How you plan a trip to Paris depends on what you want to see, when you’re going and, in certain respects, how much you can stand to miss, because there’s far too much to enjoy in the City of Light. Paris is also the City of Love, remember? So a good strategy is to break down everything from art to culture with historic grandeur and the Eiffel Tower into must-visits and the like so you’ll always remember your visit and plan that second trip soon. So, without further adieu, it’s adieu to home as you take a look at our tips on how to plan a trip to Paris.
When To Visit
Rule No. 1 in how to plan a trip to Paris: There’s really no bad time to visit. But since it is one of the world’s most famous capitals, there often will be crowds, especially in summer. According to Trip Savvy, each season has its charms. Summer and spring will be the most crowded, naturally. Springtime in Paris is, of course, what movies and books proclaim as the best time of year. Fall and winter boast more gray skies — and the winter blues, after the holidays especially — but there is still plenty to do, including holiday lights, wine festivals and more.
You don’t need a car in Paris. The Metro is one of the world’s oldest and best, and the RER trains can take you to and from the airport, as well as out-of-town destinations like Paris Disney. And you can, of course, also grab a taxi, take a romantic carriage ride or even buzz around on a Segway. For a list of options — and their pros and cons — check out A Paris Guide.
Tours to Your Heart’s Content
The tour options in Paris abound. There are walking tours, eating tours, bus tours and even cruising on the Seine options. One of the more unusual options is a Bustronome in which you get a four-course lunch or dinner as you cruise around and see the sites.Another interesting tour is a two-hour trip around the city in a Citroen 2 CV, plus a River Seine Cruise. For a shorter but more interesting tour, try a helicopter tour. There’s also a Secret Food Tour. To take in the sights — at night — try the Illuminations tour, which includes a river cruise, a bus tour and a trip to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower.
So Much to See
If it’s your first time thinking about how to plan a trip to Paris, you’ve got to see the sights — and there are many of them. At the top of the list is the Louvre, which is the world’s largest museum, a Parisian landmark, a historic landmark, and home to far more masterpieces than you likely will have time for. If Impressionism’s your thing, then head to the Musee D’Orsay, a converted and even if you’ve seen several busts of The Thinker, nothing prepares you for the grandness of the one in the Sculpture Gardens of the Rodin Museum. The Palace of Versailles is always impressive, and the Notre-Dame Cathedral is always amazing. And there’s that tall place, the Eiffel Tower, which we hear folks like.
It’s hard to get a bad meal in Paris — you can try, but food is practically religion in France, and while hardcore foodies will argue that the food is better outside of the capital, really, Paris is a foodie paradise. Paris by Mouth offers 40 recommendations (based on anonymous, repeat visits), including: The haute cuisine of Le Tour D’Argent, the classic bistro of La Bourse et La Vie, and the modern and creative dishes at Tomy & Co. Also be sure to check out Baranaan – one of the city’s most interesting speakeasies, where you can grab creative cocktails and mouth-watering Indian street food – as well.
Jeanette Hurt is the award-winning writer and author of eight culinary and
drink books, including The Cheeses of California: A Culinary Travel Guide, which received the 2010 Mark Twain Award for Best Travel Book, and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wine and Food Pairing. She's written for TheKitchn.com, Four Seasons Magazine, Wine Enthusiast, Entrepreneur.com, and dozens more publications.