I honestly don’t know one person without Paris on their travel list. Maybe it’s the whimsical streets that transport you to another time, or the iconic museums, or the Eiffel Tower light show. Regardless, this city has the whole world in a trance, and most chomping at the bit to hop on a flight to CDG.
I had the honor of getting to visit during my semester abroad, and am counting down the days until I’m back to the City of Love, Lights, and All Things Incroyable.
Before even jumping into the itinerary, know that there are multiple airports in Paris. If you fly a budget airline within the Schengen area like I did, then you will likely end up at Beauvais airport. This one’s located quite a trek from Paris itself, and there’s no train. However, there is a bus. I paid about 18 euros one way for my ticket inside the airport, but you can save by booking online in advance here. It’ll take about an hour and will drop you off in the city center, so it’s pretty convenient! Any other airport in Paris will have a metro station located inside, so no worries on that front.
I paid about 18 euros one way for my ticket inside the airport, but you can save by booking online in advance here. It’ll take about an hour and will drop you off in the city center, so it’s pretty convenient! Any other airport in Paris will have a metro station located inside, so no worries on that front.
I visited Paris with a friend that I met in my study abroad program, and we opted to split an Airbnb. We stayed at this adorable little apartment, and couldn’t have been happier with our accommodations. The building smelled like a flower shop coming up the stairs. Ah, it just felt so Paris.
The hostess was a joy, and the neighborhood was a perfect balance of quiet residential, with close proximity to the center of the city. Here’s a link for $40 off your first Airbnb stay of $75 per night or more. I wouldn’t recommend Airbnb if I didn’t absolutely love using this service, and I have a feeling you will, too!
The easiest way to get around Paris, aside from walking, is the metro. My friend and I purchased a book of 10 tickets that were worth one trip each for about 14 euros. Make sure you count them all before walking away from the ticket booth, and don’t lose them! You cannot use them for rides if you don’t have the physical ticket.
Also, they are only good for the Paris city center. There will be a map with different zones on it, and it will show you which neighborhoods are included. Anything outside of zone 1 is off limits for these. If you need to travel a farther distance, then just put in your destination and get a separate ticket for that trip.
day 1 // free walking tour
As with most of my travels through Europe, I started my weekend in Paris with a free walking tour. I highly, highly recommend doing one of these. The guides are so passionate about sharing their city with the world, and I always learn so much. We started at Notre Dame, and worked our way to the famous lock bridge, the Seine, a tranquil park, and the Louvre. Check out for a few different options, some of which even operate at night:
After our tour, we stepped into a shop and got a box of macaroons, then grabbed some lunch to go for a picnic in the park with a view of the Eiffel Tower. It’s one of the cheapest things you can do in Paris, and was one of my favorite parts of the weekend. Cheers and bon appétit!
The Louvre was everything I dreamed it would be, and then some. I remember standing in awe at some paintings and sculptures I had seen in classes, just in the flesh, right in front of me.
I will say that the selfie-stick-clad crowds in front of the Mona Lisa zap all of the magic out of that specific experience, but the rest of the museum is a true treasure.
This one will definitely need another visit, and another, and another–well, you get it. Our guide from the free walking tour said that you could spend three days straight, without eating, sleeping, or even taking a bathroom break, to see every work of art in the Louvre for one minute apiece. Whew. I see many more trips to Paris in my future for the Louvre alone.
arc de triomphe
After checking out the Louvre, we strolled down the Champs-Élysées, and stopped at the Arc de Triomphe. I had seen it in photos before, but wasn’t prepared for how huge and majestic it is. You can also go to the top of it, but it’s just as gorgeous from the ground.
The Eiffel Tower is the entire reason I went to Paris for the first time. On our first night in the city, my friend and I walked around and I literally gasped the first time I saw it. My heart beat faster, and my steps got quicker. I was living in a dream.
The next night, we paid to take the elevators to the top and all I can say is WOW. This experience took my expectations and blew them completely out of the water. I loved going at night especially, because the city lights of all of Paris are visible from the top of the Eiffel Tower. After sunset, the Eiffel Tower has a light show every hour. We were at the top when all the lights started blinking!
I visited in March, and the winds were pretty heavy at night up at that altitude, but it was 110% worth it. You can pay at the ticket counter, but prepare to wait in line for a while first. And pay attention to what time you arrive, because there is a cutoff to when they stop letting people get in line. You can also buy tickets in advance. There are few things on Earth as magical as this!
day 2 // versailles
Fresh from our adrenaline rush of being at the top of the Eiffel Tower during the light show the night before, we headed to Château de Versailles for a day trip from Paris. I have never seen anything more decadent, ornate, or drop-dead gorgeous.
We paid 20 euros per person for access to all the gardens, palace, and Marie Antoinette’s residence, and it included an audio guide. You can pay in-person at the ticket counter, or buy online in advance. I loved seeing the furniture and artwork, the architecture, and the majesty of every feature. I remember being so enthralled by the ceilings alone because they were so beautifully painted. This excursion is also quite the workout; Marie Antoinette lived a good 30-45 minute walk from King Louis XIV’s palace. I guess there’s no need to get a divorce when you live that far apart anyway!
We also had lunch at the café on palace grounds. The service was excellent, and the food delicious. I didn’t expect to visit Versailles on my first trip to Paris, but I can definitely say after my day there that this trip absolutely must be included in your Paris itinerary!
The magic, the beauty, the other-world feeling just keeps pulling me back to Paris. I will without a shadow of a doubt go back to this ethereal place.
On my next trip, I’ll be going on a free walking tour of Montmartre, seeing the Moulin Rouge, going back to the Louvre, going inside Notre Dame, and visiting more museums, like the Musée d’Orsay and the Orangerie (Bonjour, Monet!). And, of course, I will be going back to the Eiffel Tower 10 or 12 times.
What are your favorite places in Paris? What should I visit next? Thanks for reading, and au revoir for now!