Last Updated on 3 December, 2020 by Veronica
In today’s post, I want to talk about how to plan your trip to Paris. This city is huge, and you need a well-planned itinerary to get an idea of everything there is to visit. This way, you can prioritize your visits, and you will see everything that you want.
We’ve already been there more than 5 times, so I’d say we’ve learned something about this city.
Planning a trip to Paris
Paris is a very big city that is quite expensive and I recommend that you plan your trip to Paris before leaving home.
It doesn’t matter if you go for 2, 3 or 4 days, with children, as a couple, or alone. Good planning will make your trip unforgettable. That said, you have to leave room for improvisation!
- Read: How to plan any trip, step-by-step, super easy, click the link.
How many days is recommended to spend visiting Paris?
If this is your first time in Paris, my recommendation is that you go for at least 3 days. Travelling a weekend is the minimum, and a 4 or 5-day trip would be ideal. Although in this city there are always new places to discover and new activities to do. So the more days the better!
- Check out: Best Travel Insurance for your trips
When is the best time to travel
To start planning your trip the first thing you have to decide are the dates of the trip. You have to know the number of days you want to travel and when.
Paris has pretty bad weather. It rains quite a lot in spring, autumn and winter and is very hot in the summer. We have visited during all four seasons and despite the weather, Paris always deserves a visit.
The best time to travel to Paris
- Spring: Without a doubt, for me, the best time to travel to Paris is in spring (from April to June). It is when the city is prettier, the gardens are full of flowers and the temperature is much more pleasant. The bad news is that it can rain at any time.
- Autumn: is the second best date to travel. Because it’s the weather is still nice. The number of tourists is smaller than in the summer, although there are still many. It can also rain at any time.
- Summer: In summer it’s going to be weird for you to meet a Parisian. The city is overtaken by tourists. If it wasn’t for the hot weather (it’s too hot for my taste), it’s a good time to go. It hardly rains. However, buy the Paris Pass or Museum Pass to avoid the queues.
- Winter: If you plan to travel during the winter, take advantage and take your trip at Christmas time or New Year’s Eve. It’s very cold but it’s all super nice with the Christmas lights, the markets, the skating rink… Furthermore, January and February are the cheapest months to travel.
Have you traveled to Paris? What is your preferred time and why?
- Read: What to see in Paris on a rainy day (beyond museums)
How much money do you need to go to Paris?
Paris is not a cheap city, but if you go on a tight budget I can tell you how you can save some money.
Budget to travel to Paris
Accommodation: This is the biggest item in your Paris budget. Although there are several ways to reduce it to almost zero. In this post, you have all the accommodation alternatives. But with Home Exchange, your spending is practically zero.
We tried it on a trip to Paris and we did very well. I think the apartment only cost us 20 euros, which paid for the insurance. Not bad, is it?
If you prefer to sleep in a hotel, look for one with a kitchen, so you can save on breakfast and dinner.
If you go for a few days, try not to be far from the center, so you don’t waste the day on the subway and especially if there are strikes. (The French love their strikes and protests)
Flight to Paris: depending on where you travel this can be a very important expense or about 60 euros on average if you are travelling from European cities.
- Check out: how to find cheap flights
Eat in restaurants: this is another thing where you can save money or spend a lot. You have restaurants for all tastes and budgets. But if you want to save money on eating in Paris, my recommendation is that you look for restaurants with “Formule” (menu of the day).
In the Latin Quarter they are usually very well and very complete. In addition, they have many varieties of meals and prices.
Note that menus are usually served without the drink. This is what makes the bill more expensive, as alcoholic beverages in France are very expensive. But the good thing is, you can order a bottle of tap water and they don’t look at you badly, because it’s the most normal thing in the world.
You can find menus starting at 10€ per person and eat a typical French dish.
Museum tickets/excursions: This is where you’ll have to make a list of the excursions you want to do and the places you want to visit in Paris and make numbers.
Check out the Museum Pass and the Paris Pass (the latter includes unlimited public transport). Depending on the places you want to visit, these cards will save you money and time. Choose one of the two and enjoy your trip to the city of light.
Others: Public transport, airport transfers, taxis, car parks, souvenirs. These are expenses that you have to consider when arranging the trip to Paris and see what budget you need.
How to get around in Paris
The best way to get around the city is on foot and by metro (subway) for long distances. If you are one of those who like to move by car, there is the option to pay for a car park for the days you are in Paris. We have used this option and it is very good. Please note that on Sundays it is free to park on the street in Paris.
- Book parking in Paris (saves you time and money)
Itinerary for Spending 2, 3, 4 and 5 days in Paris
In Paris there are many things to see and do, so it is best to go with an itinerary. Be clear about the places you want to visit without a doubt, and which you can leave in case you do not have time or discover one that you like more.
Depending on the time you travel, you have to consider the time when the sun sets. In the winter it sets a little before 5pm and you run out of light very soon.
So, now that you know when you want to travel and have the hotel booked, let’s see how to organize the days. You do this to get an idea of what to see and so that you don’t miss anything, although there are usually variations between what you schedule from home to what you actually do on the trip.
Day 1. Eiffel Tower, Mars Field and the Invalides
Our recommendation when you first arrive in Paris is to check in at your hotel so that you aren’t carrying all of your luggage around with you.
Buy tickets online to climb the Eiffel Tower and skip the lines. The best time to go is during the sunset, so you can see the city day and night. If you do not buy tickets online with the possibility of avoiding the queue, you have to go at least 1 or 2 hours in advance to buy the ticket there and be able to climb.
After the Eiffel Tower, take a walk through the Campo de Mars and Les Invalides, it is all very close.
The Champs de Mars is a park that is between the Eiffel Tower and the Military School. When the military school was built, it was the place where the maneuvers were done, and hence its name, for Mars is the God of War. Over time and with the construction of the Eiffel Tower, this park has witnessed the vast majority of events in Paris.
Today it is a pleasure to walk through this park and enjoy the tranquility in the center of Paris.
Day 2. Louvre Museum and Ile de la Cité
The second day may be a little more complete, but choose what you like best and you’re done. Visit the Louvre in the morning, I imagine until noon. As you know the Louvre is one of the most important and most visited museums in the world. It’s huge so it takes at least four or five hours to make a quick visit!!! without entertaining.
Visit the Ile de la Cité. The Ile de la Cité means “the island of the city” and is a natural island located on the River Seine. It is the original place where the city was founded more than 2000 years ago as it was a place of easy defense, since access could only be done through the river.
Some 700 years after its founding, in 506, it became the capital of the kingdom. Over time it evolved, gaining importance and growing into what it is today.
On the Ile de la Cité are the oldest buildings in the city such as Notre Dame, the Conciergerie and Sainte Chapelle. Our recommendation is that you enter all of them, but after the cathedral fire, you will only be able to enter the last two.
Notre Dame began construction in 1163, we already know it, but we want to come back. It is one of the oldest Gothic cathedrals in the world. Its name means “Our Lady” and in it have been crowned kings and emperors and of course, Napoleon Bonaparte, it was beatified by Joan of Arc and is also the scene of the acrobatics and adventures of the hunchback of Notre Dame.
As it is relatively close, we will also visit the Pantheon, the Grand Mosque and dine in the Latin Quarter. How do you see, have we gone too far?
Day 3. Versailles. Champs-Elysees
On the third day, visit the Palace of Versailles in the morning. Versailles is another monument that at the very least takes you between 4 and 5 hours. Versailles is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the world’s best-known palaces, especially for its gardens. Let’s hope it’ll be a good day for you!
At least you’ll spend all morning at the Palace of Versailles. In the afternoon take the opportunity to visit the Opera Garnier, Tuileries Garden, Place de la Concorde, the Arc of Triumph and dinner in Montmartre.
Day 4. Trocadero, Montparnasse and the Catacombs
On the fourth day, walk through Trocadero, visit Montparnasse tower and the catacombs, the Luxembourg Gardens and in the afternoon visit the Galeries Lafayette and you can return to Montmartre, the Latin Quarter, or St Germain for dinner.
You can also visit the Promenade Plantée, which is an elevated park, like the New York Highline. What’s more, they say they were inspired by this Parisian park to make the one in the Big Apple.
Day 5. What was left pending?
The fifth day is the day to do what’s left, missing, or to discover. What did you discover during your trip? It’s the best day to improvise!
Buy the Museum Pass or the Paris Pass?
To find out if it’s worth buying the Museum Pass (42€) or the Paris Pass (122€), it’s as simple as taking paper and pen (or opening an Excel sheet) and writing down the sites you want to visit without a doubt and figuring out their costs.
For example, our must-visits include the Eiffel Tower (not included in the museum pass or the Paris pass), the Louvre Museum, the Palace of Versailles, Notre Dame and The Arc de Triomphe. Then we do the calculations of the tickets for these attractions separately from the passes and compare the final cost with the combined ticket costs.
In this case, it compensates to buy the museum pass and get access to other places that are also interesting and save time in the lines. With this card, you have a preferential entrance.
The Paris Pass includes a 1-hour wine tasting, a Seine cruise, public city transport, tourist bus, and plenty of museums and other tourist attractions. So it’s best to see what your must-have-places are and make a few sums and you’re done!
Typical things to do in Paris
- Try real French macarons.
- Visit the most viewpoints in the city.
- Visit the cemetery of Pére-Lachaise.
- Eat a typical French dish, like a raclette o crepes.
Prepare your trip to Paris
- Where to eat in Paris
- Essential excursions in Paris
- What to see in Paris in 5 days
- What to see in Paris when it rains
- Visit Pere Lachaise Cemetery
- Best Travel Insurance for your trips
Greetings travelers 🙂
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Best companies for activities
Check out Civitatis.com and find the best tours in English (French, Spanish and Italian)
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Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too! (Is in Spanish yet)
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