From Paris With Love: A Guide to Visiting Paris for the First Time

Grab your stripey t-shirts, red berets and join me in this post as I talk you through my experience of visiting Paris for the first time. This post will cover off all the important questions: where to visit, where to eat and, some hints & tips for first-timers visiting Paris!

First Timer's guide to Paris

A First Timer’s Guide to Paris: Tips for Visiting Paris for the First Time

Paris is a big feature on many fashion & travel bloggers Instagram accounts, where you will see whimsical pictures of love, flowers as well as the prettiest brunch locations.

Red roses under The Eiffel Tower

But, is visiting Paris for the first time quite the love story we are led to believe?

Soaking up the sunset views of the Eiffel Tower

Adam and I experienced a couple of scary moments, but I’ll give you more details later on in the post!

 

Travelling to Paris

 

We flew into Charles De Gaulle airport. We had talked about getting the Eurostar, but as it only takes us 50 minutes to fly to Paris from our local airport, we didn’t see much point in adding travel time to our short weekend away.

I mentioned this is our first time in Paris, though, this statement is a bit of a fib as we have in fact been to Disneyland many years ago. Back then my French was much better, though looking back, we were probably too naive and should have done more research prior to travel. Without prior planning, we took a taxi from Charles De Gaulle to our hotel near Disneyland at a cost of almost €100 and, took the same journey back! What were we thinking!? I didn’t count this experience as our first time in Paris as we didn’t see the Eiffel Tower or any other attractions; most probably because we couldn’t afford it after the taxi journey!

This time we took the train directly from Charles De Gaulle airport to Gare Du Nord (RER B Roissypole train), where we then took the nearest metro to our hotel. Our tickets for the entire journey were at a special anti-pollution rate of 3.80 euros each! It was well worth a short queue at the airport ticket office to get this bargain price!

Paris metro station Platform

In fact, we found the metro a godsend during our weekend break in Paris. It’s cheap to use, convenient and well-manned, with staff always on hand to help with any difficulties. It also gave us a chance to warm up as the weather was – zero degrees during our February weekend break; meaning it was too cold to walk the distance between some of the main attractions.

Paris Metro billboard sign

A word of caution: Be careful if you are travelling solo or in small groups late at night. We were almost approached by two men who had their eyes on my handbag, until another man approached us and guided us away. This was in one of the tunnels inside Gare de l’Est metro station. Luckily, my Kate Spade bag with Olympus Pen camera inside were not stolen and we were both able to get back to the hotel safely.

 

It’s worth checking out places of interest prior to travelling, as this is something we learned the hard way. After emerging from a metro stay near to a cafe I had discovered on Instagram, we quickly found the area was not advisable for lost tourists and we swiftly got on the metro by crossing the other side of the road…

Architecture at Sunset in Paris

Pre-planning is key to avoid stumbling across neighbourhoods which may put you at a higher risk of theft. Though caution with belongings is always advisable, we found Paris to be quite the hotspot for these types of activities.

 

The Louvre

 

We attended the Louvre Museum – home to the Mona Lisa, late on a Saturday afternoon. I’d heard some horror stories about the queues and crowds inside the Louvre and this was the main reason we opted not to go inside.

Side view of The Louvre Paris

That said, the queues were fairly minimal when we arrived, particularly on the inside entrance, which we would recommend using if only to keep out of the cold.

Downward pyramid inside The Louvre Paris

The inside entrance can be accessed on the left of the pyramids outside, signposted Carousel de Louvre and a selection of restaurants & shops are inside too.

Lights at Carousel de Louvre

As well as viewing the pyramids from the inside, you can also pick up some French macaroons from Ladurée inside Carousel de Louvre.

Colourful Assortment of French Macaroons

Obviously, we couldn’t see the Louvre without taking the iconic shot touching the top of the pyramid…

Me touching the top of the pyramid at The Louvre

 

Adam at The Louvre

Be mindful of ladies asking you to sign a petition for a charity outside, these ladies are very forceful and, from reading online they have the intention of keeping your hands occupied so they can rob your bag and pockets.

 

Shadows in the archway to The Louvre Paris The Pyramids of The Louvre Paris

The Eiffel Tower

 

One of the most iconic and photographed buildings in the world; the Eiffel Tower is a wonder to see.

The Eiffel Tower

I have to admit, it is much smaller than I’d imagined, though it is somewhere you definitely have to see with your own eyes.

In the summer months, I can imagine it’s quite nice to have a picnic on the green overlooking The Eiffel Tower.

Whilst The Eiffel Tower is always going to be a busy attraction, I would say it’s worth arriving just before sunset. I managed to capture some fantastic shots of the carousel and Eiffel Tower before sundown.

Carousel near The Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower Carousel at Dusk

Playing on the carousel at The Eiffel Tower

To be greeted with a twinkling display of lights at 7 pm for The Eiffel Tower light show.

After sundown, the lights twinkle on the hour until midnight and it really is the perfect romantic spot.

Twinkling light show at The Eiffel Tower Paris

 

If you want to go for dinner nearby, Monsieur Bleu not only has fantastic views of The Eiffel Tower; it is one of few restaurants in Paris where it’s acceptable to only pop in for a dessert or nightcap.

Geometric chandalier at Monsieur Bleu Paris

Eiffel Tower View from Monsieur Bleu

Read more about Monsieur Bleu on my Food in Paris post.

 

Pont Neuf

 

For a cherished memento of your time in Paris, why not leave a love lock at Pont Neuf.

Love Lock Pont Neuf Paris

Adam and I have various love locks located in various cities. It’s something we like to do and, it’s nice to leave a token of our love on enjoyable trips.

Me & Adam in Paris Feb 2018

Take a little cake pitstop like ours at Cafe Du Pont Neuf, which not only has a delectable selection of cakes; it’s also a great suntrap to escape the cold weather.

Raspberry cake Cafe du Pont Neuf

Sun trap at Cafe du Pont Neuf

Notre Dame

 

We had hoped to get to Notre Dame Cathedral for late afternoon to avoid the crowds and to capture some pictures of the gargoyles atop the tower looking out to The Eiffel Tower.

 

Unfortunately, we had arrived too late to go inside, but seeing Notre Dame aglow at sunset was truly beautiful.

Notre Dame Paris at Sunset

The area around Notre Dame appears much safer than some others we had encountered on our trip.

Standing in front of Notre Dame at Sunset

Located within a couple of minutes walk from Notre Dame is the most quaint, picturesque restaurant.

Au Vieux Paris D'Arcole Reataurant Exterior

In Spring, Au Vieux Paris D’Arcole is adorned with lilac wisteria. Spring or not, it’s a must if you’re visiting Paris and has the most wonderful French dishes including an extremely delicious French onion soup.

Heartwarming French Onion Soup with Cheese at Au Vieux Paris D'Arcole

Read about Au Vieux Paris D’Arcole on my Food in Paris post.

 

Where to Stay in Paris

 

For hotels in Paris, you really are spoilt for choice, there are a variety of hotels available whatever your budget.

 

We had a thoroughly enjoyable stay at The Hoxton Paris. The Hoxton Hotel has a fantastic vibe to it that appeals to both tourists and French locals.

Hoxton Hotel Paris Quirky Interiors

The rooms are also soundproofed and have the dreamiest beds for the ultimate relaxing stay!

Hoxton Hotel Paris Hotel Room Cosy

Rooms at The Hoxton are from £99 and you can read more about my stay by clicking here.

 

What to Wear in Paris

You may wish to wear the cliché stripey top and red beret, as suggested in the opening to this post. However, you will find the people wearing this attire will generally be tourists capturing this classic French look for their photos!

Me in front of The Eiffel Tower

In terms of style, the French keep their look relatively simple, with dark block colours and neutral tones. Navy and khaki colours appeared to be popular during my visit and, are staples wardrobe colours that can often transcend seasons.

That said, it didn’t stop me taking my Primark heart-shaped bag! Well, it was a few days after Valentine’s Day…

Mucking around at Pont Neuf

Thoughts on Paris

I hope this post is useful for anyone looking to visit Paris, particularly if it’s your first trip. We loved our time in Paris and are looking forward to returning with a much clearer idea of what to expect to ensure our safety.

As Audrey Hepburn once said “Paris is always a good idea”, but hopefully after reading this post you will be able to visit for the first time with a good understanding of what to be aware of to ensure an enjoyable stay!

Cycling at Sunset at The Eiffel Tower

For more information about how to stay safe in Paris and areas to avoid, please see the link below:

TripAdvisor: Safety on the Metro

If you have any recommendations for Paris please let me know as I’d love to return again soon.

 

Jaz

xoxo

14 Comments

  1. March 22, 2018 / 1:29 pm

    I’ve never spent more than a few hours in Paris as it was a layover, I used the metro but that was at rush hour and it was absolutely awful! I don’t recommend it then lol! Great guide though!

    Raindrops of Sapphire

    • thelifeofasocialbutterfly
      Author
      March 31, 2018 / 7:03 pm

      Sorry to hear you had a bad experience too Lorna! Overall, I found the Metro convenient, easy-to-use and well-manned but I think something needs to be done to prevent crimes in the tunnels with greater uses of cameras and security procedures!
      xoxo

  2. March 23, 2018 / 4:11 pm

    I absolutely LOVE your photos in this post 😍😍😍

    • thelifeofasocialbutterfly
      Author
      March 31, 2018 / 7:05 pm

      Aww thanks Beth! I loved capturing photos in Paris, it really is the most Instagrammable place. I need to return in Spring, I bet it’s even better when the weather is nice! 🙂 xoxo

  3. Emily
    March 25, 2018 / 5:56 pm

    If you plan well, you really can see so much during a short amount of time in Paris. We actually saw everything we wanted to in just one day in the city – the only thing I reckon we missed out on is some classic french food! Love your guides Jasmine – so informative!

    Musings & More

    • thelifeofasocialbutterfly
      Author
      March 31, 2018 / 7:05 pm

      Thanks for reading Samantha 🙂 xoxo

  4. March 27, 2018 / 5:33 am

    Once a bustling village outside Paris’ city walls during the Middle-Ages, Montmartre still retains its village ambiance with small streets, quaint shops, lively restaurants, a tiny vineyard and other fascinating curiosities. Walk in this Paris neighborhood where artists Picasso, Dali and more once did and discover the magic of Montmartre.

    • thelifeofasocialbutterfly
      Author
      March 31, 2018 / 7:06 pm

      Thanks for the tips about Montmarte, Annette. I’d love to return and explore this area in detail 🙂 xoxo

    • thelifeofasocialbutterfly
      Author
      March 31, 2018 / 7:08 pm

      The metro tunnel incident was an enlightening experience, though I did truly enjoy my time in Paris as a whole. I’d love to return over Spring and at the very least I can say I’ve finally seen the Eiffel Tower! 🙂 xoxo

    • thelifeofasocialbutterfly
      Author
      March 31, 2018 / 7:09 pm

      Monsieur Bleu has incredible views of the Eiffel Tower and great food too – I would definitely recommend if you return to Paris 🙂 xoxo

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