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With so many gorgeous things to see and do it’s no wonder that Paris is on the top of so many people’s bucket list. Some of the must-do unique experiences in Paris include photographing the Eiffel Tower, exploring the Louvre, admiring the stunning Notre Dame and seeing the world-famous cabaret at the Moulin Rouge, but there’s much more!
If you’re planning a trip to Paris or even just dreaming about a trip, then this list of 50 best things to do in Paris is going to provide you with some great inspiration. In this comprehensive list, we don’t just list the top things to do in Paris, but also some of the more unique things to do in Paris.
One thing for sure is that there are so many wonderful and fun things to do in Paris, that you’ll need to book multiple trips to enjoy them all. Use this as a little checklist if you wish and happy exploring!
50 Iconic Things to Do in Paris
In no particular order, here is our list of 50 iconic things to do in Paris.
1- Watch the Sunrise on the Seine
For the early rises, head down to the Seine just before dawn and be rewarded with a spectacular sunrise over the city of Paris. One of the best spots to watch the sunrise over the Seine is from the gorgeous Pont Alexandre III, where you’ll have a great view of the Eiffel Tower.
2- Admire the exterior of beautiful Notre Dame
Notre Dame is and will always be the beating heart of Paris. Despite the devastating fire in April 2019, which destroyed part of the cathedral, a visit to Notre Dame is still one of the most iconic places in Paris for tourists to visit.
While you won’t be able to explore inside this gorgeous cathedral, you can still get reasonably close and admire her beauty from the outside. Our Lady of Paris is still watching over Paris and the Parisians from the rose window of the west facade.
3- Explore Medieval Ile de la Cité
Ile de la Cité is one of two small islands in the center of Paris and is the location where the medieval city was established. This is the historic center and one of the oldest districts in Paris.
Today three main medieval buildings remain on Ile de la Cité – the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle, and the Conciergerie where Marie Antionette awaited execution in 1793. But of course, there’s much more to explore!
Located on Ile de la Cité, and just a short stroll from Notre Dame, this gorgeous chapel was built in the early 13th century by King Louis IX – also known as Saint Louis – and has one of the world’s best display of stained glass.
If you want to see Sainte-Chapelle in all its glory, the best time to visit is during sunset.
5- Browse the Bouquinistes’ stalls along the Seine
As you walk along the Seine River, you can’t miss the numerous Bouquinistes’ stalls. These stalls sell a range of items such as second-hand books, magazines and artwork. This is the perfect place for tourists to come and purchase a few souvenirs.
The tradition of selling used books along the Seine started in the 16th century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
6- Explore the Iconic Artworks at the Louvre
From the Royal Palace to the world’s most visited museum in the world, you cannot miss the Louvre, one of the most iconic sites in Paris!
Cross the glass pyramid and wander aimlessly through its maze of galleries, with iconic artworks such as the Mona Lisa, The Coronation of Napoleon, Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People, or the Venus de Milo.
If your time in Paris is limited, but still you don’t want to miss one of the most famous museums of the world, head here to learn how to make the most of the Louvre in 2 hours or less.
7- Walk through the Tuileries Gardens
Either before or after you visit the Louvre, be sure to stop by the nearby Tuileries Gardens. This is a lovely place to relax with friends and family or to explore the beautiful gardens, particularly in spring and summer when the flowers are in full bloom.
During the warmer months, you will find a range of stalls selling ice cream and pastries as well as many artists creating gorgeous artworks.
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the Tuileries Gardens whilst having fun, you can also arrange your own DIY Tuileries Garden scavenger hunt.
8- Discover the Secret Passages of Paris
While many tourists are familiar with all the iconic buildings and monuments in Paris, they may not be aware of Paris’ secret passages. During the 18th and 19thcenturies, there were more than 150 of these passages; however these days, only a few remain.
These charming passages that are dotted throughout the city are indoor laneways filled with boutique stores and cafes. The passages themselves are complete works of art, with their colorful stain glass roofs, mosaic floors, stunning architecture, and antique décor.
Some of the passages to explore include Passage des Panoramas, Galerie Vivienne and Passage du Grand-Cerf.
9- Watch the world go by from the terrace of a Parisian Café
The streets of Paris are lined with gorgeous little cafes and one of the best ways to enjoy the Parisian Cafes is to sit outside on the terrace and watch the world go.
This will not only give you a chance to indulge in some delicious Parisian food but also get a glimpse into the lives of local Parisian people as they go about their day to day business.
10- See Paris from the Summit of the Eiffel Tower
No doubt for many visitors to Paris, top of the list of things to do is to go to the summit of the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower is not only one of the most recognizable structures in the world, but with millions of visitors every year, it is also considered to be the most visited paid tourist attraction.
Opened in 1889 for the Paris World Fair, the Eiffel Tower is 324 meters high, which is the tallest structure in Paris. The tower has three levels, with restaurants being on the first and second levels. Levels one and two can be reached via stairs or a lift, but the top level, which sits at 276 meters, can only be reached by a lift. From the Eiffel Tower’s summit, you will enjoy great views of Paris.
It can be very busy at the Eiffel Tower, and so it is recommended to purchase your tickets well in advance.
11- Explore the Bohemian Neighborhood of Montmartre
One of the most popular areas of Paris to explore is Montmartre, a picturesque bohemian district with a very particular atmosphere that was an independent village from Paris until the 19th century.
Put on a good pair of walking shoes and stroll around the narrow hilly streets. Use this self-guided walking tour with a map to explore the main sights and learn the stories and legends behind.
Admire the quaint and colorful shop fronts that line the streets, pop into several of the little stores along the way or relax at one of the many cozy little cafés that spill onto the streets.
12- See the Can Can Dancers at the World-Famous Moulin Rouge
For an evening of fun, head to the Moulin Rouge to see one of the most iconic cabarets in Paris. Running since 1889, at the Moulin Rouge, as well as witnessing the talented can-can dancers, you’ll see a range of world-class acts.
This is one of the most unique Paris experiences so be sure to book your tickets early to avoid disappointment. Although the Moulin Rouge has multiple shows every night, it is a sell-out most nights.
The basic ticket includes a glass of champagne but you can also book the Moulin Rouge dinner-show for a perfect night out in Paris.
13- Spoil yourself with a Hotel with Eiffel Tower Views
Imagine waking up to a view of the Eiffel Tower every morning during your visit to Paris? Well, it is possible to do just that as there are number hotels in Paris with fantastic views of the Eiffel Tower.
Some of the best Paris hotels with Eiffel Tower views include the Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel, Shangri-La Hotel or Hotel Plaza Athenée but there are many more. Because there is nothing like an amazing view of the Eiffel Tower to say you’re in the City of Lights…
14- Enjoy a Typical Parisian Breakfast
During your trip to Paris, you’ll no doubt enjoy at least a few typical Parisian breakfasts. Unlike most parts of the world, a typical Parisian breakfast is a fairly light meal consisting of bread, a pastry like a croissant or pain au chocolat, jam, yogurt or cheese and of course, orange juice, coffee or tea.
15- Explore the City by Bike
While on foot would have to be the best way to explore Paris, for those wanting to give their feet a rest, why not hire a bike and explore the city. Paris by bike is great as there are plenty of bike paths and bike lanes around the city.
There are some great cycling routes designed to show you the best landmarks around the city as well as a range of places where you can rent a bike. Alternatively you can always join one of the organized bike tours.
16- Search the City for the Best View of the Eiffel Tower
On top of every tourist’s list is to ascend the Eiffel Tower – but did you know that the best way to really appreciate this iconic monument is from afar?
Some of the best places to admire the Eiffel Tower from, include Trocadéro, Pont Alexandre III, Champ de Mars, and Rue Saint-Dominique. From these places, you’ll get some great photographs of the Eiffel Tower in all her glory.
17-Find Paris’ most beautiful Art Nouveau Architecture
For lovers of art nouveau architecture, you’ll find some gorgeous examples in Paris. The art nouveau movement was popular in Paris from about 1895 to 1914 and left many beautiful buildings in the city. Today you can spot the style in various metro stations, department stores and apartment buildings.
For some gorgeous examples of art nouveau architecture in Paris check out Paris 16 with many buildings designed by the architect Héctor Guimard. Also, there is the Immeuble Lavirotte (Paris 7), Castel Béranguer (Paris 16), Restaurant Maxim’s (Paris 8) or the Synagogue of Rue Pavée (Paris 4).
18- Lunch at Le Train Bleu, the most Romantic Classic Restaurant
Considered to be one of the best restaurants in all of Paris, Le train Bleu located at Gare de Lyon is the perfect place for a romantic lunch.
The food here is incredible, and the service is impeccable, not to mention the elaborately decorated interior, rivaling many of the churches and palaces throughout the city.
This is a very popular restaurant and to avoid disappointment, it’s highly recommended to book in advance.
19- Try the colorful Cakes of Paris
It’s no secret that you’ll find some of the best desserts in Paris from the famous tartes aux citron, classic pastries as well as traditional cakes.
Some of the must-try Parisian cakes – the cakes born and perfected in Paris – include Saint-Honoré, Paris-Brest, financiers, Opéra, Baba-Au-Rhum and many more.
20- Learn about the Impressionism at Orsay Museum
For people with an interest in Impressionist artwork, then a visit to the Orsay Museum is a must. This gorgeous museum was once a railway station, and now has the largest collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artwork in the world.
At the Orsay Museum, you’ll find artwork by painters such as Monet, Degas, Renoir, Seurat, Gauguin, and Van Gogh from the period 1848 to 1914.
21- Choose your favorite Ice-Cream at Berthillon
For the very best ice cream in all of Paris, head to Berthillon. Dating back to 1954, Berthillon makes over 70 different flavors of sorbets and ice cream, including pink grapefruit, salted caramel, candied Ardèche chestnuts, gingerbread, and licorice.
There are many sellers of Berthillon ice-creams in Paris. However, the original address in Paris, with the very best selection of flavors, is the store at 29-31 Rue Saint-Louis en l’Île. It’s easy to spot as you’ll no doubt see the long line of people outside.
22- Take a Day Trip to Versailles
If you can bear to leave the city center, a day trip to Versailles is well worth it. Just half an hour by train from Paris, Versailles is a royal castle located on the Paris outskirts. This World Heritage castle was once the official royal residence for more than 100 years until the French Revolution in 1789.
At Versailles, visitors can explore the exquisite interior of the royal palace as well as explore the magnificent manicured gardens. Also be sure to visit the nearby le Petit Trianon, designed by the order of King Louis XV for his long-term mistress Madame de Pompadour, or L’Hameau de la Reine, which was once the quarters of Queen Marie Antionette.
To avoid the most out of Versailles and the Gardens, leave for Versailles as early as you can. Also, Versailles skip-the-line tickets are a must as lines to visit the Palace are always very long.
23- See the Paris City Lights from a Seine Boat Cruise
While Paris is just lovely during the day, when the city is lit up at night, it’s just magical. The perfect way to see all the Paris city lights is on a night cruise along the Seine River. As you cruise down the river, you’ll see all the city’s iconic landmarks and monuments aglow.
Head here for the best Seine River Cruises in Paris. You could even combine a river cruise with a few drinks or a dinner cruise for something even extra special.
24- Visit the Grand Opera of Paris (Palais Garnier)
For lovers of opera or (mostly) ballet, a show at the Palais Garnier (also known as Opera Garnier Paris or Paris Opera) is a must. Considered to be one of the most distinguished opera houses in the world, this 1979 seat opera house was built for Paris Opera from 1861 to 1875 at the request of Emperor Napoleon III.
Even if you’re can’t see a show, a tour of the Palais Garnier is a great way to admire its grand exterior and exquisite interiors as well as learning about its fascinating history and visiting the phantom of the opera private box seat (only available on night tours).
25- Visit the Burial Place of the Kings of France at Basilica of Saint-Denis
One of the most famous religious buildings in all of France is the Basilica of Saint-Denis. This Basilica has great historical and architectural importance as it’s the first Gothic church ever built and is also the burial place of the Kings and Queens of France.
The best way to explore the impressive gothic cathedral is by a guided tour with a knowledgeable guide where you’ll learn all about this historical site. Although it is possible to also do a self-guided tour.
26- Indulge in a typical thick Chocolate Chaud
You cannot leave Paris without indulging in a thick chocolate chaud. Basically, chocolate chaud is a super thick and rich hot chocolate. Some of the best chocolate chaud served in Paris can be found at Angelina, Chocolaterie Jacques Genin, Maison du Chocolat, and Jean-Paul Hevin.
Angelina Paris (226 Rue de Rivoli) usually sees the crowds. Few people know, however, that there’s an Angelina with zero crowds inside the Louvre Museum, not far from the Apartments of Napoleon iii.
27- Explore the Luxembourg Gardens
A lovely place to escape the hustle and bustle of Paris is the Luxembourg Gardens. The Luxembourg Gardens are the perfect place to relax and explore, particularly if you happen to be visiting during spring and summer when all the flowers are in bloom. Be sure to stop by the Medici Fountain, one of the prettiest places in the gardens as well as in Paris itself.
Also for families visiting Luxembourg Gardens, you could even arrange a DIY treasure hunt for the kids (but also great for adults alone) to learn more about this pretty place and its first owner, Queen Marie de Médicis.
28- Walk along Canal Saint-Martin
Wander along Canal Saint-Martin, a small waterway crossed by metallic bridges and lined with lovely little boutique shops and cafes. This neighborhood – world-famous thanks to the film Amélie Poulain film – is a popular area for the locals, where you’ll find coffee shops, vintage shops, and trendy bars perfect for an afternoon apéro.
Canal Saint-Martin is the perfect place if you’re wanting to explore one of the less touristy areas of Paris.
29- Learn about the history of Paris at Musé Carnevalet
The best place to learn about the history of Paris from its origins to the present day is at the Musée Carnevalet. Located in the historic Marais district, the museum is housed across two mansions from the 16th and 17th centuries.
With its expansive collections, including medieval and Gallo-Roman archeological collection, relics of the French Revolution, paintings, sculptures, furniture, and items of art, this is easily one of the best free museums in Paris.
Currently Musée de Carnevalet is closed for renovations and is expected to open in late Spring 2020.
30-Walk on the rails following La Petite Ceinture
For visitors who love to explore hidden gems not found in tourist guides, then walking along the rails at La Petite Ceinture is one to add to your to-do list. Once a 32 km railroad line that circled Paris, today you can explore the area where you’ll find abandoned train stations and railroads.
Constructed in 1852 to 1869, La Petite Ceinture’s decline started with the construction of the Parisian Metro and eventually stopped operating in the 1970s. Today the area is converted into several green spaces and is an interesting, offbeat place to explore.
31 – Enjoy a Picnic at the foot of the Eiffel Tower
One of the fun things to do in Paris is to have a picnic on the grass at the foot of the Eiffel Tower at Champ de Mars. This is particularly a great thing to do in the warmer months during spring and summer when on any given day you will find lots of locals doing just that.
Head to a nearby supermarket and buy a range of local delights such as a freshly baked baguette, cheese, chocolate and of course, French wine. Then relax and enjoy a few hours relaxing with your friends and family while basking in the beauty of the Eiffel Tower.
32- Sail your own Electric Boat along the Canal de l’Ourcq
If you’re looking for something fun to do while in Paris, head down to Canal de l’Ourcq and sail your own electric boat. This is such a fun way to not only relax with family and friends but also to see the city sights along the canal.
Marin d’Eau Douce is the company that proposes these electric boats and they are moored at Canal de la Villette, the starting point of your crazy boat tour. There is no license or permit required to hire these electric boats, and you can hire them from a few hours to an entire day.
33- Pay your respects at the Père Lachaise Cemetery
Père Lachaise Cemetery, with its 44 hectares and 70,000 burial plots, is the largest cemetery in Paris today. Père Lachaise Cemetery is visited by around 3.5 million visitors each year mostly because it is the final resting place of France’s most prominent people.
Some of the most popular visited tombs here include Oscar Wilde, Abélard and Héloïse, Edith Piaf, Chopin, and Jim Morrison but we recommend wandering around this beautiful cemetery with no particular direction.
The cemetery is especially beautiful during the fall, with the autumn colors.
34- Create your own Parisian Perfume
Have you ever wanted to make your own perfume? Well, in Paris you can. In Paris, there is a range of perfume workshops on offer where you can design your very own personal fragrance. While you’re concocting your scent, you’ll also learn about the history of perfume.
Most perfume workshops last an hour or two, and in the end, you’ll get to take home your very own custom-made blend.
35- Play Pétanque with the Locals
A popular game among the locals in Paris is pétanque. Pétanque is a game like boules and mostly played during the summer months, however even in the cooler months or poor weather, there are dedicated places where you can play indoors.
The game of pétanque doesn’t discriminate, and across Paris, you’ll find players that are young and old, men and women, professional and amateurs – basically, people from all walks of life love playing this game.
Places, where you will usually find locals playing pétanque, include Les Arènes de Lutèce, Place Dauphine, the banks of Canal de La Villette, Park Buttes Chaumont (outside, on the top of the park) and along Canal of Saint-Martin.
36- Look for the 100 Villages of Paris
Paris is the city of the Haussmannian buildings and boulevards but it is also the city of a hundred villages: flowery alleys, country villas, bucolic dead ends are a total change of scenery and the joy of the curious walkers.
In the heart of the city of stone, try to venture off the beaten path and you may find a Paris stuck in time, exotic and out of the ordinary. These micro-neighborhoods such as Butte Bergeyre, Mouzaïa, or the Butte aux Cailles are all wonderful places – far from the urban rush – waiting to be discovered.
37- Learn about French wines at a Wine Tasting Session
If you love wine and are eager to sample some of the best French wines, then add a wine tasting session to your list of things to do in Paris. In Paris, you’ll find a range of bars that offer wine tasting sessions as well as guided tours to the nearby French wine regions.
A popular place for wine tasting is at Les Caves Du Louvre, a beautiful and historic place which was the Royal Wine Cellar of King Louis XV. Les Caves du Louvre proposes visitors an interactive visit and cool wine tastings.
38- Enjoy some Cheese Tasting in Paris
Be sure to sample as much cheese as you can while in Paris! With over a thousand different types of cheese in France and over 250 fromageries (cheese shops) in Paris, there is plenty of cheese to eat to try.
For cheese tasting in Paris, you can either DIY by heading to your local market or to the nearest fromagerie to purchase a range of cheese or join a cheese tasting workshop. Better yet, join a combined cheese and wine tasting session and you will feel closer to Heaven.
39- Laugh as you learn How to Become a Typical Parisian
A great way to learn how to become a Parisian is by seeing Olivier Giraud’s fun one-man show How to Become Parisian in One Hour. In just an hour, Olivier provides a hilarious introduction to everything you need to know to understand Parisian people.
The show is entirely in English, and by the reviews it is easy to understand why this is the most popular one-man show in Paris for visitors and locals. After the show, you’ll be well on your way to be a local.
40- Dine in a Traditional Parisian Bistro
During your visit to Paris, you need to at least once dine at a traditional Parisian bistro.
A typical Parisian bistro is a small casual restaurant serving affordable French food. A meal at a traditional Parisian bistro here is the perfect way to not only enjoy French cuisine but also to sample French culture too.
41- Apero time from a Rooftop Bar
Aperos – a couple of drinks with friends usually after work and before dinner – is one of the fun, unique experiences in Paris.
When the weather is warm, just before sunset, make your way to one of the many rooftop bars in Paris. On arrival, order yourself an apero and then watch the sunset across the city. A rooftop bar is also the perfect place to enjoy a fabulous meal while watching the city come alight with an array of colorful lights.
42- Experience “Immersive Art” at Atelier des Lumières
Digital art galleries are opening all around the world, and in Paris, you can experience immersive art at Atelier des Lumières.
Unlike regular art galleries, with the use of 140 video projectors and a spatialized sound system, visitors to Atelier des Lumières are encouraged to become part of the art exhibits by physically walking inside it or interacting with it.
In the 18th century, the cemeteries within the boundaries of Paris were cleared, and bones moved into a labyrinth of tunnels under the streets of Paris.
These tunnels are known as the Catacombs, and now visitors can explore some of these underground galleries, which is said to be the final resting place of around six million Parisians.
Visiting tunnels and tunnels decorated by skulls can become monotonous after a while plus the lines to enter are always super long. To get the most out of these underground experience and avoid the lines, we highly recommend joining this Paris Catacombs guided tour with skip-the-line access.
44- Enjoy 360-degree Views of Paris from the top of Arc de Triomphe
For incredible 360-degree views of the Paris skyline, climb the 284 stairs to the top of Arc de Triomphe. In every direction, you’ll get marvelous views of the city’s most iconic landmarks.
To the east, you’ll see down the famous Champs-Elysees to the Louvre with the hills of Montmartre in the background, while in the south-east you’ll have a fantastic view of the Eiffel Tower.
45- Eat your favorite Crêpes in the Best Crêperies in Paris
One of the best things to eat in Paris is crêpes! Whether you prefer sweet or savory or want to sit down and eat them with a knife and fork or roll them up and eat on the go – the crêpes in Paris are some of the best you’ll ever eat.
Originally from Brittany, Parisians did not take long to adopt crêpes and crêpes are today one of the most popular things to eat in Paris. While you can get crêpes on pretty much every street corner in Paris, it’s good to have some suggestions for the very best crêperies in Paris.
46- See Paris’ Cherry Blossoms
If you time your visit to Paris in the first few weeks of April, you’ll be just in time for the cherry blossom season. This is such a stunning time to visit Paris as many of the city’s parks and gardens become covered in a splash of pink.
Some of the best places to see the cherry blossoms in Paris include the Jardin des Plantes, the Tuileries Gardens, around the Eiffel Tower, Trocadéro Gardens, and around Notre Dame.
47- Visit one of the French Food Festivals
As you can see from our list of best things to do in Paris so far, Paris is a foodie’s heaven! A great way to try all these wonderful delights is at one of the many French food festivals held throughout the year in Paris.
No matter what month of the year you’re visiting Paris, there is sure to be a food festival on. Some of the most popular food festivals in Paris include Omnivore, Bouche à Bouche, Salon du Chocolat, Street Food International Festival, and Taste of Paris.
48- Visit the Picturesque Towns Near Paris
If you’re wanting to escape the city for a day, there are plenty of gorgeous small towns near Paris to explore. The city can get busy, particularly during the weekends, so a day trip to a nearby town is the perfect way to break up your visit as well as explore a different side of France.
Some of the nearby picturesque towns worth visiting include Provins, Fontainebleau, Auvers-Sur-Oise, Marly-le-Roi, or Bougival. Most of them are very easy to reach by public transportation.
49- Take a Day Trip to Giverny to admire Monet’s Gardens
For lovers of the artwork by Claude Monet, a trip to Monet’s house and gardens is a must-do. Monet’s Gardens are located about an hour from Paris, in the small village of Giverny. During this day trip, you’ll no doubt recognize several scenes from many of Monet’s famous paintings.
Transportation to Giverny is to straight forward so a good option for exploring Monet’s house and gardens is to join a small group guided tour. During these tours, you’ll learn more about Monet while exploring the village and visiting his grave, house and gardens.
50- Buy a Box of Macarons for your friends before leaving Paris
Did you even go to Paris if you didn’t eat at least one macaron? But don’t keep these Paris delights all to yourself, before leaving be sure to buy a box of macarons for your friends at home. They will no doubt be indebted to you forever!
Some of the best places to buy macarons from in Paris include Pierre Hermé and Ladurée.
So there you have it, the list of the 50 most iconic things to do in Paris! Now all you need to do is decide which things you will do on your trip to Paris (but we suggest to do them all!).
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