Ahh, Paris! If you are going to be visiting Paris in the near future, you’ve come to the right place. There are so many things to do in Paris and so little time. Time to get yourself organized, get some good walking shoes, a light scarf and a baguette, and go!
Now, if you’ve read my post on What NOT to do in Paris, you know that I don’t actually recommend that you do every one of these things, but I had to present you with a few choices. Otherwise what else will you do on your subsequent trip to Paris!?
Table of Contents
1. Visit the Eiffel Tower
Of course, this has got to be number 1, I don’t want any crying or yelling if you missed this because you were doing all the other items on the list! I get enough of that from my kids. Buy tickets in advance, since lines are long (I can’t emphasize this enough!)
Most locals actually recommend that you go to the top of the Montparnasse tower (a very ugly skyscraper in the center of Paris) to see the city from above including the Eiffel Tower. I would recommend this as well, but again, I don’t want to be blamed if you miss climbing the Eiffel, and regret it later!
Book tickets in advance:
2. Gaze at the Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral
It is going to be under construction for a while, but it is still standing strong after 900 years so admire it from the outside. It is still a beauty, even with a few scars!
Guided Tours around the area:
3. Get an ice cream from Bertillons
What gelato is to Italy, Bertillons is to France. One of their original locations is on the Ile Saint Louis in the center of Paris, but there are certain restaurants that serve it as well in the Marais.
4. Cruise down the Seine on a boat
There are hop-on hop-off tour companies, lunch and dinner cruises, or you can just relax and listen (or ignore) the guided commentary all the way through. Cross your fingers that the tide of the Seine river is low so that boat is able to make its way to see the little sister of the Statue of Liberty at the Pont de Grenelle.
Spaces fill fast, so reserve now:
5. Peruse the shops along the Avenue Champs-Élysées
Louis Vuitton or Zara, you have your pick! There’s something for everyone, from Nike to Bulgari. Note, some of the French high-end boutiques such as Chanel and Saint Laurent are just off of the Champs-Elysées on Avenue Montaigne. Happy Shopping!
6. Go to the top of the Arc De Triomphe
One of the best views of the Champs-Élysées, look out and imagine the armies of conquering soldiers that have walked through the Arc. Everyone from Napoleon Bonaparte, to Adolf Hitler, to Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle have walked those same footsteps.
7. Stroll through the Gallery of Statues in the Louvre Museum
There’s an overwhelming amount of art at the Louvre, so you have to pick and choose. Your stress levels will rise as you try to get a clear shot at the Mona Lisa, so relax afterward in the peaceful inner courtyard that is filled with ancient Greek statues.
Note: During the busy summer season, tickets often are only sold online for timed entrances. Book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Book tickets in advance:
8. Enjoy the view of Sacré Coeur & Montmartre
The best views are at sunset from this northern point of the city. The perfect time to sit on the stairs and rest those aching feet. Avoid the street vendors and tricksters that hang around there though. Their modus operandi is to distract excited tourists and pickpocket them.
If you have time, head over to Place du Tertre in Montmartre to watch the painters and the caricaturists do their thing.
9. Sip a coffee on a terrasse and watch the crowds go by
You can people-watch anywhere around Paris, but I particularly like Rue Montorgueil near Chatelet. Have a seat at a terrasse in one of the cafés and watch the people go by. (Don’t take up smoking like the locals though, it is bad for your health!)
10. Admire the Impressionists at Musée d’Orsay
The Louvre Museum has a collection that is more vast (everything from antiquity to religious art), but if you love Monet, Van Gogh and Renoir, it is the Musée D’Orsay that you are looking for.
CBook tickets in advance:
11. Ask for a “chausson aux pommes” at a bakery
You can get macarons and croissants even in Florida these days, so why not try something else? A Chausson aux Pommes is a puff pastry, like a croissant, but stuffed with cooked apples.
12. Sail a toy boat in Jardin Du Luxembourg
A beautiful garden in the Left Bank of Paris, Jardin Du Luxembourg is the “backyard” for many Parisians. Try to score one of their lounge chairs by the lake, or get involved and sail a toy boat.
13. Wander around Rue Mouffetard and Place Monge
It was around at the time of the Romans, and it is still buzzing now. Visit one of the oldest streets in Paris. In the heart of the Latin Quarter on the Left bank of Paris, this cobblestone street is always a hit with its many shops and restaurants. Both the famous Sorbonne and Science Po universities are nearby, so students will be everywhere underfoot.
14. Eat a crêpe near the Pantheon
If you have never had a crêpe before, now is the time. There is a wide variety of combinations that you can have, so feel free to mix and match! What is your most creative combination?
15. Play pétanque with the locals at Place Dauphine
A quiet little jewel on the tip of Ile de la Cité in the center of Paris, it is easy to visit Paris several times and still miss out. Spy on the locals playing Pétanque, or if you are brave enough, ask if you can join. The game is a mix of lawn bowling and horseshoes. It originated with the ancient Romans in the South near Marseille, before becoming popular all over France.
16. Shop at Galerie Lafayette and Printemps
Near Opéra on the Right Bank, this is France’s answer to Sak’s Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman. With something for all budgets, take back a souvenir that will remind you of your time in Paris. And don’t miss the view from the top floor of Galerie Lafayette! (If you have time on another day, go to the Bon Marché department store, on the other side of Paris, on the Left Bank.)
17. Picnic along the Canal Saint-Martin
This is where young and hip Parisians come for an apéro by the water after work. Bring some cheese, wine, and a baguette and you will fit right in.
18. Take a day trip to the Château de Versailles
It was built by the famous Sun King Louis XIV, but we think more today of the tragic destiny of Marie-Antoinette and the French Revolution. Many other key moments in history took place here as well, such as the Treaty of Versailles (WW1), subsequent Nazi retaliation (WW2), amongst many others, so wander around and breathe in the history of France.
Book tickets in advance:
19. Browse the art galleries around Place des Vosges
Originally known as Place Royale, this is one of the most beautiful spots in Paris. Where the rich and famous used to live (and still do). Victor Hugo (author of Hunchback of Notre Dame) lived in the area, as well as the real-life Cardinal Richelieu (a character in the Three Musketeers).
20. Order the charcuterie and cheese platter at a wine bar in the Marais
After all that sight-seeing, you deserve a drink (or two). Pair it with a charcuterie and cheese platter to graze on, and enjoy your night!
If you’ve enjoyed this list and want to have it handy on your trip, a free download is available in the Shop. It is in brochure format so that you can fold it in your pocket and keep it within reach.
And if you are thinking about accommodation when you visit Paris, check out my detailed post on each arrondissement. It will let you pick a neighborhood based on the attractions in the area, liveliness, and accessibility to best suits your needs.
Happy travels and Bon Voyage!
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- History & Gastronomy: 10 Best Things to do in Lyon FranceFebruary 11, 2020/
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