Top 20 things to do in Paris

Here are the top 20 things to do in Paris while you are in France

Top 20 things to do in Paris

As the capital and most populous city in France, Paris is overflowing with tourists every year. The city has a long history so this is to be expected, and who would want to miss such a beautiful city while they are in Europe? The city is often said to be a place for couples thanks to its romantic beauty, and lots of young and older couples come here for a holiday. Some of the attractions are very well known, but there are several other places which shouldn’t be missed as well. For that, we have collected the top 20 things to do in Paris while you are in France.

  1. Eiffel Tower
    We can’t start a list of the best locations to visit in Paris without mentioning the very symbol of the city itself, the Eiffel Tower. While it was criticized by many people for its design when it was built for the World’s Fair in 1889, the structure since then has become a national symbol, and one the most recognizable attractions in the world. Almost seven million people visit it each year, making it the most-visited paid attraction in the world. Long lines of tourists wait there every day to climb the tower, but it is definitely worth the wait. The view of the city from above is marvelous, to say the least. To see the view from your home, you can check it out on Google Street View here.
2. Musée d’Orsay
Located in an unused railway station, the Musée d’Orsay is a museum for a large collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art. The collection consists of paintings, scultupres, photographs and furnitures as well. The painters include famous people like Van Gogh and Monet, among others.
3. Palais Garnier
As one of the most famous opera houses, the Palais Garnier is a wonderful building both inside and outside. The fame of the opera house is not only due to the building itself, but because it was used as a setting for the world-famous novel, movie and musical, The Phantom of the Opera. Guided tours are available for those who want to explore the building, but of course the best way to do so is by seeing one of the performances held here.
4. Luxembourg Palace
The Luxembourg Palace was originally built as a royal residence, but after the French Revolution, it was used as a legislative building. During the second half of the 20th century, it became the seat of the French Senate, and it still is even today.
5. Luxeumbourg Garden
Located at the Luxeumbourg Palace, the Luxembourg Gardens is a beautiful garden known for its marvelous flowerbeds, walkways surrounded by trees, statues, the model sailboat and the Medici Fountain. The garden is open for the public to visit.
6. Louvre Museum
The Louvre Museum is one of the most visited and largest museums in the world. The museum focuses on art, has a huge collection of them, including egyptian, greek, roman and eastern works of art. The building is part of the Louvre Palace, which was once a fortress, then later a royal palace. The most important, or at least the most well known painting in the museum is Leonardo da Vini’s Mona Lisa, which is usually the main objective for those who come to the museum. The museum is high on the list of things to do in Paris for many art lovers.
7. Louvre Pyramid
The Louvre Pyramid deserves a mention of its own, as it is a work of art in itself. Even if one isn’t interested in paintings and such, this pyramid is a must-see for everyone. This glass and metal pyramid was built as the main entrance of the Louvre in the middle of the courtyard of the Louvre Palace. The pyramid was controversial in many aspects, some saying it’s inconsistent with the architectural style of the palace, some saying it’s a symbol of death from the ancient Egypt. The biggest of these involve an urban legend that the pyramid consists of 666 glass panes, the number of the beast. This was proved false, as the number of the glass panes is exactly 673. Nevertheless, the Louve Pyramid remains a popular attraction for visitors.
8. Centre Pompidou
The Centre Pompidou is an unusual museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art. The building is a work of art in itself due to the very unnatural architectural design. Pipes and metal frames are all visible from the outside, which gives the building an inside-out look. The best way to describe it is “love at second sight”, as at first sight it can deter most people, but on second thought, it’s actually quite spectacular.
9. Le Marais
Le Marais is a historic district in the city, with many buildings that survived the French Revolution, and which now house galleries, cafés, bakeries and restaurants. Walking on the cobbled streets of this district is like walking in a medieval Paris. Le Marais was also the district used by the Jewish people, so it’s not surprising to find Hebrew writing on some signs.
10. Sacré-Cœur
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, or the Sacré-Cœur, is a popular Roman Catholic church located on the highest natural point of Paris. The basilica is beautiful both inside and outside, and is a must-see for both the religious and non-religious people. The view from the basilica is also wonderful, especially if one goes up to the top of the dome.

11. Champs-Élysées
The Champs-Élysées is the busiest avenue of Paris, and it’s a paradise for those who love shopping. Although, one must be aware of the luxurious prices that most of the shops here have. Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful place to see even if one doesn’t want to shop here. Coming here is advised both day and night, as the liveliness of this boulevard doesn’t dim. Annual military parades are also held here, and it is the finish line for the Tour de France cycle race.

12. Arc de Triomphe
A very well known landmark, the Arc de Triomphe is a triumphal arch located at the end of the Champs-Élysées. It was built as a memorial for those that for France in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. It is very frequently visited by tourists for its spectacular architectural style.
13. Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
As with other countries throughout the world, France also has its own Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a memorial for those who have fallen during the World Wars and were never identified. The tomb lies beneath the Arc de Triomphe. An eternal flame burns here in their memory, and a ceremonial is held here every year for them.
14. Panthéon
The Panthéon is a church and mausoleum in Paris. Just like its name suggests, it was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome, especially its front part. It was built in the style of neoclassicism, and its a popular place for tourists thanks to its beauty.
15. Palace of Versailles
Built and used by Louis XIII, the Palace of Versailles is not only famous as a building, but as a symbol for the absolute monarchy in the history of France. The palace is also well known as the location for the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I. The building is very large and contains numerous halls (out of which the most famous is the Hall of Mirrors), a chapel and even an opera. It’s highly popular among tourists and citizens alike.
16. Gardens of Versailles
Located at the Palace of Versailles is one of the most beautiful gardens in Paris, the Gardens of Versailles. The garden was made if a French garden style, and is popular among tourists. The garden is full of wonderful flowerbeds, hedges, sculptures and fountains.
17. Père Lachaise Cemetery
The Père Lachaise Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Paris, and it’s famous for being the resting place for numerous French (and some other) novelists, artists, poets, scientists, etc. These include people like Oscar Wilde, Balzac and Molière, among many others. Theirs tombs and graves can be visited by anyone.
18. Catacombs of Paris
The Catacombs of Paris clearly shows that not every place in Paris is romantic. The catacombs were built below Paris when they were running out of cemeteries during the end of the 18th century. The place is full of skeletal remains and it’s not for everyone, especially those who are easily scared. Getting lost in this maze-like tunnel system is also a possiblity, so a guided tour is necessary. This is a must-see on the list of things to do in Paris for those that like creepy but amazing places.
19. Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris is the most visited theme park in all of Europe, and for obvious reasons a very popular place for tourists and French citizens. The place is advised for everyone, both young and adults, as this Disney-themed park is full of fun rides, restaurants and souvenir shops.
20. Notre Dame de Paris
Lastly, another very easily recognizable place in Paris, the Notre Dame de Paris, a medieval catholic cathedral. As the finest example of French gothic architecture, the cathedral is highly popular as a tourist attraction thanks to its beauty. Both the top of the towers and the crypt of the cathedral are worth a visit for everyone. This place is a must-see for anyone Paris.
For other romantic towns throughout Europe, see this collection. Or if you want to see amazing photos where the past and present of Paris collide, definitely check out this page.