Paris City Break: All You Need to Know

moulin rouge

Paris. Fascinating, elegant, vibrant. La “Ville Lumiere” is a city to be enjoyed in full with its thousand years of history. We fell in love with Paris thanks to its old-fashioned style, historic architecture, and vibrant nightlife lit up under the glow of street lights. I went to Paris three times and in each one, the city offered me unique moments. A city break to Paris is something that should be done at least once in a lifetime. Thanks to this comprehensive blog post you’ll get a taste of the city and soak in useful information that will help you make your trip memorable.

How to get from Paris airports to the City Centre

France is the most visited country in the world, and Paris…well it’s the second most visited city in the world! In 2019 alone Paris hosted over 19 million tourists, most of which arrived through its three airports,  Beauvais, Orly, and Charles de Gaulle.

From Beauvais to Paris City Centre

Beauvais airport is located about 90 Km away from the city centre. Most low-cost airlines fly to Beauvais, and thanks to this we’ve got cheap flights. Buses operate regularly (every 15-20 minutes) from Beauvais airport to the Porte Maillot metro station and vice versa. If you land in Beauvais, simply exit the airport and head right. You will get straight to the bus station.

From Orly to Paris City Centre

If you land in Orly, you will need to get the Orlyval shuttle train. Regular trains are available every 4 to 7 minutes and are located in both terminals, at entrances K and A. This train will stop at Antony RER (train) station and from there, you will be able to get to the city centre (such as Les Halles and Gare du Nord). Always remember to start your journey back to the airport at least 3-3.5 hours before the flight.

From Charles de Gaulle to Paris City Centre

Charles de Gaulle is Paris International Airport and it is relatively close to the city centre (23 km). To reach the city centre from Charles de Gaulle airport, simply get the train RER B. Unlike other airports, Charles de Gaulle features a metro link. Don’t worry if your terminal is located far from the RER station: a free shuttle bus operates between the various terminals 24/7.

For a quick transfer service, book a taxi

Where to stay in Paris: An Overview of Paris's Best Neighbourhoods

If your Paris city break planning has already started, you may have noticed that choosing a good place to stay is not an easy job! Just like in Rome, there are so many districts.

In this section, you will get an overview of the best Paris neighbourhoods with some tips to help with your accommodation hunting.

Where is best to stay in Paris?

When it comes to choosing where to stay, we would consider areas that are safe and that are well connected to the places we want to visit. So what is the best neighbourhood in Paris? The answer is, that there is no best place to stay in Paris because each place will have its pros and cons. As Paris is so big, you will probably end up getting the metro most of the time. Therefore, it comes alone that a good place stay should be located close to a metro station. If you can find a place that is relatively central and close to a metro station, that could be a win-win!

Le Louvre - 1st Arrondissement

I stayed in the 1st arrondissement during my last city break in Paris. This district is one of the oldest in Paris, probably one of the most crowded and expensive but also very central and very well connected. It is home to the Louvre, the famous Ponte Neuf, and parts of the Ile de la Cite. At Christmas time, the area is packed with Christmas markets, carousels, and skating rinks. We recommend staying in the 1st Arrondissement if you do not mind crowds and want to stay central.

Check out the best places to stay in Le Louvre – 1st Arrondissement (City Centre)

TIP! Since this area can be quite expensive, why not stay in an apartment? After many years of travels, we found out that apartments often provide all the comfort you need at the right price. has always good offers on this type of accommodation. It is worth having a look.

Montmartre – 18th Arrondissement

Montmartre offers a wide range of affordable options and it is home to the art district, the majestic Sacre Coeur, and the Moulin Rouge. In Montmartre, time seems to have stopped back in time. It is simply the perfect place to sit in a cafe and watch the world go by. Moreover, it is one of the best spots to get photographs of the city. We recommend staying in this district if you want to experience the Parisian lifestyle, away from the crowd of the city center.

Check out the best places to stay in Montmartre 

Le Marais – 4th Arrondissement

Le Marais district is central and ideal for young couples. The streets are packed with cool bars and restaurants that offer tasty and cheap meals. It is a district that embeds nightlife with art. We recommend staying in Le Marais for those who want to experience the nightlife and want to stay central.

Check out the best places to stay in Le Marais

Eiffel Tower – 7th Arrondissement

Here is where you will find all the major attractions of the city such as the Eiffel Tower, Musée d’Orsay, Musée Rodin, Musée du Quai Branly, Les Invalides (Napoleon’s tomb). The 7th Arrondissement has been home to the Parisian upper class for centuries, and we would recommend staying here if you are passionate about museums and want to make your trip a bit “classier”.

Check out the best places to stay near the Eiffel Tower

If you still haven’t found your ideal place to stay in Paris, have a look at the map below. There are countless options to choose from!

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If you have a limited time to spend in Paris, or your flight leaves in the evening, you may consider storing your bags with Radical Storage. They have multiple store locations across cities. All you need to do is book your storage location for a selected day and time and leave your bags once there. We have found storing our bags particularly convenient when we did not need to stay overnight and only had a day to spend in a city. 

The Best Things to do in Paris

There is so much to see and experience in Paris that there will never be enough time to do it all. We have made a list of things not to be missed on your city break in Paris. Hope you’ll enjoy it!

1. The Eiffel Tower

Undoubtedly the most recognizable landmark of France, it was built in 1889 despite many negative comments from public opinion. The massive tower (312 meters!) was initially built to last twenty years. However, considering the huge worldwide success that was getting, it was decided that needed to remain standstill. Such a decision was never better taken as the Eiffel Tower is today the most visited landmark of Paris.

Eiffel Tower Paris city break
The Eiffel Tower

Thousands of tourists gather here every year, at the Ile de France, to admire the Eiffel Tower. Getting up the tower is a wonderful experience as you get to see the city from different perspectives.

We would advise getting your Eiffel Tower tickets online to avoid long queues outside the tower.

TIP! Get to Trocadero or Parc Champ De Mars in the early afternoon! Take all the pictures you want with the sunlight so that you can take some more at sunset. Both views of the tower are stunning!

2. Louvre Museum

The paintings of Michelangelo, Giotto, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci and many, many more make Le Louvre one of the top museums in the world. Moreover, Le Louvre hosts sculptures and other masterpieces of the oriental, Greek, Roman, and Egyptian eras. The pyramids located just outside the museum are one of the most famous and photographed landmarks of the city.

Louvre Museum Paris city break
Louvre Museum

Don’t miss out on the famous Jardin des Tuileries. Built by the order of Caterina de Medici, who wanted a place for her private ceremonies and banquets, the gardens were subsequently opened to the public. They are located between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde. We would recommend planning your visit to Le Louvre in advance, as it is impossible to visit the whole complex in one day only. Joining a Skip The Line Louvre Tour would be a wise choice. You can check availability below

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TIP! Le Louvre is FREE for those under 18 and EU citizens between 18 and 25 years of age. Remember: It is closed on Tuesdays, January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th

3. Notre Dame

Together with the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral is the most visited landmark of Paris. Built in 1163, the Cathedral took about 200 years to be finished. The church has hosted the main events in French history, such as the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte. Unfortunately, it burnt down in 2019, and at the moment, the remains can only be visited from the outside. Hopefully, it won’t take long before we can visit again this World Heritage Site.

Notre Dame city break paris
Notre Dame Cathedral


Notre Dame is currently being rebuilt. In the mean-time, it is still possible to learn about this gothic masterpiece through a self-guided audio tour from

4. Champs-Elysées

A city break to Paris would be incomplete without a walk on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées. With its cinemas, cafes, and luxurious shops, it is considered to be the most beautiful and iconic road in Paris. Built during the reign of Queen Maria de Medici, who wanted to expand her Jardin des Tuileries, the road quickly became a city hub. Today it hosts the Palais Elysee, the residence of the French President of the Republic, and the beautiful Madeleine church.

Champs-Elysées things to do in Paris

5. Arc de Triomphe

Located in Place Charles de Gaulle, the Arc de Triomphe was Napoleon’s tribute to his soldiers who fought for France. The Arch is the starting point of the most important parades of the country, such as “The Storming of the Bastille” every July 14th. A full day could be spent strolling around here: visiting the Opera and the Champs Elysées, dining on fine French cuisine, and hopping into boutiques. We decided to access the Arch’s viewpoint at night and we recommend you do the same to get the best breathtaking views of the city.

6. Palace of Versailles

Originally used by Louis XIII as a hunting lodge, it then became a Royal Estate thanks to his son Louis XIV. It became home to the French court for years, and it is still today France’s most famous grand palace. At the Palace of Versailles, there are many interesting sites to visit, such as the Royal Chapel and the Opera Theatre, and of course, the gardens.


Not to be missed is the “Mirrors Gallery”, a 73-meter-long room, the place where the First World War formally ended with the Treaty of Versailles. The Estate is located 22 km southwest of Paris, in the town of Versailles. To get there, you must get the C5 RER train and stop at Versailles Rive Gauche. Remember: the complex is closed on Mondays, May 1st, January 1st, and December 25th. To make the most of your day, book a full immersion guided tour.

7. Musée d’Orsay

The Musée d’Orsay arguably hosts the most beautiful Impressionism and post-Impressionism paintings. Once a train station, it’s home to the best collections of Van Gogh, Cezanne, Gauguin, and many more. But that is not all. Design, architecture, photographs, medals, drawings, and cinema are also some of the themes on display. Musée d’Orsay is a must-see for art lovers and it is located in Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 1.

Musée d’Orsay

TIP! This museum is FREE for those under 18 and EU citizens between 18 and 25 years of age. It is FREE for all on the first Sundays of the month. There is also a late opening rate of 12 € on Thursdays from 6 pm. Remember: the museum is closed on Mondays, May 1st and December 25th  

8. Seine River Cruise

Thousands of people take a Seine River Cruise every year. It has become a tradition over the years and therefore a must-do on a trip to Paris. Onboard the characteristic “Bateaux Mouches”, you will get a view of the city and its landmarks from a different perspective. There are different types of boat tours and there is also the possibility to make your tour private and customizable. Are you ready to enjoy a Romantic Dinner Cruise?

TIP! Save time by joining this Eiffel Tower and Seine Cruise Combo! The Eiffel Tower tickets offer you fast-track entry to the observation decks where you can admire breathtaking views of Paris. Then, head down to enjoy a relaxing sightseeing cruise down the Seine River.

9. Montmartre

A free walking tour to the Montmartre district should be included in your itinerary. This area was once the residence of all the most accredited artists coming from around the globe to live and study in Paris. Today it is one of the most fascinating districts of the city. You could easily spend an entire day in Montmartre, as there are plenty of things to see and do. For example:

  • Visit the oldest vineyard in Paris
  • Relax at the Place du Tertre
  • Visit the Sacre Coeur Basilica for free (there is a charge to go up the tower)
  • Enjoy the best views of Paris
  • Stroll through the Montmartre cemetery
  • Visit the Montmartre museum and Dali Museum
  • Take a tour of the Moulin Rouge
  • Stroll through Pigalle, the red-light district of Paris
Sacre Coeur montmartre paris city break
Sacre Coeur Basilica

10. Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris is one of the most famous theme parks in the world. Enjoy rollercoasters, musical shows, and parades with all your favourite characters. There are various options to enjoy these theme parks. The Disneyland Day Trip would give you a little taste of one of the theme parks: Disneyland Paris, the kids’ favourite park, or the Walt Disney Studio Park, mainly for older guests.

If you have a longer time to spend in Paris, we would recommend the Disneyland Multi-day Entry


Have a look at these popular activities below!

Free Things to Do in Paris

Paris is one of the most beautiful and expensive cities in Europe. Yet, you will be surprised to see how many things you can do for free. We will help you plan your perfect trip with a list of free things to do and see in Paris.

1. Museums

All the national museums in Paris are free for all under 18s and EU citizens between 18-25 years of age. Below are also some of the museums that open their doors for free to all on the first Sunday of each month:

  • Museum of the Orangery
  • Musée d’Orsay
  • Quai Branly
  • Musée Picasso
  • Rodin

And there is more! Some museums open their permanent exhibitions for free all year round. Examples of these are:

  • Musée d’Art Moderne
  • Maison de Balzac
  • Musée Bourdelle
  • Carnavalet Museum

2. Enjoy the views from Montmartre

Montmartre is one of the most beautiful districts of Paris. It offers stunning views of the city, cobblestone streets, arty cafes, and the beautiful Sacre Coeur Basilica. Join a Free Montmartre Walking Tour and you won’t be disappointed.

3. Visit the Latin Quarter

This district is located between the 5th and the 6th Arrondissement. The name “Quartier Latin” came from the fact that professors and students from Sorbonne University used to talk Latin with each other. In the Latin Quarter, you can enjoy many quirky bars, cafes, and antique libraries. As well as the university, you can visit the Pantheon and St. Etienne and St. Severine churches.

4. Relax at the Jardin du Luxembourg

Just within minutes downhill the Latin Quarter, you will find the Jardin du Luxembourg: the largest public park in Paris. This is the place where the locals would go jogging, read a book, and also sunbathing during the summer months. The park is well decorated with statues, fountains, and monuments.

5. Walk the Champs Elysées

Walking on the Champs Elysées is another free thing to do in Paris. This prestigious avenue is considered to be the most iconic in France and one of the most famous worldwide. It offers several cinemas, theatres, and cafes, but also some great spots for pictures.

6. Parc Champs de Mars and Trocadero

The Park Champs de Mars is located at the base of the Eiffel Tower. It is free to enter and, if you are going to the Eiffel Tower, you will probably end up here anyway. From Parc Champs de Mars you can head to the other side of the tower, cross the river and reach Trocadero. This is the most popular place to photograph the Eiffel Tower, especially at night.

7. Take free walking tours

Joining a free walking tour is something we usually do, especially when visiting cities. The guides are always friendly and can answer most questions that you may have. You would be surprised at how well they are prepared. Taking a walking tour is a great idea to get around the city for the first time; you can get such insightful information that you probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Tipping at the end of the tour is optional but recommended. Free walking tours should be booked in advance.

8. Get free water

Paris is full of fountains located throughout the city. It is recommendable to bring your water bottle and fill it in every time you need it. As well as saving money, you would avoid using plastic bottles and help save the planet.

9. Visit the Mémorial de la Shoah

The Mémorial de la Shoah is a museum dedicated to the history of Jews during the Second World War. An in-depth collection of the events of the Shoah that includes an archive center, study areas, multimedia rooms, and an auditorium.

10. Visit the Monumental Cemeteries

Those who wish to leave a flower or a message to their past away stars can visit the popular cemeteries of Paris. For instance, Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, and Chopin are buried at the Cimitiere du Père Lachaise, while Alexandre Dumas and Edgar Degas rest in the Cimitiere de Montmartre. Deserves a mention also the Montparnasse Cemetery, where Charles Baudelaire rests.

11. Take some photographs at the Arc du Triomphe

One of the most iconic landmarks that deserves a place on this list. At the base of the Arch is the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the eternal flame.

12. Walk along the Seine

Among the best spots along the Seine, are Canal St. Martin with its cool markets and quirky bars, and Pont Neuf (Ile de la Cité).

13. Attend a free concert

At the Conservatoire National de Musique et de Danse you can enjoy one of the many free classical, jazz, and baroque concerts held by the students.

14. Galeries Lafayette

Home to the most luxurious brands, Les Galeries Lafayette is the most iconic and gigantic shopping center in France. Ok, going shopping is probably not a good idea if we are talking about free stuff. However, we must note that the architecture of the buildings is quite impressive, and the free view of Paris you get to see from the rooftop is one of the most panoramic.

As we have seen, there are many things to do and see for free in Paris. While in Paris, we liked the fact that you don’t need to pay for everything. You can just walk around with your camera and take some photos without having to spend a cent.

Don’t forget that there are also some good ways to save money in Paris. You can find these in the next section.

Going on a City Break to Paris with a Limited Budget

If you are looking to go on a budget city break to Paris, rest assured that there is so much to do spending little or nothing.

So, what are the options if you were to visit Paris on a budget?

1. Consider getting a Paris Pass

The Paris Pass comes in 2, 3, or 4-day packages and it is activated the first time you scan it. It will give you access to:

  • Free entry to over 75 attractions
  • Free hop-on-hop-off bus tour (1 day)
  • Skip the line to many attractions
  • Included guidebook
  • Extra discounts on selected events and exhibitions

PROS:  It offers a wide variety of attractions. Also, the convenience of not having to queue up for long at top attractions.

CONS: It could end up being more expensive if you do not want to visit certain attractions.

2. Don’t always eat at bistros or restaurants

If you really want to save money during your Paris city break, you should avoid eating at restaurants at least at lunchtime. For breakfast, opt for a traditional croissant and coffee. Coffee shops often offer sandwiches and egg options which is ok for a quick bite. You could then pack your lunch in one of the many supermarkets in town. They would all have an abundant selection of cured meats, cheeses, and fresh bread (and wine too!). So why not make a sandwich yourself and have it at the park?

3. Check prices out first

If you want to go dine in a restaurant (after all, France is renowned for its cuisine and wine) make sure you check out their prices. There are so many posh areas in Paris and could easily end up in some expensive restaurant.

Districts such as Quartier Latin and Montmartre offer a large variety of affordable options. One of the most popular offers amongst the locals is the “Menu Formule”. It works like meal deals, usually 2 or 3 courses, for a fixed price. You could find deals ranging from 8 to 17 Euros.

In any case, always check out what is included in the deals. Don’t believe too much in those who want to drag you into their shop, and make sure you check out at least a couple of places before you make your final choice.

TIP! Some restaurants/cafes may charge you just to sit down. That is commonly known as “couvert” or “table price”. If you want to grab a coffee only, have it at the bar to avoid this hidden fee.   

4. Metro Passes

Consider getting the Navigo Easy Pass. This is a contactless pass that can be purchased for 2€ and topped up at ticket machines, retailers, or even on your smartphone with the “Bonjour RATP” app. Once the pass is purchased, it can be topped up with a single ticket for 1,90€ or with 10-carnet tickets for 14,90€.

5. Go Paris Explorer Pass

With the Go Paris Explorer Pass, you’ll have free access to 2, 3, 5, or 7 attractions in the French capital.  This card could be particularly convenient (can save up to 60%).

6. Take public transport

The metro is well organized and probably the fastest way to get around during your Paris city break.

7. Eat at local markets

Paris is like an open sky market, there are markets almost everywhere. Particularly at Christmas time, when they get really busy. You’ll find fresh bread, cheese, cured meat, sweets, and even wine! Eating at a local market, would save you money but also contribute sustainably to the local economy.

We fell in love with Paris thanks to its old-fashioned style, historic architecture and vibrant nightlife lit up under the glow of street lights. Whether it is at Christmas or on a sunny spring day, there is never a dull moment in Paris. Whether you’ve been there already or not, you will have a great time in Paris, for sure. 

We hope you have found this blog post useful and we’ll see you soon!

Do you like city breaks? We wrote some interesting articles on Amsterdam, Dubrovnik, Lisbon, Naples, Rome, Budapest, London, Edinburgh and Barcelona too!

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