Paris

PARIS

Guysssss….. I’m going to Paris next month.

If you’ve been following here for a while, you know that it’s been a major dream of mine, but I just haven’t been able to make it work. Even though I’ve had my eyes set on Paris, it’s also made me extremely nervous. Whenever I’ve traveled to new countries, I’ve always been with someone else who knew it better, or who was better at “leading the way.” I went on an eighth-grade field trip to Italy, and our teachers planned the whole thing. I’ve been to London a couple of times, and they’ve all been with groups of people. I think I’ve just been waiting for an opportunity to pop up so I could go under someone else’s wing and not have to worry about the details as you do when you travel alone. But I decided that I shouldn’t sit around waiting (and dreaming) anymore.

I put Paris on my “wanderlust” list for the year and frankly assumed I’d never be brave enough actually to go. But, I’ve decided that while I know I’ll never be a great traveler let alone a non-anxious traveler, I can learn how to lean into my fear more and just deal with it. (Easier said than done, but I’ll keep you posted, haha. I’ve already started daily positive thinking in preparation.)

I borrowed this photo from my French twin, Daphne! I’m so excited to meet up with her again in Paris… and I’ve already been poring over her recommendations! Check out her blog, and you’ll be booking a trip to Paris too!!

I’d LOVE to hear your recommendations if you’ve been! I have a hotel booked, but otherwise, I’m completely flexible on schedule and itinerary! I want to hear it all. Cafes, photo ops, best museums. Apps I need to download, books I need to read, websites I should check out. Everything!!! You guys always have the best recommendations for traveling.

I’m already counting down the days…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

109 Comments

Grace Noden

Musée de l’Orangerie as well as Versailles (+ Marie-Antoinette’s Hamlet there) for places to visit! Going to the top of the Eiffel Tower is overrated in my opinion.

Reply
Taylor Cunningham

I have never been to Paris but am headed to NYC for the first time alone next week for a long weekend of exploring, super nervous as well! I’ve been looking at all of your NYC posts for recommendations of where to go.

Reply
Aurelia Dalek

Be prepared for the language to be hard, and for people to be annoyed that you’re american (even more true for people who visit in prime vacation months, like august). I didn’t anticipate this “snubbing” to actually happen to me since I’m a nice person and make a real effort to be polite, but it is real. Sorry to be a downer 🙁

Reply
Kelly

I have to second this commenter. My sister and I took a trip to Paris last summer and while we loved it and Paris is probably the most magical place I’ve ever seen, the American snubbing was extremely real. We were trying to be as polite as possible and tried our best with the language but it was tough — when we spoke we were met with blank stares. We tried our hardest to assimilate but the people we encountered (restaurant servers, some of the museum attendants) were not very helpful to us English speakers, despite knowing English themselves. Be prepared for that.

Reply
Lauren

So sorry to hear that, Aurelia and Kelly! Just to contrast with my experience, I had a fantastic time in Paris two years ago and did not get that feeling from any of my interactions. I would start every conversation in French with a simple Bonjour, and then ask in French if the person spoke English (which everyone did!), and they would happily switch. I can’t recall a single bad interaction I had, and I never got the sense that I was being snubbed. I want to emphasize that of course I’m not saying that to delegitimize your comments, ladies, just throwing another experience into the mix!

Reply
Jessica

I also did not experience this sort of rudeness AT ALL, and never have when I am in Paris. Please don’t go into this trip expecting the French to be rude to you. (And if they are, don’t take it personally — think of it as Amusing French Behavior.) In my experience, the French are totally charming and perfectly friendly. You will have a LOVELY time. Paris is wonderful.

Reply
Roseann

I had the same exact experience!! Ask if they speak English in French first so they know what language you need. So many English speakers just start speaking in English which annoys the French and others. I asked a waitress if she spoke English in French and she did not but she came back with someone who did who helped me with the menu.

Reply
Molls

Aurelia, I’m so sorry that was your experience! I have to say though, I was there last month, and I made an effort to learn only the veeeery basic phrases (how much, coffee please, I don’t speak french, I’m sorry, bathroom). I was self conscious about being an American and not knowing French (esp. given our tendency to have a “You’re in America, speak English” attitude, which I abhor) and I did apologize to every single person who helped me for my lack of French, but I think about 80% of shop keepers, waitresses, etc. were just extremely kind and understanding, which is about as good or better than you get speaking English in Boston. There was a slight, very cool, aloofness in general but I didn’t find people to be rude or snobby in the least.

Reply
Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

“But I decided that I shouldn’t sit around waiting (and dreaming) anymore.” Yesss! Dreams are great, but waking up and making them realities is even better! Ah I’m so excited for you! I’ve been wanting to visit Paris for forever, but I’m not in any rush 🙂 Until then, I’ll be living vicariously through your travels! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

Reply
Janina

Wonderful, wonderful Paris!!! 💞
When you want to visit a great museum, I can recommend “Musée d’Orsay” with major impressionist works. It is amazing and not as big as the Louvre! Xo

Reply
Martina

Well the “Musee d’Orsay” is an absolute must and if you visit Notre Dame, also go behind the Church where there is a little Park with benches and – at least in the summer – some beautiful colorful flowers (great for pictures). And as you are a first timer I’d also say a Boat ride along the Seine is obligate. Last little tip – if you are a Hemingway fan or simply a bookworm visit the little Bookshop “Shakespeare and Company”, it has books all over and till the ceiling!
I hope that was helpful 🙂 definitely looking forward to your Postings from Paris!
Greetings from Austria, Martina

Reply
Johanna

Unfortunately I don’t have that much information regarding places to eat but a museum that I’d definitely recommend you to visit would be the musée d’Orsay! From what is shown it is not much different to the other art museum with ‘older’ art in Paris but the atmosphere is just so special because it is based in an old train station! Apart from that I would suggest to go to Montmartre it is an artist district that just feels like a small village in Southern France based in the huge city. And from Sacre-Couer (an old church at the top of this quartier) you have an amazing view over the city. Unfortunately this can get really crowded at times with Asian tourist! If you have enough time and it is your first time visiting France, I’d also take a trip to the countryside! Because the French countryside with its beautiful small little villages is just a whole other thing than Paris itself. But the main thing is to enjoy your trip, enjoy the good food and also go the the less touristier things!

Reply
A Girl, A Style

I’m SO excited for you, and hope I can make it work to come and visit you whilst you’re there! In the meantime, here are a few of my Parisian favourites:

To See:
Eiffel Tower (you have to go at least once). Take the stairs to the top vs the lift (half the price and less crowds, plus you’ll burn off some of those French carbs). Or pack a picnic from a supermarket and have it on the grass beneath the Eiffel Tower at sunset (and then watch it light up at night).
Museums: Musee D’Orsay (I actually prefer it to the Louvre, and it’s more manageable to do the whole thing if you don’t have loads of time to spare) or the Musee de l’Orangerie in the Tuileries (small so you can do it quickly, but worth it for the room of Monet’s water lilies alone)
Parks: Jardin du Luxembourg, Jardin des Tuileries, and the Jardin du Palais Royal (my favourite).

Explore the hip Le Marais neighbourhood (for great little cafes and boutiques) or the bohemian Montmartre.

Eat: Paris is all about the dessert for me, so you have to have dessert at Pierre Herme or Laduree at least once. But also Brasserie Lipp, Cafe de Flore, Cafe Bonaparte or Les Deux Magots (all on the same block on the Left Bank) for a classic French bistro experience, and Berthillion ice cream on Ile St Louis (the apricot sorbet is SOO good!).

Let me know if you want any more tips; I have a million but don’t want to overwhelm you!

Briony xoxo

Reply
Sarah

These are such great recommendations Briony! I second all of these! So true about Musée d’Orsay ; I prefer it to the Louvre as well!
Visiting some Jardins is a necessity while eating a mille feuille!
Follow these recommendations to the T Carly and you’ll have a trip of a lifetime!

Reply
Molls

I totally agree on the Louvre! I thought I would just go and only see one or two things of interest so the size wouldn’t matter, but each wing was so ginormous even doing that was hard. Go on Friday when it’s open late so you can go, take a break to shop and eat, and go again.

Reply
Ali

“Berthillion ice cream on Ile St Louis (the apricot sorbet is SOO good!)”
^^^ This ice cream place is AMAZING. Thank you for naming it! I went in 2012 and it was absolutely the most delicious ice cream I’ve ever had, the line wasn’t bad and the people were super nice!

They have a ridiculous number of flavors but you can’t go wrong with any of them. Definitely recommend this for a dessert spot (especially lunch).

Reply
Jordana @WhiteCabana

Oh, you can never go wrong with Paris! You’re going to have a great time. And meeting up with Daphne is going to put your worries aside, surely!
I adore the city! Some of my recommendations:
– Place des Vosges (for architecture)
– Merci (store)
– Hediard (for tea)
– Le Bon Marche (for everything, dept. store)
– St. Germain (for wandering, cafes, everything!)
– Chercheminippes (for high-end, but affordable, vintage)
– Marche aux Puces (for an amazing vintage market experience)
– Musee Rodin (easy, accessible, museum)
– and all the regular touristy things, too, since it’s your first trip to Paris!!!
Jordana

Reply
Angela

I’m so excited that you’re going to Paris! I’ve been following your blog for a long time and I’m happy to see that you are finally going! You must see the Eiffel Tower at midnight and go to the top! The views are incredible and so worth it!

Reply
Katherine

This is so exciting! I think you will really love traveling alone–it can be nerve-wracking at times, but it’s a lot of fun, overall! Plus, there are so many things to do in Paris, you’ll be busy the moment you land!

I think you should visit the Louvre just for the historical significance, but oh man is that museum overwhelming. Like a lot of people have already said, Musée d’Orsay or Musée de l’Orangerie are actually much more gratifying and contain some beautiful paintings. I loved seeing Monet’s waterlilies. Get tickets beforehand if you hate lines (like me!).

When we went, we scheduled “museum days” and “religion days,” etc, so that we could have at least a few days to just walk around, go shopping, eat delicious foods (I honestly ate croque-monsieur everywhere) and enjoy the city without feeling like we were rushing to our next destination. One of my favorite walks was in Montmartre to Sacré-Cœur. I LOVED Sacré-Cœur even more than Notre Dame, and we went to the top of this church instead of Notre Dame because there was practically no line and the view was spectacular. Another great view is from the Galleries Lafayette, which is near the Opera House, which I think is a must-see, especially if you love Phantom of the Opera!

We took a day trip to Épernay and toured Moet & Chandon, then hung around the town for a few hours. This was actually one of my favorite parts of the trip and I’d recommend taking a day trip if you will be there for several days. We loved touring the champagne house and seeing a different part of France–plus, it was just a slower pace than our Paris days had been, which was nice.

Lastly, one of the best tips a friend of mine gave me before I went was about the Paris version of Target, Monoprix. You may have already heard of it but it was definitely good to know while we were there! But there are corner stores and pharmacies everywhere, so the city is pretty convenient.

Can’t wait to see what other recommendations you get! You will love Paris!
https://wordifications.wordpress.com/2014/09/12/paris-favorites/

Reply
Lauren

How exciting! Traveling alone can be a really rewarding experience. My top recommendations are below.

Museums/Cathedrals:
-The Louvre (a must-see if you’ve never been to Paris; be sure to allow at least a full afternoon to explore, as it’s massive)
-Musee d’Orsay
-Musee l’Orangerie
-Musee Marmotton Monet
-Saint-Chapelle
-Notre Dame

Shopping:
-Galeries Lafayette (be sure to go to Angelina for the best hot chocolate of your life)
-Printemps
-Louis Vuitton flagship store on the Champs Elysees

General Sightseeing:
-Palais Garnier (do the guided tour in English; it’s worth it)
-Ballon de Paris – hot air balloon ride over the city
-Montmartre (amazing views of Paris up by the Sacre Coeur)
-Parc des Buttes Chaumont
-Promenade Plantee (essentially Paris’s version of the High Line)

A few things outside of the city, if you get the chance:
-Versailles
-Chartres
-Monet’s gardens at Giverny

Reply
Lauren

P.S. If you go to Versailles, be sure to visit Marie Antoinette’s gardens, not just the main palace. It’s a lot less crowded, and it’s just beautiful in the spring and summer.

Reply
Shannon

I’m so jealous!! I went to Paris when I was 11 years old and have wanted to go back ever since! I can’t wait to see your pictures and posts from the trip!

Reply
Briana

So excited you’re going to Paris! I went by myself right after graduation and didn’t have any big issues, so I’m sure you’ll have a lovely time! When I first got there, it was a little nerve-wracking (even if you speak a little French, it seems to all disappear when you need it) but you just have to focus on the fact that you’re living the dream, visiting somewhere you’ve always wanted to go and know that it’s a relatively safe city compared to so many other places in the world.

As for recommendations: it’s pretty touristy, but Laduree on the Champs-Elysees is beautiful and the surrounding area has gorgeous stores that make for good photo ops. For a less touristy experience, I really liked popping into a random grocery store and picking up a sandwich and some fruit for a picnic.

Try not to be anxious! It’s a beautiful city and I think you’ll really enjoy exploring it solo.

Briana | youngsophisticate.com

Reply
Nadine

Great that you are going to Paris, it will be wonderful in spring! French people have a reputation for being arrogant, but to my surprise, the last time I visited, everyone was so friendly. I think this also depends on whether you travel alone or in a group. Also, don’t worry about traveling on your own. Once you start doing it, you will love it! I honestly prefer going on city trips on my own now, as I love culture, shopping, walking around and can just do whatever I like. Also, museums and shopping are way easier without a group anyway 😉 Just think of the whole thing as “me-time” and time to spend with your thoughts and to get inspired. To avoid feeling too awkward/”lonely”, I usually eat lunch at a restaurant and dinner back at the hotel/in my room. That way you also don’t have to take the subway etc. alone at 10 pm or so. Have fun!

Reply
Gabriella

Go to a grocery store, get some bread, cheese, wine, book to read etc. and go relax at the base of the Eiffel Tower at sunset. There is a “park” at the bottom (more like a lot of empty grass) and you can bring a blanket to lay on. Sunset over the tower is absolutely incredible – great photo ops – and then you can watch the tower light up after the sun goes down. It is breathtaking!

Reply
Kristen

Downloading CityMaps2Go will make your life so much easier! You download the city map and so you can your destinations offline. It’s the easiest way to navigate a new city without using data or needing wifi. Also, having a picnic on the Seine at sunset is a must.

Reply
Caroline

I’ve been to Paris many times and my 2 most important tips are:

1. Visit Saint-Chappelle!! It is truly one of the most incredible things I’ve ever laid eyes on. It’s busy but not like the more well known places, and it’s 100% worth any wait. A must see for sure!!

2. Take a bike tour, preferably at night! I’d been to Paris a few times before I ever did this, and it completely changed the way I feel about the city… it gave me that magical feeling I’d always wanted from Paris. There are lots of companies but I prefer to do one of the ones that leaves from near the Eiffel Tower. You get to see some truly amazing sights from a better perspective, and at night some of the places are even pretty empty! Makes for great photos too.

Reply
Carly

Inspired to plan a solo trip too- something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile! I’ve only been to Paris once but my favorite museums that are must-sees are Musee d’Orsay and l’Orangerie. If you haven’t read the Ann Mah’s book “Mastering the Art of French Eating” it would be SO fun to read that while in Paris. It’s like Julie & Julia meets Eat Pray Love. So good.

Reply
KBG

My two most important tips for travelers to France:
– speak some French. Know how to ask for/give/understand directions. Know how to say hello goodbye please thank you. Know how to say “I would like” and “how much”. The French, especially those who aren’t in service or tourism, don’t speak much English. Important in cabs, the metro, restaurants. Download a translation app to help you, and start practicing with Duolingo now. https://www.duolingo.com/course/fr/en/Learn-French-Online
– carry a sturdy leather cross body bag with a zipper or otherwise secure closing. Pickpockets are EVERYWHERE, especially in metro and tourist areas. Wear the bag securely and don’t ever lose sight of it (i.e. Slinging it on the back of your chair in a restaurant). i can’t emphasize this enough.

Other tips:
– get the international data plan for your phone carrier and use Uber for transit and map apps for directions
– picnic whenever possible
– don’t waste money and time on the Eiffel Tower, it’s best from afar
– buy tickets to hot spots like the louvre online or better yet buy a Paris Pass (or another multi-site entry ticket) and skip the lines.
– arrive EARLY at popular sites and go directly to the main attraction (Mona Lisa at the Louvre, Impressionists at D’Orsay), see it and get away from it. Fighting with 8,000 Chinese tourists for a glimpse of the Mona Lisa is no fun
– flirt madly with everyone but always stay safe
– drink wine, it’s fantastic and cheaper than water
– bring your most comfortable shoes because cobblestones
– bring your most comfortable shoes because you will walk 10 miles a day
– don’t worry too much about checking off a list of must-dos. Become a “flaneuse” and just stroll around to experience real Paris. No one goes to Paris just once – you’ll be back.

Reply
Amanda Roberts

Hey Carly – Paris is fabulous, no matter the time of year, whether you are alone or with friends and whether you are there for fun or for work. That being said, familiarizing yourself with a new city on a vacation can be tough and even harder can be understanding the enormity or diversity of a city. I am sure a lot of people will laugh at my suggestion, but take the “Hop On, Hop Off” bus and stick the headphones in to best understand all about the city while being driven around by someone else. I have been to Paris a number of times and did this the first time I ever went, and it was the best thing to do. I saw all the major landmarks and understood just where they were in relation to each other, I was able to sit and relax and not stress myself out with public transport while I was still a bit nervous about the city, and it gave me a history lesson by listening to the tour guide on my headphones. The company I used had four different routes and I did all four. Return trips to Paris have since been simple since I have a familiarity to where everything is. Also, I know you say you have accommodation, but hopefully it is a small hotel, and if so, ask the people who work the front desk for ‘local’ recommendations for restaurants. I stay in a tiny hotel every time I visit (behind the Louvre and one street back from the Seine) and the staff give you authentic local restaurant tips which you would otherwise miss… All have always been amazing and not another tourist in site! Enjoy the adventure Carly – life is meant to be lived and there is nothing better than standing in the exact place you have always imagined yourself in to really feel alive! Have fun, Manda

Reply
Emily

Read My Life in France by Julia Child. She’s so remarkable – completely fearless and fun – and the first part takes place in Paris. I loved just walking and people watching, especially in the St. Germain and Le Marais neighborhoods. Unlike other comments above, I actually found the people to be generally polite and helpful, but it is important to read up on french etiquette beforehand and make an effort. For example, always greet the owner/clerk when you walk into a store/cafe/etc and be sure to learn and use some basic french phrases and words so they don’t sense that you “expect” them to speak English/cater to you.

Reply
Starr @ sipofstarrshine.com

CARLY that is so exciting!!! This may sound cheesy but I love doing hop-on/hop-off bus tours because you get a nice audio tour of the city (mine was set to an amazing Paris playlist that I am still trying to hound the company for) AND you have a way to get around major landmarks of the city. (Can’t beat that 2-for-1!)

Trocadero is a great place for Eiffel Tower photos, and if you really want to go up the tower (it’s a looooong line), I’d try to time it a bit before sunset if you can. It’s very easy to spend the entirety of sunset up there, and then you can see Paris during the day, with golden sunlight over it at dusk, and at night when the tower starts glittering on the hour!

(I don’t know if this is true for all of Paris, but we landed around 3pm and were starving but only one cafe was open at that time! Everything else was closed until a more normal dinner time.)

Speaking of food, I definitely recommend trying escargots if you can (basically a very strange way to consume a bunch of garlic butter hehe) and get lots of desserts! I haven’t actually had Laduree yet but my friends recommended Pierre Herme over Laduree. Also, I hear great things about Berthillion ice cream. (And they have locations elsewhere but Amorino gelato is just so pretty.)

Definitely check out a museum or art gallery if you have the time to just relax and wander around. Walk down the Champs-Elysees and just enjoy it! Paris is one of those few cities that’s also really gorgeous in the rain so even if the weather doesn’t cooperate (fingers crossed that it does), you’ll still have a great time.

I can’t wait for you to finally get to experience this!

Reply
Diana Pearl

So incredibly exciting! Paris is the best, it’s one of my favorite cities in the world.

I’d recommend getting a Museum Pass for two or four days depending on how long you’re there, and try to do as many museums as you can. My favorites are the Louvre (of course), the Orsay, the Orangerie (where Monet’s water lily murals are), Musee Rodin, Musee Picasso, the Pantheon. Also go for lunch around the Place des Vosges, it’s the most picturesque park!

Refuges des Fondus is a really fun little fondue restaurant in Montmatre. Go to Les Deux Magots for breakfast one day — amazing croque monsieur! And of course the original Laudree or hot chocolate at Angelina! Berthilion ice cream on the Ile de Saint Louis too!

It’s incredibly easy to get around with the Metro, so I’d use that! It goes pretty much everywhere and is affordable/the trains come very regularly. Just keep your belongings close to you, I had my phone stolen when I was abroad on the Metro (I was honestly being dumb and had it in my pocket with headphones, so it was very obvious — just be safe and you’ll be fine 🙂

Reply
Elisabeth Goldman

I agree with Grace about going up the top of the Eiffel Tower. It is overrated.. however, I would suggest going in the evening so you can see it all lit up from the Trocadero. I would also suggest going to the Musee d’Orsay first thing in the morning. It is a beautiful museum worth seeing. The other thing, you might enjoy is walking around Montmartre. My other recommendation would just walk around St Germain des Pres, Ile Saint Louis, you could visit the Victor Hugo museum and see Place des Vosges.. Looking forward to reading about your travel and seeing your pictures. Oh and of course enjoy as much baguette, cheese and French pastries!!

Reply
Madeleine Verspieren

Check put Angelina’s for the best hot chocolate (chocolat chaud) in the prettiest of rooms on Rue Rivoli and go to Fauchon for the best pastries in Paris. I highly recommend the éclairs from Fauchon. Also, the best bagel shop in Paris is Bagel Corner for a French twist on American food. Lastly, be sure to go to the fifth floor of the Musée D’Orsay where the impressionist painting are. It is magical.

Reply
Sara

We did a night walking tour that was incredible. Our guide was Marion (https://www.facebook.com/marion.cityguide?ref=br_rs) and she was fantastic. She also gave us recommendations on restaurants and more things to see that fit our interests. I highly recommend her as a great introduction to the city. Take a macaroon baking class, visit the Musee d’Orsay, hike up to the top of Montmartre and appreciate the view, make sure you see the Eiffel Tower sparkle… and HAVE FUN!!!!!!!

Reply
Alex

paris was such a dream, and i’m happy i went for the first time alone. i wrote a guide to 48 hours in paris (http://www.literally-everything.com/2016/12/48-hours-in-paris-guide.html), but some other tips:
– i looked on instagram to see what parisian women were wearing before i got there. since i was alone, i didn’t want anyone to see me as a vulnerable tourist. i wore pretty much exactly what other women wore, and was even mistaken as a parisian by a few tourists. i never worried about being pickpocketed by gypsies or felt nervous walking alone in the evening.
– grab a baguette and a bottle of wine or sparkling water and sit beneath the eiffel tower. it rained while i was there so i couldn’t do that, and i have so much regret.
– musee d’orsay > the louvre.
– le marais is the best place in the entire world. there’s also the most amazing falafel shop there (l’as du fallafel).
i could go on for ages, but let me know if you’d like any more recommendations!

Reply
Quincy Bulin

PERSONAL TOUR OF THE LOUVRE. I cannot stress this enough. It was around $75 a person for a group of 6 people, but so worth it. It’s so difficult to understand the context of every piece and actually appreciate the brilliance of the Louvre, but since we had an expert (who was actually a teacher from Florida who married a French man and moved to Paris), we got the low down on all kinds of fun facts and stories. Easily the best money we spent in all of Paris.

Reply
Karen

I started traveling solo myself this year, and I think it was more mentally challenging than anything! As a single female, you hear so many horror stories, but fortunately I’ve only had good experiences on my trips throughout Europe. Having a plan to improvise from [vs stressing out about hitting every single spot] always helps me amble with a purpose, and of course staying alert and smart about where you’re headed is key. Safe travels!

Reply
carly

I’m not traveling by myself- going with a friend! But it’s both our first times!

Reply
Delaney M Ferguson

So exciting!!! Most of the things I would suggest have already been said, so I’ll just say this:

Set aside some time to just get lost! Head to St. Germain or le Marais and wander around without to adhering to an itinerary. I think it’s the best way to explore European cities 🙂

Reply
Lori

So excited for you! Can’t wait to see the photos & hear your stories. Très bien!

Reply
Lauren

I would say try to learn a few basic French phrases before you go — I took French in high school, and found that people are much nicer and more helpful when you even just attempt to speak their language. Always say “Bonjour” when you walk into a shop/restaurant (or “Bonsoir” in the evening) – it’s considered rude if you don’t. French people have a different idea than Americans of what is polite– if you figure some of that out before you go, it will go a long way towards you having a good experience. Paris is lovely — one of my favorite things was taking an evening Fat Tire Bike Tour and eating Berthillion ice cream by the Seine River! You’ll have a great time!

Reply
Kira

I went to Paris a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it! It’s by far my favorite city and I actually am going to study abroad there this fall! You should definitely go to the top of the Arc de Triomphe- the view is incredible (especially at sunset) as you can see the Eiffel Tower from it. The
view from the top of the Eiffel Tower is great too, although some may say to skip
it as it’s “overrated,” but I still think it’s worth it! Also, I heard that the cruise along the Seine is gorgeous but did not have time to do this on my last trip. I’ve also heard Le Marais is a great area- that’s where so many beautiful Parisian doors are located and there is supposed to be lots of shopping. Montmartre is a great area too, it’s located near Sacré-Cœur, but beware because it can be very crowded and lots of vendors bombard you during the evening. If you have time, you could also travel out of the city and take a tour bus to another place in France or even to a different country; my mom and I took a day trip to Bruges in Belgium which is a Medieval city that is known as the “Venice of the North.” It was only about 3 hours from Paris and it was awesome to be able to see another country during the trip and to try real Belgian waffles/chocolate! I would definitely recommend going to Laduree on the Champs-Élysées and popping into the shops around there too. Also, walk as much as possible! Paris has so much to offer and you see so many things while walking around the city that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. And take every opportunity you have to get a crepe since no crepes compare to the ones in Paris! Have a great trip- Paris is such a captivating and dreamy city!

Reply
Jackie M

Climb the Tower at Notre Dame–great views and you get to see the gargoyles up close. It isn’t claustrophobic. The Museum/attractions pass is worth it, if you plan on visiting some of those sites. It saves money and time if you order it before you leave. Check the list against what you may want to see to determine if it is worth it for you. Since you’re a book lover, go to Shakespeare and Company. It was a hangout for writers from the Lost generation. I agree with others regarding the attitude towards Americans, even for those of us who try to be as polite as possible. And take time to wander. I went by myself, which was okay, but I wish I had a couple people to meet up with occasionally.

Reply
Clancey

So exciting – you will love it!

It seems like most people have covered what I would recommend, but here are a few general tips:
-Walking is the best way to see the city! The trains will also get you most places – including to Versailles if you decide to go (make sure to buy your train tickets, including your return ticket, in advance to avoid the ticket lines at the station!).
-For lunches and snacks, there are small deli-style places that have sandwiches, quiches, pastries, etc. that are often pretty cheap and delicious! (Pick a place that looks like it caters to locals)
-There are tons of beautiful parks that are perfect for picnicking! Bring a small picnic blanket that you can toss in your bag.
-Climb to the top of the Arc du Triomphe instead of the top of the Eiffel Tower. Shorter lines, and you can see the Eiffel.
-Since it’s your first time, don’t skip the Louvre or the Musee D’Orsay. The Louvre can be overwhelming, but it’s best to go early in the day.
-For museums and such, make sure you check the hours – many are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Enjoy!!!

Reply
Rebekah Devorak

Hi Carly! You must must must go to Sainte-Chapelle and make sure that you go into the upstairs room through a little staircase at the back corner of the church. It’s the most incredible room of stained glass you will ever see in your entire life.

Reply
Molly Craycraft

Hi Carly! I emailed you a pretty extensive Paris To Do file that I have compiled over the years. It breaks it down by attractions and places to eat and drink, with a few helpful tips and comments thrown in! If you are looking to brush up on your French, I highly recommend the Coffee Break French podcast! I have also heard, but never used, that the Google translate app can be fabulous, especially since most menus will not be in English. Have fun!

Reply
Erica

Carly you will love it! I was there for a week this past July for my girlfriends wedding, and I got engaged on top of there as well. Obvious musts are the touristy things such as the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysses, the Louvre. Things more off the beaten path such as a dinner cruise on the Seine was to die for. The Musee D’Orsay was better than the Louvre in my opinion. Monet’s House and Studio is about an hour outside the city. Finding little cafes on the side streets are best. The Ladurie flagship store was gorgeous and a must to any macaron lover. Try to stay away from eateries that are right next to toursity attractions, the prices tend to be crazy. BEWARE of pick pockets. They are quite real and once they realize you are American they absolutely target you. Keep your belongings secure and just be smart about your surroundings. The language barrier was somewhat difficult, but I had taken French throughout high school and college. But you’ll find most people do speak English. Montmartre is a must. We climbed the hill to Sacre Coeur and found beautiful artisan shops and creperies along the way. I put Paris off for a while too being nervous about traveling in Europe with all that’s going on. The day we left to come home to NY was the day Nice was attacked. But bad things can happen anywhere, they cant stop you from exploring and seeing what the world has to offer. You’ll have the best time.

Erica

Reply
Cynthia

I am going to Paris for the first time in July and can’t wait to see your posts about it!

Reply
Katie

While I haven’t been to Paris, traveling to a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language alone was SUCH an amazing experience. Do your due diligence ahead of time (figure out how you’re going to get from the airport to the hotel, etc.) and you’ll be fine! I also suggest picking up a small guidebook with a fold out map to stuff in your purse. You don’t really want to go through it in public spaces because it makes you stand out as a tourist (like, in a nice cafe probably okay; in the subway, no), but it’s helpful if you get turned around and don’t have wifi access. 🙂

Reply
Ashley

Ahhhhhh, so exciting!!! My absolute favorite part of my Paris trip wasn’t even in Paris–it was when we took a day trip to Giverny to see Monet’s house and garden. We hired a driver from our hotel to take us to the town, which is about an hour and half northwest of Paris, but I’m sure there are tour busses from Paris that you could take. It’s the quaintest little town and was my favorite part of the trip. I hope you have the opportunity to go!

Reply
Madeline Mudd

Paris is one of my favorite cities I’ve ever traveled to, you’re going to love it! Montmartre is such a cool & quirky part of the city and has some of the best views. Visiting Versailles is super crowded & touristy in the summer but so worth it! Be sure to visit The Queen’s Hamlet and explore the gardens – I liked these more than the chateau itself!

Ultimately, let some of your time just happen, don’t plan everything. My favorite part of Paris was simply walking the streets, popping into cute cafes and admiring street art. Everything there is amazing!

http://www.madsmuses.com

Reply
emily | shell chic'd

The best Paris advice we received was to team up with Insidr Paris! For something crazy cheap like 8 euro a day, you can rent one of their Smartphones that have a bunch of predetermined recommendations laid out for you (you fill out a survey ahead of time), GPS, and tons of other necessary travel apps. You can also use it to text their team for real time recommendations based on where you are, what you feel like doing, what you’re craving, etc. It works as a hotspot too, so you can use connect your own phone to it without having to log onto possibly scary public WiFi. Seriously the besttttt investment we made on our trip, can’t say enough great things about it! www(dot)insidr(dot)paris

Reply
Ali

Hi Carly,
A restaurant a Paris local took us to was Le Relais Gascon in Montmartre. They have these fantastic salads with fried potatoes on top. It was buzzing on a Saturday evening and there were many locals! I hope you have a fantastic trip!

Reply
Abby Nyquist

Greet every restaurant worker & store worker immediately, with a “Bonjour” and always say “Au revoir”! French people get very snooty if you do not greet them and say good bye. My husband speaks French fluently (we had our first date in Paris when he lived there) and we’ll still get some rude interactions when we visit, but just go with the flow and don’t take it personally. You’ll love Paris! The Orangerie is a must as well as chocolate mousse wherever you go. 🙂

Reply
Brittany

I went to Paris by myself in October as my gift for finishing my masters – it was a blast and such an amazing city! My tips:
– get yourself a museum pass from the Paris tourism office. You can get them for different amount of days, you can skip the lines with them, and the package also includes a metro ticket and a pass for those hop on-hop off buses and a river cruise. You can also pre-purchase your ticket for the Eiffel Tower with it!
– I speak very little French and didn’t really have an issue with language. I would obviously make an effort to use my french, but most people automatically switched to English after I spoke a few words of French.
– I booked a SuperShuttle to and from my hotel. The metro/RER trains are fine (especially if you’re used to subway systems), but I didn’t want to have to figure it out after traveling for about 15 hours.
– Eat all the things and enjoy yourself! It’s a great city and so much fun!

Reply
Kayla Finch

I haven’t read all the comments, so my apologies if you’ve heard this already! My husband and I went to Paris for our first wedding anniversary and we had a wonderful time. We went in June and it was chillier than we were prepared for! I definitely rocked a blazer and scarf most of the week. We spent about 2.5 days sight seeing and hitting all the “touristy” stuff but we also made sure to take a couple of days and explore like a local I guess you could say – walking around, checking out the shops, lounging in the cafes for hours over espresso and/or wine! It was truly lovely. Our favorite sights/activities though, were taking a river cruise in the evening on the river Seine, seeing the Eiffel Tower at night when it was all lit up (after a long delicious dinner over a few bottles of wine!), taking the train and touring Versaille, going to the top of the arc de triomphe, among others. Our experience with the French people was also wonderful. Many people say that there can be some snubbing, but our experience was warm and welcoming from everyone we encountered. It was a fantastic trip and you will have a great time!

Reply
Chrissy

The best city! I haven’t been in years but my favorite parts were: les puces (flea markets- they aren’t open every day so plan around that), Pierre Herme macarons (not in US yet, I don’t think..), Astier De Villatte shop (I think near Colette?), Monoprix (especially the food section- I like the peanuts coated in some sort of flavored cracker), salmon quiches, picnics at the Eiffel tower, bottles of wine on the Seine in the evening, people watching in the Tuileries (I think one of the carousels is there), the Louvre (DON’T SKIP even if it’s overwhelming), the Amelie cafe (thought it would be cheesy but I enjoyed this a lot, actually), and little shops in Le Marais. I also took a trip to Antwerp and Nice- wish I’d gone to Monet’s Garden and/or Versailles. Not sure if you follow @byhaleigh on IG but she’s Paris-based and a sister of a friend. Her blog/pics are beautiful and I’m sure she has lots of recs on there. Typing this out brought me back and sorry for the run-on thoughts!

Reply
Lauren

I took a solo 10-day trip around Italy in February. I’m usually a pretty anxious, detail-obsessed person, but I mostly just winged it. I didn’t even have euros or my trains or hotels booked before going, which made it easier to stay in a city a bit longer to visit another museum or shop. However, there are three things that are absolute essentials to make this work: passport, debit card, and phone with international data. If you have those three things, you can get out of any situation. So, of course, I dropped and smashed my phone in Florence, and freaked out. But I figured it out! Just remember that you’re stronger and smarter than you think.

Reply
Holly

1. Go read Just One Day by Gayle Forman. It’s a YA novel, but it’s really actually great and she’s in Paris. I read it on my flight there actually- which I recommend.
2. Google translate is a life saver- just make sure you download French for offline mode.
3. Order the duck in peach sauce at Chez Papa Bastille.

Reply
Julie Frankenfield

I’ve only been to Paris once, and it was many years ago but these are the things there I most enjoyed:
– Musee d’Orsay – Impressionist art museum. If you like art from this era, this is for you. Also, the building is beautiful.
– eating chocolate/nutella crepes – omg.
– Versailles – I had never seen that much gold before in my life.
– Montmartre – it isn’t “really” the art center it used to be, but it was fun to go as a tourist anyway.

I will say I thought being at the top of the Eiffel Tower was kinda underwhelming, unfortunately. 🙁

Anyway, hope that hopes a little bit. Have fun!

Reply
Ashlee

How inspiring! Paris is on my bucket list! I look forward to reading all about your experiences!

Reply
Kitty

I haven’t been to Paris in years, but absolutely go to the Saints-Chapelle. That and Sacre Coeur were my two favorite places in Paris!

Reply
Kait

I think I commented this on your last post asking for Paris recommendations, but Aspiring Kennedy is my go-to site for travel recommendations and her Paris ones will not disappoint. I used so many of them on my own trip and they were so perfect. Check out her guide here!

Reply
Michele

I am obsessed with the Paris Opera! There are two – the new and historic opera house. I loved the historic opera, it reminds me of Versailles! It’s absolutely stunning.

Reply
Chrissie

I traveled to Paris (by myself!) in 2012. Wake up before sunrise, climb to the top of Sacre Cour, and watch the sun come up. It was quite honestly one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen in my life. Since I got up so early, I had it all to myself… <3

Reply
Linda R

Buy a Paris Pass! It will get you into many sites through an express lane. It also has several days of metro passes. Very convenient! Treat yourself to lunch at Le Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower, it is a dining experience in a stunning setting. Don’t miss Versailles….stunning. The Paris Pass will get you express entry. Have fun!!!!!

Reply
Rachel C

I am so jealous! And can’t wait to hear about your trip. I went to Paris for 4 days in college (over 10 years ago) and instantly feel in love. My biggest piece of advice is to leave plenty of time to just wander around and enjoy the gardens and streets. Don’t plan every moment. My favorite thing was just wandering and see what found me.

Reply
Aidan

Carly! As a long time reader, I am so excited you are about to realize your Paris dreams.

I also just booked a solo trip, and while it feels like a leap of faith it also feels incredible to just be doing it!

I would recommend the Musee de l’Orangerie and the tulip gardens – hands down my favorite museum I visited (better than the L’Ouvre in my opinion). Monet’s water lillies were breath taking.

I would also recommend hanging around le Marais (3/4th arrondisement) and visiting a Laduree store for authentic macarons! (Laduree also does a lunch which looks magical).

And a book lover like yourself should go check out Shakespear & Co (a super neat bookstore!)

Reply
Celeste

The Marmottan Museum is my favorite in Paris and I have been to all the notable ones. The Marmottan has the largest Monet collection! If you want the full Monet experience and have time, Giverny (Monet’s home) is a quick train ride away. Also, Rue Cler is a beautiful street to walk down with restaurants, flower shops, and clothing stores. I *loved* the Rick Steves’ travel book and would recommend the walking tours.

Reply
slope

My sister and I took a trip to Paris last summer and while we loved it and Paris is probably the most magical place I’ve ever seen, the American snubbing was extremely real. We were trying to be as polite as possible and tried our best with the language but it was tough — when we spoke we were met with blank stares. We tried our hardest to assimilate but the people we encountered (restaurant servers, some of the museum attendants) were not very helpful to us English speakers, despite knowing English themselves. Be prepared for that.

Reply
Stephanie Hamilton

Relais de L’Entrecôte is a steak-frites only restaurant that is so fun! Every place in Paris is perfect for a photo-op too, but Jardin Tuileries is my favorite. My family loves to take the open top bus tours on our arrival day in any city because it’s an easy way to relax and get a feel for the entire city, the one in Paris was by far my favorite. My last and most important note is Pierre Hermé macaroons (!!), they will not disappoint!! I’m sure your friend will show you the best of the best and I wouldn’t be too worried about a schedule, besides seeing the main attractions, just walking the streets can be a multi-day activity in itself 🙂

Reply
Alyssa

I am SO excited for you! My first time in Paris was my senior year of high school and I couldn’t get enough, so I’ve been back 4 times since then (twice while studying abroad in London)… One of my all time favorite spots in the city is it Il Saint Louis. Located close to Notre Dame, it’s a quaint little island in the middle of the Seine. You MUST stop in for some of the best ice cream at Berthillion! And some of my favorite shops are located there too, Nina Kendosa being my favorite haunt each time I’m there. As for museums D’Orsay is a must! I can’t wait to read about your experiences!!

Reply
Liz

Ah!!! I’m so excited for you and jealous because Paris is my favorite place ever! After a study abroad there I recommend my favorite, simple meal there. Cafe du Marche, located just off the Ecole Militaire metro exit. Order the brique de chevre chaud salad. It’s mix of fresh greens, couscous, goat cheese baked in a phyllo dough packet and is SO delicious. Also have a pastry every day, because why not?!

Reply
Caroline|Adventures in Living Lean

I just got back from Paris! I had an amazing time. I would definitely recommend the Musee d’Orsay and the Louvre. Also, just walking around the city was incredible. I loved strolling along, stopping in a cafe when I wanted to, and then strolling along to the next place. The top of the Eiffel Tower is overrated, but there is a Ferris wheel close to the Champs Elysees that gives unbelievable views of the city!

Reply
Jessica

I spent a few weekends in Paris during a semester abroad in college. While there, my friends and I went to the top of the Arc de Triomphe at night – it was a climb, but it was so cool to see the Eiffel Tower all lit up, as well as the rest of the city! Also, Shakespeare and Co. was an amazing book shop to visit – even though all the books are in English, I was so delighted to find a copy of “Madeline” there to take home as a souvenir, and the bookstore itself is so magical to explore. As others have suggested, the Palais Garnier, Versailles, and Sacre Coeur were all favorites of mine as well. And can’t forget Laduree!

Reply
Caitlin

I went to Paris for a long weekend during my study abroad trip in college. OMG so many must-sees in that city, but my favorite memories involve my girlfriends and I buying baguettes and walking around the french quarter with them! It was 100% ridiculous but also SO FUN! Don’t get overwhelmed with trying to see it all – make sure you spend some quality time soaking in the city (preferably with a large loaf of bread!!)

Reply
Sabine

Ah Paris! My home away from home! I live in The Netherlands so it is only a 5hr drive away. My tips:
– wander through Jardin du Luxembourg
– dit for a bit on the lovely chairs in Jardin des Tuileries
– take a stroll on the rive gauche and wander through the book stands
– do not go for dinner in quartier latin! Too touristy and way to expensive for bad quality food!
– go on Tour Montparnasse instead of the Eiffel Tower.
– go to Warehouse Lafayette and see the gorgeous glass dome. And you have a nice view of the city on top of the building.
I could keep going on for ages…

Have Fun!!!

Reply
Kelsey

One of my favorite apps to help me get around in Paris is City Mapper. If you have to take the metro it is super easy to follow the directions!

Reply
Hannah @ AndThenWeTried

Ok, I know this is a weird suggestion, but one of my favorite places in Paris is Père Lachaise cemetery. It’s beautiful, the final
resting place of some interesting people, but more than that, it’s QUIET and rarely crowded. I’m a super anxious traveler and being surrounded by people at all of the other touristy spots was so draining for me. A quiet walk through Père Lachaise is a great break from the crowds while still being an interesting stop in Paris.

Have a great time!

Reply
Kate Burnette

For me, just doing it was the best way for me to work through anxiety during travel. The times I’ve travelled by myself have become very encouraging and proud moments. I agree– even after living in NYC, you might be surprised at how rude some people can be in Paris and how English is avoided. I recommend the Longchamps shop! And the book: Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate)

Reply
Taylor

Carly! I’m so excited for you – I’m going to Paris for the first time this month too!! When are you going!? I have followed your blog for years and it would be a total “pinch-me moment” if I saw you in Paris! Have the best time – I cannot wait to read all about it on the blog 🙂

Taylor
http:www.taymeetsworld.com

Reply
Kelly

I always put my phone on airplane mode overseas. Before I go, I either download offline maps on google maps app or maps.me (another map). Definitely buy a bulk pack (10 or 12 is the max) of metro tickets “billets”. The metro is very easy to follow and save your feet. For Paris – go check out Montmartre. Visit Sacre Couer (but keep an eye on your purse) and stop by moulin rouge. Le Marais is an artsy, creative neighborhood. The new (well 2.5 years new) Picasso museum is close by. Have a fabulous trip!!!

Reply
Lauren Marie

I highly recommend the Paris Charms and Secrets electronic bike tour. We took a 3 hour night tour and our guide was amazing!! We zoomed around the Paris streets and got the low down on the best restaurants, how to cut the lines, and try the best macarons. Best tour ever!!

Parischarmssecrets.com

Reply