They say Paris is the City of Love. Paris is on the bucket list of most people around the world. And is one of the highest tourist destinations in the world. Paris is beautiful, artistic, historical and the food is oh so yummy. The city is romantic and there are so many things to see and do.
Taking a trip to Paris is a trip of a lifetime. I mean you have to at least go there once in your life, just to be in the ambiance of the people and culture. Also for bragging rights to say oh yeah I’ve been to Paris. In this post, I will talk about the top things to see and do in Paris. This list will be perfect for any first-time visitors to get an idea of where to go and what to do.
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1. Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is one of the most iconic landmarks in the world. One of the main reasons people go to Paris is to see this landmark in all its glory. This landmark draws millions of people to it. I would say that it is also one of the most romantic landmarks in the world. You see it in countless of movies, people come here to propose to their loved ones. Its beautiful architecture is incredible and definitely something you would want to visit on your trip here.
Did you know that you can actually go inside of the Eiffel Tower? Well, you can and you should. You can book a tour online before in order to get the ultimate Eiffel Tower experience. You can choose to purchase tickets to ride up to the 2nd Level. The tour guide will give you the history behind the Eiffel tower and show you around. But honestly, if you are not a history junkie then you can skip the tour and just buy tickets for access to the tower only.
To get to the second floor, you can either ride on the elevator or take the stairs. But trust me, you will want to ride the elevator. The elevator has a glass structure all around, so you’re able to see the inside of the Eiffel tower while your going up. It’s pretty incredible, being in the heart of this wrought iron structure.
Once you get to the 2nd floor you are in for some amazing views of the city. BTW the 2nd floor is 116 meters up, which is pretty high up there. We were practically midway from the top of the tower. However, you can also choose to buy a ticket to go up to the very top which is 276 meters up. We didn’t do that as we felt that the 2nd floor was high enough for a good view (LOL). Either one you choose, you would not be disappointed. I think you should go inside the Eiffel tower at least once.
Other experience to consider while visiting the tower:
- Eat Crepes while staring up at the tower. There was a Crepe stand situated as your walking up to the tower. Or you could bring pastries or a sandwich while admiring this work of art and you can just people watch.
- Visit the tower at night, it is gorgeous when it shimmers.
2. Notre Dame
It is another iconic symbol of France that is known around the world. The Notre Dame Cathedral is a beautiful gothic church that is historical architecture at its finest.
Visit Notre Dame de Paris in 4th arrondissement or just pass by and take in the beautiful church views. The cathedral architecture on the outside is just stunning. The inside is just as beautiful. I was able to see and explore the colored glass-stained windows. Went down to the Crypt where you could see famous people memorialized, and tombs in the ground. Saw the history of the church and beautiful statues and vaulted ceilings.
Notre Dame is under construction due to the horrific fire that happened in April 2019. I actually was lucky enough to visit here, for the first time…just a week prior before it caught on fire. It was heartbreaking, to say the least, to see it ablaze on television.
At that moment I was grateful that I decided to visit the cathedral on my first visit to Paris.
I went to Paris again in March 2020, and visited the Cathedral and saw that it was under construction. You cannot enter it right now, however, you can still see parts of the cathedral that haven’t been ruined. The front of it still looks gorgeous tho. Walking beside the cathedral you will see posters boards up of the history of the church and the process of construction.
Even though you cannot enter the cathedral right now, I still think it’s worth a stop to just see it. Most of the church, the front anyway, is still standing and still looks great.
3. Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is a famous piece of architecture that is in the middle of the city at Place Charles de Gaulle. This is an iconic military landmark that everyone should see when visiting. In 1806, Napoleon requested the Arc de Triomphe to be built after his greatest victory of the battle of Austerlitz to honor the soldiers.
Just like the Eiffel tower, you can go up to the very top of the Arc. However, before going in, make sure you admire it and take pics at the street level in front of the Arc de Triomphe. Be careful tho because this is a busy street with a Huge roundabout going around the Arc. You can take some amazing photos near it. It’s huge, so you will want to be located across the street on the sidewalks to get a good view and pictures of it.
I would recommend going to the top of the Arc at Golden Hour. Golden hour is pretty much when the sun is beginning to set and you get that incredible warm and soft glow in the sky.
Going at this time will give you some amazing views of the city at sunset. You should aim for about one hour before the sun is setting. However, remember that you have to go through the line to show your tickets so plan to go early enough to get through it on time.
While up there, you will see the city in lights as night falls. This will also be a good opportunity to look over the Champs-Elysses Strip.
The most amazing part about being up here though is….Seeing the Eiffel Tower from 50 meters high up. The Eiffel Tower is absolutely gorgeous at night when it starts to shimmer in lights. This is a great way to see the Eiffel and get some cool pics too.
Buy your tickets in advance to skip the line, this will cut your time having to wait in line in half. Children and college students get in free, they just need to bring a form of Identification with their picture on it.
4. Champs Elysées
Before or after visiting Arc De Triomphe, take a stroll down Champs Elysees located in 8th Arrodisant. This is seen as one of the “most beautiful and popular shopping avenues in the world”.
This strip is massive. It could be a bit overwhelming, as this strip can get very crowded.
There are so many luxury stores here like Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Tiffany & Company, Christine Dior, and so on.
They have one of the biggest Sephora stores I’ve ever seen. I almost went crazy shopping in there…LOL. My daughter lost her mind in the Adidas store as she loves their shoes. So needless to say, it’s not just luxury brands here, there are stores here for the budget-friendly shoppers (like me).
Fun fact, almost in every store you will be greeted by security, especially the high-end ones..so don’t be alarmed.
Be careful of pickpockets, hold on tight to your belongings.
There are also plenty of restaurants to stop at and grab a bite of lunch or dinner. There is even a McDonald’s if you want something cheap, and let me tell you, it was packed. Mostly with kids and teenagers tho, LOL.
There are so many places to stop for pastries and dessert too. Like Laduree, which is one of the most famous bakeries known for it’s oh so delicious macaroons. But, don’t just stop there. You should also stop by the other famous bakery, Pierre Herme. Some people prefer Pierre Herme versus Laduree due to it having more varieties of macaroons. But to me, Laduree has a really good palette. But you be the judge, just try both of them. I won’t tell.. I mean you’re on a vacation after all. Pierre Herme is also a chocolatier, so try some of his gourmet chocolate.
5. Walk along the Seine River
This river runs right in the heart of Paris, which splits between the Left bank and the Right bank. It has been famous for attracting tourists for its romantic vibes and the beautiful bridges along it. As well as being able to see the famous sights along the river.
You can just enjoy the Parisian scenery by taking a nice stroll by the Seine river. While taking a stroll, you can get some great pictures of the river and its scenery.
You will also be able to admire some of the famous sights like Notre Dame, and the Eiffel Tower while walking. The river is also lined with restaurants and bars that you can visit.
Get a glimpse of people sitting down and enjoying the views. You could take a break from your walk and sit down by the river to enjoy watching all the boats passing by. Then you can wave to the people that are on the tour boats that are having a good time and are mesmerized by the magic of Paris like you are.
Bring you a sandwich and eat lunch by the river like a local. Or you can bring you a bottle of wine and relax by the water.
Being on the Seine river is just so romantic. The vibes are all good and you can just walk, explore, and enjoy yourself while gazing up at the Eiffel Tower.
6. Visit The Louvre Museum
The Louvre Museum is another iconic place to go while on your visit to Paris. Inside the Louvre there is Roman, Egyptian, and Greek Antiquities, European and France Sculptures, Islamic and Egyptian art, Greek and so on. Oh, and of course the paintings from (Spain, Italy, the US, and Great Britain).
First off I want to say buy your tickets in advance. We didn’t do this and we waited about 45 minutes outside before going in and buying tickets. This museum is massive, to say the least. I would advise that before you go, try to map out what you want to see. I was on a mission to see the Mona Lisa that I totally forgot to go and see the famous Winged Victory of Samothrace statue (like the one in Beyonce’s video).
So once we made it to the Mona Lisa, this piece of art surprised me. Why did you say that? Because it was much smaller than I expected, it was like the size of an 8 X 10 portrait. Not only that, you cannot get close to it. It is lined with ropes around it, I guess that is to be expected though. I couldn’t get a decent picture with it as there was a big crowd of tourists around it trying to do the same thing.
Anyway, we did not want to spend our entire day at the Louvre, so we did not tour the entire museum. I mean, it is huge. You could stay there all day and still not see it all.
So if you want to avoid crowds, you should try going first thing in the morning, or in the evening closer to closing. They are open from Wednesday through Monday 0900 A.M- 6:00 P.M. and closed on Tuesdays. They used to be open later than that, but may have changed the hours due to COVID-19.
To purchase your tickets in advance go here.
7. Visit Tuileries Garden
The Tuileries garden is adjacent to the Louvre and is a landmark in its own right. So once you’re finished exploring the museum, take a stroll through this majestic garden.
The gardens are beautiful, especially in the spring. Just stroll through and take in the vibrant popping colors of the gorgeous tulips. I mean the scenery is just breathtaking, and it is so romantic. I love seeing an array of beautiful flowers, it just makes you smile. Taking a nice stroll through this park is so relaxing too.
This garden also has exquisite sculptures scattered throughout that you can admire. There are benches and chairs available as well so if you would like to bring a snack like a pastry or a croissant this would be the perfect time to eat while surrounded by beautiful gardens.
8. Take a boat cruise down the Seine River
The River Seine Cruise is a great option as you get to see all of the famous sights without the hassle of all of the people in the way. See the city from a different view while out on the water.
The boat cruise we decided to take was incredible. We were there in April in the Spring so it was a little chilly. But luckily it was a nice sunny day.
There will be a tour guide on the boat talking about all of the sights that you pass and sharing some history of Paris as well. You’ll pass by Notre Dame. The Eiffel tower will pretty much be in view the entire time on the cruise. Pass by the Love Lock bridge AKA Pont des Arts and other beautiful bridges.
I really enjoyed the cruise because you get a chance to see the city while you’re relaxing and kicking your feet up. LOL. Buying your ticket in advance is always a good idea. You can get your tickets for the cruise here.
9. Explore Paris, by walking
The first time I went to Paris, I really didn’t have a “set” agenda besides the Louvre and the Seine river cruise.
So my daughter and I just explored Paris by walking around and stumbling upon infamous sights. You will see so many people walking and exploring. We passed by so many cute cafes and bought pastry after pastry. Trying all of the different foods Paris had to offer. We even stumble upon food markets. Enjoy trying different cheeses, pastries, bread, etc. Also, there are so many street vendors outside where you can purchase souvenirs, street art, etc.
It’s fun to just explore and get lost. Take a walk through Le Marais in the 3rd and 4th Arrondissement to get some good authentic food and pastries. Or explore the Latin Quarter in the 5th Arrondissement to sightsee amazing architectural buildings. The possibilities are endless.
10. Ride some scooters
This is another exciting way to explore the city. I mean it wasn’t my idea initially, my teenage daughter convinced me to jump on scooters, so we did.
Once we got on scooters we ended up going lower ground (not street level) and were able to ride them on open and free roads. It was so much fun. We rode down by the Seine river. Riding scooters helped us see more of Paris on our terms.
We had stumbled upon the Love Lock Bridge, where we got a chance to actually ride upon it. I’ve always wanted to see it, I mean who wouldn’t? It’s just one of the most famous bridges in the world.
There aren’t as many padlocks on the bridge like in the past, due to so many locks weighing the bridge down and could compromise the structure. However, there were still quite a few there, and it was cute to look at couples declaration of love to one another. Being on this bridge was dreamy as we got a chance to gaze over the Seine River and admire the Eiffel Tower as well. I got some pretty good photos of the Eiffel Tower in the background. I mean come on, what a great backdrop!!
BTW scooters are lined everywhere in this city. To get on one all you have to do is download an app to pay by credit or debit card. Once you pay and put in the codes, the scooter will be unlocked for however long you requested it for. Then when you are done, you just find a safe spot to leave it, like on a sidewalk, and out of the way of pedestrians and cars of course. And That’s it. Pretty easy. It’s worth giving it a try. It was fun!
11. Take a Big Bus Tour
Take a Big Bus Tour to see all the sights. What they do is have certain routes at some of the most famous sights. When the bus stops, you could choose to Hop-on/Hop-off at that stop. This is good to get a feel for the city if visiting for the first time. Also good for those that are unable to do long walks. And it beats having to pay the high fare of taxis too.
It’s a double-decker bus, meaning its two levels so you can choose to go to the top of the bus where it is open. Or you could sit at the bottom if you want to shield yourself from the weather. We usually like to sit at the top, I think that’s the best way to see a city since you are higher up you can get a better view of the sights. At the bottom, it just seems to be blocked by some of the windows, and sometimes it’s hard to see entire buildings especially if its high up.
The only downside to doing the Hop On Hop Off is sometimes traffic can be heavy and may delay seeing some things. Also, sometimes once you hop off, it may take up to 30 minutes for another bus to come back around when you’re ready to get back on.
Other than that it’s a pretty good way to get the pulse of the city, especially if it’s your first visit. You can book a tour here.
12. Visit Montmartre
This quaint part of the city will give you the most amazing views of Paris as it is located at the highest point of Paris in the 18th arrondissement.
To start you’ll be walking up the cobbled street is hilly, so don’t be alarmed. While walking up, stop by Amorino to get some good Gelato, which they make into a pretty flower. It’s quite aesthetic if you ask me.
Visit Sacre Coeur
Before you get to the Sacre Coeur, stop and get a glimpse at the beautiful carousel that’s situated in front of the Sacre Coeur (it’s so picturesque). The carousel has this historic/antique vibe to it. It is a work of art, with murals painted on the ceiling of it, carved statues on it. It’s filled with pretty royal and feminine colors. I bet it’s so beautiful at night when it’s lit up.
Next head up towards Sacre Coeur. This is yet another iconic landmark of the city here. It is a Roman Catholic Church that sits 130 meters above the ground. This beautiful church is a white color with artistic domes on top of it.
It has a lot of steps to climb if you want to get to the top, so make sure you have your walking shoes. The climb is worth it though, you will get the most amazing views of Paris.
Next, if you would like, go inside the church to see the incredible architecture and learn it’s rich history.
Before you leave this area, go check out the sinking house. I mean the house is not really sinking. You have to angle your camera just right to get that illusion of the house sinking. I mean it’s just something fun to do so why not? I took a few pictures, and I think I got the perfect angle.
If you have time, check out a Caberet show at Moulin Rouge while in the area. For ticket info, you can go here.
There are plenty of other things that you could do, but if your on a first-time visit I think these things will help your trip to Paris be a very enjoyable one. I mean regardless Paris is “Always a Good Idea”. I hope you enjoy it!
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