If somebody is wondering which is my favourite city in the world and which city you should see as a must, my answer is quite obvious – visit Paris and you’ll have no regretts. For me, there is no other place on Earth like Paris. I felt in love with this city even before actually seeing it for the first time and it didn’t dissapoint even after, when I moved here.
Paris is well known as the city of love, lights and dreams. It always fascinated artists, philosophers and writers because of its endless beauties. It may not be a big city (109 square kilometeres) but every corner is a piece of art. Waking on the streets of Paris is like visiting an open air museum, every building has its own arhitecture and a story.
If you’re looking for nice walks near the river, parks, art galeries, museums, food, shopping, relaxation, good coffee or having fun, Paris is the master of them all.
So, let me tell you what are the main attractions and why you should visit Paris. Sit down and relax, as it will be a long list. On y vas! Let’s Go!
Ille de la Cite & Ille Saint Louis
The river Seine is crossing the city into two sides, what we call Rive Gauche and Rive Droite, leaving two small islands between: Ille de la Cite and Ille Saint Louis. This are the oldest parts of Paris. Here is where everything beggin, where the capital – Lutetia Parisiorum – has been set for the first time by Clovis, the founder of France. Living on this islands is a dream, a flat in this area reaches exhorbitant prices.
Have a walk on the islands and visit its main attractions like Notre Dame Cathedral, La Conciergerie or La Saint Chapelle. As a tip, there is a garden called Square du Verte-Galante which offers amazing views over the Seine and the city. Go there to have a picnic or a glass of wine.
Notre Dame de Paris
Last year, in 2019, the cathedral has been extremely affected by a tragic fire and the plans for the restaurantions are still on risk.
Many people maybe don’t understand why this cathedral is so important and why so many people quickly reacted to donate money for its restaurantion. Well, this cathedral is the symbol of city, the masterpiece of the French gothic style and it was an education place since old times. Napoleon was crowned here and Victor Hugo wrote the famous roman Notre Dame de Paris which made it even more famous over time.
Lucky us, the people who could visit this place before the disaster and have those memories forever. Let’s hope one day the restauration will end and everybody will be able to enjoy again its beauty on their visit to Paris.
This chapell is a splendit gothic piece of art. It was built for Ludovic IX and is today is located inside the Justice Court, once the residence of the Kings of France. Its beautiful stained glasses are describing more than 1000 biblical stories on a surface of 620 square meter.
This is the oldest part of the royal palace. In the past, it has been used as a prison where many people were captured including the queen Marie-Antoinette.
Cruise on the Seine
If you would like to see the city from the boat, you have a few options to chose from. There are several companies offering tours on the Seine for sightseeing and or you can opt in for a more sophisticated tour including serving a meal on the bord. The most famous company is Bateaux Mouche which has the start point near Pont d’Alma.
Pont des Arts
This beautiful bridge in front of the Notre Dame is filled with lockers. If you’re coming in couple buy a locker, write your name down and lock it on the bridge. Like this your love will be locked forever, or better said until the town hall will come again to cut them all down and make space for others. In the end, it’s part of the business!
Close to Notre Dame and Ille de la Cite, this place is perfect for a break. Sit down and enjoy the three course meals the restaurants are proposing you for attractive prices. Drink a coffee while facing the streets then buy some souvenirs from the multitude of boutiques nearby.
The icon of the city and probably of France, the Eiffel Tower was built to celebrate 100 years of the French Revolution in 1889. It was built by Gustave Eiffel – from where its name – and it gained the first place in the univeral exposition of the same year. For many years it was the higest building in the world. It was supposed to be demolished in 1909 but it never happen, as it became indispensable for communication.
Today, if you come to visit Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower is like you never came here. There is no visit without La Dame de Fer.
This is one of the most loved areas in Paris. The small streets filled with cafeterias, restaurants and shops, are always busy and full of live. The oldest and the most famous cafeterias are still there, Les deux magots and Cafe de Fleurs – but expect to pay high prices in accordance with their reputation.
This place is a maousoleum and many of the French intelectual are burried here like Voltaire, Rousseau, Emile Zola, Marie Curie, Victor Hugo, etc. Inside you can also see the Faucault’s Pendulum, demonstrating the Earth rotation.
La Sorbonne is one of the first universities in the world. Today it is part of the University of Paris.
Jardin du Luxembourg
One of the beautiful gardens of Paris, Jardin du Luxembourg is hosting the Palais du Luxembourg, today the seat of the senat. You can extend your visit by seeing the Museum of Luxembourg hosting contemporary art.
The museum stands on the place of a hotel and an old train station, built for the universal exposition of 1900. Inside, you will find important collections of art from the most prestigious artists between 1848-1914. This museum is filling the gap between Musee du Louvre and the Contemporan collection of the Centre Pompidou.
Under the Eglise du dome, near L’Hotel des Invalides stands the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte, one of the most important historical figures of the country. Inside the complex there is Musee de l’armee, one of the biggest military collection in the world.
This catacombs are home to over 6 milion human scheletons. You will walk a few kilometeres underground seing nothing more than bones. Not recommended for claustrophobics.
If you want to have a panoramic view of the city from 210 meters high, this is the place. The tour is located near Montparnasse station and cannot be missed, just look up.
Musee du Quai Branly
One of my favourite museums in the world, Musee du Quai Bradly is located close to the Eiffel Tower. It is showcasting the etnographic art of the world. Apart from the beautiful museum, it has also an education and reserch center, a nice garden with a vegetal wall, a cafeteria and a restaurant to keep you busy for a full day.
If you would like to see more sculptures, Auguste Rodin has its own museum near Les Invalides. The museum is not very big and it has a beautiful garden too. A nice place to spend an afternoon.
L’Arc de Triomphe
Built by the order of Napoleon I as a tribute for its Grande Armee, today, L’Arc de Triump is an important landmark of the city. You can go up and have a beautiful view from 50 meter high with the Champs-Elysee and the 12 boulevards this place is opening. The traffic is crazy and to drive here is a big challange as are no lines for delimitation.
Who didn’t heard about the famous Champs Elysee? How many didn’t dream to have a walk here while singing the famous song of Joe Dassin? With so much fame around it, there is not visit to Paris without seeing this place.
This wide beautiful boulevard hosts some of the biggest celebrations and parades of France. In a normal day, you can have a walk by exploring its shops. You can find everything you want from Louis Vuiton to Zara, H&M, Disney Store, PSG football store, a huge Sephora and so on. If you’re looking to eat or have a coffee, the options are quite limited.
The Grand Palais is hosting different expositions during the year, it doesn’t have a fixed one because it’s not a standalone museum. During the winter, you can even find an iceskating ring inside!
Located in front of Grand Palais, the Petit Palais – which means the smalest palace, is an art museum with a permanent collection and temporary exposition halls changing among the year. The entrance is free!
Pont Alexandre III
The Alexander II Bridge is a piece of art and an historic monument. It is the most beautiful bridge in Paris, so add it to your visit list !
Place de la Concorde
The largest square in Paris, La Concorde, is marked by an obelisk brought from Egypt, from Luxor temple. In the past it used to be an execution place during the French Revolution. The queen Marie-Antoinette lost her life here among the others.
This is a church built for the glory of Napoleon. What makes it special is her arhitecture looking more as a temple than a church.
Jardin de Tuileries
This beautiful garden is located between Louvre and Place de la Concorde. It was built by the order of Catherine de Medici for the Tuileries Palace. Today, it is a place of relaxation and promenade for the Parisians and tourists. I often take a book and read in this garden near the fountain, do the same if you have the time.
Musee de l’Orangerie
Located in the Jardin de Tuileries, this museum is hosting today the most famous paitings of Monet, the Water Lillies. Apart from the special room dedicated to this works of art, the museum is hosting many other paitings from the impressionist and post-impressionist periods.
Musee du Louvre is the world’s biggest art museum which it also makes it one of the most visited. The museum has more than 380,000 pieces of collection and displayes in the permanent collection more then 35,000 works of art, in its 73,000 square meters and 14,5 km of halls. You need days to see everything, maybe a dedicated visit to Paris only for it. In a short run, don’t miss Mona Lisa of Leonardo da Vinci, the Venus de Milo, the Wedding at Cana, the Winged Bulls and many others!
This opera, also known as Palais Garnier, is an opera house well known for its ballet. It took the name from its arhitect, Charles Ganier, who designed it as an outstanding beauty, inside and outside.
Galeries Lafayettes & Printemps
If you would like to spend some time shopping you can chose one of the extravant places like Galeries Lafayettes or Printemps. This two department stores have everything you imagine of from parfums, jewleries, clothes, bags to accessories for home and good restaurants. Go to the last floor to have a free view with Paris and enjoy a coffee during the summer time.
Place Vendome & Rue St Honore
If you have too much money and you don’t know where to spend them, have a stop in Place Vendome and on Rue Saint Honore. Place Vendome is well known for its jewleries brands and Rue Saint Honore for the premium brands like Guerlain, Dior, Balenciaga and so on.
Hotel de Ville
Paris 4th arrondisement town hall was built in Renaissance style and it’s absolutelly beautiful. It is open for guided visits only or special events. Have a walk around it while continuing your walk towards Le Marais.
This museum is entirely dedicated to Pablo Picasso. I need to say I was quite dissapointed, as it doesn’t have so many paintings but more pictures, drawing or scatches. I don’t actually recomment it, at least not for a first visit in Paris.
Musee des Arts et Metieres
In this museum you can see a wide variaty of technological inventions. With more than 2400 inventions, the museum is divided in 7 collections: scientific instruments, materials, energy, mecanique, construction, telecommunication and transport.
The national museum of Asian arts is absolutely gorgeous for the ones passionate about Asia and its art. You can spend up to one full if you’d like to see everything in details.
The Centre Pompidou is hosting the largest collection of modern art in Europe. It is named after the French president Georges Pompidou who commisioned the building. You will be surprised by this museum even from outside as it looks atypical, with colorful pipes, tubes and outside elevators.
Near Centre Pompidou you can visit for free Atelier Brancusi. It is a small studio, about four rooms, where you can see some of the Romanian sculpture works, Constantin Brancusi.
As London or Amsterdam have Madame Toussaud, Paris has Musee Grevin. On the same principle, inside you can find famous wax statues. Have some fun checking how your favourite artists would look in reality.
Once a separate village. today part of the capital, Montmarte is today a beautiful hill surrounded by a lively quarter. Don’t miss a visit here while in Paris as the view from the top is spectacular.
This Roman Catholic Basilica is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Places on the top of the hill in Montmarte, it can be seen from all over Paris. Go inside the church and pray, it’s free. If you have time, visit the crypt and go on top of it for an amazing view of the city.
Le Mur des je t’aime
If you’re in Montmarte area don’t miss a stop to the Wall of Love, what we call Mur de l’amour. Here you can find the magic words, I love you, written in all the languages. Look for yours – Je t’aime, Te iubesc …
At the bottom of Montmarte stands one of the most famous cabaret in the world, Moulin Rouge. Admire it from the outside or purchase your ticket to go in – quite expensive, from 100€ for the show only up to 420€ with dinner included.
Parc des Buttes Chaumont
One of my favourite parks in Paris, this place is perfect for a oaze of relaxation. You can walk around the lake, lay down for a sun bathing or enjoy a picnic with the loved ones. Don’t miss a walk on the top of the mountain and a view with the waterfall.
Bois de Boulogne
If you would like cycling in nature, running or trekking, I would suggest to go to Bois de Boulogne. It is a huge forest on the West of Paris where locals used to gather with their friends and spend some quality time together, apart from the busy life of the capital.
I could continue the list with more places to visit in Paris, but I guess you should move here to have the time to see them all. Meanwhile, if you’re coming here, just pick up the places you would really like to see for a first visit and keep the rest for later.
If you want to extend your visit outside the capital, continue reading about other places to see in France, here.