Traveling in and out of ParisWe started our adventure in Dublin and visited London before arriving in Paris, so we flew into Charles de Gaulle Airport. If you fly into the city like we did, you'll need to take the RER train into Paris. Buy your tickets at the airport, and keep in mind that the last RER train for the evening leaves from the airport at 11:50 p.m.
Find some helpful tips for navigating the train on this site. If you're planning to travel in or out of Paris by train, your best bet is to use Rail Europe. We left Paris through Gare de Lyon and took the train to Geneva, Switzerland.
Inner-City TransportationAfter pricing things out carefully, Aaron and I ended up going with the Paris Pass for our stint in the city. Given our transportation needs and our itinerary, the pass was a no-brainer! It includes unlimited travel throughout the city on the metro, RER, and buses. It also saves you time by offering quick entry to major attractions.
We purchased the two-day pass, so the only other transportation we paid for was the train from the airport and our visit to Versailles. Use Wi-Fi to download the Paris Metro app ahead of time, because the map is so helpful as you navigate through the city.
What to See and Do on a BudgetParis has enough attractions to keep you busy for weeks, but we only had a couple of days. In addition to granting us entry to the main attractions, the Paris Pass also included the Paris Big Bus Tour. We would recommend this hop on, hop off tour, which provides information about sights like the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, the Notre Dame, the Champs-Élysées, the Grand Palais, and more. The bus runs from 9:15 a.m. to 6 p.m., and we found it to be the perfect way to see the essential attractions quickly without killing our feet.
We timed our bus stops so that we ended near the Moulin Rouge and the Sacré-Coeur. Then we took the Petit Train du Montmarte around the area before fitting in a quick wine tasting.
We also got to see a gorgeous view of the Parisian sunset on the Bateaux Parisiens River Cruise, which the pass also includes. The cruise starts near the Eiffel Tower, which was perfect because the tower sparkles on the hour until around 1 a.m. Be careful of scammers in the area!
We didn't feel like we could visit Paris without seeing the Palace of Versailles, so we took a commuter train out of the city and visited the palace and its musical gardens on my birthday. The palace was beautiful but packed. Be sure to get there early, as the line winds around for what seems like miles.
Where to StayWe stayed in a hotel near the Gare de l'Est train station. It wasn't the most fabulous area, but hotels in Paris can be pretty expensive, depending on where you stay. To find some great deals in good parts of town, check out these options in Paris! To make the most of your visit, consider staying in the Champs-Élysées area or the more central arrondissements. You should also be aware that not every Parisian hotel has air conditioning. We were there in July, and it really wasn't bad. We just slept with our windows open.
All in all, Paris was pretty fabulous. Although it's a huge city with a ton to do, you can visit all the main attractions like the Louvre, the Notre Dame, Versailles, and more in just a couple of days. If you're going to be visiting several museums and attractions throughout the city and you could use the unlimited transportation, then be sure to use the Paris Pass to make life easier. It's worth the cost!