In our series of travels, it’s hard to believe that Mr. C and I just had our first trip to Paris. We had several opportunities to visit this beautiful city but I always delayed it. You see, before our trip, I had several misconceptions about it which I deeply regretted as soon as our first day came to an end. I didn’t think that it would be as romantic and amazing as people described it to be. After spending almost a week in Paris, I could honestly say that I have fallen in love with this city unlike any other! From our experience, I’ve written the list of things that are important to know when visiting Paris. Read along for the list of 15 untold tips for tourists visiting Paris!
15 Untold Tips for Tourists Visiting Paris
1. Buy a set of 10 Metro tickets
Using the subway in Paris is easy, convenient, and cheap. If you have limited time, the subway is the best option. Paris, in my opinion, should be explored on foot, but, to save time and energy, the next best thing is to use the subway. Driving is not recommended because of the traffic and the ease of public transportation.
Getting a booklet of 10 Metro tickets is cheaper than buying your tickets individually because a single ticket costs 1.90 euros while a set of 10 tickets costs 14.90 euros. You could also split the set of 10 Metro tickets if you are traveling as a couple or as a group. In our case, we shared a set of 10 tickets and this set lasted around 2 days.
Where to buy your train tickets upon your arrival in Paris:
Buy the train ticket to Paris and the set of 10 Metro tickets from the station and not at the Airport Tourist Info Center. We made the mistake of buying the train tickets from the Airport Tourist Info Center which costs 16.40 euros for a set of 10 tickets and 11.40 euros each for a train ticket from the CDG airport to Paris. If you buy from the station, it is only 14.90 euros per booklet and 10.30 euros for a train ticket from the CDG airport to Paris. The only benefit that I see from buying the train tickets at the Airport Tourist Center is its short line.
You could, however, buy your Paris Museum Pass at the Airport Tourist Info Center. The price is the same as the one published in the official website of Paris Museum Pass. It saves you the trouble and extra cost of having your tickets delivered to your home.
2. Buying a Paris Museum Pass could actually be cheaper
At first, I didn’t consider buying a Paris Museum Pass because of the cost. After creating a list of all the attractions we wanted to see and checked which places are included in the museum pass, the total cost of those individual entrance fees ended up to be more expensive than buying a 4-day Paris Museum Pass. We were able to save 30.5 euros per person for buying the 4-day Paris Museum Pass! 🙂 It also saved us time from lining up and buying the individual tickets. It could have even been cheaper if we had the option of not getting the Musical Fountains in Versailles. The pass also provides unlimited access to the attractions so you could return to your favorites!
Based on our experience, the only drawback of getting a pass is rushing all the museums and monuments in those number of days. We wanted to see as much as we could and by the end of each day, we were too exhausted. If you want a relaxing vacation and you only have few museums and monuments to see, you could buy individual tickets instead.
3. Beautiful sights in Paris you shouldn’t miss
Paris is captivating. Its stunning views, iconic landmarks, old buildings and bridges, and cobbled streets justify the romantic feel commonly associated with this city! It is appealing to dreamers and it could easily charm any traveler. There are many incredible places to visit and if you are only planning a short trip, check this list of 10 beautiful sights in Paris you shouldn’t miss. It also includes free attractions and our top picks from the Paris Museum Pass!
4. Organizing your itinerary
On certain days, some attractions are closed or have late closing times. You could plan your itinerary accordingly so that you could maximize your time in Paris.
Also, allot at least 30 minutes before closing time to guarantee admission, given that you already have a ticket. It may seem strange to arrive on the last minute but it happens! It takes a while to commute from one attraction to another and there is so much to see in Paris that time just passes by. This happened to us and several other people when we tried to visit the Pantheon. We weren’t allowed to enter since it was 15 mins before closing. Another example is Arc de Triomphe. Even though they close at 11 pm, guests were asked to leave 15 minutes before closing. Don’t waste your time and effort. Arrive at least 30 minutes before closing.
Closed on Mondays: Versailles and Musée d’Orsay
Closed on Tuesdays: The Louvre and Centre Pompidou
Attractions with late closing times on specific days:
The Louvre – 10 pm on Wednesdays and Fridays
Musée d’Orsay – 9:45 pm on Thursdays
Notre-Dame – 7:45 pm on weekends
5. Free museums on the first Sunday of each month
If you’re visiting Paris on the first Sunday of a month, consider yourself lucky because there are several free museums. Just arrive really early to beat the crowd!
List of museums that are free on every first Sunday of the month:
October to March
November to March
Arc de Triomphe
Tours de Notre-Dame
All Year Round
For a complete list of free museums and monuments, click here.
6. Watch the sparkling lights on the Eiffel Tower
Whether you’re at Champ de Mars or at Arc de Triomphe, you have to see the spectacular 5-min show of sparkling lights adorning the Eiffel Tower like diamonds. It starts at 10 pm and appears every hour until 1 am.
7. Book a timeslot for the Notre-Dame Tower
Once you arrive in Paris, book a time slot for your tour to the tower. Reservation is required even if you have a pass. You could either book directly on the terminals on site OR online via the JeFile app (Download on Appstore or Googleplay).
Booking online is more convenient since you could choose your preferred time from your location as long as you’re within 40km of Notre-Dame. The lines open at 7:30am so make sure to book on time. It gets fully booked quickly! In case you can’t find a time slot, try to refresh the app in case there’s a chance that someone cancels or do not make it to their schedule.
8. Entrance to the Louvre
Avoid the long line at the Louvre and enter through the hidden entrance. You could find this hidden entrance at the park across the Louvre. It is also better to visit very early or late in the afternoon for a smaller crowd. Our first visit to the Louvre was on a late afternoon on a Friday. Believe it or not, the Mona Lisa only had a small crowd so we were able to see it closely. Since it closes late on Fridays, we still had time to explore the museum without the chaos of a big crowd.
9. Stairs at Sainte-Chapelle
Believe it or not, some visitors miss the stairs to the main chapel of Sainte-Chapelle. Unless you know what to expect, you might accidentally skip the better part of Sainte-Chapelle. Find the stairs and climb it! The ground floor is nothing compared to the stunning stained glass artwork at the second floor.
10. Each arrondissement in Paris has a distinct character
Choosing the right location for your stay matters because each arrondissement has its own vibe.
To give you an idea, these are some of the areas you should consider:
1st arr. – Located at the heart of Paris, the 1st arr. exudes luxury, history, and culture. It is located near famous landmarks such as the Louvre which makes it a great location for sightseeing. It is also a great choice for travellers interested in food and shopping. Accommodations in this arrondissement are relatively more expensive.
Attractions: The Louvre, Le Palais Royal, Jardin des Tuileries
3rd arr. and 4th arr. – Known as Le Marais, the 3rd and 4th arr. have an interesting mix of historic and trendy vibes. You will find old buildings, medieval architecture, cafés, hip boutiques, luxury shops, bars, and restaurants. If you are interested in art, culture and food, you should look into the accommodations in this area.
Attractions: Notre-Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, Centre Pompidou; near the Louvre
6th arr. – Commonly referred to as Saint Germain des Pres, this popular lively arrondissement is filled with quaint shops, cafés, bakeries, bars, and restaurants. Like the 3rd and 4th arr., this area is a great choice for travellers interested in art, culture and food.
Attractions: Jardin du Luxembourg, Saint Germain Abbey, Pont des Arts, and old cafés such as Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore
In terms of the convenience of exploring the city, we didn’t experience any noticeable difference whether we stayed at the 6th arr. or the 2nd arr. All of our accommodations were near Metro stations so we were able to go around Paris easily. Make sure that you choose an accommodation that is close or within a short walk to a Metro station!
11. Get lost in Paris
After you have crossed out all of the attractions off your list, it’s time to get lost in Paris! You would be surprised by the views, streets, architecture, and shops that are not included in “the tourist list.” Admire the Eiffel Tower from different unfamiliar places. Treat yourself with a crepe from one of the random side street vendors. See the luxury brands outside the main street of Champs-Élysées.
Navigating through the streets and subway in Paris is easy. There is no need to subscribe to the internet. Download the offline map of Paris, save your planned locations and you’re good to go!
12. Keep an eye on your belongings
Although we didn’t experience any danger, we were still cautious when wandering the streets. Be alert for pickpockets and any potential threat.
13. Wear/bring comfy shoes
I cannot stress how important it is to have comfortable walking shoes. There is so much to see in the streets of Paris. Everyday of our trip was cardio day! Expect lots of walking and climbing of stairs, whether it’s the subway or a tourist attraction like Notre-Dame or Arc de Triomphe.
14. Backpacks and umbrellas
In museums, you will be required to leave large backpacks and umbrellas in the storage room. It takes time and you have to line up again. There’s also the risk of losing your items. Our umbrella was stolen from the locker room at Louvre!
Avoid the inconvenience by bringing a small bag or a sling bag and a small umbrella which you could put inside your bag. In our case, we brought a medium-sized messenger bag which was allowed on all attractions.
15. Daytrip to Versailles
If you are staying in Paris for at least 3 days, consider doing a daytrip to Versailles. This beautiful World Heritage Site is definitely worth seeing and it is only one train ride from Paris. The Palace and its garden are built in extravagance. The Palace is adorned with gold, exquisite paintings, mirrors, statues, and chandeliers. The garden is enormous on its own. It has several partitions for different kinds of fountains and statues.
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