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To Paris with love – best time to visit Paris for your first time

To Paris with love – best time to visit Paris for your first time

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Paris is one of these cities that is always crowded. However, with a little planning, you can enjoy this beautiful city with a bit of fewer queues and fewer crowds. Best time of the year to visit Paris is spring – in April and May, and fall – in September and October. In the spring it is warm in the air, and everything is blooming, and in the fall the intense heat is gone along with most tourists.

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Notre Dame

Winter in Paris

Winter weather in Paris is usually wet, and the temperatures are between +3C to +6C. The upside about visiting Paris in winter is it is less crowded and cheaper. You can visit famous museums and galleries without long queues and large crowds. Hotels and flights are less expensive due to the low season, and there is also a winter sale. There are two seasonal sales in Paris – winter and summer. Winter sale starts in early January and lasts until mid-February. Summer sale starts at the end of June and continues through July. It will also be one of the best seasons to visit Disneyland in Paris, although the weather may be a bummer.
Mid to late December is a high season because of Christmas and New Year’s. Champs-Elysée is lit up by garlands of shimmering light, and the whole city is decorated festively. There are ice-skating rinks throughout the city where you can bring your kids, and one is in front of Hôtel-de-Ville. Christmas Markets are set up in different neighborhoods, with their warm wood-roofed booths, vin chaud (hot wine), enchanting decorations, gifts, and gourmet treats. Sometimes you even might get snow.

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An ultimate guide to best time visiting Paris' top 10 attractions, arrondissement, hotels and places to eat

Spring in Paris

If you love gardens, parks and blooming, Paris in springtime is a beautiful idea. The weather is getting warmer, although it may still rain quite a lot in March and April. Paris is a popular destination throughout the year, and although spring is a shoulder season, it is getting crowded. It is, however, easier to get a hotel and airline tickets at a decent price than during high seasons. You can do all the attractions during your spring stay in Paris, but remember to bring an umbrella. Despite the rainy weather during the earlier months of spring, this is the best time of the year to visit Paris for me.

We did a champagne cruise on the Seine when we visited Paris in March – it was a bit chilly, but we were lucky with the weather as it was dry but slightly grey. GET YOUR CRUISE TICKETS HERE

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Cruise on the Seine – Notre Dame

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Cruise on the Seine – Pont Alexandre III

Summer in Paris

Summer in Paris is hot, crowded and expensive. The school summer break starts in July, and the French will be traveling their country as well. During August, many locals flee to the coast, and many small shops and restaurants are closed. Due to lack of business travelers accommodation prices might be lower during August.
The second annual sale – summer sale – starts around last week of June and runs through July. Check out shopping opportunities in Paris here This summer we spent only one afternoon in Paris. We did some shopping on Champs-Elysées, took a lot of shots of Arc de Triumph, and just strolled around.

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The view from our hotel room in Paris in July – Arc de Triomphe

Fall in Paris

Beginning to mid-September in Paris is still a high season. The weather is still warm, queues are always long, and prices are still high. However, it is much better than the summer season, even it is crowded, the most significant tourist mass has gone. Towards the end of September and through mid-October is the perfect time to visit Paris. By then most of the tourists are gone, flights and accommodations are cheaper than during high season. The weather is still lovely, and it can get as warm as +20C. Mid-Oktober is the start of rain-season. Although flowers are past their peak, fall brings out amazing colors.

Where to stay in Paris – arrondissements

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Map of Paris’ arrondissements – borrowed from Wikipedia

Paris is divided into arrondissements (neighborhoods) – in total 16. Before choosing where to stay, you should decide on:

  • what you want to do and see
  • what your budget is
  • how easy it is to get to different attractions – how near your accommodation to public transportation

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Get an overview of top 10 attractions in Paris France. Download your free map

There are a total of twenty arrondissements in Paris, and most of them (not all) have some attractions worth visiting.

Some of the main tourist attractions in Paris are the Champs-Elysées and Arc de Triumph which is located in the 8th arrondissement, along with famous fashion house La Fayette, elegant hotels, and restaurants.

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The view from our hotel room in the 8th arrondissement – Arc de Triomphe

Where to stay in Paris for your first time

We stayed in this neighborhood twice and hadn’t been disappointed. If you are looking for views and central location Hotel Stella Etoile next to Arc de Triumph is perfect for your stay in Paris. The hotel is a 3* star hotel and you can read the review on our stay here. On our second time in Paris, we stayed at the cozy and romantic 4* star Hotel Opera Marigny. It is located in the 8th arrondissement in an area with several restaurants and shops. There was especially one French restaurant which was super romantic with live music, which you can read about later in the post. You can read more about the Hotel Opera Marigny here

And if you are still not convinced about the hotels we stayed in you can always find a good deal with Bookings.com

FIND YOUR PERFECT ACCOMMODATION IN PARIS HERE

 

GET YOUR FREE 3 DAYS PARIS ITINERARY

Where to eat in Paris

There are three restaurants we discovered during our three stays in Paris which we loved. They are all totally different but all super French.

Cafe Sud

Charming French restaurant with live music. Excellent food, wine, and service. Ask for a table by the window. It is a little bit pricy but you will love the atmosphere. You should book a table in advance. It fills up pretty quickly, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. You can check Cafe Sud’s website here

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Cafe Sud in Paris

Le Souffle

Oh my God! This is such a cool place and everything they serve is made like a souffle. I had escargot for as a starter and then we had souffle Biff Bourgogne and souffle with asparagus (biff was of course much better :)). The restaurant looks slightly simple to be French but the food was excellent. You get a small mug with whatever you order, you make a hole in your souffle and pour some of it in. There is biff on mine 🙂 We had souffle for lunch but you can as well have it for dinner. The prices are very reasonable for Paris and France. You can book a table here (French language only so send them an e-mail)

Canard and champagne

French know how to do it! This restaurant started with only duck and champagne on their menu, a French Paradox. I love both so it was perfect for me. They have loosened up a little and introduced biff/entrecote (meat) and wine. But the restaurant is very cool, modern, light with a high ceiling. You sit on high chairs and high sofa. Didn’t take any pictures, unfortunately, but you can check their website for menu and reservations.

Best arrondissement to stay in Paris – Arrondissement guide

1st Arrondissement

The 1st Arrondissement is the center of the old city of Paris and home to many beautiful historic buildings, The Louvre Museum, the adjacent Jardins des Tuileries and The Place de la Concorde. This neighborhood is a great place to stay while in Paris. It is located on the Right Bank (Rive Droit) of the Seine, and you will remain in the walking distance of most of the top tourist attractions in Paris. The area is very safe, as is most of Paris, with many restaurants, shops, and hotels. One of the largest shopping centers in Paris is Forum Les Halles located in 1st Arrondissement. Because of the neighborhood’s central location, it is quite expensive to stay and dine here.

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Place de la Concorde

4th Arrondissement

The 4th Arrondissement is at the heart of Medieval Paris. The Notre Dame, St. Chapelle, the National Museum of Art in the Pompidou Center and Hôtel-de-Ville (city hall) are all located here. The Marais neighborhood spills from 3rd Arrondissement into the 4e arr. and contains the Place des Vosges, known as the most beautiful square in Europe. This neighborhood is known for its cozy shops, gardens, and museums. Great to enjoy in all seasons, the area has become Paris’ most branché (fashionable in French) quarter.

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The beautiful Notre Dame

5th Arrondissement

5th Arrondissement is located on the left bank of the Seine and is known as the Latin Quarter because the Sorbonne University professors and students all spoke Latin. The neighborhood is considered to be the intellectual center of Paris and one of the liveliest in the city. If you want to experience artsy and bohemian side of Paris, this might be one of the best places in Paris for you to stay. The Pantheon, mausoleum for France’s most renowned philosophers, artists, and intellectuals, such as Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Zola, the Curies and Alexandre Dumas, is located in The Latin Quarter. If you want to get impressive views of the city, you should climb up to the top of the dome.

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An ultimate guide to best time visiting Paris' top 10 attractions, arrondissement, hotels and places to eat

6ht Arrondissement

6th Arrondissement is known for a few museums and small churches and the more known and famous – the gorgeous Luxembourg Gardens – Jardins du Luxembourg.

7th Arrondissement

7th Arrondissement is where you will find the icon of Paris – The Eiffel Tower. In this district, you will also find the Invalides – which holds Napoleon’s tomb, and the Musée d‘Orsay. Here you can get a boat ride on the Seine while drinking champagne and enjoying beautiful views of Paris.

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The Eiffel Tower – one of the world’s most recognized landmarks

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The Invalides

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La Conciergerie – Palace of French Kings between the year 900 and 1300

8th Arrondissement

The Right Bank’s 8th Arrondissement is where you’ll find the glitz, glamour, and elegance of Paris. The neighborhood is expensive with many restaurants, shops, and tourists. The Champs-Elysées, Arc de Triumph, famous fashion houses, elegant hotels, and restaurants are all located here. If you want the convenience of staying in the heart of Paris, you will have to pay the price. As in any overcrowded touristy area, the food and service in restaurants could be better, and the rates could be lower. Wander off of the Champs-Elysées to small alleys and streets to get more authentic food and atmosphere. One exception to this would be the famous Ladurée. Ladurée is a restaurant and a tea room which serves fantastic pastries, macaroons, and chocolates. They have branches all over Paris, and I hope you get to taste their delicious pastries.

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Arc de Triumph

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Ladurée – delicious macaroons

9th Arrondissement

The neighborhood of diversity – it is both elegant and tacky. Here you will find the Moulin Rouge and strip joints, but also Palais Garnier – Paris’ elegant Opera house.

GET YOUR SHOW TICKETS HERE

 

10th Arrondissement

10th Arrondissement runs along the Canal St. Martin. The streets along the canal are car-free zones on Saturday afternoons/evenings, and all day on Sundays. During the weekends’ people are cycling and rollerblading. This area is quite trendy among young people.

11th Arrondissement

It is where you will find Opera Bastille. The neighborhood has a few good restaurants and is a great place to stay in Paris. It is safe and less expensive than other parts neighborhoods of Paris.

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The view from the LaFayette shopping center

Main tourist attractions in Paris

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower – it is a must-see, but the queues are long. There are three ways to see the views of Paris from the Eiffel Tower.

  • 1st floor –  57m up and glass floors. Here you can get a beautiful view of Paris and a meal at the restaurant.

GET YOUR TICKETS FOR A ROMANTIC DINNER WITH AN AMAZING VIEW HERE

 

  • 2nd floor – the fantastic views of Paris. Here you can get a dinner at the Michelin-starred restaurant The Jules Verne
  • The top – 276m up you can enjoy the most outstanding aspects of Paris while having a glass of champagne.

The Louvre Museum

The Louvre museum – is impressive, huge, but elegant. We waited in line for 1,5h to get in while visiting it in April. The Louvre museum – both the Louvre Palace and its artwork – is impressive and vast. Read an article written by Worldinparis about this magnificent museum.

GET YOUR TICKETS IN ADVANCE TO THE LOUVRE

 

The Notre Dame Cathedral

The Notre Dame Cathedral – one of the most known cathedrals in the world. You can climb 422 steps to get to the Notre Dame Bell Towers for a beautiful view of Paris and close up on Gargoyles. The length of the line to get in the Cathedral would depend on the season. In March you will spend around 30 min to get in and about an hour to get up to the Bell Tower. They operate with two different entrances and separate prices for the Cathedral and the Towers. If you love beautiful views from up high, I recommend you get your tickets for both entries.

YOU CAN GET SKIP THE LINE TICKETS HERE

 

Musee d’Orsay

Musee d’Orsay – one of the Paris’ most known art museums. Previously a railway station, it is now a proud holder of many exhibitions. Its architecture is amazing. It would be an excellent choice besides The Louvre.

READ MORE ABOUT THE MUSEUM AND GET YOUR TICKETS HERE

Basilica du Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre

Basilica du Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre – The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris is a Roman Catholic church located at the summit of Montmartre – “The mount of Martyrs.” The Basilica can be reached by bus or metro. At the top of the Butte Montmartre, it has one of the most beautiful panoramic views of the capital, from 130 meters above ground. Visitors can also access the dome where the 360° view of Paris is magnificent. A short walk from the Sacré Coeur is the Place du Tertre, the district of Abbesses with its steep, winding roads, and at the bottom of the hill, the famous Moulin Rouge cabaret.

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe – an iconic landmark of Paris standing at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. The Arc de Triomphe honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I, and the view from the top of the arch is worth climbing the 284 stairs.

GET SKIP THE LINE TICKETS FOR ARC DE TRIOMPHE

 

Jardin du Luxembourg

Jardin du Luxembourg – Luxembourg Gardens located on the border between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter. The Luxembourg Gardens, inspired by the Boboli Gardens in Florence, were created upon the initiative of Queen Marie de Medici in 1612. The best time to visit the gardens would be late spring, summer, and early fall. The gardens cover 25 hectares of land and have flowers, forest, pond, statues, and fountains. It is a perfect place to visit if you travel with kids. Entering the gardens is free.

The Seine River

Seine River – take a cruise on the Seine and get to see Paris from another point of view. You pass by many landmarks such as Pont du Alexandre III, Musee d’Orsay, Notre Dame and several. We did a champagne cruise, but there are options where you can have lunch or dinner too.

GET YOUR CRUISE WITH THREE COURSE LUNCH HERE

 

Le Catacombs

Le Catacombs – a veritable labyrinth beneath the very heart of Paris. The ossuary contains the remains of millions of Parisians, transferred there gradually between the late eighteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries as graveyards were being closed because of the risk they posed to public health. In the long maze of dark galleries and narrow passages situated twenty meters below ground, visitors can see a tableau of death with bones arranged in a macabre display of high Romantic taste.

GET YOUR SKIP THE LINE TICKETS HERE

 

The Moulin Rouge

The Moulin Rouge – is best known as the spiritual birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance. Originally introduced as a seductive dance by the courtesans who operated from the site. Today, the Moulin Rouge is a tourist attraction, offering musical dance entertainment for visitors from around the world. The club’s decor still contains much of the romance of fin de siècle France.

 

Our recommendations

The best time to visit Paris is like a saying – “Paris is always a good idea”. There is so much to see and do in Paris that you won’t get bored whether it is your first time or fifth time. But remember to always set time aside to enjoy the sidewalk life in a French cafe or Bistrot. Have Crémant or champagne and watch people. Have frog legs, souffle, escargot, macaroon, or a chocolate eclair, and enjoy Paris and life.

Paris Pass

If you are in Paris for more than just a long weekend, I would recommend you getting Paris Pass. It comes in three different ranges – both in price and duration. Paris Pass gives you priority access to more than 50 attractions and museums, including Palace of Versailles, the Hop on Hop off bus tickets, Seine River Cruise Quick entry, Map of Paris & Public Transportation and a hotel pick up/drop off. Getting Paris Pass will give you free entrance to 50 museums including the Towers of Notre Dame, free metro, bus and tram usage between zones 1 to 3, and much more. The Paris Pass operates with different prices for EU and Non-EU residents, along with different age groups.

GET YOUR PARIS PASS HERE

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An ultimate guide to best time visiting Paris' top 10 attractions, arrondissement, hotels and places to eat

If you have little time in Paris, choose one thing/landmark you want to do/see and find accommodation close to it. Parisian Metro works just fine and is easy to use. Just sink into Paris and enjoy its sophisticated, laid-backed and romantic atmosphere! If you are staying a little longer, don’t forget to visit the Palace de Versailles just 40 min outside of Paris. Read my post on our visit to the Versailles here. You can also check Sharon’s blog post on things to do in Paris if you need any more tips.

Last time we visited Paris was for one afternoon during our road trip. We stayed near Arc de Triumph and Champs Elysées as we wanted to do some shopping and stroll around. If you only have one afternoon in Paris, I recommend you pick one attraction and book your accommodation in arrondissement next to it – this way you get to see two neighborhoods at once.

If you are looking to explore a little less known places, I suggest you check out Beaune in Burgundy. The place was such a surprise and I absolutely loved it – this small town is for everyone who loves French wine, French Chateaus and French cuisine. You can read more about Beaune here

 

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Champs-Elysées with Arc de Triomphe

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I would love to have one of these

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An ultimate guide to best time visiting Paris' top 10 attractions, arrondissement, hotels and places to eat

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Travelletters
Travelletters

Hi! We are Lena and Steinar from Norway, a couple with full-time jobs, two teens and a passion for travel. We are not digital nomads obviously!
We love touristy stuff and are not afraid to say it out loud, we mean there is a reason that this stuff is so famous, right? Our getaways consist of long weekends mostly in Europe and include historic sites, food and wine or beer, and of course some off the beaten path corners.
Here you will find resources you need to help you make your planning easier. All recommendation for activities, hotels, and places to eat are based on our own experiences. If we recommend something we didn’t try ourselves it will be clearly marked. Happy travels and enjoy the ride!

22 Comments

  1. tanamerarumbai
    March 23, 2018 / 3:34 am

    Oh, Paris… if only I can come and visit during low season where not only prices went down, but it’s less crowded. Too bad my son is in school at those times. 🙁 Thank you for putting all the information though. It’s so helpful.

  2. March 22, 2018 / 5:25 am

    I’m taking my sister to Paris in a few weeks for her birthday. We are staying in the 4th but haven’t planned any activities yet. This post is so informative! I may sign up for the seine cruise!

    • Travelletters
      Author
      March 22, 2018 / 6:31 am

      Sounds lovely! We enjoyed the cruise as we got to see a lot, it was a bit chilly thought 🙂 Get a seat on the top and righthand side, preferably at the back 🙂

  3. March 22, 2018 / 4:17 am

    Great guide and tips to move around all best spots in Paris. I wish to visit during Spring. Loving all iconic shots of Effel Tower specially the remote view from the LaFayette shopping center. So much to explore!!

    • Travelletters
      Author
      March 22, 2018 / 6:35 am

      And you get that view for free 🙂 Paris is huge so you will definitely need a few days to explore it 🙂

  4. Carly | FearlessFemaleTravels.com
    March 22, 2018 / 3:47 am

    I don’t know how anyone can resist buying ALL the macarons!

    • Travelletters
      Author
      March 22, 2018 / 6:36 am

      I can hardly resist – I love sweets 🙂

  5. March 21, 2018 / 10:24 pm

    Finally someone explains the complicated layout in Paris! Thanks!

    • Travelletters
      Author
      March 22, 2018 / 7:57 am

      You are very welcome!

  6. Suzy
    March 21, 2018 / 10:23 pm

    Such a great guide thank you for sharing! I’ve been to Paris a couple of times but there’s definitely still things I’d like to do, I’ll definitely be using this for tips!

    • Travelletters
      Author
      March 22, 2018 / 7:58 am

      Same here, Suzy! After three times in Paris I have so much more to explore 🙂

  7. March 21, 2018 / 9:33 pm

    I love how you broke it down and talked about the different neighbourhoods. It’s helpful for people to find the right fit for where they should stay. Really makes me consider a trip to Paris. 🙂

    • Travelletters
      Author
      March 22, 2018 / 7:59 am

      Thank you! I hope you visit Paris one day 🙂

  8. March 21, 2018 / 5:50 pm

    I’ve not been to Paris for years, too long in fact! This is all really great and useful information to plan my trip…not to find time to fit one it ha!

    • Travelletters
      Author
      March 22, 2018 / 8:00 am

      That is the main problem I have – too many places to visit and too little time 🙂

  9. January 4, 2018 / 12:02 pm

    A great afternoon itinerary! There’s so much to see and do in Paris it can be so overwhelming. Definitely a city worth re-visiting 🙂 I also really want to see the Eiffel Tower by night with its lights on

    • Travelletters
      Author
      January 5, 2018 / 8:07 am

      Thank you, Ella! It’s great to have some kind of plan while visiting places like Paris 🙂

  10. January 4, 2018 / 11:28 am

    such a lovely city. and I agree – the simple the plan is the beautiful the outcome.

    • Travelletters
      Author
      January 5, 2018 / 8:06 am

      Paris is amazing and it is so easily to get overwhelmed as there is so much to see 🙂

  11. August 7, 2017 / 8:18 pm

    Sorry, we’ve *been* to Paris…

  12. August 7, 2017 / 8:17 pm

    We’ve even to Paris many times. Time to go back! My favourite city in the world. See the URL I left for some Paris ideas.

    • August 16, 2017 / 10:12 am

      I agree – I love Paris too, can go back there any time 🙂

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