Planning a trip to Paris
Updated: Sep 4, 2022
A few years ago I was hit with the grand idea to vacation in Paris. After doing tons of research, I planned an epic trip to experience this beautiful city. If you are thinking about visiting Paris keep reading for some things you should consider while planning your trip.
*note, my trip to Paris was pre-Covid. Please keep Covid restrictions in mind while planning.
The Eiffel Tower, Shutterfly
I love to travel.
Whether it’s to a near-by cities like Charleston, SC or Asheville, NC, or out of the country to France, I enjoy being a new surroundings, soaking in different cultures, trying new foods and experiencing wine and other adult beverages that I will forever associate with my chosen destination.
One of my favorite parts of traveling is the planning! Before arriving to my destination of choice, there are tons of things I have to take under consideration.
Speaking of which, all of my trips, are planned by yours truly… me.
I do not use travel agents to plan my getaways, although I do use tour companies once I am at my destinations. Other than that, I am very hands on with researching, scheduling and curating my epic life experiences (hence the reason most of my travel is solo).
Planning my own trip allows me to control the cost and reduces the chances that I'll be participating in an activity that I'm not interested in.
For ideas about what to do once you get to Paris, the details on my excursions and all the touristy things I did while in Paris, can be found on this post.
In this blog, I will answer many of the questions I am asked when I tell people about my traveling adventures.
What time of year did I travel
I traveled to France during the month of September, which, according to google, is one of the best times to visit Paris (and yes, I agree).
It is said that from June to August the weather in Paris is “parfait” (i.e. perfect) which probably means flights the prices are a bit higher and it is crowded with more tourists.
September was a great compromise in that, it is usually a bit cooler than the “parfait” months, but not quite as cold and/or inclement as Paris tends to get during the later and earlier parts of the year.
Grab your passport, we're leaving the country!
Fun fact... (or maybe a not so fun fact) The weather in Paris was supposed to be on the cooler side while I was there so I packed a bunch of long sleeve clothes to wear while there.
When I got there I was blessed with perfect summer-like weather with not one need for a sleeve!
The not so fun part of this fact is, all of my “summer clothes” were stolen in my previous destination, the Canary Islands, (*rolls eyes, an entire other blog post in itself) so I didn’t have any light clothing for the unexpected warmer days in Paris.
This is why you’ll notice that all of my shirts while in Paris are touristy in nature and feature things like The Eiffel Tower and “I Love Paris” on them. Because I had to buy summer clothes once I got there!!
To be honest I never would have bought these shirts if I weren’t robbed of my summer clothes, but I am happy I own them now because they remind me of one of the greatest trips of my life.
When life give you lemons, you make Parisian lemonade, add a little vodka, and continue to have the time of your life!
How did I get to Paris?
Flew into Europe from John F. Kennedy Airport on a Norwegian flight to Barcelona, Spain - Spent a week in Spain
Flew into Paris, France from the Barcelona (2hrs) - Spent 6 Days in France
Flew to back to JFK from Paris
I don't live in New York, but it was less expensive for me to fly into Europe from there. So, I booked a round trip flight from home to get to New York to save money.
One of the coolest things about traveling to Europe is, once you get there, you can fly around the country for dirt-cheap!
I believe my 1-way flight from Barcelona to Paris was about $62. So, when planning a trip to Europe, think about other cities you want to visit in the area and make the most out of your trek “across the pond.”
Where did I stay?
While in Paris I stayed at Motel One, Port Doree. I stayed at the same hotel while in Barcelona and I absolutely love the brand!
Known for its Euro-look, beautiful bars, intricately decorated lobbies, and sprawling continental breakfast buffet, this hotel brand will be my signature go-to for future European trips!
Continental Breakfast Buffet at Motel One Port Doree
This particular location in Paris was very new, so new in fact, that while I was there, I was invited to the “grand opening” party which featured delicious Parisian cuisine and an open bar! You can only imagine how much fun that was!
Follow me on Instagram to check out more pics of my beautiful hotel!
This hotel was a 1-hour cab ride from the airport and about a 20-minute subway ride from the main “touristy” part of the city. The good thing is, it was conveniently close to a metro station (less than a 10 minute walk) so it made for easy access to catch a ride into the main parts of the city.
How did I get around the city?
As I mentioned above, I took “the metro” (the subway system in Paris) everywhere during my time in Paris! It was safe, convenient and super cheap.
I will add that I am a Southern California native and have lived in the South for the majority of my adult life. Neither of these places are known for their public transportation so I’m not one of those people who is use to using public trans, subways, etc.
I mention this because I couldn’t believe how easy it was to get comfortable with their metro system, which probably more comparable to that of New York’s transit system.
I only took a taxi twice while in Paris. Once from the airport to the hotel. I arrived at night, and my friend did not feel comfortable with me taking the train at night in an unknown city so he sent his cousin via taxi to have him escort me to my hotel (it's nice to know people who KNOW people).
The second, and only other time I got into a car/taxi, was after my night at the world-famous “Moulin Rouge Dinner and Show” which I took the metro to, but was advised by my tour guide that my dress was too sexy for me to take the train back, so I opted for a cab.
My awesome tour guide
“When traveling to certain locations, see if you can opt for public transportation. This will help you save money which can be used for other experiences, tours or souvenirs to bring home”
So yes, you’re right, this means I took the metro to get to my connecting train to Champagne, France and back to the airport to go back to the states. And YES, with luggage in tow (one large suitcase and small carry-on).
I also walked a lot. It was a great way to see the city and learn more about the different neighborhoods. I walked so much that when I got back home some people thought I had been gone to have some type of weight-loss surgery!
Silly, I know, but true story. Laughable, because who has time for a weight-loss procedure during a trip as packed as mine, but definitely a true story.
What I liked most about France?
1. The People
We hear it all the time: Parisians are rude, people in Paris are racist, and be careful, there are tons of pick-pocketers there. This was not my experience at all while in the city and from my research prior to my trip, a lot of travel bloggers felt the same way.
Paris is “the big city.” It’s like New York but in Europe, so yes, people are a lot more focused on themselves and living their day-to-day lives.
But when I think about all of the people who helped me while in France, the people didn't come off as rude or racist. I can’t say the same about the first leg of my trip, which was in Spain and reeked of rudeness and racism. But that’s another blog post for another day.
(Disclaimer: This, of course, was my view as a tourist there for a few days and I am in no way in a position to speak on behalf of race relations or other people's experiences in either place. This was just my personal experience.)
The Eiffel Tower
Everywhere you go you are greeted with a lively "Bonjour!" and "Como se va?" along with a nice friendly smile.
Listen, I don’t speak a lick of French, but there was always a local person around who was more than happy to help the “sweet little sista” from the States make her way through the big city of Paris.
Often strangers would stop what they were doing and help me read the subway kiosk or help me purchase my ticket. (Who knew I'd need to know how to speak French in France!?!)
And then there were the men on the subway who offered their seats to women (something you DO NOT usually see in the States) and the eager Parisian who was always happy to help point a tourist in the direction of their next destination.
As for pickpocketing, well of course you have to be careful and very direct with the scammers and people who approach you because they know you’re a tourist. But as long as you are “on guard” and know the signs of scammers and con artists and how to protect yourself, you should be good.
There’s tons of articles and YouTube clips on this “dark side” of Paris which does exists. Just don’t let that deter you from visiting this spectacular city!
In my book, (and yes, I actually have a book) the people of Paris were by far some of the best I have met while traveling internationally.
How about you?
Have you traveled to Paris? What did you think about the people there? Let me know in the comments.
2. Landmarks and Tourist Attractions
Paris is magical!
That conversation is a post of it’s own. But here's what I will say about the attractions: They! Are! Remarkable!
The Louvre Museum, the Sacre Coeur, the Eiffel Tower, the landmarks are nothing short of breathtaking when you see them in person. To see all of the things I did while in Paris, check out this week's bonus blog post for ideas when planning your trip!
Did you know that Paris has a statue of liberty? It’s true. I didn’t see it while there, but I will definitely visit the next time I visit.
3. The Energy and Vibe of the City
Paris is very much as bustling city full of people, both tourists and residents, and each person adds to the beautiful complexity of the city.
At night, the city lights up and becomes even more sexy and vibrant!
There are so many different neighborhood in Paris, each with its own unique aura and a million stories to tell.
The city’s ability to woo you is just short of overwhelming!
It has an unexplainable glow that you will only understand once you experience the place. Do yourself a favor and add this place to your list of must-do destinations!
Did I feel Safe
Absolutely, I felt very safe.
But, I’ll add a few things here…
I’ve been traveling solo since I was 18 years old, so I am extra careful of my surroundings.
I watch a lot of Dateline, so I always make good choices. For instance, with the exception of the Moulin Rouge, I opted to spend my nights in my hotel lobby and bar rather than out in the streets of Paris. Sure I may have missed a lot like “clubbing in Paris,” but at the same time I made it back safe.
There will always be another trip to Paris and next time it won’t be solo, so I was okay saving my "clubbing" experience for my next visit.
I followed all “pickpocket” and scammer protection guidelines: Again, do your research. Unfortunately, I had to curse out a pan-handler, yes, sometimes you have to get aggressive to show people you mean business.
I didn’t “take the bait” from the weird guy who wanted to “take me to the restaurant he owned, and then drive me to the airport” on my last day in Paris. (Traffick much?)
All that to say, when traveling, especially solo, use common sense and be extra careful. Be sure to register with the American Embassy and check their site for how to practice top safety precautions.
Which drink did you fall in love with?
This wouldn't be thevinochronicles.com if we didn't talk beverages! It is a must that I share the drink I fell in love with while in Paris.
It was an absolutely impeccable white Bordeaux wine that I picked up at a small corner grocery store during a beverage haul for my room (and it cost me less than 4 euro... I know, don’t judge me).
I didn’t even know white Bordeaux existed until I found this bottle but let me tell you... It was sinfully delightful!
*Wine fact: Wines gets its color from the skins of the grapes. The longer the wine soaks in the skins, the richer it becomes in color.
Paris is known for it’s wine! So I encourage you to try as much wine as you can while there regardless of the price!
(Image by: vivino)
What you would do differently?
My biggest regret about Paris is that I didn’t stay longer!
I was in Paris for a total of 4 days and I really needed 2-3 more.
Because of the shorter stay I was not able to go to Disneyland, Paris, (which is a dream of mine that will be fulfilled #competetive… I was supposed to take mom last year, but we all know how that turned out. Damn you 2020!).
Drink more wine
Another thing I’d do is drink more wine!
While here, I didn't drink a lot because I was too busy exploring.
But the next time I go to France I will spend a few days in Paris and then venture out to neighboring cities like Bordeaux and Burgandy.
These places are home to some of the world’s most popular varietals and beautiful castles!
To enhance my in-persons wine experiences, round 2 of France will definitely include exploring these cities as well. (I'm trying to "be great" for y'all, not me...)
I have to be honest, the only thing in Paris that did not impress me was the food. I loved the breakfast at my hotel and of course the chocolate croissants were to LIVE for.
But as for lunch and dinner, Paris left a lot to be desired. One tip… bring ya seasoning salt! (Keep in mind I had just left Spain, which, to date, has some of the best food I’ve ever eaten, so it was like going from filet mignon to brussels sprouts!)
One thing I regret not doing it eating pizza while in Paris. From what I’ve heard, the pizza there is everything and as a self-proclaimed pizza-connoisseur, I definitely missed the mark by not having any while there. But hey, that gives me even more reasons to go back!
Well, there you have it my loves! I hope you have enjoyed my memories of Paris and found some helpful tips to use while planning your own trip.
Paris is truly my favorite city and that's because my experience there was unmatched! Be sure to check out my post where I list all of the excursions and tours I did while in Paris for more fabulous travel ideas!
So, let’s hear it. Have you been to Paris? If so what did you love, or not love, about it. Or do you plan on visiting? Share with fellow travelers, wine lovers and foodies in the comments.
Until next time – xoxo Rue Hite