Five Must-Do Tips for a Perfectly Efficient Paris Vacation

Advisor - Caroline Weilert
Curated By

Caroline Weilert

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  • Paris

  • Family Travel

  • Arts & Culture

  • City Travel

  • Couples Travel

  • Sightseeing

  • Bucket List

  • Fashion

paris through a window
Curator’s statement

Buttery, flaky croissants, sidewalk cafes, grand boulevards and breathtaking architecture all stir visions of Paris, the City of Lights, the dreamiest destination in the world. For many, however, traversing to an international urban city can feel daunting and that’s understandable. After all, for many visitors, Paris is overwhelming with so much to do, navigate and check off your list. After five separate vacations to Paris and a short stint living like a local during my university’s study abroad program, I’ve learned a thing or two. Here are my top five tips bound to make any Paris vacation more enjoyable, efficient and effortless.

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Where to stay in Paris

La Réserve Apartments Paris

Sophisticated apartment hotel with 1-4 bedroom apartments and an onsite chef in Paris.

Kimpton St Honoré Paris

Chic luxury hotel in Paris with elegant interiors, a California-inspired restaurant, a cutting-edge spa complete with an indoor heated swimming pool and unrivaled 360-degree views from its rooftop bar and garden.

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  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

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Ritz Paris

Superlative stay on Place Vendôme fresh from a top-to-toe renovation — the stuff of hotel dreams.

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  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

  • Complimentary roundtrip private airport transfer.

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Things to do in Paris

Family of Travel Advisor Caroline Weilert on a golf cart.

1. Schedule spontaneity

How’s that for counter-intuitive? In order to make the most of your limited time in Paris, a well-organized, efficient plan is a must. So, forget about the idea that you can turn up in Paris, wing it at your leisure and expect to see everything on your list. So, it would seem that organization is the antithesis of spontaneity. But, it does not have to be. I usually pack my itineraries with set activities every morning (when crowds are at their lowest) and literally block ‘spontaneous time’ so I know exactly when I can linger at the cafe, stroll a few more blocks at the Marais, or people watch in the Jardin du Luxembourg. Thinking this way will afford you the perfect blend of planned and impromptu activities during your stay in Paris.

2. Front of the line

I never wait in a line, EVER! That’s right... you heard me. Lines are avoidable, even in Paris. Here’s how I do it. I pre-purchase as much as possible with timed entry tickets. Most major sights from The Eiffel Tower, Arc Du Triomphe, Musee de Orsay, Versailles, Catacombs and more offer this option. With a timed ticket, in most cases, there are distinct entry lines. And, when you strut right up to the door, you’ll smirk at all those people waiting hours upon hours in line merely because they didn’t plan in advance.

True story: On my last Paris vacation, I pre-booked tickets to the Catacombs for my family of four for exactly the time the attraction opened. Upon arrival, I was stunned by the line that wound well around many city blocks. It made no sense because the Catacombs wasn’t even open yet. I walked to the front of the line with a printed timed ticket in tow, and was granted immediate access upon opening. Upon inquiring, I learned that the wait for the last person in that line would be two hours. It’s crazy to think how many people don't plan ahead and waste so much precious vacation time waiting.

3. Splurge appropriately

At the most popular destinations like the Louvre, crowds are abundant and while a timed ticket will speed up your entry, nothing gets you in the front door faster than a tour and even better a private one if you can afford it. Tour companies and guides have access privileges that individual travelers don’t and therefore it’s worth ‘buying’ your way in.

Fun fact: I am personally not a fan of the large group, narrated tours where you follow the ribbon on a guide’s umbrella held in the air and move slowly through an attraction. I am, however, a fan of efficiently quickly getting into an attraction. At attractions that allow for independent visitation, it’s not atypical for me to recommend buying a group tour ticket that speeds up entry and then once inside, oops, I gracefully ‘lose’ the group.

4. Chunk the city

If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m all about a solid plan. How you approach the city, chunking together attractions in the same vicinity, is key to a successful Paris vacation. For example, on your itinerary you want to pair together Notre Dame, the Concierge, Saint Chapelle and Ile de la Cite. Similarly, you want to pair together the Louvre, Tuileries Garden, Le Orangerie and Place de La Concorde. I always recommend familiarizing yourself with a map in advance so you don’t waste precious time unnecessarily zig-zagging a city.

5. Do ‘You’

When approaching a new city, I always recommend staying true to your interests. When a site is listed in a guidebook or website as ‘not-to-be-missed,’ I feel like the description should extend to say ‘if you enjoy...' For me, I know that while I love palace gardens I am comfortable skipping the palace interiors, notably those that require a guided tour. I know that I love a boat ride over a bike ride. And, I know that ancient ruins aren’t really my jam. Once you identify what piques your interest, you are in a much better position to narrow your options to build an itinerary that suits you.

Need to Know

I hope you’re ready to start planning that Paris vacation. And, if you still want to go but don’t have time to do all the upfront legwork, I’m happy to put together an itinerary right for you with pre-purchased, timed entry tickets organized to get you around Paris without wasting any time.

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, Family Fun in Stockholm, Sweden.

Advisor - Caroline Weilert

Travel Advisor

Caroline Weilert

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Paris.