guide to paris

guide to paris
the well-traveled wife’s guide to paris
no words can do justice to just have to experience it. 
the only word that comes to mind when i think of paris
is magic. i’ve always loved it, and always will.
my memories of paris include: coming with
my family, studying abroad and living with
a french host family, coming with a
best friend, visiting paris with my mom,
and most recently coming with my love.
it gets better every time. paris, je t’aime. 
{museums + monuments}
#1 tip: get the paris museum pass if you’ll be in paris for at least 2 days
and plan on seeing many of the museums. it is so worth it! the pass
gives you access to every single public museum & monument.
it doesn’t include the eiffel tower, but pretty much all others.
{see the complete list here} you can choose a 2, 4, or 6 day
pass, and you have unlimited access to all museums..
plus- at most of them, you get to skip the line!
**be sure to check the days/hours of all the
museums you plan to see, since some
Paris museums are closed one day of the week.
here are some of the places you can use it for…
-musée d’orsay-
my favorite museum in all of paris. it is a must-see!
it used to be an old train station, so it’s the most beautiful building
and it has some of my favorite pieces in it. make sure to see all of the
monet’s, as well as starry night & van gogh’s self-portrait among
others. the restaurant at the top is one of my lovely.
you have to take the train out to versailles from paris, it’s not too far
and it’s definitely worth seeing. go to musée d’orsay first, then after
you’ve spent time there, you can take the train directly to versailles.
plan for a few hours here to take the tour of the main palace,
see the hall of mirrors, and then walk the gardens. be sure
to see marie antoinette’s garden and house, a little walk
from the main palace. the whole place is incredible.
-the louvre-
this place is a must, & try not to get overwhelmed by how massive it is.
plan out which wings you want to see most, and obviously go see the
mona lisa. also, go check out napoleon’s old apartment! don’t try to
see every single thing, because it’s a fact that if you were to spend
10 seconds in front of each item, eight hours a day, five days a week
it would take 4 whole months to get through the louvre!
*for those less into museums or with kids, check out these
fun scavenger hunts through it to make it more interactive!
-musée de l’orangerie-
this museum is in the tuileries gardens, and displays beautiful
art right inside a gorgeous garden. what’s not to love?
-centre pompidou-
the pompidou center is the modern art museum in paris, and it definitely
stands out like a sore thumb. it is very modern among all of the classic,
chic paris buildings. the art here is not my favorite, but the view from
the top floor is worth it. you can see all of paris- the eiffel tower,
sacré coeur, everything. make sure not to miss the view.
-notre dame-
you can walk to notre dame from the pompidou. i love this place.
it is huge, and it’s on a little island right in the middle of the seine.
it is where medieval paris actually began, and you can see the
center point of the city of paris right in front of notre dame.
with your museum pass you can line up on the side and climb the
top, which is spectacular. you get up close and personal with the
gargoyles, and you see an amazing view of the seine and the city.
you also get to go down in the crypt using your museum pass,
so go down and see the original docks and city walls of paris!
notre dame is amazing, but for real stained glass aazement,
walk to sainte-chapelle {it’s very close, walk to it from notre dame}.
this building used to be a palace, and was then turned into a prison
during revolutionary times in france. famous political prisoners
would be held here before being sent to the guillotine, including
marie antoinette. the poor prisoners had tiny cells with hay,
while the wealthy prisoners were given nice rooms to stay in
before their executions. it is pretty crazy to see the room where
marie antoinette was held before she was guillotined!
the pantheon in paris has some of france’s most famous citizens
buried there. you can go down and see the tombs of the likes of
victor hugo, alexandre dumas, jean-jacques rousseau, & more.
-musée rodin-
dedicated to famous sculptor auguste rodin,
this place is pretty spectacular.
-musee des egouts-
this place may not sound too appealing, since it is the
paris sewer museum! warning- it does smell at one part, but it is
pretty memorable since you can go in the actual sewers
and feel like jean val jean in les miserables!
-arc de triomphe-
i adore the champs-elysées, and especially the arc de triomphe
which stands at the end of it. the best part of this is that you can
go up the arc de triomphe with the paris museum pass! since
the pass is unlimited, I suggest going up in the daytime
and at night to see the city in both lights.
there are lots of other museums included on the paris museum pass,
so if you get it, look through all the options and do all that you’re interested in!
a few other good ones include: the delacroix museum, air & space museum,
the french cinema museum, cluny museum, fashion museum, and more!
Other sites the museum pass is not needed for:
-luxembourg gardens-
this place is sort of like the paris version of central park.
it’s where locals and tourists come to relax and soak up some sun.
the gardens are beautiful, and the entire place is so classy.
the french senate building is here, so you can check it out too.
love the cute french children here.
this is a favorite area which must be visited. it is so picturesque, so french,
and there is nothing better than wandering the darling streets. this is the
village up on the hill in paris, easily identified by the sacré coeur. go
into the main square where artists are painting portraits in true french
style, and peruse all the paintings. i think it should be a rule to pick out
at least one painting from montmarte to take home. You can find cheap ones!
-sacré coeur-
at the top of the hill in montmarte, you can’t miss the sacré coeur.
it is so stunningly beautiful how it sits up overlooking paris,
and it has been one of my favorite spots in paris ever since
i first visited it. go at dusk and sit on the steps looking
at the city. there is usually someone playing music,
and it’s so peaceful. go inside the chapel too!
-ile de saint louis-
this little island in the middle of the seine is the cutest area.
there are only a few streets, and they are quite charming.
the people who live here feel like they live in their own little
mini city, and rarely leave it. johnny depp has a house here, and
the ile is famous for berthillon ice cream…it’s the best!
-pont alexandre III-
favorite bridge…you have to cross it! it’s gorgeous!
-the eiffel tower-
ever heard of it? :) this is the iconic site of paris, and one
of the most iconic sites in the world. it really is magical,
and the best is when it sparkles after dark…on the hour.
also, in front of the eiffel tower there is a
huge park called the champ de mars. it’s the perfect place
to relax and eat a crepe with a view of the eiffel.
look for the darling hand-cranked carousel, as well as
the marionette show. it’s hard not to be happy
when you’re next to the eiffel tower!
-canal st. martin-
this is a popular area with so many darling boutiques
and lots of people sunbathing/relaxing
by the river. it’s best in the summer, when it’s warm!
-pont des arts-
the famous lovers bridge..if you have a lover,
come to this bridge to lock your love on the side,
and throw the key into the seine below. so romantic!
**update, this is sadly no longer a thing! the bridge was
being damaged by all of the locks, so they’ve been removed.
the most famous street in Paris, known as “the most beautiful
avenue in the world.” the first time i came to paris i got a
little painting of the champs-élysées leading up to the
arc de triomphe, and every time I’d look at it and dream of
that street. naturally, I’ve always loved coming back and visiting
here. stroll along here and take in the designer stores, restaurants,
perfectly lined trees, and the flagship stores of louis vuitton & chanel.
-bon marché-
world’s first department store!!
famous french department store.
-les halles-
this is a big open air shopping area..make sure to check out
rue montorgeuil nearby, which is the cutest street
with lots of vendors and amazing french food.
like a french version of anthropologie.
-marche aux fleurs-
if you love flowers and want to see one of the reasons i love
french culture the most, go to the flower market.
it is so pretty to see all the flowers, and i love that
so many french locals buy flowers all
the time just for enjoyment.
-les puces-
this is the biggest flea market in the world, and
it’s really famous. there are some good finds here,
and there are also little “brocantes” or mini flea markets that set
up all over paris. there are even better prices here, but at any
of these you can find some true treasures.
-la droguerie-
i am in love with this ribbon shop. it’s full of
the cutest decorations and of course ribbons!
-rue faubourg st. honoré-
this narrow little street is such a good shopping spot.
keep walking until it turns into an even wider street.
it has amazing stores, and the best chocolate shops.
-vedettes de pont neuf-
{on the tip of ile de la cite.. right under pont neuf}
there are boat tours along the seine in the evening,
it is amazing to do during sunset. you can see so much of
the city, monuments, bridges, etc. doing this at night is
definitely the way to do it. if you don’t do the boat ride,
at least watch the rose sunset here and listen to le vie en rose.

-louis vuitton-
their flagship store on the champs-élysées is worth seeing.
you can also go to the flagship chanel store around the corner.
cute perfume/ candy store right in st. germain.

the cutest shop also in st. germain, full of dishes
and darling things. go go go!
-the 7th arrondissement-
my favorite neighborhood. the 7th has: the eiffel tower,
lots of monuments, incredible architecture, embassies,
great shopping, the american univeristy, etc. this is the best
place to just walk around and take paris in.
go to rue cler for authentic french food and
have sweets at cafe l’eclair while people watching.

{restaurants + markets}

this is a must in paris. there are a few locations, so find one and go.
the macaroons are the best ever {try salted caramel}
and the store + packaging are to die for.
another well-known macaron place is pierre hermé.

-le relais de venise-
there is one menu item here: the classic french steak + frites!
you’ll love it! a must.

-rue montorgueil-
come here when hungry! this is a little pedestrian street full
of amazing french food. cheese shops, delis, bakeries…you name it,
you’ll find great french food here. this whole area is fun.
go to the historic stohler bakery, get their famous puit d’amour!
-rue cler-
rue cler is the more famous version of rue montorgueil.
it’s in a lot of guide books, so it can be crowded…
but it’s cute and also has great food!
-café la flore–
always crowded because it’s so famous.
ernest hemingway came here all the time,
and today it’s still the place to be.
stop by if you’re willing to wait!
-motte-piquet market-.
there are great food markets all throughout paris,
but this one {near the eiffel tower} is my favorite.
it’s very local, and you can see how french people
do their grocery shopping…they go every day and get the
freshest ingredients for their meal that night!
this place has cheeses, meats, fish, breads,
croissants, flowers, and trinkets. i think it goes saturdays,
sundays, and wednesdays so make sure to go then.

-le relais de l’entrecôte-

this restaurant serves france’s famous steak +’s
amazing and really accommodating. there are a few
locations, we like the one on rue marbeuf.
-café kléber-
this is right at the trocadéro metro stop, across from the eiffel tower.
go here for the best french onion soup in the world..then walk down
the steps to the eiffel tower, get a crepe, and be satisfied.
-le petit prince de paris-
great café, worth going to since it is very classic french.

-le café de flore-

famous french café in st. germain…get the hot chocolate!

-refuge de fondues-
i highly highly recommend coming here.
it is a meal you won’t ever forget!
you can get some amazing cheese and
meat fondue right in montmarte. it is a little
bit funky, with writing all over the walls from former
diners and packed tables, but the owner is hilarious and
the food is to die for. it’s at 17 rue des trois-freres
right off montmarte on a little might have
to ask someone to point you there. you also
will probably need a reservation:
during some times of the year it
doesn’t open until 7pm, so check on that.
-pain et chocolate-
YUMMY bakery. get a chocolate croissant.

-ble sucre-

favorite croissants in town. also get an eclair!
famous, fancy café right down from the louvre,
with well known hot chocolate. it’s pricey and
crowded, but special. try the mont blanc cake.


go for brunch, omelettes.
-le bistrot paul bert-
AMAZING steak frites!
-les chardenoux des pres-
best croque monsieur in paris
-la droguerie-
best crepes.

-du pain et des idées-

probably the very best chocolate croissant. mmm.

-mamie gâteau-
darling little place with the yummiest desserts.
other eating tips:
  • don’t limit yourself to just sweet crepes! get plenty of those, but also try savory crepes: filled with cheese, salt, pepper, mushrooms, etc. mmm!
  • a nutella banana crepe by the eiffel tower is a MUST. every night.
  • try the crepe stand right across from st. germain station
  • get a croque-monsieur sandwich across from notre dame {at the red café on the side not facing the river} ever! les chardenoux des pres is a great spot for them too.
  • mcdonald’s is way fancier will find croissants, nice cheese, nice tables, even macarons! poke your head in one, it’s funny to see.
{transportation + hotels}

vélib bike rentals–
this bike sharing system is amazing, and a hidden gem in paris..
if you’re there for more than a few days, it’s worth getting a pass.
there’s nothing like biking along the seine–pure magic!
there are stations every few blocks throughout the city, so you
can drop off & pick off whenever you want. you can also get the
navigo pass if you’re mainly biking, which lets you just
swipe and grab a bike. either way, buy your vélib pass
off the internet {8 euros per week} and just go to a
vélib’ bike station to activate your membership + card.
be careful, because some of the kiosks are tricky and don’t take
american credit cards…so it’s best to plan ahead and
buy online. once it’s set up, this is amazing! we’ve also
had fun on some fat tire bike tours in paris. see both here!
the batobus river boat will honestly take you to all of the
main spots you want to hit in paris {except montmarte and versailles}
because it takes you all along the river and drops you perfectly
at major sites. plus, you get to be in the sunshine on a boat on the seine
while traveling from place to place! what could be better?
hop on and hop off all day, and you’ll definitely get your
money’s worth…especially when you get on the river at night
and pass the lit-up eiffel tower while cruising
on the seine…pure magic right there.
the metro system in paris is massive and can get you anywhere,
but it can also be make sure to ask and always have a map.
also, watch for pickpockets!
**some stations do not accept american credit cards FYI*
don’t be scared off by the parisian bus system! if you plan ahead, you can
take the bus like a local which is both cheap, and allows you to see more of paris
than from the metro! the famous bus route 69 is our favorite to take at twilight.
also try out bus 84 for a “crosstown” bus route that will take you by parc monceau,
church of the madeleine, place de la concorde, musee d’orsay, luxembourg gardens
and the pantheon just to name a few. perfect for tired walking legs a few days in!
for airport transfers at the start and end of your visit : if you don’t want to deal with
bags on the metro, we have loved our experience with supershuttle paris. they
will pick you up at your hotel, have reasonable prices, and have always been on
time for us! we also always meet other travelers in them and love that :) this
is a nice service because you can book it ahead and have it come to you!


there are endless great hotels in paris, i could go on and on.
one favorite is renting an apartment from a local (we recommend
airbnbs in the 7th arr. or the marais), but if you’re looking for

a reasonable hotel i really love a few parisian charmers:
les rives de notre dame.
as the name suggests, this hotel is situated right on the banks
of the seine within view of the notre dame cathedral. this is great
for a local feeling stay which is still close to many attractions. you
get access to the local st. germain des pres neighborhood + latin
quarter, yet you can cross the bridge to the louvre, notre dame, and
more. we absolutely adored our stay (and the breakfast) here!!
Furthermore, if you’re going all out on your trip to France or are
in the country for a special occasion, this exclusive Chateau Near Paris
may take your fancy. It looks spectacular!
be aware: it is very french, which means charm but also small, older rooms.
it is one that i love and just a 10 minute walk along the seine to the eiffel!
12, rue Boulainvilliers 75016 Paris France
Subway: Ranelagh
Tel: +33 1 45 24 45 75 – Fax: +33 1 42 30 83 32
Email: [email protected]
…and lastly, a few things you need to absolutely do in paris…
  • buy a fresh warm baguette and some quality french cheese. combine, eat. make sure to have nutella on hand for the last half of the baguette!
  • dress your best. something i love about paris is that people dress well every day, no matter if they are working, running errands, or on a stroll. french women put on lipstick just to go around the corner to pick up milk at the store. when you’re visiting paris, act the part and dress up!
  • go to a sidewalk cafe, order a croque-monsieur, and enjoy a good long meal while people watching.
  • take in the way that the sun reflects off the white and gold buildings in the most beautiful way ever. this is why it’s called the “city of light.”
  • get a croissant from a bakery first thing in the morning…it’s truly life changing.
  • go to a flower market and see the local people buying fresh flowers for their dinner table…and buy some yourself!
  • see the eiffel tower sparkle {after dark, on the hour for 5 minutes} … or even have fireworks shoot from it on bastille day in july!
please add your paris favorites!
memories, suggestions, etc.

see all of our paris posts HERE :)
and my walking tour through montmartre here!