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.
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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 in Paris, so, enjoy!
Table of Contents
- 1 Visit the signature Sorbonne area of the Quartier Latin
- 2 Chill at the Luxembourg garden
- 3 Check out the marketplaces in the Bastille area
- 4 Taste macaron – don’t leave without trying this yummy dessert!
- 5 Wander around the streets of Montmartre
- 6 Head to the Ile de la cité and the Shakespeare and Company
- 7 Nightlife along the Seine and the high-end art spaces
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 top 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.
Here is a list of the things to do in Paris to appear and feel like a true Parisian who knows where to go to enjoy life to the fullest.
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Visit the signature Sorbonne area of the Quartier Latin
When it comes to what to visit in Paris, 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 of Paris are indeed the best 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 the place to go. 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.
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 in the city. 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.
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.
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.
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 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 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: 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 among Paris’ top 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 sensation is the Batofar; another must-go place 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 place: with the beautiful trees and Art Deco style, it’s a favourite for many electro and soft music folks.
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- Have you been to Paris?
- If yes, how did you like it?
- If not, whare the things to do in Paris you fancy?