The 25 Best Things To Do in Paris!

by | Mar 7, 2017 | Blog, Europe, France, Latest Posts

Beautiful, romantic, timeless. Paris is full to the brim of must see sights, world class museums, mouth watering food and exquisite wine. It’s the perfect destination to lose yourself for a long weekend. We’ve spent many days wandering the Paris streets, checking out its best sights, attempting to converse in broken French and embracing the energy of a city that embodies chic. Here’s our guide to the best things to do, the must see sights and experiences and the quirky hidden gems perfect for a two or three day stop in Paris. Enjoy!

Sightseeing in Paris: the Arrondissements

Paris is a sprawling city and we recommend planning your sightseeing by its districts, known as arrondissements, each consisting of separate Parisian neighbourhoods. The 1st arrondissement is in the historic centre of the city on the left bank of the Seine and the arrondissements are located clockwise from the 1st in a loop around the Seine.

Paris Sightseeing map

1st Arrondissement:

1 | Louvre

It’s a Paris rite of passage to walk through the Pyramid entrance of the Louvre en route to its most famous resident: the ever smiling Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. Within the 35,000 pieces of art it displays the Louvre hosts some incredible masterpieces: Rembrandt’s Bathsehda at her bath; Virgin and Child with St Anne, another da Vinci masterpiece and Poussin’s Four Seasons to name a few.

Paris sightseeing tip: while it’s absolutely worth seeing we’d describe the Mona Lisa as a victim of its own success: queues are long, bullet proof glass covers the masterpiece and security barriers mean viewing is from a distance.

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The Louvre Pyramid

2 | Pont des Arts: The love locks bridge

Ponts des Arts was Paris’ original love locks bridge: couples would engrave a padlock with their names, lock it to the railing and throw the key into the Seine. After a million declarations of love, the Parisian authorities started to cut away the locks as the bridge faltered under their weight. Parts of the bridge has been replaced with plastic perspex to prevent any future romantic gestures although many locks still remain making it worth a stop.

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Love Locks

3 | Sainte-Chapelle

With 15 windows each 15 metres high the 1,113 stained glass windows of Sainte-Chapelle make for a spectacular sight. The Gothic style chapel is at its finest on sunny days when the light streams in and illuminates the interior in a rainbow of colours. The life sized statues of the 12 apostles are also worth checking out.

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The stunning stained glass in Sainte-Chapelle

4 | Pont Neuf

Pont Neuf is the oldest standing bridge on the Seine and crosses from Paris’ right to left bank. It’s fast replacing Pont des Arts as the new love lock bridge after the former was boarded up to prevent further damage. Check out the 381 grotesque heads called mascarons that are carved in the bridge to ward off evil spirits.

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Pont Neuf

5 | Tuileries Garden

Located between the Louvre Museum and the Place de la Concorde the gardens were opened to the public in the 17th Century. The manicured gardens quickly took their place as the spot where Parisians flocked to for celebrations and relaxation and continue to represent Parisian life today.

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Tuileries Garden

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The Big Wheel

6 |Musée de l’Orangerie

Musee de l’Orangerie is one of the lesser known Paris museums but it is one of Paris’ hidden gems. The museum is home to Claude Monet’s water lilies painted nearby in Giverny as well as masterpieces from Picasso, Matisse and Cezanne.

4th Arrondissement:

7 | Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre  Dame de Paris, which translates as Our Lady of Paris, is one of the most famous churches in the world and one which is as beautiful from the outside as it is the inside. The artwork is fascinating with the gargoyles the highlight and the stained glass window beautiful. Climb the steps to the second floor tower for sweeping views of the city.

Paris sightseeing tip: fans of the novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame will love visiting this Cathedral where the story is set.

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Notre Dame at Christmas

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The stunning architecture

5th Arrondissement:

8 | Fontaine Saint Michel

The Fontaine Saint Michel is a grand fountain located in the 5th Arrondissement. It represents the battle between good and evil depicting the archangel Michael conquering the Devil.

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Fontaine Saint-Michel

9 | Shakespeare and Co 

The most famous bookshop in Paris, Shakespeare and Co, is a stones throw from Notre Dame and the Seine. Stacks of books line the shelves and fill every nook and cranny in the store and there are even some beds for overnight literary guests!

Paris sightseeing tip: Pop upstairs for a coffee and, if you’re lucky, a poetry reading.

10 | Arc De Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe proudly stands at the end of the Champs Elysee as Paris’ most famous monument and honours those who died for their country in war. The Arc De Triomphe sits in the middle of 12 converging avenues: the 10 lane 12 traffic road is so crazy to drive that each party are automatically deemed equally responsible for any accidents!

Paris sightseeing tips: Climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe for a splendid view. Two of our favourite people in the world got engaged here so if you’re feeling romantic you know what to do!

6th Arrondissement:

11 | Luxembourg Gardens

The Italian influenced Luxembourg Gardens are the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. The timeless gardens are split into English and French with a forest and pond separating the two. Statues are scattered throughout the park and the Medici Fountain is a highlight.

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Palais du Luxembourg, Luxembourg Gardens

Where to stay in Paris: Our favourite hotels

Luxury: For something extra special check out the Le Bristol Paris, we’ve eaten at the incredible 3 Michelin Star Epicure and didn’t want to leave: it’s now on our bucket list for an overnight stay!

Mid-Range: On our last visit we stayed in Hotel Le Six, an excellent 4* option in the heart of the Montparnasse / Latin Quarter and perfectly located for exploring the city

Budget: For a budget option check out Hotel Darcet in the 17th Arrondissement.

7th Arrondissement:

12 | Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is a Paris icon and dominates the city skyline. Gaze at it from afar, climb it, watch it twinkle in the night sky: whichever way you choose there’s no debating that the Eiffel Tower is the ultimate Paris must see!

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A Paris fave, the Eiffel Tower!

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Amazing from every angle!

13 | The Carousel at the Eiffel Tower

There are a few carousels dotted throughout the city but the most beautiful is on the Corner of the Pont d’Iéna and Quai Branly which sits under the stunning backdrop of the Eiffel Tower.

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Old school charm!

14 | Musee D’Orsay

Located on the left banks of the Seine, Musee D’Orsay is home to one of the world’s largest collections of Impressionist and post Impressionist works and the disused train station setting makes the museum a work of art in itself. Renowned paintings include Claude Monet’s Lunch on the Grass, Seurat’s Circus and Cézanne’s Apples and Oranges among numerous others.

Paris sightseeing tip: pop up to the cafe on the top floor for a break. The outdoor terrace has amazing views over the Seine as far as Montmartre.

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An amazing setting for a museum

15 | Napoleon’s Tomb

Napoleon, the legendary 19th Century Emperor of the French once described by the Duke of Wellington as worth 40,000 men, died in exile in St Helena in 1821. In 1840 his remains were returned to France and his tomb is housed with other French military leaders in Dôme des Invalides, a royal chapel and one of a series of buildings in Les Invalides which contains French military museums and monuments.

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Dôme des Invalides

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16 | La Maison de Serge Gainsbourg

The Parisian residence of the iconic French singer songwriter Serge Geinsbourg stands almost untouched over 25 years after his death and fans flock to see the graffiti covered exterior where the ever evolving tributes range from love letters to incredible street art.

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Tributes surround La Maison de Serge Gainsbourg

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The incredible street art

17 | The Rodin Museum

Rodin’s The Gates of Hell and The Thinker are two of our favourite sculptures and the Rodin Museum in Paris was top of our list to explore his greatest works. The museum is housed in a restored mansion surrounded by stunning sculpture filled gardens and both inside and out offer a fascinating insight into Rodin’s works.

Paris sightseeing tip: Paris’ national museums, including the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay and the Musée National Rodin are free on the first Sunday of every month (some museums restrict this to between October and March). Many of the museums also offer free entry to under 18s, under 25s who are EU residents, the unemployed and the disabled.

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The Rodin museum

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The incredible Gates of Hell

8th Arrondissement:

18 | L’église de la Madeleine

One of the most beautiful churches in Paris, Napoleon wanted the L’église de la Madeleine to be a pantheon in honor of his armies. The exterior is surrounded by 52 columns above which the Last Judgement is depicted. The inside houses a stunning organ and altar.

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19 | Pont Alexandre III

By far the most elaborate of Paris’ bridges, Pont Alexandre III is an extravagant mix of lamps, cherubs and nymphs with winged horses at either side and a healthy mix of lavish gold throughout!

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Pont Alexandre

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Stunning Pont Alexandre

20 | Champs Elysees

One of the most famous and beautiful avenues in the world, the Champs Elysees runs from the Louvre, through the Tuilerie Gardens before ending at the Arc de Triomphe.

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Chocolate waffles on the Champs Elysee

9th Arrondissement:

21 | Galeries Lafayette

The art noveau setting of the flagship store of France’s most famous department store makes it a tourist attraction in its own right. The highlights are the stunning stained glass dome and the panoramic views over Paris.

Paris sightseeing tip: pop up to the 7th floor roof top terrace for a spectacular view.

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The domed roof of Galeries Lafayette

14th Arrondissement:

22 | The Catacombs of Paris

Hidden deep below the city streets there are almost 200 miles of ancient mine shafts and underground tunnels lined with human skeletons representing over 2,000 years of Parisian history. A darker side of Paris tourism, it’s possible to explore a 2km stretch of the Catacombs of Paris, the final resting place of the remains of over 6 million Parisians.

Check out our visit to the Catacombs here!

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The Catacombs, not for the faint hearted!

15th Arrondissement:

23 | Montparnasse Tower

The Montparnasse Tower is Paris’ only skyscraper and the views of the Eiffel Tower are unbeatable. We love a night time visit when the city twinkles at our feet. Oh Paris, je t’aime!

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Oh hey there La Tour Eiffel!

16th Arrondissement:

24 | Pont de Bir-Hakeim: Inception Bridge

If Pont de Bir-Hakeim seems familiar that’s because it is. It was on this bridge that Ariadne created her first dream with Cobb in the movie Inception although the mirrors are obviously not part of the real life deal!

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Inception style!

18th Arrondissement:

25 | Montmartre

The quaint little village of Montmarte, full to the brim of cafes, restaurants, patisseries, souvenir shops and local artwork, is situated on the hill leading up to the Sacre Coeur. An artistic and romantic vibe lingers in the air and wandering through the streets of Monmartre feels like a nod back to Parisian times gone by.

26 | Sacre Coeur

Also known as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, the Sacre Coeur is an iconic Paris building perched atop Montmartre and marks the highest point in the city. Fed by the energy of the neighbouring Montmartre, the energy around the Basilica is fascinating as souvenir sellers and performers pop up in between the frequent visits by the French law enforcement.

Paris sightseeing tip: the views from the dome are spectacular so make some time to climb the 234 steps to the summit for one of the best vistas of Paris.

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The Sacre Coeur

20th Arrondissement:

27 | Pere La Chase Cemetery

Père Lachaise is the world’s most visited cemetery and, as well as being home to some of the most incredibly ornate graves we’ve ever seen, is the burial ground of many famous faces including Oscar Wilde, James Morrison and Frédéric Chopin.Over the years Oscar Wilde’s grave has attracted an almost cult following as visitors flocked to adorn the tomb with red lipstick kisses and declarations of love.

Check out our visit to Pere La Chase here

Paris sightseeing tip: Cleaning the lipstick marks from Oscar Wilde’s tomb resulted in irreparable damage and Wilde’s family repeatedly requested that his burial place should be respected. Eventually, in 2011, a protective barrier was erected in an attempt to preserve the tomb but we still spotted plenty of lipstick marks on the glass.

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Pere La Chase

The best of the rest!

28 | The Seine

The Seine is the heart of the city. Its banks are a UNESCO World Heritage Site (we’re obsessed!) due to the abundance of Paris history including its city greats, the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, lining the river. Crossed by stunning bridges and flanked by quirky market stalls there’s even a beach. The Seine is a treat to both travel on and alongside.

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The Siene

29 | Sip wine at a Parisian pavement cafe

Pavement cafes are a Paris institution and locals and tourists alike flock to their favourite terrace spot to while away the hours. Indulge in the Paris cafe culture with a glass of wine and watch the world pass by. Bliss!

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Paris cafe life!

30 | Enjoy a macaron at Ladurée

Famous for the rainbow array of delicate macarons it has long produced, Ladurée is a chic Paris patisserie and the birthplace of the aforementioned macaron!

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One of everything please!

Where to stay in Paris: Our favourite hotels

Luxury: For something extra special check out the Le Bristol Paris, we’ve eaten at the incredible 3 Michelin Star Epicure and didn’t want to leave: it’s now on our bucket list for an overnight stay!

Mid-Range: On our last visit we stayed in Hotel Le Six, an excellent 4* option in the heart of the Montparnasse / Latin Quarter and perfectly located for exploring the city

Budget: For a budget option check out Hotel Darcet in the 17th Arrondissement.

 

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