Did I mention that I love to travel? My first 2 years in the workforce I spent traveling alone around the US and I loved it! I got to visit some cities I probably would never have on my own. The best part is, my family loves to travel too. My parents started a tradition a few years ago, after my sister and I were out of their house, traveling for Thanksgiving. They discovered that it’s a great time to visit Europe, it’s not tourist season, the flights are relatively inexpensive, and we already have a couple of days off of work!
This past Thanksgiving, we were all lucky enough to join them in Paris! I do mean we too, my parents, my sister and her husband, Jason and I. Paris had been on my bucket list of places to visit and I was so excited to be able to experience it with my family. Paris is beautiful, the food is amazing, and there is so much to see! The hard part was trying to coordinate what everyone wanted to do while we were there! We hit a lot of the main highlights, the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Versailles, Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Mom and I even took a French cooking class! It was a busy trip but somehow we were able to fit it all in. I think we can all say we learned a few things about traveling in Paris on our trip. Some things we heard from others before we left, and some we figured out when we were there. So here is our top 5 list of Paris travel tips.
Eiffel Tower at night
1. Buy a Metro pass
We were in Paris for a week, so after a couple days of buying carnets (packs of 10 metro tickets) we decided it would be more cost effective to buy a Metro pass. You can get around basically anywhere you need to in the city for the number of days you buy your pass for. The Metro was not hard to navigate either, as long as you know what stop you need before you get off, and all of our tour books were good about listing what Metro stop was the closest. By the end of the week we really knew what lines would get us back to our hotel!
2. Get the Museum Pass
If you have a lot of the main attractions on your list, I highly recommend the Museum Pass. It got us into the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Musée de l’Orangerie (Monet’s Water Lilies are beautiful!), the towers of Notre Dame, Centre Pombidou (modern art museum)…and the list goes on! A lot of the main attractions are included in the pass so it is worth checking out. You can buy the pass for a set number of days (1, 3, 5, etc) and it becomes active on the first day you use it, so you have to plan out your stops accordingly.
A Gargoyle on the towers of Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower
3. Spend some time sitting in a cafe
Everyone we talked to that had been to Paris said that we had to do this, and know I know why! It was fun to order a cappuccino, a snack, sit and just people watch. I loved to watch everyone in the cafes catching up with their friends, or family, in the middle of the work day! Les dux Magots is a well known cafe on Saint Germain that is supposed to have great people watching. Unfortunately, when we were there they were closed for renovations, but there are quite a few other cafes in that same area. That’s also by the oldest church in Paris which is cool to see!
4. Pay for the guided tour at Versailles
You have quite a few ticket options when you visit Versailles and our hotel concierge recommended purchasing tickets to the guided tour. You get to see the private apartments of King Louis XI and Louis the XVI, and the Royal Chapel with a smaller group, and the ticket includes admission to the rest of the palace as well! We walked the gardens, took the guided tour, then walked around the rest of the palace. We learned so much on the guided tour and it was so nice to be in a smaller group without all the crowds! The guided tour ticket is only €6 more and well worth it.
Inside the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles
5. Have the hotel concierge recommend where they would eat, and go there!
Our hotel concierge was a wonderful young lady who could not have been more helpful! She strongly recommended reservations for dinner every night, and helped us find restaurants within walking distance from the hotel. My mom made it a point to ask her where she would go eat dinner, and then we had her make reservations at those places. We tried some traditional French cuisine, a concept restaurant where all the main dishes looked like desserts, tapas, and a small Italian place. It didn’t look like any of these restaurants could hold more than 30 people at a time and the food was always amazing! I don’t think we had a bad meal the entire trip! I’m going to have to remember this tip when I go places on my own too, always ask where the locals go eat.
We had a wonderful week in Paris, ate way to much, saw some amazing sights, and did quite a bit of shopping. Both Jason and I said we would go back, but this time take some day trips outside the city, and spend some more time just wandering around the streets of Paris. We found some cute areas with shops on the last couple days and we wish we had more time to spend just browsing. Until next time, au revoir!
Notre Dame Cathedral
Tags: Paris, Paris Travel Tips, Travel Tips