Paris Travel Guide
Paris holds the top spot as the most popular tourist destination in the world with more than 80million tourists visiting Paris last year. It is very well connected internationally. Paris is one of the most contemporary cities with a rich vibrant historical heritage. The French capital offers plethora of attractions like Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre-Dame and Champs-Elysees Boulevard,to name a few. World famous majestic monuments, art and sculptures, flavourful wine and fine dining, fashion and culture. They are all fabricated together to form the spirit of the lovely city of Paris.
Paris is situated on the banks of river Seine, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Anyone who visits Paris is awestruck by the elegance, style and magical ambience of the city. It has endured a history of 2000 years. It has played a leading role during the Age of Enlightenment and has carried the legacy of romance. Paris is often referred to as “city of lights” and “city of love”. Also called the “city of Art”, Paris bears pride in hosting art lovers. They draw huge inspiration and admire the remarkable works of art and sculpture. Paris is synonymous with the finer things in life. Stunning masterpieces of architecture, magnificent monuments, world famous museums and galleries, stylish boutiques to exquisite wines and cuisines, Paris has it all!
At the same time beauty of this city also lies in harbouring the warmth of simple pleasures of life. Sipping coffee at a cosy road side French bistro or hanging around at a café terrace simply watching people go by, weaves into the culture of this city.
Charm of Paris also lies in small detailing like dainty tea salons lined along the quaint cobbled streets, the puffed pastries, the fashionables gentries and many more such delights. This enigma of a city like the smile of Mona Lisa is a ‘must visit’ for anyone who loves to travel!
Top 10 Things To Do in Paris
When to visit
Paris has a moderate wet and mild climate throughout the year. Summers are pleasantly warm with average temperatures ranging between 15°C to 25°C ( 59 and 77°F). Spring and autumn are the best time of the year for Paris with mild warm days and fresh nippy nights. Though there can be a sudden change in temperature in both of these seasons.
Winters are not extremely cold in Paris but sunshine is scarce. Days and nights are cold. Average temperature is about 3- 8°C though it does drop down to as low as -5°C for a few frosty nights.
Summers (June to August) definitely have the most perfect weather to offer to tourists visiting Paris with long days of sunshine(as long as 16 hours!). But as expected Summer is also the most crowded and expensive time to travel. Also, many establishments close during month of August. Spring (April-May) and Fall(September-October) are the ideal months to travel to Paris. Its comparatively cheaper in these months. There is enough sunlight with little chill in the air to enjoy meandering walks along the banks of the Seine river or a boat ride aboard a Bateau Mouche. Many Sports and Cultural events besides the beautiful blossoms, begin in the Spring in Paris, energising the city with its vibrant vibes.
How to Save Money in Paris
In comparison to its neighbouring countries, prices in Paris are on the higher side. With that being said, there are a ton of ways to save money while traveling through the city.
Try these tips and hacks to cut costs, while still enjoying the best of Paris.
1. Save on booking costs
Paris is always flooded with tourists all around the year. Planning the trip way in advance can fetch one great deals. Rates of hotels, airlines and tourist attractions sour up last moment. Fashion weeks and other mega events also lead to over booking and surge pricing . Unless one wants to visit particularly for an event, these periods should may be avoided.
2. Save on Transportation
Paris is a compact city. Staying at a central place, one can get to the city’s main sights on foot. The city is divided into districts called “Arrondissements”. Numbering of these Arrondissements starts from the centre of the town at the Louvre. They increases spirally clockwise out. Choosing a hotel in Arrondissements 1-9 ( leaving aside 8 which is out of the way and can be expensive)can help save transportation cost. A hotel in the neighbourhood of Louvre, the Marais, Latin Quarter, near the Eiffel Tower and near the Opera may be a little more expensive than others. But the high cost would be more than compensate by saving on cab expense.
3. Save on Accomodation
Travellers who wouldn't mind commuting by the Metro and are not so hard pressed for time, can consider staying in the nearby suburbs. There are many inexpensive options worth a try. One can even go in for basic hotels with no WiFi or TV in the room. The room size may be compromised too but the rates are considerably lower. These hotels generally maintain a good standard of hygiene and are a good option for a budget hotel.
4. Use Public Transportation
There are many varied means of public transportation available in Paris. This can help one save costs substantially. RER train from Charles de Gaulle airport takes about 25-50 minutes and costs only about €10 generally to a destination. “RoissyBus” is operated by the city and costs about €11 per person and takes 45-60 minutes to a central destination. Taxis in from the airport cost you dearly (around €50-70, plus tip and luggage surcharge). They also take much longer, depending on the destination. For local travel, Metro and bus are the cheapest options. Tickets cost approximately €1.80 each. Buying a “carnet” (pronounced “car-nay”), which is a 10 pack of tickets is yet cheaper option. If one plans to travel a lot within the city then buying a “Paris Visite” travel card is a good idea. This offers unlimited travel on the Metro and bus system.
5. Save on Entry Tickets
Most of these famous tourist attractions offer cheap/free deals on certain days/timings, online purchase, advance purchase, bulk buys etc. One must check these out. For example:
• Louvre offers first Sunday of the month free in low season (October – March).
• Walking up to the second story of Eiffel tower saves you a few Euros.
• Musee d’Orsay offers discounted rates at 2 hours prior to closing time etc.
If you are planning to visit a lot of these cultural attractions then buying a Museum Pass gets you not just good discounts but also can make you skip long queues!
6. Visit Free Attractions
Museums operated by the city like the Musée d’Art Moderne, Maison de Balzac, and Maison de Victor Hugo etc are free to visit. also worth going to. Most churches and parks like the Jardin du Luxembourg and even an ancient Roman amphitheater (Aréne de Lutéce) also have free entry always. Cheap and free concerts around town can be found. Magazines like L’Officiel du Spectacle or a Wednesday edition of Le Figaro’s insert “Figaroscope” available at any newsstand provide this information.
Country Code: +33
Time zone: GMT +1
Electric: Plug Type E (230V/50hz)
Population: 66.9 million (2016) World Bank
Currencies: Euro, CFP franc
Depending on the purpose of one’s travel to France, there are different types of visas that will apply to the occasion. Depending on whether one is planning to go on a visit, study or work and reside there permanently, one will have to apply for a different France Schengen Visa, accordingly.
However , citizens of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland are not required to have a visa to enter France. Nationals of the following countries, irrespective of the reasons for their stay are also exempted for Visa; Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Holy See, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela.
France belongs to the euro zone so Euro is the accepted currency here. Obtaining cash and using credit cards are easy in Paris. Visa and MasterCard are accepted by most shops and restaurants. Though smaller merchants, some neighbourhood restaurants or bars, and street vendors may not take credit cards. Tips are usually given in cash only.
Best source of obtaining cash are the ATMs or cashpoints. These are present all over the city in banks and post offices. Most of them have instructions in choice of English, French and a few more languages. Traveller’s bank should be informed before travelling to France and should be asked for a four digit numeric PIN for ATM card ( if you have any other kind). A small transaction fee on cash withdrawals outside your bank's ATM network is charged. ATMs normally have better rates than currency-exchange offices and hotel reception desks.
Daily Paris Budget
The daily budgets can vary substantially depending on how deep one’s pockets are and whats the planned budget! For a budget traveller it should be in the range of approx. €100/ day. This includes:
Accommodation (Hostel/ budget hotel): €50/night
This amount can easily double or triple itself if one plans to go little liberal with their spending.
Weather and Clothing
Paris has a temperate climate with marked difference between seasons. Summers are warm and winters are cold, though not to extremes. Rainfall is moderate and steady year round. The city is known for its sudden rain showers. Paris has an average temperature of around 40° F in winters and around 70°F during the summer months. A pullover and a warm Jacket should be sufficient to take care of the winter chill. However, there can be a brisk change in temperature at any time of the year in Paris. Carrying a scarf or a stole as an accessory is a practical as well as stylish thing to do. Paris is known to receive frequent showers that dry away quickly. Carrying a small umbrella during any season is a good idea. A comfortable pair of walking shoes is a must for Paris.
Generally speaking, Paris is an exceptionally stylish city, where people bear pride in what they wear. Casual is not so casual in Paris. To gel with the crowd and if one is fond of dressing up, Paris is one place to dress up well. Smart coordinated western ensemble seems appropriate for a place like Paris.
- Dress well. French are very particular about their own dressing sense and tend to notice people from top to bottom.
- When entering or leaving a shop wish the staff. A simple bonjour, monsieur/madame and au revoir, merci are considered polite.
- French are formal people and do not like to have their privacy invaded. Maintaining certain distance is advisable.
- Eating on the go is not really appreciated by the French.
- Abstaining from being too loud is a good idea.
Do's and Don't's
- Do plan a holiday with enough time to just lounge about in a road side cafe or bar to enjoy and soak in your surroundings.
- Do travel by Metro. Its the cheapest and best.
- Do always greet people in French.
- Do choose less touristy, slightly distant arrondissements. They can have cool clubs, restaurants, quaint parks and cemeteries.
- Do carry your student ID card: One can get huge discounts on student IDs.
- Do have access to certain apps to guide you on eating joints, shopping places etc.
- Don’t carry large bills as few shops have change.
- Don’t use taxies. They are expensive and traffic can also lead to spending unnecessary time on the roads.
- Don’t talk to fishy looking strangers. They may be out to fleece you.
- Don’t be extra sensitive to cold behaviour if exhibited by locals. Smile and move on.