Clever Travel Tips Paris

Paris, the City of Light, is one of the most enchanting destinations in the world. It avoided most of the destruction of the world wars which damaged many other large North European cities, meaning its center and character is very well preserved. Modern buildings tend to be restricted to areas outside the city center.

Renowned for its art, culture, fashion, and cuisine, Paris offers countless experiences that captivate millions of visitors each year. However, navigating this bustling metropolis can be a bit daunting, especially for first-time travelers. To help you make the most of your Parisian adventure, here are some clever travel tips for Paris.

1. Plan Your Itinerary Smartly

Paris is packed with iconic landmarks, museums, and charming neighborhoods. To maximize your time, prioritize your must-see attractions and group them by location. For example, you can dedicate one day to the central area around the Louvre, Tuileries Garden, and Musée d’Orsay, and another day to exploring the historic Marais district and its numerous museums.

Pro Tip:

Many Parisian museums offer free entry on the first Sunday of each month. Plan your visit accordingly to save on entrance fees.

2. Use Public Transportation

Paris has an extensive and efficient public transportation system, including the metro, buses, and trams. The metro is often the fastest way to get around the city. Consider purchasing a Paris Visite pass for unlimited travel on public transport for a specified number of days.

Pro Tip:

Download the RATP app for real-time information on public transport routes, schedules, and any service disruptions.

3. Walk and Bike

Paris is a city made for walking, with many attractions located close to each other. Walking allows you to discover hidden gems, beautiful streets, and cozy cafes. Additionally, the city has a bike-sharing system called Vélib’, which is an eco-friendly and fun way to get around.

Pro Tip:

Take a leisurely stroll along the Seine River, especially the stretch between the Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame Cathedral, to enjoy some of the best views in Paris.

4. Choose the Right Accommodation

The first time I went to Paris I stayed in the wrong place. Given that the city center can be expensive, I chose a budget option to the north east of the center. It was not the type of place I would have wanted to walk out of metro station after dark.

However, there are some perfectly pleasant, less touristy (therefore cheaper) and well-connected neighborhoods like the 11th, 12th, or 15th arrondissements. You can also look for budget-friendly options such as hostels, guesthouses, or vacation rentals.

Pro Tip:

Book your accommodation well in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to secure the best rates and availability.

5. Savor the Local Cuisine

Paris is a paradise for food lovers. While it’s tempting to dine at famous Michelin-starred restaurants, exploring local bistros, bakeries, and food markets can be equally delightful and more affordable.

Pro Tip:

Visit local markets like Marché d’Aligre or Marché des Enfants Rouges for fresh produce, cheese, pastries, and other delicious treats. Don’t forget to try a classic Parisian breakfast of croissants and coffee at a local café.

6. Take Advantage of Free Attractions

Paris boasts many free attractions and activities. In addition to the free museums, you can explore beautiful parks and gardens such as Jardin des Tuileries, Jardin du Luxembourg, and Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.

Pro Tip:

Don’t miss the nightly light show at the Eiffel Tower, which starts at dusk and continues every hour on the hour until 1:00 AM. Watching the tower sparkle is a magical experience that won’t cost you a cent.

7. Explore Beyond the Tourist Spots

While visiting famous landmarks is a must, don’t overlook Paris’s lesser-known attractions and neighborhoods. Areas like Canal Saint-Martin, Belleville, and Montmartre offer unique experiences, from street art and quaint shops to vibrant nightlife and stunning city views.

Pro Tip:

Visit the Montmartre district early in the morning to enjoy the Sacré-Cœur Basilica and its surroundings without the crowds. Climb to the top for a breathtaking panoramic view of Paris.

8. Use Discount Passes

Consider purchasing a Paris Museum Pass if you plan to visit multiple museums and monuments. This pass grants you entry to over 60 attractions, often with skip-the-line privileges.

Pro Tip:

Calculate the individual entry fees for the attractions you plan to visit to determine if the pass offers good value for your itinerary.

9. Pick the Right time of Year

Whilst Parisian summers tend to be warm rather than scorching, they do seem to be getting hotter and air conditioning is not widespread. It can be more comfortable, and often cheaper and less busy, to pick a different time of year to visit. But remember to always check the weather forecast before heading out for the day. It can rain at anytime in Paris.

Pro Tip:

If it rains, take advantage of indoor activities like visiting museums, exploring covered passages like Galerie Vivienne, or enjoying a leisurely coffee in a historic café like Café de Flore.

10. Respect Local Etiquette

Parisians are generally polite and appreciate good manners. Parisians do tend to speak English more willingly compared to other parts of France, but learning a few basic French phrases and using them can still go a long way. Always greet shopkeepers and service staff with a friendly “Bonjour” and say “Merci” when leaving.

Pro Tip:

When dining out, it’s customary to leave a small tip if service is not included in the bill. However, tipping in cafes and for small purchases is not expected.

11. Enjoy the Nightlife

Paris offers a vibrant nightlife with something for everyone, from historic wine bars and trendy nightclubs to world-class theater and live music venues. The Latin Quarter, Le Marais, and Pigalle are popular areas for evening entertainment.

Pro Tip:

For a unique experience, enjoy a nighttime river cruise on the Seine. Many companies offer dinner cruises, which provide a romantic way to see Paris illuminated at night.

12. Stay Connected

To stay connected during your trip, consider getting a local SIM card or a portable Wi-Fi device. Many cafes, restaurants, and public spaces also offer free Wi-Fi.

Pro Tip:

Purchase a prepaid SIM card from providers like Orange, SFR, or Bouygues Telecom, which offer good coverage and affordable data plans.

13. Take Day Trips

Paris is an excellent base for exploring other parts of France. Consider day trips to destinations like Versailles, Giverny, Chantilly, or the Loire Valley, all of which are easily accessible by train.

Pro Tip:

Book train tickets in advance for the best prices and to ensure seat availability. Websites like SNCF or Trainline can help you find schedules and fares.

14. Know the Emergency Numbers

In case of emergencies, it’s essential to know the local emergency numbers. In France, dial 112 for police, fire, or medical emergencies.

Pro Tip:

Save the address and contact information of your embassy or consulate in Paris for additional assistance if needed.


Visiting Paris is an unforgettable experience filled with endless opportunities for discovery and adventure. By planning ahead, utilizing public transportation, and exploring both popular and hidden gems, you can make the most of your time in this magical city. Remember to stay flexible, be respectful of local customs, and most importantly, enjoy the journey. Bon voyage!

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