Visiting Paris is unmissable when you love traveling. As a Parisian, this is when I started traveling around the world that I realized why Paris is often called the most beautiful city in the world! It’s impossible to get bored there, there are always numerous things to do in Paris. Moreover Paris is an open air museum. Walk in the street and have a look around you, there’s always something to admire! About to spend a weekend in Paris? Follow the guide! Let’s first describe Paris!
Description of Paris
Unfortunately I cannot be very impartial since I live in Paris, but Paris is a very beautiful city where you’ll find numerous cafés and terraces to have a drink. The métro is very efficient and very clear. Understanding how it works is very easy. The Parisians are not known for being the most friendly and smiling people, but this is common among locals from big Western cities.
Anyway if you’re like “This is my first visit to Paris!“, this guide is made for you! You can visit these famous places in the same order as I list them. This list allows you to follow the itinerary and you’ll avoid wasting time in public transportation. Here’s how you can spend a weekend in Paris.
Things to do in Paris
Notre Dame de Paris
Located on the ile de la cité (City Island) in the heart of Paris, you have to see Notre Dame de Paris. Admittedly for now it’s not possible to visit inside Notre Dame, following the terrifying fire on April 15th, 2019. But you can still admire its facade under reconstruction (the cathedral should reopen in 2024). Its construction started in 1163 and ended in 1345. Various kings were crowned here, many kings and queens got married on the spot… It’s a cathedral full of history.
Also located on the ile de la cité, the Sainte Chapelle is a masterpiece in the Gothic style. Built in the 13th century, you have to get there to admire its impressive stained glass windows! Some of them date back to the 13th century! There are many things to say about the Sainte Chapelle. Since it’s a very popular chapel, click here to get a skip the line ticket!
The jardins du Luxembourg
Take some time to relax at the jardins du Luxembourg (Luxembourg gardens). Created by request of Marie de Medici in 1612, the jardins du Luxembourg stretch out over 25 hectares! The jardins du Luxembourg are modeled after the Boboli Gardens in Florence (this is where Marie de Medici comes from). You’ll find in the jardins du Luxembourg the Luxembourg palace, the Medici fountain and numerous areas to relax. Head there to have a walk, have a picnic, go jogging, read a book…
The Montparnasse tower
No I’m not talking about watching the Montparnasse tower. In 2008 it was called the second ugliest building in the world… I’m talking about getting on top of the tower, on the 59th floor, to enjoy a panoramic view of Paris! Get there preferably before the sunset to admire the beautiful colors of the Parisian sky. The tower is open until 11:30pm in the summer and 10:30pm in the winter. Click here to buy to buy a ticket to get on top of the Montparnasse tower!
Built at the demand of Louis XIV, les Invalides was hosting the disabled veterans but it was also a hospital and retirement home for war veterans. Napoleon is buried there. You’ll find several museums there, including the Army museum. Click here to buy a skip-the-line ticket to get in the Army museum.
Head to the esplanade of the Trocadero to enjoy a really nice view of the Eiffel tower. FYI this place is very famous so it will be packed! To avoid the crowd you can get there at the start of the day but the lighting is not ideal for the pictures. Regarding the colors for the pictures, you better get there for the sunset but the Trocadéro will be crowded!
The Eiffel Tower
Now that you saw the Eiffel tower from afar, it’s time to get closer and get on top of it! The Eiffel tower is the symbol of tourism of Paris! The Eiffel tower was created by Gustave Eiffel. It was erected in 1889 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the French revolution, during the Exposition Universelle of 1889 (World Fair). Check out this post listing secrets of the Eiffel Tower.
The Eiffel Tower is the most popular tourist attraction of Paris, the wait is long to get on top. You better get a skip the line ticket before getting there. Click here to buy one. You can also check out this post listing the best hotels with Eiffel tower views!
A Seine river cruise
You spent a lot of time walking in Paris? You wanna rest a bit while admiring Paris? Embark on a Seine river cruise. It’s a great way to see the main tourist attractions of Paris without crossing the city by foot. A Seine river cruise is a nice activity especially if you’re spending a romantic weekend in Paris. In fact, the banks of the Seine are one of the best France World Heritage sites. Click here to enjoy a river Seine cruise. Click here to enjoy an evening cruise with dinner on river Seine.
The arc de triomphe
Built in 1806, the arc de triomphe pays tribute to the fallen soldiers during the French revolution and Napoleonic wars. Watching it is impressive but it’s better to get on top of it. I think you get the best view of Paris from there. Again there’s a long line to get in. Click here to buy a skip the line ticket. When coming down again, take some time to see the tomb of an unknown soldier below the arc de Triomphe.
The Champs Elysées
The most famous avenue of Paris, the avenue des Champs Elysées! From the arc de triomphe, stroll down the avenue and feel free to do a round of shopping if you want to: Adidas, Sephora, Louis Vuitton, H&M… Don’t forget it’s a chic avenue, the prices are quite high!
The place de la Concorde
You’ll end your walk on the Champs Elysées when you’ll reach the place de la Concorde. During the French revolution it was called the Revolution square, there was a guillotine there and more than 1,300 people (including Louis XVI) were executed there! On the place de la Concorde you’ll find an Egyptian obelisk which is more than 3,000 years old. It’s a gift from Egypt to France in 1833.
The Tuileries garden
Keep walking and you’ll get in the Tuileries garden. Perfect to rest and relax after a long walk. This garden was built on the initiative of Catherine de Medici and you’ll find there beautiful fountains and a Ferris wheel.
It’s the most famous museum in Paris! I won’t tell you to visit the whole museum because you need several days to see everything (some people say 3 days, others talk about 2 weeks). It’s the largest museum in the world! Paintings, sculptures, work of art from the whole world… There’s everything! 10 million people visit the museum every year! Take some time to see Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. Then it’s up to you to see what you’d like to see. Once again, don’t buy your ticket there, you’ll wait for hours! Click here to buy a skip the line ticket!
Change of scenery! Head to the north of Paris and take some time to visit the Montmartre area! This is where the artists used to live! You’ll find there numerous cafés, cobblestone streets… and numerous stairs to climb! Don’t miss the place du Tertre and its artists, the sinking house and of course the Sacré Coeur! Click here to go on a Montmartre walking tour.
Pigalle and the Moulin Rouge
Every big city has its own red light district and Paris is no exception. Have a walk on the boulevard de Clichy and you’ll see sex shops, strip clubs… This is also where the Moulin Rouge is. It’s very famous for its French cancan shows. Wanna enjoy a Moulin Rouge show? Click here to buy a ticket!
The palais Garnier
Opened in 1875, the palais Garnier also called Opéra Garnier is a marvel you cannot miss. The facade, the stairs, the auditorium, the ceiling… Everything is wonderful! Click here to buy a ticket. Click here to buy a palais Garnier tour with a guide.
The galeries Lafayette
Just behind the Palais Garnier, you’ll find the galeries Lafayette. It’s a high-end department store! If you don’t wanna go shopping, no worries! Head to the 7th floor. There’s a rooftop terrace with a nice view of Paris!
Le Paris Noir
Do you have some time? Wanna discover Paris in another way? Le Paris Noir is a walking tour allowing you to visit Paris from another angle: the history of black people in Paris. I found the walking tour very interesting. I wrote an article about le Paris Noir.
Other things to do in Paris
I listed here the main attractions of Paris. You’ll see the main things by seeing these places during your first visit of Paris. But if you have more time, or if it’s not your first visit, there are numerous other places to see: the Palace of Versailles or Disneyland outside Paris, but also the Père Lachaise cemetery, the catcombs, the Buttes Chaumont, the Palais Royal garden, the Rodin museum, the Picasso museum, the Orsay museum, the canal de l’Ourcq, etc…
But also the canal Saint Martin, le Marais area, the Latin quarter, the Panthéon, the city hall, the place des Vosges, the Centre Pompidou… Let’s not forget Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in France! I There’s always something to do in Paris! If you have time, check out this post listing the best day trips by train from Paris. If you spend some time in the country, here’s a France two-week itinerary!
How to get to Paris
It will depend on where you arrive from. If you come from afar, it’s better to take a flight. Click here to check the latest flight prices. Otherwise there are trains if you’re already in France, or in Europe not too far. There are also numerous buses going to Paris. Click here to check the ticket prices.
How to get around in Paris
Forget the car, there’s traffic everywhere and it’s a PITA to park your car. It’s simpler to use public transportation. They’re very efficient and go everywhere. Moreover it’s very easy to understand how they work. It’s better to get a Paris Visite ticket. It allows you to use the metro, bus and tramway. You get unlimited travel! Click here to check the prices and have all the information. There are ticket desks and automatic vending machines in all the metro stations.
How many days in Paris
If it’s your first visit in Paris, a weekend in Paris is ideal. But 3 days in Paris is also perfect. You’ll have enough time to visit all the places listed in this article. If you’re in a hurry, you can skip some activities like the Seine river cruise for instance. A weekend in Paris or 3 days in Paris are perfect for your first visit!
Paris is not really a dangerous but still, you have to keep an eye open. The tourists are easy victims and there are numerous pickpockets around the tourist attractions. Watch out for your belongings! Better safe than sorry, click here to get travel insurance! Otherwise there are some problems regarding street harassment, especially during the night. Once again keep an eye open. Apart from this, Paris is safe. Take some time to read my article about the travel scams, there’s a paragraph about Paris.
Best time to visit Paris
There’s not really a best time to visit Paris, there are tourists all year long. Regarding the weather, I’d say it’s better to get there during April and September. Heading there in the summer? Here are things to do in Paris in the summer! But no matter when you go to Paris, there will always be numerous tourists. It’s one of the most popular cities in the world.
Where to stay in Paris
First off, check out this list to find out where to stay in Paris. If you’re traveling on a budget, I suggest you The People Hostel. The staff is nice, the beds are comfortable and there’s a cool rooftop! Click here to check the reviews, photos and availability. If you prefer mid-range hotels, the Hotel des Arts Montmartre will please you. Beautiful decoration, smiling staff and very clean hotel. Click here to check the reviews, photos and availability.
If you’re more into luxury hotels, the Four Seasons Hotel George V is made for you. Great staff, great location, comfortable rooms… Click here to check the reviews, photos and availability. Otherwise click here to check the hotels available in Paris.
Paris travel tips
- Traveling soon? Check out my travel resources page! This list of travel accessories can also be useful.
- Don’t travel without travel insurance! Here’s why get travel insurance!
- Want a tailor made trip to France? Get a free quote here!
- Always use a VPN when traveling. I use ExpressVPN and I love it. Here’s why use a VPN when traveling.