How to Plan a Trip to Paris

by  Kristine Hansen | Feb 27, 2020
Paris, France
Paris, France / encrier/iStock

The City of Lights can be overwhelming to a first-time visitor or even if you’ve traveled to Paris multiple times. Thankfully, flights into France’s largest city are a breeze from many airline hubs in the U.S. And, once you’re on the ground ,you don’t need to rent a car: public transportation is efficient and affordable. Plus, many workers in hospitality speak English. Pack comfortable walking shoes and start practicing your French (the French do like it when you attempt their language, even if you can’t master it).

The Best Time to Visit Paris

Summers, like most of Europe, can run hot and many buildings lack air conditioning. And yet, this is when the city is the most crowded. You’re better off visiting Paris during the shoulder seasons (spring and fall), preferably late spring and early fall.

Paris in springtime / encrier/iStock

How Much Does a Trip to Paris Cost?

Airfare deals to Paris tend to fall between November and early April: but don’t rule out a winter trip. This is when you can score airfare as low as $500 round-trip, which is what you might pay to fly cross-country in the U.S. (say, New York City to Los Angeles). Paris is a city with a wide variety of hotels, whether you want full-on luxe or barebones bohemian. Be sure to look into public transportation options if your plan is to use it throughout your stay. Snagging a rock-bottom room rate means nothing if the nearest subway stop is a 40-minute walk each way.

Understanding Paris Public Transportation

The Métro refers to Paris’ underground (and above-ground) rail cars. There are 302 stations total. Service begins at 5 a.m. and stretches until 1:15 a.m. on weekdays, and, on Saturdays or the eve before a holiday, until 2:15 a.m. Fares are sold either piecemeal (one trip at a time), daily, weekly, or monthly, with discounts on everything but the piecemeal approach. Paris’ bus network, called RATP, services the city as well as its surrounding suburbs. There are 315 RATP routes and about 12,000 stops. There is no need to rent a car in Paris and you’ll probably find parking to be a huge, pricey hassle.

Paris Taxi Services

Like any metro city these days, car-sharing services like Lyft and Uber can be found in Paris. Private taxi services are also in abundance.

Things to Do in Paris

Café in Paris / ventdusud/iStock

Of course, you’ll want to check off the landmarks — the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs-Élysées, the Louvre Museum, the Rodin Museum, and walking along the Seine River — however, there is so much more to see. Take at least one afternoon to wander around one of the city's many neighborhoods. You might be surprised by what you find, whether it’s a trendy café or a cute boutique.

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