Paris in the Spring – What to see and do and what to skip. After four trips to Paris, my favorite way to spend in the City of Lights. Travel tips for Paris.
I’m very fortunate that I am a three-hour train ride from Paris. I’ve been lucky to visit there three times in a little less than two years. I love Paris. It is one of those places that you either love or hate, I happen to love it.
People ask me all the time where my favorite restaurants and attractions are. I’m the worst person to ask this question because I never plan anything before I go. (I have some, don’t worry, I’m not a monster.)
My favorite thing to do in Paris is just walking around and take it all in.
The first time I went I was a kid. I was 15 and didn’t appreciate it.
The next time I went to meet my sister and her fiancé for 36 hours. They are so fun to explore with. At the time, they were there to get ideas and source things for what was to become their new restaurant.
We walked for hours and hours and stopped into every shop, market, stall that looked interesting to us. We tried so many delicious things. We would get one or two of something, each take a bite and move on. It was such a fun way to spend our time and to try so many things.
PRO TIP – Go to Paris with people that eat carbs.
My sister wanted to go to Harry’s Bar and try some of their famous cocktails. It might seem weird to go to a New York bar in Paris, but it is a fun place to have a drink. Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald were regulars there.
I really wanted to see the twinkling lights on the Eiffel Tower. You can bring a bottle of wine and some snacks and hang out on the grass and have a picnic. It’s great people watching and you can chill and watch the sunset and see the short light show when the sun goes down.
The next morning we went to Carette for late breakfast. If you want a very French cafe experience, this is the place to go. We *may* have overindulged the night before and needed a serious breakfast. It was exactly what we needed.
I stayed at the Hôtel Paris Bastille Boutet. When you live in a hotel for two months (and have two rooms), you accumulate a lot of hotel points and become accustomed to platinum status. I’ve always been a snob, just it’s reached a tipping point when it comes to hotels. (My friend Kati told me this would happen, but I didn’t really get it until I got it. Love you K!)
Even if I didn’t have points, I’d still stay here if I had to pay full price. (Which I did on my fourth trip.) This hotel is in a quiet section of the city, but has a few metro stops within a few blocks. There are also cute shops and cafes on the street. I’m a fan.
PRO TIP – The best deals I find for hotels and apartments is booking.com. If you are a family of 5, you have to get two rooms in Europe. Regardless of the ages of the children. It is enforced so we book on booking.com because we can easily book family rooms or apartments and the prices are the best I’ve found.
If you use the link to book on booking.com, you will get $25 your first stay and so will I.
The next trip to Paris was a family trip with our friends and their baby. We cashed in all of our Marriott points and splurged on a fancy hotel on the Champs Elysee. We had a great time and the hotel was amazing, it was a treat for sure.
We traveled with the best 1 year old on the planet. Seriously, I’ve never been with a better baby before. He was an angel baby. Even with an angel baby, and three other kids, travel is a lot slower. We stop more and eat a lot of crepes on the side of the street. We take breaks and try to keep everyone happy.
The weather on this trip was garbage. It was cold and windy and we ended up on a Big Red Bus. We’ve never done a tour like that, but it was a great way to see the city and stay out of the weather.
We did see some of the sites, but Paris is just too big. I think that you could visit 17 times and still not see it all. The Louvre alone can take a week to get through.
PRO TIP – Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to see it all. You can’t. Pick one or two things that you really want to see and do that. And then spend time walking around exploring without an agenda.
Our friends flew home and we surprised the kids with a trip to Disney Paris. I was there when it opened 25 years ago. It seems like a weird thing to do to go to Disney when there are so many other things to see and do in Paris. But let me just say that it really buys a lot of museums and churches and hikes when you pepper in stuff that kids really like to do. (See the picture above at the Louvre. They were over it.)
Surprising them was really fun. I’m going to be honest here, and it might be controversial, but I think that Disney Paris is a skip. It’s not like Disney in the states (and it isn’t even entirely owned by Disney, even though I think that Disney may have just bought it back) and if that is what you are used to, this is not that experience.
It is a very small park, you can really do the whole thing in a day, two if you want to take your time. I really went thinking that the snacks would be great but they weren’t. The Star Wars section is the best part.
Disney in the snow is actually pretty fun though.
In this film I made, you can see just how bad the weather was. The kids were such good sports. We were COMPLETELY unprepared and had to buy warmer clothes.
The last trip to Paris with my friend Wendy. She is an international photographer and one of my favorite people on Earth. I love her. She told me that she was going to be in Paris so I invited myself to tag along.
(Wendy travels all over the US and the world to do family pictures. She’s done ours for years and years. Book her, she’s the BEST.)
I was disappointed that the last time I was in Paris I didn’t take many pictures and my goal for this trip was to take my camera everywhere and take all of the Paris pictures that I wanted to. (Turns out that isn’t possible there are too many beautiful things to take pictures of.)
One of my absolute favorite things to do is to walk around with my camera. I did that for two days (one with Wendy and one on my own) and it made me so happy. The weather was perfection and Wendy has been to Paris a million times so she knew where to go. I was standing next to her and seeing the same thing, but how she sees the world is on another level. She’s just so talented.
PRO TIP – Hang out with people who inspire you. It makes you a better person on so many levels.
Paris in the spring is magic. 10 out of 10. Recommend.
There are a lot of people that know better than I do about Paris. My sister is one of them. She owns a French restaurant so I trust her opinion 1000%.
These are her recommendations for where to eat //
Allard – A true bistro experience.
Le Comptoir – Elevated bistro cuisine.
Juvenelles – A wine bar with excellent food.
Here is a helpful guide on where to take the best pictures for the ‘gram //
Local Milk Paris Map & Guide – This a genius idea. You can add Beth’s Google map and when you are walking around you can look to see if there is a good spot nearby.
The Most Beautiful Instagram Spots in Paris – Some of these are super busy and you will get super annoyed by the people taking 6012 selfies, but if you want to know where the “spots” are, here is a good guide.
Obviously, this is not a substantive list of all things Paris. I love Paris. I love to visit, but I’m not an expert. I do have a few tips though.
Tips to get the most out of Paris in the Spring //
- Decide what is the most important things for you to do or see before you arrive. Buy tickets ahead of time. There are a lot of places you can’t see without pre-booking.
- I am a big fan of booking a tour to skip a line. You’ll learn a lot and tour guides have excellent recommendations for other things to do, see, and eat.
- Paris is empty in August. Everyone is on vacation so a lot of things are closed for the month.
- Be aware. I caught a pickpocket trying to open my backpack on an escalator to the metro. This is in every city, be smart.
- The best way to get to know a place to spend time with the people. I love to walk around neighborhoods and see how people actually live in that city.
- I’d never leave a new country without a visit to a grocery store. This is where I like to buy my souvenirs.
- Buy a baguette, some wine, fruit, and cheese and have a picnic for at least one meal. People watching at its finest.
- European meals are not like American ones. They take hours, so if you are traveling with kids, be aware. Also, not all restaurants welcome children. Call or email ahead of time.
- Paris operates on a different time table. They keep strange hours, make sure you check before you go. Things are usually closed for a few hours in the middle of the day.
What are your favorite things to do, see, or eat in Paris? Let us know in the comments below.