Guide to Paris: Hotels, Restaurants & Activities
Planning a trip to Paris can be daunting - it is a huge city with tons to do and can leave trip planners feeling overwhelmed in the beginning. Fortunately for you, this post has got you covered. In this article I'll be giving my recommendations on Paris hotels and neighborhoods to stay in, the best spots for authentic meals & can't miss activities.
Which Paris Hotel is Best for You?
Choosing a Paris hotel that fits your budget and is also in a convenient location is important. My top recommendation for neighborhoods to look for accommodations are: Le Marais, The Latin Quarter, Saint-Germain-des-Prés & Montmarte. In each of these neighborhoods you will be surrounded by Parisian architecture, boulangeries, cafes and restaurants. With the exception of Montmarte, all are centrally located & close to The River Seine.
If you prefer a more quaint spot, Le Marais may be best for you. If you are looking for a Paris hotel near nightlife The Latin Quarter, Montmartre & St Germain offer just that!
When we visited we stayed at two Paris hotels - Hotel Oratio & French Theory. I highly recommend both of these options for someone visiting Paris with a mid-range budget ($170-300/night). We were a close walk from both of these hotels to Le Marais, Notre Dame, Le Halles & more. If you want to see Paris and not break the bank, I highly recommend visiting during the off season, staying in more affordable neighborhoods like Gare de Lyon, and looking for hotels on Priceline for the best rates.
Where to Eat in Paris
My recommendation when travelling to Paris, especially in the shoulder/off season is actually to not book a ton of dinner reservations. Prior to our visit I used google maps to pin spots with good reviews and authentic food, when meal times came I would pull up my map and see what was around us. This strategy worked out great. I did not feel pressured to plan around a dinner reservation, and had some of the best meals of my life this way! Below I will list my restaurant recommendations for authentic restaurants, boulangeries, cafes and chocolatiers.
Les Fines Gueules
Robert et Louise
Au Doux Raisin
Aux Anysetiers Du Roy
Au Bourguignon du Marais
La Maison d'Isabelle
Le Bon Moment
La Creme de Paris
*all cafes listed have dairy free options*
La Maison du Chocolat
What to See/Do in Paris
Tour Eiffel - Chances are, you're going to want to see the Eiffel Tower when in Paris, and there are many beautiful places to view it. Champ de Mars is the most popular area to view the tower, but I think there are prettier spots to capture it from. My recommendations are Rue de l'Universite, Ponte Alexandre, Place du Trocadero, and from the Seine River walk. Here you'll be able to get the best photo ops, but there are plenty of other options - remember the closer you get to the tower, the more crowded. A popular activity is to go up the tower and stand on the viewing deck. I've heard mixed reviews about this and ultimately decided against it. It's like going to the top of the Empire State building in New York. Super touristy, crowded views, but still worth doing if it's your first visit. If you want to do this book way ahead of time, even in the off season this will be packed.
Arc de Triomphe - Another famous monument, the Arc is in the Champs-Elysees area and can be viewed from famous roundabout and its surrounding streets. You can also purchase a ticket to go to the top of it. On top there are great photo ops and views on Paris. Purchase earlier tickets for less chances of it being crowded, or sunset/evening tickets to see the city from on top at night.
Museums - Paris has a plethora of museums to visit during a trip, I recommend visiting 1-2 if you're in Paris for 7 days, or more if your trip is longer! The Louvre is obviously the most popular choice among tourists but I also recommend Musée d'Orsay, Musée de l'Orangerie, Rodin Museum, and Petit Palais (free admission).
Montmartre/Place du Tertre - One of my favorite things we did during our was visit Place du Tertre and watch the artists in the square. This is an absolute must do on a trip to Paris. You can have a self portrait done, buy finished work, or just sit one of the cafes overlooking the square. The area has a different feel than other parts of Paris and cannot be missed. The Montmartre neighborhood is beautiful to walk around - cobblestone streets, Parisian architecture and the stunning Sacre Coeur Basilica make this a great place to spend a half-day in Paris.
Rue Crémieux - Located in the 12th arrondissement, this short street of multi-colored houses is famous . Many people come here for photo ops.
Seine River Walk/Cruises
Walking along the riverside is a great way to explore the city! If you're looking for an experience there are tons of river dinner cruises that take you out on the Seine and have incredible views of the city at Eiffel tower sparkling while you eat. Many start at $100+ and include 3 courses. If this is an activity you want to do, definitely book ahead. If you're not interested in the dinner portion there are also river cruise tours that run all day and cost less than those that include dinner. If a cruise isn't your thing/not in the budget, there are many boats parked along the bank that are bars and restaurants and give you that same feel.
Notre Dame/Shakespeare & Company
Notre Dame is unfortunately still closed due to the fire in 2019, but you can still go see it from the outside. The famous Shakespeare & Company bookstore is located in the same area and is a popular place to take photos and of course buy a book. One of the cafes I recommend earlier, La Creme de Paris, is also in the same area.
If designer shopping is your thing, Champs-Elysees is the place to be. Its very popular for tourists to purchase designer items here because they're cheaper than in the states due to the VAT refund, so if you've been eyeing a new bag - maybe you can justify flying to Paris for it. There are many high end restaurants here and a Laduree location. I did not like macarons until I had one from them, 100% recommend.
Day Trips from Paris
If you're looking to see more than just Paris, a day trip to Versailles is a popular option. It is easy to get to via the metro and not too far outside of the city. This is definitely an activity you'd want to book ahead of time. A bit farther out you have the Loire Valley it's easily accessible via the train, or you can take an organized tour. The valley is famous for its chateaus, wineries, incredible food & beautiful countryside. For longer trips to Paris, you might consider staying in the Loire Valley a night or two.
There you have it - my guide to Paris. I hope this helps you in planning your next adventure!
As always, thank you for reading & be sure to check out my other posts on international destinations!