From museums documenting important works of art to cafes offering baked treats, Paris is a must-see.
Avenue des Champs-Élysées is located in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. Photo by Abdul Karim Hanif
France has been one of the latest countries to ease border and travel restrictions for tourists arriving from outside the EU region. It was on August 1, 2022 when France lifted all of its Covid-19 restrictions to facilitate international arrivals. To the delight of its hotel and tourism industry, the reopening has paid off.
While official figures for 2022 have yet to be announced, recent data suggests that tourists spent a total of 322 million nights in France between April and September this year, which is 2.4 percent more than in 2019.
The French capital has long been a popular attraction with honeymooners, museum lovers, or even spontaneous travelers coming to Paris for a quick trip. With over 120 museums located in Paris alone and numerous sights to visit, exploring the city can be a daunting task. It is also one of the destinations that one can visit regularly and still have things on the to-do list.
I am one of those travelers who usually make fleeting visits or club too many destinations during a short trip. I’m sure I’m not the only one who tends to do this and will therefore share my travel tips to make the most of your time here. If you’ve been to Paris and you think you’ve been there and done that, I suggest you reconsider and plan another trip soon. This picture-perfect city is worth exploring further after you’ve ticked off the popular landmarks on your list.
In this article, we’ll look at the best ways to make the most of your time in Paris, including a new museum that opened its doors to the public for the first time. We will also understand why Paris is also considered a ‘city of love’, as it was a point that had stumped me during my previous trip as a solo traveller. The popularity of the city was further raised by the hit Netflix show. Emily in Paris.
how to get here
UAE residents have at least five direct non-stop flights to Paris, courtesy of three direct flights offered by Emirates Airline and two by Air France. The main international airport, Charles de Gaulle, is just over 30 km from the city center and the most cost-effective and convenient way to get to your hotel is by booking an Uber. The transport platform is also quite useful for exploring the city if time is of the essence.
Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements, or arrondissements of Paris. If you look at the map, the city is in a circular loop and each of the districts has its own character and unique places to explore.
The First Arrondissement is often described as “the belly of Paris”, where it is home to the popular shopping district of Les Halles. It is where one will spend most of their time in Paris, exploring the monuments and elegant squares. It’s where you’ll find the Louvre Museum and the Tuileries Gardens, and you can also hop on a Seine River cruise to discover the French capital from the water.
Another popular district worth mentioning on your travel itinerary is what is commonly known as the Latin Quarter. The 5th arrondissement of Paris is where the Romans first settled, founding the Roman city of Lutetia. This is the place to go for souvenirs at a price that won’t break the bank and if you’re looking for a lively atmosphere. It is known for its historical monuments, medieval buildings, narrow streets, and pocket restaurants that offer tempting food deals. Given the history of the area, I ate at a quiet Italian restaurant called Pizza Sarno. My husband described his pizza as the best he’s ever had, so it was a hit. This district is home to the Panthéon, the Sorbonne University of Paris and is where you will find the best views of Notre Dame.
The 7th arrondissement of Paris is the district to visit the Eiffel Tower and Les Invalides. It is a very wealthy neighborhood where you will see some embassies housed in the beautiful private houses of the town. Standing 986 feet tall, the Eiffel Tower once held the title of the world’s tallest structure and is the city’s most popular attraction, drawing more than 7 million visitors annually. Ticket prices to go to the top start from around EUR 26.80 for an adult and the lines can be quite long. If your time is limited, it is best to avoid going up the tower to enjoy the views. Instead, head across to the other side of the River Seine to Jardins du Trocadéro for the best shots of the tower. Most of the videos and images you might have seen on social media were usually shot from this location. After a full day exploring the city, be sure to head back to the gardens to see the tower shimmering under the night sky.
The 8th arrondissement of Paris is the fashion and luxury district. This is where you will find Avenue des Champs-Élysées. This is where you will find the beautiful historic five star hotels of Paris along with the Elysée Palace which is the official residence of the French President along with the ever so famous Arc de Triomphe.
Where to go to enjoy the best views of Paris?
You’ll notice that most of the buildings in Paris are the same height, so finding an elevated area to capture the entire city in one image can be challenging. Although some of the places for the perfect aerial view include the Montparnasse Tower, which has an observation deck on the 56th floor, the Sacre Coeur Basilica, which sits on top of Montmartre and is known for being one of the most heights of paris as well as the upper part of the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann department store.
What are the best museums to visit?
There are more than 120 museums in Paris and each one will require at least a few hours to explore. With limited time, it’s a challenge to explore them all. Therefore, it is better to select around two or three that meet your interest and are also close. Getting around Paris, whether in an Uber or even the metro, can be time consuming, especially during rush hour.
Here is a list of some of the best museums for travelers in our part of the world:
Louvre Museum, a former French Renaissance palace and now the world’s largest art museum; home of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa
Musée en Herbe, which is a family-friendly interactive art museum for children
Orangerie Museum, an art museum with Monet’s huge water lily paintings
The Center Pompidou or National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art houses the most famous “inside out” exhibition space in Paris.
Hotel de Ville, which is a town hall and one of the most famous monuments
Les Invalides, a military museum that also houses the Tomb of Napoleon.
Located on the Place de la Concorde, this naval museum is one of the newest must-see attractions in Paris. Built in 1775, it offers visitors a glimpse into 18th-century design. The building was planned to be a repository for state treasures, although, after the French Revolution, it became the headquarters of the French Navy until 2015. It underwent four years of renovations and opened to the public in June 2021. If you are a fan of lavish historical items, then this museum should be added to your list of attractions to visit.
Where to stay
This is possibly one of the most important elements in defining your Parisian experience. If you’re traveling alone, the Latin Quarter or the 11th Arrondissement of the Republic can be great for its trendy cafes and creative shops.
Whether on a romantic getaway or to replicate a Parisian experience seen on shows like Emily in Paris, it’s best to choose one of the luxury hotels on offer. I called Mandarin Oriental, Paris my home for my trip to Paris. It’s where I found a true Parisian experience mixed with elegant Far Eastern Asian hospitality. It is located right in the heart of the commercial district of Paris, Rue Saint-Honoré. Housed within an Art Deco-inspired building from the 1930s, the hotel is just a short walk from the Palais Vendôme and is surrounded by the world’s most prestigious luxury brands.
Sightseeing and shopping and ease of access to all the popular landmarks ticked most of my boxes for where to stay here. The size of a room is very important to visitors from the Middle East and it is generally difficult to find a room that offers ample space in Western European hotels. This property has 135 luxurious rooms and they all tend to be quite spacious, which meant more room for shopping bags. If you’re looking to go all out and big, then you can go ahead and book a two-story ‘Panorama Suite’ that boasts exceptional views of the city.
You’ll also feel right at home if you’re in search of exquisite French cuisine, thanks to the hotel’s executive chef, Thierry Marx, who operates a gourmet restaurant called Le Sur Mesure, which also has two Michelin stars, a contemporary dining room. Camellia together with a Parisian patisserie.
My favorite spot was the open-air interior garden of their ‘Bar 8’ establishment, which brought in plenty of natural light during the day and offered a relaxing space in the evenings to unwind in a well-lit environment.
In general, the bustling streets of Paris have returned after the end of the pandemic. It’s a year-round destination that’s well worth a quick trip over long weekend vacations. When I arrived in the city during my previous trip as a solo female traveler, I always wondered where the romantic element fit into all the history, culture, and shopping the city has to offer. The truth lies in the spirit and aura of the city. One can spend hours just exploring the city on foot, admiring the views. The vast museum options and countless picture-perfect settings that Paris offers make visitors yearn for more fleeting visits.