The Extensive Guide to Paris, France for First Timers


“All that can be found anywhere can be found in Paris.”
Victor Hugo, 1881

Paris, the capital city of France, is split into 20 arrondissements, with the river Seine cutting through the city’s centre. It has always been a popular destination for travellers. Having been based in France for the first half of this year, I have been in and out of France several times and have spent considerable time hanging out with Parisians, exploring alone and travelled as a couple with my boyfriend.


As such, I’ve decided to provide a guide with whatever knowledge I have about Paris, in the hopes that my insider knowledge would make it easier for you to plan your Paris trip, especially if it’s your first time.

Because Paris is one of the densest cities in the world, both population- and attractions-wise, I’ve split this post up by location to share each location’s attractions and food highlights.

Are you camera- and tummy-ready?

1st Arrondisement

1. Palais Royal

A picturesque palace where you can find iconic striped pillars that are of different heights. I’ve seen this in pictures and I was supremely excited to have chanced upon it while exploring around the Louvre.


2. Louvre

The world’s largest museum. Expect never-ending crowd and queues. Want to catch this pyramid without hordes of people? Come at dawn, when the world is silent.

Paris, France


3. Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries Garden)

Feed the pigeons, lounge by the fountain. Learn to make peace with time here.

Paris, France

4. Pont des Arts (Love lock bridge)

It was underwhelming for me, because the locks are now covered by wooden boards to prevent further addition of locks on the bridge.

Paris, France

Food to check out:

1. Berthillon

Situated on Ile de la Cité, the island in the middle of the River Seine. Not much reason to come on this island, if only for this famous ice cream shop. Exact location here.

2. Bistrot Victoires

Cheap and good classic French food. You can find 10€ duck confit in this restaurant. Exact location here.

2nd Arrondissement

1. Vendôme

A square filled with some of the biggest brands of watches and jewellery. vendôme

2. Rue de la Paix

Street filled with everything branded you can imagine. Walk along this street if only to witness the grandeur of the architecture and sniff the lavishness of the air.

Rue de la Paix

4th Arrondissement

Metro station: Châtelet

1. Rue de Rivoli

Popular street among the young to do shopping at

2. Hotel de Ville (Paris’ Town Hall)

Be dumbfounded by the splendour of this building.

*IMG_3292 city hall

3. Cathédrale Notre Dame

Paris, France

4. Place des Voges

One of the famous parks in Paris with symmetrically-lined trees, surrounded by the remarkable Parisian building designs.

*IMG_3288 place des vosges

5. Bastille

14 July is the French national day and also called Bastille Day. It is traditionally considered as the symbol of the French Revolution and on this day, many will gather around this monument to celebrate.

*IMG_3285 bastille

Food to check out:

1. Rue des Rosiers

A happening pedestrian street that is lined with cafes. It is nicknamed gay street, and is also part of a Jewish quarter. Come here with an empty and adventurous stomach, and soak in the atmosphere of one of Paris’ liveliest streets. They have a famous falafel shop on this street. Just spot the shop with the longest queue!

5th Arrondissement

Metro station: Saint Michel

1. Panthéon

Originally built as a church, it is now a mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens.

2. Shakespeare & Co

Your trip to Paris will not be complete if you don’t visit this bookstore. Along Rue de la Bücherie, it is undoubtedly the most famous bookstore in Paris, having appeared in countless of movies. *IMG_3718

Food to check out:

1. Rue de la Huchette

Another famous street lined with restaurants that is bustling all day long. You can find some of the cheapest set meals (10€) and italian ice cream (3€) here.




6th Arrondissement

Luxembourg means Latin Quarter. The 5th & 6th arrondissement are part of the Latin Quarter.

This arrondisement in particular contains some of the city’s most expensive properties, with apartments fetching an average of $1,500 per square foot.

1. Le Jardin du Luxembourg


Food to check out:

1. Les Deux Magots

Most famous cafe, owing its fame for patrons such as Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, young writers such as Ernest Hemingway. Other patrons included Albert Camus, Pablo Picasso, James Joyce, Bertolt Brecht and the American writer Charles Sutherland. It has appeared in many movies, art and literature. Be warned, with fame comes steep prices.

2. Cafe de Flor

One of the oldest and the most prestigious coffeehouses in Paris.

3. Rue Mouffetard

A street that’s famous for drinks at night

7th Arrondissement

Also the richest arrondisement in Paris. It has an average household income of more than three times that of the 19th, the city’s poorest.

1. Les Invalides

A museum containing the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans which were the building’s original purpose.

It stands alone very imposingly at the end of Pont Alexandre III, with its prominent golden-tiled dome roof.

Hôtel des Invalides

2. Eiffel tower

Nothing else needed to be said about this. To find out the best spots to take photos of the Eiffel Tower, read this post.


Paris, France


8th Arrondissement

1. Arc de Triomphe

An unmistakable monument at the end of Champs Élysées, where 12 avenues converge to.


2. Champs-Élysées

The most famous shopping street of Paris. 90% of the pedestrians here are tourists. Overrated and expensive street, if I may so say.


3. The Big Wheel

Ferris wheel that you also would not miss seeing on the other end of Champs-Elysees.

Paris, France

4. Pont Alexandre III

I absolutely adore the lamps built upon this bridge. *IMG_3626

5. Grand Palais

grand palais

9th Arrondissement

1. Galeries Lafayette

THE shopping mall to go to if you’re a tourist chasing after branded items. And also the mall to avoid if you hate crowds.


2. Printemps

Another popular shopping mall.

18th Arrondissement

Metro station: Pigalle

1. Sacré Cœur Basilica


*IMG_3873 *IMG_3477


2. Place du Tertre

A square where artists congregate. Plenty of inspiration here to draw from.  *IMG_3895



3. Moulin Rouge

I’d advise you to catch this at night, so that you can catch the best of the red light district. 😉


4. Montmartre Cemetery

19th Arrondissement

1. Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

A tranquil park with a lake and a viewpoint of Sacré Cœur Basilica.

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont


2. Parc de Belleville

A little neighbourhood park to catch a viewpoint of Eiffel without the touristic squeeze.

Parc de Belleville

Parc de Belleville

Food to eat:

1. Panorama Gourmand Boulangerie

I chanced upon this very Parisian cafe that serves local pastries and other entrees. A video snippet of what they sell here. What caught my attention was the pastel colours it was covered with and of course, the whiff of Parisian pastries.



I was just sitting on one of these colourful chairs that day, having my sandwich lunch in the chilly air, people-watching. And I’ve never more peaceful.

20th Arrondissement

1. Père Lachaise Cemetery

Cemetery of the famous. Some of the famous names that have their tombs here include rock star Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde and composer Chopin.



9th Arrondissement

1. Palais Garnier

Built in a Baroque style, this 979-seat opera house was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera. Yet again, I was blown away by the majestic structure of this opera house. If you’re a student, why not enter it since it’s free to admire the flamboyance that this opera has to offer?


palais garnier

palais garnier

The best part about being in Paris is not hunting down the famous iconic landmarks but rather, getting lost in between alleys and gazing up only to find architectures that are remnants of the Romanian, Medieval, Renaissance, and Classical periods of Paris history.


Want to read more about Paris? Try these:

Paris – Spring Edition

6 Things You Didn’t Know About France

6 Best Locations To Capture The Eiffel Tower crop


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10 Comment

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  7. Wow there are so many beautiful places to see! I have always wanted to go to Paris. Hopefully I will soon 🙂

  8. Genie says: Reply

    that was an insanely extensive and comprehensive list! I’m heading to Paris for the 3rd time this winter and will definitely take note of your recommendations

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