The most visited city in the world, Paris, or as it’s more affectionately know, The City of Lights, is passionately loved by so many people all over the world. People who’ve been there once, twice or more, and people who dream of one day stepping foot in this intoxicating city.
It’s a city with many opposite faces. You’ll find total grandeur as you walk down the main thoroughfares, but as soon as you duck down a side street, you’re in a quaint village completely sheltered from the loud bustling city beyond.
In this blog post discover my list of the top 30 amazing things to do in Paris.
Where to Stay in Paris
Here are three accommodation options in Paris to suit all budgets that I recommend you check out. All are centrally located, highly rated and come with excellent facilities.
Budget – Hotel Marignan
Mid-Range – Hotel Le Relais des Halles
Luxury – Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris
What better place to start a visit in Paris than at what is quite possibly the worlds most iconic attraction, the Eiffel Tower.
Built in 1889 for the World’s Fair, the Eiffel Tower was never meant to be a permanent structure and was strongly opposed by the contemporary artist community at the time.
Despite this, today it is the icon of the City of Lights and can be seen rising high above Paris from just about every corner of the city.
The best views of the tower can be found at the opposite end of the Champs de Mars or at the Trocodero. The tower is also nice viewed from the river and the top of Montparnasse Tower.
Queues to take a lift up the tower to the second and third levels can be long. If this is something you really want to do, I suggest booking ahead (details of that below). You can also take the stairs to levels one and two for a more energetic visit.
There is also a restaurant on the first floor which is very popular and reservations need to be made months in advance, especially during peak season in summer.
Book Eiffel Tower Experiences
Eiffel Tower Second Floor – priority access to the second-floor with a host to answer all you questions.
Dinner at 58 Tour Eiffel – enjoy a 3 or 4 course meal, complimentary drink and priority lift access at this spectacular Eiffel Tower restaurant.
Eiffel Tower Skip-the-Line Summit Tour – join your guide on a tour to the summit of the Eiffel Tower without the queues.
Arc de Triomphe
Located at the western end of the Champs-Élysées, The Arc de Triomphe was built to honour those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars.
On the inner and outer surfaces of the Arc you’ll find the names of all French victories and generals inscribed. Beneath the Arc in the vault is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.
You can climb the steps of this famous landmark in Paris to the top for nice views over Paris and down the avenues that run off the centre of the Arc.
Skip the Queue at the Arc de Triomphe
Skip-the-Line Arc de Triomphe Ticket – skip the queues at this popular Paris monument with this priority access ticket.
Jardin des Tuileries
Any Paris itinerary is not complete without a visit to this popular public garden. Located between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde, Jardin des Tuileries became a public park after the French Revolution.
It’s a lovely spot for a stroll along the central gravel path or to take a wander off into the smaller gardens along the sides for some peace.
The central pond, surrounded by chairs with people relaxing, makes for an excellent spot to do a little people watching while you rest your feet.
The Louvre Museum
The world’s largest and most visited museum, The Louvre attracts nearly 10 million visitors each year. The museum is spread across three wings with eight different departments and over 35,000 works of art and artifacts on display.
One visit is most certainly not enough to take it all in, so a little forward planning about what you want to see is a must.
The most popular piece in the museum is of course Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Mona Lisa which you’ll find crowded with people anytime the museum is open.
The main and most popular entrance to the museum is via the glass pyramid, however if you want to avoid the queues try another entrance.
Buying an advance ticket allows you direct access through the glass pyramid without queuing.
Skip the Queue at the Louvre
Skip-the-Line Louvre Entrance Tickets – don’t wait time in queues with this timed entry ticket to the world’s most popular art gallery.
This popular basilica is located on the highest ground of an area called Montmartre in the 18th arrodissement.
Sacre Coeur is a fully functional Roman Catholic church dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and holds multiple daily services open to locals and visitors as well as being open to all at other times throughout the day.
Inside its best feature is the mosaics which are some of the nicest you’ll find in Europe. Visitors can walk the 300 plus steps to the top of the dome for panoramic views over Paris or descend into the crypts (temporarily closed as at July 2018) to see tombs and interesting artifacts from the basilicas history.
For something really special, visit during Sunday mass at 11:00, 18:00 or 22:00 to hear the Grand Organ play. I visited by accident at this time and it was one of my most memorable travel moments.
The area in front of the basilica also affords spectacular views looking out over the city but unfortunately because of its popularity, it attracts pick-pockets and scammers, so watch your belongings and keep your wits about you while enjoying the views.
Montmartre is a popular district of Paris that has for a long time attracted artists to set up workshops and build a community. The likes of Dalí, Monet, Picasso and van Gogh have all worked in or around the Montmartre area at some point during their lives.
Today the area still attracts artists but mostly the ones with a lot of money as prices in the area have shot up with its popularity.
During the day get lost wandering the steep cobblestone streets and at night come back for the nightlife, authentic Parisian cuisine and interesting characters.
Book a Tour of Montmartre
Sacre Coeur and Montmartre Tour – explore this interesting bohemia area of Paris with an expert guide. Includes a tour of Sacre Coeur.
This almost 2 km avenue runs from the Place de la Concorde all the way up to the Arc du Triomphe and is lined with important buildings, stores and cafes.
The avenue is used each year on July 14 for the Bastille Day parade and as the end to the last leg of the Tour de France.
If you don’t happen to be in town for either of those events then I can assure you there is still plenty to see along the avenue.
On the lower part of the Champs-Élysées you’ll find the Grand and Petit Palais surrounded by some pretty gardens in the Jardin des Champs-Élysées.
As you start to head up the hill to the Arc, you’ll find retail stores from some of the worlds biggest brands with both high street prices and luxury goods.
There are also plenty of cafes and restaurants with pavement seating, perfect for people watching, although a tad pricey and touristy.
Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame is considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in the world and is one of the top five most popular sights in Paris.
The cathedral is famous for its incredible stained glass windows, with the most impressive being the Rose window, and for the gargoyles that guard the cathedral from above.
Inside it is simply breathtaking and anyone who loves visiting churches and religious buildings around the world won’t be disappointed.
Once you’ve enjoyed the inside you can then climb the 387 steps to the top to get a closer look at those gargoyles, the roof and spires of the cathedral and for lovely views over the city.
Book a Guided Tour of Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral Guided Tour – with a guide, explore the cathedral and learn more about its history.
So you’ve been up the Eiffel Tower already and gotten a great view of the city, so why should you waste your money going up another tower? To get the view of the Eiffel Tower of course!
From the top of the 59 storey open air Montparnasse Tower you can get 360º views of Paris including the city’s famous tower.
My suggestion is to go at night and experience the hourly show that the Eiffel Tower puts on, sparkling like a million diamonds. But if you do visit during the day and its clear, you’ll be able to see for over 40 km.
Get Your Montparnasse Tower Tickets in Advance
Montparnasse Tickets – access to the 56th floor and roof terrace without the queues.
Walking Tour of The Marais
The Marais is one of the most charming areas of Paris. Crammed into one small area down small crooked medieval lanes you’ll find bars and restaurants alive with patrons, trendy fashion boutiques, old-fashioned bread shops and patisseries, fashionable art galleries and museums.
The best way to get a feel for the area and learn about its history is on a walking tour. There are a few on offer depending on what you are interested in learning more about.
Guides are local and really know their stuff. What I love about these tours are that they focus less on tourist landmarks and more on authentic details of the area.
The home of Paris Opera, the Opera Garnier, is known for its opulent interiors and grand exterior but mostly for being the home of The Phantom of the Opera.
In 1910 Gaston Leroux used rumours of a ghost that haunted the Opera Garnier to write the gothic love story that has since been shown on stage and screen.
There are two ways you can take peek inside. Buy a ticket to the theatre which will set you back a small fortune or your can visit on a tour. With general entry you are free to roam the public areas at your leisure or you can take a tour an learn more about its history.
Tour the Opera Garnier
Opera Garnier Tour with Expert Guide – join an expert guide on a tour of the Opera Garnier.
Palace of Versailles
This grand chateau on the outskirts of Paris was the center of political power in France from 1682 until the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789 when Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were taken back to the centre of Paris and guillotined.
The most famous palace in France is simply spectacular inside and out. You’ll find grand rooms filled with priceless works of art, furniture and antiquities on the inside and sprawling perfectly manicured gardens on the outside. A visit to Versailles makes a worthy half day trip from the centre of the city.
Even if you’re not into palaces and their over the top interiors, its worth the effort just to wander the grounds.
Don’t Miss Out, Get Your Versailles Tickets Early
Palace of Versailles and Gardens – skip-the-lines with this full access ticket to one of the most opulent palaces in the world.
This complex of buildings houses museums and monuments on the military history of France with its most popular being the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte.
The main buildings gold dome can be seen throughout Paris and is one of the most recognisable buildings in the city’s skyline.
Apart from visiting the tomb of Napoleon you can find out more about him and the French army by visiting Musée de l’Armée, a military museum dedicated to the Army of France. Also in the grounds is the Musée des Plans-Reliefs and the Musée d’Histoire Contemporaine.
Priority Access to Les Invalides
Les Invalides – priority entry to Napoleon’s Tomb and the Army Museum.
Cruise the Seine
Any city built on a waterway should be seen from the water and Paris is no exception especially because more of the city’s best architecture and landmarks line the Seine River.
There are lots of different types of cruises you can do like lunch or dinner cruises, private charter, sightseeing tours, night tours etc.
I’ve cruised the Seine both day and night and can’t split them for which experience was better. If you have time, I recommend doing both. All cruises will take you under all the city’s famous bridges and past its famous sites.
Eat Something Sweet
Whether your a sweet tooth or not, you can’t visit Paris without trying at least one of the sweet this city is famous for.
You’ve all probably tried one or two French pastries in your life, probably from your local bakery or supermarket. Delicious buttery croissants are sold worldwide but it’s in Paris where you’ll find the best!
Along with them you’ll find crepe vendors on nearly every corner selling sweet crepes filled with simple lemon and sugar or go all out and have a nutella crepe, my favourite.
It’s difficult to wander around Paris and not be enticed by Patisserie windows filled with macaroons, tarts and pastry. Don’t think about your waist line, just go for it. You never know when you’ll be back again.
Jardin du Luxembourg
This 23 hectare garden in the centre of Paris is an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The gardens along with Luxembourg Palace within the gardens, was created in 1612 by the Medici family as a new family residence.
Today the gardens are owned by the French Senate, who meet in the Palace. Throughout the gardens are beautifully planted flower beds, tree lined paths, the lovely Medici Fountain and shady areas perfect for relaxing.
For young ones and those young at heart, you can’t go past a visit to a Disney park anywhere in the world. In Paris you have the choice of two parks, Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios.
Disneyland is similar to other Disneyland’s around the world except it has more of a European feel. The park is split into lands with themed rides, attractions and shows in each land.
Walt Disney Studios is all about Disney on the big screen with themed rides and attractions based on popular Disney movies and TV shows. It is possible to visit both parks in one very long day or you can choose just one or you can enjoy them over two or more days.
This royal medieval gothic chapel on the Île de la Cité is quite simply breathtaking. From the outside its blends with its surroundings and really is nothing too special. But it’s inside where its true beauty lies. As soon as you step inside this long narrow chapel your completely surrounded by one of the most extensive collections of 13th-century stained glass anywhere in the world. As one of the earliest surviving buildings of the Capetian royal palace, Sainte Chapelle was restored in the 19th century after being damaged during the French revolution.
Sainte Chapelle Tickets
Sainte Chapelle Entry Ticket – These tickets and tickets on the door are sold out daily. Get them now to avoid missing this incredible experience.
As I mentioned earlier, sweets can be found everywhere in Paris but this is only a very small part of French cuisine.
The best way to get a truly local experience is to take a tour with a local, someone who knows the most authentic places to eat in town and can help you steer clear of the tourist traps.
I have included a bunch of tours around Paris below with groups sizes kept low to make it a more intimate experience.
having an expert guide who really knows their food and the city well will give all those true foodies out there some of the best culinary experiences you can have in Paris.
Gourmet Tours of Paris
Food Tour in Le Marais with Tastings – 3 hours exploring one of the best foodie areas of Paris.
Gourmet Food Tour with 10+ Tastings and Wine – Explore the area around the Louvre, known to be home to some of the best French dishes in Paris.
Wine and Cheese Lunch – Enjoy 5 different wines from 5 different French regions with cheese pairings while you learn about the wine and cheese making process.
Paris Gourmet Tour – Take a 3 hour journey through the Latin Quarter tasting some of the best French food and wine along the way.
Housed in a stunning former railway station building, Musée d’Orsay is home to mostly to French art dating from 1848 to 1915. Its collection includes paintings, sculptures, furniture, architechtual pieces and photography. What most people visit for however is to see the worlds largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces. Painting by Money, Renoir, Cezanne, Gauguin and of course Van Gogh can all be seen as part of the museums permanent collection.
Père Lachaise Cemetery
This world famous cemetery and the largest in Paris is the final resting place of some of Frances and the worlds most recognised people. The likes of Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison and Frederic Chopin are the most visited grave sites on the property, attracting people from all over the world. Even if your not interested in visiting a particular grave, its still a nice place to take a walk, look at some of the interesting and unusual burials plots and enjoy the green leafy surrounds.
Catacombs de Paris
Known as the ‘worlds largest grave’, Paris’ Catacombs contain the remains of around six million Parisians. It all began in 1785 when the city of Paris decided, due to overcrowding in The Cemetery of the Innocents, that it would remove all the remains to a quarry. By 1814 all cemeteries across Paris had moved their remains to this quarry. Today you can take a 45 minute tour underground past the walls and walls of bones. It’s not for everyone, however it does give you a very different insight into the past of the city.
As the name states, this museum is dedicated to the works of French sculptor Auguste Rodin. The museum is split over two sites, the main one being at the Hôtel Biron in central Paris and the other outside Paris at Rodin’s old home. Its collection includes 6,600 sculptures, 8,000 drawings, 8,000 old photographs and 7,000 other works of art, a lot of which came from Rodin’s diverse personal collection. The most famous pieces being Rodin’s The Thinker, The Kiss and The Gates of Hell along with paintings by Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh.
Visit a Flea Market
As the saying goes, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. And that couldn’t be more true at flea markets across Paris. The history of the flea markets in Paris dates back over two centuries when rag and bone men scoured through the garbage at night to find valuable junk to sell and make a profit from. They have evolved a little since those early days to today where you can find some pretty valuable antique items. There are a few flea markets scattered around the centre of town but the biggest and most popular is at Porte de Clignancourt. Here you’ll find trinkets and antiques, vintage clothing, books, household items and things you probably haven’t seen in some time or maybe, depending on your age, never before.
Once your done bargain hunting at the flea markets, it’s time to do some real damage to that credit card at some of Paris’ best department stores and high street stores. Being one of the fashion capitals of the world, you will absolutely find all of the worlds top brands somewhere in the city. For department stores head to Boulevard Haussmann to visit Galeries Lafayette and Printemps which sell everything luxury from perfumes to clothing to shoes, bags, homewares etc. For designer shopping and trendy chain stores head to Champs-Elysées. Check out Les Halles for major chain shops and trendy boutiques. And finally wander through the Marais for eclectic fashion, unique jewelry, antiques and fine art.
Even if your not interested in visiting the attractions inside, I highly recommend you check this place out just for the unusual architecture. The building was building inside out with an exposed skeleton of brightly coloured tubes for mechanical systems. Its unlike anything I’ve seen before. If you do decide to venture inside you’ll find the Bibliothèque publique d’information (a public library), the IRCAM which is a centre for music and acoustic research and finally the most visited of them all, the Musée National d’Art Moderne, which is the largest museum for modern art in Europe.
Place des Vosges
This pretty and symmetrical square is the oldest planned square in Paris. The first building to be built on the square was in 1604 when King Henry IV built a Royal pavilion at the southern end of the square. The King then ordered all 35 other buildings bordering the square to be of the same design forming a symmetrical square surrounded by buildings with red brick and white stone facades, steep slate roofs and dorm windows, all constructed over arcades. The public square in the centre follows the same symmetrical theory, split into four with a fountain in each section and lined with trees.
There are tons of cabaret style shows in Paris, most of which are probably less touristy than the Moulin Rouge but non are quite as famous and iconic. You can’t miss the theatre in the district of Pigalle with the famous neon sign and windmill on the roof. Inside its all glitz and glamour which transfers to the stage. A troupe of 80 artists will dazzle you in their feathered, rhinestoned and sequined costumes on a set that is way over the top. There’s lots of dancing, including the famous can-can, singing, artistic performances and of course boobs and butts. Take it for what it is, a slightly over the top, entertaining and sometimes comical show of talented dancers.
The oldest remaining bridge in Paris, the first stone was laid to build the Pont Neuf in 1578 under the orders of King Henry III however due to many different delays the bridge wasn’t completed until 1607. This medieval bridge spanning the Seine is composed of two separate spans, one of five arches and one of seven arches with a join in the middle on the western end of the medieval heart of Paris, the Île de la Cité. Its a nice place to get a view of the Seine and the grand buildings that line the river.
More Fun Paris Tour Options
Paris City Pass – included admission to 60 museums, sights, and attractions in Paris plus free metro, bus and train travel.
Paris Highlights Bike Tour – see the highlights of Pairs on a 3-hour bike tour of Paris.
Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour – choose from 1, 2, or 3 day tickets to see it all from the top of an open top bus.
Over to you!
What’s your top pick of things to do in Paris?
Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media to start a conversation.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.