After several trips to the French capital it is common to have the feeling of not having finished seeing all the must-see places; the good thing about Paris is that the city is always waiting for you. Here are 20 things about Paris that you will always remember.
1. Visit the Eiffel Tower, the Trocadero and the Champs de Mars
Without a doubt, the emblem of Paris is the tower that many Parisians once rejected as an aesthetic aberration for the city. Today no one can imagine a first visit to Paris without climbing the Eiffel Tower. If you're lucky, you'll first spot it from the plane, then look for the lights of the Eiffel Tower at night on the horizon walking through nighttime Paris, and finally, you're sure to go for the obligatory photo from the Place du Trocadéro.
Getting to the Eiffel Tower is easy, but what do you need to know if you want to go up? First of all, as with most tourist attractions in Paris, tickets to the Eiffel Tower: it is best to book them in advance to avoid the queue at the ticket office. When buying the tickets the first thing you have to decide is whether you want to go up only to the second floor or to the top and whether you want to do it by elevator or by stairs. The price of tickets for the Eiffel Tower varies depending on what you decide.
In either case you will have the option to take a guided tour of the Eiffel Tower or buy the combined ticket with a pack of the Eiffel Tower and a cruise on the Seine to save money.
You will love the views from the Eiffel Tower, both during the day and with the city illuminated (to do it both ways without having to go up twice, the best time to go up is at sunset), but don't forget to visit the surroundings and even eat at one of the restaurants near the Eiffel Tower after your visit. On one side of the Eiffel Tower you have the Champs de Mars, where you can lie down in summer for a picnic, and on the opposite side, you have the Trocadero gardens.
Here are some tips to make the most of your visit to the Eiffel Tower to make the experience even better.
2. Get cultured at the Louvre Museum and relax in the Tuileries garden
Take a walk along the banks of the Seine, reach the Tuileries gardens that precede the Louvre Museum, sit and read a book in the chairs surrounding its huge fountains.... For me, it is one of the best Parisian experiences. By this I mean that, if the Louvre's art collection is one of the most extensive and renowned in the world, the walk to the Louvre and the museum's surroundings, including the glass pyramid through which you enter, has nothing to envy.
Once you have enjoyed the area (and don't forget to see it at night) you can plan your visit to the museum. Among the best works of the Louvre you will find Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, the Victory of Samothrace, Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People or the Code of Hammurabi. The time you need to see the Louvre is different depending on what you want to deepen, but I do not recommend less than three hours.
Select a day and a time slot for your visit (as for the hours of the Louvre museum you should know that on Tuesdays is closed and on Wednesdays and Fridays opens later) and, above all, buy Louvre tickets in advance because the queue to access the box office can last hours.
Do not rule out the guided tour of the Louvre to make the most of the collection (if you go to the Louvre with children you will also find special tours for them) and avoid holidays when the influx of people is even greater than usual, these days there may be discounts on the price of tickets to the Louvre, but in my opinion it will not be worth it because the influx of the museum will be too much to enjoy it with tranquility.
Finally, do not forget to visit the Louvre museum store because in it and in the subway shopping center you can find real wonders. Here are some recommendations for places to eat near the Louvre Museum.
3. Stroll through Montmartre and visit the Sacre Coeur
You've probably read stories about bohemian Paris and the painters and artists who flocked to the city at the dawn of the 20th century. All these stories took place in the Montmartre neighborhood, which today, surprisingly, has not lost that special charm that makes it the most visited neighborhood in Paris.
You will find this neighborhood in the north of Paris, away from the center, but well served by the Paris metro (Blanche, Pigalle or Anvers stops on line 2). The main points of interest are the Sacre Coeur, the Moulin Rouge and the Place des Painters, but the real essence is to walk its streets and cafes knowing their stories. I always recommend a guided tour of the area.
4. Enjoy a show at the Moulin Rouge
To get to the Moulin Rouge, you must enter the bohemian quarter of Paris. In the lower Montmartre, surrounded by erotic stores and neon lights, you will find the most famous cabaret in Paris, known especially for the posters of Toulouse Lautrec or the cancan dance.
Today some people think that the Moulin Rouge is a museum, but no: it still operates as a nightclub that you can attend buy tickets for the Moulin Rouge:. The price of the Moulin Rouge show is not cheap, but the experience is worth it. Whether you attend the dinner or decide to grab a bite to eat near the Moulin Rouge, don't forget to visit at night to see it lit up and feel the true character of the area.
5. Stroll around Notre Dame Cathedral
It's inevitable to refer to one of Paris' most iconic monuments without wincing a little and mentioning the flames that devoured the structure on April 15, 2019.
Although you won't be able to go up to see the gargoyles guarding Paris from its towers, Notre Dame Cathedral is under restoration and you can walk over to the Île de la Cité to visit it from the outside and take a stroll around. If you are a book lover, do not forget to visit the most wonderful bookstore in the world, located a few meters from the cathedral: Shakespeare and Co.
6. Discover the unknown Sainte Chapelle
It has always struck me how the Sainte Chapelle goes so unnoticed by tourists visiting Paris. This church is located just a few meters from Notre Dame and stands out for its impressive stained glass windows. It is worth entering to see the spectacle of light and crystals that, precisely because it is little known, can be enjoyed with more peace and quiet than in more crowded churches like the Sacre Coeur or Notre Dame.
7. Take a guided tour of the Opera building in Paris
Another emblematic building is the Opera Garnier. The shows that were held in this magnificent building (you must see it both day and night, illuminated) concentrated the elite of French society and politics and those stories will tell you when you visit its sumptuous corridors and its performance hall. During the day, you can visit the building by buying tickets for a guided tour at the Opéra Garnier: and if you are in Paris at night, be aware that concerts and shows are still held there.
8. Cross the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysées
North of the Seine and in the middle of the Place Charles de Gaulle is the famous Arc de Triomphe in Paris, which you can visit from below or climb to see the city from above. If you do the latter, you will see that the skyscrapers of the Defénse de Paris (the business district), the Arc itself and the pyramid of the Louvre form a perfect straight line.
You can also take a stroll along the Avenue des Champs Elysées (if you visit Paris at Christmas time you will see that the decoration of the trees is a marvel) browsing the many shop windows that line both sides of it.
9. Stroll through the Luxembourg Gardens
Paris is a city of large green spaces and one of the most well-kept and also one of the most visited is the Luxembourg Gardens, south of the Seine River. Its design, fountains and flowers are worth a visit, but don't just go there to do the tourist check: sit and read, buy an ice cream and watch the daily life of Paris go by in this park. The hustle and bustle of Paris stops in these impeccable gardens within which you'll also find the palace that gives them their name.
10. Fall in love with the Musée D'Orsay
After the Louvre, this is the most visited museum in Paris and, for many people, their favorite. The Musée d'Orsay has works by Monet, Rodin, Cézanne or Gauguin among its collection, it is distributed on several floors and its layout is perfect for a visit.
In the center of the Musée d'Orsay there is a main gallery with statues and sculptures and bathed in spectacular light; on the sides of it the different rooms are continuously distributed. The smaller crowds compared to the Louvre allow you to enjoy this visit at your leisure (I recommend you set aside a couple of hours). Read more about this and other museums in the guide to the best museums in Paris.
11. Have fun at the Pompidou Museum
In a city as cosmopolitan as Paris, contemporary art has a lot to say and a visit to the George Pompidou Museum is a good proof of that. In the Pompidou you will see one of the largest collections of contemporary art in Europe with works by Duchamp, Kandinsky, Picasso and Matisse, but also original assemblies of other authors that will make you have a good time during the visit.
The Pompidou is a museum to have a good time, have fun and enjoy art while learning, that's why I always say that the Pompidou is an ideal museum to visit if you travel to Paris with children. Read more in this article about the best museums in Paris.
12. Visit Napoleon's tomb at Les Invalides
Near the Champs de Mars is the architectural complex of Les Invalides. It certainly catches the eye with its large golden dome, but what's really in that building? The answer is a military museum and a church that contains the mortal remains of Napoleon. If you are interested in the eras of the French Revolution and World War II, here you will find a huge collection of weapons and objects related to those periods.
13. Stroll through the Latin Quarter and Pantheon
Neoclassical style and inspired by the Roman Pantheon, is one of the main buildings of the Latin Quarter. Its subway galleries or its high vault are the main attractions of the guided tour that can be done inside, but seeing it from the outside and, incidentally, walk the streets of this area is worth it.
14. Climb the observation deck of the Montparnasse Tower
South of Paris you will find one of the best viewpoints in Paris from which you will get fantastic views of the city. The Montparnasse Tower is not on this list because it is particularly beautiful, far from it (in fact, it breaks the Parisian skyline), but the views from there are worth it both because of the height (it is not as high as the Eiffel Tower, so you can see the city in more detail) and because you do not see the tower itself.
15. Take a guided tour of Paris
When you have little time in a city or you are just passing through, my recommendations will always be twofold: hire a transfer from the airport to save time on the idea and on the way back and, if you can only choose one tourist activity, choose a guided walking tour of the city center. In Paris, due to the size of the city, there is a lot to choose from and the tours are usually organized covering the best neighborhoods of Paris.
This article on the different guided tours you can do in Paris summarizes the most interesting ones. For example, the night tour of Paris can be a very good opportunity to see the city illuminated, but do not rule out any area of the city, each neighborhood has a different charm!
16. Relax during a cruise on the Seine River
Taking a boat ride on the Seine is one of the most popular activities in the French capital. The layout of the city's monuments allows you to see many of them from the river and this type of cruise is a perfect opportunity to do it in an original and relaxed way.
Due to its great demand, there are different options such as a dinner cruise on the Seine or a night cruise on the Seine, suitable for all budgets. We tell you all about them in the practical guide on the best cruises you can do on the Seine.
17. Go back to your childhood at Disneyland Paris
You can hardly be objective in this recommendation: we all have a child inside and many of us love amusement parks, especially theme parks and especially Disneyland. Both children and adults have a long list of things to see and do at Disneyland Paris.
If you go with children it is an almost mandatory visit. If you are not going with children, but you are going to spend several days in Paris, I recommend that you take advantage of a getaway. It is easily accessible from the center of Paris and the experience for movie and attraction lovers is worth it. If you are thinking of making this visit, I recommend that you read the article on how to buy tickets for Disneyland: and that you consult both the Disney park opening hours and how to get to Disneyland from Paris. A good planning is key to save time (you will lose enough in the queues for many of the attractions of Disney parks) and money (keep in mind that eating inside the Disney park is already an extra expense) in this experience.
As for the time, depending on the days you spend in the park, the tips to visit Disneyland Paris will be different. I leave you with this list that, regardless of the option you choose, will be helpful:
- What to see and do in Disneyland Paris in one day
- What to see and do in Disneyland Paris in two days
- What to see and do in Disneyland Paris in three days
- What to see and do in Disneyland Paris in four days
Finally, if you want my opinion on what is the best time to visit Disneyland Paris, I have it clear: visiting the Disney park at Christmas or living the magic of Disneyland at Halloween are the best options.
18. Travel back in time from the Palace of Versailles
We all know the history of the rise of absolutism and its fall with the French Revolution, but visiting the Palace and gardens of Versailles is to relive it in each of its rooms. History aside, a visit to Versailles is a must both for the sumptuousness of the palace and its impressive gardens.
Any excursion to the Palace of Versailles from Paris: it will take you almost a whole day and you can get to Versailles from the center of Paris by train or hire an independent transport and a guided tour.
When planning your visit check the opening hours of the Palace of Versailles, but keep in mind that the queues to buy tickets to the Palace of Versailles are about two hours minimum; book your tickets in advance will save you precious time that you can then devote to everything there is to see inside the Palace of Versailles.
If you have decided to take what is one of the best tours from Paris, you will find these tips for visiting Versailles useful (also these others for visiting Versailles with children) and this post on where to eat in Versailles.
19. Tour Paris by bus
It may come as a surprise to some that one of the items on this list is the recommendation to use a sightseeing bus. We are going to give two reasons and both have to do with the type of city that Paris is. First, when the city is as large as this one is, it is very difficult to get around it on foot, at least in a single day.
Therefore, using the tourist bus is the perfect way to cover a large area of the city in a short amount of time, something I consider ideal for those who are short on time or want to take a general tour of the city. Also, if you buy the Paris Pass tourist card, the tourist bus is one of the included attractions.
Secondly, comfort is a factor to consider; Paris is a beautiful city and sometimes you just want to look around without taking long walks at the end of a tiring day. The panoramic conditions of this type of bus are perfect for that. Here is more information about the Paris sightseeing bus.
20. Visit the catacombs of Paris
If you have fallen in love with Paris on the surface, you are missing the culmination of your trip: to know the subway Paris. The catacombs of Paris are an exciting journey through the past of this city and certainly a visit more than interesting if you want to learn more about its history. Be careful, because inside the humidity is quite cold.
Tips to make your trip to Paris as spectacular as the city itself
There are many tips I can give you for traveling to Paris, from the best restaurants in the city to places to eat the best crepes in Paris to recommendations for getting around the center of Paris. However, experience tells me that the first thing you have to consider is when you are going to visit the city and for how many days.
The best of traveling to Paris in every season
Surely one of the first questions you ask yourself when planning your trip is what is the best time to visit Paris. Although it sounds cliché, each season of the year (for example) has its good things; something that is not uncommon in a city the size of the French capital.
- The best of traveling to Paris in summer
- The best things to do in Paris in winter
- Best things to do in Paris in spring
- The best of traveling to Paris in autumn
What to do in Paris month by month
For tastes, colors. My favorite time to visit the city is Christmas, both for the Christmas markets you can find in Paris and the Christmas lights that you will find both in the center and in the different neighborhoods of Paris. However, as with the seasons of the year, every month has its charm in the city of light:
- What to do in Paris in January
- What to do in Paris in February
- What to do in Paris in March
- Things to do in Paris in April
- Things to do in Paris in May
- Things to do in Paris in June
- Things to do in Paris in July
- Things to do in Paris in August
- Things to do in Paris in September
- Things to do in Paris in October
- Things to do in Paris in November
- Things to do in Paris in December
How long will you be in Paris?
I'm not going to fool you: being in Paris for less than four days means that there are things you won't see and that's a real shame. Does that mean you can't get a feel for the city in less time? Not at all, you can always come back and if you follow these guides you will find things to do in Paris from one day to two weeks:
- Itinerary to visit Paris in one day
- Itinerary to visit Paris in 2 days
- Itinerary to visit Paris in 3 days
- Itinerary to visit Paris in 4 days
- Itinerary to visit Paris in 5 days
- Itinerary to visit Paris in 7 days
- Itinerary to visit Paris in 15 days
Transfers between the airports of Paris and the city
The last point is probably one of the most boring, but also one of the most important. Do you already know which airport to get to? Chares de Gaulle is the closest to the center and Beauvais the farthest, but from any of the three you can save time if you hire the transfer (either to go or to return) in advance.