Top Tourist Attractions and Things to do in Paris (France)
Oh, Paris! The dream destination of every girl (and boy – don’t deny it, guys!). Without a doubt, the sweetest agony is to decide about the things to do in Paris. Once your plane lands or your bus drops you off at the Porte Maillot, your blood starts rushing in your veins in excitement. Up until the point when you hear the first French words and see the endless sea of foreigners.
There is a way to avoid fellow tourists, lining up for hours long in front of the building of the Conciergerie. In fact, Paris has a surprisingly versatile population who already know the tried and tested ways of living the high life in the French capital – without batting an eye on the tourist’s funny behavior.
As an international venue and home for business, culture and pretty much everything else as well, the faces you see coming and going in Parisian streets during the day represent fairly every continent and nationality in the world. Despite their appearance, don’t be surprised that many of these expat-looking people speak perfect French in front of you in a shop or as you wait in the underground. Many of them are long-term assimilated expats and tolerate your slow motion moves as you marvel at a monument or try to decipher the French station names of the metro.
Since in Paris almost everyone has to put on the “Parisian” mask, it’s relatively easy, at least feasible to blend in and pretend you are a local, too – no one will bat an eye as long as you pronounce a few words perfectly. To add to all of these, there are also free things to do, so, enjoy! Other than this, there are so many amazing locations along the Parisian neighborhoods that have tons of amazing sightseeing opportunities, read this post about where to stay in Paris to find out where to book your accommodation.
When deciding what to see in Paris, don’t forget about the free and easily accessible places; usually, they are within a stone’s throw from each other. Don’t miss out on the Paris tourist attractions; there is a reason this beautiful destination in Europe rules the post-card game with images of the Notre-Dame and the Louvre.
Among Paris’ top attractions, the Notre Dame, the Eiffel-tower, the Sacré-Coeur, and the Louvre are the absolute must-see spots. Some of these Paris sights are free for students, and visitors rotate surprisingly fast, so it would be a shame to avoid them just because of the crowd. Once you’ve made all the pictures in all possible angles to document and prove your family and friends that you indeed visited one of the most picturesque places in Europe, dive into the Paris activities for tremendous fun and embarrassment.
Are you ready for your trip? How about check out this post about the top hostels in Paris for solo travelers!
With all that said, here is a list of the things to do in Paris on various Paris sightseeing tourist spots. And feel like a true Parisian who knows where to go in Paris to enjoy life to the fullest.
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- Parisian New Years Eve of 2012 and The After Effect
- CouchSurfing Experience in Paris – exploring with locals!
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Table of Contents
- 1 Experiences and top things to do in Paris, France
- 1.1 Visit the signature Sorbonne area of the Quartier Latin
- 1.2 Check out the marketplaces in the Bastille area
- 1.3 Taste macaron – don’t leave without trying this yummy dessert!
- 1.4 Wander around the streets of Montmartre
- 1.5 Head to the Ile de la cité and the Shakespeare and Company
- 1.6 Nightlife along the Seine and the high-end art spaces
- 1.7 Chill at the Luxembourg garden
- 2 Top Landmarks and attractions in Paris, France
- 2.1 The Louvre
- 2.2 Musée d’Orsay
- 2.3 Eiffel Tower
- 2.4 Notre-Dame de Paris
- 2.5 Palace of Versailles
- 2.6 Hôtel des Invalides
- 2.7 Musée de l’Orangerie
- 2.8 Centre Georges Pompidou
- 2.9 Arc de Triomphe
- 2.10 Sainte-Chapelle
- 2.11 Musée Marmottan Monet
- 2.12 Place de la Concorde
- 2.13 Place des Vosges
- 2.14 Musée Rodin
- 2.15 Sacré-Coeur
- 3 Practical information and Paris travel tips
- 4 Where to stay in Paris?
- 5 Short on time? Go sightseeing in Paris on a tour!
- 6 Are you on Pinterest? Pin these for later read!
Experiences and top things to do in Paris, France
Visit the signature Sorbonne area of the Quartier Latin
When it comes to Paris sightseeing, everyone advises and says that the Quartier Latin area is the most stuffed with history and lifestyle attractions. Giving a home to the renown University, the Sorbonne, and the Panthéon, these lively streets are indeed the best places to see in Paris for those who love total immersion into a nation’s history and culture.
Along the boulevard St. Michel we can easily bump into a myriad of boutiques and shops, but if one prefers the intimate marketplaces and exotic restaurants to the urban metropolis face of the city, the rue Mouffetard is one of the places to visit in Paris. The street is a long-time home of restaurants and cafés, shops and the traditional daily market. Locals love and frequent these friendly places; you’ll likely see a few Parisians casually walking around on a Sunday and have lunch with the family here.
Check out the marketplaces in the Bastille area
A “tour highlight” and “mandatory” – just a few keywords they drop around in traveling forums about this timeless tradition that belongs to these streets. Every Thursday and Sunday hundreds of stalls offer their products of all kinds. The Bastille’s is a traditional market, so you will likely find the cheapest groceries here, but from old vases to ancient-looking newspapers and theater posters, you can get literally anything you want. Train your bargaining skills! The Bastille market is the unofficial downtown of discounts and one of the must-visit top sights in Paris.
Taste macaron – don’t leave without trying this yummy dessert!
Most travelers are busy with planning what to see in Paris – and they miss the point by not asking: what to taste? See, French cuisine is famous for a reason. It’s totally understandable if you are not into happy meal-sized portions that cost a fortune, but you can’t leave the city of light and macaron without having a bite of the French way of life, kind of must do in Paris.
Ladurée, Pierre Hermé, Gérard Mulot – no, they are not fashion designers, but the ultimate masters of the macaron. Put visiting some of their shops on your checklist if you want to taste these flavors you just can’t get to know anywhere else. These crunchy yet soft and sweet sandwiches are not only unbelievably cute and stylish but also the tastiest trademark desserts of Paris you can get.
Wander around the streets of Montmartre
For the lovers of fine arts, the Montmartre is the Paris points of interest and one of the most important places to visit in Europe. Probably the greatest collective of artists on the continent, these streets were home to countless designer homes and workshops – ateliers –, as well as to saloons and clubs. The spirit and art of the Belle Époque unfolded right in these streets: Les Nabis’ work blossomed here, Van Gogh, Matisse, and Degas were introduced to artist communities in these workshops. Renoir, Picasso, and Modigliani frequented and rented a place called Le Bateau-Lavoir at the beginning of the century – actually, quite a few masterpieces were conceived and realized here. The Montmartre commemorates of this era with numerous museums and art venues, so if you are into arts, don’t pass by these streets rich in history.
Head to the Ile de la cité and the Shakespeare and Company
The Ile de la cité is a tiny island and top Paris tourist attractions on the Seine, not far away from the Notre Dame. For Parisians, it’s not a big deal if they bump into a celebrity downtown, but as a visitor, allow yourself to be enthusiastic about the stars of this city. They say that the Ile de la cité is their home, so casually walking around in these streets might be a surprising and exciting adventure.
If you are clueless about what to do in Paris to meet some more celebrities, pop over to the other bank of the river and visit the famous Shakespeare and Company. This bookshop is more than an actual bookshop, top Paris sightseeing spot: of course, you can buy a book here, and they will stamp their logo on the head of Shakespeare on the first page of it, but there’s more to this place than just buying. If you are lucky, you will arrive right in the middle of reading or a literary event, at least, and the place will be full of poets and writers. Good luck to recognize them all!
Nightlife along the Seine and the high-end art spaces
Even if the most sophisticated art spaces and museums are not the only top Paris attractions, the area of the Palais the Tokyo and the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais is a significant bit of the city; especially when it comes to wandering around and thinking about the things to do in Paris at night. The Champs-Élysées is quite close, so these streets radiate class and the high life even during the day – imagine the nightlife!
However, the most exciting clubs may not be on the boulevard, but closer to the Seine! As you cross the bridges downtown, you will see the crazy parties all along the banks of the river – if you are looking for an unforgettable night, discovering these venues is among the top things to do in Paris! One of the most famous floating sensations is the Batofar; another must see in Paris you’ll surely hear about, the Showcase is also close to the bank area. If you are more into pubs than discos, La Bellevilloise is your places to go in Paris: with the beautiful trees and Art Deco style, it’s a favorite for many electro and soft music folks.
Chill at the Luxembourg garden
Still in the Quartier Latin, but already representing a somewhat different lifestyle, the Jardin de Luxembourg is a popular park and places of interest in Paris. This vast green area with cultivated and well-maintained flower beds, spectacular fountain settings, cut and shaped bushes and trees – heck, they even have some pétanque-fields, a museum and a running trail in there – is beloved by not only by tired travelers but by the true locals as well.
The iconic iron chairs of the park have seen countless picnics, business meetings and even Rendez-Vous’ – as Paris is also the city of love, after all… If you are unsure about what to do in Paris when you are tired but want to experience a French way of relaxing, find a chair and lay back – you will already feel as if you could speak French in the next minute.
Top Landmarks and attractions in Paris, France
Starting as a medieval fortress, Louvre has gradually turned into a gallery of antique artworks and the collections of old art masters from the 1700s. So many stunning collections that you’d need weeks to admire turn it into a best of tourist attractions in Paris.
The art collection of Renaissance and Baroque art are always worth seeing. Other highlights include the Portrait of François I, the world famous Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci, Liberty Leading the People by Delacroix, and the majestic Gabrielle d’Estrées.
Musée D’Orsay resides in the boundaries of Beaux-Arts Railway Station and is considered as a triumph of Paris Sightseeing. This museum contains the vast collection of French art and sculptures from the mid-19th till 1914.
Once considered outdated for the modern rail industry, Musee d’Orsay has turned into an art museum not long ago. This museum also filled the gap between National Museum of Modern Art and the Louvre.
Being one of the largest art museums in the world and a bright Paris highlight, Musée d’Orsay contains extensive art collections like Bal du Moulin de la Galette by Renoir, Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe by Manet and The Card Players and Apples and Oranges by Cezanne.
The iconic landmark, the masterpiece of Paris tourist attractions was built in 1889 for the world fair. This tower stood at the height of 324 meters and was once the tallest building in the world before the completion of Millau Viaduct in 2004. Known around the world; this tower hardly needs an introduction.
If you are visiting Paris for the first time, Eiffel tower should be on your checklist. Almost 7 million tourists visit Eiffel tower in a year. While most of them go up to the first and second levels where cafes and restaurants are located, you should aim for the third as its Europe’s highest observation deck at the height of 276 meters.
Notre-Dame de Paris
The most delicate structure of the Gothic architecture and the most beloved Paris tourist spot, Notre-Dame is a medieval cathedral whose construction started in 1163 and ended in a period of almost 200 years.
The perfected tower of Notre-dame rises in the east from Île de la Cité in the Seine and dominates the sky. There are way too many reasons to visit this exotic cathedral starting from the marvelous sculptures on the facade one of which is the famous gargoyles.
Also, the decorated windows, illuminated glass panels, the enshrined bell and the view from its tower are just memories of a lifetime.
Palace of Versailles
One of the most breathtaking Paris attractions, Versailles Palace was once a hunting lodge. In the next century, this palace was turned into a compendium of power perfectly featuring the ancient French regime.
The famous French formal garden in front of this palace was perfected by Andre Le Notre, and the touch of artistic sense of Charles Le Brun in this palace answers what to see in Paris.
The luxuriant apartments along with the Hall of Mirrors are worth seeing for the visitors. And don’t forget the Royal Opera, Neptune Basin, Petit Trianon and the Grand Canal.
Hôtel des Invalides
Founded initially to house the destitute war veterans by Louis XIV, Hôtel des Invalides still fulfills its original goal serving as a retirement home for military men and women as well as other members of the armed forces.
For people who are excited to observe the French history from a military perspective, this hotel also confines museums with martial themes inside.
This Paris point of interest holds the famous Musée des Plans that was designed for military commanders to study the cities from a tactical perspective in the 18th,19th and 20th century.
The French National Military museum – Musée de l’Armée also resides here that presents the ancient canons, military uniforms, armors and other artillery equipment to the tourists.
Musée de l’Orangerie
The majestic modern art museum was built by Napoleon III and achieves a high point in the Paris tourist attractions. Monet donated his famous Nymphéas oil paintings to the French government in 1920, and they are displayed here in the oval rooms of this Grand Orangery.
These oil paintings remain as dominant as they were earlier with the addition of other art collections with time.
The collections of Chaim Soutine, Picasso, Sisley and Paul Cezanne, are also kept here.
Centre Georges Pompidou
Centre Georges Pompidou is a complex building in 4th arrondissement’s Beaubourg Area. The structure of this building can puzzle your mind and make you wonder for hours.
Within this center is a gigantic library and the famous music institute IRCAM. All that but the specialty of this complex is the world’s famous Musée National d’Art Moderne that is the 10th most visited art museum in the world and a compelling Paris attraction.
Arc de Triomphe
The triumph of Paris sightseeing – Arc de Triomphe lies at the western end of Champs-Elysées. This historic monumental arch was constructed to remember the victories and sacrifices of French Revolution and the Napoleon Wars.
The sculptures carved on its facade feature the historical war episodes from the late-1700s to the 1800s such as the Battle of Austerlitz and Alexandria.
Located within the confines of Palais de la Cité, Saint Chapelle is one of the finest of the Gothic architecture. The construction of this Paris highlight took just ten years and was completed in 1248.
The blue vaults decorated with fleurs-de-lis and the gold style redefines the architectural sense and mesmerizes the tourists. The artifacts of Christ’s Crown of Thorns were first placed here on the orders of King Louis IX before they were moved to Notre-Dame.
Musée Marmottan Monet
Initially set up as a repository for the works in the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte’s rule, the Marmottan received large art donations from Michel and the second son of Claude Monet. In turn, this repository became the most significant art museum with most of Monet’s collection in just one stroke.
The spell-blinding collections from the Napoleonic era include the famous Impressionist paintings remain safe in this museum and make it a Paris top tourist spot.
Place de la Concorde
The largest square in Paris lies between Champs-Elysées and the Tuileries Garden. The construction of this square was completed in 1772 and early on named as Place Louis XV.
The fountains created in the reign of Louis Philippe are worth seeing here. The structures representing the Rococo Louis Quinze architectural sense at the north give this square a whole new look while the 3500 years old obelisk remains the core of this beautiful Paris sightseeing spot.
Place des Vosges
Place des Vosges was designed and built in the 17th century and it offers all the old vibes for visitors to absorb. It is lined with red brick mansions and white stone quoins; this square has made Marais fashionable once and for all.
Visitors can either admire the fresh ambiance of the charming garden or take a look at the Victor Hugo’s mansion which is a museum itself.
The splendid workplace of August Rodin – Hotel Biron was converted into a museum after he died and all his magnificent art collections remained here including The Gates of Hell all await, The Kiss, The Thinker and The Burghers of Calais.
The famous Paris tourist attraction features all the antiquities that Rodin himself collected from Egypt and Rome as well as from artists like Renoir.
Sacré-Coeur is the world-known Paris sightseeing point at the top of Butte Montmartre hill and gives the tourists what we call the best view of Paris.
The largest mosaic of the world known as Christ in Majesty is fitted in the ceiling inside the apse. The tourists have to make their way up the Square Louise Michel to lay their eyes on this Romano-Byzantine designed Basilica.
When in Paris, you have a little time to spare if you wish to see all the sights. Paris points of interest are never ending with many beautiful places to discover, apart from the ones discussed above.
You can always have tickets booked in advance so that no time is wasted once you arrive. Some of the palatial sites are just on a minutes’ walk so you can always stroll on your feeling the quintessential charm of Paris.
Practical information and Paris travel tips
Why should you visit Paris?
Paris is famous as a romantic beautiful city in Europe. This city became one of the most visited popular destinations worldwide for the iconic Eiffel Tower. But besides that, there are a lot of artistic, historical and cultural landmarks in Paris. Paris the capital of France is also known as the City of Light and offers you a lot to explore during your visit. You’ll love the food, and will find ultimate fun while shopping a lot from many world famous fashion brands.
When is the best time to visit Paris?
- Summer (May to August)
- Summer is the highest season and you can expect big tourist crowds around this time of the year
- You can witness several local events, parades happening during this time in Paris
- The average temperature in the hottest month of July is 20°
- Autumn (September to November)
- September to October is the best time to Visit Paris. Tourists from European countries are a lot less and the locals are starting to get back to their usual days after the summer holidays
- The weather is starting to get colder at nights
- You can get free entries from many museums and can witness Mondial de L’Automobile show in October
- Winter (December to February)
- Winter in Paris isn’t so bad as snow is not much common. The temperature rarely goes down below 0°C
- It is comfortable to walk around (it keeps you warm) and explores other parts of the city
- There are lesser crowds as this is the low season for this city
- Spring (March to April)
- Also, the best time to visit Paris as the weather starts to be warmer
- Trees are starting to bloom and there’s more sunshine
- Fashion week starts in March
Do you need a visa for Paris?
France is part of the Schengen area and citizens of EU group of countries can freely enter while citizens of USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia can enter the country just with their passports and stay for 90 days. You can check our complete guide on how to get a Schengen visa and as well to see if you’re eligible to enter the country with just your passports or if you’ll need to apply for a visa prior entry.
Where to book your flights to Paris?
Check our handy-dandy guide on how to find the cheapest flights around the world – read it here.
Do you need an insurance?
Remember this: anything can happen! Read our take on why you need a travel insurance and how it can save you money when things go unplanned – read it here.
Where to stay in Paris?
Hôtel Mathis Elysées
Hôtel Mathis Elysées is a beautiful 4-star hotel. All rooms are nicely decorated and offer all standard facilities during your stay here. This hotel is very near to the famous Avenue Champs Elysées. The popular Arc de Triomphe and Grand Palais are also very near from Hôtel Mathis.
Hotel Trianon Rive Gauche
Hotel Trianon Rive Gauche is a 4-star hotel and located in the center of Paris. Major monuments and landmarks are near from the hotel. All rooms are nicely decorated and offer all standard facilities during your stay here.
MOB HOTEL Paris Les Puces
If you’re looking for a pet-friendly accommodation then MOB HOTEL Paris Les Puces is the best option for you. This hotel is near to Garibaldi Metro Station. All common facilities provided to the guests but breakfast is not complimentary.
Short on time? Go sightseeing in Paris on a tour!
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