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46 Things to do in Paris

Updated September 7, 2023

The City of Light, The City of Love, the Fashion Capital of the world, Paris wears many hats. As such, there are many, many things to do across Paris. From fine dining to classical music concerts to the most popular tourist spots, read on for 46 of the coolest things to do in Paris. Then, when you’re ready to put it all together into one perfect itinerary, get in touch with a local and have them help you.

Table of Contents

The Attractions

Sunbathing in the Luxembourg Gardens - Marie-Sophie Tékian/Unsplash

Discover hidden street art along Canal St Martin

The Canal St Martin is a peaceful and very hipster area in the 11th arrondissement. It’s a great place for a stroll. As you go along you’ll be sure to uncover loads of vibrant pieces of artwork. One of the more well-known artists to look out for is Franck Slama who creates space invaders – small mosaics that look like pixelated characters.

Wonder at the luxurious Palace of Versailles

Located just outside of Paris, this former royal residence is about as opulent as it gets, and a visit is one of the best things to do in France. The palace is also a very popular Paris tourist attraction. For a slightly quieter visit, go on a weekday (but not Tuesdays) and avoid any public holidays. You could also book a tour from Paris which would include transportation and a skip-the-line ticket. While most people do this as a day trip, Versailles is also one of the top places to visit in France, and you could make it an overnight or even a weekend getaway. 

Marvel at the iconic Eiffel Tower

Once considered an eyesore, The Eiffel Tower is now easily the most iconic sight in Paris and a must-see on every France itinerary. There are lots of options for how to approach your visit, you could simply pack a classic Parisian picnic and join the other revelers in the garden at its base, or you could head up to the top of the tower for views across the city. 

Watch the sunrise behind the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadéro

The Jardins du Trocadéro, or Trocadéro gardens, are directly across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower, and while they always offer a fabulous view, sunrise is easily their best moment. The sun comes up directly behind the Eiffel Tower and shines through its silhouette. Amazingly, despite the perfect photo opportunity, this remains a quiet spot in the early hours of the morning. 

See the facades of Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

After the 2019 fire, Notre-Dame is not scheduled to open until 2024 – that means all of the interiors including the towers are currently closed. However, you can still visit it from the outside and see many of its marvelous facades without scaffolding. For the nicest light and thus the best pictures, aim for a sunrise or sunset visit.

Be captivated by the Sainte-Chapelle

Built and consecrated in the 1200s, this royal chapel is absolutely a sight to behold. It is awash with gargantuan stained glass windows which are some of the oldest in the world. Just around the corner from Notre-Dame, many tourists miss the chance to stop in but it absolutely should be included in your Paris itinerary. 

Wander the delightful Jardin du Luxembourg

Outside of the Palace of Luxembourg (now used as a government building), the gardens, which were first brought to life in the 1600s by Queen Marie de Medici, are a glorious place to spend any hours of sunshine. Some would say this is the nicest park in the city, and with plenty of public seating, it is very welcoming to all. 

Visit Napoleon’s grave

A military commander and emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte is considered one of the greatest military leaders of history, and his remains are buried in The Dome. The chapel is on the edge of the military museum complex of Hôtel des Invalides. The ticket which you purchase to visit the grave includes the rest of the museum, and the two entries cannot be purchased separately. 

Investigate military history in Hôtel des Invalides

Besides Napoleon's tomb, there is a great deal more military history on display at the Hôtel des Invalides. The building itself used to be a military barracks – and parts actually still house retired soldiers. Other war heroes are buried here and there is a different section displaying an array of historic maps. 

Amble through Père Lachaise Cemetery

Père Lachaise Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Paris with estimates of the number of graves it encompasses reaching up to one million. Those graves include Frédéric Chopin, Édith Piaf, Molière, Oscar Wilde, and Jim Morrison. The cemetery is well-kept and has very walkable paths, which makes it a really enjoyable area for a stroll on a sunny day.

Climb the Arc de Triomphe

Another iconic monument in Paris, the Arc de Triomphe is definitely worth visiting. While you can just visit from the bottom and take in the views from along the Champs-Elysées, it’s also possible to enter and climb to the top. The structure is home to the tomb of the unknown soldier as well as a museum tracing the history of the Arc.

Uncover underground Paris at the Catacombes

If you’re a bit skittish, this might not be the place for you, but if you’re ok with walking amongst the remains of approximately six million dead, the catacombs are quite a sight to behold. Beyond being the final resting place for so many, they are also an impressive feat of architecture, and a tour to better understand them and their history is well worth it. 

Visit Minnie at Disneyland Paris

In fact about 40 minutes by car or public transport outside of Paris, Disneyland Paris is a great expanse of land home to two theme parks, several restaurants, resorts, shopping, and a golf course. So, if you’re interested in visiting Minnie while in town, book a ticket online in advance to make sure you don’t miss out. 

Catch a show at the Moulin Rouge

The 1800s in Paris was an exciting time, and the Moulin Rouge cabaret was a huge part of the feeling of those years. Now it has been rebuilt and rebranded, but still encompasses that ‘joie de vivre’. You can book just a show or you can add dinner. One important thing to note is that while safety in Paris generally isn’t an issue, the Moulin Rouge area can be ripe with pickpockets and scams, so stay mindful!

Stop by the Passage des Panoramas

There are several ‘passages’ around Paris. That is, covered walkways full of shops and restaurants. This one, in the second arrondissement, is the oldest of them. Be sure to visit some of the original spots, including Chocolatier Marquis. If you want to add some other passages to your Paris itinerary, ask a local Parisian which they recommend

Ride the carousel in Jardin des Plantes

The Jardin des Plantes was first planted in the 1600s as a medicinal herb garden and it still grows today as a 75-acre botanic garden. Beyond the deep greens and bright florals, there is also a zoo, a botanical school, the Natural History Museum, and a gorgeous carousel that folks of all ages should take a spin on.

The Activities

Image by Alex MILLET from Pixabay 

Go for a Seine River Cruise

The Seine is central to life in Paris, and spending some time out on its water is a must-do on your trip to France. There’s a huge range of cruise offerings, with anything from a daytime sightseeing tour to an evening dinner and champagne cruise. Sunset is a terrific time to head out and watch the city slowly turn aglow. For tips on where to set off from or the best tour operators, chat with a local Hero.

Buy a Hop-on Hop-off bus ticket

Paris is a pretty large beast of a city, it can be quite a challenge to get around and see it all. A Hop-on Hop-off bus is a great way to cover a lot of area in a short time. This is an especially good option for people with more limited mobility, or as a first-day activity to get a lay of the land.

Tour Paris on two wheels

While a bus tour is an awesome option, there are lots of other wheeled methods to see Paris by. Whether you choose a segway tour, a bike tour, or a tuk-tuk tour you’ll see many of the highlights in a shorter time. If you’re not quite sure which to book, ask a local what they recommend. Of course, you could also rent a bike on your own – it’s one of the best ways to get around in France – and head out solo to explore the city.

Tour Paris on foot

Free walking tours – which run on the generosity of tips at the end – are yet another super choice for a first-day, lay-of-the-land, option. Of course, you’ll be able to cover less area this way, but you’ll still see many central highlights, plus learn loads about historical and present-day Paris. 

Get the perfect shot

Paris is easily one of the most iconic and beautiful cities in the world, so you’ll probably want some pictures of yourself there. These days just about all of us carry a pretty decent camera in our pockets, but if you want high-quality photos, and to make sure that you are actually in those photos, book a street shoot with a photographer. Paris is ripe with talented artists, see which a local might recommend

The Food

Image by Philippe Ramakers from Pixabay 

Rip into a baguette

It seems so simple, a long loaf of bread. But the baguette is such an icon that it has been given UNESCO World Heritage status. And it is likely you haven’t truly lived until you’ve done one of the absolute best things to do in France – bought a fresh-out-of-the-oven baguette from a French bakery, ripped off the end, and not been able to stop yourself from finishing off the entire thing before getting back to your hotel. 

Enjoy a Michelin-star experience

Across Paris, there are 118 restaurants with Michelin stars. Ten of those have three stars. Planning out where to eat in Paris is one of the top tips locals give. If you want precise tips on the best restaurants, chat with a Parisian local and see what they recommend. Septime is a great choice which earned its one Michelin star in 2014 and has held on to it since, thanks to its relaxed food which packs a punch. Septime though is not somewhere you can just walk-in to. You’ll need to see if you can snag a table exactly three weeks before the date you want to go. Good luck!

Shop for fresh fruit at Marché des Enfants Rouges

In the Marais neighborhood, Marché des Enfants Rouges is the oldest covered market in Paris. Much of the original feel of the 1600s food hall still remains true. And you can wander it while shopping for fresh fruits and veggies, or head over to one of the spots which serve prepared food and enjoy a sit-down lunch.

Taste more of Paris at Neni Paris 

Food is a huge part of what makes Paris so special. And it’s not just French cuisine, but the global foods that have been brought to the cities and elevated by the restaurateurs who bring them to life. Neni Paris is just one of so many options, and serves Persian-inspired French food. The best way to eat at all the perfect spots is to have a lifetime, but since your trip might be shorter than that, have a local travel planner help make sure you don’t miss out, and make recommendations based on your exact preferences.  

Splurge at Bois de Boulogne Le Pré Catelan

This is one of the ten restaurants in Paris with three Michelin stars, so it’s the spot to go if you’re looking for an indulgent splurge. The restaurant is located inside a castle in Bois de Boulogne, a large park in the 16th arrondissement. The menu is seafood-heavy and they do offer a lunch menu from Wednesday to Friday. 

The Art

Centre Pompidou. Image by Jean-Louis SERVAIS from Pixabay 


Check out the design of Centre Pompidou

Spending time amongst the art and museums of Paris is one of the best things to do in France. There are loads to choose from, but one of the coolest things about the Pompidou Center is its design and exterior. That of course doesn't mean it’s not also worth going inside. There is quite a variety of temporary and permanent exhibits – with a focus on modern art – plus a calendar of cultural programs, so make sure to check that out and see what’s on while you're in town.

Be amazed by the art in Musée d’Orsay

The Musee d’Orsay is another museum where a huge part of the story is the building. This one is a converted train station. Now it’s a museum that houses mostly art from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Of course, it can get crowded here, so to avoid lines it’s best to go later in the evening and definitely not on Sundays or Tuesdays. 

Spot the Mona Lisa in Musée du Louvre

The most classic of museums, and home to the Mona Lisa, it is said that it would take about 200 days, or nearly seven months, to see all the works that are housed in the Louvre. So definitely don’t plan on conquering it all in one visit, but do make a plan of attack and decide which areas you want to see before arriving. 

Check off an entire museum at Bourse de Commerce – Pinault Collection

One of Paris’ newest museums is the Bourse de Commerce – Pinault Collection – yet again housed in a wildly impressive building – where you’ll find a great collection of mostly contemporary art. The museum offers free tours and an online app. Unlike the Louvre, this collection is much smaller and you can likely see most of it in under two hours. 

Learn more about the artist at Musée Picasso

The Musée Picasso is dedicated to the artist and his works, with over 5,000 pieces on display in a 17th-century mansion. It does also have pieces by other artists including Renoir and Degas. While there are many permanent pieces, several exhibits are temporary, so check to see that you are interested in what will be on display before planning your visit. 

Immerse yourself in the new Louis Vuitton exhibition

Opened in 2022, the LV Dream experience is an immersive gallery space in the LV Paris headquarters. The exhibition showcases the artists and art of the Louis Vuitton brand over the years. Alongside the gallery is an exquisite chocolate shop plus a gift shop with exclusive LV Dream designs. The exhibition is free to visit but you must book an entry ticket online. 

Absorb all mediums at the Gustav Klimt exhibition at the Atelier des Lumières

If you’ve already checked off both traditional art and fashion as art, this is an opportunity to explore the fusion of art and technology. The exhibit is truly immersive, with projected art moving across the walls and music filling the massive halls. This exhibition gets rave reviews year after year. Do note though that it closes for a period over the winter months.

Engross yourself in fine art at Petit Palais

Petit Palais is the official home of the Paris City Fine Arts Museum and, amazingly, is often left off of a visitor’s Parisian museum list. As well as traditional art pieces you’ll also find rare books and other antiques here. Comparatively, this museum is on the smaller side, so is much more manageable for a short museum trip. This stop is totally free!

The Neighborhoods

Photo by Kazuo ota on Unsplash

Visit the Goutte d’Or

Translated as ‘The Golden Drop’, Goutte d’Or is a neighborhood that has traditionally drawn in new immigrants to Paris. This multiculturalism has of course brought the neighborhood to life with diverse and exciting offerings. Going exploring here will truly take you away from the well-trodden path. Chat with a local Hero to get tips on where not to miss in the area.

Meander down the Champs-Elysees

A commonly asked question about France is what to do on a short visit. The Champs-Elysees often makes the cut. Start your walk at the Arc de Triomphe, and end with a picnic in the Champs-Elysees garden. If you don’t stop, you’ll probably finish the walk in just about 30 minutes. But there are about a million reasons to stop. Shop (or just window shop), choose a cafe and people watch (observing Parisian street life and style is a must-do while in France), or just stroll and enjoy the historic avenue. 

Wander the Left Bank

Paris is grand, but if there is one neighborhood that would win the award for the grandest, it is the Left Bank neighborhood, which is also the richest in the city. You’d be lucky to find a million-dollar one-bedroom apartment around here. So it’s the perfect place to wander and see whose hedges you can see over. The architecture is beautiful and the luxury is on full display. 

Take a walk through Montmartre

This area is one of the most famous in France and is one of the things every visit to France should include. Well known as the neighborhood where Picasso and Van Gogh once hung out and painted their masterpieces, this is still a gorgeous area of the city – albeit much more touristy in the 21st century. Filled with cobblestone laneways, you could spend hours getting lost – but definitely make sure you don’t miss the famous Sacre Coeur. If you’d like to head in with more purpose, see which spots a local recommends you stop in.

Check off all the stops on Ile de la Cité

It’s unlikely you’ll make it to Paris and not stumble upon this island in the middle of the city. It is, after all, where Notre Dame stands proud. There are several stops on the island already included in this guide, but there are several other gorgeous medieval buildings worth seeing as well, including Palais de Justice and Conciergerie.

Hang with students in the Latin Quarter

The Latin Quarter is another name for the 5th arrondissement. It is not only full of history but also remains full of life and activity with a University that fills the streets with students. It is also home to the Pantheon, which is nearly as impressive as the original in Rome. A day spent wandering the area will be full of cobbled laneways, people watching from cafes, and plenty of history. 

Saunter through the Marais

The Marais is a central arrondissement that is full of both fabulous architecture and beautiful, lush green spaces. This, plus the shopping and eating which abound, make an afternoon around the Marais a fabulous item to add to your itinerary. To make sure you don’t miss any of the best spots, get a local to help you plan everything out.

The Shopping

The food hall in Galeries Lafayette - Les Corpographes/Unsplash

Galeries Lafayette Champs-Elysées

Whether or not you need or want to go home with a new Parisian wardrobe, Galeries Lafayette is totally worth visiting. First of all, the 1930s art deco building is about as stunning as some of the clothing hanging in it. But that’s not all, head up to the rooftop for one of the best – totally free – views of Paris, and enjoy a coffee or a wine while you're there. 

See the original department store – Le Bon Marché

Department stores may be slowly fading into history, but this is the one that led the way for them all, back in the 1830s.  And again, while the fashion you can take home is well worth your time, the story here is just as much about the building – which was designed in part by Gustave Eiffel.

The Music

Image by Derek Murray from Pixabay 

Go for a show at Opera Garnier

This gorgeous opera house can be visited for a show, or as part of a guided or self-guided tour. Check the program, and if it fits into your schedule, going to a show can be a fabulous addition to your trip. But if you’re more interested in learning about the architecture of this palatial, 19th-century theater, a tour is the way to go.

Listen to classical music

There are so many ways to enjoy a classical music concert on your trip to Paris. The best way to make sure you catch the best show is to ask a local travel expert what will be going on during your trip. But some of the highlights to look out for include the Festival Classique au vert (a summer festival) and the Philharmonie de Paris (a complex of halls with a huge selection of concerts year-round). 

Visit the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique

Another great opportunity to hear live music in Paris is at this conservatory where talented musicians train and put on performances. The conservatory’s season fills up with exceptional student performances as well as visiting artists. In addition to music, dancers are trained here and you may also be able to catch one of their performances.

As you can see, there is absolutely loads to do in Paris. Figuring out how to see it all and do everything you want can be overwhelming, so the best way to make sure you maximize your time and don’t miss out on anything you’ve been dreaming of is to have a local Hero give you a hand with your itinerary

Read more about Paris:

Connect with a local to plan your trip

20 Things to Do in France (Local Recs)

Is It Safe to Travel to Paris?

Your Guide to Traveling to Paris From the US in 2024

France Travel FAQ 2024

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