First Time in Paris

Highlights and top sights

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So you’re travelling independently and wondering how best to plan your time in Paris? We presume that, like most week visitors, you are arriving and departing on a Saturday; but if this is not the case, just adapt the days to suit. Walk, travel by *Metro (see below) or use the Paris Velib bike system.

Take care with museum opening days – if you want to concentrate on museums and monuments, buy the Paris Museum Pass or the Paris Pass for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. With the pass, you’ll avoid having to stand in lines or queues for each museum; it is important to understand that the queues can – and in holiday periods will – be long for the best museums.

Eat locally, there’s a cafe or bistro on and around every corner in Paris! Picnics are de rigueur, too, think of wonderful bread, French cheese and pastries!


Get your bearings, wander round the central area, enjoy a cup of coffee at a sidewalk café.

Visit the Louvre; entrance is free of charge on the first Sunday of each month. Go early – you may need more than an afternoon to visit this very rich museum.


Take a hop-on hop-off bus tour of the city, and get a guided tour of the city. Or choose a more leisurely rickshaw tour or guided bicycle tour, or even a tour in a classic French “2CV”

Northern Paris: Visit the Marché aux Puces (world’s largest flea market) at Porte de St Ouen; then visit Montmartre; here you can visit the Sacré Coeur basilica, and enjoy the views over the rooftops, then the narrow streets of “Montmartre village”, with its artists, little galleries and cafés and restaurants. Plenty of atmosphere here. Finally, wander down and see the Pigalle quarter, Paris’s famous night-life area. Return to your hotel by metro, taking in at least part of the overhead metro line no. 2 (metro aérien) that passes through Pigalle.

===> See the RELATED links below to explore local destinations.


Western Paris: north of the Seine. Visit the Arc de Triomphe, wander down the Champs Elysées and enjoy a drink in a café. Admire the jardins des Tuileries.

Western Paris, south of the Seine. Visit the Eiffel tower and, if you then have time, visit the Musée d’Orsay nearby (see the great Impressionists collection), which is open on Tuesdays.


Eastern central Paris: Visit the free Musée Carnavalet, the museum of Paris, and discover the old quarters of the Marais.

Central Paris; After lunch, see Notre Dame cathedral, go up the tower. Also on the Ile de la Cité are the Conciergerie (an historic prison with museum of the French Revolution) and the Sainte Chapelle. If you don’t have a Paris Pass , visit the Conciergerie first and buy a double ticket Concièrgerie/Sainte Chapelle, as Concièrgerie queues tend to be shorter. Then either visit the Latin quarter close by, or wander along the banks of the Seine (upstream) and visit the Jardin de Plantes botanical gardens.


Day Trip
Take a day out and visit either the Royal château at Versailles, or the older royal château at Fontainebleau. Either trip can be organised as an all inclusive guided trip, or for those who prefer to visit at their own pace can be done independently by taking the RER “C” suburban express train for Versailles, or a suburban train from Gare de Lyon for Fontainebleau (and bus from train station to the château). Or check out other inclusive day-trip excursions from Paris.


Take in another museum: either the Pompidou Center, or the Army Museum at Les Invalides, or the Paris Sewer Museum underground experience.

For your last afternoon, take a boat trip on the Seine (“Bateau Mouche“). Many trips depart from the Pont Neuf, or from the Quai de Montebello, opposite Notre Dame. Finally, leave time for some shopping. And to make a particularly memorable last day in Paris, choose from a range of lunch or dinner cruises on the Seine or in the Eiffel tower.


Bid farewell. Itinerary courtesy of AboutFrance.com.

Booking Accommodation

To book a suitable hotel or other accommodation in, or near Paris, you can use the map below, which shows current prices for hotels and apartments. To book further afield, then just enlarge the map (+/-) to see more properties or, if you are headed for a particular region, enter your preferred resort/town/village in the ‘Where are you going?’ box.


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