Advance Planning

Two months before Book accommodation, organise opera, ballet or cabaret tickets, check events calendars to find out what festivals will be on, and make reservations for high-end/popular restaurants.

Two weeks before Sign up for a local-led tour and start narrowing down your choice of museums, prepurchasing tickets online where possible to minimise ticket queues.

Two days before Pack your comfiest shoes to walk Paris' streets.

Resources

  • Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/paris) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveller forum and more.
  • Paris Info (www.parisinfo.com) Comprehensive tourist-authority website.
  • Sortiraparis (www.sortiraparis.com) Up-to-date calendar listing what's on around town.
  • Bonjour Paris (www.bonjourparis.com) New openings, old favourites and upcoming events.
  • Secrets of Paris (www.secretsofparis.com) Loads of resources and reviews.
  • HiP Paris (www.hipparis.com) Not only vacation rentals ('Haven in Paris') but articles and reviews by expat locals, too.

Top Tips

  • An unforgettable introduction to the city is a river cruise (or hop-on, hop-off Batobus trip) along the Seine, floating past quintessentially Parisian landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and Notre Dame.
  • The metro is inexpensive, efficient and easy to use. Local buses are a scenic alternative.
  • Prebook attractions online wherever possible to avoid standing in long ticket queues.
  • Brush up on at least a few basic French phrases. Interacting with locals in French (even if only a little) is not only respectful but will make your time in the city infinitely more rewarding.
  • Above all, don't try to cram too much into your schedule. Allow time to soak up the atmosphere of Paris' neighbourhoods – lingering over a coffee on a cafe terrace and exploring the backstreets are as much a part of the Parisian experience as visiting major sights.

What to Take

  • Comfortable shoes – Paris is best explored on foot
  • Phrasebook – the more French you attempt, the more rewarding your visit will be
  • Travel plug (adapter)
  • Corkscrew (corked wine bottles are the norm; screw caps are rare); remember to pack it in your checked baggage for flights

What to Wear

As the cradle of haute couture, Paris is chic: don your smarter threads (and accessories such as scarves). You'll also stand out as a tourist less and therefore be less of a target for pickpockets. Dress up rather than down for the 'nicer' restaurants, clubs and bars – no jeans, shorts or trainers/sneakers.

Bring sturdy shoes whatever the season – cobbled streets aren't kind on high heels or thin soles.

When visiting religious sites such as Notre Dame, be sure to dress respectfully.

Pre-departure Checklist

  • Check passport validity and visa requirements
  • Arrange travel insurance
  • Confirm airline baggage restrictions
  • Book accommodation well ahead
  • Make reservations for popular and/or high-end restaurants
  • Buy tickets online for the Louvre, Eiffel Tower etc
  • Organise international roaming on your phone if needed (and be sure to check roaming charges)