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.
- 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.
- HiP Paris (www.hipparis.com) Not only vacation rentals ('Haven in Paris') but articles and reviews by expat locals, too.
- 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.
- 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)
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, be sure to dress respectfully.