There is no place in the world like Paris… and Paris doesn’t care if you know it.
Mirroring much of France’s history, Paris’s gilded architecture stands in stark contrast to its gritty streets below. The city itself makes no apologies for what it was or what it is, basically telling the world, “We are Paris. Love us or leave us – we don’t care.”
That’s not to say that Paris isn’t beautiful. It most definitely is. An evening stroll along the Seine River is one of the most lovely sights you’ll see anywhere. The city is lit up, alive, and buzzing with excitement. It’s truly something you shouldn’t miss.
Holly and I recently took our girls to Paris and loved every second of it. Staying just a block from the Eiffel Tower, this was probably the kids’ favorite place they’ve ever been. Even I enjoyed Paris more on this trip than I did during our last visit.
Since Paris is one of the most popular destinations in the world, chances are good that you might be making a visit there sometime soon. If you do, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Unlike other major cities, Paris doesn’t have just one “tourist” area. So, it helps to have some ideas of what you want to do before you go. And since you’re here anyways, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite things to do in Paris. Enjoy!
Table of Contents
My Favorite Things to Do in Paris
Picnic Near the Eiffel Tower
If you’ve never been to Paris, the Eiffel Tower will definitely be on your list of sights to see. It really is impressive, and it’s also hard to miss. In front of the tower lays acres of flat green space. During the day, you’ll find hundreds of people hanging out in the grass, enjoying a picnic lunch, with a picture perfect view of the tower. At night, the tower lights up. Bring a blanket and a bottle of wine. Then, enjoy watching the tower “sparkle” for 5 minutes at the top of every hour. It’s really a fun time, and our girls loved it.
Experience Notre Dame Cathedral
This huge Gothic cathedral is one of the most famous churches in the world. It’s also incredibly beautiful. From the outside, gaze up at the twin bell towers soaring high above you. Soak up a view of the incredible flying buttresses from the bridge around the side. The gigantic stained glass windows are even more impressive from inside the building, as is the enormous sanctuary area. Entry to the cathedral is free, but if you want to get up close and personal with the gargoyles in the bell towers (or search for Quasimodo), you’ll need to purchase an advance ticket. Entry to the bell towers is also included on the Paris Pass.
Explore the Louvre (but Have a Plan)
If you’re coming all the way to Paris, chances are you’ll want to see the Louvre. This museum is home to some of the world’s most famous art, including the Venus de Milo, Winged Victory of Samothrace, and – of course – the Mona Lisa. Honestly, you’ve got to come here… but beware! This place is absolutely MASSIVE. It would take weeks to see everything in here. To avoid burnout, have a plan for what you want to see. Many of the “most famous” pieces are in the Denon Gallery (including all three of the pieces mentioned above), so start there. Also, ticket lines can be ridiculously long – like hours long – so be sure to have your tix purchased in advance. (Again, a city pass or museum pass is your best bet.) Oh, and the museum is closed on Tuesdays, so plan accordingly.
Swing Through the Opera House
From the outside, the Paris Opera House is definitely impressive. On the inside, it is stunning! Visiting the Opera House was kind of a last minute decision for us, and boy am I glad we went. Officially called the Palais Garnier, the Grand Staircase was worth the price of admission alone. The opulent Grand Foyer is also a sight to see, as is the actual auditorium. The building also houses a small museum providing a little history on the building, some of the actors, and the famously lavish costumes worn here. As a former theatre nerd, I couldn’t help but hum “Phantom of the Opera” during the whole experience. Tickets are less than 15 Euros and children under 12 are free. You can also use your Paris Pass to get in.
Enjoy the St. Germain and St. Michel Neighborhoods
Just across the river from Notre Dame, you’ll find the neighborhoods of St. Germain and St. Michel, also known as the Latin Quarter. The first time we visited Paris, we almost missed this area completely. Luckily, we stumbled upon them our last night, so we knew we wanted to spend more time there this time around. These two neighborhoods are packed with dining, entertainment, and shopping spots. While somewhat touristy, the energy here is fantastic. Walk through during the day, but be sure to come back to see these areas lit up at night!
Hang Out in Oberkampf
If you’re looking for a more of a “local” experience, be sure to visit the Oberkampf neighborhood. Located in the 11th Arrondissement, this little spot is roughly a 15-25 minute taxi ride from most of the more touristy spots. Filled with restaurants and nightlife, you’ll find it’s a pretty popular local hangout. Holly and I visited this neighborhood last time, and it was our favorite night we spent in Paris.
There are seriously a bazillion and fifty things to do in Paris, but these are just a handful of my favorites. While I couldn’t include everything, I hope this list gives you a few ideas of where to start on your journey to the City of Lights.
Please feel free to hit me up with any questions in the comments section. Until next time, happy traveling!
What are your favorite things to do in Paris? Let me know in the comments below!