Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

The 18 Best Things to do in Paris, France | Important Travel Tips & Guides

Paris is the capital of France and is a well-known destination for tourists all over the world due to its rich art culture and history. In this article, we will be discovering the top things every tourist must do when visiting Paris as well as recommended itineraries for you to plan your next trip!

About Paris, France

Paris is the capital of France and is the the most populous city in the country with over 2 million people. Crowned as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, it is home to historical monuments such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Louvre and many more.

Many of us have heard Paris being called ‘the city of love‘. It earned its name from its culture and landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, that gives the city an atmosphere of romance. Paris is a place that comes to the mind to many when they decide to visit a location with their life partner or for a marriage proposal.

How to use the Public Transport in Paris?

RATP is the main public transportation company in Paris that manages the MetroTrams, RER suburban express trains, and buses. Getting around Paris is relatively simple as it has a well connected transport network that will bring you to all the tourists attractions. All tickets can be bought at ticket kiosks machines located at all metro stations. For bus tickets, you can either use a metro ticket to board or purchase one directly from the driver, but be sure you have small change.

Option 1: Single-Fare Tickets

A single metro ticket costs €1.90, it can be used for one journey, including connections to other metro lines.
You can also purchase 10 single metro tickets (“carnet”) for €16.
Each ticket covers you for anywhere in Paris. It is valid for Zones 1-2 and if you exit at Zone 3.
Purchased at: Ticket offices or machines in metro stations, and also in some tobacconists. 

For RER (for train travel beyond city limits), you will have to purchase a separate ticket if you are travelling beyond city limits. Take note that RER stations also have their own ticket offices and machines. You will be denied exit and fined if you do not possess a ticket that covers your entire journey outside of the city. If you are travelling on an RER within Zones 1-2, the price of tickets will be the same as the metro tickets.

Option 2: Unlimited 1, 2, 3, or 5 days’ Tickets

The Paris Visite Pass is valid for 1,2,3 or 5 consecutive days in zones 1 to 3 or 1 to 5. Prices start at €13.20.

  • In zones 1 to 3 : travels in Paris and the close suburbs
  • In zones 1 to 5 : travels in Paris, the close suburbs & until Orly/CDG airports, Disneyland and Versailles
Image from Paris Info

18 Best Things to do in Paris for First-timers

Before we start off with the best things to do in Paris list, here a way to save money in the city, especially for museum art lovers. There is a Paris Museum Pass which you can purchase at just €52 online. It will give you access to 50 over museums and attractions in Paris including the Louvre Museum, Versailles Palace, the Sainte-Chapelle, and the Arc de Triomphe. This is so so worth-it considering that an admission ticket to the Louvre will already cost you €15 for a standard ticket. On top of that, you get to skip-the-line and not find yourself battling though crowds! However, do compare the prices of individual attractions to see whether getting the pass is really worth it for you. Some of the attractions have free entrance if you meet certain demographic requirements.

You can also get a Paris Hop-On and Hop-Off Bus Tour – which is a sightseeing bus that will take you to the main landmarks in Paris.

Here is a Map indicating the list of attractions you’d want to visit in Paris. Save it for future reference:

1. Day Trip to Disneyland Paris

Whether you’re a Disney-fan or not, get ready for a magical fun-filled day at one of the biggest theme parks in the world! I love sitting on rides, the music, mascots, performances and everything that comes with a theme park. The atmosphere is always so welcoming and vibrant, and the Sleeping Beauty Castle at the heart of Disneyland Paris is by-far the prettiest I have seen.

Entrance fee: €72 for admission into 2 parks Disneyland® Park and Walt Disney Studios® Park
(the CHEAPEST online tickets can be found on Get Your Guide)
Opening Hours: You may select a date through their official website to see which attractions and activities are available for the day.
How to get there: Take the RER A train to the Marne-la-Valleé – Chessy stop, it is located 2-minutes walk from the park gates. Duration: 45 minutes.

Disneyland Paris

2. Tour the Versailles Palace

The Palace of Versailles was where Louis XIV ruled France for 72 years and has been listed as a World Heritage Site for the past 30 years. It is one of the greatest achievements in French 17th century art. The interior of the palace is so beautiful, with ceilings lined with chandeliers and historically painted walls, it’s another magical place to visit in Paris.

Entrance Fee: €20 for adults; Free for visitors under 18 years old (or 26 residing in the EU)
Tickets can be booked at their official website in advance to avoid queues at the ticket office.

3. Find Instagrammable spots with the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower was designed by an engineer named Gustave Eiffel and it was originally built to act as the entrance for the World’s Fair of 1889. Standing at 300 metres tall, it is currently the most-visited paid monument in the world and is the symbol of love in Paris. Being directly below the Eiffel won’t get you the best shot for your Instagram, so here is my favourite list of places to get a good picture with the iconic landmark.

Where to get the best Instagram shots with the Eiffel Tower:
– Avenue Rapp Street
– The Banks of River Siene
– Pont de Bir Hakeim
– Parvis de Trocadéro

If you want to go up the Eiffel Tower, prebook your tickets online to secure your spot & skip the line.

Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower from Pont de Bir Hakeim

4. Visit Pont de Bir-Hakeim (“The Inception Bridge”)

If you’ve watched the movie Inception, you might find this bridge that crosses Seine River strangely familiar. Yes, this is where a scene from the movie was filmed and it is now commonly called ‘The Inception Bridge’. Its a great place to take a photo and just across the road, you’d also find a great spot to take photos with the Eiffel Tower. In addition, not many about this place (at least not in 2017 when I last visited), so you’d be competing with less crowds for the view of the Eiffel Tower.

Pont de Bir-Hakeim ("The Inception Bridge")

5. Tour The Louvre

One simply can’t go to Paris and miss touring the largest and most famous art museum in the world. The Louvre was the royal palace for French kings between the 16th and 17th centuries till the French king Louis XVI moved his residence to Versailles Palace, where it was then transformed into an Art Museum. It is now also home to the most famous artwork in the world – The Mona Lisa Painting. You can either tour the museum independently or book a guided tour.

Entrance Fee: €15 (€17 for online booking & skip-the-line); Free for everyone aged under 18; and under 26 on Friday evenings.
On the first Saturday of each month, admission is free for all visitors.
Opening hours: Mondays, Thursdays, Weekends, 9am to 6pm (closed on Tuesdays); Wednesdays & Fridays, 9am to 9.45pm
Duration of visit: Anywhere from 40 minutes to several days (it’s really huge)

Travel tip: Book your tickets in advance especially during the summer months to avoid the crowds. Avoid visiting on a weekday as well.

The Louvre, Paris

6. Vist the Notre Dame Cathedral

Built in 1163, the Notre Dame Cathedral is a medieval catholic church in Paris and has survived over 800 years of French history. Renowned as one of the finest monuments of Gothic French architecture, the UNESCO World Heritage site attracts millions of tourists every year.

Unfortunately, on 15 April 2019, a structure fire broke out beneath the roof of Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral in Paris. It will be closed for 5-6 years for rebuilding till it is safe to enter due to the tragic fire that destroyed portions of the Cathedral.

Notre Dame Cathedral

7. Climb to the top of Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe is a memorial for those who battled and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its surfaces. It stands at the western end of the Champs-Élysées and surrounding it is one of the messiest roundabout traffic drivings in Europe. There are over 200 steps to get to the top of Arc de Triomphe. Up here, you’ll be greeted with panoramic views of Paris.

Entrance Fee: €13 for adults + skip-the-line if you prebook your tickets online. You can buy your tickets at the entrance but it will also be €13.
Entrance is free for EU citizens under 25 years old.
Opening Hours: Check on their official website.

 Arc de Triomphe

8. Climb up to Basilique du Sacré-Coeur (Great Views of Paris!)

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, also known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica, is a Roman Catholic church, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The church lies on a hill and one will have to climb up 300 steps to reach the top of it. It is opened to public daily from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m and there is no entrance fee into the church.

View from Basilique du Sacré-Coeur in Paris
View from Basilique du Sacré-Coeur

9. Picnic at Luxembourg Gardens

Luxembourg Gardens is also known as ‘Jardin du Luxembourg’ and it is located in the heart of Paris’ Left Bank. Designed in 1612 by Marie de’ Medici, the garden is the most centric, popular and beautiful park in Paris. Parisians come there to walk, to read a book or have a picnic but also to attend concerts, shows and exhibitions, to play chess and card games.

Luxembourg Gardens, Paris

10. Shop at the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore

Opened in 1951, this is an iconic bookstore in Paris that has been home to lots of writers and artists over the years. It was the first place to publish the entirety of James Joyce’s “Ulysses”, and was an informal living room for many of the most revered figures in modern literature: ­Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jack Kerouac. If you’re a fan of literature, take some time browsing the books at this quaint little store and you’re sure to find some gems hidden in the shelves.

Shakespeare and Company Bookstore, Paris

11. Walk across the Pont Alexandre III Bridge

Completed in 1900, the Pont Alexandre III is regarded as the most ornate and extravagant bridge in Paris that crosses the river Seine. Take some time walking across the bridge, where you can also get great views of the Eiffel Tower!

Pont Alexandre III Bridge, Paris

12. Admire The Galeries Lafayette

The Galeries Lafayette is a french department store that houses brands such as Burberry, Bulgari, Celine, Chanel, Calvin Klein etc. The reason for visiting this store was not so much for the shopping, but rather to admire it’s amazing architectural interior. The Galeries Lafayette is built with a glass Coupole, rising to a height of 43 meters, which became an iconic symbol of the mall together with its neo-byzantine dome.

Galeries Lafayette, Paris

13. Visit the Paris Catacombs

In 1780, a prolonged period of rain caused a wall around Les Innocents to collapse, and thousands of corpses spilled into the town of Les Halles. This was when Paris knew it had to find somewhere else to bury its dead. People went underground, moving bones from the cemeteries five stories underground into Paris’ former quarries. Now, over 6 million bodies are placed in the catacombs.

Visitors are allowed to walk though a portion of Catacombs that extends for miles below the city of Paris, and can also purchase an audio guide for 5. Take note that it is prohibited to bring large bags inside the catacombs.

The visitors’ entrance: 1, Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy (place Denfert-Rochereau) 75014 Paris
Entrance Fee: €14 (full price list on their official website)
Duration of visit: 1-hour

Travel Tip: Take note that only a maximum of 200 people are permitted into the Catacombs each time. The queue to go in tends to be long and moves slowly. There is an option to purchase a skip-the-line ticket on their website but this would cost you quite a bit.

Paris Catacombs

14. Seine River Boat Cruise

Enjoy a 1-hour Seine River Cruise starting at the Eiffel Tower traveling along the River Seine through the center of Paris. Its a great way to see many historical sights from a different point of view in Paris and just relax with a glass of champagne. In addition, you can also book a Seine River Cruise Tour with a Lunch or Dinner option. Its a perfect date for a romantic night out.

Seine River, Paris

15. Go Shopping at Champs-Elysees

Champs-Élysées is well-known for being one of the biggest and most glamorous shopping area in all of Paris. Stretching for 1.9 km, the street runs from Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe where you can find tons for well-known brands such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Levi’s, Celine, Gucci and many more!

16. Musée d’Orsay

Musée d’Orsay holds the largest number of famous paintings in the world by the painters we love — Monet, Manet, Pissarro, Morisot, and Renoir. Take your chance to visit the museum if you’re an art-lover!

Entrance Fee: €14 standard ticket ; free if you are 17 years old and below or if you are an EU citizen between 18-25 years old
Opening hours: Daily, 9.30am to 6pm
More information is on their official website.

17. Musée Rodin

Musée Rodin is a museum that was opened in 1919, primarily dedicated to the works of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin.

Entrance Fee: €12 for standard ticket
Opening hours: Daily, 10am to 6.30pm (closed on Mondays)
More information is on their official website.

18. Eat Famous Foods in Paris – Croissants, Macarons, Oysters!

Besides all the historical monuments and cultural teachings in Paris, don’t forget to fill your bellies with some of Paris’ delicious pastries, chocolates and sweets! Here is a list of top Paris delicacies for you to savour!

  • Baguettes
  • Croissants
  • Macarons
  • Eclairs & Chocolates
  • Oysters
  • Falafel
  • Duck confit
  • Steak frites
  • Crepes
  • Butter Caramels

Where to stay in Paris?

Most of Paris’ attractions are within Zones 1-2 so it is highly recommended that you stay within this area. There is no rule to exactly which street to stay at as it all depends on your preference and budget. It is important though, to make sure that you stay within walking distance from a metro station for convenience.

For best-priced hotels with Eiffel Tower Views – Résidence Charles Floquet and Elysées Union

For best-priced hotels with Arc De Triomphe Views – Montfleuri and Etoile Park Hotel

You can use the map widget below to make a booking through too. Just choose the price and rating that is comfortable with you, and remember to check that it’s near a metro station!

When is the best time to visit Paris?

Similar  to most other European countries, the best time to visit Paris is during Spring (April to May) and Autumn (September to November). During these periods, the weather is comfortable and the city is less crowded than the summer months of the year. Avoid July and August, which is their peak summer months and it gets super crowded.

What is the Currency used in Paris?

The currency used in Paris is the Euro (€).

See my other related articles for Europe:
– The Best Things to do in Amsterdam
– Montserrat Day Trip: How to get to Montserrat from Barcelona
– Brussels in One Day: An Itinerary for First Time Travellers
– 19 Best Things to do in London, England | A Comprehensive Travel Guide

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