Must read when planning a trip to Paris!
In summary, think minimalism. Stick to one small bag and a personal carry on (like a backpack or purse) if at all possible. You will be much happier to not be lugging giant suitcases up and down the metro stairs (escalators are rare). Classic clothes in dark colors with a scarf are standard for Parisians, plus a comfortable yet stylish pair of walking shoes. Bring just the essential electronics (including converter) and travel sized toiletries, or buy toiletries upon your arrival.
We highly recommend exchanging money to Euros before traveling to avoid getting ripped off at airport exchange booths. Bringing sufficient cash to have on hand is useful since many places in Paris may not accept card or have a minimum. However, we have noticed that more establishments accept major credit cards now. If you end up needing to withdraw cash abroad, there are many ATMs around the city and most storeowners will know where the closest ones are. Check with your bank to see if any withdrawal fees apply.
IMPORTANT: Call your bank before traveling to inform them of your travel dates. This will prevent your bank from freezing your card due to potential fraudulent activity.
The earlier you book, the better the rates and availability. Paris accommodations fill up quickly, and prices fluctuate throughout the year, being the highest at peak summertime. Le Marais, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and Latin Quarter are centrally located, making it easy to visit most tourist destinations. If you’re okay with a longer commute, Place de la République, Oberkampf, and Montmartre all offer travelers affordable and authentic Parisian housing options in buzzing areas. Paris is full of unique boutique hotels like Hôtel Providence and Hôtel la Belle Juliette. We had great experiences with our two Airbnb’s, which were more affordable than most centrally located hotels we looked at during our travel dates.
Metro is by far the best and most affordable way to get around. The metro’s expansive network will get you to practically anywhere you need to go. If you are in Paris for a full week, purchasing a Navigo card is well worth it. The Navigo pass permits transportation on the metro, RER, and bus systems and at a much better rate than the individual paper passes sold. Weekly pass covers travel Monday (start date) through Sunday (end date), no matter which day you happen to purchase the pass. So if you buy a pass on Wednesday, your “weekly pass” will still end on Sunday. Other Navigo pass options are also available for longer stays.
IMPORTANT: it is not very clear and the SNCF staff will likely fail to mention that you MUST write your name and attach a photo to your Navigo card ASAP before using. Failure to do so will result in a fine of about 35 euros per person if stopped by police in the metro. You can take a passport style photo in booths set up in train stations where Navigo cards are available for purchase. Or save yourself some hassle and money and print out photos prior to your trip.