Paris, “the City of Lights,” is an ideal destination for a visit regardless of the weather or season, as the city is in constant motion. And if you’re like most people, you’re probably wondering about the best things to do in Paris or the top things to do in Paris France. And this is going to be hard to decide since whichever direction you take, the city’s comprehensive museums, acclaimed theaters, and striking landmarks will constantly fight for your attention. If you’re a first-time visitor to Paris, you may choose to visit the most popular places first but the truth is, that with all the beautiful boulevards and winding little cobblestone streets, it would take more than a lifetime to fully explore Paris. So, in order to save you lots of time, here is a full, comprehensive and inclusive guide on everything that you need to see and do in the magical city of Paris.
Where is Paris
Paris, the largest and capital city of France is located on the River Seine, at the very center of the Ile De France region of the country. France itself is located in Western Europe, and has a distinct flag of red, white and blue in a tricolor fashion. There are approximately 2 million habitats in the city of Paris itself, but its surrounding areas has an upward of 10 million residents, one seventh of the French population. This makes it the most populated urban area of the entire European Union.
Today, Paris is one of the leading cultural and business centers of the world, its global influence in areas such as media, arts, education, entertainment and science contribute as its status as one a world truly global city. The city is also widely considered as one of the most green and liveable cities in Europe, as well as one of the most expensive. Something to keep in mind as you make those vacation plans! Even though there are lots of paid but fun things to do in Paris, there are also lots of free things to do in Paris with kids, and without kids. Paris is a city that appeals to couples, solo travelers, solo female travelers, families with kids, families without kids, and many other people.
How to Get to Paris
As the second most visited city in Europe, Paris is easily accessible via road, train or air from almost anywhere in the world. If you’re flying from North America, there are countless nonstop flights to most cities from a whole range of airlines.
If you’re traveling from Australia, while there are very few direct flights, there are many airlines that offer stopovers such as Emirates or Air France. If you’re traveling from another European country, there are a range of low-cost airlines that offer flights to Paris for approximately €50 or less. Or, if you prefer, you could get the train from almost all of France’s neighboring countries, such as Spain, Belgium, Holland, Germany, or even a train from the UK!
Getting to Paris by a bus from other countries is an option, but may take a long time, with some journey times taking upwards of 15 hours!
How to Get around Paris
Paris is, in fact, a rather compact city, meaning there are a myriad of transport methods that you can use to make your way around the city. This means you could walk, cycle, take a taxi, take the bus or use the metro to get around. The best way to make your way from point A to point B is to use low-cost public transport options.
Paris metro system is one of the oldest, yet one of the best in Europe. It is convenient, affordable, extensive, and safe. It will take you anywhere around Paris. While riding the metro may be great, the public bus system is a fantastic way to make your way around Paris. There will be a bus stop right next to almost any hotel or apartment where you are staying.
What Parisians do when they can, however, is to walk! With so much to experience in the city, using your own two feet is easily the very best way to get around in the city. In fact, you can walk between a range of museums, monuments and attractions in just a matter of minutes. And if you’re able to walk around Paris, you’ll discover most of the unusual things to do in Paris by default, and walking with a partner or significant other is known as one of the most romantic things to do in Paris. And in case you’re wondering what to do in Paris at night, walking the city is! Walking will also show you all the non touristy things to do in Paris as you will be able to stop at so many places that tour buses or tour guides might skip if you’re taking a traditional tour of Paris.
Is Paris Safe?
Paris is widely considered as a very safe city. You can walk around almost every district in the city with a very low risk of mugging. However, like every city, some areas are much safer than others. The tourist areas of Paris are very, very safe, as it’s a vibrant area during both the day and night time.
The famous Champs-Élysées is very lively and considered safe. Most of the offices are located there, so it is mainly populated by businessmen and businesswomen. You may still wish to be careful on this crowded avenue, since it is the perfect place for pickpockets. After midnight, you may meet gangs of young people or drunks, so it is best avoided hanging out here alone after midnight. So, yes, while walking around in Paris ranks as our top things to do in Paris as well as a cheap thing to do in Paris, like almost every other city, use common sense and pay attention to your belongings and you shouldn’t encounter any difficulties.
What Language Do They Speak in Paris
Since Paris is in France, the main language spoken is French. However, as you can imagine, Paris is an international tourist city, hence many languages are spoken. There seems to be a common misbelief surrounding Parians that they either can’t talk English or often refuse to do so. Honestly, nothing could be further from the truth. Many Parisians do speak English but just prefer to speak their own language which is fair enough; however, if you could remember a few key phrases before you go (such as bonjour, Merci, and Au revoir), it may help things run a little smoother.
What Currency is Used in Paris
As France is part of the European Union, the Euro is used. Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted at many restaurants throughout the city, although some may have a minimum purchase amount. ATMs are available throughout the city and allow you to withdraw cash in euros 24 hours a day; most French banks will refuse to exchange money for non-account holders. And if you are looking for ways to save money while in Paris, we have a few suggestions and tips on how you can save money in Paris while still having a blast.
When is The Best Time to Visit Paris
The best time to visit Paris is probably in the spring (April and May) or fall season (September and October). This is mostly because there are fewer tourists, the hotels are cheaper, and the temperatures remain quite mild. The summer months in Paris can get crowded and are relatively expensive. While the winter months can be dreary and cold, it is also a great time to visit the museums in Paris. So what are we trying to say? There is never really a bad time to visit Paris. The weather might be warm, cold, rainy, and everything in between, but you have plenty to do when you visit Paris in January, February, March, April and so forth. Granted visiting Paris in May, June, July, August and early September might be more feasible for families with school-aged kids, some families also do a quick long weekend escape to Paris in October or November for Thanksgiving. Because Paris gets into a Christmas mode toward the end of the year, December is also a popular month to visit Paris, even though the weather in Paris at the time might not be ideal.
Things to Do in Paris
=Paris is a city full of things to do, and finding the top things to do in Paris can be a challenge. There are several cool things to do in Paris and we’ve tried to narrow this list down to the top 15 things to do in Paris, or at least, the top 15 things you can’t afford to miss while you’re visiting Paris as a couple, solo traveler, with kids, or with family.
1. Eiffel Tower
The iconic Eiffel Tower is usually the first on everybody’s “Things to Do in Paris” list. The world’s most visited paid monument was built for the purposes of providing an entrance to the World Fair in 1889. As strange as it may seem today, it was meant to be dismantled in 1909, twenty years after completion. However, because of its astonishing height of one thousand feet, it had become useful as a perfect place for telegraph companies to attach transmission antennas, and was thus spared destruction as planned.
Each of the three levels of the tower is easily accessible, but this can change depending on what else is going on in the tower when you visit. If you do visit though and have ever dreamed of floating in a void, the tower’s first level has a transparent floor, and is the perfect spot to live out that fantasy. The second level is best for a panoramic view of the city, as well as to see other places to visit in Paris. The third floor, accessible only by elevator, is ideal for a romantic marriage proposal, since the magnificent and distant Chartres Cathedral is prominent in the background.
If you’d like to know more about the tower during your visit, look out for the interactive media that offers a deep insight into the history of the tower. Also call ahead if you want to visit the three levels just to make sure things are operational during your time of visit. We think going up to top of this tower is one of the coolest things to do in Paris and something that should be on your list of things to do in Paris for a day.
2. Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame is under reconstruction following a fire outbreak in 2019 and is planned to reopen to the public in 2024. If you are not planning on visiting Paris for sometime, we hope this beautiful cathedral reopens by your visit since the cathedral alone is worth a trip to Paris.
The popular “Our Lady Cathedral” is another must-see among Paris attractions. As immense as it is gorgeous, the grand cathedral assumes the spot once occupied by a temple devoted to the Roman god Jupiter. The cathedral is one of the earliest–and certainly among the most exquisite–examples of Gothic style and culture.
Two interesting things about the cathedral – the towers have remained unfinished since they were built, and the towers don’t have spires like most Gothic religious building do.
You can climb the cathedral’s two towers for fine views of Paris, but first take a tour of the interiors and get a closer look at the extraordinary rose windows depicting biblical scenes. Also, don’t miss the chance to walk around the outside of the Cathedral to see impressive flying buttresses supporting the apse from the outside. These form arched supports that allow the Gothic-style structures to soar to the heavens. A visit here is one of top things to do in Paris for free, as well as one of the top 1o things to do in Paris. And if you are looking for what to do in Paris alone, put this on your list when it’s finally reopened. You will be glad you did.
3. Louvre Museum
The most visited museum in the world was begun as a mighty fortress in the 12th century. As the fortress lost its purpose, it was dismantled, and the foundations were used for the construction of the royal palace. The former royal palace houses the Louvre Museum today. The museum is another must-see Paris attraction, but you need the entire day to explore its expansive premises on your own. If you don’t have that much time, you can book a guided tour that will reveal the essentials to you in a shorter timeframe.
If you are a passionate explorer, there are some sections you should prioritize. Although every section is interesting in its own way, we consider the Egyptian, Greek, and Roman antiques, the Gallery of paintings, the Apartments of Napoleon III, and the Marly Court the most interesting. The Louvre’s most outstanding masterpieces are located in them, including the Mona Lisa, Wedding at Cana, Winged Victory, Venus de Milo, and Marly Horses. So if you are looking for the best things to do in Paris with kids, or just things to do in Paris, we recommend a visit to the famous and world renowned Louvre as it ranks on our list of top 10 things to do in Paris, even top 5 things to do in Paris.
4. Arc de Triomphe also known as Triumphal Arch
Known as Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile, this famous monument in Paris stands at the west end of the famous Champs-Élysées and in the center of Place Charles de Gaulle. Arc de Triomphe was built in memorial of people who fought and died for the good of France during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. If you look closer at outer and inner surfaces of the monument, you will see these names of these soldiers engraved on the walls.
Triumphal Arch is located somewhat along the bank of the Seine River and at the center of where twelve avenues meet. The foundation was first laid in 1810 and was finally completed in 1836. If you happen to be in France in November, a ceremony is held here on Nov 11 of every year to mark the anniversary of the end of fighting on land, water, and air between France and their allies against Germany. If you’re in Paris, this monument is one of the coolest things to see in Paris, as well as one of the free things to do in Paris!
5. Orsay Museum
Second only to the Louvre, the Orsay is another outstanding museum you shouldn’t miss during your Paris sightseeing. The museum houses the largest collection of Impressionist art in the world, as well as other celebrated art movements such as Realism, Orientalism, and Symbolism.
The collection of the Orsay Museum mostly consists of sculptures and paintings, which are accompanied by decorative art objects and photos. Most of them originated in the 19th century, and some special art pieces were created by Rodin, Carpeaux, Courbet, Monet, Van Gogh, and Renoir. The Gleaners, Four Sides of the World, Ugolin, Dance, and Bal du Moulin de la Galette are some masterpieces you shouldn’t miss. If the Orsay’s design seems strange to you, it is because it was initially a railway station!
6. Alexandre III Bridge
Of the dozens of bridges you will see along the Seine during your trip to Paris, the Alexandre III is the most beautiful. The bridge comprising sculptures, candelabras, and pillars is the largest in the French capital, and was built in honor of the established alliance between France and Russia by the end of the 19th century.
Two coats of arms on both sides of the bridge will draw your attention. The western part had the coat of arms of Paris, while the eastern side depicted the Russian coat of arms. Four pillars stabilize the bridge, and each of them featured a different theme, each symbolizing different periods in French history to represent French art, science, industry, and commerce.
7. Jardin du Luxembourg also known as Luxembourg Garden
Relaxing in probably the most beautiful garden in the city was among the top things to do in Paris for anyone visiting Paris when the weather is nice. You should take the opportunity to sunbathe on a bench in the French-style garden, as well as cool down in the shades of the English-style park. Many beautiful sculptures introducing French saints, heroes, and royalty line Luxembourg Garden’s walking paths, manicured alleys, and floral paths.
Luxembourg gardens boasted of several flower beds and fountains, as well as a small version of the Statue of Liberty designed by the same person who had designed the American version of the same statue.
Unavoidable Montmartre, the iconic Artists’ Quarter, is a full chest of interesting stories related to history, art, and mythology. You can choose to walk through its picturesque, narrow streets, visit the Holy Heart (Sacre Coeur) Basilica, and experience panoramic views of Paris and still have a lot on your plate.
If you can spare a significant amount of money for premium entertainment, book a table at the Moulin Rouge well in advance. If not, an affordable, authentic cabaret performance awaits you in the Au Lapin Agile, which was frequented in the past by famous artists. This is cabaret performance is one the best things to do in Paris for couples or solo travelers even though children enjoy walking the Montmartre.
A trip to Paris without visiting the Versailles is almost impossible. We say that a visit to the former royal residence is usually the highlight of most people’s Paris sightseeing activities. Commissioned by Louis XIV, the Sun King, the sumptuous palace and the neighboring pleasure gardens were made to impress, which they still do without fail.
The opulent Versailles Palace features paintings and sculptures inspired by Roman mythology. The official and private quarters exude utmost luxury, while a separate wing houses paintings depicting various fateful events in the French history. In the Versailles gardens, you can walk along tree-lined promenades, flanked by flower beds, majestic fountains, and sculptures. This Palace is by far one of the best Palaces to visit in Europe, one of the best places to visit in Paris, and something that should be on your list when you are making a list of the top 10 places to visit in Paris.
10. Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris is a family-friendly destination to relive old memories of carefree childhood. It’s also a great place to build new memories with the young members of your family. Don’t think for a second that you are too old to enjoy a Disney Park!
Maybe you can’t take an interstellar or an adventurous roller coaster ride for certain reasons but as long as you are able to descend into Captain Nemo’s Nautilus, explore a pirate hideout, or attend a Disney Parade, you’ll still have a great time. If your kids are Disney fans or you want to check off an international Disney destination, then Disney Paris France should be on your list of best places to visit in Paris.
11. Visit the Opera Garnier
The Opera Garnier in Paris offers guests the chance to discover some of the most important art pieces in the history of France and Europe. The Palais Garnier is a fantastic experience for many people and is, without a doubt, certainly one of the most famous opera houses in the entire world.
Credits: Wikimedia Commons
It is host to the Paris Ballet, so any visitor who happens to be hoping for a Paris version of La Traviata or the Magic Flute by Mozart knows exactly where they should head. And if you are looking for adult things to do in Paris or just fun adult activities for Paris, you should visit Opera Garnier for a great evening out. Of course, since it’s a national building and accessible to anyone, the kids should also come along to see the building and what it represents. We think they might find it pretty cool.
12. Centre Pompidou
Considered a modern age architectural artwork in the city center, Centre Pompidou is genuinely an entire shrine dedicated to contemporary art. Ever since it opened in 1977, centre Pompidou has grown its prestige in the art world. If your family is looking for something unusual to do, or want to do something different while in Paris, head out to this place.
It is now famous for its artwork, exhibitions, cinemas, and artifacts. Whether you are into the world of art or not, this museum is a place that you must visit. Simply because of its modern architecture and visually appealing structure.
13. Basilica Saint-Denis
Many people who come to France from all over the world will come to see the religious artifacts, relics, and monuments of past Kings and Queens in France. If you happen to be one of these people, then you’re in luck!
You can check off everything on that list by visiting the Basilica of Saint-Denis. This medieval church lies on the outskirts of the city, and is home to several sacred relics, as well as dozens of French kings and queens. We think it’s one of the best places to visit in Paris, and one of the top places to visit in France!
14. Go hunting for Roman ruins
This beautifully modern capital city is still littered with an abundance of traces from its ancient Roman past. Coliseum’s, baths, and walls are waiting for those with an eager eye discover them. While the roman baths in the area of Cluny are potentially the most impressive artifact from the Roman Era, the crypt near the Notre Dame reveals the old city of Lutetia.
Interestingly, the old city of Lutetia was a roman city located in France and is now known as the predecessor of modern day Paris. It has a lot of roman history and that is why you will still find a lot Roman relics around. Lutetia was later renamed to Paris as we know it today.
15. Try some fine wine at the Canal St Martin
Shading some wine with friends or a significant other on a bright, warm summer evening is a great experience to have. Many people who visit the city for the first time are unaware of the Canal St Martin, but it is highly popular with the locals and frequent visitors. You may decide to use a walking tour to find the most charming areas if you’re short on time.
So, if you’re in town and have checked off most of the usual touristy things do in Paris, and probably some things not to do in Paris, you can visit the Canal St Martin and other things in this area of town to experience some of the best things to do in Paris!
What is the Nightlife like in Paris
The nightlife in Paris really depends what part of the city you are in and what you want to do. It also depends on if you’re a solo traveler, traveling as a romantic couple, on a girls’ trip, traveling with kids, or traveling with family. However, regardless of how you’re traveling or who you are traveling with, you have a lot of options for what to do at night in Paris. From just talking walks in the city, to restaurants, to visiting the opera, there are plenty to do. If you like nightclubs, they are many nightclubs which seem similar, but all appeal to different crowds. For example, you could find clubs for hipsters, singles or couples; there are even Irish or American themed pubs along with other concepts. You might choose to go to a musical bar and hang out in a cafe- the options are truly endless.
A trip to city is almost a rite of passage for tourists to France and Europe. Paris is a romantic, charming, cosmopolitan, artistic, inspiring, and worthwhile city to visit. We hope you add it on your list of top European cities to visit in your lifetime!