Paris is probably my favorite city that I’ve visited. I studied abroad there my last summer of college, and Omied and I managed to spend a couple weeks there for our honeymoon. Since then I’ve been able to visit a couple more times, and that feeling of excitement when I step outside onto the streets of Paris just hasn’t gone away. There’s something so special about the City of Lights, and it’s hard not to be a romantic about this beautiful city. And no matter how many times you visit, there’s always a new museum, cafe, or street to be discovered.
Some people say that Parisians are rude, but I’ve honestly had mostly really positive experiences. Learning just a few simple phrases in French will go a long way in terms of how people respond to you. Starting with “pardon, parlez-vous anglais,” to ask if someone speaks English, even if you butcher the pronunciation, is a million times better than straight up saying, “Do you speak English?” and is far more polite.
When to go. The Frank Sinatra song is true. “I love Paris in the I love Paris in the spring time, I love Paris in the fall, I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles, I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles.” I really do love Paris all year round! It does get pretty hot and humid in the summer and can even snow in the winter. So I’d say spring, early summer, and fall are great times to visit.
Where to stay. I love staying at airbnbs in Paris because I like to pretend I live there, haha. This one where we stayed during our honeymoon was so stinkin’ cute and just felt like a quintessential Parisian flat. I also loved staying in this cute airbnb in Le Marais.
How to get around. The Metro in Paris is incredibly easy to use. I can get around easily by myself and I am terrible with directions, so if I can do it, seriously anyone can. It’s impossible to get on it going the wrong direction because you can see a large list of which stops will be coming up before getting on the platform. Usual street-smart rules apply here—keep your purse closed and close to your body. Uber is also a thing there and cheaper than cabs.
Where to eat. I’ve included some of my favorite restaurant recs in this guide, but if you’re ever out and about and at a loss for where to eat, let Yelp be your guide. There are so many amazing cafes with incredible food in Paris, and four stars or higher on Yelp in Par-ee means you’re probably in for a treat.
There’s so much to do and see in Paris, but don’t get overwhelmed. Here’s my custom Google map with everything listed in this guide starred, so you can get a visual look at the city. And if you don’t get to everything on your list, it’s just something to look forward to on your next trip!
Let’s start with some of the heavy-hitters. If I only had one day in Paris, here’s what I’d do:
- Brunch at Angelina. Angelina is a quintessential brunch spot, and their pastries are also to die for. I had the most decadent croque madame ever there. They’re also famous for having THE best hot chocolate, and it is the thickest, chocolaty-est most delicious hot chocolate ever. An absolute must. As you can probably tell from this description, brunch there can be very rich and heavy. But you know, when in Rome. Err, Paris.
- The Louvre. Some travel bloggers will tell you to skip the Louvre if you only have a few days in Paris, which frankly I find appalling. The Louvre has some of the most iconic, incredible works of art! I’m not a museum rat myself so I get it, no need to spend the entire day there. The Louvre is massive and even an entire day wouldn’t be enough time to see everything, so I’d highly recommend using the Rick Steves Audio Tour for the Louvre to hit up the highlights, as well as checking the Louvre’s website to see what other exhibits you want to be sure to check out. For me, the Rick Steves tour is perfect, because he literally walks you step by step from the entrance to all of the can’t-miss things, like the Venus de Milo, Winged Victory (my favorite sculpture at the Louvre), the Mona Lisa, and Michelangelo sculptures. Using the Rick Steves tour, you can be in and out of the Louvre in 2 – 3 hours, depending on how long you like to dilly dally.
- Tuileries Gardens. After the Louvre, take a stroll through the Tuileries Gardens, right next door.
- Palais Royal. You will recognize the courtyard of this former royal palace from the Instagrams of every fashion blogger who has ever visited Paris. It is really pretty though and worth a walk through the courtyard.
- Pont Alexander III. Pont Alexander is known for being the most beautiful bridge over the Seine river. With perfect views of the Eiffel Tower, sparkling Seine, and gold-plated statues along its edges, I have to agree. Definitely take a stroll to this area to snap some pics.
- Eiffel Tower at sunset. Gotta hit up the Eiffel Tower on your first day in Paris! There is just nothing else like it. I think it’s absolutely worth it to go up to the top once in your lifetime. Be prepared to wait in line to buy tickets, and try to time it so that you can go up right before sunset. It’s hard to think of anything more romantic than watching the sun go down from the top of the Eiffel Tower. The 360 degree views of all of Paris below are stunning, and it’s just as beautiful as night falls and the city lights up below you.
- Le Relais de l’Entrecôte. This place only serves steak and frites (fries), and is super popular, so expect to stand in line. Oh, did I mention the steak is doused in their delicious secret sauce, and you can have as many servings of the steak and frites for a fixed price? Bon appetite.
- Notre Dame. Notre Dame is a must-visit in Paris. This cathedral is breath-taking and it’s absolutely mind blowing to think about how it could possibly have been constructed, with all of its intricate details, in the early 1300’s. You can buy tickets to climb up to the bell towers and picture Quasimodo swinging around with the gargoyles up there.
- Hotel de Ville. After you’re done gawking at Notre Dame, walk over to Hotel de Ville. It’s a government building and I don’t even know if you’re really able to go inside, besides the visitor’s center, but it is just so beautiful. It’s one of my favorite buildings in Paris and I just love walking by to see it. A few times when I’ve been there they had some kind of concert going out in front of it at night, which was super fun.
- L’As du Fallafel. Keep walking and head to the Jewish Quarter. L’As du Fallafel is famous for having the best fallafel in Paris, and for being Lenny Kravitz’s favorite spot. The line for a table is always long, but if you’re cool with taking your fallafel to go, you can usually order pretty quickly and be on your way.
- Place de Vosges. With your delicious fallafel in hand, head over to Place de Vosges. It’s a pretty little park/square with plenty of benches so you can sit and enjoy your fallafel while enjoying the people watching. Last time we were there, there was some kind of zombie crawl going on so the park was crawling with people dressed up as zombies. It was hilarious.
- Centre Pompidou. If you like modern art, be sure to visit the Pompidou. Even if you’re not crazy about modern art, the building itself is really interesting.
- Shopping in Le Marais. Le Marais was historically the aristocratic district of Paris, and its charming streets and architecture make it a beautiful area to stroll around. It’s all that’s left of medieval Paris, so it’s definitely worth checking out the small, cobblestone streets. Let yourself get lost in the area, or use this guide from Time Out to find some fun boutiques to pop into.
- Maison David. Ok, this is probably my absolute favorite find in Paris. Omied and I stumbled upon this tiny deli in the Jewish Quarter (the Marais is also referred to as the Jewish Quarter) during our honeymoon, and I always come back every time I’m in Paris. Usually multiple times during one trip, because it is just that good and such a gem. The owner’s name is Michel and he is the cutest Frenchman. While he doesn’t speak much English, he always offers samples to his customers waiting in line (there is always a line), usually including pieces of salami and other deli meats, different spreads, and pâtés. Whatever he offers you, the answer is always, “oui, merci.” Some of my favorite things that we have bought from him include an eggplant spread, salmon roe spread, chicken liver pâté, and beef pâté. Now, I am not usually a chicken liver person, but on our first visit here Michel was offering us all of these delicious samples. He reached for the chicken liver pâté and said in his adorable French accent, “Try this, it is beautiful.” My initial reaction in my head was, Oh god, I hate chicken liver. But not wanting to offend him I politely smiled and tried a nibble. And oh my god it was amazing. It tasted like smooth, buttery goodness with delicious herbs and flavors, without any harsh liver taste. My eyes widened and we proceeded to buy a little tub of it and a baguette to eat it with. I’ve also gotten it every time we’ve been back. The other thing we love to buy from Michel are his sandwiches. They’re only the best sandwiches I’ve ever had in my life. Again, anything he offers to put on your sandwich (mustard, greens, whatever), say yes to, because the extra condiments are all top-notch and so flavorful. The last time we were in Paris, Omied and I got sandwiches, pâté, and bread here, grabbed a bottle of wine from a wine shop in the Marais, and then made our way over to the Trocadero to watch the Eiffel Tower light up at night while we had this incredible meal. It was one of those moments where we looked at each other and we were just like, This. This is life.
- Brunch at Ellsworth. Omied and I loved this cute little restaurant, and it’s one of the few places in Paris that serves brunch, along with delicious bloody marys and mimosas.
- Musée de l’Orangerie. Visit Claude Monet’s famous water lilies here. The huge paintings curve around the circular rooms and are truly magnificent. The museum has a couple other floors with other art too, but the water lilies are the main attraction and are just incredible.
- Grand Palais. Check and see what’s going on at the Grand Palais. The building itself is beautiful, with its gorgeous arched glass ceiling. They have rotating exhibits, and when I was studying abroad years ago I saw an awesome Andy Warhol exhibit there.
- Montmartre walking tour. Head over to Montmarte for an afternoon walking tour. This area of Paris is very bohemian and artsy (think the movie Moulin Rouge) and has a lot of interesting history. The walking tour is free and you just pay in tips.
- Sacré Cœur. Since the walking tour ends at Sacré Cœur, you can relax on the steps and enjoy the beautiful view on top of the hill, or head inside the basilica and climb up the stairs to the dome. Entrance is free, and you can download their free audio guide. This is also a beautiful spot to watch the sunset, and Montmartre sparkle below you.
- La Maison Rose. Don’t forget to stop by La Maison Rose for a photo opp in front of their adorable pink building. It’s clearly not a very popular spot for fashion bloggers to shoot in front of. I’ve never eaten here, but they do have great reviews online, so I’m sure it’d be a wonderful spot for dinner. But I do have another recommendation for you…
- Sacrée Fleur. Omied and I love this place! I know I just recommended steak and frites for your first day in Paris, but no harm in having it multiple times while you’re in Par-ee. Plus the experience is different at these two restaurants. At Sacrée Fleur, the Côte de Boeuf comes with three yummy sauces—blue cheese, peppercorn, and shallot. DEFINITELY get their house made foie gras as a starter. It is some of the best pate I have ever had. It was so good that after dinner, we ordered another plate to go, so we could have it the next day. Divine. They take reservations, so be sure to make those ahead of time since it is a cozy restaurant.
- Moulin Rouge. After dinner, stroll over to the Moulin Rouge and see a show. Even if you’re not into buying tickets for a show, it’s still fun to see the windmill lit up at night.
- Day trip to Versailles. The Palace of Versailles is incredible, and definitely worth dedicating an entire day to. You can rent a golf cart to ride around the gardens, which I highly recommend because the gardens are huge. The biggest spectacle of the palace is the Hall of Mirrors, where the Treaty of Versailles was signed, putting an end to World War I. Pretty epic. Besides the palace, you’ll also want to make sure you see Marie Antoinette’s private chambers and take time to enjoy the fountains and gardens. At the end of the day, we watched the most incredible sunset over the gardens.
- Sainte-Chapelle. This royal chapel with Gothic style has thousands of stained glass windows that are so stunning, it’s a bit overwhelming to look at them all. I also noticed on their website that they have a new app for their stained glass windows, which you can use to zoom in on different areas and learn more about the meaning of what’s going on in the different scenes.
- Luxembourg Gardens. The Luxembourg Gardens are probably my favorite garden park in Paris. It’s just so beautiful, and on a nice day you’ll find lots of chairs and Parisians sitting out having a picnic, playing cards, and drinking.
- Catacombs. If you’re into the idea of creeping yourself out, the Catacombs in Paris are pretty interesting. This underground labyrinth beneath Paris holds the remains of around 6 million Parisians who died during the Black Plague and transferred from Paris cemeteries. A lot of the bones have been placed in interesting structures and formations…creepy, right? You can buy tickets ahead of time to avoid the lines. Definitely get the audio guide for this one.
- Seine River Cruise. Seeing Paris from the perspective of the river is so much fun. Definitely time your visit to go right before the sun sets. Paris is just so darn beautiful at dusk. Bateaux Mouches offers a no frills, no food river cruise, but you could also spring for a dinner cruise with Bateaux Parisiens.
- Arc de Triomphe. It’s day six and there’s still so much to do and see in Paris! Get up close to the beautiful Arc de Triomphe, and then proceed to climb its winding staircases up to the top, for some of the best views of Paris. While the view from the Eiffel Tower is obviously higher up, that also means that the Eiffel Tower isn’t in view, since you’re standing on it. With the views from the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower looks pretty epic. Be sure to spot La Defense, the modern day version of the Arch de Triomphe, which you’ll have a view of directly down one of the main streets.
- Champs-Elysees. Since you’re there, might as well walk down the Champs-Elysees and see some of the bougiest shopping area in Paris. For the most part, skip having lunch at any of the large restaurants here and opt for a cafe off of Avenue de Champs-Elysees with good reviews online, or…
- Laduree. How have I gotten this far in my Paris travel guide and I haven’t mentioned Laduree yet?? Their macarons are just amazing. During our honeymoon, Omied and I kept popping in to buy a box of eight different flavors (their boxes are gorgeous by the way. I kept all of them to store my jewelry in. Their branding is just SO on-point.) and sharing a bite of each one. Towards the end of our trip though, I got sick of sharing (I told Omied when he took the first bite of a macaron, his bite was so big it left me with a quarter of a macaron!) and I made the executive decision to buy a large box of two dozen macarons, so we could get twelve flavors and we could each have our own. Excessive? Non. Besides a sweets display with pretty boxes and frills, Laduree also has a cafe restaurant, and is a great spot for lunch.
- Rodin Museum. This museum has the largest collection of Rodin’s sculptures, including the uber famous sculpture, The Thinker. It is beautiful and well worth a visit.
- Fromagerie, Boulangerie, Charcuterie. To round out your evening, I’d highly suggest using Yelp or Trip Advisor to finding some local fromageries, boulangeries, and charcuteries to hit up and buy cheese, bread, and deli meats from to make yourself a little picnic for dinner. Don’t forget the wine.
- Trocadero. Head to the Trocadero for the perfect spot to enjoy your picnic and watch the Eiffel Tower light up at night. It’s truly magical.
- Musée d’Orsay. The Musée d’Orsay is another incredible museum in Paris, just along the left bank of the Seine. Here you’ll find a lot of works by Degas, van Gough, Renoir, Manet, and Cézanne. Quite the roster, non? Don’t forget to visit the clock tower so you can get an epic silhouette photo (another favorite fashion blogger spot).
- Lunch at Musée d’Orsay Restaurant. Have lunch at the main restaurant at the museum. The room and furniture are dazzling, and the food is delicious.
- Galeries Lafayette. Time for some shopping! Visit the beautiful Galeries Lafayette, France’s famous department store chain. The inside is beautiful, with gorgeous architecture and a beautiful dome ceiling. There’s a lot to choose from and many levels. Don’t get overwhelmed and just peruse what you can. When I was studying abroad, I was a poor college student, but I still bought some French lingerie here that I still have and love! They also do fashion shows every Friday afternoon showing off the latest trends, and it’s really fun to see the gorgeous Parisian models strutting their stuff. Be sure to reserve a seat ahead of time so you can get into the show!
- La Comptoir de la Gastronomie. Omied and I ate here on the very first night of our honeymoon. I think we had literally been outside of our airbnb for all of 20 minutes, and he was like yep, I could live here. There’s something about eating insanely good foie gras outside at a Parisian cafe that makes you want to pack up and move there. This place is all about the foie, and the foie gras ravioli I had was so insanely delicious. The restaurant also has a market next door where you can buy more pâtés and spreads.
- Day trip to Giverny. Take a train outside of Paris to visit Claude Monet’s gardens in Giverny, where he was inspired and painted his famous water lily paintings. His gardens were so rich with different flora and greenery that he loved to pain, and they’ve tried to keep the same species growing there to preserve how the gardens looked when he lived and painted there.
After writing up this travel guide I’m ready to book my next trip back to Paris!! I just j’adore this incredible city. I know there are so many other hidden gems and amazing cafes in Paris, so please share your favorites with me so I can hit them up on my next trip!