Paris is a world center for business, cultural, and fashion. It’s hard not to fall in love with Paris. It’s a magical city. Paris exudes culture, sophistication, and style. Like the millions before me, I too fell in love with this city. There’s just something about Paris. Its museums and monuments are among some of the best in the world, especially if you love art. The food, the music, the wine – Paris has a lot to offer. It’s a large city, with thousands of years of history. You’ll never see it in one visit, Paris takes a lifetime. But that’s fine with me because after one visit, chances are you’ll want to come back.
- Hostel Prices: Hostels in Paris aren’t cheap. Dorm rooms cost between $27-40 USD per night. During the summer high season and on weekends, prices tilt towards the higher end. Private double rooms begin at $80 USD per night.
- Budget Hotel Prices: Budget hotels start at $60 USD per night. If you want something close to the center, you’re looking at prices closer to $100.
- Average Cost of Food: Expect to pay around $40 USD for dinner at nice restaurant including wine. Try to avoid the tourist areas, where prices around about 10-30% higher, if you want to save money. Luckily, buying your own food is cheap. There are many bread, cheese, markets, and meat shops throughout the city. It’s common to pick up some ingredients and have a picnic in one of the city’s many parks. Creating your own meal will cost around $13 USD, depending on what you buy and if you get wine. Eating pre-made sandwiches or fast food generally costs about $7 USD.
- Transportation Costs: The Paris public transport system is one of the world’s most comprehensive and efficient. Every other block has a subway stop. A single-use metro/bus ticket costs $2 USD. A “carnet” of 10 single-use tickets costs $15 USD. Taxis in the city are expensive and with the metro running late into the night, there’s little reason to take them. The train to the airport is about $12.
Top Things to Do
- The Arc De Triomphe – This monument that stands in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle and is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. Visitors can climb 284 steps to reach the top of the Arc where you can get information about the city’s history and panoramic views of Paris. It’s one of my favorite spots to view the city.
- Walk the Champs Elysees - This very prestigious avenue in Paris with cinemas, cafes, luxury specialty shops, and is one of the most famous streets in the world and run down from the Arc de Triomphe to the Louvre. It is always busy and always expensive, but a great place to club hop at night or snap photos during the day. Come in the very early morning to see the place utterly deserted. It makes for great photos.
- Explore the Louvre - The Louvre is the biggest museum in the world with thousands of square feet of space and millions of exhibits. It houses pieces from classical times to the 19th century. Be prepared to spend hours here and not even see it all. To really see it all, you’ll need at least two full days. Read more: Take a virtual tour of the Louvre here.
- Go Museum hopping – The Louvre might get most of the attention but there are plenty of other great museums in the city. Make sure you especially check out the Musee D’Orsay for great impressionist work, the amazing Rodin museum, Holocaust museum (one of the best in the world), Musee D’Orangie (more impressionist work), and the interesting sewer museum to start.
- The Latin Quarter - A historic area near the Notre Dame is filled with tiny, winding streets that turn at weird angles to open into little cafe lined squares. There are a lot of bars here and it’s very popular with students at night.
- Relax in Jardin Du Luxemborg - The largest public park in Paris. The garden contains just over a hundred statues, monuments, and fountains, scattered throughout the grounds.
- Montemarte – The home to starving artists for decades, this area gives you a stunning view of Paris, is home to the only winery within the city limits, and is great for those want to visit the hang out spots of folks like Hemmingway and Gertrude Stein.
- The Eiffel Tower – Visiting Paris without glimpsing the Eiffel Tower is unthinkable. Built for the 1889 World Fair, the 300-metre (985 feet) tower is a radical feat of engineering. It was first hated by the Parisians who called it the metal asparagus but over time it grew on them. Get there early to get to the top as the lines are long, especially on a nice day where your line of vision may stretch for over 65km (40 miles) on a good day.
- Notre Dame – Paris’s Gothic masterpiece constructed between 1163 and 1334. Climb from the north tower to the south to appreciate the masonry, and get a close-up view of the gallery of chimeras, the fantastic birds and beasts gazing over the balustrade. The outside facade has been cleaned up in recent years but the inside has a bit of that old Gothic grimy charm.
- Visit Sainte Chapelle – I think this Gothic church is far more beautiful the nearby Notre Dame. It’s very tiny but the stained glass and decoration are exquisite and much more inspiring then Notre Dame. There’s usually a long wait to get in.
- The Palace of Versailles - The palace of the kings of France, a visit here requires a whole day. It gets very crowded but that mostly means you have people in your pictures, not that you are pushed into other rooms. The palace is opulent and you can see why the French revolted! Make sure you visit Marie Antoinette’s home and spend time walking the huge and spacious gardens. Summer weekends are the best time to see the garden as the fountains are set to music. Read more: Take a video tour of the Palace of Versailles
- Le Nouvel an Chinois – Every February, Chinese New Year is celebrated here in the 3rd and 4th arrondissement s and the Chinatown of Paris.
- Bastille Day – Every July 14th, there is a mass of spectacular events throughout Paris, to celebrate the the infamous storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution. There is a huge, televised parade and an amazing, renowned fireworks display. This is French independence day and one of liveliest days in the country.
- Cinema en Plein Air – Every July, Paris rolls out the inflatable screen in the Parc de la Villete for this major outdoor cinema event. It is held in the 9th arrondissement. Remember to take some movie treats.
- The Paris Catacombs – Underneath the city of Paris, you’ll find a honeycomb of tunnels. The French resistance used these tunnels during World War II, and rave parties flourished there during the 90s. Yet in this maze of tunnels, you’ll find one part open to the public – the famous Catacombs of Paris. Here you can visit these tunnels and see the ancient catacombs and burial sites of Paris. It’s one of the freakiest and coolest sites in Paris. Read more about the Catacombs of Paris
- Dance the night away – Whether it’s the modern clubs you like or the classic jazz that plays throughout the city, you shouldn’t leave paris without tasting in the music that attracted some of the best musicians and artists to it. There is an especially abundant amount of good jazz clubs in the city.
- Discounts at The Louvre – The Louvre is discounted after 6pm on Fridays and free on Sundays. During the low season, it is also closed on Tuesdays. It’s located in the center of the city and has two metro stops- both marked “Louvre.” Get off at either one.
- Buy a Metro Card - Paris has over 300 subway stations so it is easy to get around the city. A day pass is only $8 USD. Moreover, if you buy 10 tickets, it only costs $15 USD, much cheaper than the $2 USD an individual ticket costs.
- Have a picnic - With so many beautiful parks and outdoor gardens it would be hard not to take advantage of this. Eating in Paris is cheap when you do your own shopping. Buy some bread, cheese, and meat at the local shops and have an outdoor picnic. It’s fun and will cost you a fraction of what a restaurant would.
- Paris Museum Pass – This is a pre-paid card that gets you access to over 70 museums and monuments around Paris. A 2 day one is only $47 USD, a 4 day pass is only $67 USD, and a 6 day pass is only $80 USD. This is perfect for the museum hopper and those that want to save money and get ahead in line. Since most people visit lots of museums in the city, you’re pretty much guaranteed to save money.
- Free museum admission – All national museums are free admission on the first Sunday of every month. If you happen to hit this day, be aware of potentially large crowds and long lines.
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