Jetting off to the city of love soon and looking for the best things to do in Paris?! You’re in the right place!
Unfortunately, I haven’t been back to this splendid city for almost 10 years – where does the time go?! Ultimately, it’s probably a good thing since I would have eaten my weight in chocolate croissants and baguettes by now. #noselfcontrol Therefore, I’ve asked my friend Eleonore from Eleonore Everywhere (cute blog name, am I right?) to share her absolute favorite things to do in Paris with us all. And since I’m always planning my next grand adventure, I will sure be using this post for my future travels to France sooner than later.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
Paris Pre-Travel Guide:
When to Go
Paris is amazing at any time of year, and each season has something really different and wonderful to offer. The summer (June-August) has the best temperature but tends to be the busiest and most crowded time to visit. Alternatively, the winter tends to be less busy but can get quite cold. The late spring or early fall are probably your best bet for seeing Paris with both lovely weather and at a less crowded time.
How to Get Around
The Paris Metro is a good option for getting further distances, and a book of 10 tickets costs 14.50 EUROs. The best way to see many of the main sights, however, is simply by walking. You could also get around the city cheaply by bike, and Paris has a large bike-share network called Velib. Alternatively, you could also see much of the city by taking a hop on hop off bus tour or even a boat tour down the Seine River!
Important Things to Pack
Paris is a city of cool, effortless fashion, which can make packing seem like a daunting task. On the whole though people are dressed quite casually and simply but carry themselves with that certain je ne sais quoi. Important to have are comfortable shoes you can walk in and layers, as the weather can sometimes be unpredictable. Other than that bring neutral colors, you can’t go wrong with black in Paris, and then add different accessories to style.
Where to Stay
There are many different neighborhoods to stay in Paris. Montmartre is a bit further from the center but is less expensive, and is still a really lively neighbourhood to be in. A nice place to stay in Montmartre is Hotel Relais. More central neighborhoods to stay include the 3rd and 4th arrondissment. Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais is a nice option in the nearby Le Marais neighbourhood.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
Things to do in Paris:
1. Picnic underneath the Eiffel Tower
There are few things that feel more Parisian than having a picnic beneath the Eiffel Tower! You can grab some picnic essentials at the nearby Rue Cler, which is a street lined with various small cafes, flower shops, and meat and cheese speciality stores. La Fromagerie is a great spot to get cheese, Davoli for meat, NYSA for wine, and don’t forget a warm baguette from any one of the boulangeries.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
2. Stroll the palace and gardens of Versailles
Although the Palace of Versailles isn’t technically in Paris, it is only a short train ride outside of the city and a must-see on any visit to Paris. Spend part of the day wandering the opulent palace, passing through the many rooms including the beautiful Hall of Mirrors. The rest of the day is best spent lounging in the amazing gardens, where you can also eat at the many cafes or even row a boat. Don’t feel like navigating the public transport system? Opt for a day trip to Versailles that will get you there and back, easily, as well as a ticket to skip the line – always necessary when you’re only visiting for a short period of time!
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Psst – have a few extra days in Paris? Check out the best day trips from Paris!
3. See Monet’s Water Lilies at the Musee de l’Orangerie
Seeing Monet’s Water Lilies at the Musee de l’Orangerie is one of the most calming things to do in Paris. The painter imagined the room as a relaxing and tranquil spot where people could escape the busy streets of Paris. With curved high white walls covered with Monet’s delicate paintings, the room is as he intended it to be, a hidden refuge in Paris.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
4. Sip Champagne along the Seine River
The Seine River cuts through Paris and is a sight you will often see and walk along during any trip to the city. Given that there are so many things to do in Paris, you will likely have tired legs so take some time to relax along the river, maybe even with a bottle of champagne. Some good spots to sit along the river are the Ponts de Arts or Quai des Célestins. If you’re looking for something romantic to do, consider an evening cruise along the Seine River, sure to serenade any lover! :p[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
5. Catch the sunrise or sunset at the Sacre-Coeur
Watching the sunrise or sunset from the Sacre-Coeur in Montmartre is one of the most beautiful things to do in Paris. The Sacre-Coeur sits high up above Paris and provides an amazing morning view of the city as it slowly wakes up. In the evenings, the stairs of the Sacre-Coeur are filled with people playing guitar, lounging with friends, and sipping on beer. It’s a lively spot to watch the fading sun make Paris glow in orange and yellow as it sets.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
6. Eat French pastries at Pain Pain
There are so many places in Paris to eat pastries. One of the best spots, Pain Pain, is in Montmartre and makes amazing eclairs, croque-monsieurs and pain au chocolates. This is a great little place to pick up breakfast before wandering over to the Sacre-Coeur or peeking into the various clothing boutiques nearby.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
7. Get cultured at the Pompidou Museum
Paris is ripe with culture, and seeing some of its museums is certainly worthwhile when visiting Paris. The Pompidou Museum is a quirky one to visit, and with a funky exterior and even funkier modern art inside, it stands out against the more classic architecture throughout the city. Don’t miss the great viewpoint from the top![divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
8. Discover the Paris Catacombs
One of the stranger things to do in Paris is to visit the Catacombs. The Catacombs is an underground cemetery located in a tunnel network under the city. It’s said to be the “world’s largest grave” with some 6 million remains held there! Top recommendation: purchase skip-the-line tickets ahead of time![divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
9. See the Arch de Triomphe
One of the most well known monuments in Paris is the Arch de Triomphe. It stands at one end of the Champs-Elysees and is a great starting point before taking a stroll down the famous boulevard. You can also go to the top of the Arch de Triomphe for a panoramic view of the city.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
10. Have steak & frites at Le Relais de l’Entrecote
With only one thing on the menu, steak & frites, Le Relais de l’Entrecote is a unique spot for dinner. They don’t take bookings, and there is generally a cue, but it tends to move quickly and is well worth the wait. Along with a salad, they will serve you two plates of steak & frites. There is also an immense desert list to follow your meal with![divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
11. Take photos at the Palais-Royal
The interior courtyard of the Palais-Royal contains a contemporary art installation called the Colonnes de Buren. The black and white striped columns of varying height create an unusual contrast against the traditional architecture surrounding it, which makes for an interesting spot to take some photos![divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
12. Get divey at Le Crocodile
Le Crocodile is a divey student-bar in the Latin Quarter. The walls are covered with old posters and the chairs are tattered but – with doors wide-open, strong drinks, and the chitter chatter of ‘cool’ Parisian youngsters – the place has a fun vibe![divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
13. Picnic along the Canal St. Martin
Picnicking is one of the best things to do in Paris and, depending on how much time you have, can be done every day throughout the city in a different spot. Canal St. Martin, in the northeast part of Paris, is another great spot for a picnic. The area has lots of different waterways and bridges and it is easy to find the perfect place for a canal-side picnic and some rose’.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
14. Go up the Eiffel Tower
Whether you chose to do this during the day or at night, when the famous tower sparkles, it’s worth doing on a visit to Paris. The lines can be long, so try to visit during the workweek and at off-peak hours, particularly before 9 am. An obvious but very necessary thing to do in Paris! [Editors Note: my recommendation is to buy skip-the-line Eiffel Tower tickets to avoid wasting your precious Parisian day light hours by standing in line – or waking up at the crack of dawn (never a good time in my book)!] [divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
15. Wander the tiny streets of the Marais neighborhood
Le Marais is a historic neighborhood spread out across the 3rd and 4th arrondissements. Start with a crepe at La Droguerie and then spend some time getting lost on the windy cobblestone streets, which are lined with all sorts of small cafes, boutiques and restaurants.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
Other Things to do in Paris if you’ve got more time:
Have you been to Paris before? What are a few of your favorite things to do in Paris?!