Also known as the City of Light and the Capital of Fashion, Paris is the cosmopolitan capital of France. The city remains highly influential in the realms of culture, art, fashion, food, and design, and has a reputation for being the most beautiful and romantic of all cities. Paris holds the title of the most popular tourist destination in the world, with an estimated 45 million tourists annually, thanks to the numerous iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the epic Louvre Museum, and the famed Moulin Rouge. But the city boasts more than just historic landmarks. Paris is home to the world's most elegant fashion designers and cosmetics, such as Dior, Chanel, Guerlain, L'Oreal, Clarins, and Lancôme. Visitors can marvel at classical and contemporary works of art, and savor one of the world's most beloved cuisines. With a plethora of exciting indoor and outdoor activities to explore, Paris is a perfect tourist destination in any season. If you're looking for some popular things to do in Paris, this guide gives you an overview of some of the most exciting and eclectic adventures to be had in the French capital.
One of the top things to do in Paris is to visit the Louvre, the world's largest art museum and a historical monument in Paris hosting some of the world's most famous artworks. You can quickly locate it on the Right Bank of the Seine in the city's 1st arrondissement. Transformed from a private fortress to a public museum after the fall of the French monarchy, the Louvre's collection was expanded by Napoleon I. It now features many of the most important artworks in the world, including the The Venus de Milo, Canova's Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss, and of course Da Vinci's famed Mona Lisa.
Because of the massive number of visitors to the museum, you will find it prudent to buy your ticket online and plan to spend your whole day there. However, don't expect to see everything: experts estimate that to see every piece would take about 100 days. The museum opens at 9 a.m. and visitors enter the building through the famous glass pyramid by architect I. M. Pei. Want a deeper insight into the museum? Purchase an audio guide and let experts walk you through the history of some of the most vibrant works.
Another one of the top things to do in Paris is to visit the Eiffel Tower, a wrought iron lattice tower on the Champ de Mars. After all, you wouldn't be able to convince your friends you were in Paris without showing them pictures of yourself with one of the world's most famous emblems. The tower itself opens at 9:30 a.m. and visitors can choose to walk up to the first peak or pay a bit more to take the elevator. Try to go up on a clear day for excellent views, or after dark to experience the glittering city in all its glory.
If you're not a fan of heights, the grassy fields surrounding the tower are a good place to relax and drink in the scenery. If you're hungry, check out Café Constant on Rue Saint-Dominique and savor a mind-blowing 3 course "menu" along with the local Parisians.
If you bring along your young ones, one of the fail-proof things to do in Paris is to take them to Disneyland, located in the suburb of Marne-la-Vallée and accessible with the RER train. Another site to consider for children are the Cité des Enfants, a museum for kids known for interactive and educational fun. You will notice two different sections for children aged 3 to 5, and those between 5 and 12. Make the trip to Paris memorable for your kids by taking them to the Jardin du Luxembourg to ride on its famous merry-go-round. There's also a pond with ducks and ducklings, a puppet theater, pony rides, and tables to play chess. Another ideal place for kids who love to climb, run, and explore things is the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont in the 19th arrondissement, featuring rolling hills and spectacular views.
Just like real Parisians, you can accomplish many of the things you want to do in Paris by walking. Whether it's shopping or sight-seeing, Paris is compact enough that you can reach many areas on foot. Stroll along the Champs-Élysées and witness the boulevard's rich history, or take a pleasant and scenic stroll from Bastille all the way up to the Canal St. Martin, taking in tiny romantic streets and browsing charming boutiques. For the more sporty tourist, head up to the historic district of Montmartre and climb the steep steps all the way to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, one of the world's most famous and beautiful churches with some of the best views of Paris.
Paris is one of the most significant fashion centers in the world, making it a shopper's delight. You can find high-end couture in the 8th arrondissement and explore the famous architecture and designer labels at the Galleries Lafayette at 40 boulevard Haussmann. Pay a visit to Le Marais and pop into elegant shops, boutiques, and explore rue de Rivoli for great vintage finds.
Still want to do more shopping? Then try the Sevres Babylone (métro line 10 and line 12) where you will find Le Bon Marché. Dominant fashion houses such as Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Versace can be found here, as well as small private boutiques that sell handmade clothing. On the hunt for some unique gifts? Check out Paris' best kept secret, the "Les Puces" flea market located off the métro Porte de Clignancourt and open Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays. This one-of-a-kind market features antique books, vintage photographs, vintage housewares and many other precious and funky delights.
With over 400 municipal parks and gardens, you will never run out of the things to do in Paris during sunny days. The French are true lovers of beauty, and you'll often see Parisians enjoying a pastry on a park bench or lounging with their family in the park on a Sunday. The Buttes-Chaumont features fantastic views and an off-the-beaten-path vibe, while the Tuileries offers a lavish and central park experience. Venture to the outskirts to the Bois de Vincennes or the Bois de Boulogne to get an authentic and unmanicured taste of nature, or check out Jardin des Plantes, where botanical plants run free.
Want more? Why not try visiting one of the newest parks, the Promenade des Berges de la Seine, built in 2013 on a former highway on the left bank of the Seine between the Pont de I'Alma and the Musee d'Orsay, which features floating gardens and gives a fantastic view of the city's landmarks.
Regardless of the region, the food in France is an experience unto itself. The crepes from Bretagne, camembert from Normandy, choucroute from Alsace, and bouillabaisse from Marseille...oh la la! Paris is, of course, where it all comes together. Head to Les Arlots Bistrot for a modern spin on classical French dishes, or check out Breizh Café for a contemporary twist on the classic French Crepe.
However, Paris isn't just famous for its French cuisine. You can try falafel on rue des Rosiers, while rue Sante Anne will offer you the best Japanese cuisine in Paris. To cure your cravings for great burgers, visit Schwartz's Deli or Hamler's. The best three places providing delicious brunches over the weekends are PaperBoy, Le Poutch, and Hardware Societe. Craving pizza? Why not have a pizza picnic on the Canal Saint Martin, located in the 10th arrondissement. And, what French eating experience would be complete without dessert? Try some macaroons at renowned Gérard Mulot, where you can also sample an array of classic French pastries.
Unique things to do in Paris include attending a cabaret. Cabarets were first made famous in Paris' Monmartre district in the late 1800s, where they combined eating and drinking with lush song and dance. The opening of the famed Moulin Rouge helped launch the careers of Mistinguett and Édith Piaf, and the vibrant scenes were depicted in the paintings of artist Toulouse-Lautrec. The Moulin Rouge, the Lido, the Crazy Horse, and the Paradis Latin are excellent venus to see some contemporary cabaret, with burlesque, music, and comedy sure to please. If you're looking for a more traditional night at the theater, head to the famous Comédie Française for French theater at its best, or opt for a night at the opera at Opéra de la Bastille.
Enjoy a foot-tapping evening of jazz by high-class performers as one of the top picks for things to do in Paris, with a glass of wine for the connoisseurs. For the best cocktails, check out the upcoming Bar la Resistance in the Marais neighborhood. For great wine in an intimate setting, head to 11ème Domaine on rue des Trois-Bornes. With a tasty array of cheeses and charcuterie, you can sip on a full bodied red and talk about all the wonderful sights you've seen during the day. Finish off the night by heading next door to Le Complot, an original and funky bar, for one last drink.
Check into some of the famous hotels across Paris, such as the Novotel Paris les Halles for a modern experience and close proximity to the famed Centre Pompidou. If you want to stay close to the Louvre, try the Molière for a romantic and elegant boutique experience. If you prefer a spot on the hill, check out Mercure Paris 9 Pigalle Sacre-Coeur for excellent views and a short walk to the Sacré-Cœur. As one of the tourist capitals of the world, no matter where you stay in Paris, you'll rest well after a long day of adventures and sightseeing.
If you're in town in June, Paris' Fête de la Musique is a spectacle not to be missed, with free concerts taking place all across the city. Head to some of the premier parks in Paris to see some big names, or simply explore your neighborhood, where local bands and musicians will be performing in bars, on balconies, and even on the street corners.
One of the other great things to do in Paris is to attend events organized to bring together food lovers and makers to celebrate the art of eating. The Fête de la Gastronomie is an annual event which brings together food professionals and the general public each fall. You can take part in cooking demos and a recipe competition, and try out the lower-price testing menus in top restaurants. If you're in town, attending these superb eating sessions should rank high on your list of the things to do in Paris.
Your list of things to do in Paris can easily include watching some spectator sports such as rugby and football, which are popular for Parisians and tourists alike. The Stade de France is a big stadium in Paris which was built for the 1998 FIFA World Cup and has hosted a variety of competitive sports. Visiting this stadium is a great experience, especially when a major tournament is happening. You are probably aware that Paris is the final stage of the Tour de France, so if you're in town, make it one of the things you do while in Paris.
Are you the daring and adventurous type? Well, one of the best things to do in Paris is to visit the Catacombes de Paris, an underground former quarry site that was abandoned for centuries which later became a place to store bones and skulls from formerly over-crowded cemeteries. Some of these skeletons date as far back as the 18th century and are artfully stacked, offering a somber, otherworldly experience.
If you don't fancy heading underground, visit the Père Lachaise cemetery, where you can pay tribute to famous names like Oscar Wilde, Frédéric Chopin, Édith Piaf, and Jim Morrison. Another option is the Cimetière du Montparnasse, where you can visit the graves of existential thinkers Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir and view the elaborate tomb of Charles Baudelaire.
If 18th-century skulls don't scare you, and you still have some guts left, take a walk to the Museum of Vampires and Legendary Creatures which is a grim if enthralling collection of Jacques Sargent, an expert scholar on the undead. Then you have Shakespeare and Company, a famous English-lanuage bookstore serving double duty as Tumbleweed Hotel. Do not miss out on the Museum of the History of Medicine, one of the oldest medical collection centers in Europe, which features rare surgical instruments.
Romance is at the heart of Paris, and something you don't want to miss is having an evening walk along the Sein. The picturesque gardens at the lavish Château de Versailles are more than a decent place for a date. If you want to blow your partner away, then rent a rowing boat and float on the Grand Canal. Make sure to explore the rest of the gardens as well, with terraces, lush groves, parterres and a spectacular series of fountains that will turn your date at Versailles into one of the most memorable and romantic experiences in Paris.
At the top of the list of things to do in Paris is watching a movie on a date to stir up romance, so if you are wondering where to catch an excellent romantic movie, why not take your partner to the Grand Action Cinema in the historic area around the Sorbonne on the Left Bank? This cinema hall is well known for screening old movies, such as Tinseltown classics. Alternatively, sip some wine at a streetside café, listen to Parisian accordion music, and buy a red rose from one of the many vendors stopping by to enhance the romance.
Sometimes, the best thing to do in Paris is to simply explore the little daily pleasures of French culture. Stop by a market for fresh fruits and vegetables. Try out your French with a local at the Marche Biologique des Batignolles, Le Marche des Enfants Rouges, or the Belleville Market. Purchase a warm baguette at a boulongerie and eat it along with some artisan cheese and a bottle of wine in a park or on the banks of the Sein. Drop into a restaurant and order a "café" at the bar and sip it down quickly, or for a higher price, sit at a table and watch busy Parisians go about their day. Sometimes the best things to do in Paris are to enjoy the simplest of pleasures of city life, the way the French do.