Top 20 Things to Do in Paris

Top 20 things to do in Paris

Best 20 Things to Do in Paris

With so much to see and do in Paris, it’s hard to make a list that goes to basics while having a realistic experience of everything Paname has to offer. By addressing mainly those who do not know Paris, we have selected the cream of the cream of Paris with some known places, others off the beaten track, to help you plan a long weekend or a stay of a few days in the capital.

The list of monuments and activities listed in this article represents the real Paris, and will offer you a memorable and authentic experience. Ready? Let’s go !


Louvre Museum, ParisPhoto credit: Flickr – Elwin van Eede

The most recognized symbol of Paris is the Eiffel Tower, but some travelers prefer to visit the Louvre , much more interesting. It is the best art museum in the world but also the most visited and the largest, with 210,000 m² of exhibitions where you can find works from almost every civilization in the world.

The three most popular works here are La JoncondeVenus de Milo, and Victoire de Samothrace. Beyond these must-haves, the best thing to do is to know where you are going, and what you want to see first. But do not be afraid to lose yourself, because you could come across something memorable!


Notre-Dame de Paris cathedralPhoto credit: Flickr – Tobias

Rising above the Place Jean-Paul-II (forecourt) on the Ile de la Cité, Notre-Dame Cathedral is the symbolic heart of Paris and, for many, that of France. Napoleon was crowned here, and many kings and queens exchanged their wedding vows in front of his altar.

The interior of the Gothic cathedral is to see (free tour), but the exterior is also beautiful with beautiful architectural details and the unforgettable view of Paris, between a few gargoyles, from the top of the south tower.

Started in 1163, and completed in 1345, severely damaged during the Revolution, and restored by the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century, Notre-Dame is not the oldest or largest cathedral in France, but in terms of beauty and architectural harmony, few are comparable.


Eiffel Tower, ParisPhoto credit: Flickr – Y Nakanishi

The Eiffel Toweris in Paris what the Statue of Liberty is in New York and what Big Ben is in London: the ultimate emblem. The French engineer Gustave Eiffel, already famous for the construction of viaducts and bridges, worked for two years to erect this emblematic monument of the 1889 World Fair.

It also salutes the centenary of the French Revolution. Today, it is certainly the night she is the most beautiful, when it is highlighted in a sparkling show. The latter was to be used only for the year 2000, but it was so popular that the 20,000 bulbs were reinstalled for permanent use in 2003.

The tower makes its electric dance for five minutes every hour of the fall of at night at one o’clock in the morning. Highly visited, it is possible tovisit the 3 floors of the Eiffel Tower without queuing.


Basilica of the Sacred Heart in ParisPhoto credit: Flickr – Antonio Lavela

It’s hard not to believe that you are going up to heaven when you visit the Basilica of the Sacred Heart , this white castle perched at the top of Montmartre. The French government ordered it in 1873, after the devastating years of the Paris Commune and the Franco-Prussian War.

It was the architect Paul Abadie who built the Sacred Heart, using Romanesque and Byzantine elements for his design. A mixture that many critics have called “gaudy”, in reference to the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

The construction lasted until the First World War, and the basilica was finally consecrated in 1919.


Arc de Triomphe, ParisPhoto credit: Flickr – MK Feeney

Stretch your legs and climb the 284 steps to the top of the Arc de Triomphe.

Up there, you will have a view of the Champs-Elysées, and the arch of La Défense. It is also a privileged place to observe the driving techniques of Parisians: the roundabout of the Place de l’Etoile is at times anarchic. Indeed, when there is an accident here, the fault is automatically shared at 50/50 on the report.

Back at the bottom of the arc, have a thought for the unknown soldier whose grave is under the Parisian monument.


Pere-Lachaise Cemetery, ParisPhoto credit: Flickr – Alexander Kluge

The Père Lachaise is the graveyard of celebrities are buried almost every talented French and deaths that can be cited.

And even those not French. Religious belief and nationality never prevented one from being buried there: it was simply necessary that the person had lived or that she died in Paris or have a space allocated in a family grave.

From Balzac to Chopin via Oscar Wilde (the tomb worn by the kisses of admirers), the hunt for talent is endless.


Catacombs of ParisPhoto credit: Flickr – Bert Kaufmann

To stay in the glaucous (but fascinating), dare to go down into the bowels of the city. The visit of the Catacombs of Paris is without a doubt the most frightening attraction that Paris has to offer, with kilometers of tunnels lined with femurs and skulls of six million dead Parisians.

Built 18 meters underground at the end of the 18th century to prevent diseases from spreading in the cemeteries of the city center, the Catacombs are now the scene of an icy walk.


Musée d'Orsay at sunsetPhoto credit: Flickr – Joe deSousa

Sheltered since 1986 under the roof of one of the most beautiful train stations in Paris, the recently renovated galleries of the Musée d’Orsay contain the largest collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world: Cézanne, Monet, Renoir Manet, Van Gogh, Degas, Gaugin, and many others are on display here.

In addition to the works of the Grand Masters, you will find a collection of decorative art from the Art Nouveau era and a range of 19th century sculptures. Go relax at the cafe behind the museum’s giant transparent clock.


Luxembourg Gardens, ParisPhoto credit: Flickr – Kris Robinson

This 25-hectare park is an elegant way to escape the bustle of the Left Bank. Bordered by Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter, these beautiful gardens are adored by Parisians wishing to bask in a garden chair in the sun or enjoy an impromptu picnic.

Children of all ages can enjoy a small sailboat race in the basin behind the Senate, stroll through the children’s play area, watch a puppet show or borrow the oldest riding school in the city.

Joggers come running, while others come to walk in the orchard and apiary, where beekeeping is taught and honey is sold in the fall. Do not miss the excellent art exhibitions at the renowned Luxembourg Museum.


Rodin Museum in ParisPhoto credit: Flickr – achbine

Formerly the workshop of the great sculptor, this imposing 18th century residence is one of the most beautiful museums in Paris and contains more than 7000 sculptures by Rodin, including his great masterpieces The ThinkerThe KissThe Bourgeois Calais and The Gate of Hell, alongside 8000 drawings and gouaches of the artist.

The charming Musée Rodin Park, featuring a fountain, rose bushes and a lovely beer garden, makes it an ideal choice for a pleasant afternoon. The museum also hosts special exhibitions and a cycle of exhibitions of contemporary works.

After three years of renovations, the museum has completely reopened in November 2015.


Centre Pompidou

State-of-the-art Center Pompidou , whose museum frame is on the outside of the building, is home to treasures of modern art by (among others) Braque, Dubuffet, Matisse and Ernst, as well as temporary exhibitions. of art in constant mutation, so that two visits of the center are never identical.

Arrive early when the queues are still bearable, or arrive at 18h and stay until the closing time at 21h, after which Georges, the trendy bar-restaurant of Pompidou, serves delicious cocktails in a futuristic setting with a panoramic view of the city.


Canal Ourcq, ParisPhoto credit: Flickr – Cristina Barroca

The Canal de l’Ourcq, dating from the 19th century, was originally created by Napoleon to supply Paris with drinking water, but was widely used for the transport of goods.

Today, like the Canal-St-Martin further downstream, the Ourcq Canal attracts a trendy crowd, from students to their thirties to young families who come to play bowling on the canal’s banks, picnic swim by the water and even play ping-pong in the playgrounds.


Louis Vuitton FoundationPhoto credit: Flickr – Damien

Rising above the Bois de Boulogne like a magnificent ship with wavy crystal veils, the museum of contemporary art and cultural center designed by the architect Frank Gehry, is what is most captivating on the horizon Parisian since the unveiling of the Center Pompidou in 1977.

Commissioned by Bernard Arnault (CEO of LVMH), it houses the important private collection of Arnault, including works by Pierre Huyghe, Gerhard Richter, Thomas Schutte, Ellsworth Kelly, Bertrand Lavier, Taryn Simon, Sarah Morris and Christian Boltanski, among others.

The Louis Vuitton Foundation also hosts many temporary exhibitions, such as the installations of Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson.


Buttes-Chaumont, ParisPhoto credit: Flickr – Milo.E

The possibilities of strolling in a park in Paris are numerous, from the Tuileries Garden paths to the Luxembourg Garden ponds.

But if you are looking for something a little more unusual and less busy, the park Buttes-Chaumont is definitely worth seeing.

Located high up in Belleville and often forgotten by weekend lovers wanting to stay away from the tourist loop, this jewel of the 19th arrondissement is one of the most magical places in the city.


Vineyards of Montmartre, ParisPhoto credit: Flickr – Tom Flemming

After exploring the charming museum of Montmartre, take a break in the gardens of Renoir, a haven of peace overlooking the vineyards of Montmartre and where we find the only cabaret of the late 19th century, Au Lapin Agile.

The gardens have inspired many impressionist painters who have lived here, like Valadon, Utrillo and of course, Renoir. If you’re lucky, you’ll even meet Salis, the museum’s friendly cat named after the founder of the cabaret Au Chat Noir.


Cruise on the Seine, ParisPhoto credit: Flickr – Melissa Delzio

The Seine is for some the most romantic side of Paris, and if you visit Paris in love, a cruise in Bateau-Mouche will be good. Its curves punctuated with bridges are lined with some of the most beautiful monuments in the world, and its quays of greenery offer him all the panoply to be on the postcards.

This is by far the best way to see a maximum of monuments in an hour or two, if possible from a terrace of a Bateau-Mouche.

Yes, they are tourist (to the point that most Parisians irrevocably hunt), but it is sometimes worthwhile to don his headphones audio and blend in the mass of tourists to enjoy a good time in the heart of Paris.


Covered Passages, ParisPhoto credit: Flickr – OTTAVI Alain

More than old shopping malls, The Covered Passages around the Grand Boulevards are galleries with a particular atmosphere dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries.

Covered by a charming glass roof, their second-hand bookstores, tea rooms and gift shops make them fun alternatives to Parisian shopping galleries.

The Galerie Vivienne and the Jouffroy Passage, which houses the Grévin Museum, are listed.


Picasso Museum in ParisPhoto credit: Flickr – Tom Graham

This immensely popular museum resurrected in late 2014, when it finally reopened after an ambitious (and controversial) five-year renovation that cost around 52 million euros.

Home to the largest public collection in the world of Picasso’s inimitable work, it now covers nearly 5000 m² on two buildings: the 17th century Salé Hotel and a new garden-side structure dedicated to temporary exhibitions.

The furniture exclusively designed by Diego Giacometti in Hotel Salé is an added bonus.


The Marais, ParisPhoto Credit: Flickr – Kae Yen Wong

By far the best shopping district in Paris, the Marais is much more than that. Located in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements, the old mansions, the superb museums (the Carnavalet museum, the Cognacq-Jay museum and the Picasso museum), the great restaurants, the cafés, the old Jewish district of Paris, and the beautiful Place Vosges make the district an essential activity to do in Paris.

Take a walk through Vieille du Temple and Franc Bourgeois streets, two of the area’s backbone, and discover the charming side streets and hidden pleasures of the neighborhood.


House Deyrolle, ParisPhoto credit: Flickr – Douglas LeMoine

Shop, museum and cabinet of curiosities par excellence, the superb taxidermist Deyrolle enchants and cultivates the Parisians since 1831. But to summarize this house to a taxidermist museum would be reductive.

It is more of a kind of enchanted forest, with tigers, bears, and a gigantic giraffe basking peacefully in front of boxes full of birds, insects, butterflies, animals, shells, corals and reconstructed skeletons.

The drawers contain every insect and butterfly imaginable to create your own box or to examine examples of the many botanical, entomological, and zoological posters that have adorned the walls of French classrooms for 150 years.

Best Accommodation in Paris

Here’s a list of safe neighborhoods in Paris, France, to enjoy your stay with no worries.

1. Marais

The trendiest neighborhood in Paris, the Marais is defined by the hip Parisians who come to eat, drink, and shop in this uber cool quartier.

Though the tone of the neighborhood slants towards a younger set, the Marais’s diversity offers something for everyone – from its famed Jewish quarter to the historic Place des Vosges – for visitors who’ve checked off their sightseeing list, the Marais is the perfect place to understand Paris outside of the guidebooks.

2. Saint Germain

Saint Germain retains the timeless charm of the Left Bank while buzzing with a lively array of galleries, restaurants, and jazz clubs. From the upscale shops that dot the bustling Boulevard Saint Germain to the aristocratic calm of the Jardin du Luxembourg, this quarter is popular with locals and tourists.

This neighborhood typically attracts a well-heeled crowd who come seeking only the biggest names in food and fashion. Though at times the area may feel overrun with tourists, the biggest advantage is that you’ll find many shops and restaurants open in summer while other areas of the city are quiet.

3. Latin Quarter

The Latin Quarter is great for those who want a central location with classic Parisian charm while seeking something a little quieter.

Find somewhere away from the student hangouts for which the area is typically associated with and you’ll find yourself strolling down cobblestone streets, through leafy squares, and taking in some of the most diverse architecture in the city which includes Roman ruins, gothic spires, and the innovative Institut du Monde Arabe.

Great restaurants and wine bars abound in this part of the city as well as the lively market street Rue Mouffetard.

4. The 7th

The 7th has everything you think of when you think of Paris – the Eifel Tower, the Seine, excellent museums, breathtaking architecture, charming markets, high-end shopping, and world-class restaurants.

Its diversity and versatility make it a popular choice for everyone, whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a family vacation. Visit the family-friendly Berges de Seines and you’ll have a riverfront play area that stretches from the Musee D’Orsay to the Pont D’Alma.

Or at night, take a romantic stroll near the Pont Alexander III bridge, one of the most beautiful Beaux-Arts bridges in Paris where you’ll also have a view of the Grand Palais just on the other side of the Seine.

Be sure to explore Rue Cler, a charming market street that has a village-like feel and gives you a small slice of Parisian life.

5. South Pigalle

Tourists who want a local Paris vibe should stay in South Pigalle. Just south of the former red light district, the city’s most up-and-coming destination offers quiet tree-lined streets dotted with fashionable boutiques, cafes, and a thriving restaurant and bar scene.

A few tucked away boutique hotels have popped up in recent years, allowing tourists to take advantage of its proximity to the hills of Montmartre and nearby Sacre Coeur.

6. Montmartre

Montmartre’s charm and breathtaking views are the biggest reasons to stay in this part of Paris. Though it’s a bit far from the other main attractions, you can easily reach the rest of the city by metro or explore this neighborhood’s unique history.

Away from the touristy spots such as the Sacre Couer, Moulin Rouge, and Place du Tertre, you’ll find quiet cobblestone streets to wander with Avenue Junot having some of the most beautiful houses in Paris or Rue des Saules which climbs past the Vigne de Montmartre (Paris’s only vineyard).

The street also connects the Montmartre hilltop with the Lamarck-Caulaincourt neighborhood with several stretches of stairs and its beauty was immortalized by artists such as Cezanne and Van Gogh.

7. The 1st

The 1st arrondissement is a great base for sightseeing.

You’re in the heart of Paris with many of the city’s sights within walking distance such as the Louvre, Tuileries Garden, and Notre Dame Cathedral while the Musee D’Orsay and Saint Germain are just across the river.

Combined with a fantastic dining scene including some of Paris’s best restaurants like Spring and Verjus, visitors have an abundance of activities to choose from both day and night.

Where Should I Stay In Paris?

The rooftop bar at the Hotel des Grands Boulevards.

Still confused?

That’s my fault. Here are 3 great reasonably priced hotels. You can’t go wrong with any of these places.

  • Hotel des Grands Boulevards – Fantastic 4-star hotel that is 30 seconds from a metro station and walking distance to the Louvre, Notre Dame, and both the Gare du Nord (direct trains to the airport) and Gare de l’Est train stations.
  • Cler Hotel – Great 3-star hotel located in one of the most charming neighborhoods in Paris. Surrounded by local shops, cafes, and restaurants. Walking distance to the Eiffel Tower.
  • Gardette Hotel in Paris – My favorite midrange hotel for families. Nice location in a non-touristy Paris neighborhood (bus still fairly close to the main attractions). Across the street is a nice square and grean area with a kids playground. Several great local restaurants are steps from the hotel’s front door. It’s an easy walk to the Marais and several metro stations.

Are you looking for other travel ideas in France? Read Also:

Discover all our articles on French cities : all articles on France are listed here.

Camille L.

Passionate about foreign languages, cooking and writing. I wish to share with you the places, the meetings and the gastronomic discoveries which gave relief to my travels.

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