16 Must See places to visit in Paris

Pat
By Patricia Rios
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I hope this list of fun things to do in Paris proves helpful. Don’t hesitate to reach out if any questions arise—I wish you the best time! Those familiar with my blog know I don’t like small talk, so let’s get going!

Paris

Arc de Triomphe


The Arc de Triomphe stands as a monument to French heroism and bravery. Napoleon commissioned it after his victory at Austerlitz and completed it 30 years later, on November 1836, when Queen Victoria officially inaugurated it. Queen Victoria formally inaugurated it

Names of generals who won battles during the Napoleonic Wars are inscribed on its Arc, with its Tomb of the Unknown Soldier boasting an eternal flame below it. With millions of tourists visiting annually, it is a powerful reminder of France’s strength.

Chez Janou Restaurant

Chez Janou is our go-to spot in Paris for delicious meals. Its casual and chic atmosphere allows locals and visitors to unite simultaneously—everyone feels at ease!

Food lovers may return to Paris more than once due to its delicious, affordable offerings. Since you never know what awaits you there, ensure your itinerary includes time for unplanned activities.

Arriving early at a restaurant is essential to securing a reservation for the following day. Since we could not reserve online or over the phone, we spoke with the host in person.

Les Deux Magots

Parisians have long qualified for the Olympic competition. I can understand their enthusiasm after leisurely afternoons (such as my vacation).

What is the Challenge at Hand?

Finding a seat at Les Deux Magots can be quite a task; you must wait until someone vacates a table before being seated yourself. Once inside, though, the experience of dining here becomes clear: nothing beats sipping rose on an evening in summer in Paris while people-watching!

Note: If Les Deux Magots becomes too busy during your visit, head one block over to Cafe de Flore (with lower prices and similar charm). Prices may differ, but the charm remains constant.

Eiffel Tower

Experience the Eiffel Tower at Sunset When constructed initially as part of the 1889 World’s Fair (imagine!), the Eiffel Tower was intended as a temporary fixture – no one could have predicted that it would quickly become a symbol of one of the most romantic cities on earth!

At dusk, this architectural wonder glistens in all its romantic glory. It is one of the most romantic things to do in Paris. After dark, its illumination creates a spectacular show of lights.

As you explore the town and discover local treats (bakeries and cheese stores!), park in the large grassy area near the tower for parking. I highly suggest an Eiffel Tower sunrise tour for added solitude as an unforgettable experience!

No visit to Paris would be complete without at least witnessing the Eiffel Tower in person, no matter the time of day you come.

Some readers have asked whether climbing the Eiffel Tower is worthwhile when visiting Paris for the first time. Based on my personal experience, it would likely not be beneficial. Although views may be excellent from up there, seeing it for yourself might not provide as satisfying an experience—I recommend skipping.

An honest warning about the Eiffel Tower: Don’t be misled into thinking visiting it is simple. It can be intimidating and disorienting, particularly at sunset when its Trocadero Garden and Plaza turn into a zoo!

Explore Le Marais


It is impossible not to fall in love with Le Marais in Paris; its charms can’t be resisted! Le Marais is irresistibly captivating, from charming restaurants and boutiques to cozy cafes.

Spend an unforgettable day exploring Le Marais of Paris! Start by relaxing at a cafe before visiting cheese shops or grocery stores to purchase picnic supplies. Then, head to Place des Vosges, where you will have an enjoyable afternoon of relaxation.

Explore the cobblestone streets and discover the Picasso Museum or boutiques. Once you’ve had enough fun exploring, rest in a cozy eatery for an enjoyable meal!

Place des Vosges.

Place des Vosges was planned in 1605 as one of Paris’ oldest squares; originally intended as a gathering spot for nobility and royalty, it stands out as one of its prettiest parks.

As part of our visit to Paris, we spent an entire day in Le Marais. We started our adventure at Place des Vosges, and after enjoying breakfast at one of the local cafes on a corner, we headed towards the Victor Hugo Museum, where his apartment had now been turned into a museum!

Are you familiar with his works ‘Les Miserables or Hunchback of Notre Dame? Well, why not tour his house for free?! His art is fantastic, and it makes for an outstanding museum.

Louvre Museum


A must-see on any list of things to do while traveling through Paris is visiting the world-famous Louvre museum, even if it means going against your preference and visiting only because of its fame. Even without museum goers among us, this destination should still be visited!

The Louvre was initially constructed as a palace before becoming a fortress and finally being designated a museum by 1793 – all within 17 years of our nation being founded!

Experience the Mona Lisa for yourself; its beauty will leave an everlasting impact. I believe The Coronation of Napoleon to be even more stunning. This massive painting depicting Napoleon’s coronation is one of the most breathtaking works I’ve seen (and I go to The Met in NYC regularly).

Although I understand the logic, I’m afraid I have to disagree that you can avoid visiting the Louvre when visiting Paris. While it might be chaotic and busy at times, why miss an opportunity to visit one of the largest museums in the world?

Helpful tip: You can purchase tickets to the Louvre Museum online through its official website while reading about 20 Amazing Things To See At the Louvre Museum.

The Champs-Elysees

Wander the Champs-Elysees. This French term, inspired by the Greek afterlife Elysian Fields, represents a paradise-like realm. A significant part of Parisian culture and history, the Champs-Elysees attracts tourists and locals and hosts events such as the Bastille Day parade and the Tour de France final stage finale.

The Avenue des Champs Elysees begins at the Arc de Triomphe and spans 1.2 miles. It features luxury shops and dining establishments. When visiting Paris, I like walking from the Arc de Triomphe to Tuileries Garden (about 40 minutes), allowing ample sightseeing time at a leisurely pace.

On the first Sunday of each month, the Champs-Elysees becomes car-free to reduce pollution and improve air quality. Only pedestrians and bicycles may use this route.

Montmartre


Visit Montmartre and Sacre-Coeur Basilica. Montmartre’s stunning Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris is a masterpiece of Romano-Byzantine architecture. Built at the end of the 19th century, it is still used as a place of worship today.

As soon as you arrive in Paris for the first time, make a point of visiting Sacre-Coeur. It provides some of the most breathtaking views of this great city. Navigating crowds can be challenging, so be wary if people offering trinkets harass visitors!

Sacre Coeur and its surrounding neighborhood are breathtaking, making it one of the top things to do in Paris. Just be prepared for large crowds.

Montmartre is a vibrant neighborhood teeming with locals, artists, and tourists – one Parisian street at a time! Wander through its streets, stopping at each storefront for breathtaking views.

Place du Tertre


Place du Tertre is an essential stop on any Paris itinerary, located within Montmartre under the watchful gaze of Sacre-Coeur. Here, talented artists offer original works ranging from caricatures and watercolor paintings to oils.

During last year’s trip to Paris, my wife and I discovered a gem I wish we had known about sooner: watercolor artwork by local Parisian artists could be purchased as souvenirs for just 40EUR; we cherished our purchase much more than simple keychains!

Luxembourg Gardens


Experience Royalty at the Luxembourg Gardens. Have you ever wanted to know what life would be like as a royal? Step one should be visiting the Luxembourg Gardens; Marie de’ Medici created them after Henry IV left her rich widowhood after their romance ended.

She wanted a change and decided that the Louvre no longer met her needs, so she hired an architect who designed a palace inspired by Florence Pitti Palace, where she was born.

This lavish garden, decorated in the style of Florence, was recently opened to the public—one of Paris’ best attractions! The gardens offer royally fit experiences for visitors of all ages!

As is widely known, France presented the Statue of Liberty as a gift. But did you know that its more miniature replica can be found at Luxembourg Gardens on its western side? There, you will also find its bronze counterpart.


Versailles Palace (for a Half-Day)


The magnificent Palace of Versailles is just 30 minutes by train from Paris. It was once home to Louis XVI before he departed for exile after the French Revolution of 1789. Following that eventful period, however, its official residence became a museum in 1837—an incredible site to see!

The palace features over 2,300 bedrooms, and its gardens span nearly 2,000 acres. Originally constructed as a hunting lodge for Louis XIII in 1623, its architecture under Louis XIV became an icon of French monarchy during the 17th and 18th centuries.

The highlights are the Hall of Mirrors, King’s and Queen’s State Apartments, Gardens of Versailles with beautiful fountains and statues, and the Palace of Versailles. Attracting over 7 million tourists annually, Versailles remains one of Paris’ premier cultural destinations – making it one of the top things to do on any visit!

Important Reminder: To avoid long lines at Versailles Palace in Paris during summer visits, be sure to book tickets in advance at this official website for booking tickets.

Add Paris Attractions to Your Itinerary


Pack a Picnic Along the Seine We’ve already discussed the must-see activities during a first trip to Paris; why not add local favorites?

Picnicking along the Seine is an idyllic way to spend a day in Paris. You can enjoy a glass of rose or beer while admiring the panoramic views.

Join the locals gathered on the banks! Play cards with your friends while sampling delicious cheeses and baguettes throughout the evening – nothing says Paris more than that!

Are there any romantic activities in Paris beyond simply strolling along its streets?

Tip: Early risers (you are fantastic!) should head down to the Seine River for sunrise views that surpass all others. Avoid crowds and appreciate stunning sunrise views.

Our honeymoon itinerary was limited, so we prioritized what to see and do in Paris. My partner loves history, so seeing Napoleon Bonaparte’s Tomb was on his list; I added it because I was interested in it, too!

Wow. Was I ever taken by surprise? Seeing Mr. B’s final resting place, located within Les Invalides abutting the Army Museum Museum de l’Armee, was entirely new. I couldn’t believe what was in store for me!

Napoleon’s Tomb is an essential stop when visiting Paris, regardless of your interest in history or not. Don’t miss this unforgettable sight!

Explore Musee d’Orsay


While the Louvre is unrivaled, my favorite museum in Paris is Musee d’Orsay. Housed within an old Beaux-Arts train station from 1848, constructed between 1898 and 1900, the Musee houses notable French artists.

At Musee d’Orsay, you can see an impressive roster of familiar names such as Manet, Renoir, Seurat, and van Gogh, as well as some lesser-known ones you may not yet be acquainted with. Both museums are masterpieces worth visiting.

Add this experience to your Paris itinerary – you might enjoy it!

Notre Dame Cathedral and free things to do 


Now, let’s move on to enjoying Notre Dame Cathedral. Let’s get right down to business. Construction began on Notre Dame (Our Lady in French) Cathedral in 1163 and continued through 1260! Take a moment and appreciate how far this project went — 1163 started construction but finished almost 100 years later!

Notre Dame Cathedral was severely damaged during the French Revolution, and many religious images were destroyed. Yet tradition prevailed, and this architectural marvel continued to serve as a place of worship and host funerals for former French presidents and Napoleon’s coronation ceremony!

Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the finest examples of French Gothic Architecture and should be on everyone’s must-see when visiting Paris for the first time. Unfortunately, due to ongoing renovations following a devastating fire, its doors are closed until further notice; you may still enjoy viewing its exterior!

Add this experience to your list of things to do in Paris! It won’t disappoint.

Shakespeare & Company


One of Paris’s longest-standing bookstores, founded by American George Whitman in 1951 as an English-language bookstore, is Shakespeare & Co.. Here, you’ll find books from authors and readers. It serves both writers and readers of English!

Le Mistral was originally the name of this bookstore. By 1964, however, Whitman changed it to Shakespeare and Company to honor Sylvia Beach – whom he admired and established its first Paris location in 1919.

At its height, she hosted writers from abroad—Joyce Hemingway, Stein Fitzgerald, and Eliot were just some of those present—offering to house each one for help at her store in exchange for housing them in return.

This charming bookstore boasts centuries of history but is also an ideal venue for romantic activities in Paris that you won’t soon forget. Next door lies an adorable cafe offering midday caffeine fixes!

“I wanted this bookshop to feel like an open book in its own right, with each room representing a chapter of an imagined tale.” I encourage people to open its doors, like opening up an imaginary novel from within their imaginations.

My husband and I conducted extensive research before visiting Paris for our honeymoon. Flea markets in France are well-known around the globe, and we found visiting them was an enjoyable way to see more of the city.

Stated: We stopped by to explore the various stalls, shops, and galleries filled with exquisite art and trinkets, only to be surprised by their prices – to our great relief, almost everything could fit within our budget, and we even managed to negotiate two vintage prints down to only 40 euros each!

As always, wandering the area was enjoyable – for antique lovers, this should be on your itinerary in Paris!

Paris can be an expensive city, and eating out can quickly add up, so it’s key to understand which restaurants are worth your while. Below is a short list of my favorites from our trip.

Pat

Patricia Rios

I have been writing makeup and beauty content for more than ten years. My passion is to uplift you, my reader, to feel better about yourself.

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