Paris, the capital of France, is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, with people flocking from around the globe to soak up the atmosphere of this cultural city and visit its main attractions.
Paris is also regarded as the world’s most romantic city and a heaven for foodies and fashion lovers. With such a rich history, varied neighborhoods, and an incredible array of museums, shops, and restaurants, it’s not surprising that Paris is on many people’s travel bucket list!
So what is Paris famous for? Read on to discover what Paris is most known for and why it is such a unique destination.
Paris’s history is rich and dates back to Roman times when the city was inhabited by the Gauls (the Parisii tribe) and then the Romans. You can still see some vestiges of Roman Paris on Ile de la Cité and in the Latin Quarter.
Notre Dame Cathedral, the Sainte Chapelle, and the Conciergerie are stunning buildings witnesses of Paris’ medieval times.
The Louvre Palace is another interesting place for history lovers. Home to the French kings until Louis XIV moved to the Palace of Versailles, its magnificent halls and rooms were built and decorated in different periods and styles.
The French Revolution is another crucial event that shaped modern France and Europe. You can still see many places related to this chapter of history by following this French Revolution walking tour.
Paris’ Famous Landmarks
If you visit Paris during the high season (from April to the end of October), we recommend buying skip the line tickets for these tourist sites. You can buy these tickets separately or buy a Paris tourist pass.
There are many Paris tourist passes, with or without a travel card. Check out our Paris Pass Comparison to find the best pass for you.
Paris is Famous for the Seine River
Paris wouldn’t be Paris (and one of the world’s most romantic cities) without the Seine River. The Seine River is Paris’ most beautiful avenue, crossing the city from east to west. It is the origin of the city, and Paris’s development is uniquely tied to the river.
A stroll along the Seine’s banks is a wonder: majestic historical buildings reflected on its waters, the typical Parisian rooftops, the Seine bridges, each one with a unique style.
In spring, when the days are longer, and the weather in Paris starts getting warm, locals crowd the Seine River’s banks for waterside pétanque, drinks along the bar-terraces, or casual picnics with their feet dangling over the water. How can one not fall in love with Paris, with a scene like that?
At sunset, take a Seine night cruise to enjoy the City’s top monuments’ nocturnal revival: magical atmosphere guaranteed.
Incredible French Food
Food is surely one of the most recognizable things Paris is known for. In general, France is known for its excellent food and wine selection, and Paris, of course, is no different. There are simply so many things, from cheap eats to elaborated French dishes or delicious desserts that will make your mouth water in Paris that it’s not easy to know where to start!
What Food is Paris Known For?
There are sooo many things! But perhaps the most famous Paris food – born and perfected in Paris – are the Parisian baguette, the steak-frites, or the onion soup. Without forgetting the colorful macarons (not born in Paris but adopted for a long time), the café gourmand, or Parisian cakes like the Opéra or the Saint-Honoré.
The only thing to remember when eating out in Paris is to eat where the locals eat. While you can’t go far wrong with a traditional Parisian bistro, it’s best to get off the beaten tourist trail and find somewhere with a little more heart. Check out our section of restaurants in Paris, which is packed with good proposals by district or neighborhoods and for all budgets.
However, there is nothing more iconic than a cabaret show in Paris, with or without a meal. Cabarets in Paris are an institution and a fun way to spend a night in Paris. Of course, there’s the Moulin Rouge with its iconic can-can dance, but the Lido, Crazy Horse, or the Paradis Latin propose excellent shows too.
Paris is Famous for its Museums
Paris’ art scene is unparalleled. The Louvre Museum is the world’s most visited museum, while Orsay Museum is the hub for Impressionist lovers. The Georges Pompidou Museum, the Fondation Louis Vuitton, or the Museum of Modern Art present great art from around the world, while galleries in the Marais promote new talent.
There’s much more to savor than art, however. See the famous dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural History; learn about the world’s cultures and peoples at Musée du Quai Branly, or explore the fascinating Paris Catacombs.
Paris’ Famous Neighborhoods
Paris is famous for its vibrant neighborhoods. Everybody knows Montmartre, the picturesque (and hilly) neighborhood home to the Basilica of Sacré Coeur, the Love Wall, bohemian artists, and with panoramic views of Paris. Montmartre is also a gastronomic and cultural district with authentic charm, dotted with many picturesque stairs and old lampposts.
Le Marais is another favorite area to hang around. Le Marais is a place with beautiful private mansions, lovely hidden gardens, and pretty cafes full of history.
On the Seine’s left bank, Saint Germain-des-Près is the place to go. This is one of Paris’s most emblematic districts, well known for its revolutionary intellectualism, elegant houses, cute cafes, and antique shops.
Shopping in Paris
Paris is the capital of the haute couture, where fashion brands like Chanel, Dior, Hermès, or Yves Saint Laurent have their headquarters.
For the best luxury shopping, head to the Triangle d’Or (Golden Triangle), the area between Champs Elysées, Avenue Georges V, and Avenue Montaigne in Paris 8.
Galeries Lafayette is one of Paris’ most famous establishments in the Grands Boulevards. This veritable Paris institution has been running since the end of the 1800s and draws in customers due to its exclusive selection of luxury goods, famous food courts, and stunning architecture. Whilst it is on the pricey side, Galeries Lafayette is more than just a department store, but a piece of Paris’ fame and history.
Head to the Marais for trendy shops and unique vintage shops.
Paris is Famous for its Café Culture
Cafes are one of the main things Paris is known for. The Parisian cafe, complete with the row of round tables facing outward to the sidewalk, is something of an icon and one of Paris’s best pleasures.
Parisian cafes were the meeting place of the French Enlightenment in the 17th century, and they were the stage of passionately engaging intellectual chats during the roaring twenties. People like Hemingway or Sartre made of these public spaces their workplaces, and some of their masterworks were born in Parisian cafes.
What to do in a Parisian cafe? Order your favorite drink and take all the time you need to relax, watching the world go by. Believe us when we say this is one of the main pleasures in Paris.
The Art of Flâner
Finally, Parisians are the masters of the art of flâner, to wander aimlessly through a city. The word flâner is linked to not knowing exactly what you’re looking for, to wander for the pleasure of wandering with no destination in mind.
And Paris is the ideal domain for flâner. Being a shell-shaped city of 20 Arrondissements, this creates the ideal path for an aimless wanderer, never retracing his steps and often unsure of where he will end.