Paris is enormous; in every corner of the city there is something to see, to do, to take a photo of. The town is a paradise for tourists, who will mostly be overwhelmed with so much to explore. To see only the basics already requires a certain length of time, let alone everything.
But what to do if you don’t have months to explore the French capital? What to do if you don’t want to waste your time and miss out the best? I selected 20 things worth doing in Paris; I have done each one of them and they are all worth the effort, every penny and/or time spent in line:
Walk by the Seine
I mean, really walk! Set up a goal, let’s say from Île Saint-Louis until the Eiffel Tower, of course, making stops along the way. You will never forget this!
Why: because is beautiful and you will see half of the sightseeing of the city on your way.
Have a Parisian breakfast
A Parisian breakfast:
tartine + beurre/confiture – baguette + butter/jam
croissant/pain au chocolat
Why: because it’s delicious, it’s a lovely way to begin your day in the city, you can find it everywhere, and gives you a great excuse to sit at the sidewalk and watch passers by. Just like the Parisians do.
Eat and drink with a view to the Eiffel Tower
It doesn’t matter if you are up high on a rooftop, sitting somewhere on the grass or peaking from your hotel window, alone, with your friends or with your lover. Just do it.
Why: the scene will be forever on your mind, and even bad food will taste amazing.
Go up the Arc de Triomphe
Many have no idea that it is possible to go up there, but the good news is that it’s not only possible, but also breathtaking. There are long lines and it’s not expensive like most attractions in town.
Why: the view is simply stunning and unforgettable. My favourite in town.
Buy a book at one of the oldest bookstores in the World
Opened in 1951, Shakespeare & Company, an English-language bookshop based in a 17th century building, was founded by the American George Whitman. It is located at the Kilometer Zero of Paris, the point where all the French roads begin. This is a very special place for all book lovers out there – God knows I am one of them.
Buy a book, or simply grab one, sit in a tiny stool or on the couch, and read it. It is a very tiny and old place, filled with history, original works, and of course, book lovers.
Why: it is original, old, special and a little paradise for book lovers. I fell in love with the place.
Go back in time on the streets of Montmartre
Montmartre is the most charming neighborhood of Paris, where painters and writers of the last century used to meet. The buildings are pretty much well preserved, so much that walking on these streets will take you back in time.
Why: charming, beautifully old, romantic, and special. Every corner of Montmartre is filled with history.
Admire the view from the top of the Notre Dame Cathedral
One of the most famous views of Paris, the Notre Dame Cathedral will leave you breathless, not only because of the stairs to be climbed – which aren’t even that bad – but also because of its unmistakable view, which became well known after the movie The hunchback of Notre Dame.
Why: the view is breathtaking, and you will be able to take a closer look at the gargoyles.
Explore the tiny Île de St. Louis
This tiny island located in the middle of the Seine and near Île de la Cité might be often overlooked, but it is one of the loveliest places of Paris. Narrow streets and old buildings well preserved, brasseries, chocolate stores and the best ice cream shop of Paris (Bertillon), this little romantic place will make you fall in love with Paris all over again.
Why: it’s romantic, beautiful and picturesque.
Try the best macarons in the world
No matter how many macarons you try in your life, the ones from Ladurée are the best in the world, and have been since the famous patisserie was founded in 1862. The price isn’t only for the brand; it is for the texture, the taste, the creativity, and the love for these French addicting little sweets.
Why: amazingly delicious, worth every penny, and the place is amazing; like a little piece of heaven filled with temptations.
Shop or window shop at Les Grands Magasins
Le Bon Marché, Printemps and Galeries Lafayette are three different and famous department stores in Paris. All luxury brands have their space on these stunning places, and even if you don’t have thousands in your account to buy what’s on sale there, window shopping is still for free.
Why: their interior is stunning; they offer restaurants and beautiful rooftop views. You can also take a peek at the products of the most expensive brands in the world without feeling poor, because no one will care if you will buy or not – there are enough people doing it anyway.
Catch or lose your breath at Place des Vosges
The Place des Vosges is not on every tourist itinerary, but only because most people have no idea how beautiful this place is.
Why: beautiful, relaxing, peaceful and located in the middle of Le Marais.
Think of your life sipping wine at the point of Île de la Cité
Buy a bottle of wine at a nearby supermarket, sit by the Seine, and sip your wine watching the boats passing by, the Pont des Arts in front of you, and the Louvre on your right side. My favourite spot in Paris.
Why: beautiful, different, relaxing, and fun.
Walk the entire Champs-Élysées
From the Arc du Triomphe until the Ferry Wheel of the Place de la Concorde, and many stores in between, a walk on one of the most famous avenues in the world is a must!
Why: a beautiful, busy, fun, and famous walk!
Get lost around Saint-Germain-des-Prés
This neighborhood will win your heart over and over again. Old buildings, narrow streets, brasseries, the famous Université Paris-Sorbonne, the Pantheon, the Place St. Michel, bistros, and libraries will make your entire trip to Paris even more worth it.
Why: beautiful, charming, original, romantic and full of surprises.
Take a break at Le Jardin du Luxembourg
All the walking around and the metro stairs of Paris will make you tired. Take a break in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, probably the most beautiful garden of Paris: le Jardin du Luxembourg.
Why: it is stunning, you can sit on a chair or lay on the grass, it’s really up to you. It is easy to reach and at the same time it can offer a little peace and quiet.
Take a picture at Rue Saint Dominique
A certain part of this street serves as the perfect scenario for a picture: an old street where at the end you can spot the one and only Eiffel Tower.
Why: the perfect romantic picture.
Of course, Le Louvre. You have to enter this museum at least once in your life, even if you don’t like museums. And if you have already done it, pass by the Pyramids once again, it never loses its charm.
Why: if you had to pick one museum in your life to visit, this should be the one.
Take a boat tour
Cliché as it may be, it is also a must. Seeing Paris by boat gives you a different perspective of the city, and it might surprise even those who have been there several times.
Why: it’s beautiful and romantic, with stunning views; the Seine at it’s best!
Contemplate a glass of wine where Picasso used to hang around
You can have a glass of wine anywhere in Paris, but in the colourful Montmarte you will have it at a special place. Picasso and many other artists often came to discuss their ideas at places like Le Consulat. Nowadays, you can imagine this scene while watching passers by and listening to a guitar and a great voice singing the classic Les Champs-Élysées by Joe Dassin.
Why: historical, unique, special, and romantic.
From wherever you are: see the Eiffel Tower shine!
The icon of Paris, one of the symbols of love, the most famous metal tower in the world, the Eiffel Tower. Every night, every hour you will see her shine.
Why: a must, beautifully breathtaking, and Romantic.
This list could go on and on, though these are my top recommendations for Paris, the ones that will not disappoint you, summer or winter.