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Paris is a city that feels so expansive, it’s often overwhelming. But usually in one of those “I want to soak it all in and not miss a single thing” kind of ways! There are so many delicious, beautiful, exciting, romantic, and unique things to experience in this city, and I will be the first to say that Paris lives up to the hype! We have visited the City of Lights on a few different occasions and have compiled some of our favorite things to do to help ease the “where do I start” panic that sets in after you book the flight. Here are 20 essential things to do in Paris:
1. Visit a Museum
- Musee d’Orsay
- Petit Palais
- Picasso Museum
- Musee Rodin
- Musee Jaqemarte-Andre
- Musee des Arts et Metiers
2. Photo-worthy Streets:
- Rue Cremieux: Looking for a pop of color amidst the neutral palette of central Paris? Take a trip to the 11th Arrondissement and stroll down Rue Cremieux, a charming street lined with brightly-painted houses in a range of pastel hues.
- Rue de l’Abreuvoir: Located in the 18th Arrondissement, this is where you can find the charming Maison Rose, the picturesque pink restaurant that you’ve probably spotted on your Instagram feed once or twice. Aside from that, you’ll find tree-lined cobblestone streets and a peak at the stunning Sacre Couer, Paris’ famous church on a hill.
- Rue de l’Université: Boasting an impressively intimate view of the Eiffel Tower, this is one of Paris’ most famous streets.
3. L’atelier Lumieres: L’atelier Lumieres means ‘Studio of Lights’ and is a revolving door of unique, immersive art experiences. This is where Paris’ Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience was hosted and they hold many other similar experiences!
4. Notre Dame: A visit to Notre Dame now takes on even more meaning when you think about the immense community response to the fire back in 2019. To see how beautifully it stands, even after the destruction is truly something. This is also a place where you might find a good amount of street performers that are so entertaining to watch!
5. Walk/Bike the City: Paris is a gorgeous place to slow down and take in the views. Sometimes when we visit “bucket list destinations” like Paris, we try and go, go, go, but some of my best memories were made in the slow moments where I simply just take it in. I love just walking the streets and admiring the gorgeous buildings or the view of the Seine. I recommend grabbing a croissant or baguette and go for a walk or rent a bike from a nearby business. You can learn more about where and how to rent bikes in Paris here.
6. Picnic at Place de Vosges: Despite the never-ending fine cuisine available in Paris, I still believe one of the best culinary experiences you can have will be with food from the grocery store. Stumbling into a Monoprix and loading up on French staples like bread, cheese, and berries, and toting them to a grassy square is quintessential Parisian culture! If you’re looking for a great place to picnic, check out the Place de Vosges, one of Paris’ oldest public squares.
7. Trocadero (Eiffel Tower): If you’re wanting to “visit the Eiffel Tower”, I would personally recommend going to the Trocadero. It’s a square elevated on a hill near the tower. You get an unobstructed view and get to avoid craning your neck to take it all in.
8. Opera Garnier: Walking into the Opera House, it feels like you’re being transported to a different time! I can picture women in their hooped dresses ascending the stairs towards their seats. The cool things is that you can actually still attend operas here, but the more affordable option is of course to simple pay for a self-guided tour. For €14, you can walk around and admire the ornate ceilings and grand halls at your own pace.
9. Carette Cafe or Cafe de Flore: In the city of cafes, the Carette Cafe and Cafe de Flore have made quite the name for themselves. With stunning outdoor patio spaces and a pastry selection to write home about, these cafes are the epitome of the Parisian experience.
10. Arc de Triomphe: This is perhaps one of the more “cliche” stops in Paris, but the Arc de Triomphe is stunning in person and in a great location! Located on the Rue de Champs-Elysees, it’s within walking distance to a row of high-end shops. Now, whether BVLGARI is in your price range or not doesn’t really matter. It’s a gorgeous street to walk down and window shop from. (Or drop $8,000 on a new watch souvenir if that really is your thing.)
11. River Cruise: Is there anything more magical than drifting along the Seine. You can choose a cruise specifically for seeing sights or one that serves food or a romantic feel to it.
12. BnF Richelieu (National Library): If you’re a true bookworm, you know that finding the right place to read is almost as important as finding the right book to read. This BnF Richelieu is one of the most stunning public libraries you will ever set foot in! With expansive floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and vaulted dome ceilings, this place is the perfect cozy stop for an afternoon read.
13. Visit a Palace or Chateau
14. Pantheon: The Latin Quarter’s more famous monument, the Pantheon is a nearly 250-year-old church that is absolutely worthy of a visit! With stunning exterior columns and ornate interiors, this place is the epitome of European architecture.
15. Sacre Couer: If you love visiting unique church buildings, you have to make a stop at the Sacre Couer! While the journey is certainly not an easy one (hello, never-ending steps!), the views are well worth it! A Byzantine-style building that overlooks all of Paris!
16. Shakespeare & Co Bookstore: As an avid reader, the Shakespeare & Co bookstore was heaven! You can tell that a lot of thought was put into this space. It’s so much larger on the inside and there are multiple rooms, full of primarily English-language books. There’s a cozy room upstairs where guests can stay awhile to read. (Depending on what time you visit, you will most likely have to wait in line to enter, but I personally found that the line goes faster than you might think and it’s worth it to avoid an over-crowded bookstore.)
17. Jardin Luxembourg: There are countless gardens spread throughout the city, and this is one of the most famous, and for good reason! Stroll through the spiraling natural design of this space. I highly recommend grabbing a baguette, some fruit and cheese and having a picnic in the beautiful Jardin Luxembourg.
18. Galeries Lafayette: The rooftop of the Galeries Lafayette department store has one of the best views of Paris. Panoramic views of the Eiffel Tower, the Opera House, and rows of charming Parisian architecture. It’s free to visit the rooftop, but you will probably have to wait in a line, it should go pretty quick though.
19. Bake with a Pasty Chef: While it’s one thing to pop into a boulangerie and order a croissant right off the menu, it’s something entirely different to learn to make them yourself! Airbnb hosts tons of immersive experiences that are led by locals themselves. Starting at $70 per person, you can enjoy a hands-on croissant baking class with Parisian chef, Matthieu!
20. Disneyland Paris: This list would truly be incomplete without mentioning Disneyland Paris. There’s nothing like taking a stroll down main street, croissant in hand, as you soak in a bit of that European Disney magic! You can check out our post with some highlights, tips and tricks of visiting Disneyland Paris.
What are some of your favorite things to do in Paris? There really is so much to do and we’re always open to new ideas!