Paris attracts around 30 million visitors each year, and is home to some of the most famous and the most recognizable tourist attractions in the world. Here are 10 Top Things to Do in Paris, France!
As capital cities go, Paris is one of the greatest. Rich in history and culture, with world-class shopping, theatres, bars and restaurants, there is something here to suit everyone.
Ten top things to do in Paris
You will find below some ideas to keep the kids happy on a family trip to Paris. When the children don’t want to see one more art museum, church, or fashion boutique, treat them to something that they will enjoy. These are some of the coolest things to do in Paris!
The most famous tourist attractions in Paris are:
1. Jardin du Luxembourg
There are numerous lovely parks in Paris, but very few can beat the Jardin du Luxembourg for a relaxing afternoon. The Luxembourg has a large playground, a marionette theatre, and there is a large circular pool where kids can sail rented wooden sailboats. While parents are appreciating the well manicured gardens and lawns, kids can be on the lookout for a miniature Statue of Liberty, a large Cyclops, and an apiary. If a picnic is in order, grab a bench or some of the green metal chairs. Grass is off limits.
You can get to the Jardin du Luxembourg on the metro, departing at Odeon, or the RER Luxembourg. There are many entrances. You may want to look for Rue de Vaugirard in the 6th arrondissement. It’s open daily from 7:30 am to dusk in the summer and 8:00 am to dusk in the winter.
2. Centre Pompidou
If you’ve dragged the kids through the modern art exhibit at Centre Pompidou, let them relax on departure at the whimsical fountain at Fontaine Stravinsky right next door. The unusual sculptures spin around and spout water. The view from the square, in front of this cultural centre is sure to intrigue, due to the primary colours of the building and the plumbing and air vents on the exterior. Be sure to go to the sixth floor for a superb view of Paris and watch for street entertainers on the plaza in front of the entrance.
Centre Pompidou can be found near the Rambuteau metro station on Rue St. Martin in the 4th arrondissement.
3. Les Catacombes de Paris
Although not recommended for the faint-hearted or claustrophobic child or parent, this has been some brave kiddos’ favourite site in Paris. After marching down 130 steps to the passages below the city, you can view the skeletons from corpses that were deposited here in 1785, when public burial spots were overflowing. Six million bodies were transferred to the Catacombes at the time. Dress warmly and expect to spend around 45 minutes visiting the site.
Les Catacombes de Paris are open every day from 9.45 am until 8:30 pm, except Mondays and holidays. To get to the Catacombes, take the Denfert Rochereau exit from the metro or RER. The address is 1 avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy in the 14th arrondissement.
4. The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower, located on the Champ de Mars, was designed and built for the 1889 World Expo by Gustave Eiffel. Initially hated by Parisians, the tower came within a whisker of being torn down after the exposition. Today, the tower is one of the most well-known tourist attractions in the world, with around 7 million visitors each year. Of the three visitor levels, the lower two both feature restaurants, one of which, Le Jules Verne, boasts a Michelin Star. The Eiffel Tower is open 365-days; it is advisable to book advance tickets, which can be done via the official website.
5. The Louvre
The Louvre can be found on the South Bank of the river Seine. It was originally a French fortress that was turned into a public museum after the French Revolution. It is today one of the largest and most famous museums in the world, with over 30000 exhibits on show at any one time. The Louvre is home to some the most important works of art in existence, including the Mona Lisa, Venus De Milo and the Winged Victory. The Louvre is open every day except Tuesdays. To avoid the queues, purchase advance tickets from the museum’s website.
6. Notre Dame De Paris Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral stands on the Île de la Cité, a small island in the heart of Paris. Founded in the 12th century, this magnificent building is widely considered to be one of the greatest examples of French Gothic architecture. Notre Dame is an integral part of the history of the city – thousands prayed here before leaving to fight in the Crusades, and Napoleon was crowned here. The Cathedral reliquary contains some of the most precious religious artefacts of the Passion, including part of the crown of thorns and a fragment of the cross upon which Jesus was crucified. At the top of the 223ft North Tower you can see Paris as Quasimodo did, and visit the famous gargoyles.
Since the fire at Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral on April 15, 2019, the building and its surroundings have been closed to the public. Nevertheless, you can contemplate the Cathedral or to take a picture of it from the small streets of the Île de la Cité, the bridges of the Seine, the quays on the left bank and the Île Saint Louis. The walk remains a magical and memorable moment.
7. Père-Lachaise Cemetery
The final resting place of great luminaries such as Oscar Wilde, Maria Callas, Chopin, Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison, Père-Lachaise Cemetry makes for a fascinating, if slightly unusual trip. Père-Lachaise is situated in the 20th arrondissement, in North-East Paris. The cemetery is known as la cité des morts – the city of the dead – by Parisians, an affectionate term for this beautiful and haunting corner of the city. Among the 5000 trees and miles of winding paths, lie the remains of over 1 million people. The graves here range from simple, unassuming headstones, to gargantuan monoliths and even small chapels dedicated to the cemetery’s more well-known residents. Pick up a location map from one of the principal entrances to the cemetery or from one of the florists nearby.
8. Musee D’Orsay in Paris
The Musée D’Orsay sits on the north bank of the River Seine. Holding mainly French art from the 1840’s until 1915 including paintings, sculptures, decorative arts and photography, the museum is most well known for its vast collection of impressionist and post-impressionist works – the largest collected works of such masterpieces in the world. Entire rooms are dedicated to the great masters and contain some of the world’s great art treasures, including Sunflowers, by Van Gogh, Card Players, by Cezanne, and Whistler’s Mother, by James McNeil Whistler. The Musée D’Orsay is open from 9.30 am until 6 pm, with late night opening until 9:45 pm on Thursdays. The museum is closed on Mondays.
The Montmartre area of Paris sits on a hill to the north of the city. It is to Paris what the West Village is to New York – bohemian, artisan, quirky, and a little naughty! Home to great artists such as Dali Monet and Picasso, Montmartre is one of Paris’s most vibrant neighbourhoods, attracting tourists from around the world who come to soak up the unique atmosphere and wander the cobbled streets. Montmartre is home to the Basilica of Sacré-Coeur (the big white church on top of the hill!) and the world-famous Moulin Rouge cabaret club, birthplace of the can-can, instantly recognizable by the red windmill on its roof.
10. Paris Arc de Triomphe
In 1806, It was Napoleon Bonaparte that commissioned the Arc Triomphe. It was to celebrate the military achievements of the French armies after the great victory at the Battle of Austerlitz (1805). The Arc de Triomphe was inaugurated in 1836 by French king, Louis-Philippe, who dedicated it to the armies of the Revolution and the Empire. This is where the Unknown Soldier was buried at the base of the arch in 1921. The flame of remembrance is rekindled every day at 18:30. Paris Arc of Triomphe is open daily and is situated at Place de l’Étoile at the top of the Champs-Élysées.
What to do in Paris
There are so many places to visit in Paris: too many to mention in a single article. However, the above are some of the major tourist attractions in Paris that should be on your ‘to do’ list. But to get the most from your trip, why not invest in a Paris Museum Pass, which will give you access to over 50 museums and monuments in Paris and the Paris region. You buy a pass for either 2, 4 or 6 days and then you are free to visit as many places as you like, as many times as you like, within the specified time frame. Included in the Paris Museum Pass are the Louvre, the Musee D’Orsay, the Arc de Triomphe, and Musée Picasso-Paris, and many more!