Looking for fun things to do in Paris? Whether you're planning a romantic getaway or a family vacation, you're sure to want to get the most from your stay in the French capital. Explore unique areas of the city, see famous and not-so-famous monuments and attractions, visit legendary places, or try fun activities with our up-to-the-minute guide at your fingertips.
Mention Paris to anyone, and its magnificent landmarks are likely to spring to mind. No vacation is complete unless you see those iconic monuments. So come with us as we guide you through some of the best things to do in Paris.
Enjoy fabulous views from the Eiffel Tower
Gustave Eiffel's most famous creation was the tallest steel structure in the world prior to the opening of the Chrysler Building in New York. Erected for the World Fair of 1889, it's an internationally recognized symbol of France today and the world's most visited monument! Enjoy a birds-eye view of the Champ de Mars through the new glass first floor or learn all about the tower at the permanent exhibition. The Eiffel Tower is also one of the most romantic places in the city. When you get to the top, toast your partner with a glass of champagne as you marvel at the spectacular panoramic views.
Visit Notre-Dame de Paris
Notre-Dame de Paris is a magnificent 10th-century cathedral at the eastern end of the Île de la Cité, and one of the city's best-loved monuments. It was made even more famous in the 19th century when Victor Hugo used it as the setting for his famous novel, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. A masterpiece of French-Gothic architecture, Notre-Dame is an essential stop for history and art lovers. Its beautiful setting also makes it the ideal spot for family outings. See the large exhibit in the Archaeological Crypt of Notre-Dame de Paris and the beautiful stained-glass windows before enjoying wonderful views of the River Seine.
Admire the city from the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur
Sacré-Cœur, or La Basilique du Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre to give it its full title, should be on everyone's list. Perched at the top of the Butte Montmartre, the stunning white basilica is built from stone from the Château-Landon quarries. When it rains, calcite in the stone has a bleaching effect that gives the church its iconic white color. Enjoy the wonderful view from the courtyard or climb the stairs to the top of the dome for breathtaking views of all of Paris. Be sure to take some photos with Sacré-Cœur in the background but leave phones and cameras turned off inside, where photography is prohibited.
Spend time exploring some of the arrondissements (neighborhoods) that make the city so special. There are 20 in all, and each has its own character. We've come up with a few fun things based on the history or attractions of just a handful of them.
Stop for a break in a legendary place
Enjoy a coffee in the 6th arrondissement, or Saint-Germain-des-Prés, as it's more commonly referred to. Possibly better known for its famous football club today, a few decades ago, Saint-Germain-des-Prés was filled with chic cafés, hot jazz clubs, and famous people. Artists, writers, and politicians held court in its famous cafés. It's said that Sartre, de Beauvoir and Hemingway favored Les Deux Magots while Picasso preferred the Café de Flore. Both are now considered historic buildings. You can stop for a coffee at either or both before wandering through narrow alleys and wide avenues filled with artisan shops, trendy boutiques, and fine restaurants.
Have your portrait painted in Montmartre
So you've visited the famous Basilica of Sacré-Cœur and booked your tickets for that night's show at the Moulin Rouge. For things beforehand that take less than a couple of hours, make your way to the Place du Tertre. This is one of Montmartre's top tourist attractions, thanks to the dozens of artists who line the square. Have your portrait painted or drawn by the artist of your choice, then stop for a snack at one of the terrace cafés or restaurants.
Discover "le 16eme"
When you're thinking of fun, you might not automatically consider spending the day in Passy. The 16th arrondissement is often overlooked in favor of trendy areas like the Marais and Montmartre. This right-bank enclave, however, with great views of the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, is the ideal place for a day out with friends. See the latest free exhibitions at the Palais de Tokyo before window shopping on the Rue du Passy. Or, enjoy a little retail therapy at the Beaugrenelle shopping center near the Bir Hakeim Bridge. This modern mall boasts stunning basketweave architecture, a wide range of shops and restaurants, and a cinema complex.
During summer, locals are as keen to find fun in Paris as the thousands of visitors who flock to the French capital each year. Of course, there are dozens of exciting ways to pass the time, if you know where to look. Relax on sandy urban beaches or visit some of the best temporary restaurants and bars in the city.
A tropical oasis in the heart of Paris
Each summer from early July until the start of September, the right and left banks of the River Seine and La Villette Basin undergo a transformation. Sand is shipped in and laid, blue beach umbrellas, deckchairs, and sun loungers are put in position, and swimming pools open, as Paris Plages takes over. Paris Plages (Paris beaches) was launched in 2002 by Bertrand Delanoë and each year's edition has been bigger and better than the last. Play beach volleyball, swim in one of the three pools at La Villette basin, take a yoga class, or try a spot of swing dancing. As well as lots of family friendly activities, you'll find pop-up bars and restaurants, art, and music at this highly popular annual event.
Take a trip back to childhood
There are so many things to do in Paris if you're planning a family vacation in the city. Take a trip back to your own childhood during a memorable outing to the Tuileries Fair in the beautiful setting of the Jardin des Tuileries. The Fête des Tuileries celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2017 and the annual fair has become an integral part of summer for thousands of Parisians. As well as its famous Ferris wheel, the fair has over 80 rides and lots of traditional sideshows. Go along and eat cotton candy, donuts, and candy apples in a beautiful location in the heart of Paris.
Discover the Parisian guinguette
You'll discover lots of fun stuff during the summer months when places that close for the winter season re-open. It's the perfect time to discover a unique Parisian tradition: the guinguette. Steeped in history or chic and trendy, located in iconic districts or by the riverside, these taverns add fun and glamor to the vacation season. Evoke the heady days of the Belle Époque at La Bonne Franquette in the heart of Montmartre. Visit Le Fer à Cheval, a tiny blue cottage with a tasty Italian buffet in Parc de Saint-Cloud. Or try a traditional guinguette like La Javelle, with its food trucks and free entertainment. As you can see, whatever your tastes, there's a guinguette for you!
Paris is a year-round destination that appeals to all ages. The winter season is marked by festive installations and events, New Year celebrations, and the winter sales. Whatever the weather, there are always thousands of things to do.
See the City of Lights illuminated
During December and early January, the city more than lives up to its famous nickname. Colorful garlands, sparkling lights, and glittering baubles appear almost overnight at the start of December. Every district has its own festive theme. However, you really must see the illuminations on Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Thousands of LED lights are threaded through the branches of the avenue's famous plane trees. As daylight fades over the city, stop for a hot chocolate at one of the chic pavement cafés along the Champs-Élysées and soak up the Christmas atmosphere.
Buy gifts and produce at the famous Christmas markets
Christmas markets originated in the Alsace region of France and these seasonal fairs should be high on your list. Marché de Noël alsacien à la Gare de l'Est is one of the more authentic options. Shop for last-minute gifts, wine, choucroute, and those famous Alsatian sausages on the station forecourt during December. Or browse pretty stalls in the shadow of the historic cathedral at Marché de Noël de Paris Notre-Dame from mid-December. Over 50 local artisans sell French arts and crafts and gastronomic treats like macarons, foie gras, and chestnuts in the elegant setting of Square René Viviani.
Celebrate the New Year
You might be lucky enough to be in the city on the 31st of December. If so, you'll discover that there's no shortage of fun things to do in Paris for New Year. Dine in style in a fine restaurant before dancing the night away to a swing or jazz band. Take a romantic river cruise with dinner and entertainment on the Seine and toast the start of the new year from one of the city's iconic bridges. If you're visiting a little later, Chinese New Year is celebrated in various parts of the capital, including the 3rd and 13th arrondissements. Go along for cultural exhibitions, talks, musical events, colorful dragon parades, and more.
There are so many fun things for younger visitors that we could write a book on the subject. There is something new to discover every week, as well as a vast range of permanent exhibits and child-friendly attractions. For the moment, we've limited ourselves to something a little more expensive, something free, and something really popular.
Disneyland Paris - an unforgettable family outing
Did you know that Disneyland Paris is just 19.8 miles from the heart of the city? Located in the new town of Marne-la-Vallée, it's the most visited theme park in all of Europe and is easy to reach from central Paris. If you have younger children, book a meet-and-greet with some of their favorite characters. You can choose from Mickey and Minnie, Goofy and his pals, the Disney Princesses, Buzz Lightyear, Aladdin, Darth Vader, or Daisy Duck. Older kids will adore the thrilling rides and attractions and, of course, the nightly parade is not to be missed.
Have fun outdoors
With its hilltop gazebo, grassy slopes, streams, and a waterfall, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is the ideal choice for an outing with the kids. Children of all ages will enjoy playing in the alcove with its thundering waterfall and suspension bridge. Tots will love riding a donkey or trying some of the fun carnival games. Take a family hike over hills and knolls before finding a quiet spot near the pond for a picnic or snack. The park is ideal for those looking for activities that are equally appealing to both locals and tourists.
To the Zoo!
The Parc Zoologique, known to locals as Zoo de Vincennes, has recently undergone an extensive program of renovations. Now back and even bigger and better than before, the 14-hectare park is home to over 2,000 species of animals and birds. The Grand Rocher, a towering 65m "mountain," lies at the center of the zoo and dominates the Vincennes skyline. It's surrounded by greenhouses, aviaries, woodlands, and five "biozones." Daily events include lemur feeding at 11.30 a.m. and the penguin feeding at 3:00 p.m. Those who prefer a more hands-on experience can book a special meet-and-greet with the manatees, the lemurs, or the birds of the big aviary on Wednesdays or Saturdays.
Often referred to as the "city of love," the French capital is one of the world's most romantic places. You'll always find lots of options as a couple, whatever time of year you're visiting. Exciting exhibitions, intimate meals for two, and unusual outings are just a few.
Enjoy a romantic outing
Looking for fun things that don't cost the earth? Montmartre could have been made for lovers and you'll love strolling around its quaint cobbled alleys, pretty squares, courtyards, and passages. Get a feel for the area's artistic past at the Musée de Montmartre, where the famous impressionist painter Renoir had a studio. A rope swing hangs from a tree in a secluded inner garden, evoking images of his famous 1876 work, The Swing. Head to Place des Abbesses for art of a different kind. The famous I Love You Wall was created by artists Frédéric Baron and Claire Kito. The wall's painted and enameled lava tiles are inscribed with the phrase "I love you" in 250 languages.
Toast each other with fine champagne
Champagne is one of France's most famous and prestigious exports. It's the ideal drink for a romantic candle-lit dinner or a decadent nightcap for two. Toast each other from the top of the Eiffel Tower or sip on the finest crus at one of the city's sophisticated champagne bars. Alternatively, book a champagne tasting session for two. There are dozens to choose from including lunches, classes, workshops, cellar tours, and river cruises. Finally, be sure to purchase a couple of bottles of the finest French champagne for your own special occasions, like engagement parties or weddings!
Visit a museum or gallery
You might not think that museums and galleries would be among the most fun things to do in Paris as a couple. Think again; Paris is home to some of the world's most famous museums and romantic works of art. What could be more romantic than seeing the Mona Lisa or admiring the wonderful Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix at the Louvre Museum? Maybe a visit to the Musée National Eugène Delacroix, where you can see the artist's home studio and exceptional pieces like An Unmade Bed (1828). Or, spend an afternoon at the Musée Rodin, where the highlight of your visit will undoubtedly be the world's most romantic sculpture, The Kiss (1889).
Hit the shops, see a show or sporting event, take a river cruise, or visit an exhibition. Whatever your personal preferences, you'll discover lots of fun things to do in Paris during a shorter stay.
Shop till you drop
There's nowhere quite like Paris for shopping. From the glamorous stores and designer boutiques of the Champs-Élysées to the quirky stores that dot the streets of the Marais and Latin Quarter, there's something for everyone. Visit at the start of the year or during July and August for the winter or summer sales. You'll find amazing bargains throughout the city, as prices on everything from high fashion to home design and electronics are slashed. Be sure to visit Printemps and Galeries Lafayette, the famous department stores on Boulevard Haussmann. You can also head across the Seine to Rue de Sèvres in the 7th arrondissement for Le Bon Marché.
Catch a top festival
If you're going to be in Paris over the last weekend in August, why not treat yourself to tickets for the Rock en Seine Festival? The famous music event is spread over three days and you can choose to attend on one or all of them. As well as being one of the most fun things to do in Paris at the end of summer, the festival is characterized by its unique setting. Music fans can see some of the world's most famous rock bands and up-and-coming acts in a garden designed by André Le Nôtre. The garden is on the grounds of the Château de Saint-Cloud park in Domaine National de Saint-Cloud to the west of Paris. Some of the famous acts who have participated at previous festivals include Arctic Monkeys, Nine Inch Nails, Jake Bugg, Faith No More, and Charlotte Gainsbourg.
One for the sports fans
Every year, the national rugby teams of Scotland, England, France, Italy, Wales, and Ireland compete for the Six Nations trophy. You can catch some of the matches that are played at the French Stadium in the suburb of Saint-Denis. Tennis fans looking for fun things to do in Paris can't top the Roland Garros for thrills and spills. The French Open takes place at the Stade Roland Garros over two weeks at the end of May and the start of June. If you're an equestrian fan, the city is famed for stylish horse-themed events. Test out your Paris fashions at the Saut Hermès au Grand Palais in March or the Prix de Diane (the French Oaks) at Chantilly Racecourse in June.
The French capital is home to some of the world's best shops, venues, restaurants, outdoor spaces, and galleries and museums. And, let's not forget those world-famous monuments! There's something for every age group and new events and attractions are opening every single day. Whether you're visiting for a couple of days or a few weeks, our definitive guide to fun things to do in Paris will ensure that you enjoy a memorable and more satisfying vacation. Let's get ready to explore!