Top Things to Do in Paris for a Fantastic Trip

Looking for the top things to do in Paris? Our guide jumps straight to Paris’ heart with must-visit spots from the towering Eiffel Tower to the serene Jardin du Luxembourg. Experience the art, the ambiance, and the awe without sifting through clichés. Get the essence of Paris’ charm, distilled into a list made for adventurers and connoisseurs alike.

Key Takeaways

  • The Eiffel Tower, a beacon of French engineering from the 1889 World’s Fair, offers three levels of panoramic views and is a focal point for any Paris visit.
  • Indulge in cultural and scenic experiences by visiting iconic landmarks like Jardin des Tuileries and Musée d’Orsay, home to the world’s largest collection of Impressionist art.
  • Discover a blend of historical and contemporary attractions with Gothic restoration at Notre Dame, diverse dining across the city, and a chance to unwind in Jardin du Luxembourg or to explore Paris from the unique perspective of a Seine river cruise.

Exploring the Iconic Eiffel Tower

eiffel tower, paris, france

Who hasn’t dreamed of standing beneath the towering elegance of the Eiffel Tower? This marvel, which was conceived for the 1889 Paris World’s Fair, symbolizes France’s industrial and technological advancements. Its creation marked a new era, earning it immediate international fame as the tallest man-made structure and an iconic representation of French engineering skill.

Gustave Eiffel’s company, renowned for its expertise in metallic frameworks, designed and constructed this masterpiece between 1887 to 1889. The high-purity iron used in its construction was a testament to the advanced metallurgical techniques of the time. The Eiffel Tower was built in a record time of 2 years, 2 months, and 5 days, showcasing the architectural and technical capabilities of the era.

The Eiffel Tower, with its three publicly accessible levels, offers breathtaking views of Paris and serves as a perfect spot to start your Parisian journey. From its summit, you can spot the Arc de Triomphe, the spectacular gardens of Jardin des Tuileries, and the grand Palais. It’s no wonder why the Eiffel Tower is one of the main attractions of the French capital.

Strolling Through Jardin des Tuileries

paris, large-wheel, merry-go-round

Transitioning from the towering majesty of the Eiffel Tower, we now immerse ourselves in the tranquility of Jardin des Tuileries, a former royal palace garden. This garden has witnessed significant historical events, transforming from an aristocratic playground in the 16th century to becoming a public space in the 17th century. Its iconic design, by André Le Nôtre, the architect of Versailles, is an embodiment of the formal French garden style.

The garden, part of the Banks of the Seine UNESCO World Heritage site, offers more than 55 acres of peaceful and photogenic spaces for visitors to meander. At the far western end, visitors can explore the Musée de l’Orangerie and the Jeu de Paume, two museums that contribute to the garden’s cultural richness.

Whether you’re seeking an active experience or a peaceful stroll, Jardin des Tuileries has something for everyone. During summer, the Fête des Tuileries brings over 60 attractions to the garden, offering a mix of thrills and family-oriented fun. For fitness enthusiasts, the garden is a popular destination for jogging, especially in the mornings when it is less crowded.

Marvel at the Art in Musée d’Orsay

We proceed next to the Musée d’Orsay, a globally renowned museum that occupies a former train station and is celebrated for having the largest collection of Impressionist masterpieces in the world. Among its many attractions, the ‘Birth of Impressionism’ exhibition is a highlight, featuring nearly 100 works that narrate the emergence of this pivotal artistic movement.

The museum’s collection includes notable works like:

  • ‘The Fife Player’ by Edouard Manet
  • ‘Family Reunion’ by Frédéric Bazille
  • Claude Monet’s ‘Saint-Lazare Station’
  • Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s ‘The Swing’
  • Edgar Degas’ depictions of ballet and racetrack scenes

These masterpieces, including the iconic Mona Lisa, are part of the museum’s esteemed Impressionist exhibit.

Visiting the Musée d’Orsay is not just about admiring the art, but about immersing oneself in the world of the artists and their subjects. So take your time, lose yourself in the colors and forms, and let the art speak to you.

A Glimpse of Gothic Grandeur at Notre Dame

Shifting focus from the Impressionist era, we traverse to the grand domain of Gothic architecture at the Notre Dame Cathedral. This iconic monument is currently undergoing a monumental restoration effort to bring back its grandeur after the devastating fire in 2019. The large-scale project involves nearly a thousand workers tackling tasks including:

  • the removal of scaffolding
  • repair of the Grand Organ
  • refurbishment of stained glass
  • restoration of iron railings

Key architectural elements like vaults and buttress walls are being meticulously repaired or replaced, and a new timber framework is being installed for the nave and choir. Central to Notre Dame’s restoration is the reconstruction of its famous spire, with efforts focused on maintaining the cathedral’s historical appearance, alongside using wood for the new roofing to preserve its Gothic authenticity.

It’s heartening to see the painstaking efforts being made to restore this symbol of French history and culture. Although the exact reopening date for public visitation of Notre Dame remains uncertain, the anticipation only adds to its allure.

Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysées

Stepping away from Notre Dame’s splendor, we journey towards the majestic Arc de Triomphe. Commissioned by Napoleon in 1806, the Arc de Triomphe celebrates his victory at Austerlitz and stands as a tribute to those who fought for France during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars.

Designed by Jean Chalgrin, the Arc de Triomphe:

  • was influenced by the Roman Arch of Titus
  • on completion, it was the largest triumphal arch in existence
  • the engravings on the monument honor the names of French victories and generals, linking it indelibly to the country’s military past.

From the top of the Arc de Triomphe, you can enjoy clear vistas straight down the Champs-Élysées all the way to the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beneath the Arc’s vault today continues to honor the memory of fallen soldiers, making the monument a contemporary symbol of sacrifice.

Indulge in Parisian Café Culture at Café de Flore

Pausing our architectural exploration, we dive into the historical richness and vibrant atmosphere of Parisian café culture at the famed Café de Flore. Established in 1887, this café is known for serving intellectuals, artists, and celebrities including notable personalities like Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein.

The café’s bohemian ambiance has attracted the likes of Picasso and Hemingway, while its best seats are out on the famous terrasse, offering excellent opportunities for people watching along the vibrant streets. Inside, the café is decorated in the Art Deco style, with red seating and dark wood interiors that have remained virtually unchanged since the 1940s.

Visitors can indulge in superior coffee experiences, including their famous hot chocolate with chantilly cream. Whether you’re a literature enthusiast, a coffee connoisseur, or simply a people watcher, Café de Flore offers a unique experience that is quintessentially Parisian.

Discover Contemporary Art at Palais de Tokyo

Moving on from Café de Flore’s retro appeal, we delve into the innovative realm of contemporary art at the Palais de Tokyo. Dedicated to celebrating living artists and their work across multiple disciplines, it is Europe’s largest site for contemporary art. Adjacent to the Palais de Tokyo is La Bourse de Commerce – Pinault Collection, Paris’ newest space for showcasing contemporary art.

The Palais de Tokyo is more than just a museum; it’s a dynamic space that fosters dialogue and exploration. Visitors can conclude their cultural exploration at the in-house restaurants, Monsieur Bleu or Bambini, part of the Paris Society Group. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or a casual visitor, the Palais de Tokyo offers a refreshing and stimulating perspective on contemporary art.

Treasure Hunt at Le Marais

Switching from the modern to the ancient, we set out to discover the concealed gems of Le Marais. This historic quarter, known as the old Jewish quarter, has evolved into one of Paris’ most trendy neighborhoods, complete with charming cobbled streets and distinctive landmarks. It boasts the Place des Vosges, celebrated for its significant past and architectural beauty.

The Cloitre des Billettes, residing within Le Marais, stands as a rare medieval cloister in Paris, offering a glimpse into the city’s early history. Le Marais is also recognized for its vibrant street art, particularly the graffiti that adorns the walls along Impasse des Arbaletriers, not far from the iconic Boulevard Saint Germain.

Le Marais’ cultural landscape is further enriched by its strong LGBTQ community, contributing to the district’s eclectic and inclusive atmosphere. A stroll through Le Marais is like stepping into a time machine, each turn revealing a different facet of Parisian history and culture.

Relax in the Famous Jardin du Luxembourg

Having completed our exploration of Le Marais, we unwind in the scenic Jardin du Luxembourg. This garden, designed in a harmonious blend of French and English styles, is fully accessible to visitors with disabilities. The garden offers various activities for all ages, including a puppet theater, pony rides, and playgrounds for children, as well as serene spaces for people watching, romantic strolls, picnics, early morning jogging, tennis, and pétanque for adults.

Visitors can also engage with the park’s cultural program, which includes free photography exhibits and concerts, explore an orchard with rare apple varieties, visit an apiary, see greenhouses with a collection of orchids, or enjoy the rose garden and also join guided tours led by a park gardener.

Within the Jardin du Luxembourg, dining options such as Madame’s Terrace, as well as numerous kiosks and refreshment stalls, cater to the culinary needs of visitors. Whether you’re an active adventurer or a leisurely stroller, the Jardin du Luxembourg is a perfect spot to unwind and enjoy the beauty of Paris. Don’t forget to make a dinner reservation to secure your spot at one of these delightful dining options.

Experience the Mystery of the Paris Catacombs

Transitioning from the soothing environment of Jardin du Luxembourg, we plunge into the enigmatic and grim past of the Paris Catacombs. This underground ossuary, containing the bones of over six million Parisians, is a somber reminder of the city’s history.

Visitors must descend 131 steps to enter the Catacombs, navigating a dizzying spiral staircase to reach the underground tunnels. The Catacombs are a stark contrast to the city’s grandeur above ground, presenting a unique and eerie perspective on Paris’ past.

Towards the end of the Catacombs tour, visitors encounter striking structures such as a column comprised of bones. Although not for the faint-hearted, a visit to the Paris Catacombs is an unforgettable experience that adds a different dimension to your Parisian adventure.

Savor French Flavors: Best Food Spots in Paris

Having ventured into the depths of the Catacombs, we ascend to the gastronomic delights of Paris. The city is a gastronomic paradise, offering a smorgasbord of dining experiences that cater to every palate. From traditional bistros like Benoit Paris and Allard, where you can indulge in escargots and frogs’ legs, to innovative fusion restaurants like Tekés and Le Rigmarole, Paris’ food scene is as diverse as it is delectable. For those who have visited Paris, these culinary delights are unforgettable.

The city also boasts creative small plates at Les Enfants du Marché and Middle Eastern-infused lunch options at Mokonuts, crafted by chefs with a distinguished New York City culinary pedigree. Or for a more casual dining experience, you could head to Miznon for its famous whole-roasted cauliflower and artisanal pitas, or L’Avant Comptoir for its standing-only style and high-quality finger foods.

Whether you’re a foodie looking for the next gourmet experience or someone who simply enjoys good food, Paris is sure to satisfy your culinary cravings. So, treat yourself to the best of French cuisine and make your Parisian journey a gastronomic adventure.

Enjoy Panoramic Views from Montparnasse Tower

After a satisfying meal, one can envision nothing better than savouring panoramic city views, particularly as dusk falls and the city starts to sparkle. The Montparnasse Tower offers a unique vantage point for such an experience. The tower’s 56th-floor observatory and adjacent 59th-floor rooftop terrace provide commanding views of the city.

From the top, you can spot the Eiffel Tower, the spectacular gardens of Jardin des Tuileries, and the grand Palais. It’s a sight to behold, as the city transforms from the golden hues of sunset to the twinkling lights of night.

Whether you’re a photography enthusiast looking for the perfect shot or simply someone who enjoys beautiful views, the Montparnasse Tower is a spot you wouldn’t want to miss. So, as the city lights up, take a moment to reflect on the day’s journey and the memories you’ve created.

Shopping Extravaganza at Le Bon Marché

Having accumulated a plethora of memories and a camera filled with snapshots, there remains one final activity to round off the day – shopping! And what better place to indulge in a shopping spree than at Le Bon Marché, the oldest department store in Paris?

Shoppers at Le Bon Marché can indulge in a multitude of luxury items including:

  • Classic French liqueurs
  • Chocolates
  • Baked goods
  • International food items
  • Designer clothing
  • Home goods

Whether you’re looking for a souvenir to take back home or a treat for yourself, Le Bon Marché offers a shopping experience like no other.

The store’s historic ambiance and wide range of products make it a must-visit for any shopper in Paris. So, as you stroll through the store’s elegant aisles, take the time to appreciate the fine craftsmanship and attention to detail that each product embodies.

Navigating the Seine on a Bateau Mouche

Following a day brimming with discoveries, retail therapy, and scrumptious cuisine while visiting Paris, we conclude by embarking on a calming cruise along the Seine on a Bateau Mouche. These river boats offer a unique vantage point from which to view Paris’ most iconic landmarks, including:

  • The Eiffel Tower
  • Notre-Dame Cathedral
  • The Louvre Museum
  • The Musée d’Orsay
  • The Pont Alexandre III
  • The Grand Palais

There are a variety of Bateau Mouche experiences available, including sightseeing tours with commentary, and special cruises for festive dates or personal celebrations. As you glide along the river, you can enjoy gourmet dining, often accompanied by live music, making for a pleasant and romantic atmosphere.

For a comprehensive exploration of Paris, the Bateaux Mouches company offers a package that includes both a river cruise and a bus tour of the city. As you cruise along the Seine, take a moment to appreciate the beauty and charm of Paris from a whole new perspective.

Uncover Hidden Gems on Quiet Streets

As we approach the end of our Parisian odyssey, we momentarily retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle to uncover the concealed wonders of Paris’ tranquil streets. The Passage Delanos, a series of three connected courtyards near Gare de l’Est, is a tranquil oasis in the 10th arrondissement. Secluded spots like the Cour de Rohan and Cour Damoye, with their lush vegetation and cobblestones, offer a glimpse into the serene side of Parisian life.

Artistic enclaves such as the Cour de l’Industrie and La petite Alsace are hubs for creatives, featuring unique architecture and a community of artists and artisans. Historic courtyards like Cour du Commerce Saint-André, which hosts the oldest café-restaurant in Paris, add a layer of history to the exploration of quiet streets.

These lesser-known quarters of Paris offer intimate encounters and a slower, more authentic pace of urban life. So take time to meander through these quiet streets and uncover the hidden gems that make Paris truly special.

Book Lovers’ Paradise at Shakespeare and Company

Our concluding stop brings us to the fabled Shakespeare and Company bookstore. This English-language independent bookstore, situated on the banks of the Seine opposite Notre-Dame in Paris’ Latin Quarter, has served as a cultural haven for book lovers and a hub for writers and artists.

Founded by George Whitman in 1951 and named by Sylvia Beach, the bookstore has hosted over 30,000 writers and artists to sleep among the bookshelves. Today, Sylvia Whitman, alongside her partner David Delannet, leads Shakespeare and Company, enriching it with additions like a café and a literary festival.

Whether you’re an avid reader, an aspiring writer, or simply someone who enjoys the smell of old books, Shakespeare and Company is a must-visit. As you browse through its vast collection, you might just find a story that resonates with your own.


In conclusion, Paris is a city of many facets – from its iconic landmarks and hidden gems to its rich culinary scene and quiet streets. Each corner of this city has a story to tell, and every experience adds a new layer to its rich tapestry. As this journey comes to an end, we hope you’re inspired to embark on your own Parisian adventure, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Frequently Asked Questions

What I Cannot miss in Paris?

You cannot miss visiting iconic landmarks like the Arc de Triomphe, Les Catacombes, and the Château de Versailles when in Paris. Make sure to include these in your itinerary to make the most of your trip!

What is the prettiest part of Paris?

The prettiest parts of Paris include Trocadéro at sunrise, Parc des Buttes Chaumont, Rue Cremieux, and Luxembourg Gardens, among others. These places offer breathtaking views and beautiful experiences.

How many days do you need in Paris first time?

For a first-time visit to Paris, it’s recommended to plan around 4-5 days to fully enjoy the city’s highlights and diverse experiences, giving you ample time to explore different neighborhoods and iconic attractions.

What is special about the Eiffel Tower?

The Eiffel Tower is a symbol of French engineering and was built as the centerpiece of the 1889 Paris World’s Fair to showcase France’s industrial and technological progress.

Can I visit the Notre Dame Cathedral?

Unfortunately, the Notre Dame Cathedral is closed to visitors due to ongoing restoration efforts following the fire in 2019. There is no confirmed reopening date yet.

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