First-Timer’s Guide to Paris, France
Paris is one of those destinations that you have to get right straight off the bat. Because it either takes you in or rejects you. For a first time in Paris, consider splurging a bit more and also planning a bit extra ahead of time. It’s a large city that can indeed be intimidating with not-so-friendly waiters and confusing lines. Fortunately, you can now reserve ahead and book any attraction you’d like to visit online. This way you save yourself some time to truly enjoy Paris and have a drink with old man Hemingway – in spirit!
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Where to stay
In the heart of the 16th, this classic stay has a traditional style, best-in-class concierge and Arc de Triomphe views.
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Day 1: Arrive in Paris, France
Transfer from the airport to your hotel. I suggest Hotel Raphaël for its excellent location and classic, luxurious style. Check in, refresh, and head down to Le Bar Anglais for a nightcap. This elegant bar can easily serve as a night affair, if you choose. Before you retire, ask the hotel to reserve you a car for the very early morning.
Day 2: Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum & more
Wake up before dawn, get ready with your most comfortable pair of shoes and head down to your reserved car to go to the Trocadéro. It’s booming and bustling from about 10 am in the morning until late, but at sunrise you’ll get the most beautiful moment to gaze upon the Eiffel Tower in peaceful solitude. Few people will ever get to see this monument in such a serene setting, so it is how I suggest you start your Parisian adventure!
After getting lost in iconic Parisian beauty, keep the mood going with a short walk to Le Malakoff for breakfast. Excellent food coupled with wonderful service makes this a great place for a tasty French breakfast.
After breakfast explore the Trocadéro gardens, stopping for some great photo ops along the way. Keep walking until you find yourself at the Eiffel Tower. If you care to see the city from the top, buy a skip-the-line pass for the elevators beforehand. For a quick ride upwards, I’d suggest using the elevator instead of climbing up the stairs.
Now hop in a car or take the Metro to the Louvre. Take a few hours to explore this magnificent temple of the arts! You’d need a month to see the entire place in detail, so I’d suggest pre-planning what you want to see and heading to those things straight away.
Only a short walk from the Louvre, you can reach the Champs-Elysées. If there could be a junction of busy, bustling environments and true beauty when discussing a road, this is surely it. It will likely take the remainder of your afternoon to walk down the Champs-Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe, arriving at a spectacular hour for photographs.
A short walk from the Arc de Triomphe down Av. Marceau, you’ll find the local eatery Le Comptoir de l’Arc. It’s a casual brasserie with outstanding food and drink. The waitstaff are generally rather patient for non-French speakers, which is very nice. The duck confit is my personal suggestion here.
After dinner, walk the two blocks back to your hotel to retire for the night, it’s been a long day!
Day 3: Notre Dame & Moulin Rouge
Wake up and have a nice breakfast at the hotel or at one of the numerous local cafes. Then take a car to Montmartre. This charming hilltop neighborhood, which used to be a separate village, was once home to Dali and Picasso. The beautiful Sacré-Cœur is worth a visit to really see early 1900’s French architectural beauty.
After this brief visit take a car or the Metro to Saint-Germain-des-Prés for lunch. Eat at Le Procope before you take in all of the beauty of this neighborhood. After exploring Saint-Germain-des-Prés, walk on over to Notre Dame de Paris. The truly grand structure – currently closed due to the fire in 2019 – is a real sight to see.
After all of this beauty, head to your hotel to change into some dinner apparel and head over to the Pigalle district for a light snack at Rouge Bis before the 9 pm show at Moulin Rouge. Dinner is included in a meal ticket so get it all, topped with champagne.
On that note, it’s time to explore some of Paris nightlife, with some peace. Take a car to The Ritz for a drink in The Hemingway Bar. Some of the finest cocktails I’ve ever had are served here. After indulging in this bit of history head to Harry’s New York Bar for a deep dive into history. It is a bar literally dismantled from the 7th avenue of Manhattan and reassembled at rue Daunou in Paris. Make sure to go down to their piano bar and have a cocktail like the Bloody Mary, SideCar or Blue Lagoon, all of which are said to have been invented here. Heck, the term Barfly originates here! Hemingway is said to have hung out here as well, so your theme carries from the previous bar.
After all of this, safely order a car to usher you to your hotel for a restful night.
Day 4: French breakfast then depart
After a leisurely wake-up, head to Maison Sauvage Victor Hugo for a delightful breakfast. Have the Sauvage breakfast for an assortment of typical French breakfast things before a trip to the airport for your voyage home. Au revoir!!!
Need to Know
Taking the Metro is the easiest way to travel through Paris, second to walking. Thus, comfortable walking shoes are a huge key to a good time in Paris.
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