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For the first timer to Paris the most essential advice is to take it easy. The city has a massive scope and loads of attractions to take in. It could all be very easily overwhelming, so we recommend taking an approach that the locals do: Celebrate and explore the fascinating city, but don’t forget to savor a book with a coffee, a long meal with friends or hours of people watching.
Since Paris is a lifelong dream for some and a first international destination for many, it can become more of a burden than an enjoyable experience. Remember the value of any destination isn’t how much of it you got to see, but how much you enjoyed your time there, whatever you chose to do.
The French enjoy a particularly fulfilling quality of life and Parisians even more so. But be aware this comes at a cost. On average one pays much more per square foot of a hotel room, so be aware that your budget might not fulfill all your holiday expectations. Here one pays more for a basic room or loads for a real splurge hotel.
In order to save both time and money we recommend spending one’s first and last nights at the airport hotels in the village of Roissy-en-France. The rates are much better here due to the exterior location and assembly of good, competitive hotels. Whether one is taking a long or short flight in or out this will minimize travel time on the day of flying in or out, since it is a good hour distance into the city.
An essential first time itinerary would include Sacre-Coure Church. Set on a hilltop on the edge of the city, it offers a somewhat modern yet exquisite architecture all the while providing commanding views of Paris. Just at the foot of the hill lies the bohemian quarter of the city. It has traditional coffee shops where modern day artists and writer ply their trades and unique crafts are sold on the streets. Another essential stop is of course the Louve. The museum is a composite of impressive palaces filled with an eclectic assemblage of some of the world’s finest masterpieces. From here it is an easy stroll over to the Champs-Élysées. This is probably the defining moment where one really gets Paris. Everything comes together, restaurants, commerce and an ascending and wide boulevard that makes its way up to the stunning arc de triumphe. A short metro ride after this impressive walk and one can be at the Eiffel tower in no time. Be sure and budget some time during the day and night to get some spectacular photography here.
Of course getting to know the old town of Paris begins with a stop at Notre Dame Cathedral. From there one can wander the academic neighborhoods of the universities and eat in the restaurants the line the scenic streets and alleyways. For a more detailed description of this area click here. Taking Paris one step at a time with plenty of opportunity to stop, gaze and wonder is the essential first time approach and one which is certain to lure you back again.