Paris for Beginners: Where and What to Eat, See or Do

What is it about the charm Paris has upon even those who have never visited the “City of Light”?

The glamour, the history, the exquisite gastronomy and the mixture of different movements of art this city embraces, creates an inner longing to be part of that mystique and bohemian atmosphere, we have only seen in the movies or read in novels.

So yes, Paris for beginners is all about materializing that imaginary world!

Edith Piaf’s La Vie en Rose, small cafes, palaces, opera, ‘croissant au chocolat’, will all be on the menu.

So first of all, Paris is a city for walking, and walking and walking.

So pack your comfy shoes (no bulky tennis shoes that scream “I’m a tourist” please), and casual/formal/chic clothes!

Let the journey begin from the moment you start arranging your trip. Buy a travel-guide book about Paris and download it on your phone or small tablet for less weight (you’ll want to carry it around during your trip). Knowing the history behind the beauty you’re watching will make a big difference and lend to a memorable experience.

A guide to Paris for beginners

Booking for your trip:  I really recommend at least 5 days in Paris… no less but much more if you can!

Choosing the Hotel – Where to Stay?

Paris is divided into twenty arrondissements or districts. Remember Paris is for walking, but still, you’ll have to take the Metro more than once, so as long as you stay near a metro station on any of the these districts, you’ll be close to most destinations: 1, 2, 3, 7, 8 and 9th ARR.

Read our guide to the arrondissements of Paris.

Arriving in Paris

Before leaving the airport, find yourself a city map. If you don’t find one, ask for it at your hotel.

You’ll have the option to take the RER Paris city train and connect with the METROPOLITAIN (subway, tube, etc) or take a cab. If you just landed from a transatlantic flight and can afford a 40 € fair, I would definitely recommend the cab over the train, otherwise, the train will be fine. Just think about it when packing your bags because you’ll have to haul it up a couple of flights of stairs and walk with it for a while.

Many applications for your phone help you establish train and metro routes and estimate duration of the journey specifically for Paris, a well-spent $1, or use the free one that RATP (transport authority) provides.

Check out our guide to using the Paris metro.

Montmartre, Paris - Paris for beginners
Montmartre, Paris

How to plan your beginners Paris sightseeing route

How much time you spend at each site, is all up to you, your style of traveling and the time you count on. Museums take a lot of time to really savor them, but no matter what, visiting the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée du Louvre is a must!

My recommendation for Paris for beginners

Trace a route around an arrondissement for each day, make a list of What to See and buy tickets in advance to avoid lines. Try not to be rigid about your times, because you won’t enjoy the real Paris if you have to keep up with it. Enjoy an extra glass of wine if you’re having a good time, sit on the green chairs of the Tuileries Garden and live the Parisian experience.

Places not to miss in Paris

There are so many things to do in Paris for beginners, here’s a few spots that you shouldn’t miss!

The Musée du Louvre, the Jardin des Tuileries, Place Vendôme, Palais Royal, Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Notre-Dame de Paris, La Sainte-Chapelle, the Hôtel de Ville (Paris city hall), Centre Georges Pompidou, Saint-Jacques Tower, Jardin du Luxembourg, Église Saint-Sulpice, Abbey Saint-Germain des Prés, Tour Eiffel and its Parc du Champ de Mars, Les Invalides, Musée d’Orsay, Ecole Militaire, Champs-Elysées, Arc de Triomphe, Place de la Concorde, Église de la Madeleine, Grand Palais and Petit Palais, Opéra Garnier, Montmartre, Basilica of the Sacré Cœur, Église Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre, Musée Rodin.

If you have the time, the Château de Versailles is only an hour away from Paris by train, but you’ll want to spend at least 4 hours there. So reserve at least half a day to go, you won’t regret it! If you don’t have the time, check out Napoleon the 3rds apartment at Musée du Louvre, which used to be the Royal Palace long ago, and get a small glimpse of what Versailles would be like.

This all might seem like too much to see and do, but actually you’ll find most of them to be close to each other.

Opera, in the 9th arrondissement in Paris, France
Opera, in the 9th arrondissement in Paris, France

Time and Budget for Shopping?

As to be expected, Paris has one of the most fashionable streets of the world, Rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré where every major fashion house can be found. But Paris has options for all budgets and styles, Galeries Lafayette and Champs-Elysées offer a great variety.

Related Read: Wine, Dine and Shopping Tips for Opera in Paris

Must eat in Paris

Even though there are numerous plates to eat in Paris, you’ll probably eat some of these more than once… just because they’re too good not to.

I’ll make a list of the ones I consider are a must, and since I tried some of them in different places, I’ll suggest where I liked them the best:

– Croque-Monsieur (Sandwich) – Le Café de la Paix, famous restaurant across the Opéra Garnier, the most astounding Napoleonic Era building.
– Foie Gras – This we ordered in every single place we went for lunch, dinner or snack… they were all good but I can’t remember were I liked it the most.
– Foie Gras Poêlé (Fois Gras Seared) – L’Ilot Vache
– Côtelettes d’agneau – L’Ilot Vache
– Entrecôte – Le Relais de l’Entrecote
– Cheese – France has 56 cheeses classified and regulated by a protected designation of origin (AOC). So your options are broad. I would recommend you try: Brie and Neufchâtel. We ordered cheese at every café we went to, and we did great every time. French will have cheese as an entrance or as a dessert with fruits and sweet wine.
– Berthillon ice cream – Any where at Île Saint-Louis
– Galettes de blé noir ou sucrée au beurre (crêpe made from buckwheat flour with sugar and butter topping) – La Crêperie des Canettes a cozy little place in Saint-Germain
– Crêpe Nutella and Crêpe Sucre et Citron (with sugar and lime) – Anywhere on the streets
– Hot Chocolate – Le Café Angelina at Louvre Museum

Even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, Ladurée is an emblematic French luxury bakery famous for the double-decker macaron, you’ll have to visit and try.

You’ll do fine with any French wine, but I really recommend those from the Bordeaux region, and Sauternes for dessert.

For a nice meal and great atmosphere, I also suggest trying: Le Mini Palais, Le 7ème Vin. any café at Le Tuileriesand at Le Jardin du Luxembourg.

Food in Paris - cheese shops
Food in Paris – cheese shops

Communication in Paris

Learn some useful phrases and words for exploring Paris for beginners: bonjour, merci, parlez-vous anglais?, oui, s’il vous plaît?, au revoir. Here’s a few more useful European phrases to learn.

But don’t worry; nowadays many Parisians speak English, or at least those who tourists usually interact with.

Learn a few basic French phrases in Babbel.

Go Back

You’ll always want to go back to Paris, and each time its charm will embrace you in a different way.

A few more tips for your first time in Paris


observation tower in Seattle

What to do in Seattle: a beginner’s guide

 

When it comes to the best cities in the US to visit, Seattle is a classic. It’s home to some of the best  grunge music ever created, the first ever Starbucks and possibly the best software developer to ever grace our lives, Bill Gates.

You might also know it for its role in movies and TV shows over the years including ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ and ‘Frasier’. And let’s not forget the ever-popular ’50 Shades of Grey’ trilogy, although most of that was filmed in Vancouver, Canada. We know. Our illusions were shattered too. But if you’re looking for a quirky American city to visit, there are plenty of things to do in Seattle so make sure it’s on your list.

things to do in seattle

1. Head to the MoPOP Museum

If you have a single geek bone in your body, head to the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) Museum. Exhibitions on music, film and sci-fi and horror change regularly. Previous exhibitions include the Guitar Gallery, Pearl Jam: Home and Away, and Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic.

2. Explore Washington Park Arboretum

Did you know that Seattle is known as the Emerald City? And no, it has nothing to do with ‘The Wizard of Oz’, although we’d argue that Bill Gates is a bit of a wizard himself! It’s so-called because it’s surrounded by so much greenery. So take a break from pounding the city streets and relax in the 200 acre slice of countryside on the shore of Lake Washington.

3. Get high

When researching things to do in Seattle, top of the list will likely be the Space Needle. No visit to Seattle is complete without it. The futuristic observation tower was built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Century 21 Exposition, to symbolise Space Age aspirations. Head up the tower for iconic views over the city, Puget Sound and Mount Rainier from 520 feet high.

things to do in Seattle

4. Go boating

If the best aerial view of the city is from the Space Needle, the best view from sea level is, well, from the sea. Jump on the ferry to Bainbridge Island for just $8.50 one-way and score incredible vistas. If you’re lucky, you’ll even catch a glimpse of some orcas!

5. Peruse Pike Place

Pike Place Market is another popular attraction on the list of things to do in Seattle, and for good reason. It’s a craft market, a fish market and restaurant hub. Opened in 1907, it’s one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers’ markets in the USA.

6. Go underground

It might seem strange that one of the best ways to see the city is to go under it but trust us on this one; one of the quirkiest Seattle attractions is an underground tour. The city’s streets were once 10 feet lower than they are now. Take a guided walk along the abandoned alleyways, learn the forgotten history of Seattle and see Washington’s largest city in a new light. Or… dark.

Credit: Rennett Stowe/Flickr

7. Be the 12th man

If you’re an NFL fan or a sports fan in general, get yourself to CenturyLink Field to catch Seattle’s team, the Seahawks. Even if you’re not, go anyway. The atmosphere at a Seahawks game is like no other team in the American football league. The whole city backs its team, so much so that the number 12 was retired in the 60s in honour of Seahawks fans. They’re now known as the 12th man (because there are only 11 players on the field).

8. Mt Rainier

Mt Rainier is the most glaciated and topographically prominent mountain in the USA. No we’re not entirely sure what this means either but we think it means it’s tall and snowy. In any case, you can do a road trip and reach it in a day for hiking, camping and skiing, depending on the season.

9. Eat your heart out

Want an excuse to sample Korean pork, crab, clam chowder, cupcakes, salmon, truffles, ice cream, cocktails and wine all in one night? Then a gourmet food tour of the culinary hot spots should be on your list of things to do in Seattle. As if you actually need an excuse though!