It took seven years of traveling for me to make my way to Paris. It was a destination I put off for years. For whatever reason, I had no interest in the city. It just seemed overdone, and there were so many other places higher on my bucket list. But then, a few years ago I found myself in Paris by way of a 36-hour connection en route to Cypus. And with just one full day, I quickly became smitten with the city. There's a reason it's so beloved, and I've traveled to Paris three times since, always for a week at a time. Below is my complete travel guide to the city, and I've included my favorite places to visit, museums, restaurants & cafes, Eiffel Tower viewpoints, hotels, travel tips and more. Honestly, the Paris is so massive, that this barely scratches the surface of all the city's offerings. But this guide is a good start for first-time visitors. There's enough here to fill a five-day visit.
Eiffel Tower views from Trocadero. Outfit details: Fortunate One Store dress, linked here.
HOW MANY DAYS IN PARIS
While a month in Paris is the dream, six nights is a good start for first-time visitors. Five full days will give you a good taste of the city. You can move around by Metro, explore a handful of Arrondissements on foot, eat at the best restaurants, cafes and bistros, visit a couple museums and see all the best tourist attractions.
Exploring the city's charming Latin Quarter. Outfit details: Fortunate One Store dress, linked here.
WHEN TO VISIT PARIS
There's never a bad time visit Paris! My favorite season is Spring when the weather is comfortable, flowers are blooming and crowds are still manageable. Summer attracts the most tourists, but there's nothing like the energy of Paris this time of the year. Late nights on the river banks with a bottle of wine; packed tables at outdoor cafes; and the city bustling with excitement during big events like the World Cup or Pride. If you're looking for a more mellow time to visit, Fall offers pleasant weather, and by late September the summer crowds have faded away. Expect cold temperatures during Winter, but the holiday vibes will keep you warm and cozy. Paris is a pretty special experience during the holidays - a festivity of lights, decorations, shopping and music.
Montmartre is my favorite neighborhood in Paris because it looks like a little French village.
Waiting for the Eiffel Tower to light up!
PLACES TO VISIT IN PARIS
ARC DE TRIOMPHE
19th century monument that sits at the end of the Champs-Élysées, in the center of Place Charles de Gaulle. While most tourists stop to soak in the grandeur of the archway from below, it's also possible to buy a ticket to visit the Arc de Triomphe rooftop. 284 steps will get you to the top, or an elevator can drop you midway. (rooftop hours: 10 AM-10:30 PM)
ATELIER DES LUMIERES
I've visited immersive art exhibits all over the world, but Atelier des Lumieres is still my favorite. Visitors scatteer throughout a large open space where the walls, floors and ceilings are engulfed in artwork from 140 video projectors, creating a completely immersive experience. The exhibit changes year to year. When I visited a few years ago, it featured Van Gough's Starry Night, as well as print art from the Japanese Edo period. Other artist work that has been featured includes Monet, Renoir and Chagall, as well as Dali and Gaudi at the current exhibition. Advanced tickets can be purchased online. (hours: 10 AM-6 PM Monday through Thursday, 10 AM-10 PM Friday and Saturday; and 10 AM-7 PM Sundays)
The Eiffel Tower is the most iconic landmark in Paris, and there are so many ways to experience it. For the best viewpoints from afar, you'll want to visit these locations: Trocadero, the banks surrounding Pont d'Iena, Champs de Mars, the Avenue de Camoens balcony, Rue St. Dominique, Rue de L'Universitre and Bik Hakeim Bridge. And, of course, a visit to the top is a must to truly experience the size and scale of the 1,063-ft structure. The tower is 81-stories tall with three upper levels for tourists - two levels of dining, plus a top floor observation deck 906-ft. above the ground. (hours: 9:30 AM-10:30 PM, hours may vary seasonally)
A visit to Galleries Lafayette Haussmann is a must while in Paris. The flagship location's three buildings sit in the 9th Arrondissement and offer shoppers a little bit of everything including departments for men, women and children, designer goods, food products and souvenirs. If the abundance is overwhelming, just head straight to the main building to see the iconic ornate dome, and then visit the sixth floor for unique gifts and souvenirs.
The oldest district in Paris, the bustling Latin Quarter is a maze of small streets lined with cafes, restaurants, cabarets and bars, located on the Left Bank.
Les Marais is located in the 4th Arrondissement, home to some of best restaurants, bars and shopping in the city. A great neighborhood to get lost on foot, and ideal location to stay if you can get a hotel or AiBnb.
Even if art isn't your thing, The Louvre is a must-visit while in Paris. It's one of the finest museums in the world, housing thousands of pieces of art including paintings, sculptures, scrolls, jewels, textiles, ceramics and more from all over the world, and from all different time periods. There is always a line at The Louvre - best to buy tickets for opening in advance, and arrive a few minutes early to see the iconic glass pyramid without crowds of tourists in the morning. (hours: 9 AM-6 PM, closed Tuesdays)
This beautiful public park in the 6th Arrondissement is filled with perfectly manicured lawns, flowers, fountains, chairs and more than 100 sculptures. A popular spot to hang out when the weather is warm. (hours vary seasonally)
If you're looking for all the feels of a small French village, visit the hilltop neighborhood of Montmartre. It's my favorite neighborhood in all of Paris, a maze of cobbled lanes lined with vintage newsstands, Parisian cafes and charming shops. Highlights in Montmartre include the Sacré-Cœur Basilica (highest point in Paris), La Maison Rose (Instagram darling) and main square where artists spend the day painting and selling artwork.
Even after the tragic fire, Notre Dame remains one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Europe. Reconstruction of the medieval church is still underway, but it's still worth a visit to see the famous rose window and bell towers, even if it's only from the outside.
PALACE OF VERSAILLES
The former royal residence sits approximately 12 miles outside of Paris, but will likely take about an hour to reach by car, taxi or train. Allow yourself a full day to soak in Versailles, there's a lot to see! Popular stops include the Gardens, the Main Palace, Trianon Estate and Marie Antoinette's Hamlet. To avoid the long lines, purchase tickets in advance online. Also, best to arrive first thing in the morning, and avoid visiting on weekends. (hours: 9 AM-5:30 PM, closed Mondays)
The Paris Opera House can be visited as a tourist attraction - best to arrive early when it first opens, or late in the afternoon before closing. It's a spectacular space, particularly the Grand Staircase, Grand Foyer and the Auditorium, all dripping in ornate gold and red elegance. (hours: 10 AM-5 PM, daily)
Palais Royale is located directly across the street from The Louvre. Free to visit, it's home to the iconic black and white striped columns that you'll find in the former palace's inner courtyard, along side the Orleans Gallery. (hours: 8 AM-10:30 AM, daily)
PARISIAN COVERED PASSAGEWAYS
Scattered throughout Paris are 18th century covered passageways lined with bookshops, boutiques, Parisian cafes, flower shops, street lamps and more that connected parallel streets with the Arrondissements. These hidden gems are beautiful, usually with high glass ceilings, mosaic floors and lined with Parisian lamps. Some of the city's loveliest passageways include Galerie Vivienne, Passage du Grand Cerf, Galerie Colbert, Passage Brady and Passage Jouffroy (these all make for a great retreat when it's raining in Paris).
A charming street tucked away in the 12th Arrondissement, Rue Cremieux has all the feels of Notting Hill. The one-block pedestrian lane is lined with pastel houses - a very popular spot for photos.
SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY
Absolutely darling English-language book store located on the city's Left Bank. Spend an hour pursuing the cozy shop, and then sit down to read a few pages next door at the Shakespeare and Company Cafe.
There are Eiffel Tower viewpoint scattered all over Paris, but nothing as spectacular as the unobstructed views at Trocadero. It sits in front of the Palais de Chaillot, and it's a a popular tourist attraction all hours of the day - sunrise, midday and sunset.
The iconic glass pyramids of The Louvre.
The Grand Staircase of the Paris Opera House.
PLACES TO EAT IN PARIS
Solid spot for pastries, cakes, breads and sweets - basically, any baked goods. Located in the 11th Arrondissement.
BREIZH CAFE MONTORGUEIL
There are few Breizh locations scattered across the city - I frequented the Montorgueil location in the 2nd Arrondissement. The specialty is crepes - my favorite was the option with their homemade hazelnut chocolate sauce.
Cafe Marly is completely overpriced, but might be worth the cup of coffee for the lovely view of The Louvre - tables look right out at the glass pyramid. Yes, it's expensive, but the location is pretty memorable.
An Instagram darling, Dalmata is completely decked out in pink and white decor - the tiled walls, the stools and even the pizza boxes. And surprisingly, the place serves up some damn delicious, authentic Napolese pies.
The popular London cafe has made its way to Paris! You'll find this pink and white cafe on the 4th floor of the Galeries Lafeyette. To be honest, the food and drinks were underwhelming. Just including it in this roundup because it's a fun cafe for photos.
The same owners as Dalmata, Giorgio is just as cute and just as delicious, but offers more seating and and menu variety for guests including pizza, pasta, lasagna, burrata and more.
Australians know how to brunch, so of course the cutest brunch spot in Paris comes from Down Under. Hardware Societe is in the Montmartre neighborhood. Popular dishes include baked eggs, burrata, fried brioche, toasts and benedicts. Arrive early for brunch, or expect to wait for a table.
Step inside this small ramen shop, and you'll think you're in Japan. The interior looks completely authentic, and the noodles taste authentic too. If you need a break from French cuisine while in Paris, Kodwari is a delicious alternative.
LE COQ & FILS
Birds are the specialty at this small Montmartre restaurant, a great spot for delicious roasted chicken and its fixin's. Space is modern and chic, but small. Reservations recommended for Le Coq & Fils.
LE PELOTON CAFE
Popular coffee spot in Paris' Le Marais neighborhood.
LE PRE AUX CLERCS
This place can be hit and miss. It's a small corner bistro (nothing special) in the Saint Germain des Pres neighborhood, and I order the same thing every visit from a corner table at the window - bistro roasted chicken, frites and a glass of Chardonnay.
Big Mamma Group operates seven restaurants, one food market and one bar in Paris. All are solid options, but Pink Mamma is my favorite. The four-story trattoria boasts the cutest restaurant decor in Paris - the glass-enclosed fourth floor is particularly charming, adorned in teals, gold and lots of leafy greenery. Menu includes handmade pasta, fresh pizzas, meats and tasty cocktails. Reservations are a must.
Delicious coffee shop and eatery that offers a limited (but delicious!) brunch menu - granolas, avocado toast, breakfast burrito, Dutch baby pancakes and dessert. Zia on the pricier side, but food is solid.
Cheers to an Italian feast at Pink Mamma!
This is one of my favorite restaurants in Paris - the tastiest Italian food, delicious drinks and the cutest decor!
Reservations are a must at this restaurant!
PLACES TO STAY IN PARIS
No matter where I am in the world, Four Seasons properties are always a solid choice. And the Four Seasons Hotel George V is no exception. The building dates back to the 1930s, and sits near the Champs-Elysses in the city's Golden triangle. Rooms are bright and airy with big windows, and the design is very Parisian with creamy tones and molding throughout the ceilings and walls.
Hotel Splendid Etoile is a small boutique property with generally reasonable prices, by Paris standards. The rooms are standard, nothing spectacular, but you'll want to stay here for the sweeping views of the Arc de Triomphe. Book early to secure one of the rooms / suites that face the famous archway - the Privilege Room with a View is the best option.
Amazing boutique property if you can nab the Eiffel Tower Suite. The living room faces a large oval window that perfectly frames the iconic Eiffel Tower. Le Metropolitan is located near Trocadero.
PLACE VENDOME LUXURY HOTELS - THE RITZ, MANDARIN ORIENTAL & PARK HYATT
There is a two-block radius near the Palais Garnier where's you find a cluster of the most luxurious (and expensive!) hotels in the city - Ritz Paris, Mandarin Oriental and Park Hyatt Vendome. If you're looking to splurge, these places will offer up an exquisite stay in the city, but price per night starts anywhere from $1,100 to $2,000 USD. Place Vendome location is ideal - close to the Opera House and the Galeries Lafayette.
Beautiful 17-century building that has been converted into an upscale hotel. Pavillon de la Reine sits in tucked away in Le Marais surrounding a private courtyard where the walls are engulfed in ivy. The hotel houses nearly 60 well-appointed guest rooms and suites. Stay here for truly quintessential Paris experience.
SHANGRI-LA (I stayed here)
My favorite of the Shangri-La properties. The hotel is located in the 16th Arrondissement, walking distance to both Trocadero and the Eiffel Tower. The room decor is exquisite - very Parisian, and several with balcony views of Eiffel Tower. Shangri-La Paris also has a stunning indoor pool, lined with ornate white columns and luxurious daybeds.
Palais Royale is located across the street from The Louvre. Outfit details: Lulu's sweater dress linked here.
Cafe vibes in Montmartre.
GETTING AROUND PARIS
There are lots of options when it comes to getting around Paris, and I've done them all - taxi, bus, Metro, walking, scooter and bicycle. The easiest and cheapest is a combination of the Metro and walking. The city's public transportation system is affordable, efficient and incredibly easy to use. There are kiosks in the Metro stations where one-off tickets or ticket bundles are available for purchase.
Bistro chicken, frites and a cold glass of Chardonnay is my go-to meal in Paris.
Historic shopping passageways are located all over the city - this one is Passage du Grand Cerf. Outfit details: Tularosa dress linked here.
Hot cocoa treat on a cold Paris morning.
GETTING TO PARIS
Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) is the largest airport in the country, connecting Paris to countless cities around the world. Both budget airlines and major international airlines fly in and out of CDG.
Views of Notre Dame Cathedral. Outfit details: Fortunate One Store dress, linked here.
Fresh bread all day, every day.
Farewell, Paris! Outfit details: Tularosa dress, linked here.