tube in London the metro in Paris covers all of the city and is quite affordable for a day ticket.
Another way to get around is the Hop On Hop Off Bus. A lot of people do not like these buses but we really enjoy them as it is a great way to get to all the different sights if you are unfamiliar with the city. We also have had so many funny times on them so we would recommend them for sightseeing.
And finally, as Paris is so beautiful another way to get around is to walk, now this cannot be done for the whole trip as Paris is so big but walk around certain areas and you will really enjoy the city of lights.
Where to stay:
As we always say this is really up to you and your preference but we can of course recommend hotels that we have stayed in and also give you an idea of areas too.
Paris is split up into different sections called arrondissements ranging from 1-20. We have given an example below and also listed where we have stayed the last two times we were in the city.
If you are looking to stay close to the Eiffel Tower stay in either the 11th where the tower is based or the 16th as it borders with the 11th therefore making the area close to the Eiffel Tower.
If you want to stay close to Notre Dame, which is a fun and lovely area at night and during the day then you would stay in the 4th or 5th arrondissement which is at the opposite end of the Arc de Triomph.
Make sure you google the map and you can see exactly what’s in all of the different areas!
On our most recent trip we stayed in the 16th arrondissement in the Hotel Villa Maillot. This is a boutique hotel just 5 minutes walk from the Arc de Triomph. The hotel is in a great location, on a quiet street with lovely decor and helpful staff so it is very convenient. It was very quiet when we were there but we didn’t mind that at all.
On another trip we stayed in the Best Western Villa Artiste in the 6th arrondissement near Saint Germain. While this area was about a 25 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower it was such a lovely area and we would definitely stay in the area again. The hotel was great, the staff were super friendly, the hotel was very clean and as it had been refurbished, the decor was very nice too.
What to do:
On your first trip to Paris you obviously want to see the main sights! Below we have gone through what we got up to on our very first trip to the city together.
On the first day we arrived we decided to head to the Arc de Triomph and Champs Elysees and also to try get our bearings in the city. If you wish you can go on top of the Arc to get great views of the long avenue and to do this you head to the stairs on the corner of either side of the Arc and go down underground to queue up there.
The Champs Elysee is full of many high street stores to keep you going and off the Champs Elysee is an avenue named Avenue Montaigne which is the perfect place for designer shopping and people watching!
Day two was the day we went to the Eiffel Tower. We arrived at 11am and only queued for about 15-20 minutes. While the top was completely sold out we went to the second floor/ tier and we were advised the view was better from there anyways as when you are on the top everything is too small. The view from the second floor was amazing. If you are heading here on our first trip do go early as when we happened to go by the tower at 4.30 that evening the queues were hours long!
We then went down to the Louvre Museum and again we were not queuing for long. The Louvre is huge and you could spend hours in here if you wanted to! Our main point of our visit here was of course the Mona Lisa which in real life is actually very small! You have to fight your way through the crowds to get a glimpse of her and a quick picture but we felt it was worth it as we probably wouldn’t see her again. We also had fun viewing the Greek sculptures here as Bryan and myself are very much into Greek mythology and the museum has an excellent collection.
Right outside the Louvre is the Pont des Arts bridge which was the real love lock bridge of Paris. We were fortunate enough that we were able to put a lock on the bridge at the time however I believe it has all changed now and all of the locks have been removed. A walk across the bridge is still a must as it has lovely views of the city.
We walked down towards Notre Dame as it wasn’t too far from the Louvre. On your journey you will see the many street artists painting beautiful paintings of the city and it’s a lovely atmosphere.
Notre Dame is free entry and while the queues may look very long join it anyways as it goes very quick. You can pay to go to the top which is something we did not do but I believe you would get another great view of Paris.
It was then time for us to go for some dinner so we headed back towards the Champs Elysee and headed to a lovely Italian Restaurant called Pizza Vesuvio. The food was delicious and the service was very good too.
On day three we decided to do the bus tour as we wanted to see more of the city. We headed towards the Grand Palais and Opera Garnier as well as Ponte Alexandre. This is such a lovely area in Paris and we loved waking through the winding streets when we got off the tour bus. You can also head up to Galaries Laffeyette as it’s close by.
We wanted see the Moulin Rouge so hopped on the other line of the bus. If I am being honest we were not very fond of that area. There were not many beautiful parisienne buildings here and the only highlight was the Moulin Rouge.
On our next trip we would like to head further into Montmartre which is near pigalle where the Moulin Rouge is located however we would not recommend spending too much time in pigalle especially on your first trip there as we just feel other parts of the city have more to offer.
It was then time for us to go back to the hotel as it was getting late. And on the final day we spent the day shopping in and around the Champs Elysee before we went to Disneyland Paris for a night. I love all things Disney and we both had such a laugh in the parks.
Paris does have plenty of other things to offer and if you are going on a short break you will not have time for everything! Check out our list below to see what else you can get up to in the city and what we plan on doing in future trips.
- As mentioned above, we would like to explore Montmartre and head to the Sacre de Coeur for more great views of the city.
- If you are in Paris for a long break you can take a day trip out to Versailles or even up to Brussels in Belgium as it’s approx an hour by train away.
- Walk through Jardin du Luxembourg. We have always walked around it so on our next trip we would love to walk through this amazing garden in the centre of Paris.
- Again if you have a good few days in Paris another option is to visit the Chateau de Chambord. The castle looks beautiful in pictures we have seen so we hope to see it in person some day.
We hope you enjoyed our guide to the city of love and we hope by reading it you consider a trip to this wonderful city. It’s on our favourite places list for a reason and we couldn’t recommend it enough.
P.S. Try a McDonalds while in Paris, it’s the best one I have had ever! Bryan was a huge fan of it too and it’s one of the best he has had (he feels the one in Temple Bar in Dublin is just a little nicer) but definitely try it as it’s super yummy.
If you have been to Paris before and think we have missed a suggestion on the list, do share, we would love to know of other worthy things to do in the city on our next trip there.
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