Paris is one of the best cities for sightseeing and traveling in the world. It has history, romance, famous landmarks, and is a great place to visit en route to somewhere else or as a main stop. Below I have made a list and description of the best things to do in Paris, which has been coined by many as the ‘City of Love‘. Take someone special or a friend, it does not matter, Paris offers something for everyone.
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Here Are Some Things To See and Do in Paris
Visit The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is what many people picture when thinking of Paris. It is the number one thing to do if you visit Paris. The first decision you have to make is when to climb the Tower. Do you want to see the city lights at night or pick out the sights below in daylight? I prefer to climb just before dusk so that when you climb, you can see the city in the light, at the top, it is sunset, and on the way down you can see the lights coming on.
You can get to the top in two ways. You can either climb to the second floor and take the mandatory lift to the top or take a lift right to the top. To climb all the stairs to the second floor is over 1000 steps but in my opinion, this makes the experience much richer, and a lot more fun as queues to get the lift from the bottom can get long depending on the time of year and day of the week (weekends are busier). To climb the Tower will cost roughly 6 Euros to the second floor and then 3 Euros to the top, or 12 Euros and a lengthy wait to get the lift all the way. Alternatively, you can buy a skip-the-line tour for about 20 euros.
Once at the top, you can enjoy the view, perhaps with a glass of champagne, but the top deck can get crowded as it is quite small, so you may want to save the champagne for when you are back down. There are two restaurants on the Tower. La Bulle Parisienne is on the first floor offering good food with a typical main costing around 40 Euros. If you want to splash out and have booked in advance, you can go to the pricier Jules Verne Restaurant, where the main dish would cost roughly 70 Euros, situated on the second floor.
See The Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
Notre Dame is situated on an island in the middle of the River Seine. Made famous by the stories of the hunchback, which supposedly lived in the bell towers of the cathedral, it has become a very popular attraction. Walking around the cathedral is free but can get busy, but that is the only way you can visit this landmark after the fire on 15 April 2019. Before the fire, you could pay a 6 euro entrance fee, and you did get to see the bell, a great view of the Latin Quarter, Eiffel Tower and Arc De Triumphe, and many gargoyles which are in keeping with the gothic nature of Notre Dame.
The surrounding area has plenty of gift shops and several good opportunities to buy a crepe. Take a stroll over the bridge, which is normally full of street entertainers, to the second island. After a walk through the quaint streets dotted with authentic French shops, you can enjoy more great photo opportunities of the cathedral.
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Admire The Exhibits at The Louvre
The Louvre The amount of time you spend in The Louvre entirely depends on how interested you are in art or history. The average person may disappear into the galleries to find the Mona Lisa, get a glimpse over the crowds that do accumulate around the painting, and then leave. These people would then miss out on the other exhibitions their ticket price includes entry to. There is a huge collection of artifacts from around the world in the Louvre, including a sizable selection of Egyptian finds, Greek and Roman antiques and sculptures (including the Venus De Milo), and other constantly changing exhibitions. You can easily spend a day in The Louvre if fine art is your thing, but for 9 Euros, the entry fee is worth saying you have been there.
Visit The Conciergerie
The Conciergerie is almost next door to Notre Dame is the Concierge. The Conciergerie was the holding area or prison if you like for people who had been sentenced to death by guillotine at the Concorde. The most famous resident was Mary Antoinette, and they have a replica of her cell and a memorial in the chapel. The visit will only take an hour at most, but the entrance fee is low, and I would recommend a visit if you are in the area.
Climb The Arc De Triomphe
The Arc De Triomphe is a war memorial to the dead soldiers that have fought for France and a tribute to the victories of Napoleon. Marking the start of the Champs Elysees, this huge arc is only accessible by underpass beneath the surrounding roundabout. For 6 – 10 Euros, you can climb the arch and go to the exhibition within the arc itself. From the top, you get good views of Paris and a great shot down the Champs Elysees all the way down to The Louvre. You may not want to do this on the same day as Notre Dame or The Eiffel Tower as your legs may feel the burn. Be sure to check out the crazy traffic on the roundabout below, especially during rush hour.
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Walk Around Champs Elysees
Champs Elysees is one of the most popular shopping destinations in Paris. You can shop during the day and grab a bite to eat at any of the numerous bistros along the road. If you are lucky, you may coincide with a movie premiere. There is an enormous Louis Vuitton shop for anyone looking to splash the cash, and I assure you there is plenty of that in this area of town. You may want to walk this way to get from the Arc De Triumphe to the Concorde or The Louvre.
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Visit The Latin Quarter
The Latin Quarter is a great place to find a meal in Paris. If you decide to go for food during the day, you will get a better deal than in the evening but will miss out on the lights and atmosphere. Restaurant owners will try to get you in but are not too pushy. Many restaurants offer fixed menus for a price, but the food is always good, and the options are varied. After dining, there are plenty of bars and clubs to help bring in the next day.
Visit The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris
Sacre Coeur literally meaning the Sacred Heart, this Catholic Church has become a popular tourist destination in the Montmartre district of Paris. The church stands on top of a hill and offers great views. Despite its elevation, it is accessible by Metro and then a funicular or, of course, you can walk. You can look around the church for free, but it will cost you to climb the dome or enter the crypt. If you decide to walk down from Sacre Couer, then there is a good path down through an art market and also via the Moulin Rouge.
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Walk Along The Seine River and See Its Many Beautiful Bridges
The Seine River (known as Sequana in ancient times) rises on the Plateau of Langres (near Dijon) and flows northwest past Troyes, Fontainebleau, Paris, and Rouen into the English Channel. The river is about 776 km long; it is navigable for riverboats from Bar-sur-Seine (560 km from its mouth) and for ocean shipping from Rouen (121 km from its mouth). The Seine River is connected by canals with the Schelde (also called Escaut), Meuse, Rhine, Saone, and Loire rivers.
I recommend all first time (and subsequent) visitors to take a Seine River cruise. One good company to try is the Bateaux Mouches. They go down the Seine and give a recorded overview of all the sights that are located along the Seine. Like a sightseeing tour bus, this boat tour gives one an idea of what Paris has to offer, and you can always return to visit a particular sight in detail later on.
Many others have recommended this, and I have to agree. See the Seine from as many different perspectives as possible. For example, start at one of the bridges and walk along rive gauche till the next bridge, then cross it and walk along rive till the next bridge and then so one. Then you could turn around and do it in reverse.
There’s so much to see! See it from vantage points such as the Tour Eiffel or La Samaritaine or Tour Montparnasse. Also, get right down to next to the water at many of the steps that lead down. Take something to read and a piece of fruit or a pastry or two to munch on, and if it’s a sunny day, you’ll be so glad you did!
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Pont Alexandre III
The richest and the most beautiful bridge in Paris is Alexander III Bridge. Tsar Nicolay II had placed the first stone in 1900, and the bridge was open in 1902. One the picture, you see one of four 17 meters high pillars. The bridge is rich with sculptures.
Le Pont Neuf
The Pont Neuf was commissioned by King Henry III of France in 1576. Despite its name, which translates to ‘New Bridge’, is the oldest bridge in Paris. Henry III was in tears when he laid the foundation stone for the bridge in May 1578. This was because he had just returned from funeral services for two close friends who had been killed in duels. So, at first, the bridge was referred to as the “Bridge of Tears”.
This was soon replaced with the name Pont Neuf because, in its construction, Henry broke the tradition whereby all Parisian bridges had houses on them from one end to the other. No houses were to be built on this bridge. Before the construction was finished, Henry III was assassinated, and the bridge was completed in 1604 by his successor Henry IV. When Henry IV was assassinated in 1610, the Grand Duke of Tuscany presented his widow, Marie de Medicis, with a bronze horse as a memorial.
Take A River Cruise of The Seine
Seine Cruise The Seine runs right through the center of Paris, and the riverboat is a great way to see the sights of Paris. The river passes Notre Dame, The Concierge, The Eiffel Tower, and much more. Boats are regular but can be an expensive way to see the sights but definitely recommended.
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Visit The Moulin Rouge
Moulin Rouge is the most famous and enduring of the old Parisian cabarets. Established in 1889, it was a favorite subject of the painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, whose depictions of showgirls at the Moulin Rouge are legendary. An easy walk down from Montmartre and Sacre Coeur. The Moulin Rouge club is in one of the seedier parts of Paris. By day it feels fairly innocuous, but at night it definitely feels more sinister. The area around is full of strip clubs, and if the bouncers in these clubs feel you might be pointing your camera a little too close to their club, they will come after you, and they aren’t the sort of people to mess with! The Moulin Rouge has recently been immortalized in a Hollywood film, and it has been made famous for the rather saucy routines that went on inside. The nearest Metro is Blanche.
Thanks to Aussie director Baz Luhrman and our famous export Nicole Kidman, the Moulin Rouge has become a part of popular culture. Since the film it has reached the status of Paris’ must-see’ on many more people’s list; including mine, I have to admit, no use of denying it. If you are on a limited budget like me, then you may have to be content to admire the icon from outside and not fork out something like 150 Euro per person for dinner and a show.
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Spend Some Time in Disneyland Paris
Bringing travelers Mickey Mouse and all the Disney characters they love, Disneyland Paris is a holiday resort featuring two theme parks. Disneyland Park and the Walt Disney Studios Park. Since it opened in 1992, Disneyland Paris has been thrilling millions of Europeans and tourists from all over the world each year. With countless rides, shows, and resort amenities, this theme park lives up to its reputation and provides fun for the whole family!
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Visit The Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles is located around 17km (10.6 miles) southwest of Paris. Versailles is to all intents and purposes a suburb of the French capital. It is also the most common day trip destination from Paris, and that’s because of the famous Palace of Versailles. Initially, the Palace began as a simple hunting lodge, and under king Louis XIII it became the most prominent building in France under his son. Louis XIV had the lodge developed into an opulent palace and moved the headquarters of the French government there. He thought that this was the only way of making sure he had absolute power of everything.
Nowadays, it is still used for some state functions and is also rented for private parties; however, most of the visitors to the Palace are tourists. People come to see the magnificence of the Palace and see how French royalty lived. The apartments of the king and queen are lavishly decorated as they would have been during Louis XIV’s reign in the 17th century. The highlight for many is the Hall of Mirrors. As the name would suggest, it features 357 mirrors and has been the venue for many historic occasions. These include the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, which divided the spoils after World War I.
Although the palace interiors are what most visitors wish to see, it’s the gardens that often leave the biggest impression. They’re extensive, with beautiful designs, and take considerably more work than mowing your back yard does.
French Wine Tasting in Paris
During the wine tasting, you try and learn some history about the wine regions such as Champagne, Bordeaux, Sancerre, Cote De Rhone, and several others. The words Merlot, Sparkling Wine, and Chardonnay drop from your vocabulary as you are transported to each region of France, learning about the grapes they grow and the style of wines they make.
The tasting is the fun part; you learn how to really sniff out the flavor of your wine, enjoy the generous portions, and develop tasting techniques that offer a deeper appreciation for the look, smell, taste, and balance of the wine. We left a bit tipsy (make sure you eat before you taste), with big smiles on our face, as we walked next door to the Louvre to pay a quick visit to the Mona Lisa; we didn’t see the sign that we weren’t supposed to take photos.
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