When it comes to visiting Paris, my rule of thumb is see the side of it that inspires you and sparks your curiosity; don’t just follow a check list of all the tourist sites you think you’re “supposed” to see. This may mean seeking out an exhibition of your favorite artist, visiting a French comic book shop, or looking for unique bookstores. You don’t have to do everything in one visit. You can always come back. 😉
Even after over 10 years in Paris, I’m still constantly uncovering new sides to the city. (I’ve also shared everything I know in my Navigate Paris Online offer to help you make the most of your time in Paris!)
First, it is necessary to know that Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements, or districts. Each one has a personality of its own, and each one is great in its own way. Years ago my Tour de France project invited local bloggers to share an inside look at the neighborhoods they know best. I looked at cities beyond Paris as well.
One of the things I love best about Paris is that it is a small, big city that is very accessible (except if you have a broken leg or a stroller!). I once ran across the city in just 2 hours, and I’m not a particularly fast runner. The metro gets you just about everywhere, and it’s very rare that you need to make a transfer more than once. When trying to plan, it’s a good rule of thumb to think 1-minute between stops, and 5 minutes for each transfer (correspondence). I rarely need more than 30-40 minutes to get most places in the city.
My friend Ashley and I made this video of how to ride the metro.
The RER commuter line is an easy way into the city from the airports. Here is a guide with several options when you first arrive in Paris (including from Beauvais). Taxis are now fixed price–ONLY take a marked taxi, or public transportation.
Speaking of travel, pack light. You need far less than you think you do (and anything you forget, you can always buy). Here are some ideas of how not to dress like a tourist.
People are always curious where to stay in Paris. Really you can’t go wrong. For longer stays I typically suggest people rent an apartment because you not only get a lot more space, but it puts you in the heart of actual neighborhoods. Here are some ideas of where to sleep while in Paris (yeah, yeah, I know this post could use some updating). If you’re wondering when the best time to visit Paris is, here are some thoughts on what takes place in the city by season.
Paris can be a very expensive city, but it doesn’t have to be. Don’t miss the guide to frugal Paris.
But what to do while you’re here?
- Tons of ideas on my @pretavoyager Instagram (I tag my pictures by arrondissement!) + Twitter!
- My favorite Paris addresses
- The Bloggers Guide to Paris, full of my favorite Paris related posts and resources from local bloggers
- Paris City Guide, I wrote for Design*Sponge
- 24 hours in Paris: Design guide of 3éme + 10éme for Design*Sponge
- Kid-friendly Paris
- Design tour of Paris
- A trip through Amèlie’s Paris in Montmartre
- French Lessons: charming illustrated vocabulary
- Paris Travel Tips
- How to ride the Paris metro (video)
- A few ideas to do something different
- Bloggers Guide to France (discover France beyond Paris, with daytrips and more)
I offer a customizable Paris tours to help you orient to the city and help you see and explore in creataive ways. My Navigate Paris tour to helps you get your bearings when you first arrive, the Paris Design Tour explores the local design scene (I’m a graphic designer turned UX designer by training), and the Amélie tour explores the city through sites in one of my favorite movies of all time. I also offer 1:1 Deep Dive Days that explore the city in depth with a point of inspiration, combining my skills as a coach. I also sometimes work with universities and companies to cook up creative workshops, or provide a unique orientation experience in Paris.
In May 2015 my Herb Lester Paris Small Shops map launched which I wrote and Crispin Finn designed. It was such a fun project to work on, and you can read my post about it here, or pick up a copy on herblester.com.
I also teach a Skillshare MAP MAKING class! It’s open to all levels, all around the world. The schedule is flexible too (once you sign up you have lifetime access), but it’s a great way to meet awesome people too. I’ve created maps to document my favorite places in the 10th and 9th arrondissements. I’d love to see maps of your travels too! Sign up here.
P.S. More Paris tips here!
DISCLAIMER: I do my best to keep everything up to date, but it’s always a good idea to double check addresses and openings.