Paris Discovery Guide

Top Paris Attractions

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Top 10 Paris Attractions

Planning your first visit to Paris?   If so, start with these top 10 attractions and legendary sightseeing destinations.  

These are the historical, cultural, and famous places everyone associates with Paris - the top sites to see in Paris for many visitors.

Don't feel you need to see all of them in one visit, especially you are here for just a few days. 

Several of these top Paris attractions, such as the soaring Eiffel Tower, the gorgeous Seine River, the monumental Arc de Triomphe, and even the gleaming white Sacre Coeur set high on a hilltop, are part of the Paris skyline and easy to spot from many places in the city, whether or not you actually visit.

Consider a quick day trip to one of the famous destinations just beyond the city, such as the Palace of Versailles or Disneyland Paris.

But also take time to stroll through an iconic neighborhood such as the Latin Quarter or Montmartre.  Relax in the beautiful Luxembourg Garden.  Take sunset cruise along the Seine.

Spend a few moments admiring Notre Dame Cathedral.   Right now, you can now view only the exterior due to the tragic 2019 fire.  But thanks to the massive restoration underway, part of the magnificent cathedral may be open to the public by 2024. 

And plan a visit to at least one of the most famous Paris museums  and experience their masterpieces in person.  See the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo at the Louvre, Van Gogh's Starry Night at the Orsay, or cutting-edge contemporary art at Pompidou . 

Finally, save some time to see other less famous and even "hidden" attractions in Paris, even if it means skipping some of the places on this page.  You can always visit on your next trip to Paris, and meanwhile, you'll have a variety of wonderful memories.

Because as Ernest Hemingway famously said, " . . . wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast."

Top photo:  Sacre-Coeur Basilica in Paris's Montmartre neighborhood, (c) Paris Discovery Guide

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1.  Eiffel Tower ( Tour Eiffel ) - The Number 1 Attraction in Paris

The Eiffel Tower seen from a Seine River cruise boat

Soaring high above the Paris landscape, the Eiffel Tower symbolizes Paris - and gives you spectacular city views from three levels.  For many visitors, going to the highest level of the Eiffel Tower tops their "essential sites to see in Paris, France" list, and for good reason.

Popular Ways to Visit the Eiffel Tower

  • Eiffel Tower Entry TIcket with Optional Summit Access - Skip the ticket line & use a faster "groups only" security line
  • Eiffel Tower Stairs Tickets - Skip the ticket line
  • Eiffel Tower Guided Tour by Elevator - Enjoy a wonderful lunch or dinner while enjoying views of the Paris skyline

Although you view see the famous landmark from many points in the city, nothing beats the thrill of going up to the observation platforms and watching Paris landmarks get smaller and smaller below you.

To capture a lifetime memory of your visit, book a professional photoshoot in front of the iconic monument.

Just want to view this famous Paris attraction?  A Seine River cruise or a guided bike tour of the city gives you the perfect way to see it plus lots of other famous monuments and museums located on the riverside.

More to Enjoy:  Restaurants and a champagne bar, a seasonal ice skating rink during some years, fascinating views through the transparent floor on the 1st level.

Paris Discovery Tip:  Crowds at the Eiffel Tower can be massive and waiting in line to get tickets can take up to 4 hours or more during peak months - get a skip-the-line priority entrance ticket:

More Ways to See the Eiffel Tower

2.  louvre museum ( musée du louvre ) - the most visited museum in the world.

Glass pyramid at the Louvre at night

The enormous Louvre Museum receives over 10 million visitors a year, making it the world's most visited museum and a top Paris attraction.

Much of this popularity stems from the Louvre's three famous masterworks, Leonardo di Vinci's Mona Lisa and two famous Greek statues, Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samot hrace (also known as the Winged Nike - yes, the inspiration for the popular athletic shoe brand!)

Popular Ways to Visit the Louvre

  • Louvre Masterpieces Tour with Reserved Tickets - Most popular choice 
  • Louvre Museum Skip-the-Line Guided Tour - Small group tour
  • Louvre Museum Timed Entry Ticket - Ticket only; no tour

But the Louvre offers you so much more to see, including a magnificent Egyptian collection complete with mummies, gallery after gallery of European paintings from the Middle Ages to the mid-19th century, and dazzling rooms of exquisite furniture, tapestries, and ornamental objects.

Outside, 20th century glass pyramids by I M Pei and a reflecting pool contrast with the ornate Renaissance architecture of the former royal palace.

Book a Louvre Museum guided tour with skip-the-line entrance:

More to Enjoy:  At basement level, you can view excavations of the original 12th century fortress that once stood in the Louvre's Paris location.

  • See popular Louvre guided tours and skip-the-line tickets from Get Your Guide
  • Find out what to expect on a guided tour of the Louvre

3.  Versailles Palace - The Most Visited Royal Palace in France

Versaille Palace's Hall of Mirrors

With more than 700 rooms, Versailles Palace is one of the largest in the world.   Famous for its royal occupants  from King Louis XIV to Marie-Antoinette, the glittering Hall of Mirrors, lavishly decorated rooms, and priceless art, Versailles Palace gives you an unforgettable glimpse of royal life when you visit. 

You can easily spend much or all of a day here.

More to Enjoy:   Magnificent gardens filled with statues, fountains, flowers, tree allées , and walking paths. 

  • Top things to see & do at the Palace of Versailles
  • Best guided walking and bike tours of Versailles from Paris
  • How to get to Versailles from Paris: 6 options
  • Where to stay near Versailles Palace

Paris Discovery Tip:  Versailles attracts huge numbers of visitors - in fact, the enormous chateau is the most-visited palace in France and one of the most famous in Europe.

Slow security check lines before you enter mean a 2-4 hour wait in line during most months of the year.  Although  skip-the-line tickets won't save you from every delay (you still have to go through security, although those lines ususally move quickly), they can certainly speed up your entry. 

But here's our "insiders" tip and strong recommendation:   Choose a guided tour if you want to save time and if your budget allows it.  Why?  Guided tours get to access a separate, much faster security line.

Choose one of these excellent guided tours and avoid the long wait in lines:

  • Versailles Skip-the-Line Half-Day Tour & Hotel Transfer  - Experience the lavish palace and gardens enjoyed by French kings and queens, including Marie Antoinette as an expert guide shows you the famous Hall of Mirrors, State Apartments, King's Bedroom, and more.  Find out more 
  • Versailles by Train Escorted Tour from Paris with Skip the Line Tickets - A guide meets you at a designated spot in Paris, escorts you on the RER train to Versailles, and takes you through the guided tour direct entrance to avoid the lines.   After lunch (on your own, or add on a gourmet 3-course lunch with wine when you book), you'll visit the Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette's personal domain and her quaint country "village."  After your tour, you'll take the direct train back to Paris. 
  • Full-Day Guided Tour of Versailles with Lunch - You'll travel with a guide in an air-conditioned luxury coach from Paris to Versailles, where you'll quickly pass through the guided tour security.  In addition to giving you a tour of Versailles Palace and its most important rooms, your guide will also take you through the Grand and Petit Trianon, the two smaller castles the French royalty usually prefered to spend their time.  You'll have a wonderful lunch at an onsite restaurant, and will have plenty of time to stroll through the magnificent gardens.

Want to risk Versailles without a skip the line ticket?   For example, if you plan to come after most people have entered - for example, mid-afternoon - lines usually move much faster. 

In that case, you can save money by getting the Versailles Palace & Gardens Full Access Ticket, which comes with an audio guide.  "Full access" means you also get entrance to Marie Antoinette's Petit Trianon palace and her "Hamlet" village, which are worth seeing.  

But if you're really short on time, you can save about 3 dollars with a Palace and Gardens-Only ticket.

Find more spectacular day trips from Paris

4.  Latin Quarter ( Quartier Latin )

Quiet street in the Latin Quarter in Paris

To experience an older Paris, spend some time discovering the charms of the Latin Quarter.

First settled by Romans in the 1st century, this famous Left Bank neighborhood has long attracted bohemians, scholars, and political protest.  Look closely, and you'll see traces of medieval Paris in the narrow, winding streets and older buildings.

Have a drink at the brasseries along Boulevard Saint Germain where Hemingway, Sartre, and Camus hung out during the 1920s, visit the tombs of French heroes and intellectuals at the Pantheon, and gaze at the timeless beauty of Lady and the Unicorn tapestries at the Cluny Museum.

More to Enjoy:  Explore the narrow winding side streets filled with old bookstores, tiny bistros, and quirky boutiques.   Visit the beautiful old churches filled with artistic treasures, including Saint Julien le Pauvre, dating back to the Middle Ages.  Go back even farther in time and visit a 1st century Roman arena, one of the Latin Quarter's "hidden treasures."

Paris Discovery Tip:  Unless you love huge crowds, avoid pedestrian-only Rue de la Huchette.

Find fun ways to explore the Latin Quarter

5.  Seine River - Beaches, Cruises, & More

Seine River and part of the Louvre, Paris

The Seine River flows through central Paris, defining the city's Right Bank to the north and the Left Bank on the south.  Île de la Cité, one of two small islands in the middle, is the historic heart of Paris with world-famous medieval masterpieces, hidden parks, and lovely 17th century enclaves.

You can enjoy the Seine in many different ways.  Walk along the banks and admire the beautiful bridges.  Check out les bouquinistes , the river-side booksellers along both sides of the Seine.  Explore the Parc Rives de Seine, the riverside pedestrian-only promenade from Place de la Bastille to the Eiffel Tower.

Cruise up and down the river on a tour boat to see Paris's most beautiful historic buildings and bridges from a unique perspective.  Dine and dance on a river-side barge.  Cool off in a floating swimming pool.

Visit Les Berges, the recreational area along the river on the Left Bank - it especially comes alive in the summer.

More to Enjoy:   From mid-July to mid-August, Paris Plages transforms the Right Bank plus other parts of the city into a sandy beach.

Paris Discovery Tip:   From the Seine, cruise up through the 15th century Canal Saint-Martin and Canal de l'Ourcq through the newly-trendy northeast part of the city.

Popular Seine River Cruises

Notre dame ( cathédrale notre-dame de paris ).

Notre Dame Cathedral viewed from the Left Bank of Paris before the fire

Built during the Middle Ages at the historic heart of Parison Île de la Cité , Notre Dame Cathedral embodies the splendors of Gothic architecture from its site overlooking the Seine River.

The devastating 2019 fire means you can no longer go inside to admire the hundreds of statues, sculptures, paintings, spectacular stained glass windows or climb up to the roof for closeup views of gorgoyles and sweeping city views. 

However, the ongoing repairs and restoration work is fascinating to see from the outside, plus you can also admire the high towers, flying buttresses, and other features from a safe distance.  

And there is good news:   The famous cathedral is now expected to partially reopen by December, 2024.

Best viewing location:  Left Bank of the Seine River.

6.  Montmartre and Sacré Coeur

Quiet lane in Montmartre, not far from Sacre Coeur Basilica

Once a separate village, Montmartre has been part of Paris since 1860 but its winding lanes, many trees, and picturesque hillsides still make it seem like a place apart.

You can stroll past the neighborhood's many cafes and cabarets, and imagine the artists, musicians, and writers who made it their home 100+ years ago when rents were cheap.

The most famous sight is the gleaming white Basilica of the Sacré Coeur, built in Italian Byzantine style and visible from most points in Paris.

Tourists often pack the areas around Sacré Coeur and the Moulin Rouge theater in Pigalle - but miss the most interesting parts of the neighborhood where you can find small art museums and parks, pedestrian-only lanes, and a couple of old-fashioned windmills.

More to Enjoy:   Go inside Sacré Coeur to see the beautiful mosaics.

Paris Discovery Tip:  If you're visiting in October, come to the harvest festival in Montmartre's still-producing vineyard

Discover the hidden gems of Montmartre

7.  Musée d'Orsay

Statues and golden clock at the Orsay Museum

Occupying a former train station, Musée d'Orsay contains a magnificent collection of world-famous Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art.  

Crowds pack the galleries holding the best-known masterpieces, especially those by Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Gauguin, and Van Gogh, whose Starry Night painting attracts the largest crowds of all.

More to Enjoy:  Sweeping views of Paris from the almost-hidden rooftop terrace.

Paris Discovery Tip:  Unless you are visiting during the slow months of the winter, join a guided tour if you want to get a look at the most famous paintings unobstructed by massive crowds.

What to see & do at the Orsay Museum

8.  Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe, Paris

The massive Arc de Triomphe is one of the most recognizable Paris attractions, commissioned in 1806 by Napoleon to honor his army's victories across Europe, although he was exiled and dead by the time of its completion 30 years later.

The Arc de Triomphe is surrounded by a busy traffic rotary where 12 major streets, including the western end of Champs Élysées, converge.  Although you can easily see it at a distance, you'll get the best views and experience when you're close to it.

Best Time to View:   On the first Sunday (a.k.a. "car-free Sundays) of each month when Champs Élysées bans cars and becomes pedestrian-only.

More to Enjoy:   Get a  ticket and climb the stairs to the observation deck at the top for 360 degree views of Paris.  At the base of the monument, visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and eternal flame to honor the unidentified French soldiers killed in World Wars I and II.  You can see its daily re-lighting every evening at 6:30pm.  Elaborate statues and bas relief carvings depicting Napoleon's battles cover large portions of the monument.

Get your skip-the-line Arc de Triomphe rooftop tickets now:

Paris Discovery Tip:   If you are in Paris on Armistice Day (November 11), Bastille Day (July 14), or New Year's Eve (December 31), don't miss the parades and celebrations on Champs Élysées that start at the Arc.  The Paris Marathon in April also starts and ends at the Arc, and the Tour de France also ends there in July.

Find out more about visiting the Arc de Triomphe

9.  Pompidou Center ( Centre Pompidou )

Exhibit in Pompidou Center, Paris

In a city filled with traditional architecture, Pompidou Center's edgy design featuring exterior walls of brightly colored tubes and exposed mechanical systems brought howls of derision when it first opened.  Half a century later, the building's design by architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers still stands out in the cityscape.

But inside (get a skip the line ticket before you go to save time), revolving exhibitions of top-notch contemporary paintings, sculptures, and video and sound installations account for the museum's immense popularity.

More to Enjoy:   A wonderful rooftop deck, reflecting pool, and restaurant overlooking the city

Paris Discovery Tip:  After your visit, walk around to the back of Centre Pompidou's right side to see Stravinsky Fountain, named after the composer and filled with 16 water-spraying moving sculptures that represent his music.  You can also see it if you look straight down from the rooftop deck.

Some bad news:  Centre Pompidou's structure needs critical major repairs that will require closing to the public, and the work is expected to take about 5 years.   Estimated closure currently is expected during summer or fall of 2025. 

So if you want to visit this unique and wonderful contemporary art museum, go now!!! 

Buy your Pompidou skip the line entrance ticket

10.  Luxembourg Garden ( Jardin du Luxembourg )

Statue and spring flowers in Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris

Towering chestnut trees, a tranquil pool where children (and teens and adults) float toy sailboats, and many benches for sitting among lush flowers and beautiful statues make Luxembourg Garden Paris's most popular park. 

And with 448 other city parks and 2 great forests to choose from, that's quite a distinction! 

Despite its number of visitors, Luxembourg Garden seldom seems crowded because its 60 acres are divided into many distinctive areas.  You can even play tennis here.

More to Enjoy:   A drink or lunch at the open-air cafe.

Paris Discovery Tip:   If you are traveling with children, check out the pony rides and puppet theater.  If you're not, snag one of the green metal chairs next to the reflecting pool at the Medici Fountain and enjoy a few tranquil moments of total relaxation.

Where to Stay in Paris near Top Attractions

Wondering which neighborhood to choose as your "home base" for your Paris visit?  See our recommendations based on the attractions you want to visit.

More Top Paris Attractions to See & Explore

Rodin museum (musée rodin).

Rodin's 'The Kiss' in the Musee Rodin - Photo (c) Patrick Tourneboeuf/OPPIC/Tendance Floue

Perhaps the most romantic museum in Paris and a top attraction because of its lush sculpture garden, location in a spectacular 18th century rococo mansion, and, of course, the sensual sculpture of two lovers in "The Kiss, the Rodin Museum gives you the opportunity to view the breadth and depth of French sculptor Auguste Rodin's boundary-breaking path from naturalism to modernism.

Plan to spend more time than you might expect in the beautifully designed garden, where flowers bloom almost year-round, lime trees scent the air with their leaves, and masses of roses burst into a riot of color in May and June, with some continuing to bloom through fall.  

The garden is also where you'll see Rodin's most monumental and evocative creations:  "The Thinker," "Walking Man," "The Gates of Hell," to name only a few. 

More to enjoy:  The onsite cafe/restaurant.

Tickets:   Get your ticket in advance, or use your Paris Museum Pass for admission.

Monet's Garden at Giverny & Other Day Trips from Paris

Monet's house & garden at Giverny

In addition to the Palace of Versailles, Monet's famous water lily ponds and garden at Giverny, the medieval abby at Mont Saint-Michel, Disneyland Paris, Normandy D-Day beaches, special Champagne-tasting tours, and gorgeous castles and chateaux are just a few of the other top attractions you can see on day trips from Paris.

You can even leave Paris in the morning and spend the day enjoying famous sights in  London,  sampling delicious wines and food at a château surrounded by  vineyards  near the city of  Bordeaux , or cruising along the picturesque canals of  Bruges, Belgium  - and still return to Paris in time for a late dinner.

Find out more about the best day trips from Paris.

Paris Food Tours, Wine Tastings, & More Culinary Adventures

Monet's house & garden at Giverny

Want to combine enjoying Paris's food culture - without a doubt, one of the city's most popular attractions - while exploring an iconic neighborhood, cruising down the Seine River, learning how to make macarons, visiting a street market, or sampl ing wine and cheese? 

We highlight 15 of the best tours, cruises, and classes devoted to food and wine (and even one on Paris's thriving craft breweries).  Check them out!

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

Whether you're a huge Disney fan yourself or traveling to Paris with kids who are, a visit to Disneyland Paris can be hard to resist, especially since it's only about a 45-minute train ride from the city and super-easy to reach. 

Especially if you have already visited Disneyland in the U.S., you may be wondering: "Is Disneyland Paris worth going to?"

Of course that's an individual decision, especially if you have a long list of things to do and you have only a few days here, but many people have visited Disneyland Paris would tell you, "Yes!"

The Paris parks are lot of fun and even though the amusement park attractions may seem familiar, there's a certain "je ne sais quoi" that's distinctly Parisian.  Plus, the on-site food is much better.  So think of it as a cultural experience - and go! 

Book your Disneyland Paris tickets:

Almost-Hidden Covered Passages

Skyline view of Notre Dame and its flying buttresses, spire, and towers before the 2019 fire

With spectacular glass roofs, elaborate Neoclassical, Art Nouveau, and even Art Deco decor , and luxury boutiques and cool cafes , Paris's 21 remaining late-18th and 19th-century covered passages give you a unique place to shop for artisan gifts, enjoy a casual meal, and soak up the historical details.

Each passage has its own personality, attractions, and ambiance - perfect for exploring on a rainy afternoon, or for discovering more about this fascinating layer of Paris urban history.

Find out more about the best covered passages remaining in Paris today

The Paris Skyline

Skyline view of Notre Dame and its flying buttresses, spire, and towers before the 2019 fire

Iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, and Notre Dame silhouetted against city rooftops and the sky make the Paris skyline one of the city's most memorable attractions.   But what are the best places to see it?

Some, such as the viewing platforms on the Eiffel Tower itself and the rooftop terrace at the Arc de Triomphe, will not surprise you.   But others fall squarely into the "insider secret" category - out-of-the-way places to view the Paris skyline that you may not discover on your own.

Find the best places to view the Paris skyline

Père Lachaise Cemetery

Cobblestone paths

Père Lachaise Cemetery ( Cimetière du Pere Lachaise ) in eastern Paris may not be quite as famous as the Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triomphe but its celebrity graves, haunting statues, and photo-worthy cobblestone lanes make it a top Paris attraction.

Part burial ground and part beautifully landscaped garden, this "City of the Dead" is also similar to an open-air museum, with funerary sculptures of every size and shape imaginable:  plump winged cherubs, macabre skulls flanked by what appear to be bat wings, scantily clad women sprawled across tombstones, disembodied heads of famous men.  

But if you're like most first-time visitors here, you may be most fascinated by the graves of famous people buried here. 

Pin Now, Read Again Later

Eiffel Tower viewed from Trocadero

More Fun Things to Do & See in Paris

Where to stay near top paris attractions.

First, check out our guide to where to stay on your first trip to Paris  to find the best neighborhoods and districts based on your interests and what you want to see and do.  We suggest hotels for each area at different price points:  luxury, mid-range, and budget.

To find even more hotels, use this handy  hotel map from Booking.com to find available accommodations near top attractions for your travel dates, see lowest rates, and make your reservations:

Check out the newest Paris hotels

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A view of the city at night, including the Arc de Triomphe

51 unmissable attractions in Paris: including free attractions

From iconic architecture to artisan food markets, here's everything you need to see in Paris

Paris : the food, the fashion, the fromage, the fantasy. No matter how many times we visit the French capital, its charms never ever grow old. And we’re not alone in thinking that. Paris is a major tourist destination that attracts thousands upon thousands of enthusiastic travellers with heads filled with images of Breton jumpers, tiny dogs, and decadent pastries - the kind you can dip in your hot chocolate. But how do you enjoy this gorgeous city without just succumbing to the age-old clich é s (as much as we do love all of them)?

We’ve compiled a list of the 51 best attractions in Paris, from the big-name ‘must-see’ paris attractions to something a little bit more bespoke and  treasured  locally. So whether you’re looking for lesser-known museums , late-night live music , or the best places for shopping , we’ve got plenty of ideas - and they’re all as tasty as a Ladur é e macaron.

Time Out tip:  If you want avoid taxing, RATP App and Citymapper will be essential for getting around Paris like a local. 

RECOMMENDED: 🇫🇷See our full guide to the best things to do in Paris 🥖Check out  the best food tours in Paris 📍Here's where to head for  the best tours in Paris 🛏 Stay in the best airbnbs in Paris 🚍The best Paris bus tours

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Best Paris attractions

Eiffel Tower

1.  Eiffel Tower

Well come on, you know what it is. Very probably the single most famous man-made structure in the entire world, the Eiffel Tower was originally erected as a temporary exhibit for the Exposition Universelle of 1889 (it was due to be taken down in 1909). From its summit, you can enjoy heart-stopping views over all of Paris – and conversely, its iconic form is visible from most vantage points in the city. Aside from the new glass floor that was installed in 2014 – which is a real trip if you’re brave enough to walk across it – there’s also a panoramic champagne bar on the third floor, a brasserie and a Michelin-starred restaurant. At night, the Eiffel’s girders sparkle like fairy lights on a Christmas tree (every hour, on the hour). Though, perhaps the best part about this structural beauty is that it's free and incredibly photogenic, making it a popular attraction for couples - especially when it comes to popping the big question, that is, where to head for dinner. 

Don’t miss:  A meal at Alain Ducasse’s Michelin-starred Jules Verne on the second floor. 

Musée d’Orsay

2.  Musée d’Orsay

  • Art and design
  • 7e arrondissement
  • price 2 of 4

If you're looking for things to do near the Eiffel Tower, so you tick off a bunch of sights all in one day, your next stop should be none other than, Musée d’Orsay.  Before it became a world-leading art gallery, the Musée d’Orsay was a major train station (the first electrified train station in the world, actually). But despite being a lovely building it couldn’t accommodate the ever-increasing size of trains, leading the French government to the ingenious idea to fill it with art instead. This is where art fans go for a full-on dose of the biggest and best names in Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. Lap up all that colour, light and scenic views before also exploring the decorative art collections for Art Nouveau glamour. Lovely.

Don’t miss:   The superb coffee shop/café tucked behind the clock (designed by the Campana brothers). It’s submarine-themed, in homage to Jules Verne’s ‘Nautilus’.

Le Marais

3.  Le Marais

Once upon a time, the Marais was where you found the movers and shakers of the French aristocracy. Then the French Revolution happened and… yeah. Anyway, since then this Parisian district has found a new lease of life as one of the most trendy, go-to parts of the capital. Head here for LGBTQ+ friendly venues, vintage boutiques and the best collection of art galleries in the city.

Don’t miss:  The legendary falafel outlet  L’As du Fallafel , if you want to put a pitta something in your stomach.

Arc de Triomphe

4.  Arc de Triomphe

  • Attractions

Commissioned by Napoleon but not actually finished until 1836, Paris main attraction,  Arc de Triomphe is the mother of all war memorials.  Give your legs a workout and climb the 284 steps to the top, where the views sweep in geometric splendour between the arc of La Défense and the Louvre. Although you may be more distracted by observing the remarkable Parisian driving techniques in evidence around the unmarked traffic island below: in fact, hire car drivers have to pay extra on the insurance if they’d like it to cover the roundabout. When you get back down to the ground, do spare a thought for the Unknown Soldier whose grave sits solemnly in the centre of the arch.

Don’t miss:  The bronze plaque that features a transcript of Charles de Gaulle’s famous 1940 radio broadcast from London: his rallying cry was seen as the beginning of the French Resistance against Nazi occupation. 

Les Catacombes

5.  Les Catacombes

  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Denfert-Rochereau

Until you’ve actually been to them, it’s almost impossible to believe that ‘Les Catacombes' actually exist. This 300km (185-mile) network of tunnels runs under much of the city, and very publically contains the bones of some six million people, including many who perished during the Revolutionary Terror. In these claustrophobic corridors, you’ll find the bones of Marat, Robespierre and their comrades, packed in with wall upon wall of fellow citizens. It’s a remarkable and deeply macabre sight. And get your jackets at the ready – the Catacombes are chilly, both literally and spiritually. 

Don’t miss: The entrance to the ossuary, where there’s a sign which says: ‘Stop! This is the empire of death.’ Eek!

Canal Saint-Martin

6.  Canal Saint-Martin

  • Canal Saint-Martin

Next on our list of Paris highlights is The Canal Saint-Martin.  Built between 1805 and 1825 during Napoleon’s day, it was initially intended to bring drinking water and merchandise to the Imperial capital; from the late nineteenth century, it housed factories and industrial warehouses. It’s all changed now: many of those factories have become lofts for Paris’s ever-growing bobo (Bohemian-Bourgeois) population, and dozens of bars, restaurants and shops line its quayside. Its sturdy iron footbridges and picturesque locks are coveted spots for weekend picnics and hikes – especially on Sundays and public holidays when cars are banned and the roads are reserved solely for walkers and cyclists. 

Don’t miss:   The canal stalwarts,   Point Ephémère   and   Chez Prune .

Palais Garnier

7.  Palais Garnier

  • Music venues
  • Chaussée-d'Antin
  • price 3 of 4

Trips to the theatre don’t get more splendid than an evening spent at the Palais Garnier. Located at the Place de l'Opéra, this opulent-and-then-some theatre is luxury writ large. We come here to see the Paris Opera Ballet, but to be honest the building itself is (almost) as much an attraction as the dancers on stage. Check out the insane array of mirrors, marble, velvet and satin, and positively swoon at the Grand Escalier. The Palais Garnier is open to the public most days unless there’s a matinee performance. It’s best to check the schedule ahead of time and reserve tickets online.

Don’t miss:  The Paris Opera Ballet’s regular shows. 

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

8.  Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

  • Parks and gardens
  • Buttes-Chaumont

Centrepiece of the north-eastern Belleville neighbourhood, the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is perhaps a little less formal than other green spaces in Paris. But it’s really worth the uphill stroll to get there, because this nineteenth arrondissement beauty is one of the city’s most magical spots, and often missed out by weekend visitors who don’t get off the usual tourist trail. The park, with its meandering paths, waterfalls, temples and cliffs, was designed by Adolphe Alphand for Haussmann, and was opened as part of the celebrations for the Exposition Universelle in 1867.  This park is where locals head to sunbathe, or find shade during a heat wave.

Don’t miss:  A  drink at either  Rosa Bonheur or Pavillon Puebla , the park’s two buzzing, eternall jam-packed bars. 

Château de Versailles

9.  Château de Versailles

  • Paris et sa banlieue

Once just a modest hunting lodge, the Château de Versailles can surely now lay claim to the title of the most sumptuous pad in France. It’s grown with each resident and now has an astonishing 2,300 rooms that have housed numerous members of the French royalty over the years. The majority of the lavish work was commissioned by Louis XIV in 1678. The Sun King is virtually synonymous with Versailles: he’s responsible for adding the wondrous Hall of Mirrors, as well as the elegant and expansive grounds. It can get busy at peak times, so book a skip-the-line ticket beforehand and arrive early.

Don’t miss:  If you’re visiting during summer, there are magnificent musical fountain shows on select days of the week .

Place des Vosges

10.  Place des Vosges

When it first opened in the early 1600s, Place des Vosges quickly became a place to see and be seen for the city’s burgeoning young, single and bourgeois class (think of them as the original hipsters). It was designed so all the buildings surrounding the park were uniform in style, and the iconic red brick facades haven’t changed in 400 years. The ground floor of the buildings, once storefronts for textile manufacturers, now host small art galleries and cafes. Today, the city’s oldest public park is filled with students on their lunch break and young families picnicking. It’s the perfect spot to eat a sandwich or read a book in the sun.

Don’t miss: A coffee or chocolat chaud at Carette , a chic cafe under the vaulted arcades bordering the park.

Galeries Lafayette

11.  Galeries Lafayette

  • Department stores

Modern malls of the world should look to Galeries Lafayette and shudder in shame. This majestically beautiful department store started life with the modest aim of being a small fashion haberdashery. It then expanded to become one of the world’s most breathtaking shopping destinations. The wrought iron ceiling domes and latticed glasswork are well worth seeing, but this is more than a museum piece. Along with excellent brands to shop from, Galeries Lafayette is also a mouthwatering destination for foodies and oenophiles.

Don’t miss:  The rooftop, which boasts one of the most splendid views of Paris you can imagine, looking out onto the Grand Palais and the Eiffel Tower. 

Jardin des Tuileries

12.  Jardin des Tuileries

  • 1er arrondissement

Every great city has a great city park. And Paris is no different with the Jardin des Tuileries, a manicured stretch of greenery just off the Place de la Concorde. The charm of the park lies in its quintessentially French approach to gardening. Expect perfectly maintained shrubs, walkways and flowers with none of the oh-so-English lackadaisical approach to nature. This urban oasis somehow always feels calm, despite how many people flock here. Added cultural points if you can identify all the artists who made the sculptures without having to google.

Don’t miss: Each summer, a funfair sets up along the Rue de Rivoli side of the gardens,  and every winter a Christmas market and carnival is set up along the park’s north side .

Sacré-Coeur Basilica

13.  Sacré-Coeur Basilica

  • price 1 of 4

Work on this enormous mock Romano-Byzantine edifice began in 1877: it was commissioned in response to defeat in the Franco-Prussian war, the logic being that God must have been cross with the French and needed appeasing, sharp. Paid for from the public purse and completed almost half a century later, in 1914, it was consecrated in 1919, by which time a jumble of architects had succeeded Paul Abadie, winner of the original competition. The results are impressive, especially given its prominent position atop the hill of Montmartre, and the interior is covered in lavish mosaics.

Don’t miss: The views of the city from the lawns outside. Just be very wary of the hawkers trying to sell you bracelets. Make sure they don’t put one on your wrist – because once it’s there, you’re paying for it!

The Seine river cruise

14.  The Seine river cruise

In a city where there is so much to do (just see this list, eh), it can be hard to check it all off without succumbing to serious blisters, Metro fatigue or taxi hell (or, all three). Consider instead the lazy-luxe option of a cruise down the river Seine, wine glass in hand as you peacefully gaze upon Les Invalids, the Parliament of Paris, the Musée d’Orsay etcetera etcetera… Basically, it’s the thinking person’s version of whistlestop tourism and it’ll still leave you feeling as chic and unruffled as the city you’re staying in.

Don’t miss: Take your river-riding experience to the next level with a three-course lunch (trad French cuisine, naturellment ).

Moulin Rouge

15.  Moulin Rouge

Surely the most famous nightclub on the planet, the Moulin Rouge has seen all manner of showbiz stars, musicians, actors and stately names pass through its doors (which first opened in 1889, interrupted for six years when the original building burned down in 1915). And, tourists aside, this cabaret venue also remains beloved by Parisians, who go more for the club scene at The Machine and rooftop Bar à Bulles that lie within. The birthplace of one of the twentieth century’s best-known dances, on stage 60 can-can dancers cavort with faultless synchronisation for two hours in the ‘Féerie’ show. Costumes are flamboyant, legs kick higher than you’d think possible and the ‘half-time’ acts are funny. Just add champagne and you’ve got the ultimate French night out. 

Don’t miss:   A trip to tapas joint  Le Bar à Bulles , which you’d be forgiven for missing since it’s on the roof.

The view from Montparnasse Tower

16.  The view from Montparnasse Tower

At 209 metres, this steel-and-glass colossus isn’t quite the height of the Eiffel Tower, but it boasts far better views – for starters, they actually include the Eiffel Tower! Built in 1974 on the site of the Metro station with the same name, you ascend to the top of the Tour Montparnasse via a super-fast lift that sends you soaring skyward to the fifty-sixth floor, where you’ll find a display filled with aerial pics of Paris, plus a café and souvenir shop. On a clear day, you can see up to 25 miles away. If you want to go all the way, a second lift will take you up to the building’s roof.

Don’t miss:  T he ice rink that’s installed near the tower in winter.

Musée de l’Orangerie

17.  Musée de l’Orangerie

If the words ‘French art’ immediately conjure up scenes of lily pads, then you’re probably already familiar with the Musée de l’Orangerie. This Monet-centric museum does feature other artists, but its big selling point is surely the eight super-sized paintings the impressionist master completed in his Giverny garden. Brave the queues at least once - we promise they are genuinely worth seeing in the flesh.

Don’t miss:  Okay, it’s not just Monet: don’t forget to seek out works by his French masters Cézanne, Renoir, Rousseau and Derain, as well as Picasso and Modigliani.

Marché des Enfants Rouges

18.  Marché des Enfants Rouges

  • Markets and fairs

For a city with a seriously gastronomic reputation, Paris rarely disappoints. Since 2000, the Marché des Enfants Rouges has been a charming (and delicious) urban food market that brings together a phenomenal array of international cuisines. Think fondly upon the poor orphans in their red coats who gave the market its name as you scoff your way through North African, Asian and European delicacies.

Don’t miss:  T he giant tagines at Le Traiteur Marocain. Simply fantastic.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

19.  Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

  • Ile de la Cité

If you want to take mass here, you’ve got a bit of a wait: as you’re doubtless aware, an inferno tore through this magnificent Gothic icon in April 2019, and you’ll be waiting until April 2024 for Notre-Dame to reopen (it may or may not be fully restored by then, but the government is determined to have it up and running in time for that summer’s Olympics regardless). Nonetheless, you can’t keep down a cathedral that almost lives in the popular imagination as much as the real world: after Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel ‘The Hunchback of Notre-Dame’ secured its iconic status, Disney’s plucky ’90s movie brought the wonderfully foreboding Gothic architecture of the historic icon to a whole new generation. On your next visit, look up at its timeless façade and imagine its future – just how will they rebuild this sacred beast?

Don’t miss: While the cathedral is being restored, it’s covered in scaffolding and surrounded by construction equipment, making for a bad view up close. The best spot to snap a photo with the facade is from Petit Pont, a bridge connecting Ile de la Cité and the Left Bank.

Musée National Rodin

20.  Musée National Rodin

You’ll find many of the legendary sculptor’s greatest works in this museum  based at the h ôtel particulier where the sculptor spent his final years until his death in 1917. Timeless highlights including ‘The Kiss’, ‘The Cathedral’, ‘The Walking Man’ and many other busts and terracottas. You’ll also find work on display by Camille Claudel, Rodin’s pupil and mistress. As a further bonus there are works by Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir and  Carrière here too. Don’t miss:  The gardens, a gallery space in themselves. Look out for the ‘ Burghers of Calais’, ‘The Gates of Hell’, and ‘The Thinker’.

The Louvre

21.  The Louvre

It would of course be ridiculous to visit Paris without at least dipping into the world’s largest museum. The Louvre’s maze of corridors, galleries and stairways constitute a city within a city – especially when you take into account the sheer numbers that visit (a record 10.2 million people back in 2018). It’s undeniably somewhat intimidating: with 35,000 works on public display, split across eight departments and three wings, there is zero chance you’re going to see it all in a single day. The best bet is to pick the parts you want to see beforehand, be patient and make your way steadily through the crowds. If you want a few starter tips, we recommend a trip to the impressive Islamic arts galleries, which opened in 2012. For the Mona Lisa –yes it’s a cliché, but why wouldn’t you want to see it? – head to the Salle de la Joconde.

Don’t miss:  If the crowds sound like too much to bear, try the Louvre’s extended-hour evenings on Fridays – open until 9.45pm, it’s significantly quieter.

La Coulée Verte

22.  La Coulée Verte

The old train tracks that join Bastille and Vincennes have now been reclaimed as La Coulée Verte: a verdant, picturesque five-kilometre trail of elevated gardens, the Jardin de Reuilly and tree-lined cycle paths. Kick off at the Bastille end and you can nip up one of the staircases on Avenue Daumesnil to get sweeping views of the city. It’s so scenic that doing the whole thing can easily take up a whole day. If you‘re going to do that, pack a picnic and stop in the Jardin de Reuilly, where there’s (we’re not kidding) Paris’s first sparkling water fountain (there are now around ten more). Then you can carry on to the glorious Bois de Vincennes, which has lakes and leafy, shaded parkland.

Don’t miss:   The police station on Rue Rambouillet which has striking art deco architecture.

Sainte-Chapelle

23.  Sainte-Chapelle

  • Historic buildings and sites

In the 1240s, the fervently religious King Louis IX – who went on to become St Louis – acquired what he’d been led to believe was Christ’s Crown of Thorns. Naturally, he wanted somewhere appropriately magnificent to house it. The result was one heck of a monument: the magnificent, glittering Sainte-Chapelle. Its 15-metre windows are truly jaw-dropping: hundreds of scenes from the Bible are depicted, culminating in the Apocalypse in the rose window.

Don’t miss:  The occasional classical and gospel concerts that take place here. It makes for an eerily poignant venue.

Fondation Louis Vuitton

24.  Fondation Louis Vuitton

  • 16e arrondissement

The Fondation Louis Vuitton’s 11 ultra-sleek galleries opened in the Bois de Boulogne in 2014. Since then, Frank Gehry’s astonishing building has played host to a rotating programme of shows by high-profile modern and contemporary artists: expect to see works by the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat ,  Gilbert & George  and  Jeff Koons, as well as specially commissioned site-specific works. The museum is owned by Louis Vuitton’s parent company LVMH, but will be taken over by the city after 55 years.

Don’t miss:  The events that run alongside the exhibitions – there are frequent appearances by big-name artists and curators.

Les Passages Couverts

25.  Les Passages Couverts

  • Faubourg Montmartre

Elegant precursors to the modern-day shopping centre, in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Paris there were lots of glass-roofed shopping galleries in areas around the Grands Boulevards. These covered passages allowed you to take shortcuts, escape the elements or ( ooh la la! ) steal a forbidden kiss with your lover in relative privacy. Not that it was all elegant charm: most passages were also given a salon de décrottage : a room where the dog excrement you’d trodden through was scraped off your shoes. Sadly that service is long gone, but these days  passages couverts are perfect little hideaways for an afternoon’s retail therapy. 

Don’t miss:  Galerie Vivienne is the best known, appreciated above all for its ochre-coloured décor and mythology-themed mosaics. We love the tearoom there too.

The Centre Pompidou

26.  The Centre Pompidou

  • 4e arrondissement

The Pompidou’s ‘inside-out’ appearance – with pipes, air ducts and escalators proudly gracing the exterior – has made it one of the best-known sights in Paris. It’s so striking that when it opened in 1977, its success exceeded all expectations… which was kind of a problem, as in essence five times more people turned up than had been expected: in its early years it was a byword for excessive busyness.  

After a two-year revamp, completed in 2000, the building grew, with a larger museum, renewed performance spaces and vista-rich Georges restaurant added. Entrance to the forum is free, as is a ride on the external escalators to the top of the museum. The permanent collection is an eclectic and vibrant display of modern art..

Don’t miss: Even if modern art isn’t your thing, take the free escalator ride to the top for an incredible view of Paris.. Nothing beats the moment you rise above the rooftops.

Le Crazy Horse

27.  Le Crazy Horse

  • Champs-Elysées

Definitely one of the more risqué players on the Parisian cabaret scene, the art du nu  (it’s a nudie revue!) of Le Crazy Horse first opened its doors in 1951 under the steerage of the legendary  Alain Bernardin. Seventy years on, it  still pulls in punters aplenty. It remains dedicated to all things feminine and sexy, within certain parameters: lookalike dancers with curious stage names like Enny Gmatic and Hippy Bang Bang all bear the same bodily dimensions. (Girls are genuinely required to have nipples and hips at the same height). Expect lots of rainbow-hued light and artfully located strips of black tape. Old-school, self-respecting cabaret.

Don’t miss:  ‘Striptease Moi’ , a sensual gender-bending show with a daft ending. 

Musée Picasso

28.  Musée Picasso

The Musée Picasso isn’t quite as famous as Paris’s other major galleries, but it’s so absolutely worth a visit. Bang in the middle of the Marais, this attractive gallery is in a former 17th century mansion. The masterpieces on show here are endless and include ‘La Celestina’, ‘The Supplicant’ and ‘Portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter’. It’s the perfect sized gallery to spend a slow morning in before heading out for a leisurely lunch.

Don’t miss:  Head up to the top of the museum and you’ll find Ol’ Pablo’s very own art collection, which includes some gorgeous works by  Cézanne, Renoir, Mirò and his frenemy Matisse.

Shakespeare & Company

29.  Shakespeare & Company

  • Quartier latin

Shakespeare & Company is one of those iconic bookshops that nerdy intellectuals flock to simply to say they’ve been there (and got the tote bag). But this English-language bookshop on the Left Bank remains a genuinely excellent place to browse for literature - it’s beautiful, well-stocked and calming. Roam the corridors while inhaling the spirits of the many writers, artists and bohemians who have dwelt here over the years.

Don’t miss:   The busy events schedule, which includes readings from many high-profile authors.

Street art in Paris

30.  Street art in Paris

Paris has had a pretty serious street art scene from as long ago as the 1960s, and it’s only grown bigger since. There is plenty of wall space in the city’s suburbs, outer arrondissements and centre for local and international artists to get creative with their spray cans and transform whole areas into outdoor art galleries. By definition this stuff tends to be somewhat transient – if you can, take a look at the several dedicated blogs for up-to-date info.

Don’t miss:  We recommend the Rue Dénoyez in Belleville. Even during the day, there are always a couple of  graffeurs  at work.

Grande Mosquée de Paris

31.  Grande Mosquée de Paris

The Grande Mosquée is an active place of worship, but is open to visitors (except on Fridays and Muslim holidays). It opened in 1926 and remained the only mosque in the Paris metro area for a long time. Nearly 100 years later, the mosque’s geometric mosaics, white columns and intricately engraved archways make it a must-see. Walking through the tiled central courtyards and gardens will make you feel like you’re in Marrakesh, not Paris. Women can also enjoy a massage and a steam at the mosque’s on-site hammam, but no men are allowed.

Don’t miss: A cup of tea with baklava on the mosque’s peaceful patio.

Canal de l’Ourcq

32.  Canal de l’Ourcq

Commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte himself, the nineteenth-century Canal de l’Ourcq takes a 108km journey from the river Ourcq in Picardie before ending its journey  in front of the arty MK2 cinemas at   Place de la Bataille-de-Stalingrad’s Bassin de la Villette. Like the Canal Saint-Martin further south, the Canal de l’Ourcq draws a trendy crowd, from students to thirtysomethings with young families, who come to play boules on the sandy stretches, picnic on the water’s edge, and even play ping-pong in the playground areas. 

Don’t miss:  The   péniches  (canal boats) that double up as a bar, a theatre and a bookshop.

Marché d’Aligre

33.  Marché d’Aligre

  • Vintage shops
  • 12e arrondissement

The Marché d’Aligre has been a permanent fixture in an ever-evolving city since 1799. This much-used market sells everything from fresh veg to pre-loved clothes, fish and meat. There’s a lot on offer here, so plan ahead to decide what you are (literally) in the market for. If it’s a nice bit of poisson, go to the covered Beauvau part where you’ll find the better quality butchers and fishmongers.

Don’t miss:  The artisanal stalls in the main yard which sell books, African masks and other trinkets.

Bateaux-Mouches

34.  Bateaux-Mouches

  • 8e arrondissement

Punctuated by landmarks, spanned by historical bridges and dotted with tree-lined quays, the Seine is bursting with picture-postcard moments: it’s surely one of the prettiest city rivers in the world. One of the best ways to absorb it all is by boat, ie one of Paris’s iconic Bateaux-Mouches. Sure, they are always rammed with tourists (we won’t lie: Parisians tend to avoid them like the plague), but if you don’t mind that, you’ll be in for a treat.  Bateaux-Mouches is the name of the largest and best-known boat operator, but there are smaller companies that provide the same service. Going with a smaller boat will leave you with a bit more peace.

Don’t miss: Stop off at the Île Saint-Louis for lunch at an old-time bistro. 

Musée de la Vie Romantique

35.  Musée de la Vie Romantique

  • Saint-Georges

Back in 1830, the 9th arrondissement teemed with composers, writers and artists. And it was this year that Dutch artist Ary Scheffer built this small villa. Guests at Scheffer’s soirées included Chopin, Liszt and – most important for our purposes – novelist George Sand. The museum is now mainly dedicated to Sand, who was enormously popular in her lifetime, but it also displays Scheffer’s paintings and other mementoes from the Romantic era. Renovated in 2013, the museum’s tree-lined courtyard café and greenhouse make for a perfect summertime retreat.

Don’t miss:  While you’re nearby, you should probably check out the Musée National Gustave Moreau . There’s a surprise waiting for you at the top. 

La Petite Ceinture

36.  La Petite Ceinture

  • 20e arrondissement

What is La Petite Ceinture? Basically, it’s an out-of-use railway that girdles Paris like, well, a little belt – hence the name. The track has been in disrepair since the last freight train went through in the ’80s (the final passenger train went through way back in 1934). Stretches of it have been transformed into an urban park, where flowers are growing over the rails and you take a walk away from the city ambience of honking cars. La Petite Ceinture can be accessed at entry points in the twelfth through twentieth arrondissements .

Don’t miss: A few of the old train stations along the former rails have a new life today as restaurants, brasseries and even one coworking space.

Palais de Tokyo

37.  Palais de Tokyo

When this modern and contemporary art building opened in 2002, many thought the Palais de Tokyo’s determinedly no-frills aesthetic amounted to a deliberate statement. In fact, it was purely for budgetary reasons. Happily, the venue has really flourished since then, especially after an extended 2012 overhaul of its open-plan space. Extended hours and a cool café bring in younger audiences, and the roll-call of artists is impressive (Roberto Braga, Wang Du, Theaster Gates and others). The name harks back to the 1937 Exposition Internationale, but is also a reminder of links with a new generation of artists from the Far East.

Don’t miss:  Everything else here. There’s Le Yoyo club, an excellent fashion and design bookshop, and two new restaurants. Oh, and don’t forget to head out to the terrace. The view of the Eiffel Tower really can’t be beaten. 

Philharmonie de Paris

38.  Philharmonie de Paris

  • La Villette

This grandiose venue in the North-East of Paris aims to make classical music accessible and non-elitist, with a remit to draw in novices as well as seasoned concert-goers. This all naturally hinges on the tickets being affordable: at a time when cultural activities are getting increasingly costly, the Philharmonie hopes to counter the trend much as the Opéra Bastille did for opera. Aesthetically impressive and large, this 2,400-seat concert hall frequently dazzles with season after season of eclectic concerts and events.

Don’t miss:  The  rooftop has spectacular views, open throughout the summer.

Cimetière du Père-Lachaise

39.  Cimetière du Père-Lachaise

  • Père-Lachaise

Pretty much anyone famous, French and dead is interred in Père-Lachaise. Indeed you don’t even have to be French: creed and nationality have never prevented entry; you just had to have lived or died in Paris or have an allotted space in a family tomb. From Balzac to Chopin to Oscar Wilde (the tomb worn away by kisses from visiting admirers, now with transparent barriers), the opportunities for posthumous talent-spotting are endless.

Don’t miss:   Oscar Wilde’s tomb: much like the man himself, it’s ostentatious and flamboyant. 

Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen

40.  Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen

  • 18e arrondissement

The Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen is widely held to be the biggest flea market in the entire world. While it seems quite likely that its rivals haven’t in fact been formally measured, with 3,000 traders and more than 5 million visitors a year, nobody is really arguing. Opening in 1885, it started life as a humble rag-and-bone set-up on the city’s edges.

Paris being Paris, it has, perhaps inevitably, turned into a more upscale affair, with lots of boutiques and antique stalls. At the other end of the spectrum, restaurants and takeaways are in danger of displacing the less fancy traders. But whatever sanitisation is sanding the edges of the Puces, it still makes for an exhilarating experience for a tourist.

Don’t miss: T here’s only a single ATM – so make sure you come with a bulging wallet or a willingness to queue.

Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac

41.  Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac

This museum is nothing like the others on your Parisian vacation itinerary. Musée du Quai Branly conserves 300,000 pieces of non-European art and artifacts. Stroll through the quiet gardens surrounding the museum before heading inside, where you’ll follow the building’s river-like design through cases of works from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. From samurai armor to hand-woven tapestries and intricate line drawings on tree bark, the engaging and beautifully designed museum has something for everyone. 

Don’t miss: A vertical garden forms a living green wall on the exterior of the museum.

Musée Carnavalet

42.  Musée Carnavalet

In the Musée Carnavalet – which recently reopened after a major refurbishment – a whopping 140 rooms tell the story of Paris in chronological order, from pre-Roman Gaul right up until the twentieth century. The building was built in 1548, transformed by Mansart in 1660 and turned into a museum in 1866, when the great city planner Haussmann persuaded the authorities to preserve its gorgeous interiors. Original sixteenth-century rooms contain magnificent Renaissance art collections heaving with portraits, furniture and other artefacts.    The museum is also free to visit.

Don’t miss:  Items belonging to Napoleon himself, a cradle given to Paris by his nephew Napoleon III, and a replica of author Marcel Proust’s cork-lined bedroom.

Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes

43.  Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes

  • Zoos and aquariums
  • 5e arrondissement

An unexpected side-effect of decapitating swathes of your wealthiest citizens? Working out what to do with their many ownerless pets. Proof that the instigators of the Terror were really just big softies, this ménagerie became the solution to the sudden influx of homeless animals in 1794. Nowadays the collection is sourced by less homicidal means: present-day inhabitants include vultures, monkeys, orang-utans, ostriches, flamingos, a century-old turtle, plus another one rescued from the sewers, a gorgeous red panda and lots of satisfyingly scary spiders and snakes. There’s also a petting zoo with farm animals for small kids, and older ones can zoom in on microscopic species in the Microzoo.

Don’t miss: A game of ‘who can spot the oldest tree?’ in the botanical gardens next door. The black acacia planted in 1636 is particularly striking. 

Shopping on the Champs-Élysées

44.  Shopping on the Champs-Élysées

Time has not withered the Champs-Élysées: despite having probably the stiffest local competition in the world, it remains  the   premiere   shopping destination in Paris. It’s no drab high street; rather it’s a world-famous boulevard of sublime consumer chic. The brands are high-end and the stores are filled with art installations, DJs and other things keeping the whole retail therapy thing as fresh and fun as possible. And the avenue itself is a wonder: deafening, overwhelming, but inimitably Parisian.

Don’t miss:  Come Christmas, the market and fairground at the foot of the Champs give it a truly magical feel.

Aquarium de Paris / Cinéaqua

45.  Aquarium de Paris / Cinéaqua

Trocadéro isn’t historically the most thrilling area of Paris, but it’s really been jolted into life by this  fantastic attraction, which combines an aquarium and two-screen cinema. Kids will go berserk for the shark tunnel and the petting pool, where you can fulfil the lifelong dream you never knew you had and stroke the friendly sturgeon who stick their long snouts above the surface. There’s also a section showing the various heroic species of fish that somehow manage to survive in the Seine despite the pollution. Some visitors might find the admission fee trop cher,  but it really is a brilliant way to spend a long afternoon.

Don’t miss: Special kids’ shows take place every day. Check the aquarium’s online schedule for times.

Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

46.  Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

Inside this grand old 1930s building you’ll find key works from the Cubists and Fauves, and artists like Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Georges Rouault, Chaim Soutine and Kees van Dongen. It’s a fine museum, albeit with such stiff local competition not as famous as some of Paris’ premium venues, which is why it’s unfortunate that the museum made international headlines back in May 2010 when five paintings, including a Picasso, were stolen.

Don’t miss:  Visiting even if you’re skint – this is one of the scant number of museums in Paris where it’s free to enter.

La Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie

47.  La Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie

  • Exhibitions

Europe’s biggest science museum pulls in five million visitors a year, and deservedly so. Its permanent exhibition  Explora occupies the top two floors, whisking visitors through 30,000-square-metre that looks at life, the universe and everything in all its complexity: highlights include scale models of satellites including the Ariane space shuttle, planes and robots, plus the chance to experience weightlessness. The hothouse garden investigates developments in agriculture and bio-technology. Don’t miss:  The Espace Images, where you can play around with a delayed camera, draw 3D images on a computer and even lend your voice to the Mona Lisa. 

Musée Grévin

48.  Musée Grévin

  • Grands Boulevards

Like a kitschier version of Madame Tussauds – yes, such a thing is possible – the Musée Grévin is a guaranteed winner with kids that need entertaining. It’s pretty much the same deal as  Tussauds only without the edgier bits: have your photo  taken alongside waxworks of showbiz stars and personalities like Brad Pitt, George Clooney, the Queen and Barack Obama. The ‘snapshots of the twentieth-century’ area also recreates great historical moments, such as Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. A small gallery at the top of a spiral staircase near the end shows how waxworks are made. 

Don’t miss:   The trippy hall of mirrors designed by American artist Krysle Lip.

Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle

49.  Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle

You know what you‘re getting with any major Natural History Museum, and you’ll rarely regret it. Inevitably they’re family-friendly places with admirable collections. Well Paris is no exception. At the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle’s Grande Galerie de l’Evolution, stuffed creatures parade majestically through their various habitats. Animals of all kinds teach children about the diversity of nature. In the endangered and vanished section – where a dodo takes pride of place – they inform you about the importance of protecting them. The museum contains the bony remains of fish, birds, monkeys, dinosaurs and humans. You won’t know where to look first.

Don’t miss:   Venturing into the Jardin des Plantes complex to find the small Ménagerie zoo, plus separate pavilions containing hunks of meteorites and crystals in the Galerie de Minéralogie et de Géologie. 

Parc de la Villette

50.  Parc de la Villette

Home to numerous theatres, concert halls and museums (including the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie), the Parc de la Villette is also no slouch as an actual park. With its giant climbing frames, burger bar and children’s art centre, the ’80s-built Parc de la Villette is a hub of outdoor fun. Kids shoot down a Chinese dragon slide, and an undulating suspended path follows the Canal de l’Ourcq. There are ten themed gardens bearing evocative names such as the Garden of Mirrors, of Mists, of Acrobatics and of Childhood Frights. 

Don’t miss:   The open-air film festival that takes place on the lawns every summer. 

Looking for somewhere amazing to stay?

The 87 best hotels in Paris

The 87 best hotels in Paris

Whether you want to splash the cash or save your pennies, you’ll find all your needs catered to with this wonderful selection of Paris stays. From boutique gems to palatial oases to trendy hostels, you’re sure to find the right fit for your dream Paris holiday.  

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31 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Paris

Written by Lisa Alexander Updated Mar 21, 2024 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Whether sunshine is sparkling on the café terraces of Boulevard Saint-Germain, or melancholy mists of the Seine River are shrouding Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris has a way of romancing visitors. The love affair might begin with a first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, then continue with strolls along the wide tree-lined avenues and in lavish formal gardens.

View over Paris

The city is seductively beautiful. Each neighborhood ( quartier ) reveals its unique personality. The Latin Quarter is a small cluster of pedestrian streets and narrow medieval alleyways where bookshops vie for space with university students' cafés and eateries. The fashionable Champs-Élysées buzzes with energy. Outside the city center, Montmartre still feels like a country village and flaunts its bohemian past.

After seeing the museums and monuments, you will want to seek out the small surprises, like family-run bistros with handwritten menus; cobblestone lanes full of quaint shops; secluded squares adorned with flowing fountains; and elegant tea salons, where dainty jewel-like desserts beckon from glass-covered pastry cases.

In every hidden corner and at all the famous sites, Paris casts a spell of enchantment. One visit may inspire a lifelong passion.

Discover what makes the City of Light so captivating and learn about the best places to explore with our list of the top tourist attractions in Paris.

See also: Where to Stay in Paris

1. Eiffel Tower

2. musée du louvre, 3. avenue des champs-élysées, 4. musée d'orsay, 5. palais garnier, opéra national de paris, 6. cathédrale notre-dame de paris, 7. place de la concorde, 8. arc de triomphe, 9. hôtel de la marine, 10. jardin des tuileries, 11. seine river cruises, 12. musical concerts at sainte-chapelle, 13. bustling boulevards and legendary cafés, 14. jardin du luxembourg, 15. sacré-coeur and quartier montmartre, 16. panthéon, 17. place des vosges, 18. musée rodin, 19. place vendôme, 20. centre pompidou, 21. hôtel national des invalides, 22. domaine national du palais-royal, 23. place de la bastille, 24. place du châtelet and tour saint-jacques, 25. la conciergerie, 26. fondation louis vuitton, 27. parc de la villette, 28. paris plages, 29. cimetière du père lachaise, 30. parc des buttes-chaumont, 31. grande arche de la défense, where to stay in paris for sightseeing, tips and tours: how to make the most of your visit to paris, best time to visit paris, france.

Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower (la Tour Eiffel) ranks high on the list of places to visit in France and is one of the most-visited tourist attractions in the world. So it's hard to believe that the structure was originally dismissed as a monstrosity. The innovative metal structure shocked Victorian-era audiences when it was unveiled by Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel for the Paris Exhibition of 1889 .

Whether loved or hated, the Eiffel Tower has always impressed. Reaching a height of 324 meters, the tower is comprised of 18,000 sturdy iron sections held together by 2.5 million rivets. Although no longer the world's tallest building, the Eiffel Tower has achieved the status of an icon.

For first-time visitors, seeing the Eiffel Tower is an unforgettable experience. Upon arrival at the esplanade, the sight of the four massive pillars that support this 10,100-ton monument leaves many awestruck.

Author's Tip : Purchase your tickets to the Eiffel Tower in advance online. You first choose a specific date and during the online process, you will reserve a specific time slot for the visit. (You must arrive on time.) Tickets sell out during high season (July and August), so you should purchase your tickets as far in advance as possible.

Base of the Eiffel Tower

When you arrive at the Eiffel Tower, you will first walk through the esplanade gardens. Then you will look for the correct queue (which will be labeled "Visitors with tickets"). The recently renovated gardens feature leafy trees and pedestrian pathways with close-up views of the Iron Lady.

To arrive at the Eiffel Tower's 1st floor (at 57 meters) requires an elevator ride or a walk up the 360 steps. This level has public restrooms, a gift shop, a cafeteria, a brasserie restaurant, and an open-air terrace space for admiring the views.

View of Paris from the Eiffel Tower

The 2nd floor (at 125 meters) of the Eiffel Tower is reached from the 1st floor by a staircase of 344 more steps or an elevator ride. This level has similar amenities as the 1st floor, except the viewing platforms offer a perspective onto more of the Paris monuments (such as the Notre-Dame, the Louvre, and the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur).

A highlight of the 2nd floor, the Michelin-starred Le Jules Verne delivers exceptional haute cuisine in a dreamy setting. The restaurant's dining rooms feature expansive windows, which provide a peak of the Eiffel Tower's structural beams and glimpses of Paris cityscapes. You'll also find a buffet-style cafeteria and the Pierre Hermé macaron boutique.

To arrive at the top floor (276 meters in elevation) requires an exhilarating elevator ride from the 2nd floor. The staircases only go up to the 2nd floor, so climbing up to the top is not an option.

Visiting the top floor of the Eiffel Tower is one of the most thrilling things to do in Paris , but it's not for the faint of heart. When you walk out onto the compact viewing platform at this level, you are overwhelmed by the far-reaching views and strong gusts of wind. Up this high, it feels like another world, and you can no longer hear the noise of street traffic below.

View of Eiffel Tower from Jardins du Trocadéro

You definitely will want to spend some time taking photos of the Eiffel Tower. From either the Jardins du Trocadéro (a short walk across the Seine River) or the Parc du Champ de Mars (the lawns in front of the tower), there is just the right distance for picture-perfect photo-ops.

Address: La Tour Eiffel, Champ de Mars, 75007 Paris (Métro: Bir-Hakeim, Trocadéro, Iéna, or Passy station)

Louvre Museum at night

The Louvre is the most prestigious of Paris' museums and the crème de la crème of the city's cultural attractions. Besides its exceptional art collection, the building has a regal past: The Louvre was formerly the residential palace of France's kings.

Today, the Musée du Louvre displays thousands of artworks, many of which are considered masterpieces, from antiquities to European paintings of the 15th to 19th centuries.

It is impossible to see it all in one visit, but you can focus on a particular gallery, such as classical sculpture, Italian Renaissance art, or 17th-century French paintings, or take a self-guided tour to cover the Louvre Museum's highlights.

Of course, you will want to get a look at the Mona Lisa or La Gioconda (or La Joconde in French) painted by Leonardo da Vinci in 1503-1505. Many tourists breeze through the museum just to glance at this one piece, but there are other must-see works of art to admire even if time is limited.

Other masterpieces of the Louvre include the ancient Vénus de Milo sculpture; the monumental Victoire de Samothrace of the Hellenistic period; the immense Wedding Feast at Cana painting by Veronese (1563); Sandro Botticelli's Venus and the Three Graces fresco; and Liberty Leading the People (1831) by Eugène Delacroix, depicting the Parisian uprising of July 1830.

To get the most out of a visit to the Louvre, join a guided tour. The museum offers tours in multiple languages. These focus on the highlights and provide information on the palace.

The Louvre Museum Skip-the-Line Tour is another option that also takes you straight to the museum's most famous artworks, including the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa . On this three-hour tour, a guide (who is an art historian) provides in-depth commentary about the masterpieces.

Author's Tips : Most visitors enter the museum in the courtyard of the palace at the Pyramid du Louvre , the glass pyramid designed by Ieoh Ming Pei in 1917. This entrance almost always has long lines. The wait is especially long without a timed entrance ticket. (See tips below for alternative entrances to the museum.)

Avoid the lines of the Pyramid entrance by going to one of the lesser-known entrances. If you already have a Louvre museum ticket or a Paris Museum Pass, head to the Carrousel entrance (99 Rue de Rivoli) where you likely can walk right in without waiting in line. You may save some time at this entrance if you haven't reserved a specific time slot for admission.

Purchase a museum pass : If you plan to visit multiple museums, you can save money and time by purchasing a Paris Museum Pass . The savings depends on how many museums you visit. The advantage is that you don't have to purchase a ticket at each museum. However, you still need to reserve a specific time slot (free of charge) to visit the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, and Château de Versailles (otherwise you may have to wait in line).

If you have not already purchased a ticket or Paris Museum Pass, you may use the Porte des Lions entrance on the 4 Quai François Mitterrand.

Address: Musée du Louvre, Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris (Métro: Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre or Pyramides station)

Avenue des Champs-Élysées

Brimming with fancy boutiques and dining terraces, the Champs-Élysées epitomizes the fashionable panache of Paris.

You'd never guess that the most monumental boulevard in Paris used to be a desolate swamp. The marshland was converted into an avenue by renowned landscape designer André Le Nôtre in the 17th century. Two centuries later, the city planner Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann added the grey stone Mansard-roofed buildings that give the boulevard its classic Parisian look.

The Champs-Élysées is divided into two parts with the Rond-Point des Champs-Élysées as its intersection.

The lower part of the Champs-Élysées, bordering the Place de la Concorde , includes a spacious park, the Jardins des Champs-Élysées , and the Petit Palais fine arts museum. The upper part, extending to the Arc de Triomphe, is lined by luxury shops, hotels, restaurants, cafés, cinemas, and theaters. This bustling area draws many tourists and is a gathering place for Parisians.

The Champs-Élysées is famous for its prestigious establishments, such as Maison Ladurée (75 Avenue des Champs-Élysées), a pâtisserie boutique and tea salon that offers exquisite French pastries (macarons are the house specialty), and upscale designer boutiques like Tiffany & Co. (62 Avenue des Champs-Élysées), Louis-Vuitton (101 Avenue des Champs-Élysées), and Cartier (154 Avenue des Champs-Élysées).

For fine dining , the top choices are the legendary brasserie Fouquet's (99 Avenue des Champs-Élysées) and the swanky gastronomic restaurant L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Étoile (133 Avenue des Champs-Élysées), which has one Michelin star.

Although the Champs-Élysées has an image of refinement, there are many affordable places that cater to tourists and students on a budget, such as Starbucks, Quick, Burger King, and McDonald's.

Address: Avenue des Champs-Elysées, 75008 Paris (Métro: Champs-Élysées Clemenceau station to visit the Jardins des Champs-Élysées and Petit Palais, Franklin d. Roosevelt station for Ladurée, George V station for the main shopping area).

Musee d'Orsay

You haven't seen the best of French art until you visit the Musée d'Orsay . The Musée du Louvre may hold the most masterpieces of European painting, but the Musée d'Orsay focuses on works by celebrated French artists including Monet, Renoir, and Degas.

If you love Impressionist art , this is the place to go. The Musée d'Orsay displays a splendid collection of 19th- and 20th-century art (created from 1848 to 1914).

Although the museum's inventory begins with 19th-century Realist paintings and landscape paintings, the highlight of the museum is the Impressionism collection. Also on display are Post-Impressionist works by artists such as Pierre Bonnard, Paul Cézanne, and Vincent van Gogh, and bohemian artists like Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Some of the museum's famous paintings include Claude Monet's The Magpie , Gare Saint-Lazare, Poppy Field , and Luncheon on the Grass ; Vincent van Gogh's self-portrait and Starry Night ; and Renoir's Dance at Moulin de la Galette, which depicts a festive party scene in Montmartre.

You may rent an audioguide to take a self-guided tour. The commentary (available in English and French) covers over 300 works.

The museum also has a bookstore/gift shop, two casual cafés, and a fine-dining restaurant, which is worth the splurge. Formerly the Hôtel d'Orsay (a luxury hotel within the original Gare d'Orsay) and listed as a Monument Historique , the Musée d'Orsay Restaurant features gilded ceilings and sparkling chandeliers.

On the square in front of the museum, there is a kiosk that sells sandwiches and falafel.

Address: Musée d'Orsay, Esplanade Valéry Giscard d'Estaing 75007 Paris (Métro: Musée d'Orsay, Assemblée Nationale, or Solférino station)

Palais Garnier Opera House & the Bibliotèchque-Musée de l'Opera

Commissioned by Napoleon III in 1860, the Palais Garnier Opera House was designed by Charles Garnier in an exuberant Baroque style. Garnier worked tirelessly on the project for over a decade, from 1862 to 1875. Today, this show-stopping landmark is a symbol of Napoleon's Imperial regime.

Upon entering the building, you are dazzled by the lavish 11,000-square-meter interior. Much of the building's space is dedicated to the main foyer with its fabulous Grand Escalier , marble entrance staircase, adorned by ornate gilded lamps, and the Salon du Glacier , a sumptuous Belle Époque hall decorated with mirrors, Corinthian columns painted gold, colorful mosaics, and music-themed ceiling paintings.

The horseshoe-shaped auditorium has an intimate feel, although it can accommodate 2,105 people in its plush velvet seats. Gilded balconies, an enormous crystal chandelier, and a Chagall ceiling painting add to the theater's marvelousness, creating the perfect dramatic backdrop for ballet, opera, and music performances.

The Opéra Garnier hosts a prestigious calendar of events in addition to galas. Attending a performance is one of the most exciting things to do in Paris at night. It's a wonderful way to see the building's interior while enjoying a glamorous evening. Another option is to visit (entry ticket required) on a self-guided tour or take a guided tour during the daytime.

Connoisseurs of fine dining will be delighted to discover CoCo, a chic restaurant within the Opera House (entrance is at 1 Place Jacques Rouché) that serves contemporary French cuisine prepared from seasonal ingredients. CoCo offers lunch and dinner daily, as well as weekend brunch (every Saturday and Sunday) featuring musical entertainment. The garden terrace is open Tuesday through Saturday during summertime. Reservations are recommended.

Address: Palais Garnier, Place de l'Opéra, 8 Rue Scribe (at Auber) 75009 Paris (Métro: Opéra, Chaussée d'Antin-La Fayette or Havre-Caumartin station)

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris (Photo taken prior to the April 2019 fire)

Despite the damage done by the 2019 fire, it is still worth seeing the Notre-Dame Cathedral. This awe-inspiring medieval monument stands at the heart of Paris on the Île-de-la-Cité, an island in the Seine River. To get here from the Latin Quarter , simply cross the Petit Pont bridge.

The Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris was founded in 1163 by King Louis IX (Saint Louis) and Bishop Maurice de Sully, and the construction took more than 150 years. The cathedral was first created in the Early Gothic style, while later additions (the west front and the nave) show the transition to High Gothic style.

View of the cathedral's facade during renovations

Note: A large fire in April of 2019 caused considerable damage to the cathedral: The medieval roof and the 19th-century spire collapsed. However, the monument was partly saved thanks to the work of hundreds of firefighters.

A project to repair the structure is underway. The city plans to rebuild the cathedral and restore it to its previous state. Restoration work is ongoing.

Currently, the interior of the cathedral (including the towers) and the space immediately in front of the cathedral (on the Parvis Notre-Dame) are closed to the public. A few steps away from the cathedral's facade, a section of the Parvis Notre-Dame (square) is now used for educational exhibits about the cathedral.

The Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral anticipates reopening in December 2024. A project to redesign the landscaping around the cathedral is scheduled for completion in 2027.

Until the reopening, the Notre-Dame de Paris congregation will celebrate Mass at the Eglise Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois (2 Place du Louvre) in the 1st arrondissement.

Address: Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, 6 Parvis Notre-Dame - Place Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris (Métro: Cité or Saint-Michel Notre-Dame station)

Place de la Concorde

The Place de la Concorde stands at the heart of Paris both literally and figuratively. The square was created in 1772 by the architect of King Louis XV. During the French Revolution, the Place de la Concorde was the scene of state-ordered executions , including Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, among other victims of the guillotine. The square was also part of Napoleon's triumphal route.

One of the largest and most central squares in the city, the Place de la Concorde offers a sensational perspective of the city's landmarks. In one direction, you can admire the Arc de Triomphe and in the other, the Louvre, while the Eiffel Tower can be seen in the distance.

Two ornately decorated fountains and an Egyptian obelisk are found in the middle of the square. However, it's a bit of a hassle to get up close because you have to walk through heavy traffic. The Place de la Concorde is one of the busiest intersections in Paris.

Tip for Pedestrians : You will notice cars circulating the square at high speeds. French drivers don't always pay attention to pedestrians. Make sure to get out of the way of oncoming cars!

During summertime , the Place de la Concorde adopts a fairground ambiance, with a Ferris wheel gracing the square from June through August. The neighboring Jardin des Tuileries also has amusement park rides and fairground treats during summertime.

To arrive at the Place de la Concorde, walk from the Louvre through the Jardin des Tuileries or the Rue de Rivoli, or follow the Quai des Tuileries along the Seine River. Alternatively, you may take the Métro to Concorde station.

Arc de Triomphe

Nothing says capital city grandeur quite like a triumphal arch. Paris' Arc de Triomphe is dedicated to the soldiers who fought in the French armies of the Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon I commissioned the building of this mighty structure in 1806 but did not live to see its completion in 1836.

The monument was modeled after the Arch of Titus in Rome. The massive 50-meter-high arch features bas-reliefs with larger-than-life-size figures, which depict the departure, victories, and glorious return of the French armies.

Particularly noteworthy is the bas-relief by François Rude on the Champs-Elysées-facing side: Departure of the Volunteers of 1792 , also known as La Marseillaise , illustrating the troops led by the winged spirit of Liberty. On the inner surface of the arch are the names of more than 660 generals and over a hundred battles.

The Arc de Triomphe stands at the end of the Champs-Élysées, presiding over a circular intersection (the Place de l'Étoile).

From the top of the monument, a viewing terrace affords a panoramic outlook onto the 12 avenues that radiate from the Place de l'Étoile, including the route from the Avenue des Champs-Elysées to the Place de la Concorde and the Louvre. It's also possible to see all the way to La Défense, the hilltop neighborhood of Montmartre, and the Eiffel Tower.

At the foot of the Arc de Triomphe is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier , dedicated in 1921 as a memorial to an anonymous soldier (symbol of the many other unknown soldiers who valiantly died for their country during World War One without ever receiving recognition).

The Flame of Remembrance was ignited at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on November 11th, 1923, and since that date has not ever been extinguished. Every evening at 6:30pm , a ritual takes place to rekindle the memorial flame at the tomb.

Throughout the year, events to honor national holidays are held at the Arc de Triomphe, including the November 11th (anniversary of the Armistice of 1918) ceremony commemorating those who perished in the war; the May 8th Fête de la Victoire (Victory Day) celebrating the end of WWII, and the liberation from Nazi occupation; as well as festivities for July 14th (Bastille Day).

Admission requires an entrance ticket. You may reserve a ticket in advance online. Free admission is included with the Paris Museum Pass (no reservations required). Guided tours are available.

For visitors with reduced mobility and young children, there is an elevator to reach the viewing terrace. Otherwise, you must take the stairs (284 steps).

Address: Arc de Triomphe, Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris (Métro: Charles de Gaulle-Étoile, Kléber or Argentine station)

Intendant's Apartments at Hôtel de la Marine

A fascinating glimpse of ancien régime (old regime) splendor awaits you at the Hôtel de la Marine . During the reign of Louis XV, this Neoclassical palace housed the apartments of the Intendants du Garde-Meuble de la Couronne (the King's Furniture Storage Intendants). The intendant had an important job: procuring and maintaining the furnishings for the king's elaborate palaces.

The Hôtel de la Marine opened to the public in 2021 after several years of painstaking restoration work. This monument is one of the newest tourist attractions in Paris.

You enter the Hôtel de la Marine through a cobblestone courtyard off the Place de la Concorde. Then walk up the massive marble staircase and into the reception rooms, where you feel like you have stepped back in time. The interior decor has been restored to a state of perfect preservation.

Chandeliers in the Salons d'Honneur

Adorned with gilded moldings and crystal chandeliers, the Salons d'Honneur salons resemble the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles . Other rooms in the Intendant's Apartments reveal the refinement of the Age of Enlightenment.

During this period, aristocratic residences were lavishly decorated with exquisite furnishings, wallpaper, curtains, and paintings. You'll also see precious antiques such as a desk created by Jean-Henri Riesener , a renowned 18th-century cabinetmaker.

The dining room of the Intendant's apartments at the Hôtel de la Marine

The dining room of the Intendant's Apartments, with its floral-patterned porcelain dinnerware, appears ready to welcome guests. On the guided tour, you will learn that the host placed servings of sugar (a precious commodity at the time) on the table to show off his wealth, along with bread, oysters, and bowls of fresh apricots, grapes, figs, and apples.

Be sure to step out onto the Hôtel de la Marine's Loggia , a colonnaded balcony that overlooks the Place de la Concorde. From this privileged spot, you can admire views of the Eiffel Tower, the gold-domed Hôtel National des Invalides, and the Jardins des Champs-Élysées.

Historical Notes : The Hôtel de la Marine is found on the Place de la Concorde, the square created in 1748 to display an equestrian statue of Louis XV and originally called Place Louis XV. During the French Revolution, the statue of the king was removed and the Crown jewels were stolen from the Hôtel de la Marine. In 1795, the square was renamed the "Place de la Concorde."

View over Jardin des Tuileries

Treat yourself to some time relaxing and wandering the beautiful Jardin des Tuileries. After visiting the Hôtel de la Marine, the Place de la Concorde, or the Louvre Museum, you should spend some time wandering the nearby Jardin des Tuileries. This French formal garden was designed by celebrated landscape architect André Le Nôtre in the 17th century.

Today the garden offers an escape from the hustle and bustle in central Paris, but the ambiance was not always so idyllic. This garden is the site of the Palais des Tuileries where Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were essentially imprisoned during the French Revolution. The palace was destroyed by a fire in the 19th century; all that remains is the gorgeous garden.

Jardin des Tuileries

The leafy grounds feature perfectly manicured trees, statues, and pathways. You can relax on the wooden park benches or on individual green chairs which may be moved around. Find the spot that appeals to you and lounge there for a bit, while listening to birds chirp. You'll see locals having a picnic lunch or reading a book in the sunshine.

For snacks and quick meals, head to La Terrasse de Pomone , a kiosk where you can order crepes and sandwiches to-go or for dining at the outdoor tables; the Petit Plisson kiosk that sells quiches and sandwiches for dining at shaded tables; or Petit Farmers , a purveyor of artisanal ice cream.

The park's two café-restaurants, Le Pavillon des Tuileries and the Café des Marronniers offer casual meals in a tranquil setting beneath the leafy chestnut trees.

Tips : Check the opening hours of the café-restaurants and food kiosks as the hours change during different seasons. You will only find the Petit Farmers ice cream truck & stand at the Jardin des Tuileries from April through October.

Seine river cruise at sunset

Soak up the scenery of Paris on a Seine River cruise. You'll have a chance to see the sights from a different perspective. The Seine River bridges, the Eiffel Tower, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, and the Louvre Museum look stunning from the viewpoint of a riverboat.

While a daytime cruise allows you to appreciate the glory of the monuments brightened by sunshine, the most romantic experience is an evening cruise. After sunset, the city's landmarks are illuminated, which creates a special effect, and somehow the city seems more magical.

For a cruise that includes dinner, try the Paris Seine River Dinner Cruise with Live Music by Bateaux Mouches. This luxurious riverboat cruise departs at the Pont de l'Alma (a short walk from the Eiffel Tower) and treats you to a romantic four-course meal. If you prefer a more casual boat ride, a good choice is the Seine River Direct Access Guided Cruise by Vedettes de Paris which includes commentary from a knowledgeable guide and breakfast or lunch.

Gourmands will be tempted by the Ducasse sur Seine restaurant boat, which departs from Port Debilly. This dining cruise offers a haute cuisine experience. Options include a lunch (two, three, or four-course meal) or dinner (four or five-course meal). Menus focus on contemporary-style French dishes prepared from seasonal ingredients.

Sainte-Chapelle

Sainte-Chapelle is considered a rare jewel among medieval houses of worship and is certainly one of the most exquisite churches in Paris . The ravishing 13th-century chapel is tucked away on the Île-de-la-Cité , just a few blocks (about a 10-minute walk) from the Notre-Dame Cathedral.

This masterpiece of Rayonnant Gothic architecture was built from 1242 to 1248 for King Louis IX (Saint Louis) to house the precious relics he had acquired from the Byzantine Emperor. The altar displays a relic of the Crown of Thorns.

An expanse of 13th-century stained-glass windows sets this chapel apart from any other church in the world. The windows' beauty and brilliance are best appreciated on a sunny day and in the morning. If possible, try to schedule your visit accordingly.

The chapel's over 1,000 stained-glass windows (covering 600 square meters) depict scenes from the bible, both Old Testament and New Testament stories. The colors and light symbolize divinity and the Heavenly Jerusalem.

Only used for church services on rare occasions, Sainte-Chapelle is open to the public as a museum (entrance tickets are required). For an additional fee, audioguides (available in French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese) provide one hour of commentary to help visitors appreciate the art, architecture, and history of Sainte-Chapelle.

To truly experience the serene ambiance of Sainte-Chapelle, attend one of the classical music concerts held here. In the iridescent glow of the sanctuary, performances of Baroque chamber music, sacred music, or Vivaldi string quartets have a sublime quality. A regular program of concerts is held at Sainte-Chapelle year-round, with events scheduled several times a week.

Sainte-Chapelle is located in the Palais de la Cité. To find the chapel, enter the iron gate of the Palais de Justice and walk through the inner courtyard.

Another attraction nearby is La Conciergerie (tourists may purchase combined entry tickets), the prison where Marie-Antoinette was detained during the French Revolution.

Address: Sainte-Chapelle, 8 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris (Métro: Cité, Saint-Michel Notre-Dame or Châtelet station)

Saint Chapelle - Floor plan map

A visit to the City of Light is not complete without spending time on the sidewalk terrace or bustling interior of a famous café. It's the ultimate Parisian people-watching scene and a chance to imagine the historic rendezvous that occurred here.

To discover the legendary Paris cafés, the best place to start is the Boulevard Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the 6th arrondissement. This broad tree-lined boulevard features an enticing array of storefronts: designer fashion boutiques, prestigious cafés, and old-fashioned brasseries.

The most celebrated cafés are the Café de Flore (172 Boulevard Saint-Germain-des-Prés), which was the meeting place of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, and Les Deux Magots (6 Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés), once the haunt of poets, authors, and artists, including Arthur Rimbaud, Paul Verlaine, James Joyce, Pablo Picasso, and Ernest Hemingway.

Les Deux Magots cafe

Across from Les Deux Magots is the Eglise Saint-Germain-des-Prés , one of the most important churches in Paris .

At both Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots, you will get the classic Parisian café experience, complete with waiters wearing bow ties. Although the waiters have a reputation for their brusque service, their formality adds to the authentic ambiance.

The Saint-Germain-des-Prés area also has excellent pâtisserie boutiques, boulangeries, and chocolate shops such as the Ladurée tea salon (21 Rue Bonaparte), the Maison Le Roux Chocolatier & Caramélier (1 Rue de Bourbon le Château), and Debauve & Gallais (30 Rue des Saints-Pères), a boutique founded in 1779 that supplied Marie-Antoinette with chocolates.

Join the Paris Sweet Tooth Stroll small-group tour to sample the neighborhood's finest sweet treats.

The brasseries of Boulevard du Montparnasse were also frequented by artists and writers during the early 20th century. Le Dôme in Montparnasse is a Paris institution (108 Boulevard du Montparnasse) that has attracted luminaries including Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Picasso. In its glittering Art Deco dining room, the restaurant serves exceptional seafood.

Another atmospheric French brasserie with a mythical past, La Coupole (102 Boulevard du Montparnasse) has, since the 1920s, been visited by artists such as André Derain, Fernand Léger, Man Ray, Pablo Picasso, and Marc Chagall as well as the novelist Albert Camus and the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.

La Rotonde Montparnasse (105 Boulevard du Montparnasse) has been a gathering place for painters and writers since 1911 and still attracts cinematographers and artists today.

Jardin du Luxembourg

The Jardin du Luxembourg is the best-known park in Paris after the Tuileries. The 25-hectare park features a formal French garden, similar to the Jardin des Tuileries, as well as an English garden with shady groves of overgrown trees.

On a nice day, it's fun to grab a baguette sandwich at a nearby bakery and then find a chair in front of the garden's duck pond. This is the Paris version of going to the beach when the weather is pleasant. You'll notice many local residents taking a lunch break or simply soaking up some sunshine at the park. It's an especially popular spot among students of the Latin Quarter.

You can also visit a rose garden, apiary, Orangerie (orangery), and greenhouses filled with exotic orchids, as well as an orchard where heirloom varieties of apples flourish.

Palais du Luxembourg

Artistic treasures are found throughout the gardens, such as the picturesque 17th-century Fontaine Médicis , a fountain basin nestled under trees opposite the east front of the Palais du Luxembourg , which today is used by the French state as the seat of the Senate.

Steps away from the Fontaine Médicis is La Terrasse de Madame , a little café-restaurant in a charming setting. You may dine at outdoor tables beneath the leafy chestnut trees. The menu includes coffee and croissants for breakfast and bistro meals for lunch, such as steak, Croque Monsieur (sandwiches), quiche, grilled fish, charcuterie, and salads. Also on the menu are traditional French desserts like profiteroles and crème brûlée .

La Terrasse de Madame

Children love the playground, which features swings, slides, a sandpit, a games area, and pony rides. A favorite activity for the youngest visitors at the Jardin du Luxembourg is steering miniature sailboats around in the octagonal pool (the boats can be hired at a kiosk by the pond).

For French-speaking kids, watching a puppet show at the Théâtre des Marionnettes is not to be missed. The Théâtre des Marionnettes is a modern venue, in the southwest area of the park near the tennis courts, that accommodates an audience of up to 275 children and adults (which makes it the largest puppet theater in France).

Address: Jardin du Luxembourg, Rue de Vaugirard/Rue de Médicis, 75006 Paris (Métro: Luxembourg or Odéon station)

Sacré-Coeur and Quartier Montmartre

Sitting at the highest point in Paris like an ornamental decoration, the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre has a special aura. Its alabaster facade blends Romanesque and Byzantine styles, and from far away, it looks like a wedding cake (which is its nickname).

If you walk to the Sacré-Coeur Basilica from the Métro station, you must walk up the Esplanade, a staircase of over 200 steps, to arrive at the Basilica.

Inside the Basilica, the striking mosaic of Christ with a flaming heart gives the sanctuary an emotional and spiritual intensity, fitting for a church that was created as a symbol of hope after the Franco-Prussian War. In keeping with the somber ambiance, the Basilica's sanctuary is quite dark except for a plethora of flickering candles.

The atmosphere outside the church is quite a contrast, with Parisian joie de vivre in full swing. Locals like to hang out on the grass lawns of the Esplanade while listening to street musicians. You'll see tourists taking selfies, couples embracing, and kids playing on the grass. Below the Esplanade is an old-fashioned carousel, adding to the sense of festivity.

You can spend time on the terrace in front of the Basilica admiring the views of Paris or climb (300 steps) up to the Basilica's Dome for an even higher perspective with unobstructed panoramas. Admission to the Dome requires an entrance fee, but you may visit the Basilica free of charge .

After visiting the Sacré-Coeur, be sure to explore the enchanting neighborhood of Montmartre . This medieval country village (once considered outside of the city) has been incorporated into the city of Paris as the 18th arrondissement.

Picturesque street in the Montmartre neighborhood

Montmartre exudes old-fashioned charm along with an avant-garde edge. Winding cobblestone streets and pedestrian staircases lead to small locally owned boutiques and restaurants, art galleries that evoke the quarter's bohemian past, and quiet squares filled with outdoor cafés .

During the Belle Époque, the village of Montmartre began to attract artists such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Edgar Degas. The bohemian creative spirit of Montmartre is still found here, especially around the Place du Tertre and the Carré Roland Dorgelès .

Montmartre has several excellent art museums, where you can admire the creations of artists who resided here in the late 19th and early 20th century (the Belle Époque). During that era, the quarter was famous for its cabarets and artists' studios.

The Musée de Montmartre (12 Rue Cortot) occupies a historic house where Auguste Renoir, Raoul Dufy, Suzanne Valadon, and other artists once lived and worked. Tucked away within the museum's gardens, you'll find the Café Renoir , which features outdoor seating in the delightful space where Renoir painted several masterpieces.

If you are intrigued by Surrealist art, be sure to visit the Dalí Paris museum (11 Rue Poulbot). This innovative museum displays more than 300 works created by Salvador Dalí. The exhibits are presented in a way that reveals the symbols and motifs used in his artworks.

Address: Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, 35 Rue du Chevalier-de-la-Barre, 75018 Paris (Métro: Abbesses)

Panthéon

The Panthéon is the national mausoleum of France's greatest citizens. You get a sense of the important heritage just by glancing at this grand monument. The colonnaded facade and enormous dome were modeled after the ancient Pantheon in Rome.

The architecture of the Panthéon marks a clear break from the fanciful Rococo style of the Louis XV era and instead presents a simpler and more somber Neoclassical style. The inscription on the Panthéon's facade reads " Aux Grands Hommes La Patrie Reconnaissante " (" To the Great Men Recognized by Their Country ").

Dome of the Panthéon

Many famous men (75 in total) are buried here, including philosophers Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and René Descartes; and the writers Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Émile Zola, and André Malraux. Although the monument was originally dedicated exclusively to France's male citizens, this has changed recently.

Since 1995, several of France's most esteemed female citizens have been buried in the Panthéon including the physicist Marie Curie, a two-time winner of the Nobel Prize. Five other women are buried at the Panthéon. In November 2021, Josephine Baker (the famous Black American expatriate dancer and singer) became the sixth woman to receive the honor of being inducted into the Panthéon.

La Convention Nationale, Pantheon

When you step inside the Neoclassical sanctuary, you will be awed by the spacious domed interior, the floor-to-ceiling paintings that depict scenes of Christian saints, and the enormous sculpture that celebrates French Revolution deputies ( La Convention Nationale ).

Beneath the monumental rotunda is an unusual centerpiece: a science experiment rather than a work of art. Foucault's pendulum , created by French physicist Léon Foucault, was installed in 1851 to demonstrate his theory that the Earth rotates. The brass pendulum hangs from the dome on a steel wire and constantly oscillates in a circular trajectory.

To find the famous citizen's monuments and tombs, you will need a map (available on-site). The underground crypt is arranged in a geometric fashion, but it is easy to get lost.

Foucault's pendulum

Entrance to the Panthéon requires an admission fee, unless you have a Paris Museum Pass and except for the first Sunday of every month from November through March.

From April through September (for an additional entrance fee), you may ascend to the Panthéon's dome, where a colonnaded balcony provides a sensational view of the city's landmarks. You can see the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum, the Eiffel Tower, and the Sacré-Coeur Basilica in the hilltop neighborhood of Montmartre.

Address: Panthéon, Place du Panthéon, 75005 Paris (Métro: Luxembourg station)

Place des Vosges

In the charming Marais district, the Place des Vosges is Paris' oldest public square. With its uniform red-brick architecture, this elegant square provided a model for other squares such as Place Vendôme and Place de la Concorde.

The Place des Vosges was constructed between 1605 and 1612 (called Place Royale at the time) for King Henri IV. The buildings originally housed aristocratic residences.

The Place Royale offered a splendid setting for festive occasions in the 17th century, such as tournaments, state receptions, and court weddings. It was also a favorite spot for duels, in spite of Cardinal Richelieu's ban on dueling. The celebrated courtesan of Louis XIII's reign lived at number 11, and the future Madame de Sévigné was born in 1626 at number 1 on the square.

Victor Hugo rented an apartment at number 6 on the Place Royale between 1832 and 1848. Today this apartment is a museum, the Maison de Victor Hugo (6 Place des Vosges) which is devoted to educating visitors about the life and work of Victor Hugo.

The Place des Vosges is at the heart of Le Marais, a medieval quarter with narrow cobblestone streets, grand Renaissance palaces, and hôtels particuliers (mansions) of the 16th and 17th centuries. Several of these stately old buildings have been converted into museums.

Musée des Archives Nationales in the Hôtel de Soubise

A fascinating glimpse of France's history awaits you at the Musée des Archives Nationales (Museum of the National Archives) in the 17th-century Hôtel de Soubise (60 Rue des Francs-Bourgeois). The museum presents historical exhibits including the Edict of Nantes, French Revolution objects, Marie-Antoinette's last testament, and a letter written to Napoleon.

The most important museum of the quarter is the Musée Carnavalet - Histoire de Paris. This recently renovated museum illustrates the history of Paris from antiquity through the French Revolution and the Belle Époque until the present day.

In the Hôtel Salé (a 17th-century aristocratic mansion), the Musée National Picasso-Paris (5 Rue de Thorigny) wows you with its incredibly extensive collection (over 5,000 pieces) of Picasso's artwork, including some of his most iconic masterpieces.

Cafe in Le Marais

More than just an open-air museum filled with historic monuments, Le Marais has become a trendy quarter full of fashion boutiques, cute cafés, and unique shops. Spend some time wandering the Rue de Sévigné and its cross street, the Rue des Francs Bourgeois . This area brims with youthful energy and is a fun place to visit for a stroll or a coffee break.

Another interesting fact about Le Marais is that it has a significant Jewish community. The Musée d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme (71 Rue du Temple) presents the 2,000-year history of France's Jewish communities, along with educational programs about Jewish culture and exhibitions of artwork by Jewish artists such as Chagall and Modigliani.

Nearby, the Jardin Anne Frank offers the tranquility of a secluded garden. This quiet, leafy green space features benches, shady trees, and an orchard. One of the chestnut trees in the garden was grafted from a tree that Anne Frank could see from the window of the annex where she lived in Amsterdam.

For those in search of a refined Parisian experience, the Mariage Frères (30 Rue du Bourg-Tibourg) is the place to go. This tea salon serves its aromatic tea with savory and sweet delicacies in a French colonial-style dining room; its adjoining shop sells a wide selection of scented teas in distinctive tins.

Many tourists wait in line to try the authentic falafel at L'As du Fallafel (34 Rue des Rosiers), considered one of the best Middle Eastern restaurants in Paris. This area has several kosher restaurants and kosher bakeries.

Tip : Keep in mind that L'As du Fallafel and other Jewish-owned shops in the Marais are closed on Shabbat (Friday evening and Saturday during the daytime).

Address: Place des Vosges, 75004 Paris (Métro: Saint-Paul or Bastille station)

Garden at the Rodin Museum (Musee Rodin)

The Musée Rodin is a hidden gem in the posh 7th arrondissement. This peaceful haven of refinement occupies the Hôtel Biron , an 18th-century mansion where sculptor Auguste Rodin lived and worked for many years. The property includes a seven-acre Sculpture Garden that blooms with flowers throughout the year.

In 1908, Auguste Rodin began to rent several rooms on the ground floor of the Hôtel Biron to use as an atelier. Rodin later took over the entire Hôtel Biron, which became his place of residence for the rest of his life. In 1916, Rodin donated his artworks and collection of antiquities to the French state, and the museum was established soon thereafter.

The Musée Rodin displays a remarkable assortment of Rodin's sculptures, as well as the works of Camille Claudel. Rodin masterpieces presented in the Hôtel Biron include Danaïd , an expressive marble sculpture depicting a mythological character (created in 1890); The Age of Bronze (created in 1877); The Cathedral , a stone sculpture of two intertwined hands (created in 1908); and The Kiss , one of Rodin's most sensual works (created around 1882).

Several monumental Rodin sculptures preside over various corners of the Sculpture Garden. The Thinker , Rodin's most iconic work of art , sits on a pedestal overlooking the perfectly manicured formal garden. The expressive Monument to Balzac stands in a shady spot beneath leafy trees, while a bronze statue of Adam is sheltered behind dense shrubbery.

Adding to the romance of the garden are the park benches and the café-restaurant, L'Augustine , where you may relax on an outdoor terrace. The café-restaurant also has a casual indoor dining space. Here you can savor a classic French meal, complete with dessert supplied by the renowned Maison Lenôtre pâtisserie.

Place Vendome

This graceful 17th-century square was designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart , one of the leading architects of Le Grand Siècle (during the reign of Louis XIV). Originally, the square was called Place Louis le Grand and was intended to house royal establishments.

The charm of the Place Vendôme is that it has retained the consistency of the overall design, which combines regal ostentation with civic simplicity. Following careful restoration in the early '90s, it has been restored in all its splendor.

The square is known for its upscale jewelry boutiques including Boucheron, Chaumet, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Cartier. Another luxury establishment here is the Ritz Hotel , which was frequented by Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein.

Coco Chanel made the Ritz Paris her home for 34 years; she decorated her suite in her signature style with velvet-upholstered sofas, lacquered furniture, and gilded mirrors. The Ritz Paris still has a suite named after Coco Chanel that exemplifies her vision of Parisian chic.

At the center of the Place Vendôme stands a landmark of historic importance, the Colonne de la Grande Armée (replacing a statue of Louis XIV that was removed in 1792). Built between 1806 and 1810, the 42-meter-high column is dedicated to Napoleon and his Grande Armée (army) who fought heroically and victoriously in the Battle of Austerlitz (in December 1805).

The column's facade is crafted from bronze plaques embossed with 108 spiraling bas-relief friezes (similar to Trajan's Column in Rome), which tell the story of the glorious events that took place during Napoleon's campaign of 1805.

Address: Place Vendôme, 75001 Paris (Métro: Tuileries or Opéra station)

Centre Pompidou

In the charming Le Marais quarter, the Centre Pompidou is a cultural center devoted to modern art. The building itself features shocking modern architecture, sometimes described as an "inside out" design because the architectural details of staircases and elevators appear on the exterior.

The main attraction of the Centre Pompidou is the Musée National d'Art Moderne (National Museum of Modern Art), which displays iconic works of art chosen from an extensive collection of over 100,000 pieces. The collection focuses on contemporary art created from 1905 to the present.

The collection covers all the movements of modern art, beginning with the Post-Impressionist "Fauves" and "Les Nabis" movements (André Derain, Raoul Dufy, Henri Matisse, Pierre Bonnard, and Marc Chagall) and continuing with the famous movement of Cubism (Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Fernand Léger, and Robert Delaunay).

Each room highlights a specific time period or artistic movements such as Expressionism, Constructivism (Paul Klee and Piet Mondrian), Surrealism (Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, René Magritte, and André Masson), Abstract Expressionism (Mark Rothko, Nicolas de Staël, Hans Hartung, and Serge Poliakoff), Informal Art (Jean Dubuffet), New Realism, and Pop Art (Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg).

Several masterpieces of the collection are not to be missed : Avec l'Arc Noir by Wassily Kandinsky, Manège de Cochons by Robert Delaunay, Portrait de la Journaliste Sylvia von Harden by Otto Dix, The Frame by Frida Kahlo, Les Mariés de la Tour Eiffel by Marc Chagall, La Blouse Roumaine by Henri Matisse, New York City by Piet Mondrian, and Les Loisirs-Hommage à Louis David by Fernand Léger.

The center has two bookstores, a casual café, and a boutique that sells gift items inspired by contemporary art.

For a special dining experience, head to the Centre Pompidou's restaurant on the museum's top floor. Restaurant Georges features floor-to-ceiling windows with spectacular panoramic views of the Paris cityscape. Tables on the terrace look out directly onto the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, and Montmartre.

Address: Centre Pompidou, Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris (Métro: Rambuteau, Hôtel de Ville, Châtelet or Rambuteau station)

Hôtel National des Invalides

Louis XIV founded the Hôtel Royal des Invalides in the late 17th century as a home for disabled soldiers. The building was constructed between 1671 and 1676 under the direction of the architect Libéral Bruant and centered on the Eglise Saint-Louis-des-Invalides, which was later redesigned by the architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart in 1706.

Today, the Hôtel National des Invalides still has a hospital (Institution Nationale des Invalides) that provides medical care for disabled veterans.

The monument also includes several tourist attractions: three museums and two historic churches. You could easily spend hours here, and luckily the site has excellent amenities: a café-restaurant, the Angelina tearoom (famous for its hot chocolate and pastries) in a tree-shaded courtyard, and a bookstore/gift shop.

Founded in 1794, the Musée de l'Armée (Army Museum) presents a large collection of military equipment and uniforms, weapons, prints, and armor from various historical periods. The museum covers the military history of France from the 13th century (the Crusades) to the 17th century. There are also paintings of Napoleon and well-known generals, as well as maps that depict the French campaigns.

The Musée de l'Ordre de la Libération honors the soldiers who fought for the liberation of France during the Second World War, from 1940 to 1945. This museum also educates visitors about the deportation of Jews from France, the Resistance, and life in France during the war.

The military strategy of the 17th century comes to life at the Musée des Plans-Reliefs (Museum of Relief Maps). The museum displays 97 detailed (1 to 600 scale) relief maps of France's fortified towns (citadels) and fortresses that date from 1668 to 1871. Louis XIV's Minister of War (and later ministers) used the maps for military planning purposes.

Cathédrale Saint-Louis des Invalides

A gold-domed Neoclassical church, the Eglise du Dôme des Invalides was built in 1677 as a royal chapel for Louis XIV but is most famous for being the site of Napoleon's Tomb , installed here in 1861 by the orders of King Louis-Philippe. The imperial tomb stands beneath a magnificent cupola, which was painted by Charles de la Fosse.

Designed for veterans to worship, the Cathédrale Saint-Louis des Invalides (constructed around 1676) connects with the Eglise du Dôme des Invalides. This chapel was built in keeping with the etiquette of the 17th century and has a separate entrance from the Eglise du Dôme. The Eglise Saint-Louis des Invalides still serves as the cathedral for the French army.

Address: Hôtel National des Invalides, Esplanade des Invalides, 129 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris

The Palais-Royal

Just steps away from the Louvre Museum, you will find a welcome retreat amid the bustle of Paris' 1st arrondissement. Visiting this secluded spot feels like a secret getaway, even though it's right in the center of the city.

The Palais-Royal was created as a residence for Cardinal Richelieu in 1633, during the reign of Louis XIII. Richelieu later bequeathed the palace to the royal family, and it became the childhood home of Louis XIV.

Exemplifying classical French architecture, the Domaine National du Palais-Royal is made up of 60 pavilions surrounding a courtyard and a garden, the Jardin du Palais-Royal . This peaceful enclosed space has the feeling of being its own little village within the city.

After wandering the busy streets of Paris, you will be delighted by the lush tree-shaded grounds. You might be surprised to see that the courtyard features a contemporary sculpture installation, a striking contrast to the historic architecture.

The buildings are connected by a colonnaded pathway and arcaded galleries (verandas) filled with high-end boutiques . There are fancy cafés with pleasant outdoor terraces and two gastronomic restaurants: the haute-cuisine Palais Royal Restaurant (two Michelin stars); and Le Grand Véfour in an 18th-century dining room featuring ornate " art décoratif " design motifs.

The Palais-Royal area has two theaters: the Théâtre du Palais-Royal (38 Rue de Montpensier), which dates back to 1783 and continues to present theater performances in French; and La Comédie-Française (1 Place Colette), a theater known as the " La Maison de Molière " because it has staged so many of the famous playwright's works. The Comédie-Française was inaugurated in 1790 and is still in use during its theater season.

A lovely place for a stroll, the Domaine National du Palais-Royal is open every day, free of charge. The Centre des Monuments Nationaux offers guided group tours.

Address: Domaine National du Palais-Royal, 8 Rue Montpensier, 75001 Paris (Métro: Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre or Pyramides station)

Colonne de Juillet, Place de la Bastille

Now, only the name of this square is a reminder that the notorious state prison known as the Bastille, the much-hated symbol of absolutist power, once stood here. After the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, the prison was completely demolished.

In the center of Place de la Bastille is the 51-meter-high Colonne de Juillet , topped by a graceful gilded figure of Liberty ( Génie de la Liberté ). The monument commemorates the July Revolution of 1830, which overthrew King Charles X and brought Louis-Philippe d'Orléans to power.

Four Gallic cocks and a lion relief on the base of the column symbolize the free people of France. A spiral staircase of 283 steps inside the column leads to a viewing platform.

On the site of the Bastille prison is the new Opera House, the Opéra Bastille , inaugurated by President Mitterrand on July 13, 1989. This immense modern theater has seating for 2,745 people. Both the view of the stage from the auditorium and the acoustics are superb.

The Opéra Bastille presents a calendar of events that includes opera and ballet performances by the Opéra National de Paris and the Corps de Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris.

For a memorable evening in Paris, attend one of the performances at the Opéra Bastille and then dine in the Bastille area. This trendy neighborhood is brimming with quirky boutiques, hip clothing shops, stylish restaurants, and happening cafés.

Address: Place de la Bastille, 75012 Paris (Métro: Bastille)

Pont au Change leading to the Place du Châtelet

The Place du Châtelet stands at the very center of Paris in the 1st arrondissement, overlooking the Seine River. The Pont au Change (bridge) provides access from the Île de la Cité to the Place du Châtelet.

Tip : It's just a short walk from Sainte-Chapelle and La Conciergerie on the Île-de-la-Cité to the Place du Châtelet, so it would make sense to visit these tourist attractions at the same time.

Two theaters grace the Place du Châtelet. The opulent Second Empire Théâtre du Châtelet (1 Place du Châtelet) presents a wide variety of music concerts, as well as dance and theater performances. A listed Monument Historique where Sarah Bernhardt once directed shows, the Théâtre de la Ville (2 Place du Châtelet) stages a diverse program of dance, music, and theater performances.

Tour Saint-Jacques

The area around Place du Châtelet is also worth exploring. Continue towards the Rue de Rivoli, past the Boulevard de Sébastopol, and wander through the small park to find the Tour Saint-Jacques . The 16th-century Flamboyant Gothic clock tower is all that remains of the Eglise Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie (the patron saint of butchers), the town's old parish church.

The Saint-Jacques Tower is also famous as the place where Blaise Pascal conducted one of his barometric experiments, which showed the effect of altitude on the height of a column of mercury.

La Conciergerie

Never mind the inviting name, this imposing medieval fortress was an infamous place of detention and a courthouse (from 1793 to 1795) during the French Revolution. Here, prisoners including Marie-Antoinette and Robespierre were kept in dank cells while awaiting their fate.

The Conciergerie is a remnant of the Palais de la Cité , the royal residence of France's kings in the 13th and 14th centuries until the royal residence was moved to the Louvre. During the Restoration (return of the Bourbon monarchs to the throne), the Conciergerie was no longer used as a prison and Marie-Antoinette's cell was converted into a commemorative chapel.

Today, the Conciergerie is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is open to the public as a museum. It's possible to purchase a combined entry ticket for the Conciergerie and Sainte-Chapelle. Admission to the Conciergerie is included with a Paris Museum Pass.

During your visit, you will have a chance to walk through the Prisoners' Corridor which includes a replica of French Revolution-era prison cells. An evocative exhibit, the Salle des Noms lists the names of more than 4,000 people who were put on trial by the Revolutionary Tribunal and includes their biographies.

Of course, you must visit the expiatory chapel of Marie-Antoinette (the commemorative chapel). Look for the motif of tears painted on the walls.

Other highlights of the visit include the Salle des Gardes which exhibits artifacts from the bloody Reign of Terror, including a guillotine blade, prison regulations, and a copy of Marie-Antoinette's last letter.

The Salle des Gens d'Armes is a 14th-century vaulted Gothic hall of awesome proportions. In this forbidding room, the condemned prisoners were handed over to the executioner.

For an exceptional view of the building's Neo-Gothic facade, stand on the opposite side of the Seine River on the Quai de la Mégisserie. From this distance, with its three round towers and the Tour de l'Horloge (Clock Tower), the fortress resembles a fairy-tale castle rather than a penitentiary.

Address: 2 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris (Métro: Cité or Saint-Michel Notre-Dame station)

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Formerly royal hunting grounds, the Bois de Boulogne is now home to a surprising modern landmark. Opened in 2014, the Fondation Louis Vuitton was commissioned by Bernard Arnault, chairman of the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy corporation.

Acclaimed American architect Frank Gehry designed the striking building, using 3,600 glass panels and more steel than the amount in the Eiffel Tower. The museum features 3,500 square meters of exhibition space with 11 different galleries illuminated by natural light.

In keeping with the museum's modern theme, the permanent collection focuses entirely on 20th-century and 21st-century art organized into four different categories: Expressionism, Contemplative Art, Pop Art, and Music & Sound.

The Fondation Louis Vuitton offers a year-round calendar of events and temporary exhibits. Cultural events and music performances are presented in a 1,000-seat auditorium.

Not to be missed are the four outdoor terraces on the rooftop, which afford sweeping views of the Bois de Boulogne, La Défense district, and the Eiffel Tower in the distance. You may also shop at the bookstore and enjoy a snack or meal at Le Frank Restaurant .

A tourist attraction in itself, the 850-hectare Bois de Boulogne has walking paths, gardens, bicycle rentals, picnic areas, and a lake for boating. Three upscale restaurants, including La Grande Cascade , the Auberge du Bonheur , and the three Michelin-starred restaurant Le Pré Catelan , offer traditional French fine dining. At the park's hippodrome used for horse races, La Brasserie Paris Longchamp serves casual sit-down meals.

Within the Bois de Boulogne is the Parc de Bagatelle with picnic tables, a snack bar, and a rose garden. The 18th-century Château de Bagatelle is open on Sundays and for temporary exhibitions. The Orangery of the Parc de Bagatelle hosts a Chopin Festival every year from mid-June until mid-July.

Address: 8 Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, Bois de Boulogne, 75116 Paris (Métro: Pont de Neuilly or Avenue Foch)

La Géode IMAX theater

Covering 55 hectares, the Parc de La Villette is the largest landscaped green space in Paris. The park is brimming with attractions, including children's playgrounds and the Cité de la Music .

The park is also home to 400-seat La Géode IMAX theater; the Zénith Paris - La Villette concert hall; the Philharmonie de Paris performance venue; and Le Trabendo , which stages rock, rap, and hip-hop music concerts.

During summertime, Parisians (and a few tourists) enjoy attending cultural events at the Parc de La Villette. For several days at the end of May, the Villette Sonique festival draws huge crowds to outdoor music concerts. Other festivals include Jazz à La Villette held from late August through early September and an outdoor film festival ( Cinéma en Plein Air ), which takes place in the park from mid-July to mid-August.

The park features a variety of themed gardens with walking paths, footbridges, and bright red architectural "follies" designed by Bernard Tschumi. The area around the Canal de l'Ourcq is embellished with ponds and fountains.

Address: 211 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 75019 Paris (Métro: Porte de la Villette)

Seine River bank

Planning to visit Paris during summertime? Be sure to pack your swimsuit! Even though the city is far from the sea, you can still find "beaches" for sunbathing.

From early July through late August, the Seine River becomes a beach destination. The riverbanks along the Quai de Seine and Quai de Loire are transformed into little resorts, complete with lounge chairs, sun umbrellas, and palm trees. Recreational opportunities include table football, tai chi, and petanque.

Other summertime recreational opportunities (in July and August) include swimming at the Bassin de La Villette , which has three swimming pools with lifeguards, and sports activities at the Jardins du Trocadéro .

Père Lachaise Cemetery

Outside of central Paris, the Père Lachaise Cemetery in the 20th arrondissement is the city's most famous and most visited cemetery. This 44-hectare space is the final resting place of many famous men and women, including Honoré de Balzac, Frédéric Chopin, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, and Jim Morrison.

Some of the tombs and graves of the most admired personalities attract a cult following, with flowers and tributes left by visitors on a daily basis.

Address: Cimetière du Père Lachaise, 21 Boulevard de Ménilmontant, 75020 Paris (Métro: Père Lachaise or Philippe Auguste station)

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

Locals escape to this peaceful oasis when they need a break from urban life. Among Parisians, this park is a favorite place to go for picnics and basking in the sunshine on warm days.

The 25-hectare park has the feeling of an untamed pastoral landscape, in contrast to the typical Parisian formal French gardens, with their orderly rows of flowerbeds and pollarded trees.

This romantic English-style garden features caves, waterfalls, and an artificial lake. Large shady trees and spacious grassy areas invite visitors to pull out a blanket and relax. Some areas of the park offer panoramic city views.

The convivial Rosa Bonheur café serves Mediterranean cuisine on an outdoor terrace. Rosa Bonheur is also known for its musical entertainment and evening dances.

For a gourmet lunch or brunch, Le Pavillon du Lac delights you with its lake views and garden patio. Le Pavillon du Lac is open for lunch and dinner Wednesday through Saturday and for brunch on Sundays.

Address: Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, 1 Rue Botzaris, 75019 Paris

Grand Arche of La Défense

The Grande Arche de la Défense is found in a business district at the end of Avenue Charles-de-Gaulle. This area just outside the city limits of Paris is named La Défense, which recalls the bitter resistance by French forces in this area during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871.

Designed by Johan Otto von Spreckelsen, the Grande Arche makes a striking impression. This huge 110-meter-high rectangular triumphal arch is faced with glass and granite.

The monument was inaugurated in 1989 on the bicentenary of the French Revolution, and the contemporary structure symbolizes France's national value of fraternity. The arch was originally called " La Grande Arche de la Fraternité ".

Address: La Grande Arche, 1 Parvis de la Défense, 92040 Paris (Métro: La Défense)

Deciding where to stay in Paris depends on your taste in hotels and travel preferences.

An abundance of quaint small hotels are scattered throughout the 5th, 6th, and 7th arrondissements, which is also known as the Rive Gauche (Left Bank). Tourists appreciate this area for its central location, excellent restaurants, and lively sidewalk cafés.

The Marais quarter (4th arrondissement) on the Right Bank rivals the Left Bank for old-world charm and trendy ambiance. This neighborhood is filled with magnificent historic palaces and mansions, while enticing boutiques, cozy restaurants, cafés, and tea salons line the quarter's cobblestone streets.

Many luxury hotels are found on the boulevards near the Louvre and the Champs-Élysées, in an area of the 8th arrondissement known as the Triangle d'Or (Golden Triangle) because of its designer fashion boutiques and upscale gourmet restaurants.

Montmartre is farther from most tourist attractions but has a special atmosphere thanks to its bohemian heritage, excellent art museums, and atmospheric pedestrian alleyways. Some of the hotels in this hilltop neighborhood offer sweeping city views.

Here are some highly-rated hotels in these areas of Paris:

Luxury Hotels:

  • In the fashionable 8th arrondissement near the Jardins des Champs-Élysées is the five-star Le Bristol Paris . This legendary hotel epitomizes Parisian elegance with sumptuous guest rooms featuring Louis XV or Louis XVI furnishings and tailor-made bed linens. Guests enjoy the courtyard garden, spa, rooftop swimming pool, tea time at Café Antonia, and fine dining at the hotel's Michelin-starred gastronomic restaurant or Michelin-starred brasserie.
  • La Réserve Paris - Hotel and Spa is another ultra-luxurious accommodation in the 8th arrondissement near the Champs-Élysées. The five-star hotel occupies a palatial 19th-century mansion decorated in a classical style, yet has the intimate ambiance of a private home. Guests appreciate the top-notch amenities: spa, fitness center, indoor swimming pool, and two gourmet restaurants including a dining room with two Michelin stars.
  • Art Deco interiors create an inviting feel at the Four Seasons Hotel George V in the 8th arrondissement. This opulent five-star hotel occupies a landmark building that dates to 1928 and has been beautifully maintained. Guests are pampered by the hotel's amenities: an upscale spa, swimming pool, and three fine-dining options including a vegetarian restaurant. The hotel's gastronomic restaurant, Le Cinq, boasts three Michelin stars.
  • The Hôtel Plaza Athénée graces the tree-lined Avenue Montaigne, a prestigious boulevard lined with haute couture boutiques. Housed in a stately Haussmann-style building near the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, this five-star hotel features plush guest rooms with Art Deco furnishings. Amenities include the Dior Spa, and three dining options, including a garden courtyard restaurant and La Galerie, a salon that serves afternoon tea.

Mid-Range Hotels:

  • In the Latin Quarter steps away from the Panthéon, the impeccably maintained Hôtel Résidence Henri IV exudes old-fashioned Parisian charm with its traditional interior decor and balconies overlooking the street. The spacious guest rooms have flat-screen televisions and updated bathrooms; the apartments have kitchenettes. This four-star hotel has a hammam and offers spa treatments. The breakfast (available for an additional charge) includes artisanal and organic products.
  • The Relais Christine has a quiet and cozy ambiance, which makes it feel like a family home. This five-star hotel in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood is surrounded by cafés, bistros, and restaurants. The tastefully adorned guest rooms feature garden, courtyard, or street views and Nespresso coffee machines. Amenities include an upscale spa, fitness center, breakfast for an additional charge, and room service.
  • Near the legendary Boulevard Saint-Germain cafés and a short walk to the Jardin du Luxembourg, the boutique three-star Hôtel Left Bank Saint Germain des Prés occupies an 18th-century building on an ancient street where Molière had a residence. The hotel's suite has a living room with windows that look out onto Notre-Dame Cathedral. A continental breakfast with croissants, café au lait, and fresh-squeezed orange juice is available.
  • The charming Relais Médicis is tucked away on a quiet street near the Luxembourg Gardens. This four-star hotel is a welcome retreat from the busy streets of the Saint-Germain neighborhood. The guest rooms blend old-fashioned French country decor with modern amenities. Breakfast (available for an additional charge) includes yogurt, cheese, fresh-squeezed orange juice, coffee, tea, and croissants from a neighborhood bakery.
  • Montmartre is considered Paris' most enchanting neighborhood, although it is a Métro ride to the main tourist attractions. A few steps away from the Métro station in the heart of the quarter's narrow, winding streets is Hôtel Le Relais Montmartre . This four-star hotel has quaint guest rooms with vintage-inspired decor. The hotel offers a breakfast buffet (generous for the price) that includes croissants, yogurt, charcuterie, cheese, and fruit.

Budget Hotels:

  • The Legend Hotel by Elegancia is conveniently located in the Montparnasse district of the 6th arrondissement (Rive Gauche) and about a 10-minute walk to the Luxembourg Gardens. This cozy three-star boutique hotel has chic contemporary-style rooms. The hotel offers a 24-hour front desk, buffet or continental breakfast (for an additional charge), and concierge services.
  • In the Latin Quarter (Rive Gauche) near the Panthéon, the family-run Hôtel Diana has stylish modern rooms with renovated bathrooms and courtyard or city views. Considering the central location and 24-hour front reception desk, this hotel provides excellent value for the price. A continental-style breakfast buffet is available for a small charge.

Paris Sightseeing Overview:

  • For first-time visitors, the Paris Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour is a good choice. You can decide which monuments you would like to see, such as the Louvre Museum, Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Place de la Concorde, the Champs-Élysées, and the Musée d'Orsay. The tour provides commentary while you're on the bus and includes an entrance ticket to the Arc de Triomphe as well as a short Seine River Cruise.

Hop-on Hop-off Seine River Tour:

  • The Hop-on Hop-off Seine River Tour covers the city's highlights by cruising down the Seine River. This self-guided tour allows you to stop at eight different places on the Seine River over a one-day or two-day period. You will have a chance to see the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, the Musee d'Orsay, the legendary Saint-Germain-des-Prés cafés, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Place de la Concorde, and the Hôtel National des Invalides.

Visit the Normandy Battlefields:

  • History buffs will want to see the famous World War II battlefields, about a three-hour drive from Paris. One recommended day trip is the Normandy D-Day Beaches Tour . Accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, tourists will see the Omaha and Juno Beaches, and the American Cemetery. The tour also includes a visit to the Arromanches harbor.

Must-See Sights Outside of Paris :

  • Another popular outing from Paris is the Versailles and Giverny Day Trip . This full-day excursion explores the vibrant gardens of Giverny, which Monet depicted in many paintings, and the Château de Versailles, Louis XIV's extravagant palace. The tour includes a gourmet lunch at the Moulin de Fourges riverside restaurant, which is housed in an 18th-century mill inspired by Marie-Antoinette's hamlet at Versailles.

Many seasoned travelers say the best months to visit Paris are in the spring (April, May, June), the summer (especially June and the first half of July), and early autumn (September and October) . As a general rule, this is also the best time to visit France.

April is in the off-season , and hotel prices are reduced. The drawback is that the weather is capricious and can be quite chilly or rainy . Average low temperatures are mid-40 degrees Fahrenheit. With some luck, the weather could be refreshingly crisp and sunny. Average highs are low-60 degrees. On the upside, April offers the chance to experience the magic of early spring. Trees begin to bud their first leaves in the parks and lining the avenues. Daffodils and tulips bloom in the gardens.

In May , the weather is still fickle , with a mix of sunny days and chilly or rainy days. The temperature averages range from high 60 degrees to low 50 degrees Fahrenheit. By early May, trees, burgeoning vegetation, and colorful flowers enliven the leafy grounds of the Jardin du Luxembourg, Jardin des Champs-Élysées, Jardin des Plantes, Parc Monceau, Bois de Boulogne, and the Buttes-Chaumont. On warm days, café terraces come back to life.

June is a delightful time to visit Paris because of the balmy weather and long days . Daytime temperatures are comfortable, with high temperature averages in the low 70 degrees. Thanks to Paris' northern latitude, the sun sets at almost 10pm in June. It seems that the entire city is out and about to celebrate the beginning of summer. The sidewalk café scene bustles and there is a sense of joie de vivre in the air.

The first two weeks of July are the most exciting time to visit Paris, with Parisians' anticipation of vacation just around the corner. Plus, the weather starts to feel like summer. The entire month of July is a great time to visit because of warm days with average high temperatures of 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

July and August are the hottest months of the year in Paris. August also has average high temperatures of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. However, travelers should keep in mind that many shops and restaurants close in August when Parisians leave for summer holidays after the Fête Nationale (Bastille Day) on July 14th.

September is a marvelous time to visit Paris because the weather is still pleasant , yet it is in the off-season , so hotels are more affordable, and tourist attractions are less crowded. Similar to the springtime, September promises a mix of weather, with some sunny days and some rain. The average high temperatures are low-70 degrees Fahrenheit and average low temperatures are mid-50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Another good time to visit is October which is in the off-season . October weather can be chilly. The daytime high-temperature averages start to dip into the 60s Fahrenheit and the average low temperature is 48 degrees.

Tips for What to Wear : For a Paris vacation in April, May, September, or October, travelers should pack layers and bring sweaters, a jacket, raincoat, boots, and an umbrella. In June and July, the weather is warm enough for summer dresses and short-sleeve shirts. Packing requirements during the late fall and winter months (November through March) include heavy coats, scarves, wool hats, gloves, warm socks, and boots.

More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com

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Easy Paris Day Trips: There are many wonderful places to visit within easy reach from Paris . Just outside the Paris metropolitan area is a tranquil rural landscape that is rich in cultural treasures: lovely little villages, historic castles, splendid churches, and interesting medieval towns. A must-see destination is the Château de Versailles , the 17th-century palace of Louis XIV (the "Sun King").

For those who prefer cities to the countryside, several worthwhile destinations are just a one- to two-hour train ride away: the elegant and cultured city of Lille (one hour by TGV train) with its distinct Flemish character, the delightful town of Amiens (about one hour and 30 minutes by train), and Lyon (two hours by TGV train) known as the gastronomic heart of France.

Adored by tourists for its perfectly preserved medieval ambiance, picturesque canals, and enticing chocolate shops, atmospheric Bruges (two hours 30 minutes by train) is simple to visit even though the train crosses the border into Belgium.

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Historic Sites in Normandy: The scenic Normandy region wows visitors with its natural beauty and fascinating history. Along its dramatic coastline are the Landing Beaches of World War Two, and nearby are military cemeteries and memorial museums. One of the top attractions of France and Normandy's most visited site is Mont Saint-Michel , a UNESCO-listed medieval pilgrimage site with a sublime 12th-century abbey church. Tourists will also enjoy discovering the historic town of Rouen , with its marvelous cathedral, handsome half-timbered houses, and abundance of Gothic churches.

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Gorgeous Castles and Pastoral Landscapes: The fairy-tale Loire Valley landscape is home to the most magnificent Renaissance châteaux in France. With a lush natural environment of woodlands and rivers, this enchanting region is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The naturally beautiful region of Brittany boasts a wild, rugged coastline, with many idyllic fishing villages and an unspoiled countryside with medieval castles. The Burgundy region is dotted with historic towns such as Dijon , quaint villages, ancient abbeys, and Romanesque churches.

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  • 5.0 of 5 bubbles
  • 4.0 of 5 bubbles & up
  • 3.0 of 5 bubbles & up
  • 2.0 of 5 bubbles & up
  • Opéra / Bourse
  • 8th Arr. - Élysée
  • 1st Arr. - Louvre
  • 17th Arr. - Gobelins
  • Good for a Rainy Day
  • Budget-friendly
  • Good for Couples
  • Good for Kids
  • Good for Big Groups
  • Hidden Gems
  • Honeymoon spot
  • Good for Adrenaline Seekers
  • Adventurous
  • Things to do ranked using Tripadvisor data including reviews, ratings, photos, and popularity.

paris france to visit

1. Eiffel Tower

paris france to visit

2. Musée d'Orsay

paris france to visit

3. Louvre Museum

paris france to visit

4. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

paris france to visit

5. Luxembourg Gardens

paris france to visit

6. Arc de Triomphe

paris france to visit

7. Basilique du Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre

paris france to visit

8. Palais Garnier

paris france to visit

9. Seine River

paris france to visit

10. Sainte-Chapelle

paris france to visit

11. Montmartre

paris france to visit

12. Pont Alexandre III

paris france to visit

13. Le Marais

paris france to visit

14. Musée de l’Orangerie

paris france to visit

15. Musée Rodin

paris france to visit

16. Place des Vosges

paris france to visit

17. Jardin des Tuileries

paris france to visit

18. Saint Germain des Pres Quarter

paris france to visit

19. Musee Marmottan Monet

paris france to visit

20. Père-Lachaise Cemetery

paris france to visit

21. Latin Quarter

paris france to visit

22. Champs-Elysees

paris france to visit

23. Musee de l’Armee des Invalides

paris france to visit

24. Musée des Arts Forains

paris france to visit

25. Musee Nissim de Camondo

paris france to visit

26. Île de la Cité

paris france to visit

27. Ile Saint-Louis

paris france to visit

28. Petit Palais

paris france to visit

29. Towers of Notre-Dame Cathedral

paris france to visit

30. Musee De Cluny

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29 Beautiful Places in Paris Everyone Should Visit (at Least) Once

By Caitlin Morton

Muse Rodin Paris Museum Exterior

Compiling a list of the most beautiful places in Paris is no easy task. The city has a nearly endless supply of charming shops, artsy museums, boutique hotels, and world-famous landmarks—so choosing just a few dozen of those sites takes a good deal of restraint.

Still, we were able to put together a collection of Parisian wonders that we feel encapsulate this great city best—from the iconic Eiffel Tower to the romantic banks of the Seine River, with plenty of bookstores and cathedrals in between.

If you’re planning a trip to the City of Light, be sure to add these must-visit places to your itinerary. And even if you’ve already experienced most of these attractions, the wonderful thing about Paris is that every repeat visit unveils something new about the city. Whether it’s your first or fifth time walking along the cobblestoned streets of Saint-Germain or hearing the bells toll from Notre-Dame, you’ll find that the charm of Paris transcends cliche.

With gilded history reflected across so many arrondissements, here are 29 of the most beautiful places in Paris.

This article has been updated since its original publish date.

This image may contain Plant Grass Green Tree Vegetation Lawn Garden Arbour and Outdoors

Jardin du Luxembourg

One of the most famous green spaces in Paris (and even greener during the spring), Jardin du Luxembourg is a favorite spot for locals to stroll and relax. While the overall vibe here is quite grand and regal, there are still intimate corners to be found.

Hôtel de Crillon A Rosewood Hotel Paris

Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel

Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel has long been one of Paris’s most fabulous grande dames, but the property became even more luxurious after unveiling its four-year renovation in 2017. The current iteration features Karl Lagerfeld–designed suites, dreamy terraces for afternoon tea, and a world-class spa with a glittering indoor pool.

NotreDame Paris

Cathédrale Notre-Dame

When you think of French Gothic architecture, chances are you think of Notre-Dame . Although the cathedral’s spires were destroyed in a devastating fire in 2019, the iconic facade and rose windows still draw massive crowds—and serve as a testament to the enduring beauty of Paris.

Muse JacquemartAndr Paris

Musée Jacquemart-André

Once the home of a refined, art-collecting couple, Musée Jacquemart-André now serves as a museum with works from Rembrandt, Bellini, Botticelli, and more. The 19th-century mansion is just as much of a draw, with grand marble staircases and gallery walls that redefine #apartmentenvy.

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Andrea Cheng

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Sophie Yun Mancini

Shakespeare and Company Paris

Shakespeare and Company

A former haunt of Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein, Shakespeare and Company is as historical as it is charming. Bibliophiles could spend hours perusing the bargain racks on the sidewalk (especially on a sunny afternoon), ideally followed by a slice of lemon pie at the on-site café.

Fondation Louis Vuitton Paris

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Open since 2014, this spectacular museum is home to some of the city’s best contemporary art. But we think the sailboat-shaped building—designed by Frank Gehry—is a masterpiece in and of itself.

Eiffel Tower Paris

Eiffel Tower

You had to be expecting this one, right? There is no city-landmark pairing as iconic as Paris and the Eiffel Tower, which has defined the skyline since 1887. For some of the best photo ops, head to Place du Trocadéro , an elevated, open space with a stellar view of the tower.

Panthéon Paris

Who needs a reason to visit the Panthéon ? Its gorgeous neoclassical architecture is lure enough. Don't forget to look up.

La Maison Rose Montmartre Paris

La Maison Rose

Since the 19th century, Montmartre has served as the bohemian hub of Paris’s creative and nightlife communities. The neighborhood has an endless string of postcard-perfect shops, but few are quite as recognizable as La Maison Rose—a rosy pink restaurant sitting pretty on a street corner.

Musée de l'Orangerie Paris

Musée de l’Orangerie

Musée de l'Orangerie —located at the far end of the Tuileries Gardens—strengthens the case that Paris’s smaller museums are just as important as, say, the Louvre. Plus, it’s the only place you can stand in awe of Monet’s famous Nymphéas (Water Lily) murals.

Arc de Triomphe Paris

Arc de Triomphe

As if the views of the Arc de Triomphe aren’t stunning enough, the views from the Arc de Triomphe are even more incredible. It's a pretty claustrophobic climb to the top, but the fresh air and 360-degree views of Paris are well worth it.

Musée d'Orsay Paris

Musée d'Orsay

A vast collection of Impressionist artworks is the focus at the Musée d’Orsay , Paris’s second most-visited museum. But don’t forget to look past the artwork for a moment to admire the arched ceiling, a reminder of the building’s past as a train station.

Rue Crémieux Paris

Rue Crémieux

This little throughway in the 12th arrondissement might just be the most charming street in all of Paris. Just beware of the fashion influencers and Instagram celebs trying to take advantage of those pastel-colored backdrops.

Versailles

Palace of Versailles

Though it technically lies just outside of Paris, the Palace of Versailles is an essential stop on any City of Light itinerary. The former residence of King Louis XIV is a study in opulence, with the Hall of Mirrors and manicured gardens drawing some 15 million visitors each year.

PalaisRoyal Paris

Palais-Royal

The Palais-Royal complex is in some ways Paris in a nutshell: shops, cafés, art, history, architecture, and spectacular gardens, all across the street from the Louvre. Keep an eye out for Instagram photoshoots around the Colonnes de Buren , an art installation consisting of black-and-white-striped columns of varying heights.

Muse Rodin Paris Museum Exterior

Musée Rodin

We make this a stop on every trip to Paris, and sometimes, we don't even go inside. Musée Rodin is a light-filled estate with a serene garden filled with sculptures like The Thinker and The Gates of Hell . It's as intimate and personal (and relatively uncrowded) a museum-going experience as you'll get in the city.

Place de la Concorde Paris

Place de la Concorde

Despite its macabre history (it was the site of guillotine executions during the French Revolution), this public square is now one of the most beautiful places in Paris. Landmarks like the Luxor Obelisk and mermaid-filled fountain only add to the glamour.

Glasswalk hanging over the atrium of the Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann department store in Paris France Europe

Galeries Lafayette

On the famed Boulevard Haussmann, Galeries Lafayette is a department store known for its upscale French products and stunning neo-Byzantine stained-glass cupola. If you can swing it, visit during December to see one of the world’s grandest Christmas displays .

Pont Alexandre III Paris

Pont Alexandre III

This ornate, Beaux-Arts–style bridge connects the Left and Right Banks of Paris, and is one of the biggest tourist photo-ops in the city. We get it: With all those gilded statues and river views, the selfie urge is real.

Palais Garnier Paris

Palais Garnier

Palais Garnier is one of the most opulent Beaux-Arts buildings in Paris. Prepare to be dazzled by the grand marble staircase, gilded chandeliers, and frescoed ceilings.

SainteChapelle Paris

Sainte-Chapelle

Photos of Sainte-Chapelle are apt to take your breath away, but they hardly do justice to this Gothic chapel on Ile de la Cité. After struggling your way up the narrow spiral staircases to the upper chapel, that first glimpse of the 50-foot stained glass windows is an experience you’ll never forget.

SaintGermain Paris

Saint-Germain

Not only is this 6th arrondissement neighborhood the cocoa capital of Paris , but it also happens to be extremely picturesque, with cobbled streets and pretty French balconies everywhere you look.

Père Lachaise Cemetery Paris

Père Lachaise Cemetery

Pretty much everything in Paris is next-level beautiful—even its cemeteries skew more divine than dismal. Spend an overcast afternoon walking across Père Lachaise’s 108 acres, then pay your respects at the graves of Gertrude Stein and Oscar Wilde.

Sacré Coeur Paris

Sacré-Coeur

Second in height only to the Eiffel Tower, Sacré-Coeur is a towering Romano-Byzantine basilica one very steep climb up into Montmarte. Everything about it—its architecture, its views from the hilltop—inspires awe.

Parc des Buttes Chaumont Paris

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

Featuring cliffs, lakes, and waterfalls, the 62-acre Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is an au naturel alternative to Paris’s more groomed, rigidly formal parks. Hike up rocky elevations to catch amazing views of the city, including the aforementioned Sacré-Coeur.

most beautiful places in paris Jardin des Tuileries Paris

Jardin des Tuileries

This perfectly manicured park also has the advantage of a perfect location—turn one direction and you'll find the Louvre, turn the other, Place de la Concorde. Walk the entire length to really admire the formal French garden design of the 17th century.

Musée du Louvre Paris

Musée du Louvre

The Louvre is famously crowded—it is the most-visited museum in the world, after all. But even if you aren’t willing to fight a hundred camera-wielding tourists to see the Mona Lisa, at least stroll past the museum to see I.M. Pei’s famous glass pyramid.

Image may contain Furniture Chair Restaurant Cafe Table Vegetation and Plant

Hôtel Plaza Athénée

Open for more than a century, Hôtel Plaza Athénée is one of the most elegant, fashionable, and surprisingly playful hotels in all of Paris. Its signature red awnings are best enjoyed with a side of Michelin stars, at restaurant La Cour Jardin's ivy-covered terrace.

River Seine Paris

River Seine

The River Seine is essentially the beating heart of Paris, bordering half of the French capital's arrondissements. We’re partial to views of the river at dusk, but thanks to a few recent additions—a floating hotel and pedestrian-only walkway , for starters—the watery pathway is pretty damn gorgeous around the clock.

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Paris Travel Guide

Paris Travel Guide

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Home » Europe » France » Paris

20 BEST Places to Visit in Paris (2024 • Famous Sites Guide)

Paris aka the City of Light. It is known as a destination for lovers, for revolutionaries, for artists, and for tourists. There are so many incredible places to visit in Paris – it can be hard to know where to start!

Wherever you choose to visit in Paris, be sure to start your morning off at a French bakery. If it is one thing the French have got right: fresh, delectable bread that will make you go  oui, je t’aime Paris ! It’s a city that feels distinctly French, and yet, a world away from the rest of France.

There are the classic places to visit in Paris like the Louvre, and the Seine River but there are hidden surprises in the cobblestone streets too. Paris calls to be explored by foot and demands your attention like no other city.

Travelling to such an iconic city can feel impossible – how can I possibly see  everything?

Fear not! We have put together the ULTIMATE guide to the best places to visit in Paris! From the quirky to the budget friendly, we have covered the city from top to tail. Let your planning to the culture capital of the world begin with these top 20 places to visit in Paris .

Need a Place Quick? This is The Best Neighborhood in Paris:

These are the best places to visit in paris, faq on the best places to visit in paris, final thoughts on places to visit in paris.

Montmartre

Montmartre (18th Arrondissement)

Montmartre is one of the most romantic districts in Paris. Situated on a large hill overlooking the city, Montmartre is a labyrinth of cobbled streets that are lined with cafes, bistros and bars.

  • Catch a risqué cabaret performance at the Moulin Rouge.
  • Delve deep into the history of Montmartre and some of its most famous residents at the Musee de Montmartre.
  • Feast on incredible French far at Le Basilic.

Let’s do it! This is the list of where to go in Paris to truly experience the city you’ve seen in the movies. From food to architecture to art to hidden gems, it’s all in here. Be sure to check out where to stay in Paris so that you’re all set up with a base from which to guzzle your fancy wine!

paris france to visit

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#1 – Catacombs – THE Best Place to Visit in Paris!

Catacombs - One of the more unique places to visit in Paris

  • Spooky history
  • Exciting and grizzly experience

Why it’s awesome: Deep below Paris’s busy streets lies a rather gruesome sight. Established in the late 1700s in order to reduce overflowing graveyards and cemeteries, the catacombs now contain the remains of more than six million people. Under the cover of night, many human remains were moved from city cemeteries and dropped down a mine-shaft opening where they were then arranged in a grizzly manner. Think skulls lining the walls, and bones making up oddly decorative corner pieces.

Even the graveyards have got to be extra in Paris. 😉

Forgotten for many years, the catacombs became something of a novelty for 19th-century Parisian seeking to distract themselves from their Imperial conquests at the time. Ok, you got me, they probably just thought the catacombs were cool and morbid like we do. The tunnels were once used by people in the French Resistance during the Second World War – although the Nazis also created a base within the catacombs too…

What to do there: Descend underground into the gloomy old tunnels under the thriving city streets of Paris. Let your eyes adjust to the dimness as you walk through the old subterranean passageways and chambers. When you reach the underground cemetery it’s hard not to feel a shiver down your spine. This is a badass place to explore while backpacking Paris .

Stare death in the face as you see the remains of hundreds and thousands of deceased locals. Shudder as you view enormous piles of bones placed on top of each other to form entire walls of dead people. Did someone order an existential crisis on their vacation?

#2 – Notre Dame Cathedral – An Incredible Free Place to Visit in Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral - incredible free place to go to in Paris

  • Striking architectural gem
  • Long and interesting history

Why it’s awesome: Yes, this site is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world. It is busy and chaotic with estimates of 12 million to 13 million visitors annually. But, this towering cathedral is an epic experience. It has stood the test of time and its gargoyles have watched over Paris for over 700 years. It’s also free to enter which helps you keep to your Paris budget .

The architecture is visually striking, but it’s the energy of the place that makes it worth going to. It was an active place of worship with church music that has been rumoured to have converted many to the Catholic faith. And of course, it was the inspiration for the famous Hunchback of Notre Dame. It is one thing to read about such a classic icon – it is something else altogether to see it in the flesh.

In 2019, a fire broke out during some restoration works. As of 2021, it’s no longer a place of active worship and you cannot visit the crypts or towers. However, you can still visit the site itself and admire the architecture. I think it’s a unique experience to witness such an emblem of France during its restoration and know that you’ve seen a little bit of history in the (re)making.

What to do there: Take a couple of photos of the awesome architecture. Keep an eye out for the cheeky gargoyles at the top – originally they were designed as rain spouts but now are simply characters to watch over Paris.

You can admire the celestial feeling inspired by the stained glass panels. I got lost staring at the intricate West Facade. Can you imagine carving hundreds of figures by hand?

There are also beautiful grounds and parks nearby that you can stop to rest in once you have finished taking in the majesty of the cathedral itself. People watching is always a great thing to do at top tourist attractions – all walks of life are inspired to come by and witness something spectacular!

#3 – Eiffel Tower – Most Iconic Places to Visit in Paris

Eiffel Tower- the best place to visit in Paris

  • Terrific city views
  • Iconic landmark

Why it’s awesome: No list of the best places to visit in Paris would be complete without mentioning the world-famous Eiffel Tower. One of Gustave Eiffel’s most well-known masterpieces, the soaring tower is built from wrought iron and dates back to the late 1880s.

One of the world’s most-visited attractions is hardly a hidden gem in Paris . This French icon is recognisable across the globe.

It’s one of those monuments that you can read about in books and see in the movies and still nothing quite prepares you for the real thing.

What to do there: Marvel at the iconic tower from a distance and snap plenty of pictures of one of Paris’s most famous landmarks. Take a guided tour of the observation platforms and soak up amazing views of the city. The landmark becomes that much more alive when a local guide gives you some history.

If you are feeling energetic you can take the staircase, although many people opt to save their legs and ascend the tower by elevator.

If you are feeling fancy, or perhaps want to impress a special someone, you can also sip a glass of bubbly in the decadent champagne bar at the top of the tower as you appreciate beautiful vistas.

#4 – Sainte-Chapelle – A Gothic Gem to See in Paris

Sainte-Chapelle - great place to see in Paris

  • Relatively under-visited attraction
  • Stunning stained glass
  • Peaceful place
  • Religious vibe

Why it’s awesome: Located on Île de la Cité, Sainte-Chapelle was built to contain important Christian relics. Close to the historic homes of former French Kings, the spectacular Church dates back to the 1200s. Built on the orders of King Louis IX, it is a fine example of Gothic architecture.

Surprisingly, the church sees relatively few visitors compared with other major Parisian attractions. As well as being a treat for the eyes, the church has a tranquil and spiritual atmosphere. It’s a great place to beat the crowds.

There is something a little chilling about stained glass windows in a silent church. The light streams in, and just for a moment, there is a feeling of something Divine. What is all the more incredible, is that these were handcrafted by artisans and have withstood the test of time – and German bombs.

What to do there: While the exteriors might seem fairly ordinary, you are sure to be impressed by the fantastic ornamental designs inside the church. Enormous stained glass windows immediately catch the eye, casting bright and colourful light throughout the building.

The windows depict interesting religious scenes and stories. Admire the large sculptures of the 12 apostles that stand halfway up the walls. Feel a sense of being puny as you stand beneath the high arched ceilings. Take a seat on a pew to soak up the lavish surroundings and to enjoy a few moments of peaceful contemplation.

#5 – Louvre – An Amazing Places in Paris to Visit!

Louvre - One of the most amazing places in Paris to visit

  • Home of the Mona Lisa
  • Large collection of art and artefacts

Why it’s awesome: Sitting on the banks of the River Seine, The Louvre is the biggest art museum in the world and another no-brainer of Paris’s must-visit sites. It houses more than 450,000 objects from various points in time, ranging from prehistoric times to the present day, as well as some 35,000 pieces of art. One of the most-visited art museums on the planet, the museum is contained within an opulent former palace.

What to do there: Allow plenty of time to fully appreciate the many marvels and treasures housed within The Louvre (like, a whole day). One of the museum’s most-celebrated pieces is the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci but other major artists with works in the museum include Michelangelo, Raphael, Rembrandt, Giovanni Bellini, and Johan Vermeer. See a huge assortment of antiques and artefacts from around the world and just generally have a super cultural and jampacked day added to your itinerary for Paris.

For all of the art enthusiasts, we recommend booking an audio tour, so you’ll find out all of the details behind each of the artworks and their creators.

paris france to visit

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#6 – Buttes-Chaumont Park – A Beautiful Outdoor Place to Visit in Paris

Buttes-Chaumont Park - A beautiful outdoor place to visit in Paris

  • No charge (perfect for you broke backpackers)
  • Quirky atmosphere
  • Nature in the heart of the city
  • Good people watching

Why it’s awesome: Buttes-Chaumont Park is Paris’s fifth-biggest park and a free place to visit. Long stretches of pathways and roads wind through the green park with a historic temple sitting high atop a cliff overlooking the shimmering man-made lake.

With almost 50 species of plants and an abundance of wildlife, the pretty park is a fantastic place to escape the busy city streets. Green spaces are something that is sorely lacking in many cities, and it is great to be able to relax in the ones that are preserved.

What to do there: Plan to spend at least a couple of hours enjoying the scenic park and relish being outdoors and away from the city’s hustle and bustle. Enjoy a lot of the artificial nature structures designed to give a wonderful sense of tranquillity and awes.

There is plenty of space for kids to run and play as well making it the perfect place to go in Paris with kids (other than Disneyland, of course).

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#7 – Champs-Élysées – A Great Place in Paris if You Love to Shop!

Champs-Élysées - great place in Paris if you love to shop

  • Famous Parisian street
  • Luxury shopping
  • Lively atmosphere
  • Lots of cute cafes

Why it’s awesome: The Champs-Élysées is famous for being one of the most exclusive shopping streets on the planet. The elegant and wide street runs for 1.9 kilometres (1.2 miles) between the Place Charles de Gaulle and the Place de la Concorde.

Numerous luxurious stores line the busy street, and there are also plentiful cafes and theatres. Originally designed in the 1600s, it has been a major Parisian thoroughfare for many years. the road sees much activity all throughout the year, and various celebrations, parades, and events take place along the famous road.

What to do there: Even if you do not plan on buying anything, the elegant Champs-Elysees is a terrific place to daydream and indulge in a little window shopping in Paris. The shopfronts and detailed displays are attractive and the energetic vibe is invigorating. Even for budget backpackers in Paris, it’s still a really cool place to visit.

When it’s time to take a break, rest your feet in one of the charming cafes and enjoy a traditional French pastry and drink. In the evening, the street’s theatres burst into life. You can make friends with penniless artisans while a $20 000 handbag watches you from the window.

#8 – Sacre Coeur – An Important Religious Places to See in Paris

Sacre Coeur - one of the most religious places to see in Paris

  • Revered religious site
  • Beautiful architecture
  • Great city views
  • Top place for photography

Why it’s awesome: Officially named the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, Sacre-Coeur is a spectacular Catholic church. Today, the church remembers all those who perished during World Wars. Among Paris’s most-visited attractions, the church is located at the top of Montmartre, which is the city’s highest point.

Still used as an active place of worship, the church boasts interesting statues and sculptures, graceful domes, and a handsome portico. Built from local stone and surrounded by a peaceful garden, the church is a serene sanctuary with interiors as impressive as the exterior and fantastic views of the city.

What to do there: You will surely have noticed the attractive Sacre-Coeur from a distance, as it sits high above the rest of the city. Once you are closer to the magnificent religious building it is easy to admire the many fine details. See the gardens, admire the architecture, stroll the interior and gaze upon the mosaic: this is yet another example of Paris’s exquisite landmarks.

You can attend a church service, or simply wander the grounds. People watching is always a favourite of mine to do at any tourist-filled location. We come from all walks of life and yet we all want to see the big building on the highest hill in the city.

#9 – Palace of Versailles – A Royally Opulant Place in Paris

Palace of Versailles - A very cool place in Paris to go for a day

  • Stunning building
  • Lots of incredible artwork and décor
  • Historical importance
  • Royal associations

Why it’s awesome: The Palace of Versailles is located just outside the heart of Paris. It was the main royal home for a number of years until the beginning of the French Revolution. Today it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring many splendid details both inside and out. Although all of its lavish interiors were destroyed after the revolution, most rooms have now been restored to their former glory.

What to do there: Marvel at the splendid golden gate and impressive facades and wander through the beautiful gardens, which are complete with fountains, statues, wide walkways, and many attractive flowers. Be dazzled inside the mighty Hall of Mirrors, standing in the place where the famous Treaty of Versailles was signed. With more than 350 gleaming mirrors the hall is certainly an impressive sight.

Peek inside Marie Antoinette’s former bedroom and see the Gothic architecture, combined with baroque influences, of the amazing Grand Chapel. Stroll alongside the Grand Canal or perhaps enjoy a ride in a gondola or soak up the views from a rowing boat. See where royalty used to entertain guests in the Ballroom Grove, be enchanted by the Musical Fountain, and appreciate the palace’s huge collection of important artwork.

I actually did go on a tour of Versailles, but thanks to my shocking sense of place and direction, ended up quite lost within the ground and had to be escorted out by security at closing time! These grounds are BIG!

#10 – La Pagode / The Pagoda Paris – An Unknown (but awesome) Place to See in Paris!

La Pagode / The Pagoda Paris - Off the beaten path in Paris

  • Unusual attraction
  • Blend of cultures
  • Beautiful art and architecture
  • Off Paris’s beaten track

Why it’s awesome: Combining chic Parisian Style with exotic Chinese features, the Pagoda Paris presents a captivating blend of east meets west. Despite being one of Paris’s most fascinating buildings, the Pagoda is a relatively unknown place.

Originally built as a hotel, it later served as the home of many fine Asian and Chinese artworks and antiques. From the outside, it looks exactly like a Chinese Pagoda, while inside there are gorgeous themed rooms that are filled with a plethora of striking objects.

What to do there: You would be forgiven for thinking that you had somehow been transported across the oceans to Asia when you feast your eyes on the unusual Pagoda. Admire the striking building from outside, taking time to appreciate the finer details.

Inside, the lavish rooms have elaborate panels, with lots of colour and ornate designs adding to the aesthetic value. See the rich and opulent collection of antiques and be amazed that such a treasure exists right in the heart of Paris.

#11 – Wall of Love – Great Place to Visit in Paris for Couples!

Wall of Love - Great place to visit in Paris for couples

  • Romantic atmosphere
  • Beautiful scenery

Why it’s awesome: Located in Montmartre, the Wall of Love covers 40 square meters (430.5 square feet). It was designed in the year 2000 and has been a popular place for lovers ever since. It has more than 600 enamelled tiles that say “I love you”, and the wall features 250 languages, including some that are rare.

There’s also no charge to admire the heartfelt Wall of Love. So, not only is it a beautiful place to see in Paris, but also a free one.

What to do there: Visit the Wall of Love with your sweetheart and enjoy telling each other your feelings in an array of global languages. If you ever wanted to tell your beloved that you love them in Navajo, Esperanto, and numerous other tongues, this is your place to do it.

Pose for selfies in front of the attractive wall as a reminder of your romantic trip to the City of Light.

After you have finished looking at the wall, take a stroll hand-in-hand with your sweet through the surrounding garden square. It’s certainly difficult not to feel enamoured at this lovely spot.

#12 – 59 Rivoli – Artisitic Place to Visit in Paris!

Rivoli - Quite the quirky place in Paris

  • Great place for creative souls
  • Former illegal squat
  • Cultural attraction
  • Home to lots of cool art

Why it’s awesome: Once home to a bank, 59 Rivoli was left deserted. Eventually, however, a group of artists moved into the property, living there and using it as an illegal squat. The aim of the artists was to show how a large space could be put to good artistic use and as living quarters.

In 2006 the squatters were evicted and the building was cleaned and renovated. Now it is a legal site for artists, with numerous workshops and studios and there are some 20 permanent artists as well as temporary creatives. There is no charge to visit what is now one of Paris’s most interesting artistic and cultural places.

There is something inspiring about the display of wilderness and quirkiness. It feels like Paris summed up in a building.

What to do there: Learn more about the building’s past and the visions of the determined artists who once illegally occupied the site. Discover how the local government worked with the artists to create a legal place for artists to live, work, and display a range of eye-catching pieces. Admire the interesting artworks, some of which tell interesting tales. Speak with the artists in residence, admire art, and perhaps pick up a signature piece for your own home.

paris france to visit

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#13 – Les Invalides – One of Paris’s Coolest Historical Sites!

Les Invalides - One of Paris’s coolest historical sites

  • Military associations
  • Striking architecture
  • Interesting museum
  • Beautiful grounds

Why it’s awesome: Les Invalides is a large collection of buildings that were originally constructed as a military hospital and retirement home. The site was developed in the 1600s on the orders of the French king.

A number of impressive buildings surround a sweeping courtyard, and there are many interesting designs and architectural features including a glorious church and an ornate vault that houses many significant tombs. Although one of Paris’s popular tourist attractions, the site is also still used as a retirement centre for veterans.

What to do there: Cross the impressive bridge that leads to the site, admiring the beauty as you approach. See the ornate dome-topped chapel, which is the tallest in Paris, and admire the elegant buildings of Les Invalides: the church, the tombs (including Napoleon’s), and the Army Museum.  There is an onsite cafe where you can relax, or alternatively, you can enjoy a picnic on the grassy lawns.

#14 – La Promenade Plantée – A Beautiful Park to Visit in Paris

La Promenade Plantee

  • Peaceful natural spot
  • Lovely city vistas
  • Great use of public space
  • Enjoy being outdoors

Why it’s awesome: Created in 1998, La Promenade Plantée is very similar to the famous Highline in New York. The attractive city park makes use of an old abandoned railway track and has sections at street level, above the busy roads, and underground. There are walking and cycling tracks through lush greenery and pretty flowers.

Younger visitors are not forgotten with the excellent play areas. Additionally, there are sections dedicated to rest and relaxation and exercise and fitness.

What to do there: Follow the pedestrianised walkway for the full length of La Promenade Plantée, which takes around one hour to complete. Alternatively, explore under pedal power and cycle along the track. Listen to the delightful singing of birds as you admire the colourful flowers and inhale the delicious scents.

The lush greenery is definitely a world apart from the busy city streets below; it’s a great place to escape the hustle and bustle and spend some time in nature and unwind in a peaceful setting.

#15 – Centre Pompidou – A Unique Place to Visit in Paris

Centre Pompidou - A great place to visit in Paris if you are alone/traveling solo

  • Eye-catching modern art
  • Incredible architecture
  • Street performers
  • Sweet picnic spot

Why it’s awesome: The Centre Pompidou is most celebrated for being the home of Europe’s biggest modern art museum. The site also has an extensive public library and a music and acoustic research centre. Named after a former French president, the centre sees millions of visitors each year.

Designed to be like a mini town within a city, the centre has unusual architectural designs; most major structural and mechanical elements are outside of the building. There are many interesting art exhibitions inside, with a variety of permanent and temporary displays.

What to do there: Gaze at the unusual building from the outside and be enchanted by an array of street performers in Place Georges Pompidou, located in front of the museum.

Watch as mime artists, musicians, jugglers, acrobats, and skateboarders entertain the crowds, and see artists and caricaturists at work. Take time to view the extensive collection of contemporary art inside the building, some of which contains interesting messages and representations

#16 – Belleville – Underrated Place to See in Paris

Belleville - One of the most underrated places to see in Paris

  • Lesser-visited neighbourhood in Paris
  • Bohemian and edgy atmosphere
  • Interesting street art
  • Great shopping and dining

Why it’s awesome: The Parisian neighbourhood of Belleville doesn’t often feature on many travellers itineraries. However, the area has a gritty and edgy vibe that makes it different to other parts of the city and is one of Paris’s coolest places to visit.

Once a working-class neighbourhood, Belleville used to be an independent area. It attracted large immigrant communities. As a result, today the area is a multi-ethnic and colourful place. Several famous Parisians came from the area and a number of movies have shot scenes there too.

Paris is not just home to pipe smoking, cafe dwelling, existentialist philosophers. Paris is the home of revolutionaries, workers, artists, immigrants, and even bankers and billionaires. This is the place to visit in Paris for a taste of it’s grittier side.

What to do there: Have an alternative Paris adventure and spend several hours wandering through Belleville. Soak up the Bohemian vibe and join locals for a relaxed picnic in the park. Satisfy your appetite in global restaurants, where you’ll find cuisine such as Chinese, Vietnamese, Moroccan, Algerian, Italian, Indian, and Jewish.

See an abundance of graffiti and street art, call into artists’ workshops and galleries, peruse small book shops, and see local mosques from the outside. As nighttime approaches, you’ll find a good selection of bars where you can sip cocktails, wine, and cheap beer. You might even find a great hostel in the area if you’d like to make Belleville your base for a while.

paris france to visit

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#17 – Père Lachaise Cemetery – A Quiet Place to See in Paris

Père Lachaise Cemetery - A nice quiet place to see in Paris

  • Striking funerary architecture
  • Tranquil atmosphere
  • Lots of nature
  • Final resting place of several famous figures

Why it’s awesome: Père Lachaise Cemetery is the biggest cemetery in the French Capital and is also the world’s most-visited cemetery. The beautiful garden cemetery has several war memorials and graves of famous people. Peaceful and relaxed, the cemetery combines nature and stunning architecture. Open since the early 1800s, the cemetery is the final resting place for more than one million people.

What to do there: Stroll along the shaded pathways, taking time to admire the striking funerary architecture and enjoy being in nature. Pay your respects to the deceased and see the graves of famous people like Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Frederic Chopin, and Jim Morrison from The Doors. Remember those who gave their lives at the war memorials and sit for a while in quiet contemplation in the serene setting.

#18 – Rue des Martyrs – A Must-See Place in Paris for Foodies!

Rue des Martyrs

  • Lively community
  • Ethnic diversity
  • Plentiful eating options
  • Unusual stores

Why it’s awesome: Stretching for around 0.8 kilometres (half a mile), the enticing Rue des Martyrs has around 200 small and independent businesses. With a real community feeling, quirky stores and charming restaurants and cafes, it’s a place in Paris to feel at home and like a friend.

The street also has a long history; local lore says that France’s patron saint was beheaded here, and there are many tales of ghostly activity.

What to do there: Wander along the timeless street, pausing to peek inside the diverse stores that line the sloping and narrow road. From watch-mender and bookshops to fashion boutiques, discount stores, grocers, and others, you’ll find a huge array of goods to tempt you.

It is also a must-visit place in Paris for foodies with a large amount of cute cafes, traditional bakeries, and excellent restaurants.

Purchase things like craft beers, homemade jams, French olive oil, local wines, macaroons, delicatessen meats and cheeses, and deliciously sweet cakes in the specialty stores. It’s definitely a great place to stock up on picnic supplies and for anyone staying in self-catering accommodation.

#19 – Latin Quarter – Cool Place to Visit in Paris with Friends!

Latin Quarter - Cool place to see in Paris with friends

  • Roman history
  • Major landmarks and museums

Why it’s awesome: Home to the prestigious Sorbonne University, Paris’s vibrant Latin Quarter has a youthful atmosphere and an array of interesting things to see and do. the area has a long Roman history, having been conquered by Roman soldiers who established an ancient city. The area is known today for its numerous book shops and affordable cafes.

The atmosphere is arty, historic, and bohemian, with narrow cobblestone streets and remnants from the medieval era adding to the attractiveness. There are several museums and major landmarks throughout the area, along with pretty parks, historic churches, and a vibrant food market. This is one of Paris’s top places to go for anyone seeking an alternative vibe.

What to do there: Discover the many charms of the enticing Latin Quarter and experience a blend between the medieval world and modern life. Featuring many of Paris’s architectural landmarks as well as museums, markets, local life, and churches, it’s easily an area of Paris you could get lost or even find a homestay in to feel like a local in for a few days.

There are also a number of hostels and places to stay in the Latin Quarter and it’s definitely a popular place in Paris to dedicate some time to.

#20 – Moulin Rouge – A Great Place to Visit in Paris for Nightlife

Moulin Rouge - A great place to visit in Paris at night

  • World-famous entertainment venue
  • Sultry, chic, sexy, and hypnotic Parisian air
  • Home of the can-can dance
  • Flamboyant and extravagant cabaret

Why it’s awesome: Originally established in the late 1880s, the Moulin Rouge has become something of an icon for Parisian sophistication, sex appeal, and seduction. The building is famous for its red windmill on its rooftop. Once a playground for affluent and elite socialites, it is now a popular tourist spot in Paris.

Numerous well-known dancers have graced the theatre’s stages over the years and it was where the can-can dance was born.

If the French accent does it for you, you may even get lucky when you visit the Moulin Rouge. There’s just something about dancing and glistening lights at night that puts us in the mood!

What to do there: Ogle the scintillating costumes and be wowed by the dance moves and performances during a fun night at the world-famous Moulin Rouge.

Get into the party spirit as you watch a can-can dance in its home theatre and be transported to a magical and whimsical world.

Get insured for your trip to Paris!

In between chowing down on your tenth croissant of the morning and mispronouncing everything else on the menu, you might find yourself roped into a wild adventure. The French can be very (sexy) persuasive and the next thing you know you’re exploring the catacombs!

Luckily, if you do get stuck in some kind of bind, you can fall back on travel insurance! Here at the Broke Backpacker, we trust World Nomads to cover our asses on all our sketchy adventures.

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing .

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

paris france to visit

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Find out what people want to know about the best places to visit in Paris

What is the most visited place in Paris?

It will come as no surprise that the Eiffel Tower is the most visited place in Paris.

What should you not miss in Paris?

The Catacombs are the coolest attraction in the city of Paris. Don’t miss this!

What is the nicest place to visit in Paris?

The area around the Louvre is quaint and charming and full of nice restaurants. I would say this is the nicest part of Paris for tourists.

Is Paris expensive?

Paris is one of the most expensive European cities to visit, but you can do it cheaply. Check out our guide on prices in Paris for more info.

Well, it must be high about time you got packing for Paris! There certainly is a lot to see.

This list covers a lot of the top places to visit in Paris but it still only scratches the surface. Once you start digging deeper, you’re going to unearth so much more.

There’s a reason Paris remains a cultural icon despite the lingering smell of pee in some areas. Every place you go in Paris is going to feel you with a little sense of wonder. This is a 2000-year-old city that lives and breathes life to this day! Every secret alley, cafe tucked away, and rooftop view is going to be a new experience. Plus, you can never get enough of their damn fine bread.

So enjoy Paris and all its top sites. When you’re ready, continue on to the rest of France. And then, after that, I hear backpacking Europe is pretty dope… Avast, travellers! It’s time to explore the best places to visit in Paris.

Notre Dame Cathedral Gargoyle - once the best place to visit in Paris

And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links . That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!

Mathilde Magnier

Mathilde Magnier

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Explore Paris

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Plan Your Trip to Paris: Best of Paris Tourism

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Travel Advice

Essential paris.

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Where to stay

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Where to eat

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The perfect three days in Paris

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Trip ideas from our community

Ariel Kanter

The perfect mother-daughter trip to Paris

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Explore Paris by interest

On the seine.

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For the love of pastries

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Paris on a dime

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Make like a chef

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If you're feeling fancy-ish

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Under-the-radar art

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Mix it up after dark

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Day trips to write home about

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Shop under the sun

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Paris, the page-turner

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More great culinary capitals

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Paris Travel Guide

Travelers' pro tips or experiencing paris.

paris france to visit

Try and speak French as much as you can! Even if Paris is an international city, we do like it when people talk to us in our own language or at least try to!

paris france to visit

You will not be brought your bill after you finish in a restaurant or cafe. It’s considered rude and pushy. You need to ask for it.

paris france to visit

luvplayacar

Pack small! … The buildings are old and the stairways are small and narrow and the elevators say they will fit 8, but not 8 US citizens with large luggage.

paris france to visit

Make sure to buy your tickets to museums online and print them or have them ready to go on your phone. Also, read all of the details on your tickets, what way you don't wait an extra half hour in the yellow line instead of the short green line I was supposed to go to at the Eiffel Tower.

paris france to visit

Paris is magical! From its pretty and remarkable landscapes to its inspiring cafes, Paris has a unique combination of traditional architecture, rich history, pleasant parks and squares, original cuisine and special spirit of life.

paris france to visit

browneyedowl

There is always something new and exciting to see here, whether you have been here once or several times.

paris france to visit

In Paris, venturing off the beaten path is very easy, there are little gems hidden everywhere in plain sight.

paris france to visit

You can discover a new city in Paris in every arrondissement. Every time I return I make sure to stay in a new and different part of the city and spend most of my trip exploring there.

What is the best way to get there?

Paris is served by two international airports: Paris-Charles de Gaulle (the second busiest airport in Europe) and Paris-Orly.

The Gare du Nord is a major transit hub for trains to Northern France and to international destinations in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

Do I need a visa?

If you’re visiting Paris from overseas, use the government’s  Visa Wizard  to see if you need a visa.

When is the best time to visit?

Summer (June to August): Summer is festival season in Paris, with highlights including Paris L'Eté, Fnac Live, and Solidays, while the Bastille Day fireworks draw huge crowds and the Paris Plages festival brings the beach to the banks of the Seine. Temperatures average highs in the 70s F (20s C) and lows in the 50s F (Teens C).

Alternatively, visit over the holiday season, when Christmas markets, NYE parties, and festive illuminations show the City of Lights at its most atmospheric. During the holiday season Paris sees average highs in the 40s and lows in the 30s (10 to 0 C).

Vélib' is a bike-share system with thousands of bicycle stations located across Paris and in some surrounding municipalities. Visitors can purchase a one- or seven-day subscription either at the docking stations or online .

RATP operates its metro and RER services daily from 5:30 a.m. to about 1:15 a.m (2:15 a.m. on Friday and Saturday). The metro system is the city’s local underground subway network servicing central Paris and the RER is the regional express network. More information about the network and fares can be found online .

RATP operates Paris’ local bus system daily from 5:30 a.m. to about 1:15 a.m (2:15 a.m. on Friday and Saturday). At night, the Noctilien night bus network takes over, operating 47 bus lines from 12:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. More information about the network and fares can be found online .

Hailing down a taxi on the street in Paris can be difficult so it is best to find an official taxi stand. You can also book a taxi online or on your smartphone here .

ridesharing

Uber and Bolt are readily available in Paris on your smartphone.

Cityscoot is an electronic scooter-sharing scheme which offers scooter rental through an app on your smartphone.

On the ground

What is the timezone.

Central European Standard Time

What are the voltage/plug types?

The standard voltage in France is 230V and the standard frequency is 50Hz. The plug has two round pins.

What is the currency?

Are atms readily accessible, are credit cards widely accepted, how much do i tip.

Tipping is not obligatory in France, however, a tip for exceptional service is always appreciated.

Are there local customs I should know?

The federal legal age for buying and drinking alcohol is 18 years old.

Walk to the right of the sidewalk and step off to the side of the sidewalk if you want to stop to check your phone, look up directions, or want to take in a view.

Public transport

Allow others to disembark before boarding, don’t take up more than one seat, and stand to offer seating to pregnant women or someone with a disability.

Try to speak the language

Learn a few basic phrases as a sign of respect. Locals will often switch to English for your ease and comfort but they appreciate the effort.

Always greet people

A courteous, formal greeting in French, “Bonjour, Monsieur/Madame,” is always appreciated — this includes shop attendants, wait staff, hotel staff, drivers.

Don’t talk loudly in public

It is considered rude and ugly.

Don’t expect fast service

Sales assistants in shops or wait staff in restaurants won’t approach you straight away — giving people time and space is an important part of French culture. Also, don’t expect wait staff to give you the bill when your meal is finished, you will have to ask for it.

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  • Musée d'Orsay
  • Louvre Museum
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  • Paris Seine River Dinner Cruise with Live Music by Bateaux Mouches
  • Skip-the-Line: Louvre Museum Masterpieces Fully Guided Tour
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13 things you should know before traveling to Paris

Fabienne Fong Yan

Nov 26, 2023 • 7 min read

paris france to visit

These top tips can help a first-time visitor get the most out of their time in Paris © Steve Smith / Getty Images

Bustling, diverse and surprising: such is Paris !

Due to its variety and density, navigating the city for the first time may seem challenging. Even after nearly 20 years of living in Paris, I still encounter nuances in the local lifestyle and learn about Parisian peculiarities, such as being fined for taking a Metro corridor the wrong way.

Here are some practical tips and cultural insights to help you plan for your trip and better understand France's capital.

1. You will want more time in Paris than you think

As the busiest city in France, Paris isn’t short of events, attractions or activities. A glimpse of it can be caught in just a couple of days, but to truly experience the city's diverse sights and experiences, five days to a week is considered ideal. Paris can be enchanting year-round , yet it's worth noting that August is the traditional holiday period in France, which might mean encountering closures and a slowdown in local activities.

People walk around an open space surrounded by the buildings of an art gallery, including a glass pyramid

2. Book some main attractions in advance

With limited time, pinpoint in advance the main attractions you want to visit. Booking online for museums, exhibitions or theater performances will save you a lot of time waiting in lines. Remember, Parisians enjoy their museums as much as tourists do, so visiting on weekdays and starting early can significantly change your experience of busy landmarks.

3. Leave some time to wander

If you’re more the type who goes with the flow, you might want to stroll until you find yourself surprisingly lost, discovering the unique identity of each arrondissement  (district) . They are all shaped uniquely by various layers of history. With most landmarks concentrated in the city center, it is easy to wander around and never get bored. In fact, there's even a French word for this way to visit a place: flâner . 

You might traverse from the upscale Champs-Élysées to the tourist-packed Saint-Michel, then to the trendy Le Marais and the more bohemian Belleville, all within the city's boundaries, without even realizing it. For deeper insights, consider themed tours (food, culture, history, street art, architecture, etc). Many Parisians are eager to share their city with visitors, and it’s a great way to get first-hand insider tips.

4. Dress like a Parisian

Wear something comfortable, because Paris is best explored on foot. Dark clothes will generally help you blend in with the Parisians and help deter pickpockets. That said, if you are into dressing up, don’t feel shy! This is the home of couture afterall. 

5. Personal space is important

More importantly if you wish to blend in, is being mindful of personal space, especially on public transportation. The golden rule when navigating Paris, particularly on the Metro and RER (suburban train network) is to be unobtrusive. 

During busy times, especially at rush hour (from 7am to 9am and 5pm to 7pm), put your backpack or luggage down and avoid using fold-down seats. When the carriage is full, it's often better to wait for the next train, which usually arrives within minutes. Always keep to the right on corridors and escalators, and have your ticket or Navigo travel pass handy at all times for frequent ticket barriers and control.

People sat at tables on a pavement outside a cafe

6. Get familiar with cafe culture etiquette

The best places to experience Paris and its people are at the cafes. Take a moment to rest on a terrasse –  cafe tables on the street  – to people-watch while planning the next part of your day. Upon arrival, simply choose a table and sit; servers will come and attend to you. Bills are often left with the order on the table, but payment isn't expected immediately unless explicitly stated. Tipping is not required but always appreciated.

It's not uncommon to exchange a few words with people at neighboring tables, but it's equally normal and acceptable to keep to oneself, despite the close proximity of seating (as most establishments maximize their use of pavement space). Smoking tobacco is widespread in France, particularly at outdoor cafes. Indoor smoking is prohibited by law; so if you're wondering whether smoking is allowed, look for ashtrays on the tables. Additionally, Parisians generally value discretion, so loud voices might attract disapproving looks.

7. Try and speak French, even a little 

Despite the hustle, Parisians will generally stop to help if asked. Most people are able to give basic directions in English. The phrase "excusez-moi, parlez-vous anglais?" ("excuse me, do you speak English?") is the best way to get someone's attention. It's also polite to greet and say farewell to anyone you interact with, such as shopkeepers, with bonjour (or bonsoir  at night) and au revoir . 

Should you befriend locals, don’t be surprised to see them make a move towards your cheeks. La bise – giving kisses on the cheeks (two in Paris) – is the most common greeting among friends, including between men. However, as a foreigner, you won’t be expected to do it spontaneously. 

8. Bus and tram services are more accessible than the Metro

The few Metro stations that have elevators are indicated on Metro maps. Wheelchair users or those traveling with a stroller may find it easier to travel by bus or tram, as they are more spacious, at street level, and usually equipped with ramps.

9. Always keep an eye on your belongings

Wherever you go, watch out for your personal belongings, as pickpocketing is a risk on the Metro and near popular tourist sites. Scammers may approach you with a petition to sign or items for sale, distracting you from a potential pickpocket accomplice. A "lost" jewel or banknote on the street is another distraction scam.

In some tourist areas, you might encounter people trying to place a bracelet on your wrist and then demand payment. In all cases, politely decline any unsolicited interaction and walk away. Be aware that souvenirs sold by street vendors, including plastic souvenirs at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower , are often significantly overpriced compared to those in shops.

People on bicycles and pedestrians crossing a bridge with the Eiffel Tower in the background

10. Crossing roads can be complicated

Be cautious on the streets as some roads are shared, and cars, taxis, delivery trucks, bikes, scooters, motorbikes, skaters and pedestrians are expected to coexist in these busy spaces. Although the French drive on the right, be aware that bicycles and scooters may use dedicated lanes that sometimes run counter to the traffic direction or merge with pedestrian walkways. They are not always visible so watch out in all directions before stepping out into the road.

11. Paris is generally a safe city

Fortunately, Paris is a safe city overall. In localized areas in the north-east of Paris there can be occasional criminal activity, typically at night time. As a tourist, you are unlikely to be targeted for violent crimes based on race or origin, especially when sticking to central attractions. If you need transportation late at night when the Metro isn't running (it stops between midnight and 5am on weekdays, from 1:30am on weekends), it's safest to call a taxi or use a ride-hailing app.

Generally, Paris is welcoming and LGBTIQ+ friendly (Le Marais is one of the historic “gayborhoods” in Paris). Unfortunately, catcalling towards women can happen on the streets or on public transportation, despite efforts in raising awareness. Take reasonable precautions as you would in any big city: watch out for potentially aggressive behavior – particularly from individuals who may be intoxicated or disoriented – on the Metro or on the streets.

12. Every district has its own central police station

Unfortunately things do sometimes go wrong, so if you run into a situation where the help of the police is required, look for the closest police station. Every arrondissement has its own central office open at all times. Alternatively, dial the European emergency number (112). For the fire department, dial 18.

13. The standard of medical care is high

Should you be in need of medical assistance, Paris has the largest operating public hospital system in Europe with emergency rooms equipped to receive travelers. In case of emergency, dial 15 for the ambulance service. Over-the-counter medicines can be found at pharmacies, which are on almost every street in Paris, with English-speaking staff around tourist areas. A mapping app will direct you to the nearest 24-hour pharmacy, should you need it.

This article was first published August 2021 and updated November 2023

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World In Paris

Home > Paris Travel Tips > Best Tips for Visiting Paris for the First Time (by a Local!)

Best Tips for Visiting Paris for the First Time (by a Local!)

Paris travel tips for your first time in paris.

One of the greatest cities in the world, Paris is a vibrant and cultural city, with famous sites at every turn and never enough time to see them all. Paris is also regarded as the world’s most romantic city and a heaven for foodies and fashion lovers. 

We still have to meet someone who is not willing to visit Paris soon or to come back and discover more!

Travel to Paris

Everyone visiting Paris for the first time wants to have a memorable trip, and there’s nothing like Paris tips from a local to get the best out of the French capital .

In this article, we are sharing our best Paris insider tips for your first time in Paris: must-see Paris travel tips, as well as all-time favorites and off-the-beaten-path things. Read this article as a complement to our Paris Travel Planner , and you are set for a unique trip to Paris!

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Visiting Paris for First Timers – Top Insider Tips

1. look for the best time to visit paris for you.

Canal Saint Martin - Paris

The first of our tips for Paris is about the best time to visit Paris. ‘Paris is always a good idea ,’ and there is never a bad time to visit Paris. The city has great parks and beautiful avenues and streets, but it also has some of the world’s best museums and other interesting indoor options.

There are, however, a few things you might want to take into account when planning your first trip to Paris.

Generally speaking, the shoulder seasons – Spring and Fall – are good because it’s often less crowded and the temperature is pleasant.

If you want to beat the crowds and pay less for things like transportation and accommodation in Paris, you should consider visiting Paris in November , early December , and January .

If you are interested in shopping, consider visiting Paris in January or July, during the sales, when it is possible to find fantastic bargains.

To get the full picture, check out our in-depth articles about the best time to visit Paris and the seasons in Paris .

Check out our suggested itineraries for your first time in Paris:

  • One day in Paris
  • Two days in Paris
  • Three days in Paris
  • Four days in Paris
  • Five days in Paris
  • Six days in Paris
  • One week in Paris

2. Don’t Leave without Travel Insurance for your First Trip to Paris

It’s important not to skimp on Travel Insurance when you plan your first trip to Paris. Unfortunately, bad things happen when you least expect it, so the best thing you can do for yourself is to be insured.

While a basic consultation in France is affordable (around 25€), hospitalizations or emergency evacuations can easily run into hundreds or thousands of US dollars, which you’ll be expected to pay before you leave. Having a travel insurance policy can give you peace of mind for your first time in Paris and is something most travel experts recommend.

SafetyWing is our preferred choice, starting from a minimum of 5 days. HeyMondo also offers excellent coverage and you can get 5% discount if you use this link .

3. Get the Most of Your Time, Book in Advance, and Skip the Lines!

Skip the Line Eiffel Tower

Unless you visit Paris off-season, you’ll experience frustrating long lines at all Paris’ main tourist attractions.

Waiting in line will not only make you waste precious time; the chances are that you’ll be exhausted even before starting your visit! That’s why the second of our tips for traveling to Paris for the first time is about booking your tickets for the main attractions in advance.

Below we list the Paris main attractions you will need advance tickets for and have added links to our favorite trusty providers for your convenience.

  • The Eiffel Tower
  • The Louvre Museum
  • Versailles Palace
  • Orsay Museum
  • The Catacombs of Paris

We also have detailed articles on how to skip the line in Versailles and how to skip the line in the Louvre , the two attractions that see the longest lines and crowds.

Finally, have a look at our Skip the Line in Paris article , with the best days and time slots to avoid the biggest crowds in the main tourist attractions.

4. At the Airport, Only Use Regular Taxis (or Verified Private Airport Transfers)

Transportation Paris Airport to City

Taking a ride with a regular, official taxi is what we would consider a matter of common sense, but you’d be surprised at how many tourists still get lured!

At the Paris airports, you’re likely to be approached by someone offering a private taxi service. It might be tempting because it seems easy (no need to search for the taxi stand) and faster (not waiting in line). NEVER accept this kind of “offers.”

If you’re lucky, you’ll end up spending much more (those nonofficial cars don’t have a meter), and you can’t exclude that such a ride could lead to more unpleasant surprises or dangerous situations.

If you don’t want to take public transport and you prefer to know from the beginning how much your ride will cost, we recommend booking a private airport transfer from the Parisian Airports to the city. 

We like  Welcome’s transfer services , with good cars and the best English-speaking drivers in Paris, but other booking platforms like Get Your Guide offer similar services.

5. Save Money on Public Transport 

Metro of Paris

France has good high-speed trains (named TGVs), with very regular connections between Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Strasbourg, and more. It is very easy to plan weekend trips from Paris by train or longer trips to the rest of France as it takes a little as three hours from Paris to Marseille or from Paris to Strasbourg.

High-speed trains can be costly, though, especially if you buy your train tickets at the last minute. But the good news is that there are ways to find cheaper options if you plan your trip months in advance.

Find here more information and book your train tickets  

For getting around Paris, the Parisian Metro is the best option. The metro in Paris takes you everywhere in the city, with opening times starting from 5.30 am to 2.15 am on weekends.

Apart from the single metro tickets, valid also for bus and tram rides, the Parisian Metro has different passes well worth the investment, especially if you take the metro more than 3 times a day. Check out our quick guide to the metro of Paris for all the Paris metro tickets and passes and our best tips.

6. Buy a Prepaid SIM Card for your Trip to Paris

Most of the hotels and hostels in Paris offer free Wi-Fi for their guests. You can also get a  prepaid SIM card  for your trip, which will allow you to communicate with other numbers in France and keep you connected to the internet all the time.  Here are the best prepaid SIM cards for France  (and how to get them). Bonus points if you can buy one online before starting your trip!

7. Aside from the Landmarks, Discover Life in Paris

Summer in Paris

When visiting some of the most famous landmarks in Paris , you’re likely to see more tourists than locals.

But there’s so much to a town or city like Paris than its landmarks and main streets. There are many hidden gems in Paris , and letting yourself get lost where locals live and hang is the surest way to feel like a local.

To get a little more of your first time visiting Paris, you must venture where the locals are. So choose one of the lesser-known districts of Paris , put away your map, and just wander.

There are several other ways to get a taste of daily life in Paris.

  • Take public transport
  • Go to local markets
  • Have a stroll near a university
  • Drop-in a supermarket
  • Go where people work
  • Take a walk in residential areas

For long stays, you can also book a furnished apartment in Paris instead of a hotel, like one of these apartments in Paris with Eiffel Tower view .

8. Discover Popular Food in Paris

duck confit

We all like sushi and pizza, but hey, you are visiting Paris in France, the cradle of one of the best cuisines in the world!

Few countries in the world offer such a variety of dishes as France. From north to south, region after region, you’ll discover different specialties based on local, typical ingredients and products. The good news is that in the French capital you can savor the best of all the French regions .

Ask locals for their favorite restaurants , market stalls, and Paris food , and then be sure to check them out. Join a cooking course and learn how to prepare your favorite French dish. Enjoy French traditional food in any of the Parisian bistros . Stop for a coffee and some people-watching in a cute Parisian café. And be sure don’t miss Paris’ best cakes !

TIP: This Paris Gourmet Tour is an excellent introduction to local food in Paris .

9. Safety Paris Tips

Best Anti theft Backpacks for Travel

Despite what you might have heard in the media, France is a safe and welcoming country, and we never felt unsafe in Paris. Still, by the main tourist attractions, watch out your belongings.

France is a safe and welcoming country. However, like everywhere in the world, in big cities and by the most sought-after attractions you might incur in petty crime and foul play.

In public transport, always keep your handbag or backpack in front of you to avoid possible pickpockets. Never keep your camera hanging around your neck or your wallet in your trousers back pocket. Instead, store them in your bag, possibly in a zipped pocket not within easy reach.

Be cautious when approached at train stations or by famous landmarks by people offering to help. While most of them will be genuinely generous, some might be trying to rob or scam you.

On long-distance trains, keep your bag always on the racks above your seat. Don’t trust the racks between the seats and the train doors (lessons learned here).

Don’t leave your belongings unattended in public spaces, and better keep your bag on your lap or between your feet. We recommend using an anti-theft travel bag or a theft-proof backpack for safe travel.

In addition to these Paris tips for first-timers, check out our dedicated post about safety in Paris .

10. Avoid the Tourist Traps When Visiting Paris

Roofs of Paris

It is no secret that the most visited places are also potential tourist traps, and Paris makes no exception. Avoiding the tourist traps in Paris is often a matter of common sense. However, there are a few rules that are likely to keep you off the tourist traps.

– Avoid changing money in airports, at La Défense, and near touristy sites. Same for money withdrawal with a foreigner card

– Skip cafés and restaurants close to the main landmarks and all the places attracting hordes of visitors. Prices can be 2 or 3 times the price than in other neighborhoods of Paris.

– Beware of restaurants displaying photos of the dishes and menus in several languages. They are obviously for foreigners.

– Beware of additional charges in many cafés when sitting at a table. Most of the times, Parisian cafés have a price for having something standing at the counter or sitting at a table

– Don’t rely too much on websites like Tripadvisor, and learn how to read behind the lines. Search for advice and reviews from locals.

11. Take a Day Trip from Paris to Explore its Surroundings

Giverny, France

With so many interesting sites around Paris, we won’t blame you if you want to block one day or two of your Paris Itinerary to get out of town and explore what the Parisian region has to offer.

From Château de Versailles to other fairy tale castles near Paris ; from Provins medieval town to picturesque towns like Giverny , there are great day trips from Paris  or fantastic weekend getaways by train or guided tour.

12. Just Say NO

Street Art in Paris

The last of these tips about Paris for first-timers is to learn to say “NO.” It is ok to have a plan full of interesting things to see & do for your first trip to Paris, but should you rush through it just for the sake of moving on to the next thing on your list?

This is definitely one of the biggest travel regrets among international travelers. They come to Paris, they see many extraordinary things, but in the end, the general feeling is that if they had just chosen half the things, they would have discovered much more about the city, especially about local life.

So for your Paris first time, much better to allow yourself to go with the flow and see where it takes you. Most of our greatest travel memories have come from us saying “YES” to not doing what we’d planned.

So there you have it, the best Paris tips for visiting Paris for the first time, from where to go, what to do, and what to avoid. All these Paris travel tips will ensure a smooth first time in Paris.

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Quirky parisian explorers with a preference for lesser-known sights, we are continuously looking for new ideas and tips to bring you the best of the city of light read more about us ., we’re elisa, norbert, valérie, and cédric, four travel bloggers and friends living in paris. quirky explorers with a preference for the local side of our city and its lesser-known sights, we are continuously looking for new ideas to enjoy the best of paris & around . do you want to go beyond the louvre museum or the eiffel tower keep clicking for first-hand information & our best tips learn more about us.

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Best Times To Visit Paris

The best time to visit Paris is from June to August and September to October. Both summer and fall have its ups and downs. From June to August the weather in Paris is just about  parfait (perfect). Average highs are in the high 70s and there are long days of sunshine. Unfortunately, summer is also the most crowded time – and the most expensive. For lower travel rates and significantly shorter lines at attractions , plan a visit in the fall. The seasonal foliage is known to stun, though the city's spring blooms are pretty famous too. If a travel deal is all that you're after, a visit during the winter will surely shave off travel expenses. Keep in mind though that Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world, seeing upward of 30 million travelers yearly. So no matter what time you visit, there will always be tourists and some crowds. 

Weather in Paris

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A statue of Notre Dame de France overlooking Le Puy-en-Velay in the Massif Central.

I’ve written about France for 20 years – here are my favourite places to visit

After a lifetime exploring the country’s cities, coast and countryside, our France expert chooses her personal highlights My favourite places to eat in France

When you can gaze on the salt pans of Guérande, near Nantes, cycle through lavender fields in Drôme, in the south-east, and bask in the splendour of the Cirque de Gavarnie in the Pyrénees, you have to wonder how France got so lucky with its diverse landscapes. Most recently, the volcanic landscape of the Massif Central captured my heart. The chain of extinct volcanoes runs south from the highest, Le Puy de Dôme (there’s a rack railway to the top) near Clermont-Ferrand.

South of the rugged peaks in Cantal, the town of Chaudes-Aigues has two hot springs – Europe’s hottest at 65C and 82C – that spurt from spouts in the town square. Two hours east, the extraordinary town of Le Puy-en-Velay is the starting point for the medieval pilgrimage trail to Santiago de Compostela . Its Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe chapel sits atop a basalt needle, while its other peaks are topped by the cathedral and a Notre Dame de France statue.

Port Rolland cove on Brittany’s Côte de Granit Rose.

It isn’t just the landscapes that vary so much across the country – France’s coast has so many characteristics there is a name for every stretch. On the Côte d’Opale , on the north coast, I’ve sat and admired the belle époque villas; further west, on Brittany’s Côte de Granit Rose , I have swum in coves surrounded by pink-hued boulders carved into extraordinary shapes by wind and sea. In the south-west, I’ve basked in the sunshine and dug my toes into silky blond sand as the Atlantic rolled into shore at Capbreton on the Côte d’Argent; and I’ll never forget an impromptu paddle from a tiny beach hidden between oyster farmers’ huts at L’Herbe on Cap Ferret , on the other side of Arcachon Bay.

The dramatic seascape at Pointe de Pern on Ushant island.

France’s coast is dotted with islands, all with distinct identities. On the Atlantic coast, I fell in love with the Île d’Yeu , which was reminiscent of Greece, with its whitewashed houses and colourful shutters, while the Île de Porquerolles off the Côte d’Azur saw us cycling past pine-fringed beaches and vineyards.

The one that really sticks in the memory, though, is Brittany’s Ushant (Île d’Ouessant in French), in the Iroise Sea off the far west coast. On a warm summer’s day, we cycled over its moorland, past lighthouses and green-shuttered cottages. When we reached the Pointe de Pern, the most westerly point of metropolitan France, I couldn’t believe the roar as the Atlantic waves crashed against the tumble of brown rocks.

A cyclepath on the Île de Ré.

Those in search of natural highs aren’t short of opportunities in L’Hexagone . Now our children are a bit older, paddling on the beach won’t cut it, so we’ve hired sand yachts and darted across the broad beach at Barbâtre on the Île de Noirmoutier off the coast near Nantes. In many forests across France, we’ve swung and climbed through the trees on acc robranche treetop adventures.

Of course, the activity the French excel at is le cyclisme , and the Île de Ré off the west coast was made for it. We’ve pedalled along smooth cycle paths between whitewashed villages adorned with hollyhocks, our legs powered by salted butter caramels.

Washerwomen, by Degas

Paris is always the first stop in France for art lovers, and little can rival the experience of standing eye-to-eye with Van Gogh’s self-portrait at the Musée d’Orsay , reflecting that, as he made those distinct and colourful brush strokes as a penniless artist, he would never know his impact on the art world 135 years later.

Beyond Paris, I’ve loved getting immersed in lesser-known galleries, which also offer moments of wonder. Le Havre’s light-filled Musée d’art moderne André Malraux holds one of France’s largest collections of impressionist art, including works by Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, Degas and Courbet. It’s a must-visit during this year’s Normandy impressionist festival .

Musée Cinema et Miniature in Lyon.

It never ceases to amaze how the French manage to make museums on such wide-ranging subjects, from the surprisingly fascinating Musée de la Fraise (strawberry) in Plougastel, Brittany to the exquisitely intricate models in the Musée Cinema et Miniature in Lyon. There are big-budget ones, such as the recently revamped Musée National de la Marine in Paris’s Trocadéro, which blends historical model ships and paintings with modern innovations such as a giant CGI wave to bring the history of seafaring alive.

But smaller museums can be as engaging. In a beautiful mansion in the north-eastern walled town of Langres, the House of Enlightenment tells the story of the town’s most famous son, Denis Diderot, the philosopher, art critic and writer who wrote most of the 1751 Encyclopédie .

Architecture

Stained glass in St Joseph’s church in Le Havre.

France’s many chateaux and cathedrals get the most attention, but I’ve been enchanted by more modern architecture, too. On my visit to Le Corbusier’s concrete Saint-Pierre church in Firminy, in the Loire Valley, I caught a group of music students practising four-part harmony in the extraordinary acoustics of the sloped walls, while the sunlight was shining through dozens of tiny windows like a constellation of stars.

In Le Havre, towering above the Lego-like apartment blocks, is the similarly impressive St Joseph’s church . Inside, I sat beneath the kaleidoscopic octagonal tower in reverence as I stared up at its 12,000 panes of coloured glass.

The giant elephant puppet roaming an island in the Loire, in Nantes.

I love Lyon for its gastronomy, Marseille for its myriad quartiers and characters, Bordeaux for its splendour and Nice for its light. But lesser-known cities also hold delights. Nantes is a creative powerhouse with its own magic, encapsulated by the Machines de Nantes , including the giant robotic elephant that roams around an island in the Loire, next to a three-storey Jules-Verne-inspired carousel (their creations can be found in Toulouse and Calais now, too). There are street art installations and, along the river towards Saint-Nazaire, a collection of  kooky art installations .

Getting around

A train crosses a viaduct near Marseille.

There’s a joy to making the journey part of the holiday, especially for those who choose not to have the stress of the airport and want to keep their carbon footprint low. I’ve always loved standing on deck as the ferry comes into Saint Malo : the view of its stately walled town is particularly good from the sea.

Driving in France is a joy (certainly compared with the much busier UK): those empty roads lined with plane trees are justly famous. The A49 from Grenoble is an awesome route as it skirts past the Vercors mountains and walnut groves, while the Millau viaduct on the A75 is always a thrill to cross.

And trains are fast, efficient and comfortable; I love the route along the Côte d’Azur from Marseille to Nice – TGV OuiGo trains depart from Marseille’s Saint-Charles station and arrive in Nice Ville in less than three hours, offering glimpses of the shimmering Mediterranean between the terracotta roofs and cypress pines.

Where to stay

Chouette Cabane, near Laval.

Whatever you have in mind for accommodation, France has it. A bedroom in a castle – Château de Saint Paterne is my favourite. A beautiful gîte – Le Mas and Le Mazet in the Dordogne eclipsed all others. A cute chambres d’hôtes , where the owners treat you like long-lost friends – I’ve never been disappointed by Sawday’s places. And the French are in a class of their own when it comes to more unusual places. There are fabulous tree houses – at La Chouette Cabane in the Mayenne our delicious dinner was winched up to the deck on a pulley and accompanied by a frog chorus as night fell.

In lesser-known Lorraine, the rustic cabin with its own sauna next to the Lake de Pierre-Percée felt wildly remote. And then there was the eco-lodge shaped like a cow: in deepest Burgundy, a region rightly proud of its beef and cheese, the Vache Ecolodge sleeps 12 and is decorated on a bovine theme throughout. Quite mad, but brilliant fun.

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The Best Places to Visit in France

By Monica Mendal

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The best places to visit in France shouldn’t only be consigned to Paris and the French Riviera . Sure, there’s nothing quite like watching the Eiffel Tower twinkle at night or reveling in the glamour of summer on the Côte d’Azur, but there’s much more to France than the traditional tourist path. So, where to begin? From 10 major wine regions sweeping the country, to its variety of diverse coastlines stretching from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, to a vast mountain range that shares its borders with Switzerland and Italy, there’s plenty to explore in France year-round.

If you’re crunched for time, there are tons of day trips from Paris reachable by train if you want a change of scenery without venturing too far. Can’t get enough of French cuisine? Then how about visiting the gastronomic capital of France. (Spoiler alert: it isn’t Paris.) And if the French Riviera is out of your price range come high summer, consider exploring the country’s alternative coastlines—of which there are many.

Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best places to visit in France.

Take a Day Trip From Paris

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The most popular day trip from Paris is a visit to King Louis XIV’s Palace of Versailles , a mere 45-minute train ride from the city center via the RER C metro line. The palatial estate is spread across over 2,000 acres, composed of the palace, gardens, park, Estate of Trianon, and stables. In 2021, French hotel company Airelles opened Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle in the heart of the palace grounds, with regal interiors inspired by Marie Antoinette’s Versailles estate, Petit Trianon. Here, guests can live out their own royal fantasies while benefiting from exclusive access and tailor-made experiences on the property. While Mont-Saint Michel follows Versailles as the third most visited monument in France (the first being the Eiffel Tower), there are plenty of other places to visit in Normandy as a day trip. A 50-minute train from Paris will land you in Giverny, the small village where Claude Monet famously lived and produced his illustrious water lily series. Travelers can visit his former home and gardens, which are open from late March to early November. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a seaside escape from Paris, you don’t have to travel all the way to the south of France. Normandy’s Côte Fleurie, often referred to as the Parisian Riviera, is a popular resort destination among Parisians—particularly Deauville and Trouville, which are a two-hour train ride from Paris.

Stay here: If you decide to turn your day trip into an overnight, Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle is the ultimate stay in Versailles, while Domaine de Primard , a bucolic stay situated in an 18th-century chateau, is located a mere 30 minutes from Claude Monet’s home.

Dine Your Way Through the Bouchons of Lyon

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Lyon is known as the undisputed gastronomic capital of France. Unsurprisingly, it was women who earned this title for the capital city of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, specifically the Mères Lyonnaises, or mothers of Lyon. Typically women of humble origins, they left their homes after the French Revolution in search of work, landing themselves in the homes of Lyon’s bourgeois families, where they used local, inexpensive ingredients to prepare simple and delicious meals; many believe it to be their impact that helped define and shape French cuisine as we know it today. When they were released from their jobs during the economic crisis of 1929, many of these women decided to open their own restaurants, known today as bouchons, referring to homey, casual eateries serving affordable and hearty fare. Today, Lyon is still littered with its historic bouchons —in fact, there are more restaurants per head than in any other in France. Try traditional Lyonnaise dishes like the quenelles at Cafe Comptoir Abel, chef Joseph Viola’s award-winning pâté en croûte at Daniel et Denise Créqui, the tête de veau at Café des Fédérations, and everything else at La Meunière, Brasserie Georges, and Chez Georges.

Stay here: Situated in a former convent, Villa Florentine is located in the heart of Old Lyon, a stone’s throw away from the best restaurants in the city. In the warmer months, take a dip in the rooftop pool featuring panoramic views of the city.

Ski the French Alps

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France is blessed by such a surfeit of the world’s top ski resorts that it’s almost impossible to decide where to go. Les Trois Vallées is among the most popular ski regions in France, connecting multiple resorts through its interlinked valleys accessible using a single ski pass. Apart from skiing, the upper-crust love Courchevel for its abundance of five-star resorts (the most in France after Paris), magnum rosé-filled lobster lunches, and high-end luxury boutiques—some of which, like Moncler, are even located sur piste. If it’s refined subtly you’re going for in Les Trois Vallées, Meribel is the ideal option not only for its optimal location and famous slopes, like La Face, which was created for the 1992 Winter Olympics, but for its friendly-friendly atmosphere and bounty of ski-in ski-out chalets and hotels, including the beloved Hôtel Le Coucou , helmed by the same owners as Provence’s Crillon Le Brave and Paris’s buzzy new Le Grand Mazarin. Head to Chamonix at the base of Mont Blanc, often primed with fresh powder, to tick skiing the world’s longest ski run, the Vallée Blanche, off your bucket list. For a less advanced resort (or if it’s not the skiing alone that entices you), the nearby Megève will feed your appetite for a romantic sojourn in a charming alpine village with cobbled streets littered with high-end restaurants and chic stays. Val d’Isère is quickly becoming the French Alps’ latest hot spot with a flurry of buzzy openings, from Airelles Val d’Isère and the upcoming Experimental Chalet Val d’Isère signaling a new awakening.

Stay here: The Pierre Yovanovitch-designed stay Hôtel Le Coucou is a stylish ski-in ski-out hotel with excellent dining options, from a traditional Savoyard restaurant to its beloved Beefbar. Airelles Val d’Isère is another ski-in ski-out hotel, host to its own assortment of critically acclaimed dining establishments, from Loulou to Nobu Matsuhisa’s Matsuhisa. The historic Grand Hôtel Soleil d’Or , recently acquired by the hotel group behind Mallorca’s Cap Rocat and Christian Louboutin’s hotel in Melides, Portugal, is a romantic alpine retreat with just 18 rooms and three adjoining chalets and home to La Chocolaterie, Megève village’s beloved social hub.

Explore the Central and Northern Wine Regions

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You can find wine production in nearly every corner of France, but it’s always worth visiting the regions located within close proximity to Paris—from Champagne and Alsace in the north, to Loire Valley and Burgundy in central France. In Champagne, Reims and Épernay would be the best base to explore the five regions. If you’re inclined to visit one of the big names, Ruinart in Reims offers the most organized experiences, from cellar tours to tastings to custom-designed brunch, lunch, or dinner experiences on-site. For a more intimate experience near Épernay, head to the family estate of Billecart-Salmon , where visitors are made to feel like they’re a part of the family with tastings held in the estate’s dining room. Ahead of the Olympics, Uber will also be introducing a new travel product in the champagne region, which will be announced next month. Much like its wines, the Loire Valley provides the most variety. With the Loire Valley’s vast wine regions spanning the Muscadet region on the western coast, all the way to the Sancerre region in the central north, there’s more to enjoy here than just wine. From charming medieval villages, to its lush ethereal gardens—the grounds of the Château de Villandry are among the most famous—to fairytale castles, like the iconic Château de Chambord, Loire Valley maintains the perfect balance for a well-rounded holiday in wine country. It’s also worth exploring Burgundy, with a jaunt in its capital city Dijon, known for its mustard, or explore the German and Swiss-bordered Alsace region, with visits to both its capital city of Strasbourg and the charming old town of Colmar.

Stay here : In the Loire Valley, you can’t go wrong with a pastoral stay at the iconic Les Sources de Cheverny or if you prefer something less traditional, check out Château de la Haute Borde , known for its seasonal artist residencies. For an immersive stay in Champagne, the beautiful 12-room Château de Sacy sits in a charming village in the heart of the vineyards.

Sip Your Way Through Bordeaux

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While the lesser-known wine regions in the south of France, such as the Rhône Valley and the Languedoc, are certainly not to be missed by wine aficionados, your introduction to French wine should undoubtedly begin with Bordeaux. Spend a night or two in the city of Bordeaux itself before heading to the countryside, and take a stroll through the vibrant Chartrons neighborhood or enjoy dinner at Au Bistrot. The type of experience you’ll have in Bordeaux’s wine country is characterized by which side of the Dordogne River you’re on. The right bank, which you can read about here , is distinguished by its shorter distances, hilly terrain, and famous medieval villages, while the left bank is formed by the Médoc, land that stretches all the way from the city of Bordeaux to the coast. The Médoc is famous for its palatial wine estates—many of which are open by appointment for tours and tastings. These wine castles, as they’re appropriately monikered, not only produce some of the finest wines in France, but are destinations in themselves—from some of the oldest and most historic, like Chateau d’Arsac and Château Livran , to the women-owned Château Larrivaux , which has been run by women of the same family since 1580. Among the many reasons to visit the Médoc wine region is due, in part, to its proximity to the coast. After a week of wine tastings, spend a few days on the sandy beaches of Soulac-sur-Mer, a timeless seaside village whose simplicity and belle époque nostalgia lend it a feeling of laid-back glamour.

Stay here: On Bordeaux’s left bank, stay at Maison d’Estournel , a refined country house set on the vineyards of its adjoining wine estate Cos d’Estournel . On the right bank, Logis de la Cadène puts you right at the center of the iconic Saint-Émilion wine village, and its Michelin-starred restaurant is among the most popular in the region.

Take a Scenic Drive Through Provence

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Plan some tastings ahead of your (ideally, late spring or early summer) visit to Provence at Château La Mascaronne or Château Gassier —after all, Provence is the land of rosé. When your rosé-tinted glasses have worn off, however, it’s time to hit the road, and there’s no better way to discover Provence’s surfeit of charming hilltop villages set against the backdrop of its sweeping fields of lavender, vines, and sunflower fields, than from a vintage car with the top down. Rent a car with Provence Classics , beginning your road trip in the Luberon, where you can pick up some local market produce and souvenirs from the hilltop village of Gordes, then drive past the lavender fields at Abbaye Notre-Dame de Senanque on your way to stroll through the red cliffside village of Roussillon. From there, begin your journey to Avignon, stopping through Provence’s antique capital, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, for some antique shopping at notable shops, like 50 Cinquante and Bernard Durand . Arriving at Avignon, visit the Palais des Papes and the Jardin des Domes or meander through the city’s labyrinth of cafés and shops, before following the Van Gogh route from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence to Arles. For a truly enchanting conclusion to your road trip, head 20 minutes south of Arles for a journey into the wilds: the Camargue, western Europe’s largest delta, featuring a wild landscape of lagoons, reeds, and salt marshes—a place where wild horses roam free and a colony of pink flamingos comes to nest in the warmer months. No, it’s not the rosé-tinted glasses you’re wearing—this place is real .

Stay here: The elegant La Bastide de Gordes will place you right in the center of the iconic hilltop village. You can alternatively opt for a stay at the charming Bastide de Mourre nearby or in its sister property Domaine de Chalamon in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. For an ultra-luxurious and romantic retreat, book a room at Crillon le Brave , located a short distance from the best antique shops in the region. In June, the much-anticipated Les Bains Gardians will open in the heart of Camargue National Park.

Hike the Calanques

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After exploring the countryside of Provence, it’s time to hit the seaside. With its influx of trending hotel and restaurant openings, it’s no secret that the weird and wild Marseille has become a hotbed for the creative class in recent years. But before stylish crowds descended on the vibrant port city, its wild limestone cliffside extending between Marseille and Cassis, known as the Calanques, had always been its natural draw. The Calanques National Park is a hiker’s paradise, with many of its trails ending at secret coves and white sand beaches that are only reachable by foot or sea, like Calanque of Port-Miou, Calanque of Port-Pin, and Calanque of En-Vau. If you prefer to explore the calanques by sea, book a public or private charter aboard Le Don du Vent for a day of sailing and swimming.

Stay here: Optimally situated on a rocky shore in the fishing village of Les Goudes, Tuba Club is the perfect place to stay given it’s located at the gateway to the Calanques National Park. Book a room at the 5-star Hôtel Les Roches Blanches in the neighboring Cassis if you’re looking for a more elegant stay outside of the frenetic city center of Marseille.

Oyster Tasting in the Bay of Arcachon

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Head southwest for a week of oyster tastings on the Bay of Arcachon. Base yourself in the chic seaside village of Cap Ferret, the southern tip of the Lege-Cap-Ferret peninsula, known as the oyster capital of France. A scenic seaside town characterized by its quaint fisherman villages and oyster farms, Cap Ferret has long been a chic holiday hamlet and a best-kept secret among the French for its abundance of beautiful beaches and al fresco seafood restaurants. Flanked by the Atlantic beaches primed for surf and the quieter beaches on the bay, lined with oyster shacks and framed by the famed Dune Du Pilat, the tallest sand dune in Europe, Cap Ferret is a unique summer destination for travelers seeking a more laid back alternative to the French Riviera. Don’t forget to grab a bike and explore the many picturesque fishing villages located deeper in the peninsula, from Le Canon to l’Herbe, or book a boat day with Des Hommes et Des Mers to explore it all by sea.

Stay here: Last summer the oldest hotel on the peninsula dating back to the 1970s, Hôtel des Dunes re-opened as a cool surf lodge of sorts, with each of its 13 rooms designed in the spirit of Cap Ferret’s oyster shacks, and located just across the street from Cap Ferret’s best surf beach. If you prefer to stay in Arcachon, the Philippe Starck-designed La Co(o)rniche is a five-star stay in the upmarket Pyla-Sur-Mer neighborhood, boasting panoramic views of the Dune du Pilat from its lively restaurant bar.

Surf the French Basque

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Begin your road trip in the French Basque Country’s gateway city, Bayonne, where you can scoop up some of the famous Bayonne cured ham and chocolate before making your way to the coast. It’s no secret to surf enthusiasts everywhere that France’s southwest is world-renowned for its epic surf breaks—so much so that it’s been nicknamed the “French California.” Many of the best surf beaches can be found in the French Basque’s beloved seaside towns, like Biarritz , which has also experienced an advent of new hotels and restaurants as of late, making it an ideal base for your Basque holiday. In Biarritz, you’ll find beginner beaches, like Côte des Basques or La Grande Plage, and Le Miramar for more advanced surfers. Another charming and lesser-known town nearby is Guethary, a tiny village with a surplus of great local restaurants and sceney sunset bars for post-surf fun. Among the best surf beaches in Guethary include the reef break of Parlementaria, which shares its border with Bidart, another beloved surf town, and the more isolated beach of Alcyons. Intermediate surfers can also head to the neighboring town of Saint Jean de Luz to ride out one of the French Basque’s rare point breaks at Lafitenia beach.

Stay here: Regina Experimental Biarritz opened just last summer and is optimally located across the street from La Grande Plage.

Scenic Swims in Corsica

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With its close proximity to Italy, located just 10 nautical miles from beautiful Sardinia, international travelers often overlook Corsica altogether when considering their options for a summer holiday in France. Their oversight leaves the island spared from crowds—save for the French families who return each summer to bask in their unspoiled paradise on the Med. From natural pools to secret coves to white sand beaches, Corsica is known for its pristine turquoise coastline. Tourists tend to flock to the southern part of the island, famous for its white sand beaches, like Palombaggia (the first tobacco-free beach on Corsica), Campomoro, Cupabia, and Roccapina, as well as its scenic bays, such as Cala di Conca and Fazzio. As southern Corsica is more built up with tourist stays, the northern beaches remain slightly more wild and untouched; among the best beaches in northern Corsica include Ostriconi, Lotu, Saleccia, and Bodri. But Corsica’s pristine swimming spots aren’t consigned to the island’s dazzling coastline—many of the island’s best swims can be found inland, in the natural pools concealed among the island’s many hiking trails and cultural sites, from les Piscines naturelles de Cavu to the Vallée du Fango and Ponte Vecchiu, and those fed by waterfalls like Polischellu and Aïtone.

Stay here: Nestled on the Cap Corse peninsula in the northeast corner of the island, Hôtel Misincu is a chic eco-luxury retreat on a 54-acre estate with a restaurant, spa, and pool. In the south, stay at the beloved family-run U Capu Biancu , a waterfront property overlooking the bay of Sant’ Amanza.

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France raises terror alert warning to highest level

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US embassy in Paris issues security alert for Americans in France after Moscow terrorist attack

T he American embassy in Paris has issued a security alert for U.S. Citizens in France following last week’s terrorist attack in Moscow. 

This means that visitors in France can expect to see heightened security in public areas, including public transport, places of worship, tourist sites, schools, sports venues , and other large commercial centers. 

The U.S. Embassy has warned that terrorists may target tourist locations "with little or no warning." 

"Visitors to congested and popular tourist areas should be particularly attentive to their surroundings," the embassy said, urging the public to report suspicious activity to law enforcement. 

ZELENSKYY RESPONDS TO MOSCOW CONCERT HALL SHOOTING, RIPS PUTIN FOR SUGGESTING UKRAINE BEHIND TERROR ATTACK

The warning comes after the French government elevated its Vigipirate national security alert system to its highest level, following a terrorist attack in Moscow on Friday evening. Russian authorities said "radical Islamists" killed 139 people at a suburban concert hall in Moscow. 

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Later Monday, Italy followed France in stepping up security. The country’s national security council met Monday, and decided to increase security around Holy Week observances leading up to Easter this weekend. 

Both surveillance and checks will be increased, "paying the most attention to the places of greatest aggregation and transit of people, as well as sensitive targets,’’ the Italian Interior Ministry said in a statement. Pope Francis has a busy schedule of events in Rome and at the Vatican in the days leading up to Easter Sunday.

Original article source: US embassy in Paris issues security alert for Americans in France after Moscow terrorist attack

One of the alleged perpetrators of last week's terrorist attack in Moscow against the backdrop of the US embassy in Paris and the Crocus City Hall music venue in Moscow. Getty Images

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France Travel Advisory

Travel advisory july 26, 2023, france - level 2: exercise increased caution.

Reissued with obsolete COVID-19 page links removed.

Exercise increased caution in France due to  terrorism  and  civil unrest .

Country Summary:  Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in France. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas.

Incidents such as pickpocketing and phone snatchings occur frequently and can happen anywhere, especially in crowded areas such as airports, train stations, subway and train cars, and near tourist attractions.

Peaceful demonstrations and strikes in Paris and other cities throughout France occur regularly and can disrupt transportation. On rare occasions, demonstrations have included violence and property damage and police have responded with water cannons and tear gas.

Read the  country information page  for additional information on travel to France.

If you decide to travel to France:

  • Be aware of your surroundings when traveling to tourist locations and large crowded public venues.
  • Avoid demonstrations and areas with significant police activity.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities including movement restrictions related to any ongoing police action.
  • Find a safe location and shelter in place if unable to leave the vicinity of a demonstration.
  • Monitor local media for breaking events and adjust your plans based on new information.
  • Enroll in the  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program  ( STEP ) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on  Facebook  and  Twitter .
  • Review the  Country Security Report  for France.
  • Visit the CDC page for the latest  Travel Health Information  related to your travel. 
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the  Traveler’s Checklist .

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Paris waiters race through the streets as French capital celebrates the city's life and soul ahead of Olympics

Usain Bolt’s sprint world records were never in danger. Then again, even the world’s fastest-ever human likely wouldn’t have been so quick while balancing a tray with a croissant, a coffee cup and a glass of water through the streets of Paris , and without spilling it everywhere.

France’s capital resurrected a 110-year-old race for its waiters and waitresses Sunday. The dash through central Paris celebrated the dexterous and, yes, by their own admission, sometimes famously moody men and women without whom France wouldn’t be France.

Why? Because they make France’s cafés and restaurants tick. Without them, where would the French gather to put the world to rights over drinks and food? Where would they quarrel and fall in (and out of) love? And where else could they simply sit and let their minds wander? They have penned songs and poems about their “bistrots,” so attached are they to their unpretentious watering holes that for generations have nourished their bodies and souls.

Around 200 participants gathered to compete in the 2km race around Paris' Marais district single-handedly carrying a tray bearing a coffee, a glass of water and a croissant. Founded in 1914, this is the first edition of the race after a 13-year hiatus. (Photo by Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP) (Photo by DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images)

“That is where you will find the population’s fine flowers,” sang songwriter-poet Georges Brassens, but also “all the miserable, the down on their luck.”

So drum roll, please, for Pauline Van Wymeersch and Samy Lamrous — Paris’ newly crowned fastest waitress and waiter and, as such, ambassadors for an essential French profession.

And one which has a big job ahead: Taking the food orders and quenching the thirsts of millions of visitors who will flock to the Paris Olympics this July.

The resurrection of the waitering race after a 13-year hiatus is part of Paris’ efforts to bask in the Olympic spotlight and put its best foot forward for its first Summer Games in 100 years.

The first waiters’ race was run in 1914. This time, a couple of hundred of waiters and waitresses dressed up in their uniforms — with the finest sporting bow ties — and loaded up their trays with the regulation pastry, small (but empty) coffee cup and full glass of water for the 1 1/4-mile loop starting and finishing at City Hall.

Van Wymeersch, the runaway winner in the women’s category in 14 minutes, 12 seconds, started waitering at age 16, is now 34 and said she cannot envisage any other life for herself.

Paris Cafe Waiters Race Returns After 13-Year Absence

“I love it as much as I hate it. It’s in my skin. I cannot leave it,” she said of the profession. “It’s hard. It’s exhausting. It’s demanding. It’s 12 hours per day. It’s no weekends. It’s no Christmases.”

But “it’s part of my DNA. I grew up in a way with a tray in my hand,” she added. “I have been shaped, in life and in the job, by the bosses who trained me and the customers, all of the people, I have met.”

Van Wymeersch works at the Le Petit Pont café and restaurant facing Notre Dame cathedral. Lamrous, who won the men’s race in a time of 13:30, waits at La Contrescarpe, in Paris’ 5th district. Their prizes were medals, two tickets each for the July 26 Olympic opening ceremony along the River Seine and a night out at a Paris hotel.

Although all smiles on this occasion, competitors acknowledged that’s not always the case when they are rushed off their feet at work. The customer may always be right in other countries, but the waiter or waitress has the final word in France, feeding their reputation for being abrupt, moody and even rude at times.

“French pride means that in little professions like this, they don’t want to be trampled on,” said Thierry Petit, 60, who is retiring in April after 40 years of waiting tables.

“It’s not lack of respect, rather it’s more a state of mind,” he said. Switching to English, he added: “It’s very Frenchie.”

Waiters and waitresses compete in a traditionnal "Course des cafes" (the cafes' race), in central Paris, on March 24, 2024.

The capital’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, said cafés and restaurants are “really the soul of Paris.”

“The bistrot is where we go to meet people, where we go for our little coffee, our little drink, where we also go to argue, to love and embrace each other,” she said.

“The café and the bistrot are life.”

The Associated Press

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    1. See the Eiffel Tower at night. Dodge the habitual daytime crowd zig-zagging up the Eiffel Tower's southern-pillar staircase or cruising by lift to the top-floor champagne bar, and experience Paris' signature spire after dark instead. Even better: book at the Michelin-starred Le Jules Vernes and dine in the company of the most beautiful city panorama ensnared within Eiffel's hypnotic ...

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    Montmartre (18th Arrondissement) Montmartre is one of the most romantic districts in Paris. Situated on a large hill overlooking the city, Montmartre is a labyrinth of cobbled streets that are lined with cafes, bistros and bars. Places to visit: Catch a risqué cabaret performance at the Moulin Rouge.

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    March. Spring is the best time to visit Paris to see the Parisian Cherry Blossoms. When the cherry trees begin to blossom, you know spring has arrived - and this usually happens in March. You will see the beautiful pink flowers if you head to the Champs de Mars or Jardins du Trocadéro close to the Eiffel Tower.

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  26. US embassy in Paris issues security alert for Americans in France ...

    The American embassy in Paris has issued a security alert for U.S. Citizens in France following last week's terrorist attack in Moscow. This means that visitors in France can expect to see ...

  27. France Travel Advisory

    Incidents such as pickpocketing and phone snatchings occur frequently and can happen anywhere, especially in crowded areas such as airports, train stations, subway and train cars, and near tourist attractions. Peaceful demonstrations and strikes in Paris and other cities throughout France occur regularly and can disrupt transportation.

  28. Security Alert: France Elevates Its Security Alert System (25 MAR 2024)

    Following the March 22 terrorist attack in Moscow, Russia, the French government elevated its Vigipirate national security alert system to the highest level. As a result, residents and visitors throughout France may see heightened security in public areas, including airports; public transport; places of worship; tourist sites; schools; major sports venues; and large commercial centers.

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  30. Paris Olympics: Waiters race in Course des Cafés

    Van Wymeersch works at the Le Petit Pont café and restaurant facing Notre Dame cathedral. Lamrous, who won the men's race in a time of 13:30, waits at La Contrescarpe, in Paris' 5th district ...