There’s a reason they call Paris, France the city of love. From the countless proposals under the Eiffel Tower to the fanciful candlelit dinners (did you know escargot is commonly considered as an aphrodisiac?) to the beautiful and unique architecture that surrounds the city streets, romance flows endlessly through the City of Light. Spending even just a few days there breeds the hope of your life turning into an IRL romantic comedy.
Its dreamy atmosphere — along with its legendary food scene, intriguing history, and its appeal to partiers and cultural travelers alike — is what drew travel pro Kiersten Rich to the city. Rich is the founder of the award-winning travel blog, The Blonde Abroad, which specializes in solo travel for women. Ranked one of the Top 10 Travel Influencers by Forbes, The Blonde Abroad is a major online resource with thousands of curated travel guides for destinations around the world.
That means you can trust her judgment when it comes to which popular tourist destinations are actually worth a visit. And Paris? It’s 100 percent worth it. “No matter what budget you’re working with — whether you’re a student or on your honeymoon, you can find so many cool things to do in Paris,” Rich says.
Below, we asked Rich to share her guide for an unforgettable trip to Paris.
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Paris can be so many things to so many different people. It’s one of the best destinations to travel solo, great for a mother-daughter trip, of course, a top romantic destination for a honeymoon or couples getaway, and perfect as a family holiday. From iconic sites to history to foodie delights, there’s really something for everyone.
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What’s one thing that every first-time visitor should see or do in Paris?
That’s so hard to narrow down as there are so many quintessential Paris moments to have, but if I had to pick just a few, I’d say grab some cheeses, wine, and bread and go have a picnic on the Seine. Wake up early to walk around Montmartre before it gets busy — the old artist village is located just down the road from Sacré-Coeur (which is the highest spot in Paris), so you’ll get a fantastic view of the city and then wander the neighborhood. The bakers get in early, the cobblestone streets are empty, and it feels like you stepped back in time.
And then, of course, you’ve got to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle! No matter how many times I’ve seen this, it’s equally as magical each and every time. There are tons of vantage points throughout the city, so take your pick. It sparkles every hour on the hour once the sun goes down.
Go-to French bakery for a morning coffee and croissant?
It truly depends on what neighborhood I’m staying in, and honestly, there are so many wonderful boulangeries and cafés around the city, you can’t really go wrong!
Fun fact: Did you know that there is an annual competition to find the best baguette in the city? They judge for things like density, crispiness, size; France takes their bread and pastries VERY seriously. I’m not sure who judges it or how one becomes a judge…but I definitely volunteer as tribute!
The absolute best meal you’ve had in Paris?
Oh my goodness, you’re asking all the tough questions! Like I mentioned above, Paris is such a foodie city. I can’t say I have a favorite restaurant but I’m a sucker for quiche and salad. Oh, and a perfectly simple French omelette. *chef’s kiss*!
Food is one of the main reasons I travel — learning how the locals eat, sitting alone at a cafe to people watch, and, obviously, indulging in the flavors of the destination! Paris is one of the best cities to have a next-level foodie experience.
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Best bar in Paris to enjoy a glass of champagne or a cocktail?
I love old historic bars and cafés and Paris is FULL of them! Café de la Paix, Café de Flore, and Les Deux Magots, for example, are all beautiful brasseries built in the 1800s and made popular by iconic artists in the 1920s (think “Midnight in Paris” vibes).
Best way to take in the city’s iconic architecture?
I personally think walking around the city is the best way to experience it! Grab a pair of comfortable shoes (Parisians are known for their sneaker game), and go explore. Get a Metro pass so you can hop from neighborhood to neighborhood.
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Coolest hotel or place to stay in Paris?
There are so many beautiful hotels in Paris, but definitely check what’s on offer on sites like Airbnb. I’ve rented some incredible apartments with Eiffel Tower views for much less than a hotel.
That said, I LOVED my stay at the Mandarin Oriental Paris! The location is amazing—walking distance to the Louvre.
A must-visit museum in Paris?
So many! While the Louvre always tops the charts, it’s massive and can be very overwhelming. For a much more intimate experience, check out Musee de L’Orangerie where you can see Claude Monet’s famous water lily painting series “Les Nymphéas” — it’s massive and takes up the entire room. Another favorite is Musée d’Orsay, which is housed in a former railway station and has mainly French art from the 1800s.
For something that’s off-the-beaten-path, check out Musée de la Vie Romantique in the 9éme, just at the foot of Montmartre. It’s an old cream-colored building with light green shutters, complete with a greenhouse, garden, and paved courtyard…and it’s just as romantic as it sounds!
The spot was once the meeting ground of many 19th-century artists and writers like George Sand and Eugène Delacroix. Today, you’ll find everything from French literature to paintings, antiques, jewelry, and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time. As an added bonus, the greenhouse-turned-tea-room serves up delicious treats and is a lovely spot for lunch or tea.
Best time of year to visit?
April or May are great! You always hear about people saying “Paris is so dreamy in the spring…” and they aren’t wrong! While April is still quite chilly, you’re greeted with gorgeous cherry blossoms all over the city. And, this might just be me, but it does kind of seem like people are happier as they’re shedding the big winter coats and daylight is getting a bit longer.
Another great time to visit is between September and October. The weather is relatively mild — not too hot, not too cold — and most of the tourists from the summer have left.