There’s a reason U.S. News & World Report voted Paris, France the best place to visit in Europe: It offers the perfect blend of beauty, art, culture, and cuisine. The City of Light attracts millions of tourists every year who are eager to experience the charm and romance its famous for. You can see Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa at the Louvre firsthand, walk the Seine river and stroll across its many bridges, stay in the luxury hotels and eat at the restaurants written about by Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, feast on Coq au vin and Steak Frites, and shop the Avenue des Champs Élysées (home to Chanel, Hermés, and Dior).
Since France (one of the strictest European countries in terms of Covid restrictions during the pandemic) recently relaxed requirements (anyone who is fully vaccinated can enter the country without taking a test, while unvaccinated individuals will need proof of a negative test), now is a great time to finally take that trip to Paris.
However, don’t make rookie mistakes. We rounded up some insider tips so you can take advantage of everything the city has to offer—from tourist attractions to under-the-radar experiences only locals and regulars know. And next, don’t miss the 10 Best Places to Travel Internationally This Spring.
Even if you aren’t fluent in French, Meghan Donovan, founder of Paris, Perfected, recommends learning some simple words. “While many Parisians speak English (and rather well), they prefer to be greeted in French and a little effort with some key phrases goes a long way,” she says. “I also recommend you download the Google Translate app. Download the French to English translations and pull the app up whenever you need a particular phrase or word.”
Melissa Lauret, a flight attendant at French Bee, points out that Paris has a lot to offer every season, depending on the experience you are seeking.
During spring, you will experience all the blooming flowers and vibrant greenery. She suggests checking out the Dock of La Seine “in order to take a little Parisian aperitif with friends and enjoy the soft air of Paris.”
In autumn, Lauret suggests taking a walk and sitting on park benches and visiting the squares of Paris, “because the trees dress with their most beautiful orange, red and yellow leaves, the air is calm, and the atmosphere is relaxing.”
“We love winter and holiday season to stroll in front of the mall Galeries Lafayette in the Ninth District of Paris. Every year, a spectacular and giant Christmas tree is set up in the center of the mall, and it’s beautifully colored and full of magic,” Lauret says.
Keep in mind that summer is the busiest season in Paris, which can translate to lots of crowds, especially in more touristy spots. Next Vacay recently compiled data of TikTok’s Top 10 Most-Watched attractions in 2022, deeming the Eiffel Tower the third most popular attraction to visit in 2022 with a staggering 719.6 million TikTok views. They suggest booking a trip to the iconic Parisian landmark in the fall to avoid long lines. An added bonus? The mild fall weather provides a cozy experience (think: cashmere sweaters and hot chocolate).
Briony Raymond of luxury jewelry company Briony Raymond New York, spends a lot of time in the City of Light. She suggests splurging on a stay at one of two iconic Paris hotels, if possible. “Paris is one of my favorite cities in the world! I was lucky enough to live there for five years and now go back to visit any chance I get,” she says.
“My two favorite hotels are The Ritz when I’m with the kids, as they have a fabulous swimming pool (and it’s near all the great shopping on Faubourg Saint-Honoré), and the Four Seasons Hotel George V when I’m sans family.”
As for food and entertainment, Raymond also suggests a few iconic Paris spots. “I love to do dinner at Hotel Costes and lunch at L’Avenue. Musée d’Orsay is the dreamiest museum, packed with all my favorite impressionist paintings.”
READ THIS NEXT: The 10 Best American Cities Every Traveler Should See.
Want to explore the city and make it an adventure? Miguel Teixeira, cabin crew director of French Bee airline, France’s first smart-cost, long-haul carrier, suggests allowing yourself to get lost in Paris. “I recommend walking the streets of Paris without following a map,” he says. “This will help with the jet lag and getting lost is actually a good idea for sightseeing.”
Gavin Miller, executive vice president of Travel Edge, stresses the importance of planning ahead if you want to experience all the city has to offer. “It’s impossible to embrace all that the City of Light offers in a single trip, but a thoughtful itinerary designed by professional travel advisors gives travelers a dazzling taste of Paris that travelers will never forget,” he says.
A few of his professional suggestions? Venture 65 feet below the city to discover the invisible history of Paris in the catacombs. If you love fashion, hit some of the best shopping districts in the world, like The Golden Triangle, Montmartre, or Marais, or, witness fashion Saturdays at Le Bristol.
“For the ‘CognoScenti,’ or person who loves perfume as defined by World of PAIRFUM, travelers can create their own distinct scents at the Musée du Parfum Fragonard,” Miller says.
You can also check out a little ballet at the Palais Garnier, learn pastry making from the best during a private pastry class at the world-famous Le Cordon Bleu Academy, or take a leisurely stroll through the stunning Tuileries Garden.
“For dining, restaurants such as three-Michelin star Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen or Le Pre Catelan are not to be missed,” Miller says. However, make sure to book dinners at these swanky and popular eateries ahead of time. Finally, “make it a true Parisian evening with cocktails at L’Arc Paris, Guy Savoy, or Clown Bar, and an evening of jazz at Le Duc des Lombards.”
Chloé Abidos, a French Bee flight attendant, suggests finding some of the best foodie spots on social media. “If you have Instagram, go and search for #ParisFoodie, you’ll find tons of good spots to go.”
“I usually do that whenever I am going to a new city,” she adds. “I just have to change the name of the town and I sometimes find really famous restaurants and hidden gems, and I’m never disappointed.”
READ THIS NEXT: The Best Tourist Attraction In Every State.
Not every great city view costs money, says personal travel planner and blogger Suzanne Wolko, of PhilaTravelGirl. “For Paris, one of my favorite spots is the (free) rooftop at Galleries Lafayette with views of the Paris Opera across the road and views of the Eiffel Tower in the distance.”
“Plus, the cafeteria is full of wonderful foods and snacks,” she says. “Fill up on food and views and then do the guided tour of the Opera House to see the Chagall ceiling.”
Wolko also encourages making time to explore the city on your own. “The best experiences in Paris are usually the ones with no expectations and good walking shoes!” she says.
“I usually suggest booking two experiences a day and then leaving free time to wander the city and find something that interests you: food, architecture, people, the Seine, etc. I usually end up buying chocolate truffles and macarons along my impromptu tasting tour of the patisseries to find the best ones to bring home.”
For more insider travel tips, check out The 10 Best European Cities Every Traveler Needs to See.