30 Things You Must Do When Visiting Paris

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There are few places more bustling and breathtaking than Paris. The city of love and light has many claims to fame, from the food to the culture to the fashion (anyone else obsessed with Emily in Paris?). There is an overwhelming number of activities to fit in over the course of a few days. You'll of course want to climb the Eiffel Tower and eat everything in the pastry case at the local boulangerie. After you've had drinks with a view (Le Meurice is iconic, but the top floor of Le BHV Marais is where it's really at), have a Midnight in Paris moment under the yellow-orange glow of the lamps as you wander down the narrow streets of the Latin Quarter. Honestly, there's so much to do and see that even a week wouldn't do it justice. But if you really must do a quick blitz, here are the 30 best things to do in Paris that you can't miss during your stay.

50 of the Best Things to Do in Paris

best things to do in paris: champs de mars eiffel tower views at sunset
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1. Have a Picnic on the Champs de Mars

The grassy expanse at the base of the Eiffel Tower is an excellent spot for picnicking, particularly at sunset when the tower begins to sparkle. Grab your provisions from the Carrefour (French grocery store) at the métro stop École Militaire or do your shopping on the renowned market street, rue Cler, before heading over. Our picnic essentials: A baguette (you need to order “une tradition”) from Maison Othon on rue Cler; a Merveilleux (meringue pastry) from Aux Merveilleux de Fred across the street; a bottle of wine (drinking in public is permitted); and an assortment of cured meat and cheese (Comté, Reblochon, Pont d'Évêque, Saint-Marcellin, Saint-Nectaire and Tomme de Savoie are a few to keep an eye on).

best things to do in paris: le bon marché shopping center

2. Visit Le Bon Marché

Arrondissement: 7th
Métro stop: Line 10, 12, Sèvres-Babylone
Price: Free
Reservations: N/A
Airbnbs nearby: Apartment in the Heart of Saint-Germain-des-Près (from $359/night, sleeps 5); Artist Apartment (from $266/night, sleeps 2); Rive Gauche Apartment (from $113/night, sleeps 2)

Think of Saks Fifth Avenue, but on steroids. A Parisian institution since 1838, Le Bon Marché is a food and fashion emporium where finding €52 bottled water (a true story), gargantuan legs of Serrano ham sliced to order and latest pieces by designers like Chloé, Céline, Dior and Jaquemus are just everyday, run-of-the mill activities.

3. Take ‘Le Pause Café’ at Carette

  • Arrondissement: 3rd, 16th, 18th
  • Métro Stop: Line 8, Chemin Vert (3rd); Line 6, 9, Trocadéro (16th); Line 12, Abbesses (18th)
  • Price Range: $$
  • Reservations: N/A
  • Airbnbs Nearby: Marais Duplex (from $124/night, sleeps 2); Cozy Trocadéro Apartment (from $179/night, sleeps 4); Romantic Studio (from $150/night, sleeps 2)

“Le pause café” (aka the coffee break) is something of a ritual. People will spend an hour in the afternoon on a terrace sipping espresso and smoking (in typical French fashion), perhaps over a book or newspaper. Ditch the cigarette but be sure to head to one of Carette’s three locations across the city. They’re well known for being an elegant salon de thé (tea salon) serving up the most perfect-looking pastries.

4. Visit the Musée Rodin

Paris isn’t in want of museums, but the smaller ones are much more sure to dazzle than any 12 hours spent getting lost in the Louvre. Plus, less crowds. Our recommendation? Pay a visit to Rodin Museum’s sculpture gardens, where you’ll see the artist’s famous sculpture of The Thinker as well as fantastic gardens and other works. You can also buy a dual ticket that provides entry to the Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre, if you really want to peep at Leonardo’s famous leading lady.

best things to do in paris: louvre museum
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5. See the Louvre at Night

It’s not a trip to Paris without a visit to the city’s most iconic museum. Is the Mona Lisa overrated? Maybe. But the vast collections go far beyond it, from the Egyptian wing to the Italian paintings and Greek antiquities. If you save your excursion for later in the day, make sure to stick around and see the illuminated pyramid.

6. Dine at Chez l’Ami Jean

This traditional French restaurant was featured in the Michelin Guide’s list of spots to eat at near the Eiffel Tower, so you know it’s going to be good. With a focus on seasonal ingredients, Chez l’Ami Jean serves up classics like duck breast, pork paté and a variety of confits.

best things to do in paris: tuileries gardens
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7. Stroll the Tuileries Gardens

The Tuileries Garden is the space in Paris where major monuments collide. From the Arc de Triomphe to the Louvre pyramid, you’ll see some major landmarks stretching for miles. Wander the lush gardens, park yourself on a bench in the shade of a tree to read (or people watch) the afternoon away and have an ice cream at the Café des Marronniers. Audrey Hepburn fans will want to take a walk by the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, where she posed for Fred Astaire in Funny Face.

8. Drink Hot Chocolate at Angelina

When your feet tire out, fuel up on the world-famous thick hot chocolate and a Mont Blanc pastry at the Angelina salon de thé while admiring the Belle Epoque decor. Coco Chanel is said to have favored table 45.

best things to do in paris: musée de l'orangerie and monet's waterlily paintings
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9. Admire the Water Lilies at the Musée de l'Orangerie

In the shadow of the Louvre is the delightful Musée de l’Orangerie, situated on the edge of the Tuileries Gardens near Place de la Concorde. Filled with Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, it is most notably home to the massive canvases of Monet’s waterlilies.

best things to do in paris: seine river and pont neuf
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10. Walk Along the Seine

  • Arrondissement: Runs through the city
  • Métro stop: Line B, 4 (Saint Michel-Notre Dame); 6 (Passy); 7 (Pont Marie, Pont Neuf); 9 (Alma-Marceau)
  • Price: Free
  • Reservations: N/A
  • Airbnbs Nearby: Seine Apartment (from $322/night, sleeps 7); Le Marais Apartment (from $402/night, sleeps 2); Modern Duplex (from $428/night, sleeps 4)

Walk along the Seine and explore the bridges, from Pont Neuf, which though translates to “new bridge” is ironically one of the city’s oldest, to Pont des Arts, the infamous “love lock bridge.” Though most of the locks have been removed, you’ll still find remnants strung on the lampposts. In good weather, you can stop along for a drink at Rosa Bonheur, which serves tapas in a lively social setting.

11. Eat an Ice Cream at Berthillon

Berthillon reigns supreme for all things ice cream. While other glaciers (ice cream makers) have been popping up around the city (including Une Glace à Paris, which did snag a prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France distinction—aka a French James Beard Award), it’s this legendary ice cream maker that still draws visitors for tastes of pear sorbet and wild concoctions.

12. Stroll Boulevard Saint-Germain

  • Arrondissement: 6th
  • Métro Stop: Line 4 (Saint-Germain-des-Près, Odéon); 10 (Mabillon, Odéon, Maubert-Mutualité); 12 (Assemblée Nationale, Solférino)
  • Price: Free
  • Reservations: N/A
  • Airbnbs Nearby: Latin Quarter Apartment (from $246/night, sleeps 4); Charming Saint Germain Apartment (from $161/night, sleeps 2); Boho Chic Duplex (from $368/night, sleeps 3)

From the Assemblée Nationale to the Latin Quarter, Boulevard Saint Germain takes you through iconic Paris. Think fashionable shops and cafés—including the renowned taxidermy shop, Deyrolle, said to have been frequented by Picasso, Modigliani and Dalí, among others. From butterflies to peacocks, wolves, lions and reptiles that run well into the four figures, enter this kooky world—even if it’s just for a peek.

13. Revel in Literary History at Shakespeare & Co.

Stop by Shakespeare and Company, the picturesque Anglophone language bookshop that looks like it’s straight out of a fairy-tale. Cramped bookshelves overflow with titles on art and design, history, literature and fiction. If you’re a true literary buff, you’ll also want to swing by the original location, where owner Sylvia Beach published James Joyce’s Ulysses, at 12 rue de l’Odéon.

best things to do in paris: le marais place des vosges
Massimo Borchi/Atlantide Phototravel/Getty Images

14. Explore Le Marais

  • Arrondissement: 3rd and 4th
  • Métro Stop: Line 1 (Hôtel de Ville, Bastille); 5 (Bastille); 11 (Rambuteau, Hôtel de Ville); Line 7 (Pont Marie); Line 8 (Filles du Calvaire, Saint-Sébastien-Froissart, Chemin Vert, Bastille)
  • Price: Free
  • Reservations: N/A
  • Airbnbs Nearby: Place des Vosges Apartment (from $162/night, sleeps 4); Le Marais Apartment (from $307/night, sleeps 4); Cozy Marais Duplex (from $124/night, sleeps 2)

Le Marais is one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods with historically Jewish roots. Eat your way down the Rue des Rosiers and spend the day shopping the specialty boutiques or getting lost in a museum—the Musée Picasso and National Archives are both nearby.

15. See Victor Hugo's Residence

The author of The Count of Monte Cristo and Les Misérables resided in an apartment in Place des Vosges pre-French revolution. Discover illustrations, drawings, décor, writings and more from Hugo’s archives.

best things to do in paris: giverny monet's garden
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16. Day Trip to Giverny

Craving more Monet? Take a day trip to Giverny, the home of the Impressionist painter’s garden and house where he resided for 43 years. It’s picture perfect, literally. Once you’ve thoroughly explored the grounds, take a stroll through the quaint little village.

17. Nosh on Falafel

Brave the line for the best falafel sandwich in the city (and quite possibly the world) at L’As du Fallafel. But take it from us: Mi-Va-Mi, the competitor across the street, makes equally delicious fare without the snaking line.

18. Take a Cooking Class

Where else to learn to cook than in France? Try your hand at making éclairs or baguettes at a cooking class at La Cuisine Paris. The school was given a 2022 Travelers’ Choice Award by Trip Advisor and has food classes that range from getting down in the actual kitchen to pastry and chocolate tours, so those who don’t want to cook can still indulge.

19. Sample the City's Moroccan Fare

If you're still hungry, try the city's Moroccan fare. Paris is home to a huge North African population, and the Moroccan food might just be the best on the continent. Le 404 is a good place to start.

best things to do in paris: montmartre sacre coeur
Jorg Greuel/Getty Images

20. Live Your Amélie Daydreams in Montmartre

Wander the streets of Montmartre and take in the views that inspired painters from Dalí and Van Gogh to Picasso. Get your caricature drawn in Place du Tertre, visit the Mur de Je t’aime (the wall of “I love yous”), take pictures at the vintage photo booth on 53 rue des Trois Frères and dive into the neighborhood’s history at the Musée de Montmartre. If you come at the right time (usually in October), you can catch the grape harvest festival for the region’s oldest vineyard, the Vigne du Clos Montmartre. Then climb the stairs of the Sacré Coeur for sweeping city views.

21. See a Show at the Moulin Rouge

The world’s most famous cabaret show, immortalized in the 2001 eponymous film, will transport you back to the Roaring ‘20s with glitz, glamour and drama. Be sure to peek at the rooftop terrace and perhaps have a pre-dinner drink beneath the iconic red windmill.

best things to do in paris: arc de triomphe
Julian Elliott Photography/Getty Images

22. Climb the Arc de Triomphe

Climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe for 360-degree views of the city, from the Eiffel Tower to La Defense and Sacré Coeur. We promise it makes the 284-step hike to the top worth it.

23. Dine at a Michelin-Starred Restaurant

  • Arrondissement: Throughout the City
  • Price Range: $$$-$$$$
  • Reservations: Advised

OK, time for more food—but at a Michelin-starred restaurant. There's a reason Paris is often considered the best city for food in the world: More than 100 restaurants boast the honor. If you're on a budget, go for lunch, when meals are much more affordable.

best things to do in paris: canal saint martin
espiegle/Getty Images

24. Get to Know the Canal Saint Martin

What was once an under-the-radar hipster enclave is now a full-on beloved spot for locals and tourists alike. Swap the Seine for the Canal and discover the area’s quirky boutiques and restaurants, from the ever-popular Ober Mama to funky Artazart.

25. Sample a Croissant from Du Pain et Des Idées

While it’s hard to be disappointed by any boulangerie in the city, Du Pain et Des Idées is a stand-out. David Lebovitz, Condé Nast Traveler, Bon Appétit and Goop are just a few critics singing its praises. Be sure to pick up a croissant or a pistachio “escargot.”

26. Taste Macarons from Pierre Hermé

  • Arrondissement: Throughout the City
  • Price Range: $$$
  • Reservations: N/A

Pick up a box of macarons to go at Pierre Hermé (shhh, it’s better than Ladurée—say the French people this editor knows). The signature flavor is Ispahan, a delicate combination of rose, white chocolate, lychee and raspberry.

27. Have a Three-Course French Meal for €20

Sure, Michelin institutions are fun, but they aren’t all the fun. Dine on traditional (and delicious) French fare at Bouillion Pigalle or République (aptly named for their locations), where you can get three courses, plus wine, for just around €20 ($22). The dining room at Bouillon Pigalle is a sight to behold, but there’s a (slightly) shorter line at its newer sister location, Bouillon République.

best things to do in paris: palais royal
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28. Wander the Palais Royal

Overshadowed by the hulking monstrosity that is the Louvre (itself a former palace), the Palais Royal is well worth a visit. From the iconic black and white striped columns to the gardens that burst with magnolias and roses in spring and summer, it’s the perfect place to relax, grab a coffee and sit with a book. (Or people watch.) If you want to make it fancy, you can enjoy a meal at Le Grand Véfour, tucked into a passageway on the garden’s edge.

29. Wander the Rose Garden of Parc de Bagatelle

With the Tuileries and Luxembourg Gardens, it’s easy to forget about the Parc de Bagatelle hidden in the Bois de Boulogne in the 16th arrondissement. However, it begs to be remembered, especially in springtime when the rose garden is in full bloom and peacocks parade the grounds. Plus, it comes with an interesting bit of history: The park was constructed in 64 days on a bet between Marie-Antoinette and her brother-in-law, the Comte d’Artois.

best things to do in paris fontainebleau chateau
DEA/W. BUSS/Getty Images

30. Day Trip to Fontainebleau

  • Arrondissement: Outside of Paris—Seine-et-Marne, France
  • Metro Stop: Take the train from Gare de Lyon towards Montargis, Monereau or Laroche-Mignennes. Get off at Fontainebleau-Avon. Take bus line 1 towards Les Lilas to the stop Château
  • Price: €14/$15
  • Reservations: Make One Here
  • Airbnbs Nearby: Hautes Presles Apartment (from $77/night, sleeps 4); City Center Villa (from $185/night, sleeps 6); La Petite Maison (from $118/night, sleeps 2)

Versailles may have a hedonistic reputation as the opulent court of Louis XIV, but Fontainebleau, once an old hunting lodge, is equally resplendent. It’s one of the country’s largest castles with over 1,500 rooms, and was continuously inhabited for 700 years, counting among its residents kings from Louis VII to Napoleon III. It’s the fourth most-visited castle behind Versailles, Chambord and Chenonceau and visitors love not only the estate but the town, which offers a bustling food scene even Parisians would make the trek for.

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