It’s not hard to fall in love with Paris. As one of the top tourist destinations in the world, it’s safe to say that a visit to the City of Light is a dream come true for any traveler. I fell in love with this city after a few short months, and now after almost seven years, I’m still as enamored as ever. From the Eiffel Tower to the Musée du Louvre, you’re never short on incredible architecture and sights to see. Of course, this also means you’re bound to be fighting your way through slow-moving crowds and seemingly endless lines to get that perfect, Instagram-worthy shot at the Pyramide du Louvre.
Since I frequently get questions about the best way to visit Paris…what to see, what to do and how to avoid those dreaded queues…I’ve put together a list of my top 5 tips to help make your visit to Paris’ most famous attractions more enjoyable.
- It’s all about timing. To avoid massive crowds, plan your visits for early morning or later in the evening. Early mornings, when many attractions have just opened, will often see fewer crowds. Likewise, visiting at lunchtime or in the evening can make a difference. Parisians tend to eat dinner around 8 p.m. or later, while many tourists are often starving long before then after a day wandering all over the city. If you can manage to wait it out, not only will you enjoy smaller crowds if you plan your visit when most tourists have headed for dinner, but you’ll find yourself dining with more locals by going to a restaurant later. Additonally, many museums in Paris are open late one day a week (the Musée d’Orsay for example, is open until 9:45 p.m. on Thursdays) allowing for a later visit.
- Join a small group tour. Visiting any attraction in Paris can feel overwhelming, so I was excited to learn that the small group tours from The Roman Guy have finally come to Paris! Known for their fun and Italian tour experiences that aim to help visitors enjoy a city like a local, they’re launching The Paris Guy to bring a similar experience to visitors in France. There are a lot of perks to joining a group tour like The Paris Guy for a visit to the Musée du Louvre. Did you know that the Louvre is the largest museum in the world? And also one of the most popular, welcoming 15,000 visitors a day! Planning a visit might seem daunting, which is where The Paris Guy comes in. First, they offer the amazing access with the ability to skip the hour long lines to get in, which means you’ll have more time to enjoy sightseeing. You’ll also be accompanied by a local tour guide who actually knows all about the art surrounding you. Doesn’t that sound like more fun than holding up an audio guide to your ear for hours? Plus, you can leave that guide book back at the hotel while your art-loving guide takes you through a fun and immersive tour experience, diving into French culture and history while visiting the most iconic galleries and works of art including the celebrated Mona Lisa. You can easily book your Louvre Tour online, available starting March 30th, no other planning required! You’ll be able to relax and let The Paris Guy introduce you to one of the best sights in the city. Along with Louvre tours, The Paris Guy also offers equally fun and fascinating tour experiences to the Catacombs, another skip-the-line tour, and an incredible half day visit to the Versailles palace and gardens.
- Book in advance. This goes for pretty much any of Paris’ tourist attractions, most of which allow for advanced booking, especially for special exhibitions or performances. If you know you want to take in an opera or a ballet at the Opera Garnier, book ahead! If you want to see the latest exhibition at the Grand Palais, book ahead! I can’t reiterate this point enough. If you’re able to plan ahead a little, it will make all the difference. I made the mistake of not purchasing an advanced ticket to see the stunning “Dior Couturier du Rêve” exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, and ended up spending an outrageous seven hours waiting in line. Learn from my mistake and take my advice on this one.
- A different perspective or vantage point can make all the difference. Everyone wants to see the Eiffel Tower, a famous symbol of Paris. However, going up to the top of the tower won’t get you the best view. Keep in mind, the view from the top is beautiful, but going up won’t get you a photo with the tower in it…and isn’t that the point? Instead, opt for views from Place du Trocadéro, photos on the Champ de Mars or other surrounding locations, but skip the line to go up. You can get the same amazing city view from the rooftop of Galeries Lafayette or Printemps department stores, the top of the Arc de Triomphe or Tour Montparnasse…and guess what? You’ll have a stunning image with the Iron Lady actually in your photo.
- Be prepared. We all know that many tourist attractions have increased security, so plan your day accordingly. If you know you’ll be going up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe or visiting a museum, try to avoid bringing large bags, suitcases and other unnecessary items, such as food or drinks. Not only will this make it faster and easier for you, but you’ll avoid being that person holding up the line. And since it’s Paris, be sure to check the weather forecast. You don’t want to be out wandering the city streets when a sudden rain shower hits!
Paris is such an amazing city and I hope these tips will help you when planning your trip. A visit to the City of Light is sure to be one of your most memorable trips!