Destination Spotlight: Paris Travel Guide
Issue #13-23 features a Destination Spotlight travel guide on Paris including highlights of the city, as well as a look at the best places to stay, where to eat and the top things to do and see
Destination Spotlight travel guides from The Family Travel Guy are delivered to your inbox on the last Friday of the month highlighting a new location each time that we have visited, as I previewed at the beginning of the year: Here's what you can expect in 2023 from The Family Travel Bulletin
Destination Spotlight on Paris, France
Paris, the capital of France, is a beautiful and historic city that offers a unique blend of art, culture, history and is famous for its iconic landmarks, world-class museums, charming neighborhoods, and delicious cuisine.
This destination spotlight travel guide for Paris includes planning tips, highlights of the city, things you need to know, as well as a look at the best places to stay, where to eat and the top things to do and see from our recent trip to the City of Light.
Paris is situated on the banks of the River Seine and is the most populous city of France, with a population of approximately 2.2 million people living within the city limits, and over 12 million people in the surrounding metropolitan area.
Paris is a global hub for fashion, food, and the arts, attracting millions of tourists each year. The city is also home to numerous museums, galleries, and landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and Notre-Dame Cathedral.
Paris is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city that offers something for everyone, with most travelers wanting to visit these areas of Paris:
Le Marais: This historic neighborhood is popular with both locals and tourists and is known for its charming streets, trendy shops, and lively nightlife.
Saint-Germain-des-Pres: Located on the Left Bank of the Seine River, this area is known for its cafes, bookshops, and bohemian vibe.
Montmartre: This neighborhood is located on a hill overlooking the city and is known for its artistic history and stunning views. It's a bit further from the city center, but it offers a quieter and more authentic Parisian experience.
Latin Quarter: This lively neighborhood is known for its student population and vibrant atmosphere. It's located near several major attractions, including Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Pantheon.
Champs-Elysees: This iconic avenue is lined with luxury shops, restaurants, and hotels, making it a popular spot for upscale travelers. It's also located near several major attractions, including the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower.
Know Before You Go
Here are a few things to know before you visit Paris:
The currency used in Paris, as well as in the rest of France, is the Euro, abbreviated EUR.
The Euro comes in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 euro bills, as well as 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cent coins, and 1 and 2 euro coins.
The exchange rate, as of March 2023, for $1 USD is 0.93 Euro.
It's a good idea to have some cash on hand when traveling to Paris, as not all establishments accept credit or debit cards, especially smaller businesses.
In Paris, the electrical sockets used are Type E sockets, which are also used in many other European countries. These sockets have two round pins and are rated at 230 volts.
Learn a few basic French phrases: While many Parisians speak English, it is always appreciated when visitors make an effort to speak French.
Climate During the Year
Paris has a temperate oceanic climate, which means it experiences mild temperatures, relatively high humidity, and rainfall throughout the year.
When we were there during the Summer, it was very warm, but not unbearable. A few weeks after we left, Paris was hit with a heatwave and temperatures got very high.
Overall, I would say the best time to visit Paris in terms of weather is during the spring or fall, when temperatures are more mild and the crowds are a lot smaller. However, each season has its own unique charm, so it ultimately depends on your preferences and priorities.
Transportation System in Paris
The transportation system in Paris is extensive and efficient, with a variety of options to choose from.
Metro: The Paris Metro is one of the best ways to get around the city quickly and efficiently. It consists of 16 lines that connect all parts of the city.
Bus: The bus system in Paris is also extensive, with over 60 lines that operate in the city.
RER: The RER is a regional express train system that connects Paris with its suburbs and surrounding areas. It's also a good option for traveling to destinations like Disneyland Paris or the Palace of Versailles.
Taxis and ridesharing: Taxis are readily available in Paris, but they can be expensive and hard to flag down.
Ridesharing services like Uber are also available , but from our experience in Paris are not as reliable, as we had Uber cancel on us numerous times during our stay in Paris.
Overall, the transportation system in Paris is comprehensive and easy to use. It's a good idea to plan ahead and research the best transportation options for your specific needs and itinerary.
When to Visit
The best time to visit Paris largely depends on your preferences and what you plan on visiting during your stay.
Here's a breakdown of what to expect during each season:
Spring (March to May): Spring is a great time to visit Paris because the weather is mild, and the crowds are smaller than in the summer months. It's also the perfect time to see the cherry blossoms in bloom at various parks around the city.
Summer (June to August): Summer is the peak tourist season in Paris, with warm weather, longer days, and many outdoor events and festivals. However, it can also be crowded, and some locals may be on vacation, which means some shops and restaurants may be closed.
Fall (September to November): Fall is also a great time to visit Paris because the weather is mild, and the crowds are smaller than in the summer. The leaves start to change color, making the parks and gardens even more beautiful.
Winter (December to February): Winter in Paris can be chilly, but it's also the perfect time to experience the holiday season in the city. The streets are decorated with lights, and the Christmas markets offer an abundance of festive treats. Plus, there are smaller crowds during this time, which means shorter lines at museums and attractions.
I would say the best time to visit Paris is during the spring or fall when the weather is mild and the crowds are smaller. However, each season has its own unique charm, so it ultimately depends on what you want to see and experience.
How to Get There
Paris is a major transportation hub and there are several ways to get there by air or rail.
Flying: Paris is served by two major airports that include Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) and Orly Airport (ORY).
Both airports are located outside the city center, but they are well-connected to the city by public transportation. There are also several airlines that operate direct flights to Paris from major cities around the world.
Train Service: Paris is also well-connected to other European cities by train. The city has several train stations, with the largest being the Gare du Nord.
The Eurostar high-speed train connects Paris with London in just over 2 hours, and there are also trains to other major cities like Brussels, Amsterdam, and Frankfurt.
If you're traveling from within France, there are also several domestic train options, including the TGV high-speed train.
Where to Stay
There are many great options to consider staying at when visiting Paris that depend on your particular preferences (travel style, hotel location, etc) and budget.
One of the things to consider when traveling to Paris (and Europe in general) with kids is being able to find hotels that accommodate up to 4 people in one room or suite. Most hotels have a maximum occupancy set at 2 or 3 people per room, even for larger suites sometimes, so it can become very challenging to find a hotel and room category that will work for you and not break the bank at the same time. If if you can't find a room for at least 4 people, then you may end up having to book two rooms (and not break the travel budget) and hope the hotel offers connecting rooms.
For our most recent trip to Paris, we stayed at the Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe, which is located in Paris' 17th arrondissement near its namesake - the Arc de Triomphe.
We selected this hotel due to the family rooms that it offered for a family of four and since we were able to use Marriott Bonvoy points to cover the cost of our five night stay. We also selected this hotel since we have hotel status (Marriott Bonvoy Titanium) that unlocks extra benefits/amenities like daily breakfast that saved us ~$80-$100 a day.
Other great hotel options I would recommend include:
Virtuoso Travel Hotels in Paris: Hotels where you can get extra value and benefits/amenities lie daily breakfast, hotel credits and more.
Marriott STARS & Marriott Luminous hotels in Paris include: Bulgari Hotel Paris, Hotel de Berri Champs-Elysees, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Paris, Le Dokhan's, Paris Arc de Triomphe, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, Le Metropolitan, Paris Tour Eiffel, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, Paris Marriott Champs Elysees Hotel, Paris Marriott Opera Ambassador Hotel, Prince de Galles, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Paris, Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe Hotel, Renaissance Paris Nobel Tour Eiffel Hotel, Renaissance Paris Republique Hotel, Renaissance Paris Vendome Hotel and the The Westin Paris-Vendome
Things To Do
There is no shortage of things to do and see while visiting Paris, as the city is full of iconic landmarks, world-class museums, and a vibrant cultural scene with a rich history.
Here are some of the top attractions and activities to consider during your visit to Paris:
Eiffel Tower: No trip to Paris is complete without a visit to the iconic Eiffel Tower. You can take a tour of the tower, climb to the top for stunning views of the city, or have a picnic in the nearby Champ de Mars.
Louvre Museum: The Louvre is one of the world's largest and most famous museums, with an extensive collection of art and artifacts from all over the world. Some of its most famous works include the Mona Lisa and the Winged Victory of Samothrace.
Notre-Dame Cathedral: This stunning Gothic cathedral is one of the most famous landmarks in Paris, known for its beautiful stained glass windows and ornate architecture. It's currently undergoing renovations, but you can still admire its exterior and visit the nearby Sainte-Chapelle, which has some of the most beautiful stained glass windows in the world.
Montmartre: This bohemian neighborhood is known for its artistic history and stunning views of the city. You can visit the famous Sacre-Coeur Basilica, stroll through the charming streets, and enjoy street performers and artists.
Seine River Cruise: A Seine River cruise is a great way to see the city from a different perspective and take in some of its most famous landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, and the Louvre.
Palace of Versailles: Located just outside Paris, the Palace of Versailles is a stunning example of French Baroque architecture and was once the royal residence of King Louis XIV. You can tour the palace, stroll through the gardens, and admire the Hall of Mirrors.
Other places to consider visiting include the Arc de Triomphe (the views from the top of Paris are amazing and well worth the climb), Jardin des Tuileries, Musee d'Orsay, and Disneyland Paris (you can cover both parks easily in a long day).
Where to Eat
The city of Paris is very walkable and no matter where you are in the city, it seems like there is a cafe, boulangerie, brasserie, or bistro around every corner.
The places we ate at largely depended on which part of Paris we were in around lunch or dinner time and location mainly dictated the available restaurant options for us.
For example, I always like to plan ahead and research food options closest to where we would be in the city, so we don't have to hunt around too long to get a bite to eat. Knowing what options we have near us and where they are located comes in handy when traveling with younger children, but for this trip I didn't make a list of places to eat at and figured there would always be something close by where we were that would work for everyone.
For breakfast each morning, we ate at the hotel (Marriott Bonvoy Titanium breakfast benefit) at Solis Restaurant, which helped us save over $$80-100 a day on breakfast alone, based on their prices.
While exploring Paris, other sit-down restaurants we enjoyed on this trip included:
Solis Bar & Restaurant (at the hotel)
Bistro des Champs
La Crème de Paris Notre-Dame
Laduree (for macaroons)
La Terrasse de Pomone (conveniently located in Jardin des Tuileries near the Louvre, food and service was okay at best)
Agrabah Cafe (located inside Disneyland Paris)
Since we had a hearty breakfast most mornings, we ended up having lunch and dinner at odd times throughout the day after visiting an attraction so didn't experience long waits for meals. We did see some very long lines for popular restaurants, but when traveling with kids, we never wanted to wait very long to be seated so didn't really research much into the best and trendy places to eat in Paris. It was more about convenience for us and largely depended on where we currently were in Paris.
Paris is known for its incredible food scene, with a wide range of restaurants, cafes, and bakeries to suit all tastes and budgets and Parisian cuisine is renowned for its rich and diverse flavors, influenced by French culinary traditions and international influences.
Be sure to try some of the following french delicacies:
Croissants: Paris is famous for its buttery, flaky croissants, which are a staple of French breakfasts and can be found in bakeries throughout the city.
Baguettes: Another iconic Parisian food, the baguette is a long, thin loaf of bread with a crispy crust and soft interior. It's often used to make sandwiches or served alongside meals.
Escargot: A classic French dish, escargots (snails) are typically served as an appetizer and cooked with garlic butter and parsley.
Steak Frites: This simple yet delicious dish consists of steak and French fries, often served with a side of salad or vegetables.
Cheese: France is famous for its cheeses, and Paris has a wide variety of delicious options to choose from, including Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, and Comté.
Macarons: These colorful, delicate pastries are made with almond flour, sugar, and egg whites, and come in a variety of flavors, including raspberry, pistachio, and chocolate.
Creme Brulee: This creamy dessert is made with vanilla custard and topped with a layer of caramelized sugar, creating a satisfying contrast of textures and flavors.
Paris is a beautiful and captivating city that is worth visiting at least once in a lifetime.
If you're considering a trip to Paris, I hope some of the information here can help you plan out your next trip. There is so much to see and do, so be sure to plan ahead and add some of the city's top attractions to your itinerary. Or better yet, consider a private or semi-private guided tour so you don’t miss out on anything and learn all about history along the way. I highly recommend Context Travel for this, as well as Meet the Locals for Families.
I hope this destination spotlight guide helps you plan out your next trip to Paris and gives you a glimpse into highlights of the city, as well as a look the best places to stay and things to do and see in Paris.
The Family Travel Guy
I hope this email helped spark some travel inspiration!
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