Paris | The First Timers’ Guide

Paris

Paris — the city of love, art, history and great food. It is one city that I am sure we all must have had on our travel lists at one point in our lives. As cliché as it is, Eiffel Tower was the first thing that introduced me to this city. Since then, I heard, saw and read instances of this beautiful city through uncountable channels.

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We travel a lot, and it has incorporated a habit of planning, researching and reading about places and their stories. Before our first Paris trip, excitement and nervousness were the first two things that hit simultaneously. Reasons – our first trip, a huge city with a lot to offer, didn't want to miss anything crucial, and so on.

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Now that we have been to Paris a couple of times, I can share my first timers’ guide with you guys. I hope this will help in planning your first ever trip to this beautiful city.

  1. Prepare your itinerary. I know many of you must belong to the free-bird category and like to make impromptu plans. But, sometimes, over excitement (that can be a before-effect of this city) can lead to disappointment and frustration. An itinerary can save you on time and also gives you a goal to keep going. PRO-TIP: Check the timings and ‘closed-on’ days for museums and other attractions. If you want to make the most out of your trip then I'd suggest clubbing few locations and going for a pre-planned tour by some tour agency. This way you do not have to go through the hassle of multiple hotels and train/flight bookings. My favourite tour packages for such times are by Tours4Fun. They give value packages that are all inclusive with the amazing quality of service, stay, travel, tours, etc. Definitely, check them out if travelling on a budget is your priority.

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  1. Consider Sundays and public holidays. We skipped this one and then had to look for alternatives for the day. Luckily, many places remain open on Sundays now but it wasn't the case couple of years back. Most of the restaurants and shopping centres either remain closed or open for few hours only. Hence, it’s always better to check your itinerary and plan accordingly.
  1. Stay in the city centre, if possibleThis is something that varies from person to person on so many grounds such as budget, availability, personal preferences, etc. I’d suggest this, if possible, as it can totally make your time in the city a more memorable one. You can walk down to some of the most happening and prettiest places without having to bother about transport. Almost all the areas near the city centre are easily accessible till late by public transport. Although, I would say be aware of the surroundings and the time of your travel. Don't blame me if you are walking in the middle of the night, alone, on a quiet lane, and someone robs you of your belongings, just saying, as tourist places have their share of the nuisance. :/

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  1. Pre-book city-tours (if any). If you are planning to explore certain attractions through organized tours, then pre-book. A lot of us like to reach our hotels and then check with them but per me, it’s way better to pre-book. It definitely makes a difference money-wise and helps us to stay on the plan.

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Paris
Climbing up the Arc de Triomphe
  1. Buy Paris Passlib'. This pass comes in super handy on the first trip to the city. It gives unlimited transportation (bus, metro, tram and RER as you like from zones 1 to 3), free access to more than 6o attractions, 1 river cruise and 1-day access to Hop-on Hop-off bus. You can select from variants of 2-, 3-, and 5- day passes as per your plan. This also includes Paris Museum Pass through which you can explore more than 50 museums in Paris and the Paris region including the Louvre Museum, the Arc de Triomphe and much more. It has many more benefits that you can check here.

Paris Tours

  1. Airport transfers. For first timers’, I’d definitely recommend reserving your arrival transfer; if not to-and-fro. By the end of your trip, you’d have understood the transport system better. It’ll be easy to manage your way back to the airport with the underground then.
  1. Understand public transport. Not a must-do, but it will definitely make your first trip a little less worrisome and a bit more relaxed. The underground is complex; if you do not commute much with the metro in your country.
  1. Skip the line at the Eiffel Tower. Taking the skip-the-line for Eiffel Tower really makes a lot of difference. It saves time that otherwise you'd waste in long queues. Also, reserve a table for 2 (or more, or less) if you plan on having a meal atop the tower.
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  1. Keep an e-scanned copy of important documents on your mobile devices. This one applies to any trip, first timer or n-th timer. So many free and paid apps are available these days, get one. Keep a set of all your necessary documents, like tickets, insurance, visa, hotel address and telephone numbers, etc. at one place without the risk of losing the originals. ALSO: Grab a few hotel cards while on your way out from your hotel, it helps in case you hire a taxi and want to share the address with the driver. Or if you simply take help from someone at some restaurant or street.
  1. Do not stress too much. Before our first trip, we read so many articles stating pickpocketing and such stuff that after a while we literally got stressed. Things were not as bad as Internet made us believe. Of course, that doesn't mean you can be casual with your stuff. Try not to keep all your cash in one place, to save some in the case of a mishap. Be cautious and live your Paris vibe. Pickpocketing and mishaps happen, but as long as you are aware and alert this shouldn't be much of a problem. This is also one reason for following #10.
  1. Explore the beauty of this city on foot. I do not need to write much about this, it is a very self-explanatory tip. The city is full of beautiful surprises in the forms of churches, gardens, streets, cafes, bakeries, etc. that sometimes you come across only while walking.
  1. Carry less. Be it anything, phones, cameras, cash, bags, etc. Carry less so you can be relatively free and enjoy more without the extra baggage. 🙂
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If you've been to Paris before, I'd love to hear your experiences and what all did you do? If you haven't, I hope you get to very soon. 🙂

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  • Aditi

    Hi, test comment.

  • Kim Gammage

    I’ve always been curious about Paris but never really had much desire to go – heard a lot of bad things – but I think I may have to reconsider now! These tips are perfect to keep in mind for a city break!

    • I know, sometimes what we hear/read really makes us change our decisions but also sometimes we got to experience things for ourselves to tell our own version. 🙂

  • I would love to go to Paris! I only live “across the river”, in the UK, but I haven’t made it to the French capital yet. Your tips are really good, especially the take it easy one. I know that Paris si huge and it is impossible to see it all in one visit.

    • I know what you mean. Sometimes, we explore the world but our neighbourhood! 😉 Thank you, I’m glad you found those relevant. 🙂

  • This is great! I am taking my daughter just before Christmas so this fab guide is perfect for us.

    • I’m so glad you found it helpful! I’ll be sharing more such posts that might help you. 🙂

  • Helen Clark

    Paris is somewhere I would love to go.
    I love all of these tips. I’m a massive planner and always have an itenery when we travel.

    • Thank you so much Helen! Planning is the best way to make the most of your trip and utilise all your time, isn’t it? 🙂

  • Simply Apostolia

    Love your tips! I always wanted to be in Paris, though i’m a little afraid since the latest events. I hope i can visit some day, and i’m definately coming through your guide again!

    • I hope you do visit Paris soon, Apostolia! It’s a beautiful city with so much to offer, it saddens me when unfortunate events occur and we have restrict our wandering souls. :/

  • Abdul Malik

    hey aditi,
    thank you for this planner!
    I am planning to visit Paris next month. I hope the tips come handy.

    • That’s great Abdul! I hope you have a great time there. 🙂

  • TravelforStamps

    I absolutely, positively fell in love in Paris when I went last year. Everything about Paris is enchanting and I’m so eager to go again! I found the subway to be easy to figure out. We also were able to use Google maps to help keep track of which stops we were supposed to get off at.

    • Yeah, once you get comfortable in decoding the subway, it’s really easy to explore the city. Google maps are also a really good companion. 🙂

  • It’s always worth booking some things in advance if you can, especially the Eiffel Tower, I went earlier this year and it was fully booked over the weekend I was there so we couldn’t go x

    • Oh, that a shame. It definitely helps when you book certain things, especially when you know they are super popular and a zillion people will be waiting to be there.

  • Eliza Casipagan

    this is definitely helpful for first timers, and yes planning your itinerary and booking in advance saves a lot of your time. Thanks for this post!

    • Thanks for appreciating Eliza! 🙂

  • I am planning to visit Paris next year and this is my first time hearing of the ‘pass lib’, I love that you can use transportation to go anywhere! Pinning now xx

    • Thank you so much Ana! I’m glad you found it helpful. The Paris passlib really makes a difference and in my opinion is total value for money.

      • I am so glad to hear you say that! I have a cousin who lives out in Paris and she always tells me to come out there. The Paris Pass Lib just gives me more of an incentive to visit x

  • RosieCorriette

    All of my friends have been to Paris – I still can;t believe I haven’t been yet! Our stunning photos are making me think a trip to Paris is need before I turn 30 next year!

    • I hope you get to visit Paris soon Rosie, it’s a beautiful city to visit.

  • Niharika Roy Choudhury

    I girl dreams to visit paris for once in her life. I hope to visit the place soon.My husband and i always explore any place we visit on foot.Thanks for sharing !

    • I know, right? I hope you get to visit and fulfil your dream soon. 🙂

  • Laura Dove

    Great tips! Paris is one of my favourite cities in the world, if not my favourite. Its the most amazing, atmospheric, romantic place I have ever been to!

    • So true! Paris has a vibe that will make you fall in love with it! <3

  • Nay Mattis

    Great tips! I love Paris. Completely agree about preparing for Sundays – this has caught me out in the past.

    • Haha, I have also learnt from my experiences. 😀 It happened to me on the day I planned to do all my shopping, and that was also my last day in Paris. 😀 😀

  • Alison Rost

    My husband and I have been wanting to go to Paris for the longest time. I’m definitely saving your guide. I especially love the tip about skipping the lines at the Eiffel Tower. Have a meal there is something I’d so love to do! x

    • I hope you get to visit Paris super soon, Alison. Thank you! It is always better to save the time that you’d rather waste in queues and utilise it somewhere that you’ll cherish. 🙂

  • I have wanted to go to Paris forever. These are some really good tips. I am going to pin this! Thanks for the great guide. ~ http://viabella-thebeautifullife.blogspot.com

    • Oh thank you so much. I’m glad you found it helpful 🙂

  • Becca Talbot

    I’ve been to Paris a few times, though have to be honest, am not a massive fan of the city! I find it a bit dirty – but there is some beautiful architecture there x

    • Oh I know what you mean, I agree on the dirty part. I guess many tourist cities tend to get dirty due to the huge footfall but I know Paris in general has to really work on their cleanliness and maintenance. :/

  • Olgi

    Very useful tips we all need. I think viator is a very good option for the city tour. If I travel to Paris will use its service. So I would not waste my time. Thank you!

    • You’re welcome Olgi! Viator is always my first choice when I’m planning for tours and activities in a city.

  • Hal Yusuf

    e scanned documents and sundays/public holidays are very useful tips for beginners and for everyone actually as they might not maximise their trip if things are closed or if documents are lost

    • That’s so true! The last thing you’d want on a trip is to loose your documents or get up early to reach a spot just to find out it’s closed. :/

  • David Elliott

    These definitely sound like great tips when going into Paris. I didn’t realize you could get a front of the line pass to the tower. That does sound like a great investment.

    • Isn’t it? We were really glad that we got it on our first trip and saved so much time. 🙂

  • I’ve never been to Paris before but it’s definitely on my list of places to travel to one day! I had no idea that you can get front of the line passes. The worst is waiting in lines when you only have a limited amount of time!

    • Those passes are definitely a must when you’re short on time. 🙂

  • Elena Stevkovska

    I have been to Paris only once and I have spent 10 days there, but I think there are still more places that I could not explore in Paris.

    • I have been to Paris and I still haven’t explore everything, there is still so much to do. This city has so much to offer.

  • Anjali Chawla

    I’ve been planning to visit Paris for two years but plan couldn’t materialise. Hope to visit sometime soon. Great tips. I’m going to bookmark it!

    • I hope you get to visit soon. 🙂

  • Next month I will be going to Paris to study French. It will be only a 2 week course but I mostly focus on visit Paris. I was living there as a kid and now I want to discover my favorite places where I was spending my time. I like their museums. I remember as a EU citizen you can get there for free is you are less than 26yo! Such a good deal for people 🙂 Unfortunately I’m too old now!!

    Best,
    Kasia

    • Oh that’s wonderful; I love museums too! Have a great time on your trip to Paris for your course. 🙂

  • Simona Tinca

    I am going to pin this ♥️. Useful tips, shure I will use them if I have a chance to go there.

  • Simona Tinca

    I am going to pin this ♥️ Useful tips that I will use them with the first ocasion ♥️

    • Thank you so much Simona! 🙂

  • Familyearthtrek

    Great tips! And yes something I hate doing before was to plan my trips. I wanted it to be as spontaneous as possible but when if you have little time it is so much smarter to have check things up in advance for the sake not to miss anything intressting. Even though with planning, when we get home, I discover thing afterwards that we should have done.

    • I know, my initial few trips to certain places have been spontaneous, but when I’m planning for a place that has so much to offer I’d rather choose my time and attractions carefully. 🙂 xx

  • Stressing would honestly be something I would have to focus on not doing especially after all the crazy things that can help to tourists- like you said. LOL

  • Calleigh -The Fork Bite

    One more thing, if you’re a first timer, avoid visiting Paris in August as most Parisians are on holiday so, you’ll notice a lot of closures.

    • Oh that’s a helpful addition to my list. I didn’t know that, thanks for updating me hun! xx

  • christopher mitchell

    These are all great suggestions, especially as it relates to planning and pre-booking. Especially in the summer months or the busy season, things can just be downright sold-out, so it makes a lot sense to do your homework!

    • I know, right? Planning seems like a very daunting and time-consuming task but the benefits are always great.

  • Le Coin de Mel

    Beautiful photos of Paris at night! I lived in Paris for 3 years and I also used to walk around as much as I could to soak in the feel of the city.

    • Thank you so much! Paris is always prettier while walking. 🙂 xx

  • Thank you so much Tiina, it really means a lot when people find your work helpful, I’m glad you did. 🙂

  • Dogvills

    The Paris Passlib is something I would definitely take advantage of the next time I am in Paris. That will save so much time and aside from transportation, it also includes access to other attractions. Fantastic.