The Best Things to Do in Paris
Collected by Sylvia Sabes, AFAR Local Expert
There's so much to see and do in Paris, the choices can be almost overwhelming. You can't leave without visiting the Eiffel Tour, Arc de Triomphe, and the Louvre (just to name a few), but make sure to save time to relax and watch quotidian life unfold in the City of Light.
Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France
This former royal palace is one of the largest museums in the world, and its art collection is considered one of the most comprehensive. It contains around 400,000 works, although—mercifully, perhaps—not all are on display at any one...
84 Rue Claude Monet, 27620 Giverny, France
It’s a quick train ride from Paris to Vernon and the 19th-century home of impressionist artist Claude Monet. From the station, most visitors hop on the bus waiting to take them to Giverny, but right across the street, a bike rental shop...
5 Rue de Palestine, 75019 Paris, France
More rough-and-tumble and far less touristy than the Tuileries and Luxembourg gardens, the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is a green space that's worth a visit—especially given the recent resurgence of its surrounding district, the formerly...
75006 Paris, France
Located in the 6th arrondissement, the Jardin du Luxembourg is the second largest park in Paris. It is teeming with blooming flower gardens, flowing fountains, historical buildings, a few smoking teenagers and yes, enormous sculptures of horses.
Père-Lachaise, 75020 Paris, France
1 Rue de la Légion d'Honneur, 75007 Paris, France
Small enough to get around without being overwhelmed, the Musée d'Orsay is a favorite stop in Paris not just for its size but for its collection of impressionist, postimpressionist, and art nouveau art. Perfectly set in the center of the...
Avenue Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 75008 Paris, France
A kid can spend only so much time in “Isn’t that pretty, don’t touch, be quiet” museums. Parisian families looking for rainy-day activities where kids can be themselves head to the Discovery Palace. Located in the western...
Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France
Nothing is a more powerful symbol of the City of Light than the Eiffel Tower. Designed by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 Paris Exposition, it's one of the world's most-visited monuments, with nearly 7 million people ascending the 1,062-foot...
113 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France
Before the French Revolution, this park used to be the site of the Royal Palace. Today, the garden, which separates the Louvre from the Place de la Concorde, is a place where Parisians and tourists stroll amid Rodin and Maillol statues or relax...
Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris, France
Located at the western end of the Champs-Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe was inspired by Rome's Arch of Titus and commissioned by Napoleon in 1806. It was inaugurated in 1836 by King Louis-Philippe, who dedicated it to the armies of the revolution...
Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris, France
The Centre Pompidou, France's national museum of modern art, led the way for steel and glass buildings in the 1970s. Now the museum leads the way in modern art with its extraordinary collection, currently the world's second largest....
75001 Paris, France
Stand on the the quais beneath the Pont Neuf bridge—the city's oldest crossing of the Seine—and look up. Staring down at you are mascarons, stone faces that resemble gargoyles, but without bodies. No two of these grotesque visages are the same....
6 Parvis Notre-Dame - Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France
For a first-time visitor to Notre Dame, investing in the audio guide is essential to immerse in and understand this overwhelmingly significant Paris icon. There's a lot to see and absorb—history, architecture, artifacts,...
1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris, France
13 Avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris, France
The Palais de Tokyo is a grand, templelike building with a view of the Eiffel Tower. But the interior, where offbeat contemporary art is often showcased, is a wreck; parts of it are almost ruinous. I love the contrast between the formality of the...
8 Place de la Concorde, 75005 Paris, France
Paris is a wonderful city to explore on one’s own, but sometimes it can be nice to have a guide to bring the city and its history to life in a special way. Group tours aren’t for everyone, though—get the personal touch...
Place des Vosges, Paris, France
This beautiful square is one the city's oldest; set in Le Marais, it's surrounded by grand houses and an arched walkway lined with galleries and quaint cafés. At Number 6, you'll find the former home of Victor Hugo, author of "The Hunchback of...
18 Rue Antoine Bourdelle, 75015 Paris, France
The tiny Bourdelle Museum was once the atelier and home of sculptor Antoine Bourdelle, whose monumental art deco masterpieces are a highlight of the Champs-Élysées Theater. The museum displays works the artist purchased for his...
62 Rue des Archives, 75003 Paris, France
Lions and tigers and bears…oh my, this museum has everything for the aspiring naturalist. Examining the relationship of human and animal throughout history, original displays of classic and contemporary art mingle with taxidermic animals,...
Port de la Rapée, 75012 Paris, France
Board an elegant 1930s Venetian taxi boat for the most romantic Seine River tour on the waters of Paris. Champagne is chilling in the ice bucket and a few snacks are served as well, but the real show is life on the river, up-close and more...
10 Place de l'Opéra, 75009 Paris, France
The Palais Garnier, the national opera house of Paris, is a magnificent building dripping in ornate details and glittering with gold. The five-ton chandelier, made famous in The Phantom of the Opera, still takes center stage in the auditorium. It...
6 Rue Baudelique, 75018 Paris, France
French chef Eric Fraudeau spent 30 years working in three-star kitchens. When he returned to France, he opened a cooking school to share the wealth of French cuisine with visitors from across the globe. He started with market-to-table classes...
6 Rue de la Grange Batelière, 75009 Paris, France
Passages were designed in the 19th century to give Parisians protection from muddy streets and horse-drawn vehicles. Some 20 of these covered walkways remain today, including the Passage Verdeau; they are an excellent way to journey back into...
37 Quai de la Seine, 75019 Paris, France
The boat basin Bassin de la Villette is berth to Marin d’Eau Douce, a service that rents out easy-to-steer electric boats by the hour. Captaining your own boat is an unforgettable way to see Paris and beyond. Cruise through the...
3 Boulevard Edgar Quinet, 75014 Paris, France
Step off the beaten path that leads to Jim Morrison’s grave at Père Lachaise and head instead to the lesser-known, yet extraordinary Montparnasse Cemetery. Locals bring metro tickets to leave on Serge Gainsbourg’s grave in...
35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris, France
High atop Montmartre is this distinctive white church, Sacré-Cœur, or "sacred heart." Constructed of travertine stone (the same used in the Arc de Triomphe), the Roman Catholic Church took nearly 40 years to complete and five more years to be...
8 Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, 75116 Paris, France
This private cultural initiative was officially announced in 2006 “to promote and support contemporary artistic creation for a wide French and international audience.” The new art and culture museum was opened in November 2014 in...
14 Rue des Récollets, 75010 Paris, France
This small park in the Canal Saint-Martin area offers a respite from the bustling city. Among the many varieties of trees and flowers, you'll find a grassy space for sunbathing, a pond for birdwatching and a garden where veggies and flowers are...
69 Rue de Lyon, 75012 Paris, France
Paris boasts an unusual elevated park, La Promenade Plantée, built atop an abandoned elevated railway viaduct in the 12th arrondissement. It starts a block east of the Place de la Bastille and stretches for 2.9 elevated miles. Landscape architect...
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