Bonjour! Paris is ALWAYS a good idea as they say. I believe this to be true especially if you are planning a Gal Pal getaway. I was lucky enough visit Paris for the first time with two close friends. It was a whirlwind trip filled with so much fun that the memories will last a lifetime. I want to go back!
I have put together a Gal Pal’s travel guide to Paris. What to pack, where to stay, what to do and even where to eat and shop.
Going to Paris with your girlfriends is the perfect trip. Why? It is so much fun walking all over the city, going to museums, boutiques and restaurants along the way. If you are with good company, it’s so much fun to relax and enjoy what Paris has to offer. You should plan your trip in advance but always leave room in your schedule so you can be spontaneity.
There is something special about girl trippin! Girl’s trips offer an opportunity to let loose and not worry so much about your kids or partner. It’s a time to relax and spend time bonding, laughing, shopping, eating and drinking with your besties. The girls that you feel comfortable being your authentic self. Did you know that research shows that women who have close female bonds are happier, healthier and more successful? Not like you needed another reasons to spend more time with your close friends.
Paris has so much culture and is very girly and interesting. There is so many darling quaint winding streets with wonderful window shopping, cafe’s, and iconic shopping Sip on champagne while you nibble on fresh buttery croissants and pretend you are one of those chic local french women. Learn what makes french women so fashionably class during your stay in Paris.
So where do you stay in Paris? Paris is divided into 20 separate zones/neighborhoods called arrondissements. Each arrondissement offers something unique. The city is also split in half by the Seine River. North of the river is called Rive Droite (which means Right Bank), and south of the river is called Rive Gauche (which means Left Bank).
Keep in mind that Notre Dame Cathedral is considered being the “center” of Paris, and most of the city’s famous sights are within walking distance (or a short Metro ride) of the cathedral. Each district has something special to offer so look at each of the descriptions below to see what fits you the best.
Paris districts, or arrondissements in French, are 20 in number. As represented in this map, the first district is in the center of the town ( the Island of la Cité and the Louvre) and the 20th is at the east of the city. In Paris, each quarter has its own character and style, and we love that!
Our bird’s-eye view map above lets you acquaint yourself with the mosaic of Parisian neighborhoods.
If you want to keep site seeing in mind, the Neighborhood is the 1st Arrondisement. For people who plan to do a lot of sightseeing, stay in the 1st. Many of Paris’s most famous landmarks are in this district and you’ll want to be in this area. In the 1st arrondissement alone you can visit the Louvre, the stained glasswork of Sainte-Chapelle, stroll through the Tuileries Garden, or a glass of wine at one of the quaint cafes lining the garden of the Palais Royale.
The Place Vendome, the beautiful plaza where Coco Chanel used to live, is also home to the renovated Ritz Carlton where you can have a drink at the Hemmingway Bar. You’re also within easy walking distance of Notre Dame Cathedral, the Centre Pompidou, Champs Elysees, and just across the river from the Musee D’Orsay and Saint Germain.
We were told that the 7th is the perfect place to stay for first-time visitors to Paris. Home to the Eiffel Tower, notable museums like the Musée d’Orsay, world class restaurants, some of the most beautiful architecture in the city and the charming market street Rue Cler, you’ll experience what most people think of when they envision Paris.
You’ll also have the benefit of being away from some hustle and bustle in neighboring Saint Germain while being close enough to take advantage of its wine bars and jazz clubs.
Atmosphere and cuisine
The best neighborhood for foodies is the 11th. Located just outside the central arrondissements and with cheaper rents, many of the city’s up-and-coming chefs have set up shop in this area.
Generally catering to a local crowd, prices are more affordable in the 11th where the focus is on relaxed eateries with excellent food vs. stuffy haute cuisine. You’ll find everything here from minted Michelin star establishments to the most trend setting chefs to hip natural wine bars.
Some suggestions are:
Bistrot Paul Bert is the ideal spot for classic French fare (Anthony Bourdain was a fan!).
Further north in the arrondissement, you can find great coffee at sister cafés Café Oberkampf and Café Mericourt. The now-ubiquitous Big Mamma Group‘s second restaurant, Ober Mamma, serves the delicious Italian fare that made them famous in the north of the 11th on the boulevard Richard Lenoir. Around the corner, down a nearly-hidden passageway, Au Passage is where you can sit with your girlfriends with a glass of wine.
The 11th arrondissement captures the local life…How Parisians live. Away from the more glamorous neighborhoods like Saint Germain and the Marais, you’ll find informal bistros, fashionable cafes, hip boutiques and galleries, and lots of local nightlife.
Since we stayed in this area, we visited Le Bon Georges Cafe as well as others. This area is definitely filled with locals/
Up in the hills of Montmartre is the perfect place for a quiet getaway. We took this picture as we walked through this old streets. This neighborhood offers breathtaking views while keeping a quaint, village-like charm. Wander around cobble stone streets or climb its many picturesque hills and staircases in an area far from the tourist throng. Stroll past ivy-covered townhouses or the vines of Paris’s only winery. The views are very special from the top!
Most districts in Paris are good for families but a several stand out. Depending on the age of your children, Saint Germain near the Luxembourg Gardens, the Marais near Places des Vosges, and the 1st near the Tuilleries have wonderful playgrounds. All are walkable with access to shops, sites, and restaurants. The 5th, though not as connected by metro but still very central might be another district to consider. You’ll still have access to all the amenities, plus a quieter, village like feel. Family friendly highlights include the Natural History Museum and the botanical garden known as Jardin des Plantes.
Stylish Saint Germain is located in Paris’s Paris City Centre neighborhood. The area’s natural beauty can be seen at Luxembourg Gardens and Tuileries Garden, while Orsay Museum and Louvre Museum are cultural highlights. Looking to enjoy an event or a game? See what’s going on at AccorHotels Arena or Parc des Princes.
There is something for everyone in the Marais. From chic boutiques filled with local Parisian designers, French chains like APC, international brands like American Apparel, or more upscale shopping, the Marais caters to both men and women at almost every price point. While most tourists head to the Galeries Lafayette, stylish Parisians prefer to shop at BHV (short for Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville). You can find everything under one roof – from tools in their hardware department to the latest Marc Jacobs to an outpost of the Alain Ducasse cooking school. Tourists also get an immediate 10% off when you show a foreign passport.
1. TRIAGLE D’Or
When it comes to Paris fashion, the Triangle d’Or is where every woman dreams of shopping in Paris. This shopping mecca is formed by Avenue Montaigne, Avenue George V and Rue Francois 1er in the 8th arrondissement just across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower. This is the heart of Paris’ Haute Couture shops and the finest fashion houses in the world, including Dior, Chanel, Ferragamo, Dolce e Gabbana, Prada, Valentino, Bulgari, Gucci and many more. The Grand Couturiers (major designers) of Paris are mostly clustered around the famous Avenue Montaigne. When you shop in the Triangle d’Or in Paris, there are so many flagship stores on this street that you will be overwhelmed with the Paris shopping possibilities.
2. RUE DE RIVOLI, PALAIS ROYAL & PLACE DES VICTOIRES
The 1st arrondissement is a heavenly spot for shoppers! Elegant and trendy shops line the refined Rue de Rivoli, popular Place des Victoires and surround the beautiful gardens at the Palais Royal. Located within easy walking distance of the Louvre Museum, these are spots dedicated shoppers won’t want to miss!
3. PLACE DES VOSGES & LE MARAIS
Once the haunt of old nobility, the Le Marais neighborhood in Paris’ 3rd and 4th arrondissements is a lively neighborhood known for its trendy boutiques, vintage shops, restaurants and vibrant gay community. Tourists and Parisians alike crowd the narrow pre-Revolutionary streets to absorb the atmosphere of this quaint neighborhood. Sunday morning is a popular time for strolling along the streets when many of the shops are open, which is unusual in other parts of Paris.
4. RUE DU FAUBOURG Saint-Honoré
If you want to shop like a Parisian high-roller—or at least pretend to—head to Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré and the surrounding district. It is located in both the 1st and 8th arrondissements (districts), the street is lined with the biggest names in fashion and luxury, ranging from old-school couture labels like Goyard, Hermès, Gucci and Prada, as well as contemporary, coveted houses and designers
My best advice is to leave some things to chance, so you can relax and enjoy the sites. It helps to have a daily agenda but don’t plan things too close together so you have time to stop for a glass or wine or window shopping on your walk around town.
Without a doubt, the Eiffel Tower is one of Paris’ most recognizable landmarks. For many people, it’s thrilling the first time you see the Eiffel Tower. And for first-timers, a visit to Paris would not be complete without a trip up the Eiffel Tower.
Key Travel Tip: The line to visit the Eiffel Tower can be epic (we’re talking a 2 to 3 hour wait). To avoid this nightmare, book your tickets in advance. How far in advance? As soon as you know your dates of travel. I have heard recent reports that tickets are now selling out as far as 1 to 2 months in advance.
If tickets are sold out for your dates of travel, you can book a tour for skip the line access to the Eiffel Tower.
The Louvre is the world’s largest art museum. This building was once the home to French Kings, including Louis XIV. During the French Revolution in the 18th century, the Louvre was converted to a museum.
The Louvre is massive and you could literally spend days here. However, you can see the highlights (Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and the Winged Victory) in just an hour or two.
There are several ways to avoid waiting in a long line to get into the Louvre.
The Champs-Élysées is 1.2 miles (1.9 km) long and is the most beautiful and well-known avenues in Paris and the world.Touristy? Yes. But even so, it’s a must do. This is one of the most recognizable streets in the world, running from Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe. Along the way, pop into Laduree for macarons, another must do while in Paris.
Declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO over thirty years ago, the Palace of Versailles is one of the most famous palaces worldwide.
Versailles is a royal chateau located on the outskirts of Paris.
Declared World Heritage Site by. In 1682, King Louis XIV moved the Royal Court from the Louvre to the Palace of Versailles. For a little more than 100 years, this was the seat of government for France. That ended in 1789 with the French Revolution. The monarchy moved back to Paris and since then, the city of Paris has remained the seat of government for France. During your visit to Versailles you will tour the palace and stroll through the gardens.
Musee d’Orsay houses the largest collection of Impressionist art in the world. It is here that you can see Monet, Manet, Degas, Cezanne, Renoir, Van Gogh, Gaugin and more. It’s literally a collection of the who’s who in the Impressionist art world.
This museum is more than just Impressionist art. The building is also a work of art. Musee d’Orsay was once Gare d’Orsay, an old train station, which was renovated and became this art museum.
Montmartre is one of Paris’ most popular neighborhoods to visit. Wander the maze of hilly streets, have your portrait drawn at Place du Tertre, and have a drink at one of many cafes that spill out onto the streets here. the Sacré Coeur sits at the highest point of Paris on the Montmartre knoll, or butte. This basilica, which was consecrated in 1909, is best-known for its garish gold mosaic interiors and for its dramatic terrace, from which you can expect sweeping views of Paris on a clear day.
We loved our day in Montmartre. I don’t think I would want to stay in this area as it is too far from the main city and attractions. It is gorgeous however.
Descend under the streets of Paris and tour the labyrinth of tunnels lined with human bones. In the 18th century, cemeteries around Paris were cleared and the bones were moved to these underground tunnels. Now, this is the final resting place of six million Parisians. Waiting times can be as long as 3 hours to get into the Catacombs. Only 200 people are permitted in the Catacombs at one time, so the line moves very slowly. Buy your tickets in advance to save time waiting in lines.
No first trip to Paris is complete without a visit to this marvel of gothic architecture, dating to the 12th century. One of the most unique and beautiful cathedrals of Europe, Notre Dame Cathedral’s dramatic towers, spire, stained glass and statuary are guaranteed to take your breath away. Sadly, the week I spent in Paris was just after the Cathedral massive fire. I did not get a chance to see this mater piece. Next time!
The area around Notre Dame used to be the heartbeat of medieval Paris, and that took over 100 years of hard labor to complete.
Spring in Paris is always unpredictable, so be prepared for anything and pack an item for all the elements. Look at the weather forecast several weeks before you to to get an idea for what the weather forecast variation you may experience. What to wear in Paris in March may still reflect winter styles, as will what to wear in Paris in April. Paris May weather is when it finally starts to warm up. If you’re wondering what to wear in Paris in May, bring a mixture of styles for warm and cool days.
Packing a light trench coat is always a good choice for Paris.
Popular styles include light brogues, sneakers (Supergas are very popular) or waterproof shoes are essential. Note that the best waterproof shoes are not made out of rubber; instead choose leather ankle boots, which are the best shoe option for travel to Europe in spring.
While not recommended for all day sightseeing, ballet flats are also a good option should you want a dressier pair of shoes on your trip for warmer days or evenings. Alternatively, being closed toe wedges for a dressy alternative. Check out our shopping guide with ideal clothing and shoes choices for Paris in the Spring.