From its stunning monuments and history-rich streets to its exceptional cuisine and museum culture, Paris is a destination unlike any other. The city has been drawing in travelers for centuries. Wander in and out of Parisian cafes, markets, beautiful gardens, and enjoy the romance of the city sights. After all, it's called the City of Lights and the City of Love for a reason. This ultimate Paris travel guide will help you plan an unforgettable trip, including the best places to stay, eat and see in Paris.
What to Expect in Paris
Language: While some people may speak English or other European languages, French is by far the most spoken language in the city.
Currency: The Euro is the currency throughout France and in many other European countries.
Credit Cards and Banks: All tourist areas will have ATMs with most hotels and restaurants accepting credit cards, although it is wise to carry some cash as small retailers may not take cards.
You’ll find that cafes and shops are more expensive the closer they are to the main attractions such as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triumph. Walk a few blocks from the main areas to find more authentic and less expensive establishments!
Climate: The weather in Paris is generally quite mild for most of the year, with a reasonable amount of rain throughout the year. Check out my tips for The Best Time to Travel to France.
Cold season: Daytime temperatures between November and February rarely get above 10 degrees Celsius, but seeing Paris in the snow can add a whole new dimension to this lovely city.
Warm season: July and August are usually the hottest months in Paris.
My Experience as a Curvy Traveler in France
I used to live in Paris, and visit France almost every year. As a plus size traveler, I learned very quickly that there are still far fewer plus size clothing stores there compared to the US. Do not count on being able to buy affordable plus size clothing easily. Now I pack one of each ESSENTIAL (swimsuit, jeans, jacket, etc) in my carry on. This way if my luggage is lost, I’m not stuck with just toiletries.
Getting Around in Paris
Paris is separated into twenty arrondissements; each offering a unique flavor of the city! The most popular Paris neighborhoods worth visiting are:
Le Marais: Located in the third and fourth arrondissement, this area of Paris has long been where aristocrats have lived. It now has a vibrant Jewish community along with some of the city’s best hotels and art galleries.
1st Arrondissement: Home to many of the city’s main sights including the Royal Palace and the Louvre, this is usually the starting point for those visiting Paris for the first time.
8th Arrondissement: A popular area of the city that is home to several impressive palaces, along with the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysees.
11th Arrondissement: This area is a popular part of the city for those looking to enjoy the nightlife. There’s a good range of restaurants to enjoy, plus it’s home to the Edith Piaf Museum.
La Defense: On the edge of the city, this part of Paris has some wonderful modern art displayed and architecture. This is also one of the city’s main business areas.
Where to Stay in Paris
Paris is home to some of the world’s most exquisite hotels. Not only do the French excel in luxury, service, and cuisine, they know how to pull out all the stops when it comes to hospitality.
There are so many Paris hotels to choose from, so it can be extremely overwhelming. While most of the top hotels in the city come with luxury prices, there are options for all budgets, including hostels, budget hotels, and B&Bs. I’ve outlined my favorite places to stay in Paris below!
VRBO has a variety of private apartments and flats you can rent on a nightly basis, for great prices! This is a good option for those looking to get an authentic taste of Paris life. Just be sure to read reviews and do your research before booking!
Operated by the Four Seasons chain of luxury hotels, the Hotel George V has a great location near the Champs-Elysees and is sumptuously decorated with historic art and excellent furnishings. Be sure to stop by one of the 3 Michelin-starred eateries in the hotel!
There are so many hotels to choose from in the city which can be extremely overwhelming. I had the chance to stay at Mandarin Oriental Paris and with its luxurious rooms, amenities, and unforgettable food, it was the experience of a lifetime—check out my full hotel review here!
This cute, 1930’s style quirky hotel is the perfect spot to stay if you’re planning to explore Paris! It’s centrally located, right next to Raspail Metro Station and just a few steps from the Jardin du Luxembourg. They have breakfast and a lobby bar, plus free WiFi.
Travel back to the 19th-century with La Réserve’s lush decor and style. If you’re looking for a world-class upgrade, consider booking the Grand Palais Suite. This room comes with Eiffel Tower views from a private balcony, two private bars, a wine cellar, and non-stop personalized service.
The Ritz Paris comes with top-notch service and upscale 18th-century design. This charming hotel is surrounded by a large selection of restaurants, gardens, cafes, and bars! It’s also walkable to the Louvre, Opéra Garnier, and the Royal Palace.
Located in the Bagnolet district this edgy and hip hotel is off the beaten path and budget-friendly. The rooms are modest with quirky decor and they have a terrific breakfast buffet!
If you’ve ever wanted that iconic photo of a big balcony window open to views of the Eiffel Tower, Le Bristol is the place to capture it. Modern amenities such as a fitness center, spa, steam room, and indoor pool mix with elegant 18th-century decor giving you the perfect Parisian stay.
Where to Eat in Paris
The best food in Paris… where do I start? Paris breeds a sensation of passion that is palpable within the neighborhoods, and that pours into the food being produced. French cuisine is one of the best in the world, and you’ll find that French chefs and restaurants have so much pride in their cuisine.
I’ve outlined the best places to eat in Paris below, and you can find more Paris restaurant recommendations in our Paris foodie guide too. If it’s your first time in France, I’ve compiled need-to-know tips for eating like a local in France!
Eating, drinking and people-watching is the ultimat Parisian experience. There are so many beautiful cafes around the city!
Paris is also famous for its cafe au lait and the best place to try one is at the Boulevard St. Germain on the 6th arrondissement. The broad tree-lined boulevard is lined with designer boutiques, prestigious cafes, and classic brasseries. Some of the most famous cafes are Cafe de Flore and Cafe des Deux Magots!
The oldest café in Paris, it opened in 1686 and has seen the likes of Marie Antoinette, Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Napoleon. Standard French fare, definitely eat here if you’re a history buff.
You may have seen photos of this place on Instagram, Pink Mamma has some of the best Italian in the city and a super cute aesthetic. Located in the 9th Arrondissement, you’ll want to make reservations here well in advance.
Le Comptoir GeneralSeafood, Cocktails
Hidden away on the banks of Canal Saint-Martin, this place has amazing cocktails and dishes. It’s definitely more of a cocktail bar with a Caribbean vibe, so you may have to pay a small cover fee for busy nights.
Chez Alain Miam MiamDeli, Sandwiches
Located in the Marché des Enfants Rouge, Paris’s oldest food market, Chez Alain Miam Miam is creating amazing sandwiches and crepes. The owner and chef, Alain, is a riot and will strike up a conversation as he makes a very large, very delicious lunch for you. They also offer vegetarian options, and are perfect for a picnic!
Le Bouillon ChartierParisian Brasserie
Having served food from its Montmartre location for over a century, Bouillon Chartier is a great place for those looking for a well-priced taste of French cuisine. They have fast service and all of the most famous French dishes on the menu.
In the west of the city, chef Jean Louis Nomicos has created a 1 Michelin Star hotspot serving high-quality, modern French and Mediterranean food. You have to try the signature dish: macaroni with black truffles and duck foie gras!
La Maison RoseFrench
Odds are that you’ve seen a photo of La Maison Rose before! This café is situated at the corner of Rue de l’Abreuvoir in the Montmartre neighborhood. It’s such a beautiful scene, hence why it is so highly “Instagrammable” and popular.
Renoma CafeFrench, European
This stylish and modern cafe has both a restaurant and bar, with truly wonderful food, and a great cocktail selection! Its casual seating and lounge atmosphere will have you wanting to stay for hours.
Having achieved three Michelin stars Guy Savoy certainly has a reputation to uphold, and with excellent innovative food in a small welcoming dining room, it is definitely a special culinary experience (with a dress code!).
Cafe de FloreFrench
This icon of Parisian culture has changed very little since it was first fitted with its beautiful Art Deco interior. It has been a favorite haunt of many celebrities both for its coffee and food, and it is a great place for people watching! It’s also considered one of the top “Instagrammable” cafes, so it’s definitely one to see.
Jozi CaféCoffe, Cafe
This colorful spot is close to the Panthéon and serves up artisanal coffee, pancakes, avocado toast & pastries, from breakfast until the late afternoon. The perfect coffee break or lunch spot!
Gaspard de la NuitFrench
This highly-rated gem in the heart of the Marais focuses on sustainability and seasonality when it comes to its ingredients! From the seafood to the produce, you can find amazing daily specials and an extensive wine list to match. Come for the cozy vibe and refined take on classic French dishes.
What to Do in Paris
From its beautiful, historical monuments and museums to exceptional cuisine and cafe culture, Paris has become one of the visited cities in the world. But with so much to see and do in the City of Lights, it can feel overwhelming planning an Paris itinerary that hits all the top spots.
I’ve compiled the top sights to see in Paris, and you can find more of my favorite things to do in Paris here too!
Most famous for being the home of Da Vinci’s masterpiece the ‘Mona Lisa’, the Louvre is one of the most impressive museums in Europe. Check the spectacular collection of art and sculptures. If you want more insight into the famous artworks, you can sign up for a guided tour of the museum.
Built for the 1889 World Fair, this iron tower stands at 324 meters tall, and while there is a cost for going up to the viewing platform, the views back over the city from this landmark are truly impressive. You can also admire this landmark from the nearby parks which are great places for a picnic!
This iconic cathedral is one of Paris’ most distinctive landmarks, and while it may not currently have a hunchback, it is an amazing example of French Gothic architecture that has been at the heart of religious life in the country ever since it was completed in 1345.
While all visitors to Paris can explore the city’s museums for free on the first Sunday of the month, this pass provides access to over sixty museums for two, four or six consecutive days, and is great value.
Paris is famous for its cafe au lait and the best place to try one is at the Boulevard St. Germain on the 6th arrondissement. The broad tree-lined boulevard is lined with designer boutiques, prestigious cafes, and classic brasseries.
This busy street is lined with trees on both sides and is a spectacular way to approach the Arc de Triomphe. It’s also a wonderful shopping and dining street and is home to the climax of the annual Tour de France cycling race. It is a true sight to behold.
Paris is surprisingly bicycle friendly and renting a bike is a wonderful way to explore the city. While short rides of up to half an hour are free, even renting a bike for up to two hours is a great value.
While the city is most famous for its classical art, a vibrant street art scene is also present. This tour provides a great introduction to the artists that operate around the city and some of their most distinctive pieces.
The Seine is a romantic river that winds its way through the city. Making a picnic and enjoying a nice spring or summer afternoon by the Seine is a great way to enjoy the city and to watch the locals go about their daily lives.
Having once served as stone mines for the city, the tunnels beneath much of the south of Paris are home to the remains of over six million people. The tour takes visitors through two kilometers of these tunnels.
Just like Rome, Paris has its own pantheon in the Latin Quarter. The building was originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve. Today, it’s the final resting place for many of Paris’ famous scientists, generals, writers, churchmen, and politicians.
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