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Where to stay and what to do in Beautiful, Historic, Romantic Paris

Paris might just be the most beautiful and romantic city in the world. With all its monuments paying homage to its history, its beautiful architecture, and its centuries of art all built around the river Seine, the "city of light" has so much to offer that getting it all done in one go is virtually impossible. Bubbly Tourist has put together a shortened ranked list of things to see and do in Paris, and we feel extra qualified in doing so as Paris was our home (with our dog) where we worked for over a year. Paris, and France for that matter, is indeed our home away from home. This ranked list also includes the must-see sites of Paris so you won't feel like you're missing out on anything. But where will you stay in Paris? The possibilities may seem endless in this city of 20 arrondissements ("districts"), but we have narrowed it down for you. So, sit back with your glass of bubbly, relax, and read on to find out where to stay and discover the gems that lie in wait for you within this beautiful city.

20 Paris Arrondissements / Districts of the city; Bubbly Tourist where to stay and what to do in Paris, France
The 20 Arrondissements ("Districts") of Paris running clockwise, starting city center, from 1 to 20

Our Ranked List of Things to see and do in Paris (with district)

Our top 5 ranking of things to see in Paris are arguably interchangeable, so Bubbly Tourist would list these items as a must-see or mandatory if you only have very limited time in Paris.

1. Eiffel Tower (7th Arrondissement)

Without question, this is the most identifiable monument in Paris, and perhaps in the entire world. When you're in Paris, you'll definitely see it without having to look for it. When it's time to REALLY see it though, we recommend one of these options: 1) Go up into the Eiffel Tower, 2) From the Champs de Mars (the grass fields out in front of the Eiffel Tower), and 3) From Trocadero (a raised platform directly across the river). 1) Go up into the Eiffel Tower: You'll need to buy tickets in advance to book your visit before it sells out for your day. Depending on your desires and budget, you can go to the second level or to the Summit and even have lunch or dinner at the Le Jules Verne, a Michelin two star restaurant with incredible views. 2) From the Champs de Mars: you'll be able to enjoy the grass and park areas leading right up to the Eiffel Tower. 3) From Trocadero: One of the best views of the Eiffel Tower is from across the river Seine from a platformed viewing area called Trocadero. Not only are the views amazing (our niece had her engagement photos taken there), but Trocadero is also home to gardens, ornamental ponds and fountains as well as the cultural richness of the Palais de Chaillot. Bubbly Tip: Bypass the regular Eiffel Tower lines and cost of a ticket if you dine at Le Jules Verne by using the restaurant's private entrance off of Gustave Eiffel Avenue. However if you wish to still go to the top of the Eiffel Tower or Summit after your meal, you will still have to buy a ticket to get there.

Eiffel Tower view from the Champ de Mars in Paris, France; Bubbly Tourist where to stay and things to do in Paris
A view of the Eiffel Tower from the Champ de Mars

2. The Louvre Museum (1st Arrondissement)

To see the entirety of the Louvre, you will need a few days. It is an immense museum with many different floors and wings. Its collection is too huge though to see all at one time. In order to make the most of your visit, here are the top Bubbly Tourist recommendations in the Louvre from which to start:

  1. Mona Lisa, the most famous painting in the world by Leonardo da Vinci

  2. Liberty Leading the People, the infamous French Revolution painting by Eugène Delacroix

  3. Venus du Milo, an ancient Greek marble sculpture from the 2nd century B.C.

  4. Great Sphinx of Tanis, an ancient granite sculpture of a sphinx from around the 26th century BC, and other ancient Egyptian antiquities

  5. Winged Victory of Samothrace, a greek sculpture from the 2nd century B.C.

  6. The Coronation of Napoleon, a massive painting of Napoleon's coronation from 1807

  7. Napoleon III Apartments, gilded decor from the 18th and 19th centuries

  8. Hammurabi’s Code, carved with nearly 300 laws that governed life in ancient Babylon

  9. The Raft of the Medusa, a huge painting representing French Romanticism from 1818

  10. Crown of Louis XV of France, the only remaining French crown belonging to Louis XV

There are three additional sights that can be seen outside the museum and without fee:

  1. The Louvre itself. From the inside courtyard, take in the vast size of this royal residence. Originally built as a fortress in the 12th century, it was slowly expanded upon, becoming a royal residence in 1364, up until Louis XIV officially moved into Versailles making the Louvre a showcase of the royal art collection.

  2. The Pyramid. Also located inside the courtyard, use this glass entrance to enter the museum and take a few photos from various vantage points.

  3. Jardin des Tuileries. Bubbly Tourist makes a point to stroll through these Louvre gardens on every visit to Paris. Stroll through them and relax in quiet as the rest of Paris zips around you. It's fun to see all the tourists and locals in the gardens milling about. You might even take a page out of Bubbly Tourist's guide and have some champagne in the gardens while you relax.

Bubbly Tip: If you're lucky enough to be in Paris on the 1st Sunday of the month, you can get free access to the Musée D'Orsay, the Louvre, the Musée Rodin, and others.

Fun Fact: There is also a Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi. It's a long ways from Paris, but if you ever find yourself in the United Arab Emirates, it's architecture is a must-see. Read more about Bubbly Tourist's recommendations on what to see and do in Abu Dhabi.

3. Notre-Dame Cathedral (4th Arrondissement)

The beautiful Notre Dame cathedral is located on Île de la Cité, an island in the middle of the River Seine. The cathedral, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. It was built in the 12th century and took nearly a century to build. In April, 2019 during renovation, a fire broke out and caused the roof to collapse delaying any visits into the cathedral for over five years. Notre Dame is expected to be ready for visits by the end of 2024. Even with the scaffolding and construction still going on around it (see photo below), the cathedral is still a magnificent sight to behold.

Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral on Île de la Cité in the 4th arrondissement of Paris, France; Bubbly Tourist where to stay and what to do in Paris
Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral on Île de la Cité

4. Arc de Triomphe (8th Arrondissement)

The Arc de Triomphe is located right in the middle of the Place Charles de Gaulle, also known as Place de l'Etoile ("star" in English) because of the 12 roads that radiate from it. Don't be confused by the metro and RER stops with the label that has combined the two: Charles de Gaulle-Etoile. It is the stop of the Arc de Triomphe. The Arc de Triomphe honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. The remains of both Napoleon Bonaparte and Victor Hugo passed under the arch on their way to their final resting spots (Napoleon in Les Invalides, Victor Hugo in the Panthéon). Beneath the arch in a vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. Since the interment of the Unknown Soldier in 1920, all armies have avoided crossing under the arch, instead marching around it. This includes Hitler in 1940, the Allies in 1944 and 1945, and the French today. Yes, you can go up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. Payment is required and there are 284 steep steps to reach the top. An elevator is only available to those who require it.

Bubbly Tip: Do NOT try to cross the street to reach the Arc. Use the underground pedestrian tunnel to reach the monument safely. Access the tunnel from the Champs-Elysée Avenue or the Avenue de la Grande Armée sides.

Arc de Triomphe at the top of the Champs Elysées in Paris, France; Bubbly Tourist where to stay and what to do in Paris
A view of the Arc de Triomphe at the top of the Champs Elysées

5. Champs Elysées (8th Arrondissement)

The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, France, and is 1.9 kilometres (1.2 miles) long and 70 metres (230 feet) wide, running between the Place de la Concorde and the Place Charles de Gaulle, where the Arc de Triomphe is. This infamous boulevard brings thousands of tourists per day and is quite busy with local traffic, especially since it connects the two aforementioned monuments and is also a main artery through Paris. Walk from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe, if you can, to fully appreciate the grandeur of this avenue. If you prefer to walk it in segments, the stretch between Place de la Concorde and the Franklin D. Roosevelt metro station is lined with gardens, and you can make a small detour on Winston Churchill Avenue to see the Petit Palais (a fine arts museum in a beautiful ornate building) or the Grand Palais (see below). The stretch between FDR metro and Avenue Charles V is rather pedestrian but will offer you up some larger department stores. Between Avenue Charles V and the Arc de Triomphe, you'll find Louis Vuitton's flagship store and the location of Louis Vuitton's future hotel (target opening 2026). Both are quite impressive, especially the LV suitcase designed to cover up the construction. Take a detour down Ave. Charles V for some high-end shopping.

Louis Vuitton store and hotel on Champs Elysées in Paris, France; Bubbly tourist where to stay and things to do in Paris
Louis Vuitton's flagship store and future hotel in LV suitcase design (below the blue, white and red crane)

6. The Musée D'Orsay (7th Arrondissement)

If you like impressionist paintings, then you'll love the Musée D'Orsay! The Musée D'Orsay houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings. Situated in a former train station, this museum is exquisite. It is wide open so it never feels overly crowded, and it's got remnants of the former train station - namely the massive clock - that retains some of its nostalgia. See the paintings including Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Manet, Degas, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, and Gauguin. It is absolutely worth seeing. The museum is certainly less overwhelming than the Louvre, and the large collection can be seen all within a few hour span.

Bubbly Tip: If you're lucky enough to be in Paris on the 1st Sunday of the month, you can get free access to the Musée D'Orsay, the Louvre, the Musée Rodin, and others.

7. The Musée Rodin (7th Arrondissement)

This indoor and outdoor museum is dedicated to Auguste Rodin, the famous sculptor who brought to life the Thinker, the Gates of Hell, and the Kiss, and his pupil, Camille Claudel, who had equally exquisite works of art. Their sculptures are truly magnificent! Begin inside in the Hotel Biron where Rodin lived and worked in his later years, and is now the museum. The two floors of sculptures and some paintings will take you approximately 1.5 hours. The building is not overly large, but there are many beautiful pieces to see. Then, go outside and stroll through the gardens where a number of Rodin's famous sculptures are life size. This will take you up to another hour to casually make the rounds. From the gardens, and given its proximity to Les Invalides, you can also get beautiful pictures of the gilded dome where Napoleon rests.

Bubbly Tip: If you're lucky enough to be in Paris on the 1st Sunday of the month, you can get free access to the Musée D'Orsay, the Louvre, the Musée Rodin, and others.

The Thinker in the gardens of the Musée Rodin in Paris, France; Bubbly Tourist where to stay and what to do in Paris
The Thinker in the gardens of the Musée Rodin

8. Latin Quarter (5th Arrondissement)

The 5th arrondissement, known as the Latin Quarter, is home to the Sorbonne University and student-filled cafes. It's also known for its bookshops, including the famed Shakespeare & Company. The Panthéon (not free) holds the remains of notables like Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Jean Moulin, Louis Braille, and Marie Curie. The Arènes de Lutèce is free and is perhaps the most important ancient Roman remains in Paris. Constructed in the 1st century AD, this theatre could once seat 15,000 people. The Jardin des Plantes is free and contains eleven types of gardens that include an alpine garden, an ecological garden, a rose and rock garden, a maze, and endless beautiful flowers that changes with the seasons. At the Jardin des Plantes, you'll also find The Ménagerie (not free) which is the second oldest zoo in the world (behind the Tiergarten Schönbrunn in Vienna, Austria). Opened in 1794, it has hosted a huge variety of living species.

Jardin des Plantes in the Latin Quarter of Paris France; Bubbly Tourist where to stay and what to do in Paris
The Jardin des Plantes has eleven different gardens and also a Zoo (Ménagerie)

9. Saint-Germain-des-Prés (6th Arrondissement)

The 6th arrondissement, known as Saint-Germain-des-Prés, is the smallest in Paris in terms of area covered. It is often regarded as "quintessential Paris" well known for its café culture and the revolutionary existentialism intellectualism of the authors that lived there, including Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Gertrude Stein, Paul Éluard, Boris Vian, Albert Camus and Françoise Sagan. Here, the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens cover around 23 hectares (57 acres) and is popular for its tree-lined promenades, flower beds and lawns, beautiful fountains and sculptures, tennis courts, and model sailboats. Additionally in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, you can find two beautiful churches: Saint-Sulpice and Saint-Germain-Des-Prés. Église Saint-Sulpice is the third largest in Paris behind Notre Dame and Saint Eustache and is not only beautiful, but is famously known as a location in The Da Vinci Code. Église Saint-Germain-des-Prés, located across from the famous Deux Magots Cafe, is the oldest standing church in Paris built in the 11th century and was the main place of worship before Notre Dame.

10. Montmarte (18th Arrondissement)

This hilltop district was a former artists' village where Dalí and Picasso once lived. It's also home to the domed Sacré-Cœur basilica, a popular tourist destination, and the Moulin Rouge, a famous burlesque palace. If you venture to this area, be prepared for the steep streets and famous 222 steps made popular in the John Wick 4 film. We saw a lot of wheezing tourists making there way up to Sacre-Coeur. As an alternative, there is a funicular that bypasses the steps. However, keep in mind that there are another 75 steps or so still required to make it up to the basilica. When you do make it to the top, be aware of the large line queueing into the Sacré-Coeur. Around the corner from the basilica, you'll find the Place du Tertre where artists sketch, paint and display their work. This is crammed with tourists but you can get your face sketched or cut-out with scissors by some remarkable artists. There are some amazing views of Paris from this hilltop back across the entire city.

Montmartre steps up to the Sacré Coeur basilica and Place du Tertre in Paris, France; Bubbly Tourist where to stay and what to do in Paris
Quintessentially French steps (222 in John Wick 4) leading up to / down from the Sacré Coeur and Place du Tertre

11. The Islands of the Seine (4th Arrondissement)

In addition to Notre-Dame, Île de la Cité also has a couple of additional stunning buildings that are worth seeing. At Sainte-Chapelle, this beautiful jewel has 1113 stained glass windows in a radiant gothic style. Sainte-Chapelle was built in the middle of the 13th century by Louis IX (future Saint Louis), to house the most prestigious relic of the Passion of Christ: the Crown of Thorns (now in the Louvre) and a fragment of the True Cross. The Conciergerie, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, was originally part of the former royal palace, the Palais de la Cité, which also included the Sainte-Chapelle. Two large medieval halls with stunning arches remain today from the royal palace. The Conciergerie was later converted to a prison where Marie-Antoinette was housed prior to her execution. At the westernmost point of the Île de la Cité is a pedestrian only bridge, Pont Saint-Louis, that is also open to musicians, dancers, and acrobats. It will allow you cross directly to Île Saint-Louis, a romantic destination into itself.  It's almost as if someone dropped a small French village into the center of Paris. It contains markets, bakeries, fromageries, and cafes. FYI, you can also reach Île Saint-Louis from both the Right and Left Bank of Paris.

La Conciergerie on Île de la Cité in Paris, France; Bubbly Tourist where to stay and what to do in Paris
La Conciergerie on Île de la Cité taken from the Pont au Change

12. Hotel des Invalides (7th Arrondissement)

Commonly called Les Invalides, this is a complex of museums and monuments that all relate to the military history of France. It is easily recognized by its gilded gold dome. The most prominent item on display in Les Invalides is the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte. His remains were moved here in 1840 at the behest of King Louis-Philippe after first passing through the Arc de Triomphe. Specifically, Napoleon's tomb lies in a 1600's chapel at the southern edge of the Army Museum (Musée de l'Armée), dedicated to weapons and rare artifacts. The military hospital is still in operation at Les Invalides, and the headquarters of the military governor of Paris is there. Moreover, the soldiers' chapel still functions as a Roman Catholic house of worship.

The gilded gold dome of Les Invalides where Napoleon now rests in Paris, France; Bubbly Tourist where to stay and what to do in Paris
The gilded gold dome of Les Invalides where Napoleon now rests

13. The Grand Palais and Petit Palais (8th Arrondissement)

Right off the Champs Élysées - as already mentioned above - there are the Grand Palais and Petit Palais on Winston Churchill Avenue. In fact, the Grand Palais is officially known as the Grand Palais des Champs-Élysées. Built for the 1900 Paris Exposition, the Grand Palais is known and recognizable by its large glass dome peaked by the French flag. The Petit Palais, home to the Musées des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris, is a true architectural masterpiece. Both host exhibitions and cultural events.

Grand Palais near the Champs-Elysees and the Seine in Paris, France; Bubbly Tourist where to stay and things to do in Paris
The Grand Palais as seen from the river Seine

What are some additional fun things to see and do in Paris

1. Shopping

In addition to the shopping already mentioned off the Champs Elysées and Avenue Georges V, there are several reasons you should head to these shopping locations even if you don't plan on shopping. First of all as a foreigner, you are entitled to VAT (value added tax) refunds of up to 20%. With an expensive luxury item, this can easily amount to hundreds of dollars. Second of all, there are some flagship stores right in Paris that are in beautiful buildings - some with incredible views - and offer you tons of choices and options. Finally, when you get tired or hungry, it's simple to grab a bite to eat or a coffee at many of these departments stores cafés and restaurants, some on the rooftops and with amazing views.

Galeries Lafayette rooftop and Printemps in Paris, France; Bubbly Tourist where to stay and things to do in Paris
A rooftop view from Galeries Lafayette of Printemps Department Store and several of its domes

Luxury Shopping on Avenue Montaigne (8th Arrondissement)

Many high-end fashion brands have a store on Avenue Montaigne. If you go during the Christmas season, you'll see the avenue and stores all aglow in white lights. It's beautiful and worth the visit even if you're not shopping! Avenue Montaigne is famous for the Dior flagship store at number 30, the historical building where Dior was founded by Christian Dior in 1946. Other French stores on Avenue Montaigne include Chanel (51 and 42), Bonpoint (49), Cloé (44), Nina Ricci (39), and Louis Vuitton (22). Other International stores on Avenue Montaigne include: Dolce & Gabbana (54), Ralph Lauren (52), Versace (45), Armani (18 and 2), Valentino (17), and Prada (10).

Shopping in a historic building with a Rooftop Break (9th Arrondissement)

Galeries Lafayette is a huge indoor mall on Boulevard Haussmann in a 120 year old historic complex of buildings. It has three different buildings, connected by enclosed pedestrian walkways on multiple levels, each that are seven stories high full of fashion, luxury items and other goods. Make sure you check out the new Glasswalk which extends out into the mall with incredible views of the stained-glass ceiling. But when you need a break, also check out the rooftop with beautiful views of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower and the Opera House, and multiple places for you to stop for a good meal and/or refreshments.

Glass walk and Stained Glass Ceiling in Galeries Lafayette Paris, France; Bubbly Tourist where to stay and things to do in Paris
Step out onto the glass walk inside Galeries Lafayette for a better view of the stained glass ceiling

Printemps is another excellent option for shopping under one roof with 10 beautiful domes and it's right next door to Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann. It also sells fashion, beauty and luxury items, including up and coming designers. The difference between the two department stores is that Printemps is more everyday and practical and can be more affordable.

Shop with a Panoramic Break along the Seine (1st Arrondissement)

Samaritaine in the 1st Arrondissement is another excellent option for a department store. LVMH recently renovated the store in 2021 and gone is the utilitarian focus of the old department store. It's now a gallery of sorts for designer clothes and beauty services but also includes numerous restaurants and a chic hotel. If you're in the mood for a weekend lunch break or evening dinner after you shop, the Langosteria restaurant perched at the top of La Samaritaine and part of the Cheval Blanc hotel, has a large panoramic terrace with breathtaking views over the River Seine and the center of Paris.

The Samaritaine department store in Paris, France; Bubbly Tourist where to stay and what to do in Paris
The Samaritaine department store in Paris after its renovation by LVMH

2. The Library of the National Institute of Art History (2nd Arrondissement)

This could be a place to go to if you need to study or work quietly or to see millions of documents on the history for art or heritage studies. Bubbly Tourist went here though because of the beautiful libraries, gorgeous campus and building's architecture. The Richelieu site is a public space occupied by several institutions: the INHA library, located in the Labrouste room; the research rooms of the departments of the National Library of France, its museum, and the Oval Room; the library of the National School of Charters. You can see the Labrouste room from its entrance, but it's not open to the public (they will only let you through the room's doors). The Oval Room is open for free to the general public.

Library of the National Institute of Art History in Paris, France; Bubbly Tourist where to stay and what to do in Paris
The Oval Room inside the Library of the National Institute of Art History

3. The Bridges ("ponts") over the Seine (throughout Paris)

The architecture can be quite diverse and dramatic on each of the bridges that crosses the river Seine in Paris. Please take time to observe the variations in style and architecture not only on the bridges themselves, but the sculptures that also flank their entrances. Although not an inclusive list, Bubbly Tourist recommends the following bridges: Pont Alexander III (as seen in the photo below) with its golden guilded sculptures and known as "the most beautiful bridge in the world"; Pont des Arts that connects the Louvre with the Institute of France known for all its love locks; Pont Neuf, although no longer "new", is the oldest bridge in Paris and connects the rue de Rivoli on the Right Bank and the rue Dauphine on the Left Bank through the western point of the Île de la Cité; the Pont de Bir-Hakeim connects the 15th and 16th arrondissements and is one of two viaduct bridges (the other being the Pont de Bercy) in Paris, with a foot and car path below and metro line above, and is known from the movies "Inception" and "The Last Tango in Paris".

 Alexander III Bridge over the river Seine in Paris, France; Bubbly Tourist where to stay and things to do in Paris
View of the Beautiful Alexander III Bridge from the Pont des Invalides

4. The River Boats (along the river Seine)

As seen in the picture above, you'll find these river boats, commonly called bateaux mouches, all along the Seine. These can be very touristy, but what the heck, when in Paris, right? It can give you a nice view of the sights that border the Seine. And, there are lots of sights. So, if you want to get off your feet and tour down the river, then this can be an option. You can also do lunch and dinner cruises. There are 3 permanent boarding docks for the River Seine sightseeing cruises in Paris: the Port de la Bourdonnais, at the base of the Eiffel Tower, shared by Bateaux-Parisiens and Vedettes de Paris; the Port de la Conférence, at the bottom of the Pont de l'Alma, the boarding place for the original and infamous Bateaux-Mouches; and the Pont Neuf, the boarding point for Vedettes du Pont Neuf.

5. Hot Chocolate at Angelina (1st Arrondissement)

This 120 year old gorgeous tea room is located along the Rue de Rivoli in the 1st district just off the Tuilleries gardens of the Louvre. It is known for its signature old-fashioned hot chocolate. Although expensive, you are definitely paying for the experience. But the hot chocolate is to die for - it is very thick - and the pastries are heavenly as well. The interior is gorgeous too and was designed in the “Belle Epoque” style. It was one of the most elegant parlors of Paris, and became an institution frequented by elite Parisians including Marcel Proust and Coco Chanel.

Where to stay in Paris

Bubbly Tourist recommends staying in one of the arrondissements (districts) bordering the Seine in the heart of Paris because you'll be closest to the major sights. If you look back at our map, this means staying in arrondissements (districts) 1 and 4 through 8. But this is still a massive area, so base your hotel's location on what you want to get most of out of Paris. Our top list of places to see and things to do has the majority of places in the 7th or 8th arrondissement, so we'd suggest you start looking for your lodging there.

We highly recommend you use Bubbly Tourist's process for choosing a hotel. It will quickly narrow down your choices, and will guarantee you a high quality hotel that meets your specific needs. And although you're never very far from a metro or bus stop in Paris, we also advise that you stick within a block or two of a station or a stop to make it more convenient for you.

One high quality hotel chain that consistently has multiple hotels in the top of TripAdvisor's traveler rankings is Astotel. These are 3 and 4 star hotels that are truly affordable and conveniently located in Paris. The service is top notch and the rooms are comfy. On our last stay in Paris, Bubbly Tourist stayed in the Hotel Bradford in the 8th arrondissement because it was close to our old stomping grounds and offered the perfect value for the location and amenities that we were looking for. Reminder: we are not compensated for any of our recommendations.

Bubbly Tip: Not sure which arrondissement your hotel is, look at the last two digits of its zip code. They will all begin with 750 (e.g., 75001), but the last two digits will be the arrondissement or district of Paris. In this example, "01" or the 1st arrondissement.

Fabulous Day Trips from Paris

1. The Palace of Versailles

Only an hour by train from city center, this magnificent palace began as a mere hunting lodge in the 1600's. Louis XIV converted the hunting pavilion of his father, Louis XIII, and installed the Court and government in Versailles in 1682. A succession of kings continued to embellish the Palace up until the French Revolution. Since 1979, the Palace of Versailles has been listed as a World Heritage and celebrates French 17th century art. Now a museum, Versailles is known for its Hall of Mirrors, its collection of 60,000 pieces of art, and its estate of over 800 hectares (close to 2000 acres) that consists of the gardens, the Park, the Trianon estate and several buildings in town. The Apollo Fountain, one of Bubbly Tourist's favorite fountains in the world, can be found on the estate and features a chariot of the sun god Apollo drawn by four horses.

Bubbly Tip: Purchasing train (RER) tickets for Paris Zones 1 to 5 includes travel in the inner suburbs as well as Versailles, Disneyland® and Orly and Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airports.

The Apollo Fountain at Versailles near Paris, France; Bubbly Tourist where to stay in Paris; Day trip from Paris
The Apollo Fountain at Versailles. This photo by Moonik is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

2. Giverny (Claude Monet's Home)

Two hours by train from city center, the home and gardens of Claude Monet are truly a treat. If you like impressionism and you like Monet, then you will not want to miss this. Visit his water garden and see the actual Japanese footbridge and water lilies that served as the inspiration of so many of his paintings. Additionally, you can visit his beautiful colorful flower garden that includes rare varieties. Monet bought young plants at great expense and is quoted as saying "All my money goes into my garden," Finally, you'll be able to tour his home / studio where he lived for 43 years. Most of the art and objects in the home belonged to Monet and are considered museum pieces.

3. Champagne Region

Only an hour and a half by train from city center, you too can reach Bubbly Mecca and spoil yourself silly with delightfully fizzy champagne. Bubbly Tourist highly recommends a trip at some point to the region of Champagne. For only one day, you can head to Reims and book a visit to the Champagne houses that include Taittanger, Pommery and Mumm. You might be able to stretch your day visit to include Épernay, the self-proclaimed capital of Champagne. But if you're going to do that then Bubbly Tourist recommends you stay at least one night in the region. This way you can take your time and visit the countryside and Bubbly Tourist's favorite Champagne House, Bollinger. With Bollinger, think 007 and also Madame Lilly Bollinger's infamous quote: "I drink champagne when I'm happy and when I'm sad. Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I'm not hungry and drink it when I am." A way of life that Bubbly Tourist can certainly abide by.

The cellars of Bollinger in Ay, France; Bubbly Tourist where to stay and what to do in Paris; Day trip from Pariw
The cellars of Bollinger

4. The Chateaux (Castles) of the Loire Valley

There are many incredible magnificent castles to see in the Loire Valley. This was the destination where royalty and the rich built famous castles during the 15th and 16th centuries that include Chenonceau, Chateau de Blois, Château d'Azay-le-Rideau, Château d'Amboise, and Château de Villandry. The Loire Valley is such a beautiful region to visit and there are so many incredible castles to see that Bubbly Tourist recommends you try to spend more than one day exploring the castles and the countryside if you can. If, however, you can only do a day trip then we suggest you book a tour on a bus that will take you to these beautiful castles and/or others so you can maximize your castle visits and not have to worry about transportation.

The Chateau de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley of France; Where to stay and what to do in Paris; Day trip from Paris
The Chateau de Chenonceau with its beautiful gardens and historical intrigue is a must see iin the Loire Valley

5. Euro Disney

It seems kind of crazy to go to Disneyland® when in Paris, but maybe amusement parks and/or Disney are your thing? If you do go, it's a two hour train ride from city center. While living in Paris, Bubbly Tourist made a day trip of Disneyland and had a blast! Who doesn't like feeling like a kid again, but with the added bonus of appreciating decent food and respectable wine while taking in the rides and atmosphere.

Bubbly Tip: Purchasing train (RER) tickets for Paris Zones 1 to 5 includes travel in the inner suburbs as well as Versailles, Disneyland® and Orly and Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airports.

In Search of Bubbly

In an ongoing segment by Bubbly Tourist, we always search for a location - if not the best location - to have some champagne wherever we go.

Where can one find the best champagne in Paris is an inherently challenging question given you can have champagne in literally every restaurant and wine bar in Paris. After all, the Champagne Region is only an hour and a half from Paris via train. If you want a bubbly experience that is over the top and where Lady Di spent her last living moments, then look no further than the Ritz Carlton near Place Vendôme. If you'd prefer bubbly with an amazing meal, then use the Micheline Guide to find your restaurant as there are 500 Michelin rated restaurants in Paris! If you prefer your bubbly with a view and at more affordable prices, then check out the rooftop at Galeries Lafayette or order one (in a plastic flute) in the Champagne Bar at the Summit of the Eiffel Tower. Or, if you want an incredible view and would prefer your bubbly with a delicious meal, then eat at the Jules Vernes in the Eiffel Tower. However, don't just take our recommendation, view this short list of A Champgane Lover's Guide to Paris.

Michelin restaurant Substance champagne in Paris, France; Bubbly Tourist where to stay and what to do in Paris
Bubbly Tourist having a glass of Champagne inside the restaurant Substance (16th Arr)

Getting Around Paris

Bubbly Tourist recommends you bring a good pair of walking shoes because it is likely you'll get in 20,000 steps per day. However it is still a very large city, although compact, and with so much to see, you can only walk so much. Therefore, plan on using public transportation like the Metro (subway), Bus, and RER (train). Turn in your rental car if you have one. Parking is expensive, and save yourself the hassle of trying to find a parking spot where it will likely get dinged. And for a less economical but not always quicker route, there are always taxi services available via the G7 Taxi app (our former French colleagues use regularly) and other ride services like Uber.

Metro stop on Île de la Cité Marché aux Fleurs in Paris, France; Bubbly Tourist where to stay and what to do in Paris
Metro stop on Île de la Cité at the Marché aux Fleurs

Things to know about Public Transportation in Paris

The Public Transportation in Paris is extremely convenient, reliable and safe.

It is everywhere so finding a stop is easy through smartphone maps or other transportation apps. It stays on time and is therefore very reliable. It is safe, but always use caution and be conscious of pickpockets.

The Public Transportation Network in Paris is quite extensive

The metro and RER network in Paris is quite extensive. You can also take the train from either airport into the city (CDG is the main international airport). There are two zone options: Paris Zones 1 to 3 for unlimited travel in Paris' city center and the immediate suburbs (Stade de France, La Défense, Château de Vincennes, etc.), and Paris Zones 1 to 5 for travel in the inner suburbs as well as Versailles, Disneyland® and Orly and Roissy-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airports.

The Navigo is an electronic approach for gaining access to Paris' public transportation.

Start with purchasing the Navigo Easy Pass. Note, there is a nominal one-time cost to purchase the Navigo pass and each person requires their own pass. You can then load the Navigo Easy Pass onto your phone using the Bonjour RATP app if you so choose. It does requires you to setup an account with RATP, but it allows you to reload additional tickets online as well as finding optimum travel in real-time. Bubbly Tourist didn't feel like creating accounts with RATP and the phone does NOT replace the card anyhow, so we opted to stick with just the Navigo pass itself.

Buy a carnet (pack of 10) trips at a time for Zones 1 and 2.

This is likely your most economical solution. You might be tempted to purchase a day pass or multi-day pass, but you'll walk more than you think and won't use the pass enough to justify the cost differential. FYI, the day passes work only for that day until midnight. With the carnet of 10 tickets, you'll need to load the trips onto your Navigo pass and the electronic ticket readers will let you know your remaining balance of rides that are left after each use.

How to Navigate from Point A to Point B on public transportation in Paris

For those not used to public transportation, here are a few simple tips on getting to your destination. If you don't have mobile phone cell service or wi-fi then make sure you have at least a hard copy of a metro map. There are 14 metro lines in Paris so it is advisable to have mobile service (here's an affordable service that we recommend) which will make your public transportation much more simple.

Use your smartphone app or map function and type in your destination. It will give you several alternatives. Once you arrive at your metro or bus stop, the key is to make sure you're headed in the right direction. In order to do this, you'll need to identify the last stop (the end point) of your line.

Metro (subway / underground)

Let's say you want to see the Arc de Triomphe which is at metro stop Charles de Gaulle-Étoile and decide to take the Number 1 metro line. Depending on the station you've entered, you'll need to look for the Charles de Gaulle-Étoile stop on the subway maps of the number 1 line from your station and then follow the signs inside the metro towards the direction of the last stop on that line. The Number 1 Metro line has as its final destinations La Defense, on the west edge of Paris, and Chateau de Vincennes, on the east edge of Paris. To recap: once you're inside the station look for signs of your metro line (e.g. "1") AND the final stop (e.g., La Defense) in the direction of your destination.

Metro Stop at the Place des Ternes in Paris, France; Bubbly Tourist where to stay and what to do in Paris
Metro Stop at the Place des Ternes
Bus Line

Similar to travel on the Metro, you'll also need to know you're final destination and the number of your bus line. Each bus stop will indicate the bus line(s) that it services and will generally include a map of its stops. Since some bus stops service multiple bus lines, look on the front of each arriving bus for the bus number and its final destination. If you see your bus number but not with the correct destination, then you're more than likely on the wrong side of the road and headed in the opposite direction. In this case, check the bus stop on the other side of the street. Here is a printable bus map of Paris' city center.

RER (train)

Follow the same process as the Metro within the city. You can use the RER to travel more quickly from one destination to another within the city center or outside the city as well. However, your carnet ticket is only available to use in zones 1 and 2. If you're traveling outside zones 1 and 2, then you'll need to purchase a separate ticket at the RER station unless you previously purchased a metro pass (at an additional cost) that includes zones 1 - 5.

Bubbly Tip: If you're interested in taking a day trip or planing a visit to Versailles or Disneyland, take the RER and consider buying your metro pass to include Zones 1 - 5.

Bubbly Tourist Bon Voyage!


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