When my friends decide to travel to Paris for the first time, inevitably there are two questions that are always asked. This week’s post answers those questions. I am going to assume you have decided when you are going.
Question #1: What area should we stay in?
- You will find great restaurants and hotels in every area of Paris. It’s simply a question of how close you want to be to certain sites. To start, check out my summary of the 20 arrondissements.
- Ask yourself if you’d like to get around a lot by walking or taking the subway (Metro). The Paris Metro is extensive and excellent, so wherever you stay, you can just hop on the Metro. Being your first trip to Paris and you don’t want to waste time, the issue is: how much time do you want to spend getting to your sites/restaurants? Sure, your hotel might be a lot cheaper farther from the city centre, but it might be at the expense of time and if you are only in Paris for a week, wasting your precious time travelling on the Metro might not be worth it.
- I prefer the left bank and in particular, the area encompassed by the 5th, 6th, and 7th arrondissements for two reasons: cost and location. I love to walk everywhere and only occasionally take the Metro.
- I have stayed on the right bank in the 1st and 2nd arrondissements, near the Louvre and Les Halles, and found the left bank had more of a neighbourhood feel. When I stayed in an apartment off the Champs Elysee, I was surrounded by a lot of high-priced restaurants and stores that catered to the wealthy. I wasn’t slumming; however, I wanted to go to restaurants and stores that had a friendlier feel.
- On the right bank, I also found it more difficult finding grocery stores. Granted, if you head towards the Marais, Montmartre, or Place de la Republique, you won’t have this problem, however, you will be farther from the centre.
- That’s why I like the 5th, 6th, and 7th arrondissements. You can be close to the Seine, Luxembourg gardens, the Louvre museum, Notre Dame, and Boulevard Saint Germain. I just felt like I was near everything I wanted to see. More importantly, I find the cost of hotels or apartments to be slightly less on the left bank than the right bank, but of course it depends on your choice of accommodation.
Question #2: What should we see (sites) in one week?
- The Top 10 Paris guide is an excellent resource. It lists not only the top 10 sites, but the top 10 of many categories. Many travel books, such as Frommer’s Paris, will do this. In my website, I list the 10 most common and popular sites, ranging from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre. And they are popular for a reason: spectacular views and experiences. It just depends what you are interested in. You’re pushing it if you try to do all 10 in a week. This is your first trip to Paris. Paris is to be taken slowly; however, consider some other unique experiences
- Most importantly, be sure you do this:
Sit at a café and watch people go by.
The French have taught me invaluable lessons: be in the moment and enjoy your surroundings. After all, Paris is beautiful. So PLEASE, do not rush through the city and try to see all the sites. Savour the time you are there.
I can promise you it will NOT be your LAST time to Paris. You will go back…..and see much more.