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Paris Travel Guide, France

Paris is the city of art, romance, indulgence, and passion. It’s also the city of strife, death, and racial tension.

Everywhere you go, you’re surrounded by stories, myths, and history. It’s almost haunting.

There’s a mysticism that surrounds the city’s history, leaders, iconic architecture, café culture, and fashion that fuels Parisian wanderlust all over the world. 

Every traveler will come to the City of Lights, the capital of France. And, depending on what you’re looking for, it may enthrall you, or disappoint you.

Paris is flooded with tourism. If you come to gawk at the well-known sights, you may leave feeling frustrated by the long lines and crowds. But, if you come to Paris with a light agenda and the freedom to explore, Paris will likely enchant you.

Le Train Bleu Restaurant in Paris
  • Région: Île-de-France
  • Districts: Paris is divided into 20 districts, called arrondissements. These arrondissements spiral out clockwise from the center of Paris, Île de la Cité. 
  • Population: 11,277,000
  • Tipping Etiquette: In bars and cafés, round up to the nearest Euro. In restaurants, you can tip 10% (if the service is good). 
  • Water Quality: Tap water is safe to drink.
  • Public Transit. The Paris Metro is the fastest and most efficient way to navigate Paris. When you arrive, buy a packet (“carnet”) of 10 tickets to save time and money. These carnets can be purchased at a ticket office, or a ticket machine in the metro station. A single ticket will take you anywhere within the city of Paris, including both the Metro and RER transit lines. Note: the Metro network serves Paris, and the RER train system serves Paris and its suburbs.
  • Get the Guidebook: Rick Steves Paris
  • Where to Stay in ParisSelect Hote (midrange), or Le Roch Hotel & Spa (luxury)

Where to Stay in Paris

Midrange | Select Hotel is a fine hotel located in the heart of the Latin Quarter. Rooms are small but comfortable. The staff is friendly and helpful.

Luxury | Le Roch Hotel & Spa is a five-star boutique hotel worthy of hosting queens. It’s located 600 meters from Opéra Garnier and 700 meters from Louvre Museum. The hotel features beautifully designed rooms, an indoor swimming pool, spa and wellness center, and an on-site restaurant.

Look for accommodation in Paris.

4 Things to Do in Paris

1. Dine in Le Train Bleu

Le Train Bleu Ceiling, Paris

Le Train Bleu (“The Blue Train”) is located in the Gare de Lyon train station.

It’s far more than a restaurant; it’s a visual feast. The walls and ceilings are covered in frescoes, framed by gold gilded carvings and moldings. The interior is further enhanced by chandeliers and midnight-blue upholstered furniture. Each of the 41 paintings illustrates a different destination that a traveler could reach via the PLM Railway Company in the early 1900s.

Completed in 1901, Le Train Bleu served as a prestigious buffet. It was built by the railway company to showcase travel, luxury, and technical innovation. Coco Chanel and Brigitte Bardot were two of the many Parisians that dined here regularly.

We recommend coming here to celebrate a special occasion. 

The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner. The bar is open daily for breakfast, small meals, and drinks. Reservations are recommended. 

Address: Le Train Bleu, 1st floor, Gare de Lyon, Place Louis Armand, 75012 Paris, France

2. Walk around Le Jardin du Luxembourg

The Luxembourg Gardens might be the most inviting place in Paris. On a sunny day, you can spend the day here, relaxing with a book, picnic or group of friends.

The area around the pool and palace is especially beautiful. It’s encircled by 20 white statues of French queens and distinguished women. It seems extremely fitting given that a woman, Queen Marie de’ Medici, was responsible for orchestrating the creation of the gardens and the royal residence in the early 1600s. The Luxembourg palace serves today as the meeting place for the French Senate.

Location: The gardens are situated between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter. 

3. Wander Through Hidden Passages

Paris has a number of pedestrian passageways that connect the city.

Between the late 18th and mid-19th centuries, city planners created approximately 150 covered passages that served as early shopping arcades. Here, Parisians could take shelter from the weather and the commotion of the streets as well as shop, dine and drink.

These galleries are characteristically bright, because of their glass ceilings. Today, there are about two dozen passages in existence. We visited:

Galerie Vivienne | Built in 1823, this light-flooded space is enhanced by its elegant floor mosaics, oval doors, glass roof and plants. This is a great place to relax and drink a glass of wine on a cold day. Entrance: 4 Rue des Petits Champs, 2nd

Passage Jouffroy | You can find this passage by navigating to Musée Grévin, Paris’s wax museum. It’s narrow, crowded, and rather cute. You can buy toys, walking sticks, books, and postcards here. Entrance: 10 Boulevard Montmartre, 9th

Passage Brady | Also known as “Little India,” Passage Brady houses a number of Indian, Pakistani, and Mauritian businesses. Come here if you’re seeking spices, flavorful food, exotic goods, and something a bit different. Entrance: 43 rue du Faubourg-Saint-Martin, 10th 

Passage de l’Ancre | This is an open-air passage that connects Rue Saint-Martin and Rue de Turbigo. Lined with potted plants and colorful storefronts, this hidden gem is quiet and not frequented by many visitors. Entrance 223 rue Saint-Martin, 3rd

After you explore these hidden passages, make sure to visit Paris’ most iconic architectural spots.

4. Watch a Game at Parc des Princes

For a night out with passionate locals, head to Parc des Princes to see Paris Saint-Germain play. Allot extra time (at least one hour) for security checks. The stadium has a capacity of 49,000, so there will be tons of people trying to get in the stadium.

Where to Eat and Drink in Paris

Paris Boulangerie

Du Pain et Des Idées | Traditional bakery with a magical interior. There’s no interior seating, but you can sit outside. Address: 34 Rue Yves Toudic, 10th

Éric Kayser | Delicious pastries. There are over 20 Éric Kayser boulangeries in Paris, which means a mouth-watering pan au chocolat is just around the corner.

Breizh Café | Enjoy savory and sweet crepes in this Crêperie. Address: 109 Rue Vieille du Temple, the Marais

Les Deux Magots | This traditional café attracts lots of tourists, because Les Deux Magots was regularly frequented by the city’s literary and artistic elite: Elsa Triolet, Louis Aragon, Picasso, Hemingway, etc.. Only come here to sit outside, people watch, and relax over a glass of wine.  Address: 6 Place Saint-Germain des Prés, St-Germain des Prés’

L’Épi Dupin | Intimate French restaurant offering fixed menus. Environmentally-conscious chef. Delicious and artistic cuisine. Address: 11 Rue Dupin, 6th

Le Train Bleu | Breathtaking interior. Come here to celebrate a special occasion. Address: Le Train Bleu, 1st floor, Gare de Lyon, Place Louis Armand

Paris Day Trip: Versailles

Versailles Gardens

Located about 20 kilometers from Paris, Château de Versailles was a royal residence of French monarchs for just over 100 years.

Versailles is most often associated with King Louis XIV (the Sun King) because he moved the royal court from Paris to Versailles in 1682 and transformed it from a hunting lodge to a grand showcase of French art and architecture.

Versailles continued to be the seat of political power until the French Revolution (1789) when the royal family was forced to return to Paris.

Getting Here from Paris. To get to Versailles, you’ll take the RER C train. 

How much time do you need? When visiting Versailles, allot a full day. There’s a lot to see beyond the royal apartments and the hall of mirrors. We recommend checking out these attractions:

Gallery of Coaches

Located in the Great Stables, the Gallery of Coaches showcases majestic ceremonial coaches. These ostentatious horse-drawn vehicles are artistic masterpieces. You’ll see the marriage coach of Napoléon I, the coronation coach of Charles X and the funeral coach of Louis XVIII, among others.

Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet

The Queen’s Hamlet is situated in the park of Château de Versailles, close to the Petit Trianon.

Built in 1783 for Marie Antoinette, the Hamlet served as a place of leisure and privacy for her and her friends. The Hamlet comprises meadows, streams, a pond, gardens, a farm, rustic cottages and a Temple of Love.

This type of model farm, which evokes the feeling of being in the countryside, was fashionable among the French aristocrats at the time.

Wandering through Hameau de la Reine paints a slightly different picture of Marie Antoinette.

She wanted her own private space where she could escape prying courtiers and her own structured life. In the hamlet, she dressed up as a young shepherdess. It seems that she sought simplicity, freedom, and peace – all of which are represented in the pastoral setting she created.

Grand Trianon

This pink marbled palace was built at the request of King Louis XIV as a retreat for himself and his official mistress, Marquise de Montespan.

She actually bore him 7 children and was said to have great influence at court. At the single-story château, the King could invite guests and enjoy light meals away from the arduous pomp of court life.

If you’re interested in visiting other castles close to Paris, read next: the Best Castles Near Paris

More Europe Travel Guides

Paris City Guide, France

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Moon & Honey Travel is an independent blog created by two passionate hikers. We are able to provide free content to you, because of ads and affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Happy travels and happy trails, Sabrina and Kati