My Parents First Time in Paris - A Mini Travel Guide

With my thesis defense coming up, my parents decided to visit me in France and have their very first international trip! I planned out the trip a month or two in advance to make sure we could hit a lot of popular spots, so in this post I'll list some of the places we went and things we did.

We had an Airbnb in the 2nd Arrondissement, which was an awesome one bedroom apartment only 500m away from the Louvre. There were plenty of parks and restaurants nearby and a lot of big touristy sites were in 15 to 20 minute walking distance. 

Though it was a bit expensive, I think the location really made it worth it, and the property manager was so kind and welcoming. If you'd like to book where we stayed, here is the link! The photos of this place it do NOT do it justice, it was lovely! 

Note that I do not get any money from these bookings, I just wanted to share this great apartment. 

After my parents landed in CDG airport, a driver picked them up and dropped them off directly at the Airbnb. We used the service 'Welcome Pickups' and recommend it! The driver that picked my parents up from the airport was very knowledgable about the city and informed them about different landmarks along the way. 

Our 3 days in Paris were rainy, cold and windy. If you plan to come to Paris at the end of March or the first two weeks of April, be sure to pack your winter coat and scarf, because spring hasn't really 'sprung' in this section of the country yet. 

I also recommend having a small travel umbrella to block the rain, but keep in mind the wind can be brutal.


Took a boat ride on the Seine

There are a few different boat tour agencies along the Seine River that you can choose to cruise with, but we chose Vedettes du Pont Neuf, as I had taken one of their boat rides 3 years prior on my very first trip to Paris. Tickets cost 15 at the gate and and 13 online, so if you can buy them ahead of time I recommend it! 

When you arrive someone will check your ticket and you'll wait off to the side until boarding. The entire boat is free seating, so you can choose to either sit inside in the covered area with benches or outside in the seats. The cruise lasted one hour and we got to see a lot of famous moments along the river! 

Photoshoot in Trocadéro Square and crossed the Pont d'Iéna

After seeing the Eiffel Tower in passing during the cruise, we went to see the real thing up close! First we went to Trocadéro Square to get this faraway shot of the Eiffel Tower. As you can see it was a cloudy day, but when the weather is good this place is the perfect place for a photo! 

We then headed down the stairs and walked across the Iéna Bridge to get closer to the tower. At this point you can either choose to enter the gardens and line up at the security check in to head to the tower, or walk around the area around the tower which has a lot of different street vendors!

Here's Guillaume and my mom below the tower :)

You can also queue to go to different levels inside the tower itself. Ticket options start at the second floor, meaning you need to have a ticket to at least the second floor in order to access the first floor. 

You can travel two different ways to the second floor, either by stairs or via an elevator, and the ticket price changes based on what you choose. To go to the very top floor of the Eiffel Tower you will pay a minimum of 21.50€ (stairs+elevator) or a maximum of 28.30€ (elevator only) per person.

Stopped by the Paris Garnier Opera House

The outside of the Opera House is currently under renovation, so we didn't get any outside shots, however we did take photos of the inside. We got the family priced ticket (36€ total) which requires at least one person in a family of four to be under 26 years old. The usual price per person is 14€, so this was a really good deal for us!

This was one of my favorite parts of the trip.  If I were to go again, I may opt for the guided tour rather than just walking around, because we definitely missed out on the history since there weren't any signs.

Visited the Palace of Versailles & The Gardens

Located about an hour outside of Paris, we went to the Palace of Versailles on a cold and gloomy day. Since we wanted full access to the Palace, Estate of Trianon and the gardens, we paid 28.50€ per person for my parents. 

As Guillaume and I both have French residency cards, we got in for free after showing ID at the door. Note that European residents under the age of 26 get free admission as well as anyone under the age of 18.

I highly recommend booking your ticket ahead of time. When you arrive, you will be placed in a separate line and be able to enter the palace much quicker. The time you select online will be enforced strictly, so be sure you arrive early so you can enter according to your chosen time slot.

November to March is considered the 'low season' at the palace but we still found some rooms and areas to be very crowded, so come as early as you can to try to beat crowds.

We were excited for the Estate of Trianon as Marie Antoinette actually spent intimate time with friends and family there, but I actually don't recommend visiting. We found it to be very underwhelming compared to the palace and many rooms were sparsely furnished with not much to look at. 

Instead, I recommend visiting the Gallery of Coaches which is located outside of the Palace across the street. The Gallery of Coaches is open every Saturday and Sunday afternoon and is totally free to enter! It has some amazing looking coaches and historical information, and it was the last stop after a long day exploring the palace. 

The gardens are absolutely massive and a wonderful sight to see, even during cloudy weather. We were unfortunately met with an extremely cold and windy day upon our visit, as we had booked our tickets two months in advance, but we made our way outside anyway. 

The wind nearly knocked us off our feet! In order to escape, we took the covered green train that runs through different areas of the park. This train cost 8€ per person and you can hop on and off with a round trip ticket. 

Hit the restaurants!

There is nearly every type of cuisine you can think of in Paris, so finding a good restaurant is never too difficult. We had a few hits and misses:

Le Petit Bouillon Pharamond - Hit

Affordable and delicious French dining! We sat outside since it was crowded but I recommend trying to get a table inside to see the beautiful dining room decor. For those who don't speak French: you'll be happy to know they have an English menu available.

Ober Mamma - Miss

Overall, we didn't find the food to be anything special. We booked one month in advance to ensure we'd have a table and skip the wait, which I advise if you'd like to secure a spot for a bigger party. We liked the pizza and the pineapple carpaccio dessert was fun, but wouldn't come back.

Café du centre - Hit

This restaurant had a little something for everyone, and the prices weren't too bad. The cheese plate they had came with a delicious fig jam, and their créme brulée was delicious! Many people choose to sit outside to have drinks, so you'll have better luck if you try for a table inside.

Kozy Kanopé - Hit

If you're looking for a delicious brunch, this place has you covered! This place has smoothies, avocado toast, pancakes and waffles that balance both sweet and savory. I found their green juice smoothie to be just okay, but the classic pancakes with bacon were heavenly. Their menus are available on a QR code in both French and English, and the staff speaks both quite well!

Visited Saint-Eustache Church

This huge cathedral was super close to the Airbnb, so we went in just to see what it looks like inside. We didn't expect to be greeted with one of the most beautiful churches we have ever seen. The ceilings were incredibly high, and we were surrounded on all sides by stained glass windows. Even though there was some construction happening both inside and outside, it did little to dampen the beauty that was this church. If you love Gothic architecture, this is a must see!

And that concludes my mini-guide on what to do in Paris.  I hope this post gave you some ideas for your next trip, or brought back some nice memories. Weather aside, I have to admit that we got a lot done in 3 days and each day was jam packed with things to do. 

In a few days I'll add the next leg of this trip which was their time in Dijon, which holds a special place in my heart as I've been here for almost 2 years now. I'll see you soon!