Paris Travel Guide

French couple kissing in front of Paris town hall

Paris Travel Guide

I love Paris. I am obsessed with Paris.

To me, Paris feels like a old lady that has kept her elegance for centuries. 

Food is perfect, churches are grandiose, nightlife is unbelievable and museums are top-notched. 

A walk through any alley in Paris will be transcendental and it feels like you are back to the 1800’s. Getting lost doesn’t seem to be a bad idea when there’s exciting food scene and aroma of fresh bread everywhere. 

I can’t give you a suggested duration to stay in this amazing city. 

If I had to choice to choose again, I would definitely stay in Paris than the duration that I had planned (which was 3 months). No one can fully explore Paris but here’s a comprehensive Paris travel guide from an ex-expat point of view!

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Accommodation - Paris Travel Guide

The first section of this Paris Travel Guide – to breakdown the arrondissements for you quickly. 

There are 20 arrondissements in Paris and every arrondissement has their own personality. The 1st arrondissement is an expensive one, but the location is perfect.

Look into 11th, 12th arrondissement if you are after something more affordable. Stay at 7th arrondissment if you wanna go to Eiffel Tower everyday. 

Want to get a hipster vibe or shop at designer’s outlet? Stay at the 3rd or the 4th arrondissement. 

Prostitution activities are predominantly in arrondissement 18, 19 and 20 so if you are travelling as a family, you might want to avoid it. 

3 ducks hostel paris france
Reception at 3 Ducks Hostel in Paris.

Hostel

Even dorm beds in Paris are not that cheap! But remember, as Paris is a world-renowned destination, good hostel beds get booked out easily. Soon you will be left with the less-than-ideal accommodation options. 

One of my best travel tips in Paris is to book yoru accommodation early!!!!!!!!! Can’t stress that enough. 

Get a bed from 3 Ducks at least a few weeks before you leave. It is one of the more reputable hostels in Paris with cheap price and a central location. 

Absolute Hotel Paris République Paris
Absolute Hotel Paris République in Paris. It's is in the 11th arrondissement, located just next to the canal.

Budget Hotel

Get a twin room at 11th arrondissement at Absolute Hotel Paris République. It is the cheapest deal you can get. Strategically located next to Canal Saint Martin and a few metro stations, you can go wherever you like rather easily.

There are fantastic dining options around the 11th arrondissement as well. If you are seeking for a good night out, just walk to the 3rd arrondissement, located right next to 11th arrondissement!   

Hotel de Josephine Bonaparte
Hotel de Josephine Bonaparte - each room has a funky decor.

High-end Hotel

Hôtel de Joséphine Bonaparte should be a tourist attraction itself. Be ready to be pampered like kings and queens (well, it’s named Bonaparte for a reason). 

Couchsurfing

Paris is huge, and that’s why you need suggestions from Parisians! Through couchsurfing, you can stay with a local for free and see Paris through the eyes of a local. However, it shall not be abused just because you want to cut your expenses. Find out more about Couchsurfing here.

I had a fantastic experience when I was couchsurfing in Paris. The reason why my trip to Paris was perfect is also because of this amazing host that I had in Paris.

AirBnb

My stance of this Paris Travel Guide is TO use AirBnB. There are many dodgy AirBnB service out there in Paris but the city government has tried to crack it down as much as they could. 

I would still use Airbnb because of the flexibility that it can offer.

The best part about AirBnb is you get to hangout with the owner sometimes. They can also give you handy tips about the city, as well as identifying the tourist traps in Paris for you.

Make sure you do check what is included and what’s not in the amenities list, because some of the AirBnb properties don’t have linen provided (eek!). 

paris rail map, public transport
Good luck with that.

Transport - Travel Tips in Paris

My biggest tip about transportation is visit area by area while you are in Paris! This will help you to cut down your transport expenses so much. Also, walk as much as you can as this will keep your wallet thick and keep you thin. 

This might be the best travel tips in Paris that you need! 

Public transport

Public transport in Paris is not that hard to use. 

The transport map can look daunting at times, but it’s really easy if you have a smartphone with an active internet connection. Google map is gonna be your new best friend in Paris.

I prefer using a free app called Visit Paris by Metro. Not only it covers the metro but also the RER. English version is available and you can even play games while you are travelling. You have no idea how many nightmares this app has saved me from while I was in Paris.

The first time I was in Paris, COP21 was happening so I could use the public transport system for free for a few days. Even when it’s not free, Paris metro is pretty affordable. A single ticket cost 1,90 EUR and you can make a transfer within 1.5 hours. A combination of 10 tickets (a carnet) cost 14,90 EUR. 

RER from the CDG airport to Paris city centre cost around 10 EUR and it’s really convenient. 

Taxi

Taxi in Paris is not overly expensive, unlike Tokyo and Sydney

However, as the metro is really convenient, I really advise against taking the taxi unless you really need to or if there’s more people to share the cost (like a party of 3). 

Bear in mind that most taxi will not take a party of 4 adults and if they allow, there is normally a surcharge of around 3,00 EUR.

Most journey around central Paris will cost you around 7-15 euros. A luggage cost an extra 1 euro and pick-up from any of the mainline metro stations accounts a surcharge of 0,70 EUR.

Paris doesn’t have a strong tipping culture so you don’t have to feel obliged to tip, although rounding up to the nearest EUR is considered polite. 

Car Rental

If you have a party of 4/5, car rental might be the cheapest options to get around Paris. You also have the freedom to do day-trips to places like Versailles, Monet Garden or Lille.

The car rental industry has got really high competition for customer nowadays. I always use Skyscanner Car Hire because it automatically compare prices for me from different sites so I don’t have to check from different companies. 

For limited mileage (600 km) and a small car like a Fiat, you are looking at around 35 EUR per day (cheapest) including insurance. For unlimited mileage and similar car, you are looking at around 50 EUR per day including insurance. 

Make sure that you know what is included and what’s not so that you don’t end up paying surprise fee when you are there. Most of the rental companies should include airport pick-up as well.

You do need to take into the account of paying for parking and arrange a parking space with your accommodation if you do rent a car. Not all accommodation provides parking, unfortunately.

Uber

Uber in Paris is not too common. There has been slow-burning protests and demonstrations going on by the taxi lobby around Europe so I advise against it. 

If you want to, ubering in Paris is relatively cheap, especially if you are planning a wild night out. There are many vehicles in Paris and late night rides have been safe most of the time. 

Seine River Batobus

The best way to see Paris – admire her from the river!

However, many cruises or boat tours in Paris are too expensive.

A good option is to take the Batobus tour. It is the cheapest option that the Seine river has to offer. However, over the years, its popularity has grown so much and now they have to turn away customers because they have a full capacity rule that they have to adhere to.

TIP: Prebook your Batobus ticket! Make use of its free Hop-on Hop-off feature. 

E-Scooter

Another way to see Paris is by riding its ubiquitous scooter (or they call it trotinette in French). 

As the competition is fierce, prices are still quite low. Major players are Lime, Dott and Bird. 

To start using them, just download the app. Most of the companies require you to load at least 10 euros into your e-wallet before you can start using. 

Scan the barcode to unlock the e-scooter for 1 euro. 

Depending which company you use, they charge 15 cents to 25 cents per minute. Dott is the cheapest company now, charging just 15 cents per minute of use. 

Be careful when you are using an e-scooter. It can get quite fast.

Food and drinks

chocolate choux dessert at bouillon chartier while living in paris
While living in Paris, Bouillon Chartier is one of my go-tos because of the cheap prices and authentic food. Just look at this masterpiece...

I can eat French food all day, every day. There are many restaurants in Paris, 40,000 to be exact. If you dine in a new restaurant everyday, you will have to spend 110 years to finish trying them all. 

Use LaFourchette.com or Yelp to get restaurant recommendations. I personally don’t like using Yelp in many countries that I go as I think the review and ratings are more catered towards English-speaking tourists, a.k.a they are not French. 

I don’t think LaFourchette has an English website as I am comfortable with the French version. You can Google Translate the whole web page so it’d be easy to navigate even if you speak no French. 

You can choose your price range and an area in Paris to dine in, making your dining experience easy and enjoyable. 

Check out how to plan for a foodie trip!

Guide to supermarkets in Paris 

There are many supermarkets in Paris. The ultimate rule of thumb is not to buy anything from a store that opens 24/7. It will be expensive!

I like shopping at Lidl. It is 3 metro stations from me. It is THE cheapest of all supermarkets that I found in Paris. Other competitors in that price range include Intermarché or Auchan. In my opinion, Auchan carries the most variety of wine of them all.

Sometimes, when I just need a thing or two, I don’t mind going to other supermarkets like Carrefour or G20. There is a G20 right next to my apartment in Chatelet so I always go there and get something if I am not doing a big shopping.

When I am desperate and/or hungry, I would pop into Monoprix/ Franprix. There are among the most expensive supermarkets so avoid them if you can. 

In terms of variety, I think Auchan and G20 are far more superior than the others. 

If you are a foodie…

I have written up another post where I consulted one of my dearest Parisian friends for restaurant recommendations. 

Find out about the 8 top restaurants that he recommended! 

Money - Paris Travel Guide

Paris is a almost a cashless society. Most of the places that you go to will accept paywave, credit card and other forms of payment method. 

You can pay for your public transport ticket with card payment. Some markets take card too. 

However, it’s always good to carry some small notes in your wallet. If you take a 50-euro note to pay for a baguette, you will definitely be frowned upon if not turned away.

Just have 20 euros in your wallet. Don’t carry too much because pickpocketing in Paris is notorious.

I generally didn’t carry any cash when I was living in Paris.

ATM

ATMs are ubiquitous in Paris. Most ATMs come with different rates. 

I am with Citibank back in Australia. My card allows me to withdraw at a VISA ATM without any charges from my home bank. A couple of weeks into living in Paris, I found out that most of the big banks didn’t charge any withdrawal fee! Also, Citibank has a pretty good exchange rate.

Check if your bank has any ATM partnership with any French bank. Withdraw from those banks to avoid withdrawal fee. You might still get charged a small amount for the conversion.

Tipping

In France, there is no strict rules about tipping. 

In most of the places, it is not expected to tip. It is included in the bill as “Service compris”.

The only time I would tip is when I dine in decent restaurants. I would leave 5-10% of tip in cash if I had received a good service.

Bureau de change

Bureau de change has fallen out of trend, for me at least. Unless it’s a very difficult currency to get, I wouldn’t normally use the service from bureau de change. 

The only time that I would use their service is when I am arriving very late at night and I don’t have that currency. In that case, I would change my money PRIOR to my arrival.

There are many bureau de change in all the Paris airports. They offer bad rates. They offer horrible commission fees. 

Just don’t change your money at bureau de change. 

Enlighten me if you think otherwise.

Alcohol

French wine with empty glasses
If house wine would be good in France. Just get "une carafe de vin de maison" or a pitcher of house wine - and it will still be great.

Alcohol

Alcohol is expensive in Paris! It’s one of those countries where you need to look deep and far for cheap beers. If you don’t know where to go, you can pay up to 10 euros for a pint of beer. 

alcohol in liquor store

Types of alcohol

You are in France. DRINK WINE! 

Wine is really cheap in France, but not necessarily in Paris. You need to know to places to get them.

When Auchan slashes their prices, wine can be really cheap so keep an eye out.

The best cheap merlot that I have tried so far IN MY LIFE is Chateau Francs Magnus from Bordeaux. I got it in a supermarket in Paris when my Parisian friend told me about it. It cost just 4.90 euros and it was out of this world.

Beer is slightly lacklustre. It’s obviously not as good as German/Czech beer. The most common beer in France is “1664”. The problem is, it’s very hard to order… because if you want to pronounce that properly, it would be seize soixante quatre, or sezz-suah-song-ka-tr 

If you don’t know French, just say “seize”. It is pronounced as “Say-z”. The waiter will know what you are talking about. 

Or you could just point.

There are many French liquors. They are heavily used in cooking and desserts. Cognac, armagnac, cointreau, ricard… just to name a few.

Happy hour – Paris Travel Guide 

Fortunately, there are many happy hours in Paris.

Unlike Australia, the happy hours in Paris is very dependent on the bars/restaurants themselves. They can start as early as 3pm and end at 10pm.

I highly recommend downloading this app called Mister Good Beer. It helps you find the best price for a pint of beer around you.

What my friends and I normally do is that we will meet up at the first bar which has the earliest happy hour. We start drinking and when the happy hour is ending, we’d move on to another bar for their happy hour. This would normally do us a good 3 to 4 bars before we hit the club.

The cheapest pint that I have had in Paris was 2.5 euros. Try to beat me!

Areas to drink

My favourite two areas to party? Hands down, Chatelet and Oberkampf.

As I live in Chatelet, I much prefer Chatelet as I could just walk home whenever I feel tired. 

Chatelet has more upscale bars and therefore, it attracts a different kind of crowd. As Oberkampf is cheaper, there are more students and the vibe is younger. 

Travelling in Paris just got more intoxicating! 

I will write an extensive post about partying in Paris!

Attractions

Eiffel tower during sunset while living in Paris
Look at the golden rays of sunset that is bathing the beautiful Iron Lady - gosh it's good be living in Paris!

Eiffel Tower 

To complete this Paris Travel Guide, how can we forget about the Eiffel Tower.

The Iron Lady is easily the top reason why people come to Paris. There are many places to catch a view of this gorgeous being and most of them are for free.

My favourite view is from the river Seine when I’m taking a Batobus (find out more about it from the “Transport” section).

Other views that are fantastic include:

  • Trocadero – very crowded and can get pickpocketed real easy
  • Champs de Mars – with a bottle of wine, some baguette and some cheese
  • A glimpse from Metro Line 6 – the metro comes from below ground to above ground, making it an amazing surprise. However, only last for a few seconds
  • Rooftop of Galeries Lafayette – Less well known yet so high chance of getting a good pic without many heads around

TIP: If you want to visit the Eiffel Tower, prebook your ticket in advance! The line is incredibly long!!

    Catacombs

    As the Catacombs of Paris is another big hit of Paris, go in the morning to avoid the line. 

    In catacomb complex is not big, 1-2 hours would be enough to see the complex thoroughly.

    However, I think that the Catacombs is one of the attractions in Paris that requires a tour guide. 

    TIP: Get a skip-the-line ticket to Paris Catacombs today! 

      I hope you enjoyed this Paris Travel Guide as much as I did writing it. 

      It is a city that grows on you, leaving a memorable aftertaste in your life. If you have any questions in regards to any section of my Travel Guide in Paris, comment down below and let me know! 

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      This Paris Travel Guide is carefully written from an expat point of view! Get some insider's tips and the best restaurant recommendations here! Paris Travel | Paris Itinerary | Travel in Paris | Paris City Guide | Paris City Itinerary | Paris Weekend Trip
      This Paris Travel Guide is carefully written from an expat point of view! Get some insider's tips and the best restaurant recommendations here! Paris Travel | Paris Itinerary | Travel in Paris | Paris City Guide | Paris City Itinerary | Paris Weekend Trip

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