Expect the unexpected in Paris. For all of its world-renowned sites, there is so much more to discover in the City of Light. Paris is one of the world's top destinations for travelers, but there are ways to avoid tourist congestion.
Our curated guide takes you from morning markets to rooftop sunsets, through ancient cemeteries and precious parkland, to secret gardens that allow a respite from the buzz of the city. Our destinations allow you to experience popular attractions without the crowds while providing a starting point to explore the parts of the city you may never knew existed. As with all of our guides, you are encouraged to use these itineraries as a starting point to make your own Parisian memories.
Settled in the 3rd Century
≈ 15 million tourists annually
Over 450 parks
Busiest rail station in Europe
Year-round. While crowds are common throughout the year, particularly at major attractions, expect the most visitors in July and August. Compass & Key recommends the fringe months of May, June, September and October.
Vacation rentals can be a great way to feel like a local, and occasionally they can be larger than standard hotel rooms. If you're looking for the amenities of a hotel, Compass & Key recommends staying in the Latin Quarter, our favorite neighborhood to call 'home' while in Paris. It provides the perfect blend of architectural beauty, interesting sites, authentic restaurants and easy access to the rest of the city.
For a complete list of curated hotels in Paris, visit the Compass & Key Hotel List.
Top Pick: Hôtel Les Dames du Panthéon ($, hotellesdamesdupantheon.com) was inspired by historical French women who have missed out on fame and glory. Overlooking the Pantheon in the heart of the Latin Quarter, the 35 rooms combine vintage furniture and art in a contemporary aesthetic. We loved perusing the art books over a glass of wine in the lobby bar. Metro: Luxembourg
Not many hotels, in Paris or anywhere else, take a stance on anything overtly political, unless "more conveniently placed power outlets please, and light switches that make sense" is your idea of a revolutionary rallying cry. (Now that you mention it....)
There is no shortage of delightful cuisine to discover in Paris. Expect to linger at a sit-down cafe, so if you have a big day planned, opt for a croissant in the morning and baguette for lunch at the various quick-service shops throughout the city. Some markets also offer prepared meals along with fruits and vegetables. Our interactive map showcases our favorite restaurants in each area, but the place we return to every time is Le Coupe Chou in the Latin Quarter with classic French cuisine and a cozy atmosphere.
"This restaurant is located in a quiet alley of the Quartier Latin in Paris, one of the oldest in Paris, between the Pantheon, Collège de France and Notre...
HOW TO GET THERE
Most visitors fly into Charles de Gaulle international airport. Compass & Key recommends taking the Paris metro RER B line for the 50-minute journey to several city-center stations for about €10. Taxi fares start at €50. Both recommended hotels are accessible from the RER B line with less than a 10-minute walk from their respective stations. If you opt for public transport, plot your journey with CityMapper.
Paris is a walking city, first and foremost. However, we highly recommend also utilizing the efficient Metro rail system as well as the bike-share scheme, Velib for point-to-point trips. CityMapper is our transit app of choice for Paris (and many other cities).
The Metro, while not the cleanest of public transportation systems, is nonetheless effective in traversing across the city and allows you to mingle with locals and visitors alike. Pick up a book of 10-tickets at any Metro station and try it out. Make sure to keep your ticket after going through the turnstile, as you'll need it to exit.
The bike share system in Paris has been around since 2007 and cycling lanes are well marked and used often. We cycled from the Latin Quarter to the Eiffel Tower in 20 minutes. 1- or 7-day passes can be purchased. For more information, visit Velib.
WHERE TO GO
Compass & Key has curated six itineraries for wandering Paris. Select an itinerary for a dynamic map and guide to the destination. To save and download these itineraries to your smart phone, visit the Compass & Key page on Triposo.
A collection of our must-have guide books to the City of Light. Click on the images to purchase online, or note the titles and go to your favorite local bookstore.
Detailed interior maps of key attractions, like the Louvre, is one of many reasons we prefer Eyewitness guides.
These three tiny booklets - one for each country - are the size of a credit card and help navigate the menus with a simple A to Z glossary.
Our copy is well worn from use as this is our favorite guidebook while in Paris. Of the forty gardens, we've visited about a dozen and have always been delighted.
If using the bike share system is on your list, this guide showcases routes in five areas that are cycle friendly and offer plenty to do.
The Paris Visitors Bureau to browse for events during your trip and the latest news about the city.
Our Museums & Markets infographic with a summary of opening times for the sites featured in our itineraries to help you plan your days.
The official Paris Museum Pass, which can be purchased in advance or onsite at many of the locations. The pass can be worthwhile if your visit is at least three days, if nothing other than to skip the lines.
Eat With Paris, where you can book meals and cooking classes hosted by locals. Recommended for the first or second day of your trip so you can ask your host about unique things to do and see.
Fat Tire Bike Tours Paris, our favorite way to get to know the city for the first time while getting some exercise. Plan the tour for the same day you land to help fight jet lag. Compass & Key enjoyed the day bike tour on our first trip to Paris, and the Versailles day excursion on our second trip.
Explore the Compass & Key interactive map for Paris, showcasing so much more than just the places in our itineraries. Some sites we have visited while others were discovered through favorite travel writers and bloggers. Simply click on the icon to learn more and be inspired to create your own itineraries.
CURATED PARIS TRAVEL STORIES FROM AROUND THE WEB
A new crop of pastry chefs is lending a fresh perspective to the historically male-dominated craft. ...
Baguettes. Kouign-amanns. Croissants. It's a known fact that Paris knows how to master the finer things in life-specifically the most glutinous, satisfying bites your mouth will ever encounter. You'll be hard pressed to avoid the tempting freshly baked bread smell that wafts through the city streets at sunrise.
You're going to need a lot more than a Breton shirt and a beret to fit in in Paris-especially when a single day can include touring the Louvre one minute and rubbing shoulders with the city's coolest the next.