Are you planning a trip to France and wondering is Paris worth visiting? In this guide we go through absolutely everything you need to know before you go. We also answer all the important questions like is Paris safe, is Paris expensive, and is Paris overrated.
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- Some Background
- Is Paris expensive?
- Do I need cash in Paris?
- What language do they speak in Paris?
- Is Paris easy to get to?
- How long should I spend in Paris?
- Is Paris safe?
- Are there bedbugs in Paris?
- Can I use Uber in Paris?
- Is Paris worth visiting compared to other French cities?
- Is Paris worth visiting compared to other European cities?
- Can I use public transport in Paris?
- What is there to do in Paris?
- Is Paris worth visiting for solo travellers?
- Is Paris worth visiting for couples?
- Is Paris worth visiting for families?
- Is Paris worth visiting for foodies?
- Is Paris worth visiting for the nightlife?
- Is Paris worth visiting for culture lovers?
- Is Paris worth visiting in the summer?
- Is Paris worth visiting in the winter?
- What to pack when visiting Paris?
- What should I know before visiting Paris?
- Is Paris overrated?
- So Is Paris worth visiting?
Before we answer the question is Paris worth visiting here is a little bit of background.
Paris is a city that needs no introduction. But we will give it a go anyway. It is of course the capital of France, and the most populous city too with around 2.1 million inhabitants.
The city is a major travel hub into Europe, and is famous for its art, fashion, food, and culture. It’s also a very green city with around 450 parks and gardens!
Paris is also pretty big. The city is broken up into 20 administrative districts which are also known as arrondissements. It often feels like each one has it’s own subculture too.
Finally you may have heard Paris being referred to by several nicknames. The most famous being the City of Light, and the City of Love. The city of love, is self explanatory, as Paris is known for its romantic spots. But the city of light has two main theories behind it. One is that the light actually refers to enlightened intellectuals who once flocked to the city. And the other is that it was the first European city to have street lighting.
Is Paris expensive?
A question we hear quite often tends to be ‘is Paris expensive’. Paris kind of has this reputation of being pricey, but in our experience it doesn’t have to be that way. There are lots of ways to do Paris on the cheap, you just have to look for them.
Tourist attractions tend to be expensive in Paris, but there are ways you can reduce costs. For example with the Eiffel Tower it costs around €11 to visit if you are willing to climb the stairs. Or better yet, it’s free to visit one of the nearby parks and admire the views from there. Essentially what I’m trying to say is, if you are on a budget you don’t have to visit every single attraction.
It’s also worth noting that while you can pay for fancy restaurants in the city, you can also purchase delicious bread and pastries from grocery stores or bakeries across the city. These tend to be relatively cheap and incredibly delicious.
For an average trip where you are visiting attractions, eating out, and enjoying some drinks, we would recommend budgeting around €100 per person per day.
To answer the question is Paris expensive a little more, here are some rough figures, for eating out and drinking in Paris.
Glass of wine: €3 – €8 per glass
Cocktail: €13 on average
Meal for 2 with wine: €40-€50 at an average restaurant
Do I need cash in Paris?
In our experience you don’t really need a lot of cash in Paris. The majority of places will allow you to pay with a bank card or contactless.
Although be careful with contactless as we found that not all places allowed you to pay with contactless, and we needed our physical bank cards to make payment in a few places. Because everything is set up on my phone I don’t often carry a purse with me, thankfully Dave had his cards though.
What language do they speak in Paris?
The official language in Paris is French. When we first visited Paris together 10 years ago we found that very few people in Paris would even entertain speaking English. Or they would revert to it after getting frustrated with us struggling along in French.
Paris these days feels a lot different. I don’t know if it is because of the younger generation learning English, or because of things like the Rugby World Cup and the Olympic Games making English more popular, but people actually spoke to us in English.
We also noticed that the metro now has announcements in French and English. So if you do speak English you should be fine getting around in Paris. We would still recommend you take the time to learn some of the basics like the below:
Goodbye: Au Revoir
Please: S’il vous plait
Thank you: Merci
Is Paris easy to get to?
One thing that might sway your decision to visit a city is the ease of getting there. Fortunately Paris, is an incredibly well connected city.
The majority of people will end up flying into Paris. The two biggest airports in the city are Charles de Gaulle airport and Paris Orly.
Charles de Gaulle is the biggest airport and the majority of Air France flights start and end here. From the airport you can hop on a train, which will get you into the centre of Paris in about 30 minutes, or grab a taxi. An Uber will cost you around €50.
From Paris Orly you have the option of getting a bus, tram, or train. And for more information you can have a look at the airport website. A taxi will cost around €40 – €50 depending on which part of Paris you are going to.
If you are arriving via train Paris Gare du Nord is the most popular train station, especially if you are coming from the UK. Gare du Nord is a conveniently located station, and from here you can either hop on a metro to other parts of Paris, or just walk from here. It’s incredibly close to areas like Montmartre and a 22 minute walk to Sacre Coeur.
How long should I spend in Paris?
Paris is one of those places that has so much to see and do. We recently did a 7 day trip to Paris, and even that didn’t feel like enough. That being said, particularly if you live in Europe you might find yourself visiting for a weekend or short break.
We think that you need a minimum of 3 days in Paris to see the main sights. This amount of time will also allow you to explore a couple of the trendy neighbourhoods, and enjoy some great food and drink. But you will need to be organised, pre book your tours, and opt for skip the line entry if possible.
If you have more time somewhere between 5 and 7 days in Paris will allow you to see a lot more of the city, and even do a day trip.
Is Paris safe?
Another common question we see popping up tends to be is Paris safe. In our experience we found Paris incredibly safe for a big European city. That’s not to say that you don’t need to be careful though.
The tourist areas are all safe, and many of these are monitored by armed police. You do get a lot of scammers who target tourists though. One of the most common scams is around Sacre Couer where someone will grab your wrist and tie a bracelet to it. They are hard to get off, and the idea is that the scammer will ask you to pay for it. It’s harmless but sometimes you do need to be forceful and say no. Or better yet don’t engage.
Pickpocketing is also incredibly common around tourist areas or on the Metro. Make sure you keep an eye on your belongings, particularly handbags.
Walking around Paris at night is relatively ok. Most of the central neighbourhoods or tourist spots are pretty bustling even after dark, so you will find safety in numbers.
There are some neighbourhoods that you should avoid, but these are not usually places tourists would frequent anyway. Although we don’t recommend hanging around Gare du Nord after dark.
Civil unrest/ protests are also common. It’s just a case of being vigilant and avoiding mass protests. Also follow the news if you can so that you know what is going on in the city when you visit.
Terrorism is another issue in France. While it is rare there have been incidents in the past. All the tourist spots in the city are heavily patrolled by armed police or the army. Just stay alert, but also remember these aren’t every day incidents that occur.
Are there bedbugs in Paris?
You may have read the horror stories of bed bugs crawling the streets of Paris waiting to bite unsuspecting tourists as they sleep. And while there may be an element of truth to it to the point where ALL big cities have issues with bedbugs, it’s not nearly as bad as it has been made out to be.
If you are worried you can do a quick check when checking in to your hotel. I’m no expert but there are a lot of resources online that will tell you how to check for these in your hotel room.
It’s also worth checking out recent reviews of your hotel because if there are bedbugs people will know about it.
We took some precautions, checking the mattress in our hotel, and keeping our clothes in sealed plastic bags, but honestly we saw nothing. And we certainly didn’t see any riding along beside us on the metro.
Can I use Uber in Paris?
If you are wondering if you can use Uber in Paris then the answer is yes. Ubers are readily available and generally pretty safe.
Is Paris worth visiting compared to other French cities?
Paris is very much worth visiting compared to other French cities. It’s incredibly unique in that it is the capital of Paris, but also arguably the fashion and cultural capital of the world. If you want a French city break where you can sip wine in cafes, and explore the museums Paris is for you.
If you want something a little more low key or something closer to the sea, you might be better off visiting somewhere like Nice or Marseille.
If you are tossing up between Paris or Marseille here is a helpful guide.
Is Paris worth visiting compared to other European cities?
Paris oozes sophistication and elegance, something that not a lot of other cities do. Compared to places like Rome or London (which are also worth visiting if you ask us!) it’s a lot more romantic, and whimsical. Plus the culture is all about sipping drinks at cafes and making the most of small spaces. For that reason we do think Paris is worth visiting compared to other European cities, but like anything it will depend on your own personal preferences.
Can I use public transport in Paris?
One of the good things about Paris is that the public transport system is very easy to use. It’s reliable, and efficient, and if you use Googlemaps alongside it for instance you shouldn’t have any issues.
You will probably find yourself mostly using the Metro which is the underground train system in the city. The Metro will get you to the majority of tourist sites in Paris.
To use public transport as a visitor to Paris you can purchase the Paris Visite card. It’s charged at different day rates, but for 3 days you are looking at paying €29.40 for an adult for zones 1-3, and €59.20 for an adult for zones 1-5.
We ended up overpaying for the pass and opted for the zones 1-5 which we didn’t need. You only need zones 1-5 if you are travelling to Disneyland Paris or Versailles. If you are sticking to the centre of Paris, which includes all your main tourist attractions, you only need zones 1-3. Believe me this information will save you a lot of money!
You can purchase your tickets at any metro station. All the ticket machines we encountered had English Language options so you shouldn’t have too much issue purchasing them. You just need to validate them each time you use public transport.
What is there to do in Paris?
There is so much to do in Paris that you have absolutely no chance of being bored here. Here are some of the best things to do when you visit the city.
The Eiffel Tower
Any to do list in Paris has to include the Eiffel Tower. There are a lot of incredible photo spots around Paris to snap pictures of the tower, but if you really want to experience it, you should plan a visit.
You need to buy your tickets online in advance because unsurprisingly this is a very popular attraction. There are different ticketing options, depending on if you plan to walk up the tower, and which levels you want to visit.
The Louvre is the most popular museum in Paris. It showcases nearly 35,000 works of art and stretches 700 metres along the Seine. It has been estimated that if you actually wanted to look at every piece of artwork it would actually take you about 9 months.
Most people don’t have this long to admire the art, so getting straight to it, the two most popular art works in the museum are the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.
Again, you will need to purchase your tickets for the Louvre in advance and you will be given a time slot to visit.
The Champs-Elysees is one of those places you have to visit once in Paris. There is so much going on around here, and don’t even get me started on the crazy drivers!
The shops around here are mostly luxury and designer, think along the lines of your Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel. It’s also got a number of souvenir shops and high street brands like Sephora and Zara. Although one of our favourites has to be the Laudree store. There are a range of decadent cakes and macarons that you can purchase, and it is definitely a hell of a lot cheaper than the Louis Vuitton shop.
Arc de Triomphe
Sticking with the theme of the Champs-Elysees if you make it to the end, you will be greeted by another sight which is just as synonymous with Paris as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe. The monument was commissioned in 1806 following Napoleon’s victory at Austerlitz the previous year. Whilst Napoleon had fallen from power a decade later the Arc still serves as a symbol of French patriotism to this day. Beneath the Arc lies the tomb of the unknown soldier. This honours the 1.3 million french soldiers who lost their lives in World War 1.
We recommend paying the €13 to climb the 284 steps to the viewing platform at the top of the Arc. You do get a few points to rest along the way, and the view is really worth it. You also get a fantastic view of the Eiffel Tower from here. It’s also quite mesmerising watching the cars down below as they navigate the large round about.
This is one of the most beautiful churches in Paris, so we definitely recommend taking the trip out to Montmartre to admire this beauty. Entry is free, although you may need to queue at certain times.
Our recommendation is to go early in the morning around 10am because it is way less crowded at this time. This is also a good time to climb the 300 steps to the top of the church. You will need to pay for this and it is separate to visiting the inside of the church. It’s very much worth it because the views from here are just incredible.
Take a Seine Cruise
There is something romantic about seeing Paris from the water. You can either do a day or a night cruise and you get to float along the Seine and learn its secrets whilst gazing at the city’s attractions from the water.
There are various different companies you can book with, and they all leave from different locations. But you should book in advance to avoid missing out.
If you are looking to see a cabaret then the Moulin Rouge is a must. It is located in the more colourful part of Paris but you can’t go to Paris without seeing the Can-Can.
If you aren’t interested in the show, we do recommend at least visiting the outside, to snap a picture of that famous windmill.
The Panthéon is one of those buildings that in my mind feels a little out of place in Paris, and maybe more at home somewhere like Rome. Despite this it was initially built as a church and was commissioned by King Louis XV.
After the French revolution the Panthéon that was once synonymous with the monarchy became a place to honour those that passed away fighting during this time. And these days it is the final resting place for a number of historical figures.
Catacombs of Paris
One of the more unusual and macabre things to see in Paris has to be the Catacombs. Located 20 metres underground, the ossuary contains the remains of several million Parisians. These catacombs were created due to issues with overcrowding at Parisian cemeteries and for a time were forgotten.
These days it is a top tourist attraction and provides a fascinating insight into the history of Paris. You will need to book a place online in advance as numbers are capped daily.
Is Paris worth visiting for solo travellers?
If you are wondering is Paris worth visiting for solo travellers, then the answer is yes. Paris is a fantastic place to go if you are travelling alone. This is because there is so much to do, it’s easy to get around, and overall it is pretty safe.
There are also several day trips or tours you can book onto if you are wanting to explore the city with like minded people.
Is Paris worth visiting for couples?
Is Paris worth visiting for couples is like asking if the sky is blue. It’s famously earned itself the nickname of the city of love, and is a very popular spot for honeymoons, and romantic weekend escapes.
There is so much you can do as a couple, like taking a romantic cruise down the Seine, sipping Champagne on the Eiffel Tower, or just having a picnic in one of the many atmospheric parks in the city.
Is Paris worth visiting for families?
I know that Paris might not be the first place in Europe you think of visiting with a family, but it is a good one. For one thing there are so many immersive museums in the city, making it the perfect place to admire the beauty and also learn.
Paris also has some really beautiful parks like the Jardin du Luxembourg, which is a great place for picnics, pony rides, and other family friendly activities.
Finally let’s not forget that Paris is home to Disneyland Paris. And if that doesn’t scream family fun, I don’t know what does.
Is Paris worth visiting for foodies?
If you are wondering is Paris worth visiting for foodies, then the answer is yes! Paris is one of the best cities in Europe when it comes to food. And the best thing about it is that it is totally affordable.
And just to clarify it’s not all snails and frog legs. I mean they exist but there is so much more on offer in the city. For starters a lot of the boulangeries and pâtisseries stock the most amazing foods like baguettes, croissants, pastries, eclairs, and way more.
Then you also have the comforting French food like French Onion Soup, Steak and Fries, and even Beef Bourguignon. Pair all of that with a top quality glass of wine and you have a winning combination. Oh and have I mentioned the cheese?
Basically if you are into food, Paris will be a dream for you.
Is Paris worth visiting for the nightlife?
The nightlife in Paris is honestly pretty fantastic. And we found that there is a little something for everyone. For something more low key cafe stay open quite late, and you can sip wine or drink beers as you chat with your friends.
The quality of the nightlife in Paris all depends on where you go, and what you enjoy. Two of the best areas for nightlife that we experienced are as follows:
Le Maris is one of our favourite areas for nightlife in Paris. It’s not as touristy as other parts, and you have a good mix of bars, cocktail lounges, clubs, and cafes. There is basically something for everyone here.
It may have been known as the Red Light District in the past but Pigalle these days is one of the hottest areas when it comes to nightlife. There are tons of cafes, quirky bars, cocktails spots, and low key wine bars to enjoy.
There are obviously many more areas in Paris for nightlife, like Belleville for a cheaper night out, or Bastille for clubbing.
Is Paris worth visiting for culture lovers?
Again, asking the question is Paris worth visiting for culture lovers, is like asking is water wet. The culture in Paris is defined by so many different things and it is also vastly different depending on which neighbourhood or arrondissement you find yourself in.
For culture lovers, Paris is a real treat. From its numerous museums, architectural masterpieces, literary history and so much more you will find so much to explore. In fact when you think of French culture Paris is the first place people think of.
Is Paris worth visiting in the summer?
Summer is of course peak travel season in Paris. To the point where over tourism becomes a bit of a problem. Personally we wouldn’t recommend visiting the city in summer due to the sheer volume of visitors. It makes it hard to visit the attractions, and you will find yourself queuing for a lot of your holiday. Accommodation costs skyrocket at this time of year as well. So if you can avoid it we recommend you do.
Temperatures tend to range between 14°C and 26°C although it does get a lot higher with random heatwaves scattered throughout the summer. It’s the perfect time for picnics, relaxing in cafes, or enjoying the many green spaces in the city. This is obviously part of the reason tourist numbers are so high.
Is Paris worth visiting in the winter?
Winter is very much the off season when it comes to travelling to Paris. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. With incredibly high tourist numbers in the summer, winter is a welcome break for those that want a more authentic Parisian experience.
The weather is cool with average lows of 3°C and highs of 8°C. So it’s not ideal for outdoor activities, but it’s perfect for cosying up in cafes, or visiting the many museums in the city.
What to pack when visiting Paris?
Obviously your packing list will be dependent on the time of year you visit, but here are some useful items to bring with you.
- Comfortable footwear – you will do a lot of walking
- Waterproof jacket or umbrella
- Reusable water bottle
- Portable phone charger
What should I know before visiting Paris?
Here are some of our top tips for visiting Paris:
- Overall Paris is safe but pickpocketing is common. Have your wits about you and store money in different places like your wallet, and leave some in your hotel safe.
- Scams are also common particularly with people trying to get you to sign petitions. Don’t do it and just keep walking.
- Another example of a scam is where people will try to tie a band around your wrist. The idea is to make you pay for it once you cannot get it off. Be forceful and just say no.
- Try to avoid the tourist traps when it comes to food. There are so many great places to eat and drink in Paris. As a general rule of thumb if someone is trying to entice you inside then it is a tourist trap.
- Book attractions well in advance. A lot of the big attractions in Paris have timed bookings so you will need to organise tickets in advance.
- Some museums are free on the first Sunday on each month, but get in early, and double check if bookings are required.
Is Paris overrated?
One of the harshest bits of criticism we hear about Paris is that it is overrated. And to a degree I can understand why you might feel that way. I think people have this image of what they expect Paris to be like from Instagram and literature. When it doesn’t live up to those expectations it can be super disappointing.
Spend 5 minutes on social media, and it’s easy to get this impression that Paris is magical. Everyone is dressed well, everyone is having fun, and everything is beautiful. But Paris has its downsides too. It’s dirty, people can be rude, and it’s a huge city which makes it feel lonely at times.
Despite all of this, I am one of those people that loves Paris. If I could pack my bags and move there tomorrow I would. I can see past its negatives, and appreciate its positives. To me it’s not perfect, but it’s Paris.
So Is Paris worth visiting?
There are pros and cons to visiting Paris, and honestly I think it is one of those cities that you either love or hate. Yes it’s dirty at times, yes it can be over crowded, and yes you will have to line up for tourist attractions. But if you look past these things, Paris is really a magical place.
There is a reason so many people want to visit Paris, and we are firmly in the camp of being in love with it. There is something so special about sitting in a cafe sipping wine and watching the world go by. Or walking past the Eiffel Tower at night, or in the day, or just any time really!
So if you ask us the question is Paris worth visiting, we absolutely think it is.
Hopefully this article has helped you answer all the hard hitting questions like is Paris expensive, is Paris safe, and is Paris overrated. If you did find this useful don’t forget to pin it for later below.