Want more Paris tips and tricks from local insiders? Join our free Urbansider Club to receive recommendations in your inbox and save your favorite places to your account!
Traveling to a new city is always a learning experience, one full of excitement, surprises, and sometimes a few nerves. When planning a trip, it’s easy to get swept up in the research of what to see and do — all the fun parts of exploring a new place — but once plans are made, we often find ourselves going back to basics and looking up statistics or searching out more practical information.
That’s why we’re answering eight of the most common questions people ask before their first trip to Paris.
France’s capital city lies in the northern part of the country. Believe it or not, it’s actually farther north than Montreal!
By high-speed train, Paris is just two-and-a-half hours from London, three hours from Brussels, and roughly two hours from Lyon or Bordeaux. There are also plenty of smaller cities nearby worth visiting, including these great day trips from Paris.
The City of Light is surprisingly small. Paris is approximately 6 miles (9.5 km) from north to south and 7 miles (11 km) from east to west. Even if you include the two large woods, or bois, on the edges of the capital, the city proper is still only 11 miles (18 km) wide.
Since it’s so compact, the city is very walkable. In fact, we think one of the best ways to explore Paris is on foot.
Over 2 million people live in Paris proper. The entire Paris region, Ile-de-France, has a population of more than 12 million (Source: Insee).
Paris has a generally mild climate, with temperatures ranging from the 40s to the upper 70s Fahrenheit (or 5–25 celsius). It is fairly wet though, with an average of 7–10 days of rain every month, so be sure to bring an umbrella. It rarely snows in Paris in winter, but be warned — summers can get hot!
July and August often see a canicule, a heatwave bringing temperatures of 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit (32–37 celsius) lasting for a few days or even a couple weeks. This can be particularly hard on visitors and expats alike, as most businesses and homes in Paris don’t have air conditioning. But we do have some tips for beating the heat.
It may sound cliché, but Paris really is lovely in every season. The changes in the leaves, light, temperature, and atmosphere that accompany the change of season mean you’ll get something different out of your time in the city depending on when you go.
Spring in Paris sees the city burst into life and into bloom. Mid-March to early April is the perfect time to go if you want to catch the cherry blossoms and magnolias and to avoid the rain that usually arrives in May.
Summer in Paris means Parisians are always outside, enjoying long evenings on café terraces or picnics along the Seine. The days are long, in a good way—it stays light out until 10:30pm or later. The locals nearly all pack up and leave in August, and many businesses close for the month, so you might prefer the city in June or July if you’re after a more authentic experience. It’ll be more budget-friendly too!
Fall in Paris brings an electric energy as everyone returns from summer vacation in early September and the city’s cultural life kicks off. The leaves change in Paris in mid- to late October, so come then for beautiful autumn colors.
Winter in Paris can be a bit dreary in terms of the weather but there are loads of unique winter activities in Paris including ice skating, Christmas markets, and holiday lights to make up for it. And who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky and enjoy a snowfall in Paris — our last good snow was in early February 2018. The end of winter is also the cheapest time to visit Paris and when there are the fewest tourists.
This one has no real answer. Each arrondissement offers something different, and so the best place to stay for one person may not be the best for another. But, we can help you find the best place to stay in Paris for you!
We made a quick quiz to tell you the best Paris neighborhoods for you, based on the type of trip you’re taking, your interests, and your budget. Click here to take the quiz!
Paris is known as one of the most expensive cities in the world, but in our experience, it really feels quite accessible, especially compared to big cities in the United States. That’s not to say it’s cheap.
Here are the average prices of some typical expenses to give you a better idea of how much life costs in Paris:
Sources: 1. Trivago Hotel Price Index (2022) 2.LocService.fr (2018) 3. Le Figaro 4. Numbeo
There are also a lot of free things to do in Paris, from strolling through the city’s beautiful parks to visiting art galleries.
Parisians have a reputation for being a bit brusque and rarely smiling, and to be honest, some of the stereotypes hold true. People in Paris don’t generally smile at strangers, over a fifth of the capital city’s residents smoke, servers aren’t always attentive, they do love a baguette, and most everyone does seem to have a marked personal style.
But beyond the clichés, Parisians can also be kind, funny, and helpful! Oui, c’est vrai! You’ll often see people giving directions, stopping someone to politely ask for the time, and helping those struggling to get suitcases or strollers up or down the city’s many stairs.
Still wondering if Parisians are rude? Read an American expat’s take on why the French get a bad rap.
Local Paris concierge, Karina of Travel Light Paris, would be happy to speak with you! Click here to request a Q&A session.
Join our free Urbansider Club to access personalized recommendations, downloadable guides, and a monthly newsletter with the latest from Paris as well as our new top addresses and experiences. You’ll also be invited to our exclusive Urbansider events in Paris.
Personalized Paris recommendations, a monthly newsletter, & more.