‘Not-to-be-Missed’ Travel Tips to Explore Paris Like a Local

by | Oct 6, 2022

View of Pont Neuf in Paris France at dusk

Last updated on October 9th, 2022

Featured image: Pont-Neuf, the oldest bridge across the Seine in Paris | Photo by Netfalls on Envato

Museums, hotels, shopping and more

By Doni Belau, Founder, Girls Guide to the World (Sponsored)

There’s no question that summer is a wonderful time to experience Paris, but it can be tricky for those looking to travel in the off-season, when the weather is still good. 

Believe it or not, the busiest month in Paris is September. Between the fashion shows, the streets and hotels are completely packed. I find that  October is busy still but not as bad as September and then in November it starts to fall off a bit. The only truly slow season in Paris is January to March, but that’s because the weather is horrible.  

Where to stay in Paris

I recommend central Paris, which means arrondissements 1- 6. Paris’ districts are shaped like an escargot with the first being dead center and then winding out in a spiral until you get to the 20th. While 1st, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6th are all superb areas to stay, my personal favourites are the 3rd and 4th – the Marais and the 6th, St Germain. The most central of course would be the islands, Ile de la Cite where Oaris began and Ile St Louis which is the most charming of the two and where my flat is.

Some of my favourite handpicked hotels in Paris across all price ranges include:

If you are looking to save money, stay further afield in the 9th, 10th or 11th. These are all very cool districts, which are much more local yet chock full of fabulous stores and restaurants.

A boat cruises down a river in Paris, France

A boat cruises down the Seine Paris, France

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What to see in Paris

Beyond the obvious museums and iconic places you’ve already heard about, here is my very own ‘not-to-be-missed’ list: 

1. Shakespeare & Co, the quirkiest and most charming English language bookstore in the world. One of Paris’ top literary landmarks, Shakespeare and Company is an English-language bookstore in the Latin Quarter opened in 1951 by George Whitman. It was named after a bookstore founded in 1919 by Sylvia Beach, famous for hosting luminaries including Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein. Learn more here!

2. Musée L’Orangerie, a small museum on the Place de la Concorde. Go downstairs to see Monet’s water lilies which were painted for this particular spot. Get tickets or find a tour here.

3. Montmartre. Re-watch the movie Amelie and then take a guided historical walking tour around Montmartre. There’s so much more to this district than Sacre Coeur and place de Tertre. Join a walking tour here!

4. Wine bars: While away some apero time at a wine bar. The natural wine scene is all the rage in Paris. Try out 1 or 2 of Paris’ best wine bars and make a night of it! Here’s a good list that a friend of mine wrote.

5. Museums: My favourite new museums are La Bourse for cutting-edge modern art and Hotel de la Marine. Both have been fabulously and meticulously redesigned. Hotel de la Marine which also boasts a wonderful cafe, which I’d suggest lunch in after your visit focuses on art, antiquities, furniture and decor. Find museum tickets here.

Cityscape view on the beautiful street with Sacred Heart cathedral on Monmartre hill in Paris

Views on the Sacre Coeur Cathedral on Montmartre hill / Photo by RossHelen on Envato

6. Go to a market, buy some snacks and have a picnic. There are a multitude of wonderful parks and squares in Paris. The most interesting market is the Marche d’Aligre

Paris don’t’s or common mistakes:

1. Don’t stay near the Champs Elysees – it’s a tourist trap. The longest boulevard in the world, sadly has gone the way of Times Sq in NY. It’s all big brands and bad restaurants – there is no reason to see it but if you feel you must, get in, take a photo from the middle of the road when traffic abates and then get out! 

2. The worst tourist traps of all are the Moulin Rouge and the Bateaux Mouches. Steer clear!  For a cruise on the Seine try the brunch, lunch or dinner cruise by Yachts de Paris or Alain Ducasse.

3. Consider a week-long tour with Girls’ Guide to the World for more off-the-beaten-path experiences in Paris:

Learn more about Girls’ Guide to the World in our Women’s Travel Directory here

Start Planning Your Trip to Paris

Get started with resources recommended by the JourneyWoman community

Book Your Flights

Use tools like Expedia or Google Flights to look up the best flight prices. Being flexible with dates can save you even more money.

Find Somewhere to Stay

Find a hotel on Expedia and earn points towards free stays. Hotels.com offers a free night stay for every 10 nights booked. Looking for an apartment or something more long-term? Check out VRBO.

Insure Your Trip

Travel insurance is more important than ever. Compare plans and policies for the best coverage for your trip using Insure My Trip.

Travel Extras

Find a day trip, food tour, museum tickets, and so much more on Viator.

Don’t forget your JourneyWoman branded accessories while you’re on the go!

More France to Discover

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