How to see Paris: 8 apps to guide you though the city

Paris is favorite for many and exploring the city is easier than ever, with the help of apps. Here are eight apps that will help guide you though the city.

1. Visit Paris by Metro app

Paris' public transit network is vast and excellent, and the company behind it - RATP - also offers one of the best aids for navigating the system. Visit Paris by Metro, free on iOS and Android, is nicely designed. The app's home page gives easy access to a way to search for locations, one-touch buttons to learn about travel options like taking the night buses or getting to and from airports. It also provides street, train and Metro maps, and information on tickets.

Best of all, since the Paris Metro system can be daunting, the app can help route you through station stops and changes you need to get to your destination. Map data can be downloaded for use offline, so you don't use up your cellphone data allowance. It even includes useful summary information on tourist attractions.

The app is unfussy, free, works in English and is easy to use. RATP, the main transit app, also free on iOS and Android, helps users avoid transit stoppages and delays. But that app really is for commuters and it lacks many of the tourism features.

2. TripAdvisor's Paris City Guide app

For a general guide app, TripAdvisor's Paris City Guide is a great choice. It's free as a stand-alone app on Android and as a downloadable selection in TripAdvisor's free iOS app Offline City Guides.

This offering has detailed information on landmarks, transit, venues and hotels, and many user reviews to help you know what previous visitors thought. It also works offline and is handy when you are wandering around the city. It even has a system to help point you in the direction of a chosen destination.

The app follows TripAdvisor's design. The bold colors and the overly fussy buttons and menus make the app visually confusing. But it has a lot of data, and it gets many positive reviews in the app store.


3. Paris Travel Guide and Offline City Map app

For an alternative tourist guide app on iOS, Paris Travel Guide and Offline City Map by Ulmon is good, and it is free. It has many of the same options as TripAdvisor's app, like mapping and user reviews, but has a cleaner design. On Android, Ulmon's app is still free but it's just called Paris Travel Guide.

4. PocketGuide Travel Guide app

For a different Paris tourist experience, the free PocketGuide Travel Guide is an interesting option. This is an audio guide that will take you on walking routes through the city as it tells you about various aspects of Paris' rich history.

Tour topics are available for select regions of the city, or audio guides will cover specific topics like modern architecture. They link to your phone's GPS so you can see where you are and what nearby features you're hearing about.

Although the app is free to download and use, on iOS you can buy the Paris guide within the app from a long list of different cities for $6, and it will work offline. On Android, the Paris guide is available as a stand-alone app, with the same free and for-purchase options.

5. Musee du Louvre app

A trip to the Louvre is often considered a must-do for Paris visitors. The official Musee du Louvre app, which is free on iOS, has 500 images of the museum's artworks, information on the art and building itself and data on events at the museum. It's also easy to use and attractively designed.

6. Babbelapp

Of course, speaking a little French is always a great idea when in Paris, and I love Babbel's free Android and iOS apps. They're great for quickly learning some French, particularly if you start a few weeks before your trip. Subscribing to all lessons costs upward of $10, though.

7. SpeakEasy app

If you prefer just to try saying some simple phrases as you tour, the free SpeakEasy app on iOS is ideal. It's easy to find the phrases you want, and there are audio guides so you can get your pronunciation right. This is great if you want to avoid that confused "Quoi?" look from a Parisian. There's a simpler French-specific Android version.

8. Star Walk app

Astronomy apps, Star Walk, now has a new edition for curious children: Star Walk Kids. This app uses cartoonlike graphics to make understanding the night sky easier and, like its grown-up version, displays information about stars and planets in the right place as you point your phone to the sky. It's $3 on iOS.

The New York Times