If we asked people which city in the world they’d like to visit at least once in their lives, it is very likely that Paris would be one of the most popular replies. Perhaps it’s because of the famous fashion brands that you can find there, the exquisite dishes you can try or the elegant charm of the city, but Paris, the City of Light, is a bucket-list destination for many travelers.
Perhaps it’s because of the famous fashion brands that you can find there, the exquisite dishes you can try or the elegant charm of the city, but Paris, the City of Light, is a bucket-list destination for many travelers.
Paris is one of those cities that never deceives visitors. It’s packed with several attractions that can be overwhelming for first-time visitors. The urge of taking in the cosmopolitan and luxurious vibe of the city, the friendly and elegant approach of the French and the feeling that there’s so much to enjoy and that you don’t want to miss make it a challenge to organize a city tour, especially for first-time visitors.
The urge of taking in the cosmopolitan and luxurious vibe of the city, the friendly and elegant approach of the French and the feeling that there’s so much to enjoy and that you don’t want to miss makes it a challenge to organize a city tour, especially for first-time visitors.
Walking down Paris avenues, streets and boulevards is a great way to get to know the city and reach its different attractions. For longer distances, Paris’ outstanding public transport network is a great helper but you’re advised not to totally dismiss the idea of moving around town in a rental car. Driving in Paris may not be the easiest thing to do but if you come from a big city, you’ll be able to tackle it.
For longer distances, Paris’ outstanding public transport network is a great helper but you’re advised not to totally dismiss the idea of moving around town in a rental car. Driving in Paris may not be the easiest thing to do but if you come from a big city, you’ll be able to tackle it.
Here are some practical tips to make your stay in the City of Light as pleasant as possible and there’s a list of attractions that you can’t miss. Voilá!
Practical Tips You’ll Love
Paris Is Not Just For The Weekend
Paris is a large cosmopolitan city and, even though you can always have a great time if you stay there just for a couple of days, the truth is that 48 hours is definitely not enough to love it. It is advisable that you allow at least a week to visit the City of Light.
Learn Some Basic French
Do yourself a favor and learn some basic expressions in French. Even though you can only say “hello!”, “good morning!, “Good bye!”, “please” and “thank you” and then you need to communicate in English or whatever your mother tongue is, the French will definitely appreciate the effort and open up to you.
Besides, don’t forget to be polite. It’s considered rude everywhere but especially in France if you don’t use “please” and “thank you” when you ask for or receive something.
The Art of Planning
When traveling to Paris, planning is essential. Write up a list of the things you definitely need to see and do and explore the best way to reach them, which attractions you can do on the same day, and, last but not least, where the most convenient hotel or rental apartment for you is located. Staying close to the things that you find more attractive will make it easier for you to move around the city.
Living The City of Light!
If this is your first time in Paris, you’ll probably want to spend some time at the world-renowned attractions from which you’ve heard, read and always wanted to visit. The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, the river Seine… take in the chic and cosmopolitan vibe of the city… there’s no way you’ll be able to do it all!
Paris is classic, cool and romantic. It offers visitors different faces and you’re invited to discover them all!
No trip to Paris would be complete without a visit to the Louvre. It is one of the most recognized symbols of the city and travelers just know that they will be asked about their favorite piece from the Louvre.
The Louvre is one of the world’s greatest museums. Its impressive dimensions make it the perfect home for works of art from almost every civilization on earth. The most popular pieces are the Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory and the Venus de Milo. There is a stunning hall of sculptures that is absolutely delightful and a magnificent collection of works of art from Ancient Egypt.
There are a couple of restaurants and cafeterias that offer visitors a nice and comfortable realm where to grab something to eat and drink while viewing some of the most beautiful paintings, sculptures and artifacts.
Don’t expect to see everything at the Louvre. You can spend more than 7 hours there and still have things to see. Beyond the must-sees, simply focus on what interests you more.
The Musée d’Orsay is a delightful museum located in of the Paris’ grand old Beaux-Arts railway stations. It is a beautiful museum that is home of marvellous works of art. It is home of the world’s largest collection of Impressionist masterpieces. If you like Cézanne, Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, Manet or Gauguin, this museum should definitely be in your Paris travel to-see list. There’s a magnificent restaurant and two lovely cafés that are great to have a rest.
The bookstore at the Musée d’Orsay is lovely and there you can buy gifts and memorabilia.
In a stately XVII-century mansion that used to be Rodin’s studio, the city of Paris has established the Musée Rodin. It’s one of Paris most beautiful museums and definitely the best place to admire Rodin’s sculptures: there are more than 6 thousands!
The Thinker, The Burghers of Calais or The Kiss and The Gates of Hell can be admired here as well as thousands of drawings.
The mansion is surrounded by extensive rose gardens and there’s a nice outdoor café to round up a fantastic experience.
If you love Picasso, this is a museum you definitely need to visit. It is home to the largest collection of Picasso’s works in the whole world all distributed in two buildings.
It has been renovated recently and it offers a stunning opportunity to admire works from every period together with works of art from the artist’s personal collection.
Musée de l’Orangerie
If you love Monet and admire his work then you’ll definitely enjoy the eight, tapestry-size Nymphéas paintings housed in two plain oval rooms at the Musée de l’Orangerie. Ethereal, romantic, relaxing and absolutely marvelous, let the delightful sight of the Nymphéas take you to an intense, dreamy, and calm atmosphere.
Located in the west corner of the Tuileries Gardens, just a few steps from the Place de la Concorde, it’s an art gallery devoted to Impressionists and post-impressionist paintings.
The Centre Pompidou
Designed in the 1970s, the Centre Pompidou attracts the attention of locals and tourists because of its original, high-tech style and its original colorful tubular facade. A strong expression of modern architecture itself, the Centre Pompidou is a building turned inside out, as pipes and escalators are on the outside. Air-conditioning ducts are light-blue, electricity cables are yellow and water pipes are green.
On the top floor, you can appreciate some of the best views of the city and there’s also the Musée National d’Art Moderne, the largest modern art museum in Europe. Amongst its permanent collection, we can find works of art by Braque, Matisse, Dubuffet, Chagall and Ernst. It is one of those museums that are great for children as, while impressive, it has a playful, relaxed vibe, not to mention the lovely and enchanting Stravinsky Fountain adjacent to the Centre Pompidou with its iconic colorful sculptures.
Musée National du Moyen Age- Thermes de Cluny
Most visitors to the Musée de Cluny to admire the extraordinary tapestries of the Lady and the Unicorn but you’ll be surprised by hundreds of intriguing medieval objects. There is an extraordinary collection of ancient stained glass fragments and a Gallo-Roman section that leads to former Roman baths, including a frigadarium, or cold bath.
Parc de la Villette
Parc de la Villette is a futuristic park in the NE of Paris. It’s the place to go with children and a must-go place if you love exploring and hands-on experiences. There are 10 themed gardens that use mists, mirrors and acrobatics. You’ll find one the biggest science museums in Europe, the Cité des Sciences and the Cité des Enfants, where kids can play and learn at the same time.
The Planetarium is stunning and it offers shows in English. One of the most popular exhibits is La Geóde, an impressive dome where you can watch 3-D movies and documentaries.
Famous Historic Buildings and Places
Paris won’t be the same without the Luxembourg Gardens. Bordered by the Latin Quartier and Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the Luxembourg Gardens are lovely and the place chosen by Parisians to enjoy a picnic or simply lie back and relax.
There’s the oldest merry-go-round in the city and the different paths are great for an afternoon stroll.
Ile Saint-Louis is one of the islands in the Seine River that is connected to the rest of the city by four bridges. For many, it’s the heart of Paris and close to some of the most antique and famous buildings in Paris.
Don’t miss it if you love that small-town feel within a large cosmopolitan city, appreciate historic buildings and towns, love shopping in trendy, fashionable, and exclusive shops and love the Parisian way of life.
The Cathédrale de Notre-Dame, on the Ile de la Cité is the symbolic heart of Paris. It’s a magnificent, jaw-dropping Gothic cathedral with worth-seeing highlights in the interior and great architectural details in the outside.
Climb up its overwhelming staircase and enjoy a stunning 360° view of the city framed by the famous gargoyles.
Basilique du Sacre-Coeur
Perched atop the hilly area of Montmartre, the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur is one of the most beautiful buildings in the City of Light. With its peaceful atmosphere and richly decorated interior (the Apse mosaic is stunning), it’s a beautiful church to visit.
And once in the bohemian neighborhood of Montmartre, don’t miss the chance and check out la Place du Tertre, where local artists sell their paintings. Beware! Although they can be pricey, they are usually more affordable than the artists established by the Seine River.
Arc de Triomphe
Climb up the 284 steps to the top of the Arc de Triomphe and enjoy magnificent views of the city. The Arc of La Defense, way behind you creates an interesting geometric and historical line. Located in one of the most emblematic areas of Paris, it is definitely a must-see, must-be-there attraction.
The Sainte-Chapelle is one of the most extraordinary and beautiful churches you’ll ever see. Ordered by King Louis IX and designed by Pierre de Montreuil, this royal medieval chapel has jaw-dropping gothic architecture and stained-glass windows. Don’t miss the chance to admire the light coming through the stained glass on a sunny day!
Don’t let the fairy-tale look of la Conciergerie deceive you. This turreted castle was the prison were those condemned to the guillotine were imprisoned during the French Revolution, including Queen Marie-Antoinette. You’ll be able to see remnants of its revolutionary history and mock prison cells.
Children find it quite fascinating, especially when they learn about its creepy past!
Its impressive golden dome can be appreciated from quite a few blocks away and definitely a must-see place. Created during the reign of Louis XIV in the XVII century as a wellness center for wounded soldiers, it is now a home for the retired military.
The church is a real military pantheon. Tombs are monumental and contain relics from important French military men such as Vauban’s heart, the heart of La Tour d’Auvergne, the tomb of Emperor Napoleon I, his brother Joseph and Jérome Bonaparte, and Marshall Foch amongst others.
Not only its huge size will impress kids (and adults as well) but also to learn that it’s a building designed to pay homage to the heroes of France.
Admire the frescoes on the walls and take a quick tour of French history. It’s an overwhelming building and these are some of its must-see attractions:
Look at the giant pendulum that hangs from the ceiling and that Foucault experimented with to prove that the Earth rotates on its axis. In the crypt, you can see the final resting place of Marie Curie. Victor Hugo, Voltaire and Rousseau are also buried there. Climb the dome and admire the great views of Paris.
Having Fun In Paris
Paris From the Seine
Enjoying Paris from the river Seine is quite an experience you shouldn’t miss. Admire the gracious bridges and the classical and famous city landmarks on a relaxing 2 or 4-hour boat ride. The bateaux mouches offer everything from a gourmet meal to simply silent sightseeing.
They have multiple stops and you can hop on and off as you please.
Go Fashion Shopping
If you’ve got a soft spot for designer shopping or simply want to see where the fashionistas buy their clothes, rue Saint-Honoré is the place to go. All the world-known French brand names can be found here. Prices may not be affordable for every budget but it is definitely the place to see and be seen!
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées may have lost some of the chic glamour of the past but it still remains as the most famous avenue in Paris. Enjoy walking down Champs Élysées and take in its unchangeable charm.
This 209m steel and glass monolith is the place to go for the most amazing 360° views of the city. There’s a lift that takes you to the 56th floor in just a few seconds and offers you stunning views of the streets below and you can even visit a souvenir shop. Another lift takes you all the way to the roof and you can admire jaw-dropping views of the city. In fact, views are even more impressive than from the Tour Eiffel. Mind you! It can get really windy up there so make sure that your hat is tight on your head!