An Insider’s Guide to Paris Posted March 21, 2023
Paris – it’s the crown jewel of France, the city of Light, and one of the world’s greatest places to visit. There is truly something for everyone, with incredible cuisine, fascinating history, world-class museums, shopping galore, and beautiful architecture. In fact, Paris can oftentimes feel overwhelming, as even seasoned visitors may feel unprepared to tackle the city’s daunting list of highlights. That’s where this list comes in handy.
As travel professionals, we have been lucky enough to spend a fair amount of time in Paris, and can offer some tips to help you plan your next trip here. Of course, no trip to Paris would be complete without a visit to the Louvre, a view of the Eiffel Tower, and a flaky soft croissant. But with this list, we hope to lead you off the beaten path, so you can make your own unique Parisian memories.
Purchase a Navigo Pass, and keep it handy
Paris sprawls out over an area of 41 square miles, and is broken down into 20 arrondissements, or municipal districts. Though you can enjoy yourself immensely by walking or taking a taxi, it’s definitely worth it to secure a Navigo Pass. For less than 30 Euros, these passes grant unlimited rides on the metro, regional commuter trains, and buses for up to a week. Be sure to keep these cards or your individual ride ticket handy, as you’ll likely be met by a ticket inspector on public transportation or upon leaving a station and will need to produce your pass or ticket, or pay a fine.
See the Eiffel Tower like never before
The view of the Eiffel Tower from Printemps Department Store
Though there may be no way to measure this, it’s a safe bet that the Eiffel Tower is one of the most photographed buildings on Earth. To ensure that you don’t come home with a stereotypical image of this famed structure, head to these two locations for alternative, and beautiful, views.
The lovely Printemps
The first: Printemps Department Store. This multi-level shopping experience offers anything you could ever need, including all the major French fashion brands, home goods, French delicacies, and several restaurants. The windows on the very top floor offer beautiful city and Eiffel Tower views, and there’s even an outdoor terrace!
The view from Trocadero
Second: The Trocadero neighborhood, located across the Seine from the tower, may not be quite as much of a hidden gem, but does offer lovely views at both day and nighttime. Plus, there are a number of restaurants to enjoy in the area.
Peruse Marche Bastille – Paris’s largest and best outdoor market
Flowers at the Marche Bastille
The title and photo say it all: this is the one outdoor market you need to visit while in Paris. It stretches from the Bastille to the Richard Lenoir metro station, opens from Thursday through Sunday, and features fruit, veggies, meat, fish, shellfish, cheese, and seasonal specials; along with clothing, leather, wallets, and more.
Local shellfish are on offer…
…as are other food items, including fresh asparagus.
Discover the breathtaking Saint-Chapelle
The world-class stained-glass work of Saint-Chapelle
In a city known for its gorgeous chapels, the Saint-Chapelle may just offer the most gorgeous interior of them all. This small church sits on the same island in the Seine as the recently burned Notre Dame Cathedral, and was built by Louis IX in the mid-1200s to hold his collection of Passion relics, including the Crown of Thorns. The architecture, interior decoration, and particularly, stained glass work, are all immensely impressive.
More of the gorgeous interior
Have tea and a sweet at Laduree on the Champs-Elysees
The selection of sweets at Laduree
One of Paris’s oldest patisseries, Laduree is best known for their macaroons, but offers a wide variety of delectable sweets right along the famed Champs-Elysees.
Visit the Latin Quarter, Paris’s most charming neighborhood
The famed Shakespeare and Company bookstore
If you have a free afternoon and a desire to venture away from the more highly trafficked areas of Paris, visit the Latin Quarter. This atmospheric neighborhood is home to a number of universities (and their students), many great little shops, and innumerable cafes and restaurants. It’s also home to the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore, a delightful English-language bookseller built inside an old monastery.
Explore the Musee D’Orsay for an alternative, and some say better, museum experience
Speaking of repurposed buildings, the fascinating Musee D’Orsay is built into an old train station on the Left Bank of the Seine, and offers a superb museum going experience. Less crowded and more manageable than the Louvre, the museum offers the world’s largest collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, including priceless works by Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cezanne, and more. Compared to the hustle and bustle of the Louvre, you may find the Musee D’Orsay more enjoyable.
Paris offers so many riches that it’s impossible to go wrong, but we hope these tips help with your next trip to the City of Light.
To explore Paris with Odysseys, check out our Provincial French Countryside and Burgundy Barging small group tours.