Paris is truly the city of light. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet. In 2013, more than 32 million people stayed at hotels in the area. Whether you want to celebrate French National Day on July 14 (this is when France celebrates the storming of the Bastille, the Paris prison) or want to learn how to say “I love you in more than 250 languages at the “Mur des Je T’aime,” there are too many reasons to want to visit Paris than can be listed here.
- Time your trip carefully. The only time of year that you may want to skip Paris is August. It is hotter than you would think a northern European city would be and all the locals clear out of town for their own vacations. April is famous for being a great time to visit Paris but it is beautiful all year round. In December, the city is decorated for Christmas and is really stunning. It all depends on what you want to do once you are there.
- Do not diet while in Paris. The Parisian cuisine is amazing. From the crepes you buy on the street to the full meals you have at fine dining establishments, if you have a bad meal in Paris, you have wasted your time, money and calories. You do not have to spend a lot to have a great meal. If you are on a budget, check out the Latin Quarter. There are a ton of restaurants that offer fixed price menus that have very tasty food.
- Enjoy a picnic. One easy and great way to eat is to either buy ready made sandwiches at the small shops that are everywhere or get a freshly made baguette and some cheese. You can bring this back to your hotel or to a park and enjoy the people watching. The Jardin des Plantes has a zoo, which is great if you are traveling with kids.
- Learn a few words in French. Your Paris vacation will be a lot more pleasant if you can say, “Je ne parle pas francais” rather than “I don’t speak French.” Despite what you may have heard, Parisians do not hate Americans. Like New Yorkers, people who live in Paris have places to go, people to see. They do not take a lot of time to deal with tourists. They will feel that you are treating them with respect when you show that you made an effort to learn some French and this will go a long way.
- Bring your walking shoes. When you visit Paris, you should be prepared to walk. This is a great city for it. The walk from the Arc de Triomphe to the arch by the Louvre is a great walk. Walk along the Seine to find the smaller Statue of Liberty that is the model for the larger one that the French gave us. Take in all of the sights by foot. If you get tired, the buses also offer great views of the city. In warmer months, the backs to many are open.
- See some of the less visited museums. Everyone wants to see the Mona Lisa but there are some other museums that are worth checking out. In the Latin Quarter, you will find the Musandeacute;e national du Moyen Age, also called the Musee Cluny, it is the oldest museum in the city and is almost always empty. L’Orangerie, located at one end of the Louvre, has floor to ceiling Monet paintings in their basement. These Water Lilies will blow any others you have seen away. The Musee D’Orsay used to be a train station and is now a wonderful place to view art. If sculpture is more your thing, the Rodin Museum is a must do for your vacation in Paris.
Paris is one of the most romantic places on the planet but there really is something for everyone. When you visit Paris, you will never be able to see and do everything but you can take in all you can. Just going to a cafe and enjoying a cafe au lait with a freshly baked croissant while people watching is an adventure in Paris. Enjoy everything!