The 10 Best Things To Do In Paris, France
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Paris was my first trip abroad at the age of 10. I still remember the excitement and stress from the flight, and also the terrible heat on the plain as the AC didn’t work. I was really looking forward to seeing the City of Lights, but when I arrived in the city I was overwhelmed. It was late at night and everything was dark. Where are all the lights they promised?
Needless to say that the next few days in Paris were AMAZING. I was astounded by everything I saw and experienced. The use of a new language- English (it is not my native tongue) and learning a few words in French fascinated me. I can definitely say that this trip has planted the travel bug in me.
More than 20 years after that trip, the Paris of today is nothing like what I remember from my trip. I have traveled to so many other places since then, but I never went back to Paris. However, my curiosity in the last few years has made me think more and more about how it would feel to go back there. With the help of my colleagues, I prepared for you (and for myself) this list of the best places to visit and things to do in Paris.
Here are the 10 top things to do in Paris:
Explore The Art At The Louvre
Contributed by Eva from Elevate Calm
The Louvre is the world’s largest art museum, incredibly impressive both
on the outside and the inside. It houses over 30 thousand art pieces and
visiting the entire museum can take you hundreds of days.
As you can see, getting the most of your visit to the Louvre can be a
challenge because of the sheer size of the museum. Plan your visit by
exploring the floor plans ahead of time and picking the rooms you would
like to tour. The Louvre offers a wide selection of art from all across
the world, with some pieces being over 9 thousand years old! You can
also take a guided tour for a more in-depth experience of the museum.
As you might know, the Louvre is home to the portrait of Lisa
Gherardini, often dubbed “the most famous painting in the world”. You
can also marvel at the “Venus de Milo”, one of the most prominent
statues of Ancient Greece. It is a half-nude depiction of Aphrodite, the
goddess of love and beauty. “Liberty leading the people”, an oil
painting honoring the July Revolution, is one of France’s most treasured
art pieces. The female figure which dominates the canvas is a
personification of liberty and became the symbol of France and the
How to get here?
Address: Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
Metro: Line 1 and 7 to Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre. Line 14 to Pyramides.
Have A Drink At The Top Of The Eiffel Tower
Contributed by Christina from Trave2Next
Constructed to celebrate the 100 anniversary of the French Revolution, the Eiffel Tower was completed in 1889. Gustave Eiffel would have been enormously proud to know that the tower he designed is one of France’s most famous landmarks. The 1063 ft high monument weighs 10,100 tons and is instantly recognizable around the world. It has five elevators between the esplanade to the second floor, and two glass lifts that transport visitors between the second floor and the top of the tower. Whether at night or during the day, visiting the Eiffel Tower is one of the best things to do in Paris.
It’s worth going to the top for the fantastic view and to have a drink at the champagne bar. Sipping French Champagne way up in the sky is a memorable way to experience the City of Lights. The second floor also offers fantastic bird’s-eye views of famous monuments in Paris such as the Grand Palais, Notre Dame, and the Louvre. Treat yourself to a meal at Jules Verne Restaurant, but if your budget doesn’t extend that far, there are buffet restaurants on the first, second, and ground floors too. The gardens around the Eiffel Tower are lovely and worth strolling around to look for spots to photograph this famous icon.
How to get here?
Address: Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris
Metro: Line 6 to Bir-Hakeim and Line 8 to La Motte-Picquet – Grenelle or École Militaire
Visit Paris Opera House
Contributed by Marco from Travel-Boo
Undeniably opulent and one of the most iconic landmarks in Paris is the gorgeous Palais Garnier Opera House. A must-see site when visiting the ‘City of Light’, this incredible palace will take your breath away from the very first moment you set foot inside.
The Paris Opera House was built between the years 1861 to 1875, and although the building itself is rather impressive from the outside, it’s the interiors that really steal the show.
From the grand marble staircase (the Grand Escalier) to the lush red and gold interiors of the 1979-seater Auditorium, through to the incredibly ornate Salon du Glacier Foyer with its gold-gilded detail and massive chandeliers, you’ll be blown away by the sheer craftsmanship and detail throughout the Opera House.
Of course, the Palais Garnier is world-renowned as the stage upon which Gaston Leroux based the popular Phantom of the Opera of 1910. Today though, the Opera House is home to regular performances by the Paris Opera Ballet, undoubtedly an unforgettable experience to enjoy, set in this beautiful building.
The Paris Opera House is open most days for guided as well as self-guided tours which I would definitely recommend when visiting Paris. Do make sure though to check their website ahead of time as the Palais Garnier may be closed to the public on certain dates and you wouldn’t want to miss out on seeing this true Parisian gem!
How to get here?
Address: Place de l’Opéra, 75009 Paris
Metro: Line 8 to Opéra.
Visit The Sacré-Coeur Basilica
Contributed by Krisztina from She Wanders Abroad
Located in the heart of Montmartre, Sacre Coeur Basilica is one of the most important religious monuments in Paris. It’s a Roman Catholic church and a minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The Basilica is located on the highest point of the city which makes it one of the best photography spots in Paris thanks to the beautiful view it offers. You can find many metro stations and bus stops near the Basilica so getting there is very easy. The closest metro stations are Anvers (M° 2) and Abbesses (M° 12) from where you can either use the cable car or climb up on the stairs to reach the Basilica.
The entrance to the Basilica is completely free and it’s open every day between 6 am and 10:30 pm. In order to avoid disturbing the prayers, there are no guided tours inside the Basilica but you can opt for a free audio guide. Although the Basilica is free to visit, you need to pay a separate admission fee if you want to go up to the Dome. The entrance is located outside the Basilica and it’s important to know that there are no lifts, thus you need to climb 300 steps to reach the top.
Since the Sacré-Coeur Basilica is the second most visited national monument in Paris (after the Notre-Dame Cathedral), it usually gets very crowded during the day. If you want to avoid the crowds, try to visit the Basilica early in the morning.
How to get here?
Address: 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris
Metro: Line 2 to Anvers and Line 12 to Abbesses.
Climb On The Arc De Triomphe and Stroll On Champs Elysees
Contributed by Dymphe from Dymabroad
One of the best things to do in Paris is going to the Arc de Triomphe. This is a famous sight you should not miss out on when you are visiting the city of love!
The Arc de Triomphe is a beautiful arch dedicated to those who fought for the country during the Napoleonic Wars and the French Revolution. It is impressive to see and you can also go to the top of the monument! From the top of the Arc de Triomphe, you have a wonderful view over Paris and you can see other sights of the city, such as the Eiffel Tower. The arch is also one of the best places for photography in Paris!
What’s great is that the Arc de Triomphe is at one end of the Champs-Élysées so you can easily combine the two. This is one of the most famous and best shopping streets of Paris. Moreover, you find here many luxury stores and plenty of places for food and drinks. Also, when you walk along the Champs-Élysées you eventually end up at the Louvre, which is great!
It is very easy to get to the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Élysées because many buses are going there and there is a metro station.
How to get here?
Address: Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris
Metro: Line 1, 2 and 6 to Charles de Gaulle – Etoile.
Taking a Seine River Green Cruise
Contributed by Ophelie from Limitless Secrets
The River Seine is flowing through Paris and is a great symbol of the French capital. Paris wouldn’t be so magical without it! Therefore, taking a cruise on the Seine is one of the best things to do in Paris!
Not only a cruise on the Seine is a very romantic activity in Paris, but it will also allow you to see the city from another perspective. From the boat you will be able to admire some of the most famous landmarks of Paris: Notre Dame, the Louvre Museum, Musée d’Orsay and last but not least the Eiffel Tower! You will also go under some of the beautiful bridges of Paris, such as Pont Alexandre III, Pont des Arts, or Pont Neuf. You can take a cruise during the day, at sunset to see the Eiffel Tower sparkling, or even at night with dinner.
Doing a green cruise has a few benefits compared to a regular cruise. The boats are working with solar energy thanks to solar panels at the top. As a consequence, this green energy is great for the environment. Additionally, those boats are very quiet, so you won’t get annoyed by the noise of the motor!
The boats’ capacity is rather small and can be privatized so you can embark with your family and/or friends. And you can enjoy food and drinks on board to make it more festive!
Contributed by Sam from My Flying Leap
Sainte-Chapelle, or Holy Chapel, is a beautiful Gothic wonder dating back to the 13th century. It’s located on Île de la Cité on the River Seine in Paris. Sainte-Chapelle is part of the Palais de la Cité, located in the courtyard. This palace is where the kings of France once lived, and most of the palace is now the Palais of Justice.
Though the building is impressive, the reason to go is the massive stained glass windows that adorn the building. You will notice everyone that walks in immediately looks up to take in this truly amazing masterpiece. As soon as you walk through the doors you’ll see the stunning array of beautiful colors everywhere you look.
Another part of this palace complex holding a claim to fame is the Conciergerie. This was the medieval prison where Marie Antoinette was held and trialed during the French Revolution. Purchase a joint entrance for both and see both of these places in half a day. When you go, be sure to visit on a sunny day to get the full impact of the incredible stained glass windows—it’s breathtaking! And remember that this is a religious place, so please dress modestly with knees and shoulders covered.
Sainte-Chapelle is one of the highlights of any visit to Paris. Though it doesn’t get as much attention as some of the other places on the tourist path, it will be a highlight of your visit to this magical city.
How to get here?
Address: 10 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris.
Metro: Line 4 to Cité.
Watch the Cabaret Show at Moulin rouge
Contributed by Fiona from Travelling Thirties
A trip to Paris would not be complete without a visit to the Moulin Rouge. Even if you are only in Paris for 24 hours there is still time to visit the famed Windmill. The Moulin Rouge is located in Montmartre and is one of the most famous Cabaret shows in the world. Prepare yourself for a night full of glitz, glamour, lavish and over-the-top costumes, and, at times, very little clothing.
Since the Moulin Rouge was opened in 1889 (although it did burn down in 1915) it has become an iconic landmark in Paris. Not only is the show iconic but so is the red Windmill on top of the building.
If you are planning on visiting the Moulin Rouge make sure you book your tickets in advance, as tickets sell out months in advance. When purchasing your tickets you have a few options. You can have dinner before the evening show if you would like, however, the Moulin Rouge is not cheap! For a taste of France without emptying your bank account choose the champagne option when booking your tickets. After all, you cannot visit France and not enjoy some real champagne.
How to get here?
Address: 82 Boulevard de Clichy, 75018 Paris
Metro: Line 2 to Blanche.
Visit the Paris Catacombs
Contributed by Tori from tori-leigh.com
A tour of the Paris Catacombs is a memorable experience for anyone visiting The City of Lights, especially those looking for a bit of history.
In the late 18th century, amidst serious health outbreaks, the city of Paris ran out of room in the local cemeteries and decided to move the remains underground. Beginning with the contents of The Saint Innocents Cemetery, they were moved to an underground quarry overnight.
In 1786, the quarry became the Paris Municipal Ossuary and was affectionally nicknamed the Catacombs. As the site grew in popularity, it was renovated and rearranged. Today, it houses the remains of 6 million Parisians and welcomes half a million visitors each year.
Those wishing to tour the Catacombs will descend 131 steps down to the ossuary. It is damp, slightly cold, and there are no elevators or bathrooms on site. It goes without saying that guests are not allowed to touch the remains. Those wishing to take advantage of an audio tour (in multiple languages) may.
As tourists and locals wander through, they’ll see intricate displays of human remains, including those shaped like hearts, large cylinders, and geometric shapes. Plaques explaining where the remains originated and the time of transfer are located throughout the Catacombs.
Though a bit creepy, the Catacombs is certainly one of the top experiences in Paris.
How to get here?
Address: 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris
Metro: Line 4 and 6 to Denfert-Rochereau.
Climb Tour Montparnasse
Contributed by Jiayi from The Diary of a Nomad
One of the best things to do in Paris is to climb up the Tour Montparnasse for an absolutely breathtaking view of the entire city, including the iconic Eiffel Tower. In fact, the view of the Eiffel Tower from the Observation Deck of Tour Montparnasse is definitely one of the most stunning sights in all of Paris, especially if you see it during sunset when the sky puts on a colorful show!
The Tour Montparnasse is actually the tallest building in Paris and the only skyscraper in the center of Paris. You can reach it easily by foot from the Metro stations of Edgar Quinet, Gaîté, or Notre-Dame-des-Champs. The admission ticket to the Observation Deck is 18€ for adults and 15€ for students and people aged between 12-18 years old.
You might find the ticket a bit pricey, but the view is absolutely worth it. In fact, this view is actually much better than the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower itself, simply because you can actually see the Eiffel Tower from here! Be sure to arrive in time for sunset and to bring the best photography gear because it’s truly a sight you wouldn’t want to forget. Some of the best camera gear you can use to capture the view from Tour Montparnasse are these amazing Sony A6400 lenses. After enjoying the view, you can also relax at the rooftop bar on the tower, which is also the highest rooftop bar in Paris!
How to get here?
Address: 33 Avenue du Maine, 75015 Paris
Metro: Line 4, 6, 12 and 13 to Montparnasse Bienvenüe
One of the most famous sites in Paris, that doesn’t appear in this list is the Notre Dame cathedral. This impressive gothic cathedral, also known from Victor’s Hugo book The Hunchback of Notre-Dame) has caught fire during restoration works in 2019 and sustained some severe damage. Since then, it is closed to the public. Reconstruction should begin in 2021 and hopefully will be completed by 2024.
Paris has some more sites you would want to explore that didn’t qualify for this list. A few to mention are the Pompidou Center (modern art museum and a really cool place), the Luxemburg Gardens, and the Orsay museum.
Traveling around Paris is easy and recommended to do using the Metro system. It might be intimidating at first due to all the different lines, however, this is what makes it a great means of transportation. Make sure to buy the unlimited-ride pass (1, 2, 3, or 5 days), as it is cheaper than multiple single ride passes.
Day Trips Suggestions
Disneyland Paris is the perfect addition to any Paris trip. It is the only Disney park in Europe and has several unique rides and experiences compared to the US Disney parks. There are actually two parks at Disneyland Paris. The traditional castle park called Disneyland Paris and a smaller park called Walt Disney Studios. The two parks are just a few hundred feet away from each other, and you can easily visit both parks in one day.
Suggested by Erica Riley of Travels with Erica
A day trip to the Palace of Versailles is one of the most popular things to do in Paris. Highlights of the Palace include the Hall of Mirrors, the bedroom of Marie Antoinette, the gardens with the impressive fountains, and the Trianon Palaces. Versailles is located only 20 km outside of Paris and can be easily reached by train. You can take the RER C train from Paris to Chateau rive Gauche train station at Versailles. The journey takes up to 90 minutes, and the palace is a 10-minute walk away from the train station. As Versailles is one of France’s most popular attractions remember to book your tickets in advance to avoid the long queues.
Suggested by Chrysoula of All About Castles
Paris, the City of Lights, is one of the most popular cities to visit in Europe. While this list has the 10 best things to do in Paris, the city offers way much more attractions, things to do and see, and places to visit. First time visitors should plan about a week for exploring the city, especially if you want to take the time and enjoy the city’s vibes. Traveling is not just for removing sites from your list – you’ll get a better experience if you keep the pace low, and absorb more of what the city has to offer.
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Photo credit: Arc De Triumphe – Florian Wehde