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Paris is one of the most- visited cities in Europe and the world, and it’s easy to see why the City of Lights continues to dazzle travelers. Paris is the capital of France with a bustling financial, fashion and bohemian feel surrounded by the romance of 17th-century architecture and a long salacious history.
From the iconic Eiffel Tower to Montmartre’s art district to the Arc De Triomphe, there is no shortage of sights to make visitors fall in love with the romance of Paris.
We have added links to special tours, skip-the-line tickets and activities with expert guides at the best spots in Paris from GetYourGuide.com throughout the article for your convenience. To make the most of your visit, here is our list of the top 20 things to do in Paris.
1. Eiffel Tower
Rising in the center of Paris, the Eiffel Tower is the most recognizable landmark and is the best spot day or night to get an expansive view of the city. There are two levels that you can access via elevator. Level two gives visitors a view from 200 feet and is a shorter ride to its observation level.
However, the best view and your best bet is to make sure you purchase tickets that take you to level three, which rises approximately 1,000 feet above the City of Lights. The Eiffel Tower tends to be one of the most crowded attractions in Paris so be sure to purchase skip-the-line tickets in advance to maximize your time.
2. Louvre Museum in Paris
Perhaps one of the most famous art museums in France and the world is the Louvre Museum. Dating to the 12th century, the Louvre was constructed as a fortress and was later converted to a palace during the 16th century.
It became an art museum in 1793. Today, Paris’ Louvre houses over 35,000 works of art, including Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Michelangelo’s Dying Slave and the Winged Victory of Samothrace.
3. Palace of Versailles
To get a better understanding of French history no visit to Paris or France is complete without seeing the former home of Marie Antoinette, King Louis XIV and France’s most famous kings and queens who walked the hallways and corridors of the Palace of Versailles.
Explore the opulent Hall of Mirrors, the King’s Bedroom, the Petit Trianon and the Queen’s Garden. Plan on spending an entire day wandering around this opulent palace and its grounds.
4. Paris Moulin Rouge
Moulin Rouge is a not-to-be-missed Parisian experience. The can-can dance was born at the Moulin Rouge but it’s the cabaret shows at the Moulin Rouge that are the main attraction. The shows are considered family-friendly by Parisian standards, with a minimum age of 6 for admission and a dress code that excludes flip flops or shorts.
Below the bustling streets of Paris lies the Catacombs of Paris and the remains of over six million people. During a time when cemeteries were overflowing in Paris, France the Catacombs provided much-needed space for burials.
There are numerous churches and chapels in Paris, and among the most iconic is Sacré-Cœur, located in Montmartre in the18th arrondissement. The basilica stands on the highest point of the city at the top of a series of steps, rising above the artists in the street. It is hard to miss with its white dome.
The Palace of Fontainebleau or Château de Fontainebleau has been home to French royalty and monarchs throughout the history of France, including Louis VII to Napoleon III. Château de Fontainebleau’s expansive gardens and an impressive fountain are worth the 34-mile trip to see.
Whether you are a Disney fan or not, this park with a French flair has specific attractions that you can’t see in the United States theme parks in Florida or California. Catch a wave on Crush’s Coaster from the film, “Finding Nemo” or have a rat’s eye view into Ratatouille: The Adventure ride.
It’s hard not to think of France without thinking of its most famous artist, Claude Monet. Located about 45 miles west outside of Paris in the French countryside, Monet’s Giverny includes the charming home of Monet, complete with the real pond and the water lilies that were the inspiration for Monet’s most celebrated impressionist work of art, Water Lilies.
Literally rising from the ashes, Paris’ Notre- Dame Cathedral stands as a reminder of the resilience of France. Notre-Dame de Paris is located on the Île de la Cité and its French gothic architecture is hard to miss. Thankfully, most of the stained glass survived the devastating April 2019 fire and can still be seen from the outside.
11. Montparnasse Tower
The Montparnasse Tower observation deck and roof terrace are second to the Eiffel Tower for a truly panoramic view of Paris’ skyline. Montparnasse Tower was completed in 1973 and remains one of the tallest skyscrapers in Paris.
This walkable street is lined with retail shops and restaurants and was formed in 1860 by a group of merchants. Tall trees line both sides of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. The 1.9- kilometers-long street (1.1 miles) ends at Paris’ Arc de Triomphe and runs between the Place Charles de Gaulle and the Place de la Concorde.
13. River Cruising on the Seine River
The Seine River, which runs through the city of Paris, stretches an impressive 482 miles from the Paris Basin and flows into the English Channel. A cruise on the Seine River is one of the best ways to see the north and south sides of Paris (the “Rive Gauche” or left bank in the southern arrondissements of Paris) and the centuries of architecture that line both sides of the Seine River, with an impressive view of the bastille.
14. Luxembourg Gardens
The Jardin du Luxembourg or Luxembourg Gardens was created by Marie de’ Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France starting in 1612. Luxembourg Gardens is located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris and is considered one of the most opulent gardens in all of France outside of Versailles.
15. Palais Garnier of Paris
The Palais Garnier or Opéra Garnier is located in the 9th arrondissement of Paris. Palais Garnier was designed by Charles Garnier and seats over 2,000. To say that the neo-baroque style is over-the-top is an understatement.
16. Le Marais
Located in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements in Paris and on the right bank of the Seine River, Le Marais was home to Paris’ aristocrats for centuries. After several decades of decay, it has experienced a return to its original splendor and architectural brilliance. Today, it boasts some of the best restaurants and boutiques in Paris.
17. Musée d’Orsay
Located on the left bank of the Seine and in the former Gare d’Orsay (a railway station), Musée d’Orsay houses some of the most famous French impressionist paintings in Paris, Europe and the world. Works from Renoir, Picasso, Degas, Cézanne, Van Gogh and, of course, Monet are on display.
18. Latin Quarter of Paris
The Latin Quarter in Paris is a must for visitors to Paris. Located on the left bank of the Seine River in the 5th and the 6th arrondissement, the Latin Quarter has a vibrant student vibe and is home to many educational establishments, including Sorbonne University (known as The Sorbonne), the École des Mines de Paris and Panthéon-Assas University.
Also, it houses some of the best restaurants and boutiques in Paris. Be sure to pick up a book at the Shakespeare and Company bookstore just a stone’s throw from Notre Dame Cathedral.
19. The Tuileries Gardens
The Tuileries Garden is a short walk from the Louvre Museum and Place de la Concorde located in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. The Tuileries Gardens was once part of the Tuileries Palace, which was constructed in 1564 and was later burned by the Paris Commune in 1871.
20. Galeries Lafayette
There is nothing like shopping in one of the most upscale department stores in Paris. The Galeries Lafayette is an upmarket French department store chain that opened in 1912 and is located in the 9th arrondissement of Paris.
Author Bio: Angie Cavallari, a lifestyle and pop culture expert is the author of “Trailer Trash: an ‘80s Memoir.” Her blogs and articles have been featured in Huffington Post, The Reset and, Go World Travel, among others. When she is not traveling, she is spending time with her kids and her precocious pug, JJ.