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  • Writer's pictureNate + Christa

The City of Lights: When to go, Where to Stay and What to See on your First trip to Paris

Updated: Jun 8

Fresh baked baguettes, buttery croissants, creamy brie cheese, and a crisp rosé; you really don’t need much else to enjoy a Parisian picnic under the eiffel tower or any number of the pristine parks and meticulously manicured gardens in the City of Lights. You can easily spend a few weeks in Paris and never get bored of the charm, cafés, people watching, museums, and shopping. We also found Paris to be one of the most dog-friendly cities in Europe, surprisingly clean and incredibly safe, especially when compared to major coastal cities in the United States. And if you love the idea of Paris, don't forget to read our blog considering which city is better between Paris and Lyon.

We’ll focus on our top 5 areas to stay, best times of the year to visit, things to do, and a quick itinerary if you only have 3 days to visit Paris.

There are so many great areas to stay in Paris you can’t go wrong, but here are the top five neighborhoods we love that are popular among younger active couples, expecially if this is your first time visiting Paris.

The Marais neighborhood is a trendy and historic area in the center of Paris. It's known for its picturesque streets, charming cafes, and fashionable boutiques. The area also has many art galleries and museums, such as the Picasso Museum and the Pompidou Center.

Saint-Germain-des-Prés is a chic and bohemian neighborhood located on the left bank of the Seine. It's known for its intellectual and artistic heritage, with many famous writers and artists having lived here. The area has many cafes, restaurants, and bookstores, and is a great place for strolling along the narrow streets.

Montmartre is a charming and historic neighborhood located on a hill in the northern part of Paris. It's known for its artistic heritage, with many famous artists, such as Picasso and Van Gogh, having lived and worked here. The area has many cafes, restaurants, and boutiques, and is home to the iconic Sacré-Cœur Basilica.

The Latin Quarter is a lively and historic neighborhood located on the left bank of the Seine. It's known for its many universities and academic institutions, as well as its cafes and bars. The area also has many historic landmarks, such as the Panthéon and the Sorbonne.

Le Marais/République: This area is a combination of the trendy Marais neighborhood and the up-and-coming République area. It's a great option for young couples who want to experience both the historic and modern sides of Paris. The area has many cafes, restaurants, and boutiques, as well as cultural landmarks such as the Place des Vosges and the Canal Saint-Martin.

These top five neighborhoods are perfect places to stay, especially for young couples visiting Paris for the first time. They offer a great blend of easy access to all the culture, history, and entertainment Paris has to offer!

So when is the best time to visit Paris?

The short answer is anytime, but if you’re look for the best weather, festivals, avoiding crowds or budget conscience, we’ll highlight several options to make the most of your time.

Weather: The most popular time to visit Paris is during the summer months (June to August), when the weather is warm and sunny. However, this also means that the city is more crowded and prices for accommodations and attractions are higher. The spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) are also good times to visit, as the weather is mild and the crowds are thinner. Winter (December to February) is the least crowded and most affordable time to visit, but the weather can be chilly and damp. The upside of visiting in the winter is the city if truly alive with lights and decorated with Christmas markets. We tend to favor the late Spring or early fall to ensure great weather, but also far less crowds.

Events and Festivals: Paris hosts many cultural events and festivals throughout the year. Some of the most popular events include the Paris Fashion Week in January and July, the French Open tennis tournament in May and June, and the Bastille Day celebrations on July 14th.

Sightseeing: Some visitors may want to avoid peak tourist season and crowds to enjoy Paris's famous landmarks and museums. Visiting during the off-season or shoulder seasons can provide a more relaxed and enjoyable experience.

Budget: Prices for accommodations and airfare tend to be higher during peak tourist season, so visiting during the off-season or shoulder seasons may be more affordable. Again, early Spring and late Fall tend to be a great trade off and not as expensive as the summer months.

Hopefully you slept well on the red-eye because this itinerary packs a Parisian punch, there is just so much to cover in a short 3-day visit. We’ll guide you through what you need to see and do for your first or returning trip to the City of Lights.

Day 1:

  • Start the day by grabbing breakfast at Cafe Kitsuné, a trendy coffee shop located in the Marais neighborhood.

  • Visit the Musée d'Orsay, a must-visit museum for art lovers, known for its extensive collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works.

  • Head to the Luxembourg Gardens for a picnic lunch. This beautiful park is perfect for relaxing, people-watching, and enjoying a picnic.

  • In the afternoon, take a stroll through the Latin Quarter, known for its winding streets, bookstores, and historic landmarks such as the Pantheon.

  • End the day with dinner at Les Deux Magots, a famous cafe and restaurant frequented by writers and intellectuals, located in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood.

Day 2:

  • Start the day with a croissant and coffee at Du Pain et des Idées, a popular bakery in the Canal Saint-Martin area.

  • Visit the Louvre Museum, one of the world's most famous museums, known for its collection of art and artifacts from around the world.

  • For lunch, head to Marché des Enfants Rouges, a vibrant covered market in the Marais neighborhood with plenty of food stalls offering a variety of cuisines.

  • In the afternoon, take a stroll along the Canal Saint-Martin, a trendy neighborhood with plenty of cafes, boutiques, and street art.

  • End the day with dinner at Le Comptoir Général, a quirky restaurant and bar with a bohemian atmosphere and a variety of international cuisine.

Day 3:

  • Start the day with a visit to the Eiffel Tower, one of Paris's most iconic landmarks.

  • Afterward, head to Jardin des Tuileries for a picnic lunch. This park is located near the Louvre and offers beautiful views of the city.

  • In the afternoon, take a bike tour along the Seine River. This is a great way to see the city's sights while getting some exercise, or your tired from all the walking, just book a river cruise!

  • End the day with dinner at Le Verre Volé, a wine bar and restaurant located in the Canal Saint-Martin area that is known for its excellent wine selection and relaxed atmosphere.

Bonus: While you’ll likely need more time, the Palace of Versailles is absolutely worth adding an extra day! This is considered one of the most awe-inspiring architectural achievements of the 17th century. It was originally built as a hunting lodge for Louis XIII but was later expanded into an opulent palace by Louis XIV. The palace's Hall of Mirrors is one of the most impressive rooms in the world, featuring 357 mirrors and 17 windows that overlook the palace's gardens. Speaking of which, The Palace of Versailles is surrounded by over 800 hectares of stunning gardens and landscaping, featuring statues, fountains and the most pristine manicured lawns making it one the most instagram worthy visits.

Looking to explore an equally as impressive city a quick train ride away, without the crowds and expensive high season hotel rates? Check out our blog on why we loved visiting Lyon.

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