An estimated 18 million tourists visit the city of Paris each year, making it one of the most popular places to visit in the entire world. Museums, ancient buildings, shopping districts, fine dining, even theme parks; there is truly something in Paris for everyone, whether you’re eager to take in some of Paris’ famous tourist attractions, visit museums on and off the beaten path, or shop until you drop. And with so much to do, see, and absorb in this fantastic city, it’s no wonder that millions from around the world flock to Paris each year.
If you plan on visiting Paris soon, you’ve no doubt already wondered how to plan out your itinerary to this famed city. Yet with so much to do and see, it can be hard to pick out the very best things to do, especially if you have a limited amount of time on your trip. But not to worry: this list will help you discover the most interesting and exciting 29 places to see in Paris during your next visit.
This list will be followed by frequently asked questions that will help you decide where to go on your next trip to the famed city of lights. Safe journey–and don’t forget to check out the FAQ below for the most frequently asked questions about visiting Paris.
1- The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is the most visited tourist attraction in the city of Paris, and one of the most visited places in the entire world. Its iconic look and dizzying views are a classic part of any Paris trip and should not be missed by anyone with an eye for architecture.
If you don’t mind climbing (and want to save some money!) you can walk up the first two levels of the tower via the stairs: 704 steps, to be exact! If you’re not up to the task or require accessibility, an elevator can take you to the second level as well. An elevator ride is required to get to the top level, so prepare for an exciting elevator trip that will take you to a total elevation of a whopping 276 meters above the ground.
Ticket prices vary depending on whether or not you take the stairs or elevator. Tickets with elevator access to the 2nd floor are €11 Euros for adults aged 25+; €8.50 for visitors aged 12 to 24; and €4 for children aged 4 to 11. Without elevator access, tickets are €7, €5, and €3 respectively. Tickets should be purchased in advance, especially if you’re visiting from April to August during the busiest tourist season. Be prepared to wait in line no matter when you visit, but purchasing tickets in advance will at least let you skip the ticket queue.
2- Les Grands Magasins
If you want to experience the height of glamorous French shopping, then you’ll want to head to the Les Grands Magasins. Les Grands Magasins–literally “the grand department stores”–are the most well-known and popular of Paris department store shopping. Internationally recognized brands and haute couture shopping are just two of the draws of this delightful shopping district, which features several department stores that are popular year round. Galeries Lafayette, Printemps Haussmann, and C et A are some of the most popular options at Les Grands Magasins. If you plan to do some serious shopping, make sure you factor in how you will get your many bags home! For bargain shopping, head out in January and June, when there are district-wide sales where you can find bargains unlike any others on genuine designer brands.
When you get tired of shopping, head to one of several restaurants and cafes on-site for refreshments; for the most memorable views, head up to the rooftop for a seat at La Terrasse des Galeries, where you can dine on delicious slices of bread and cheeses with a view of Paris from above.
3- The Louvre Museum
The Louvre is the most significant of Paris’ many museums, with millions of visitors entering its halls each year to view some of the most important artwork in the world. The Louvre contains 30,000 artworks on display, ranging from pieces dating to the antiquity era all the way through the 1800s. The Louvre sometimes holds special exhibitions, so be sure to check the museum’s website to see if there is anything going on when you visit.
For the Louvre’s most famous work–the Mona Lisa–visitors should expect large crowds and low visibility until you can make your way to the front. If you only plan on visiting the Louvre once, it’s best to plan ahead and mark down what pieces you’d like to see; or plan on exploring a single gallery, since it would take many days to see everything.
A single ticket costs €15 or €17 if purchased online. Tickets can be purchased in advance; this is recommended if you want to skip the ticket counter queue, which can be astronomically long, especially during peak seasons.
4- Notre Dame de Paris
Notre Dame de Paris (“Our Lady of Paris”) is one of the most popular places to visit in the city. And one look at the extraordinary architecture of the building will definitely tell you why people continue to flock to this beautiful monument to Paris’ vast and deep historical roots. Inside and outside you can view everything from ancient carvings to gargoyle statues and of course, the stained glass rose windows which date back all the way to the 13th century.
Entry into the cathedral itself is free, but if you want to climb the towers, you’ll need to pay a small fee of about 8.50 Euro. There is no “skip the line feature” even when purchasing in advance, so be prepared to wait; if you want to make this a high point of your trip to Notre Dame, get there before it opens, as that will be the shortest queue of the day.
The cathedral itself is still used as a church, so remember to be respectful when visiting, especially if you visit during mass.
5- Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris is a vibrant, fun, and magical theme park that has come a long way from the “Euro Disney Resort” of yesteryear. Disneyland Paris is one of the top choices for families to visit in Paris due to the family-friendly attractions, ranging from a full-fledged Disney arcade, horse carriage rides, Disney character meet-and-greets, and colorful parades sure to delight children and children at heart. Anyone looking for more fun can turn to the many rides at the park, including roller coasters, spinning teacups, flying rides and more. Fireworks shows are held daily, so be ready to stay until dark if you want to catch that bit of magic! Disneyland Paris can get crowded, so come early or visit later in the day (the park is open until 11 PM) to wait out some of the biggest family crowds. For a special treat, visit during the winter for holiday-themed events and attractions.
Single day passes are £35 for adults and £30 for children. Special prices may apply to annual passes and holiday ticket packages. Tickets can be purchased online which will help you avoid the long queue for purchasing tickets.
6- Chateau de Versailles
Chateau de Versailles is the most visited palace in the world. The vast estate, which includes the titular palace itself, expansive gardens, as well as the Petit Trianon and its gardens, could be explored for days. The historic palace was first built in the 17th century when it became the seat of the Bourbon monarchy. The palace survived multiple revolutions and wars and today stands as a testament to the old world of France. Visitors can wander into several public spaces such as the famed Hall of Mirrors, but certain areas are limited to tour groups which must purchase tickets in advance. If you’d rather skip the crowds inside the palace, head to the gardens for an open-air stroll in a more relaxed space.
Tickets cost €18 for the day; special ticket prices may apply for days with fountain and garden shows. You can also purchase special tickets for the gardens if you don’t plan on visiting the palace itself. Tickets can and should be purchased in advance in order to reduce the time spent waiting in lines. Queues to buy tickets can get as long as 2 to 3 hours or even longer during peak seasons, so purchase ahead to get into the priority line. For shortest wait times, head out in the early morning to get a jump on the line before the palace opens.
7- Jardin des Tuileries
The Jardin des Tuileries is conveniently located right next to the Louvre, making it a perfect rest stop after taking in some of the best art in the world. The Jardin des Tuileries is all that is left of the Tuileries Palace, an ancient royal place that was destroyed in a fire during the 19th century. Today, the Tuileries garden is a hub of Parisian life. The formal garden is designed to promote relaxation and admiration; strolls along the garden is a popular choice for solo travelers, couples and even families, especially after a tiring day. If you visit from June to August, you can indulge in the Fête des Tuileries, a special fairground event that features fairground rides, candyfloss, and other delights and treats that will appeal to families or anyone with a fondness for old-school fairground attractions.
Access to the gardens is completely free. Fairground rides and food purchases during the Fête des Tuileries will have their own pricing. The gardens close at 7:30 PM from September to March; 9 PM from March to September with exceptional late closing at 11 PM in June, July, and August. Visitors are expected to begin leaving the garden at about 30 minutes to closing time, so make sure to keep an eye on the time when you visit.
8- Musée Grevin
Of the many museums in Paris, Musée Grevin is one of the most unique. Musée Grevin is a wax museum which was founded in 1882 by Arthur Meyer, a journalist who was inspired by the popularity of Madame Tussauds. The museum’s unique emphasis on creating complex wax tableau scenes helped cement it in Paris culture; it was even the subject of a short (and now lost) Jacques Demy film which brought the wax tableaux to life.
Today, the Musée Grevin features 450 different wax figures, including dozens of the museum’s original wax models from the late 19th and early 20th century. The most popular displays in the museum are the historical scenes, which feature historical figures ranging from the 15th century through the reign of Napoleon III. Contemporary figures include people such as Pope John Paul II, Michael Jackson, and even Pablo Picasso.
Standard untimed tickets cost €24.50 for adults and €18.50 for children. You can save up to 24% by purchasing online and booking your tickets at least 5 days in advance. The museum also offers special family ticket discounts, with a family of 4 (up to 2 adults and 2 children) getting in at €17 per person. Tickets purchased online allow you to skip the ticket counter queue and save time by not having to wait in line.
Paris is well-known for its many shopping opportunities, but if you’d rather find unique vintage pieces or nearly OOAK items than purchasing a designer handbag, you’ll probably want to head away from the famous department stores. Instead, head out to Clignancourt, the largest of Paris’ flea markets and possibly the largest flea market in the entire world! Clignancourt is also known as the Marché aux Puces–or translated literally, the Market of Fleas! Clignancourt is home to some 3,000 different flea market merchants across a range of 15 districts. You can find everything from genuine antiques such as furniture, glassware, toys and more; to vintage clothing, genuine French linens, books upon books, and so much more.
When you visit Clignancourt, be prepared to plan ahead–and be prepared to walk. A map is available and should be used so you can plan out which Clignancourt districts you’ll be visiting. Around 180,000 people head out to Clignancourt every weekend, so you definitely won’t be alone in your hunt for flea market finds! If you plan on buying anything larger, such as furniture, have a game plan for how you will get it out of the flea market and back to where you are staying for your trip. Most of the stalls here only take cash, so remember to have enough on hand when you visit.
Entry to Clignancourt is free, though of course, the shopping won’t be!
10- Paris Catacombs
The Catacombs of Paris are another of Paris’ most popular destinations, though they are perhaps one of the more surprising things to do in the city for anyone unfamiliar with their presence. The catacombs were created in the 18th century when the remains of 6 million people were moved underground to deal with the problem of lack of space for burying the dead. Many of those whose remains reside here perished during the French Revolution, including many significant historical figures whose bones now reside within the seemingly endless twists and turns of the catacomb walls.
The catacombs are an important historic landmark with a somber history that is well worth exploring if you want to experience a truly unique side of the city. The catacombs are popular, so expect wait times when purchasing tickets on-site; as well as wait-times for entry due to the necessity of staggering groups to avoid overcrowding.
Standard ticket costs are €13 or €11 during reduced rate times. A “skip the line” ticket can be purchased online for €29 (or €5 for 4-17-year-old visitors) which comes with a tour guide. Tour guides are not required for the Catacombs but they can help you discover more of their intriguing and dark history. Entry first thing in the morning is recommended if you want to miss the afternoon crowds.
11- Musée d’Orsay
Musée d’Orsay is one of France’s finest museums, and it is certainly one of the most worthwhile art museums for anyone with a passion for art to visit while in taking in the sights of Paris. Musée d’Orsay’s claim to fame is an extensive, astounding collection of art from the world’s most renowned Impressionist artists, including Degas, Monet, Manet, Renoir, van Gogh, Lautrec, Seurat–and much more. Visitors can see everything from self-portraits of van Gogh to his famous Starry Night; Monet’s iconic The Magpie; and far too many iconic paintings to name.
The museum is a veritable “who’s who” of the Impressionist art movement in Europe, and anyone with even an inkling of interest in art history will be greatly enriched by a visit to this splendid museum. The crowds at d’Orsay are typically not as intense as those at the Louvre, especially if you visit on the weekday or during the non-busy season, so this can be a great option if you want to take in the art without having to elbow other visitors in order to get some breathing room.
Admission cost varies. Standard tickets cost €14 for visitors 18 and older. Visitors under 18 can enjoy free admission. Additional fees may apply for special exhibitions, concerts, and other limited engagements.
12- Palais Garnier
The Palais Garnier Opera House, known simply as Palais Garnier by locals, is one of the grandest monuments built by emperor Napoleon III during his reign. This baroque-style building has a classic design that is sure to impress visitors, whether it’s your first time inside the building or you’re 100th. The grand marble staircase entrance is truly a sight to behold, especially if you visit for an evening event when it is light up by gilded lamps. There are many reliefs sculptured throughout the building, with mythological and historical motifs being an ever-present theme.
Visitors have two options when it comes to visiting the Palais Garnier: a daytime or nighttime visit. A daytime visit will allow you to tour the building at the cost of an entrance ticket. A nighttime visit will require you to purchase a ticket to the Palais Garnier’s many events, which range from opera, ballet, concerts, and galas. Check out the Palais Garnier website calendar for a full list of what will be showcased on the grand stage.
Daytime tour admission is €17 or €12.50 for students under 26 or €9.50 for children under 10. Each tour ticket comes with a free audio guide that will take you on a 90-minute tour of the building.
13- Maison Ladurée
Maison Ladurée is behind some of the most sumptuous and iconic French desserts in the world, namely classic French macarons that are so popular they have been featured in numerous films and television shows since the shop’s inception. If you are a lover of French food and treats, then a trip to Paris would not be complete without a visit to one of Maison Ladurée’s iconic shops, where you can enjoy treats such as macarons, tea, cakes, cookies, and much more.
There are several Ladurée shops in Paris, making it a great choice no matter where you happen to be staying or visiting while in the city. Some Ladurée shops may have different menus, so if you’re looking for something in particular, use the official website to read menus and find out which is the best choice for your outing. If you’re looking for macarons, you should definitely head to Ladurée Paris Le Macaron, which is dedicated solely to macarons and features special new flavors from macaron artist Claire Heitzler.
Entry into a shop is free; prices for baked goods and other food will vary from shop to shop. Most of the Maison Ladurée shops in Paris also offer delivery if you don’t feel like heading out into the city to get a taste of macaron.
14- Place de la Concorde
The Place de la Concorde is one of the most iconic places in Paris, though it has undergone many name changes during its long and historic tenure as a major square in the heart of Paris. The original square–then called Place de Louis XV–was commissioned between 1755 and 1775, and throughout the next 200 years, it has seen much upheaval and change. During the French Revolution, the square was renamed Place de la Revolution, and it was the site of the Paris guillotine where many famous figures–including Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI, and Robespierre–lost their heads. During Napoleon’s reign and the Bourbon Restoration, it was reinvented into a triumphant public square where parades could be held for the greater public. Charles X, the last of the Bourbon kings, was presented with a genuine Egyptian obelisk by an Egyptian leader; this obelisk still stands in the square today.
Visiting the Place de la Concorde is free, but note that there can be heavy traffic in the area and that pedestrians need to take caution as French drivers tend to pay little attention to pedestrian traffic. If you visit during the summer, there is usually a Ferris wheel in the area, so take a few extra Euro for a magnificent view of the city.
15- Seine River
The Seine River is the lifeblood of the city of Paris, and for anyone looking for a truly unique view of the city, there are few better options than taking in the city directly from the Seine itself. The Seine travels alongside many of Paris most iconic places, including the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame de Paris, and even the Louvre.
The best way to get the “Seine’s eye view” of Paris is to take a daytime cruise on the river. Daytime cruises are usually shorter and they make for a great afternoon taking in Paris brightened by sunshine and blue skies. Some daytime cruises offer meal options, which can depend on the length of the trip and the overall cost of the ticket. If you’re looking for something a bit more romantic or sparkling, book an evening cruise where you can see the city of lights truly glitter. There are even evening cruises which offer extensive tour lengths and decadent French meals, so if you’d like you can make an evening out of your trip on the Seine! Tour booking costs will vary from company to company as well as from tour to tour, so book ahead to find the best prices.
No, you’re not in Greece! Paris’ Panthéon was actually commissioned by Louis XV in 1756 when he asked his primary architect to build a brand new church on the site of a now ruined building. The architectural style of Panthéon is unusual in that it breaks away from the typical Louis XV style of architecture, foregoing the typical frills of the rococo style and opting instead for Neo-Classical aesthetic that is ultimately more somber and modern. The church was not completely finished until 1790, just in time for the French Revolution. Since then, some of France’s greatest figures have been buried at the Panthéon, including Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Alexandre Dumas, Emile Zola, and even Marie Curie.
Visitors who wish to take in this unique Parisian landmark can buy tickets for €9 for independent exploration of the building; visitors under 18 get in free. Group tours with tour guides are available in French only if you book at least 45 days ahead of time. And if you visit from April through October, you will be allowed to visit the dome section of the building, where you can take in an extraordinarily look at the Paris skyline. The dome may not be open to viewers during inclement weather.
17- La Conciergerie
La Conciergerie is one of the most imposing and historically rich buildings in the entire city, and definitely worth a visit if you want to take in the more somber historical side of Paris. La Conciergerie was originally a palace built in the 14th century, though it was eventually abandoned as a royal palace and turned into a palace of justice in the 1500s; many of the palace’s sumptuous rooms were converted into prison cells. During the French Revolution, the Conciergerie became known as the “antechamber to the guillotine,” as most people who would be sent to the guillotine were housed at the Conciergerie prior to their trials. One of the most famous of these prisoners was Marie Antoinette, whose actual cell at the Conciergerie was transformed into a chapel during the Bourbon Restoration; today, in addition to the chapel, a recreation of her cell as it stood in the French Revolution stands in a different spot of the building.
Admission to La Conciergerie costs €9 for a single standard ticket; €7 for visitors under 26 years old; with discounts available for groups of 20 people and more. For an additional €5, visitors can rent the “Histopad,” an augmented reality tablet that allows you to see and explore the Conciergerie as it existed during different historical periods.
18- Cimetière du Père Lachaise
The Cimetière du Père Lachaise, or cemetery of Père Lachaise, is the largest cemetery within the Paris city limits. In addition to being the largest in size, it is also the most notable for the exceptional amount of famous people who have been buried within its grounds. Some of the most notable people who have chosen to make Père Lachaise their resting place are: Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Molière, Honoré de Balzac, Georges Bizet, Maria Callas, just to name a few.
Countless people from around the world visit this cemetery to pay their respects to their icons; if you choose to do this, remember to practice respectful etiquette and remember that Père Lachaise is a cemetery, despite its popularity. In addition to iconic celebrity tombs and grave markers, there are also several unique cemetery monuments to visit, such as the “Grim Reaper Tomb” and a monument to French war dead. The landscaping and architecture of this iconic Parisian cemetery are truly beautiful and well worth a visit if you are interested in historic cemeteries.
Admission to Père Lachaise is free and does not require a ticket. Hours are typically from 8 AM to 5:30 PM, but these can vary depending on the season and the weather.
19- Maison Deyrolle (Museum and Shop)
Paris is no stranger to museums, but if you’re looking for a museum that goes beyond classic paintings and ancient sculptures, head over to the Deyrolle Museum for a walk on the wild–and strange–side. Deyrolle is, despite popular misconception, actually an older Paris institution: it was first founded all the way back in 1831. During its earliest years, Deyrolle offered a range of hard to find objects, including preserved animals and other items that were hot tickets for wealthy collectors. Deyrolle was and remains a popular hot spot for eccentric artists, including Salvador Dali; it was even featured in Woody Allen’s famous ‘Midnight in Paris’ film.
Today, Deyrolle is part-museum, part-shop, and definitely 100% curiosity. Deyrolle hosts objects ranging from preserved animals and insects to collections of gemstones and minerals to vintage medical bags and everything in (and out) between. You may find a corner with a stuffed kangaroo next to a tray of shark teeth, above a shelf with an antique medical diagram propped against the wall! Don’t worry: all of the animal specimens sold in the shop died of natural causes, and no animals were killed to make these interesting and hard-to-find collectible pieces.
Admission into Deyrolle is free; most of the objects are for sale, so if you’re into oddities and curiosities, be sure to bring your cash.
20- Ballon de Paris at Parc André-Citroen
The Ballon de Paris, or Balloon of Paris, is as iconic a treasure in Paris as any museum. This hot air balloon is the largest in the world and will take you–and every guest on board–about 500 feet above the city of Paris for the most breathtaking views of the city. In addition to spectacular views, the Balloon of Paris is notable for having a green footprint and a unique color scheme that changes depending on the air quality of the city that day.
Lines for the Balloon de Paris can get extensive, especially during vacation and holiday times as well as on weekends, so if you want to reduce the time spent waiting in line during the crowded season, head out first thing in the morning. Each balloon ride can hold about 30 passengers, so this will help you get a general gauge of how long you may have to wait. The Ballon may be closed due to weather conditions, so be prepared and call ahead to make sure the balloon will be taking off during your visit.
A single ticket for one hot air balloon ride costs €12 for adults; €6 for children who are aged 3 to 11; and children under 3 ride free.
21- Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
The Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is a gorgeous park that is heavily favored by local Parisians, who often visit this romantic park for picnics, outdoor breakfasts, and simply relaxing afternoons. What makes the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont stand out its is unique contrast against most of the other public parks within Paris. Unlike the formalized 18th and 19th-century style gardens found throughout most of Paris, the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is designed under the principals of the Romantic aesthetic. Rather than perfectly trimmed trees and rows of flowerbeds, this park features a landscape design meant to mimic a stroll through a natural pastoral landscape. Waterfalls, artificial lakes, large trees, and open areas of wildflowers are just part of what makes the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont an attractive and charming spot for locals and tourists alike, who love to take in the romantic, relaxing and country feel of the park.
Entry into the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is completely free. There are sometimes special events held on or near the grounds which may cost extra. And if you get hungry during your stay, there is a snack bar and a full restaurant on site; prices and menu for these food options vary, so be sure look them up before you visit to make sure you have enough cash on hand.
22- Shakespeare and Company
If you love books, then you cannot miss a visit to Shakespeare and Company while you’re visiting Paris. Shakespeare and Company is an iconic bookstore whose origins can be traced all the way to the early 20th century when the original shop operated as a publishing house and boarding house for aspiring writers. The shop, closed during WWII, reopened in 1951 by George Whitman; since then, it has become a flourishing tried-and-true staple of the Parisian literary scene. Writers and modern philosophers travel from all over the world to browse the shelves, hold talks, give readings, and discuss topics of the day. The shop even retains its use as a boarding house with a unique agreement: guests (called “Tumbleweeds”) who want to stay overnight in one of the book shop’s many beds tucked in between shelves must read every day, write a 1-page autobiography that will be included in the shop’s archives, and help around the bookshop during the day.
Entrance into Shakespeare and Company is free. The shop features hundreds and hundreds of secondhand books for sale, so whatever your literary tastes, you are sure to find something that suits your fancy. If you’re interested in the “overnight” experience, contact the shop well before your stay to inquire about the “Tumbleweeds” program to see when they will have openings available.
23- Les Invalides
Les Invalides is one of the most unique historical buildings in the city of Paris. Prior to the reign of Louis XIV, disabled and wounded veterans found themselves at the mercy of churches or the streets. During his reign, Louis XIV founded the Hotel Les Invalides, official home for men who became disabled while serving in the French military. Over the next 2 centuries, a church, tomb, and even a museum were added to the estate. In 1794, the French revolutionary government installed the Artillery Museum (now known as the Army Museum) which showcased military uniforms, weapons, interesting prints, and other military ephemera. Today, visitors can tour the many interesting wings of the building, including the now famous Napoleon’s Tomb which was installed in 1840.
Entry into Les Invalides does require ticketed admission. A standard admission ticket is €12 for adults and children, or €10 if traveling with a group of 10 or more. The ticket includes admission to the permanent collections of the museum, as well as access to the Tomb of Napoleon, the Museum of Relief Maps, the Museum of the Order of the Liberation, the Dome Church, the Saint-Louis Cathedral and the Charles de Gaulle monument.
Free admission is available for children under 18, as well as French soldiers, foreign soldiers in uniform, disabled visitors and one guest, and other exceptions that are available for view on the official Les Invalides website.
24- Place de Bastille
The infamous Bastille prison, destroyed during the French Revolution for its symbolism as an icon of the absolutist monarchy, once stood on the location of the modern Place de Bastille. Although the Bastille itself was destroyed in the revolution, the site of the former prison has never lost its significance to the French.
The most iconic feature in the square today is the Colonne de Juillet, a towering monument that was commissioned to celebrate the July Revolution of 1830. The Place de Bastille is not all about the past, however: it is also the site of Opera-Bastille, a new opera house finished in 1989 which regularly hosts orchestral concerts, choir concerts, ballet performances, operas, and more. The neighborhood immediately surrounding the Place de Bastille includes local cafes, trendy shops, quirky and unique boutiques, and other smaller, “hip” places that are perfect for visiting when you’re tired of Paris’ bigger-name destinations.
There is no fee to visit the Place de Bastille, but visitors who are sightseeing in the square should be mindful of traffic as drivers in France tend not to pay attention to pedestrian traffic. Shops, cafes, and other attractions in the area will cost extra, so be sure to bring your cash if you plan to do anything but take a look around this historic yet contemporary vibrant square.
25- Parc de la Villette
If you love the outdoors, then you’ll most definitely want to visit Parc de la Villette. Parc de la Villette, designed by Bernard Tschumi, is the biggest landscaped outdoor green space in Paris at a stunning 55.5 hectares of space. The beautiful design and numerous outdoor based attractions make it popular for families and travelers year-round. The Parc is home to multiple landscaped themed gardens with bridges, ponds, and even fountains; in addition to the gardens, Parc de la Villette is home to a Museum of Science and Technology, multiple children’s playgrounds, two performance halls, and even an IMAX theater. If you visit from July to August, there is an outdoor film festival space for showcasing films on an outdoor screen.
Entry to the Parc de la Villette, including the themed gardens and children’s playgrounds, is free. Entry to various attractions within the park, specifically the museums, performance halls, and theater, will cost extra. If you are interested in a more guided view of the park, then you can purchase a guided tour for €11 per person. There are special group rates available for groups of 20 or more, which must be booked at least 30 days in advance. There are regular temporary events and exhibitions in the space, so be sure to look ahead prior to your visit to see if anything special is happening.
The park is notably open later than many other public spaces in Paris; its regular hours are 6 AM to 1 AM. Visitors are expected to begin leaving the park at about 30 minutes to closing time.
26- Cinémathèque Française
Film buffs won’t want to miss a visit to Cinémathèque Française, a landmark institution that operates both as a cinematic museum and a truly Parisian cinema house that focuses on new releases, classic and rare films, and cinema that veers away from Hollywood blockbusters and mainstream offerings. Cinémathèque Française is the most well-known and popular of Paris’ cinema houses, and it’s the best option for anyone visiting Paris who wants to take in the charm of Parisian cinematic culture.
The Cinémathèque Française building includes a permanent film museum which hosts temporary exhibitions in addition to a permanent collection, as well as multiple screening rooms that show everything from classic films to highlight reels for upcoming works. Films are shown regularly in these screening rooms, and a calendar can be viewed on the official Cinémathèque Française website. Visitors who want to dive even further into cinema history can visit the film library, which includes hundreds of thousands of movie stills, film posters, review archives and more.
Admission to the Cinémathèque Française’s varies depending on what you want to see and do. Tickets to the Museum are €5 for visitors 18 and older; €2.50 for visitors under 18. Tickets to the Cinema are €5 for visitors 18 and older; €2.50 for visitors under 18. Tickets to the Library are €7 for visitors 18 and older; €4 for visitors under 18. Cinémathèque Française also offers special discounts that include monthly and yearly passes that will provide a great discount on visiting the museum, library, and cinema.
27- Musée des Arts Forains
The Musée des Arts Forains may just be the most whimsical of Paris’ countless museums. The Musée des Arts Forains, which translates literally to Museum of Fairground Arts, has a unique collection of vintage and antique fair related pieces that are sure to delight children and adults alike. The museum’s interesting collection includes everything from antique fairground banners to antique carousels and 19th-century carnival games and everything else that carnival-goers from years past may have found during their afternoons on the midway. Visitors won’t just be looking at these whimsical carnival pieces, either: guests can play some of the vintage carnival games and even ride some of the late 19th century and antique 20th-century attractions, including a bicycle merry-go-round from 1897.
Standard admission for adults is €16, €8 for children aged 4 to 11; and children under 4 can get into the museum for free. Standard admission comes with a guided tour, which is usually held in French language only. However, there is a handout in English for English-speaking visitors, and English tours are scheduled during the busier summer months for English-speaking tourists. Note that admission to the museum is through a reserved guided admission only, as tour guides are necessary for activating the rides, automated attractions, and ensuring the safety of all guests.
28- Le Marais
Le Marais is a series of streets filled with some of the oldest standing architecture in Paris, much of which states back to medieval times. Le Marais is well-known for being a trendy area filled with small shops, local art galleries, unique restaurants, and cafes where modern writers, musicians, and artists gather. The architecture found throughout the Le Marais district is well worth the visit, especially for anyone with an interest in historical buildings; but it’s the culture of Le Marais that truly makes it a worthwhile destination for visitors to Paris. A visit to Le Marais will give you a taste of an avant-garde local Parisian neighborhood, a far cry from the crowded bustling attractions found throughout the city.
Entry into the Le Marais district is free. Cafes, shops, and other businesses typically accept cash as well as credit cards. Prices will vary from business to business but expect to spend a little more at the most populated restaurants which may raise prices due to their higher demand. Visit during the offseason if you want to experience Le Marais at its least crowded since the area can get busier during the summer months when more tourists filter through the streets of Paris. If you want to indulge in some of the best restaurants in the area, wait to visit until later in the evening when the restaurants begin opening for dinner.
29- Musee Picasso
Musee Picasso is one of the most popular museums in Paris–and in Europe as a whole. Musee Picasso is home to more than 5,000 finished works and tens of thousands of papers, sketches and other archival work related to the famous artist Pablo Picasso. The museum boasts the largest Pablo Picasso collection in the world and includes a host of different pieces from this famed artist, ranged from some of his most iconic paintings to stunning sculptures and even smaller drawings that are less well known but no less important to his legacy.
Standard admission to Musee Picasso is €12.50 Euros year round. The museum features free entry on the first Sunday of every month. The museum also hosts rotating guided tours with varying costs; if you are interested in a guided tour, check out the museum’s website before you book your tickets and view the calendar of events. It is recommended that you purchase your tickets to the museum online in order to skip the long lines at the ticket counter. Due to the popularity of the museum, you can expect there to be crowded for most of the year, although visiting on a weekday during the off-season is the best option if you want to experience the museum without the throngs of crowds who flock to Musee Picasso on busy season weekends.
Frequently Asked Questions
When is the best time of year to visit Paris?
The best time of year to visit Paris will depend primarily on why you want to visit the city and what you plan to do during your trip. If there are no time-sensitive activities on your itinerary, then you’ll want to consider the number of tourists and crowds when picking your trip dates. Typically, Paris is less crowded from April to June, just before the summer rush brings millions to the city; it is also less crowded from October to November when the summer weather has turned cooler and there aren’t as many tourists. If you are looking for the most budget-friendly time of year, then you’ll want to visit in December to February, when costs on hotels, flights, and travel tend to be discounted. There are also many unique holiday events held in Paris during this time, which can make it more exciting to visit during the winter.
Can I visit Paris without a tour guide?
Yes! You can certainly visit Paris without hiring a tour guide. The city of Paris, like many larger cities in Europe, has plenty of resources for international travelers who aren’t seeing the city through a group or with a guide at their side. However, if you do decide to visit without a tour guide, you’ll want to make sure that you do your research on everything from getting around to purchasing museum or other attraction tickets and even social etiquette to ensure that your trip goes as smoothly as possible. If you find yourself lost with nothing to do in the city, you can always take note of the many things to do featured in this list! And remember, you don’t have to see the entire city on your own: you can even book a short morning or afternoon tour once or twice during your trip rather than rely on a guide for your entire stay.
Is it safe for a woman to visit Paris alone?
As a whole, yes, it is safe for a woman to visit Paris alone. However, women traveling alone in Paris–like women traveling alone in France or any European country–should take precautions to keep themselves as safe as possible during their trip. Women should take particular note of the following safety tips when traveling alone in Paris:
- Leave important belongings in a secure hotel safe or at your lodgings during your trip; only carry with you what is absolutely necessary, such as identification and enough money for the day
- Do not visit ATMs at night or in secluded areas; ideally, only use ATMs inside banks with security guards present. If you must use an outside ATM, keep a sharp eye for pickpockets, who often travel in groups to intimidate solo women at ATMs.
- Be mindful of where you are if you must travel on foot after dark. While most of the city is safe, there are certain areas where walking alone at night–especially late night or early morning when the streets are more secluded–may make you a target.
What kind of lodgings should I stay in while in the city?
There are many options available for lodging during your trip to Paris. The most common accommodates for Paris trips are hotels, rental apartments, Airbnb rentals, and hostels. Each of these lodgings comes with its own benefits and downsides depending on your budget, how long you’ll be staying, what you plan to do during your trip, how many people you’ll be traveling with, and your overall preferred travel style.
Getting Around FAQ
What is the easiest way to get around Paris?
Travelers to Paris are in luck: it’s a very mobile city with solid public transportation that will get you (and the millions of others in the city who use it every day) where you need to go. The standard methods of getting around Paris are: the Metro, the RER train, buses, taxis, and of course, walking.
The Paris Metro is one of the best metro systems in the entire world, with around 300 stations in the city that can get you within a few blocks of just about any destination in Paris. The metro is relatively easy to understand when you take a few minutes to research the lines and follow the color guided signs at each station; make sure you pick up a map at a station or keep an online map handy on your phone. If you are going to be in the city and plan to see lots of sights, the Metro is the best way to get around efficiently and quickly.
The RER train is similar to the metro, except it reaches stops that are on the outskirts of the city in addition to some station stops in the central part of Paris. You can use metro tickets if you are taking the RER to a central Paris stop, but you’ll need an RER ticket if you want to ride the RER outside of Paris proper.
The Paris bus system is surprisingly reliable and efficient; and if you’re interested in taking in the city as a visitor, it can be a great way to get a ground view of the streets of Paris. Bus tickets can be purchased on the bus itself or in metro stations; you can use metro tickets on the bus as well. Make sure you keep your ticket after it’s been stamped in case the ticket checkers come around. Buses in Paris typically run from 6:30 AM until 8:30 PM, though you may find a few buses running as late as 12:30 AM.
Taxis are abundant in Paris and are surprisingly cost-effective as long as you’re staying in the city itself. Taxi stands can be found throughout the city to help you hail a taxi with ease; if you are staying in a hotel, the concierge can likely call a taxi service for you as well.
How much does the metro cost in Paris?
Note: Paris Metro tickets are considered valid for travel on a variety of Paris transport lines, including the Paris Metro, Paris RER train, Tramways, RATP Paris city buses, Noctilien (night) buses; Optile buses; and the Montmartre cable car.
These prices are accurate as of January 1st, 2019:
Single ticket: 1.90€
Package of 10 tickets: 14.90€
Navigo Decouverte (Weekly Pass, good from Monday to Sunday) 22.80€ (includes Central Paris and Paris Zones 1–5)
Navigo Month Pass (Good from the 1st day of the month to last day of the month): 75.20€
The Navigo passes also include transit that ends at certain destinations, including CDG airport, the Chateau de Versailles, and Disneyland Paris. If you plan on staying in Paris for only a day or two, then purchasing single tickets or a package of 10 tickets is the most ideal option. Weekly or monthly passes are ideal if you plan on staying for a lengthier period of time and want to save on travel expenses.
Customs and Etiquette FAQ
Will my trip be more difficult if I don’t speak French?
This generally depends on where you plan to stay in Paris and what you plan to do when you’re visiting. For example, if you plan on visiting major tourist attractions such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, then you will find that not speaking French is not a hindrance for buying tickets, seeing the sights, and so on, as these areas see countless foreign visitors every year. However, if you are more interested in off-the-beaten-path and local sights when in the city, you may find yourself up against a language barrier when attempting to purchase tickets or navigate a shop.
Wherever you decide to visit in Paris, whether you’re at a palace surrounded by tourists or you’re the only tourist in a local art shop, remember that politeness is the key to great interaction with the Parisians around you. Brush up on basic polite phrases, including: s’il vous plait (please); merci and merci beaucoup (thank you/thank you very much); pardon (excuse me); and of course, “bonjour” (good day) and “bonsoir” (good evening) for greeting others. Parisians appreciate it when visitors at least attempt to speak French rather than demanding an interaction in another language from the outset.
What is the etiquette for tipping in Paris?
In France, there is a 15% service charge added to every bill at any Paris restaurant or cafe. However, these service charges are usually not given to your servers, which is why additional tipping in restaurants is still commonplace. The suggested tipping amount in restaurants is 10% if your service is good, or 15% for excellent service. For cafes and bars, a small tip is traditional if you have 1-2 drinks.
For American travelers, note that Parisian customer service is quite different than service in the States. Servers in France usually do not smile or engage in chit-chat, and they typically will not return to your table to check on how things are going or offer the check until you call them over. Good Parisian service is a service that involves briefing you on the menu, perhaps making suggestions, and then getting your meal to you as soon as possible. After that, you and your traveling guests are left to enjoy your meal in peace until you are ready to leave.
Are Parisians really as rude as rumors say?
The perception that Parisians are exceptionally rude is commonplace, but is there any truth to this accusation that has left many a traveler wondering about the people who populate the city of light?
The truth: No, Parisians really aren’t all that rude! Or rather, Parisians are not inherently any more rude than people living in other big cities around the world.
What’s important to understand when thinking about these rumors of terribly rude Parisians is that rudeness is a matter of perception. What is considered rude to an American tourist may not be considered rude to a local Frenchman? For instance, some American tourists consider Parisians cold and unfriendly because they do not often smile or exchange small talk with strangers; but to a native Parisian, smiling at strangers or exchanging small talk with people you don’t know is considered unusual. Due to the size of the city and number of people who live and visit in Paris every year, Parisians tend to be a no-nonsense bunch who want to go about their way with as little distraction as possible. This can come across as rude or blunt to some visitors, who may be from regions where attitudes are more laid back and congenial.
The most important thing to remember when visiting Paris is that Parisians are just like anyone else going about their day-to-day lives. Say “pardon” if you bump into someone, remember your ‘pleases’ and ‘thank yous,’ and always try to speak French before assuming someone speaks English (or whatever your native language may be). If you remember to be polite, you’ll find that most Parisians will not mind giving you advice or directions. Just don’t expect to chat about the weather!
Are there any major social faux pas I need to know before visiting?
Yes! There are a few important etiquette guidelines to follow during a visit to Paris. These will not only help you have a more pleasant trip but will help you show respect to the people and city that you are visiting. Here are some basic courtesy guidelines to keep in mind during your Paris stay:
Dress the part: No, you don’t need to revamp your entire wardrobe for a visit to Paris, but make a note that in Paris “casual clothing” has a different connotation than in other countries and regions. Avoid wearing short shorts, flip flops, sweat pants or pajama pants outside. Instead, opt for dress pants, a nice shirt, and especially colors such as black, gray and dark navy. Although you’ll certainly see some tourists wearing those particular “casual” clothing articles, especially in the summer, you will make a much better impression if you dress a bit more like a Parisian when you’re out and about.
Speak in French first: Always speak in French first during an interaction with a Parisian! Even if your French is smattered and rusty, they will appreciate you attempting to speak their language rather than assuming they speak English, German or another language. If they know enough English to converse with you, they will likely answer in English once they realize your French is too rusty.
Keep your voice down: Loud and rowdy behavior is a definite faux pas in Paris, where calm and collected attitudes are considered matter-of-fact. This is especially true in restaurants, where a calm and relaxed atmosphere is considered a must If you are traveling with a friend or group, be sure to keep yourselves in check so that you don’t go overboard.
Why is Paris called the city of light?
When one thing of Paris, one can’t help but conjure up its namesake: the city of light. Most people assume that Paris is called the city of light because of the many glittering buildings that light up the skyline once the sun goes down.
Although Paris certainly is twinkling with the sparkle of millions of lights after dark, the origin of the city’s nickname goes back to a time before electricity. The city’s nickname “City of Light” originally came about because it was the central hub for new and exciting ideas that sprang forth from the city during the Age of Enlightenment. Paris was the city where countless people, from Frenchmen to newly coined Americans, gathered to discuss, write and publish new discourses on changing philosophies throughout Europe.
In 1828, the city’s nickname was solidified when the Champs-Elysées was completely it up with newly invented gas lamps. With this stunning illumination–the first of its kind in Europe–the city of Paris truly and forever became known as the “City of Light.”
What is the weather like in Paris?
The weather in Paris changes with the seasons but is overall fairly mild when compared to other cities in Europe. You should always plan ahead when packing clothing for Paris to prepare for any type of weather, such as rain in the spring, hotter temps in the summer, or crisp evening air in the fall.
Visitors who head to Paris in the springtime may see a range of temperatures from 12C to 20C depending on how early or late in the spring they visit. The closer it gets the May, the warmer the temperature. Night time in spring tends to be chilly, and there are light rain showers regularly.
Visitors who head to Paris in the summer should expect high temperatures and humidity. Temperatures in the summer reach around 25C, while the temperature drops to around 13C at night. The humidity can be intense during the mid-point of the summer, which can make the temperatures feel much hotter than they actually are; there is usually not much rain during the Paris summer.
Visitors who head to Paris in the autumn will find milder temperatures with a touch of crispness as fall gets closer to winter. Temperatures at this time can range from around 8C to 17C, with night time and the later fall months being prone to chillier temperatures.
Visitors who head to Paris in the winter will find colder temperatures with highs of around 8C during the day and nighttime temperatures near or sometimes below freezing. Snow is not uncommon but is typically not too intense, as most of the city receives only a light “dusting” that does not always stick to the ground for very long.
How can I make my trip to Paris unforgettable?
Visiting Paris can be an exceptional experience that you (and any travel companions) will remember for the rest of your life. If you want to make sure that your trip is truly unforgettable, make sure you consider the following tips that will help ensure that your trip is one for the ages:
Plan ahead as much as you can–but don’t get too strict. It’s important to plan ahead when you want to visit popular attractions, such as museums or other hot spots, because you’ll want to ensure that you have tickets and know how (and when) to get inside. Planning ahead can ensure that you and your companions get to see the best sights in Paris without having your plans ruined by an unexpected closure or sold out tickets on the morning you head out. However, don’t restrict yourself too much when creating plans. Keeping yourself open to jumping into something unexpected and new could mean the difference between a trip that feels like a checklist and one that feels like an adventure!
Don’t limit yourself to “big name” attractions. Sometimes the most memorable things you do in Paris will be visiting a local cafe where you eat your first homemade French eclair or a quirky museum off the beaten path that will have you waxing about its amazingly oddball collection for ages when you get back home. This doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t visit those tried and true Paris attractions, but remember that there is more to see once you’ve visited the Eiffel Tower.
Take photos but keep them limited. You should never let anyone make you feel bad for taking photos; after all, having a photo of yourself in front of a monument or taking a photo of an especially scenic Parisian sunset can be the perfect way to remember your trip once it’s all over. Just remember to keep the photos limited to those that will enhance your memory of your vacation; you don’t want to think back to how you were constantly messing with your viewfinder or smartphone camera app for the whole trip, after all!
Eat a real French dinner. Yes, this one is rather specific, but if you want a truly memorable Paris vacation then you simply must eat a real French dinner at least once during your trip! Head to a proper restaurant that is only open later in the evening–most full restaurants in the city start opening at around 7:00 to 8:00 PM–and order French dishes that you won’t find at home. Select a wine recommended by your waiter–don’t forget that glasses are typically kept half-full in France to ensure that you are tasting rather than drinking your quality wine too quickly; then check out the menu for French classics like escargots, confit de canard, quiche lorraine, moules marinières, and more. The meal should end with some unforgettable cheese selections that will have you casing out the cheese section at your local grocery store when you get home from your trip.
Above all: don’t forget to soak in the sights, sounds, and even smells of the city at every opportunity. Take a bus instead of the Metro to get a glimpse of the hustle and bustle of the city center during the day; look out your hotel or rental apartment window at night to see the twinkle of the city lights; head to a bakery first thing in the morning to inhale that unforgettable French bakery smell. Paris is a city that you won’t want to forget–and with the right trip planned, it’s a city that you will remember for the rest of your life.