Things to Know Before You Go to Paris, France

Did you know Paris is called the “City of Light” not just for being one of the first cities to adopt street lighting, but also for its illuminating arts and culture? With over 30 million visitors each year, it’s a beacon for travelers seeking the quintessence of romance, art, and history.

 A boat cruising along the Seine River in Paris during sunse
A boat cruising along the Seine River in Paris during sunset

Venturing into Paris offers more than just a peek at the gleaming Eiffel Tower or a cruise along the Seine. Often crowned as one of the must-visit cities globally, Paris is a treasure trove of history, culture, and unparalleled beauty. It brims with art, cuisine, fashion, and history, inviting explorers to dive deep into its soul, and uncover hidden gems the Parisian way. 

For those yearning to experience Paris beyond postcard images, there are essential things to know before you go to Paris, which can transform a good trip into the journey of a lifetime. 

Let’s set off on this adventure, ensuring you savor every moment in the City of Love and Lights, with a few interesting insights from This City Knows.

The Most Ideal Seasons to Visit Paris

Discovering the perfect time for your trip is among the essential things to know before you go to Paris. Spring (March to May) unfolds as an idyllic period, when the city bursts into bloom, offering mild temperatures and sparse crowds. This season allows unhurried visits to Paris’s famed outdoor attractions and lush gardens, in their vibrant prime during the season.

Conversely, fall (September to November) casts a spell with its tapestry of golden hues, crisper air, and a bustling cultural scene that brings the city to life. These months encapsulate the Parisian charm at its finest, presenting an unparalleled opportunity for those eager to immerse themselves in the city’s celebrated aesthetics and tranquility. Planning your visit during these periods ensures a more intimate and authentic engagement with Paris, away from the peak tourist influx of summer.

A restaurant in Paris with green doors and glass windows
A restaurant in Paris with green doors and glass windows

Getting Around The City of Lights

One of the critical things to know before you go to Paris is how you can navigate the city’s comprehensive public transport system, which is heralded for its efficiency and breadth. The Paris Métro boasts an extensive network, and stands as the swiftest means to traverse the expansive city. For those who favor picturesque journeys, buses ply scenic routes that are perfect for sightseeing, offering glimpses of Paris’s architectural marvels and bustling street life.

Meanwhile, the RER (Réseau Express Régional) trains provide convenient access to the city’s suburban attractions, presenting a different facet of Parisian charm. 

However, to truly capture the essence of Paris, consider renting a bike or exploring by foot. Strolling through the historic streets, you’ll encounter the city’s true spirit, manifested in hidden courtyards, quaint bistros, and boutique shops that promise unique surprises at every turn.

Opting for these modes of transportation is not just about moving from point A to B; they also let you discover the very heart and soul of Paris, one step at a time at your own leisurely pace.

Things to Know Before You Go to Paris: Top Sights, Foodie Havens, and More

As you plan your Paris adventure, remember that exploring the heart of the city’s cultural, culinary, and historical wealth is crucial. You may want to start at the Louvre Museum— a known treasure trove of artistic masterpieces. 

Tip: Securing advance tickets can save you hours of waiting in line.

Not far from here, the awe-inspiring Gothic architecture of Notre Dame de Paris continues to captivate visitors, despite its ongoing restoration. For a glimpse into Paris’s bohemian past, wander through the winding streets of Montmartre, leading to the stunning vistas offered by Sacré-Cœur Basilica.

Dining in Paris is likewise an experience in itself, blending tradition and innovation in every bite. Experience the historic charm of Le Procope, Paris’s oldest cafe, where classic French dishes are served with a side of history. You can also venture to Le Bistrot Paul Bert, which stands out for its quintessential Parisian bistro experience, offering the best of French cuisine including its renowned steak frites. But if you have a sweet tooth, a visit to Berthillon is a definite must. Their artisanal ice cream, particularly the salted caramel and wild strawberry flavors, is truly legendary.

Of course, Paris is also ripe with unique experiences beyond the iconic landmarks and culinary delights. A sunset cruise on the Seine presents the city’s monuments in a magical light. Meanwhile, a French cooking class can offer you the chance to bring a piece of Parisian culinary art back home. Additionally, the vintage shops in Le Marais are also perfect for those looking to find one-of-a-kind fashion pieces, reflecting Paris’s long-standing reputation as a fashion capital.

See also: Ultimate Guide To Exploring Paris Like a Local

An expansive indoor pool in a hotel in Paris
An expansive indoor pool in a hotel in Paris

Finding A Stay in Paris

Choosing the right place to stay in Paris profoundly enhances your experience of the city. Whether you’re looking for luxury, charm, convenience, or a blend of all three, Paris offers a variety of neighborhoods each with its own unique character and attractions.

The Marais district is one ideal hotspot for those who want to be immersed in the heart of Parisian history and culture. With its cobblestone streets, chic boutiques, and vibrant nightlife, this district offers a lively and authentic Parisian experience. It’s also home to the beautiful Place des Vosges, one of the oldest planned squares in Paris.

For more luxurious and elegant stays, Saint-Germain-des-Prés offers upscale accommodations, renowned art galleries, and exquisite dining options. This Left Bank district, once the meeting place of intellectuals and artists, retains an air of sophistication and charm, making it a perfect spot for those who appreciate the finer things in life.

Meanwhile, Montmartre is known for its bohemian atmosphere and stunning views over Paris from the Sacré-Cœur. This neighborhood offers a more relaxed vibe, filled with quaint cafes, lively bars, and affordable accommodations. So if you’re a bit conscious about your budget or looking to experience a more laid-back side of Paris, Montmartre is the right spot.

Lastly, the 8th arrondissement, centered around the Champs-Élysées, is the epitome of Parisian chic. Home to luxurious hotels, haute couture shops, and some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, staying here puts you at the center of Parisian glamor.

As you can see, each of these neighborhoods offers a distinct flavor of Paris, catering to different tastes and preferences. When choosing where to stay, consider first what you want most from your trip—be it cultural or culinary immersion, luxury, artistic inspiration, or simply the joy of exploring one of the world’s most beautiful cities.

Essential Tips: Things To Know Before You Go to Paris

Going into Paris is like stepping into a living painting, where every corner holds a story, and each street echoes with the melodies of French history. 

To ensure your experience is as vibrant as the city itself, here are some tips to know before you go to Paris:

Parlez-vous Français? A little French goes a long way. bonjour and merci are your keys to the city— use them liberally.

Master the Metro Map. When in Paris, make it your BFF. It’s your golden ticket to navigating the city like a local, minus the beret.

Patience is a Virtue. Especially when eyeing the Mona Lisa and other iconic art masterpieces. Snagging a ‘skip the line’ ticket online is the modern-day magic trick.

Fashion Forward. Paris is the runway. Your wardrobe is the model. And when in doubt, add a scarf.

Late Dinners Aren’t Really Late. Eating at 6 pm screams “tourist.” Blend in by dining as the locals do— usually past 8 pm.

Outsmart Pickpockets. Keep your wits and wallets in tight pockets. Crowded spots are their playground. Yes, we’re talking about the Metro.

A balcony with flowers overlooking the buildings in Paris
A balcony with flowers overlooking the buildings in Paris

Pack Your Bags, Pop On Your Beret, and Head To Paris

Now, with all these essential Paris insights at your fingertips, you have all the right reasons to turn your daydreams into actual travel plans. Paris beckons with open arms, inviting you to discover its beauty, mystery, and culinary wonders firsthand. Whether it’s your first visit or you’re returning to uncover more of its secrets, Paris promises an array of unforgettable experiences.

Remember, This City Knows is not just your guide to Paris but to cities around the globe. Wherever your travels may take you, we’re here to ensure you’re always well-prepared, from the cobblestones of Rome to the skyscrapers of Tokyo. 

So, why wait?

Pack your bags, pop on your beret, and let’s embrace the adventure that awaits. Paris is just the beginning. With This City Knows, you’re ready to explore the world, one city at a time. 

Visit us for more guides, tips, and insider knowledge to fuel your travel passions. 

Bon voyage!

Author: Katie

Katie is all about hitting the road solo, always on the lookout for spots the internet hasn't fully discovered yet. She’s the one turning left when the map says right, hunting for those genuine, "you had to be there" moments. With a style that's as engaging as a late-night chat by the hostel fire, her stories aren't just about places, but the raw, unfiltered joy of exploring them on your own terms.

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