Writing about the 10 best places in Paris is one of the hardest things to do as this magical city has so much to offer, hence, the selection is hard.
This city is in the bucket list of many people, but not everybody has the privilege of staying long enough to visit everywhere, because normally, people travel for a short time but at the same time, they want to get the most out of it. For this reason, this article was written to cover the best selections for those who travel to Paris for a few days.
Now that you have made it to plan your trip and lucky to come to Paris, let’s start!
Top 10 must-see places in Paris
I elaborated in details the top 10 must-see places to visit in Paris, so you won’t be able to miss anything on your trip.
1. Eiffel Tower
It is impossible to talk about Paris and not hear something about the Eiffel Tower. This tower is known as the main symbol of Paris. The first impression that you will get from this city is the magnificence of this 324-meter tower which is in the top ten most visited tourist attraction in the world!
There are two ways to visit Eiffel Tower: one from outside and the other one is visiting inside.
If you don’t have enough time to go inside or don’t want to spend money or you have acrophobia (fear of height), then the best option is watching it from outside which is handier and of course, free. It is still impressive anyway. Meanwhile you can also enjoy strolling around Trocadéro Gardens by crossing Seine River.
In addition, there are times that this tower is much more attractive especially when it is lighten up and when there are fireworks. According to the official website of Eiffel Tower, every night, the tower sparkles golden lights for five minutes every hour; and also, during special occasions.
In addition, if you still haven’t bought your ticket to Paris, I recommend you to visit the city during July 14th as the country celebrates its French National Holiday. During this day, you can enjoy the spectacular fireworks display in Eiffel Tower which is fantastic and super impressive!
But if you are more interested to go up the tower, here are some more tips!
The first and the most important thing is to ensure that you are getting the best way to save time by not being annoyed of the long queue – so buy a ticket beforehand! You can purchase the ticket up to two months before your visit. To skip the crowd especially during peak time of visits (weekends and summer months), it is better to visit the tower in the mornings of working days.
Another tip for saving time is that from the two entrances (south and east) it is more recommended to go through the east side because it is less crowded. The second important thing is to have your ID card ready on hand, even for children.
It is also better to be on time because security check normally takes a long time.
The price of tickets varies according to the age (there are four age groups), the floor you want to visit (second floor or top), and the use of the stairs (1665 steps) or elevators. If you would like to have a guide for a ride up the tower and hear stories and fun facts about the tower along the way, you can book your guided Eiffel tour from here. But if you want to purchase normal tickets, you can buy through the official website. You will also have access to gift shops and restaurants on the first and second floors, a good place for having a dinner date, too!
While you are up, keep in mind to put your jacket on as it can get colder. You may also experience dizziness because of height and pressure.
Then last but not the least, photography tips!
For having a good photo or selfie, I strongly recommend you to go early in the morning especially before 8:00 am, before people start to come (visiting time for inside starts from 9:00 am). The best spot for having a complete view is at Place du Trocadéro. By being a bit creative you can find a good angle to have a unique photo!
2. Louvre Museum
This museum is the most visited museum in the world, imagine even more visits than the British Museum in London and the Metropolitan Museum in New York!
According to this piece of information (the most visited museum) you should take into account that for saving time and beating the queue, the best option is to book the ticket online. Keep in mind that this museum is closed on Tuesdays (and January 1, May 1 and December 25) and the opening hours is from 9:00 am until 6:00 pm with extra hours on Wednesdays and Fridays (9:00 am until 9:45 pm).
More tips on visiting hours:
- Do you want to enjoy more by having less crowd around? Then try early mornings or extra night openings on Wednesdays and Fridays!
- Can not afford the ticket but you would like to visit the Louvre? Then you can enjoy the free of charge visit on the first Saturday of each month from 6:00 pm to 9:45 pm!
Whether you buy the ticket from the priority ticket option or from the official website, you should consider that you will encounter a massive space to explore (around 72 thousand square meters with over 35 thousands of artworks). So having a tour guide might be a better option for you to explore better!
So what is the must see in case you go without guide?
- The Mona Lisa (La Mona Lisa or La Joconde): For sure you are not going to Louvre without seeing the most famous painting in the world, the masterpiece of Leonardo Da Vinci! However, keep in mind that many people want to see this painting as well. So it is better to do it the first thing after entering.
- The Coronation of Napoleon (Le Sacre de Napoléon):It is a huge painting with lots of amazing details which can make you watch it for a while without knowing how much time has passed. This massive painting (10 by 6 meters) by Jacques-Louis David shows the coronation of Napoleon I in Notre-Dame Cathedral.
- The Venus de Milo:This iconic armless statue will amaze you with its classical beauty. The details of this ancient Greek statue will impress you even a lot more! This statue is made of marble and represents Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love.
- Liberty Leading the People (La Liberté guidant le peuple):This painting with focusing on a woman, topless, and bearing a flag in her hand is inspired by the Revolution of the Glorious Thirties. It has become a cultural icon to represent the revolution and the republic.
- Egyptian Galleries: One of the most impressive part of the museum is the Egypt section. With its many valuable art pieces like the Great Sphinx of Tanis and colossal statue of Rameses II, without any doubt, the section provides a genuine Egyptian atmosphere.
The artworks of this museum deserve a complete post! And if you could handle visiting more museums after strolling around the main parts of Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay and the Centre Pompidou with the collection of modern and contemporary art would be interesting and the best place to go!
However, it is very important to be aware about your valuable stuff as the museum is always packed and you could attract pickpockets while you are distracted by the beautiful artworks.
3. Arc de Triomphe
This monument is located in the center of a square known as Place Charles de Gaulle which is surrounded by twelve radiating avenues. This Arc is one of the main attractions of Paris. This monument honours those who died in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars for defending their country France.
At the base of the monument there is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the First World War, with a flame on it that never turns off.
At 50 meters tall, it provides a panoramic view of the city after climbing 284 steps (you can also use an elevator for sure)! To skip the queue for the rooftop tickets, click here. This ticket is also included in Paris Pass.
4. Avenue des Champs-Élysées and Place de la Concorde
After your visit to the Arc de Triumph, you can head to the Avenue des Champs-Élysées running almost two kilometers between the Place Charles de Gaulle and Place de la Concorde. This avenue is full of shops, so better yet prepare for a shopping spree! Just be careful about the temptation of shopping and the money you spend in this avenue.
You can end your day by visiting Place de la Concorde. It is a giant square, with an oval shape and a great story behind (built in 1748).
In the center of the Place de la Concorde is an obelisk (a four-sided monument which has a pyramid at the top). This monument called Luxor Obelisk was given by the Egyptian government to France during the 19th century.
Also in the Place de la Concorde, at the side of Champs Élysées Avenue, there is a park known as the Jardin des Champs-Élysées which contains the Grand Palais, the Petit Palais, and the Théâtre Marigny with restaurants and bars in the area for taking a rest after a long day of exploring this magical city.
5. Palace of Versailles
Spending less than one hour using the public transport from center to the southwest of Paris you reach the Palace of Versailles and the Gardens. This place is totally worth the visit! There are three train stations in Versailles, the closest one to the Palace is Versailles Château Rive Gauche.
This palace was the principal royal residence of the Government of France over 100 years, from 1682 until 1789, during the time of Louis XIV. However, after the French Revolution, the monarchy moved back to Paris.
Remember that the palace is closed on Mondays, while during the rest of the week, it is open from 9:00 am. You can purchase the ticket online through the official website.
Visit to the Park and Gardens are free and accessible every day except on the days of fountain shows. During Saturday nights in the summer, there are Night Fountains Shows in the Gardens.
You can enjoy a totally free audio guide app by downloading the Palace of Versailles app before going.
6. Sainte Chapelle
With its gothic architectural style and 15 impressive stained-glass windows that cover practically the entire wall of the upper chapel, from top to bottom, the Sainte Chapelle is a beautiful attraction in Paris. You will be more surprised to know that this huge and amazing monument has been built in just seven years during the thirteenth century upon the order of King Saint-Louis.
The good thing about this attraction is that it is open almost every day (except 1 January, 1 May and 25 December) from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm in fall and winter; and until 7:00 pm in spring and summer days. The ticket is included in the Paris Museum Pass or Paris Pass.
This monument is close to the iconic Cathedral of Paris Notre Dame. This cathedral unfortunately burned in April 2019. Fortunately, the basic structure survived the fire, and the artworks inside were saved. The intention is to rebuild the cathedral maybe for the next couple of years, but for now, it is closed for the public.
7. Pantheon and Latin Quarter
Pantheon is a monument with neoclassical style, imitating the famous Pantheon in Rome. In addition to its impressive architecture, in the crypt, you can see the tombs of notable French personalities, such as Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Louis Braille, Emile Zola, and Marie Curie.
Another interesting fact is that in 1851, astronomer Leon Foucault installed his famous Foucault Pendulum beneath the dome to demonstrate the rotation of the earth. The pendulum was removed the same year due to the complaint from the church. He chose this place because of the great height of the building, which allowed him to make a large installation. Nowadays the original pendulum is in Musée des Arts et Métiers and a copy in the Panthéon. Click here to have a self-guided tour to Pantheon.
Coming out of the Pantheon, within a 5-minute walk, you are in the Latin Quarter! After strolling all around the city you need to take a break and enjoy your coffee in a cozy neighbourhood!
The restaurants and cafes with terrace make this area a very picturesque place for gastronomes and foodies. The prices are also reasonable due to its proximity to Sorbonne University that makes it affordable for students. You can also enjoy the famous bookstores called Shakespeare & Company in this quarter.
8. Montmartre and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart
Montmartre is a bohemian neighbourhood, full of streets where you can imagine yourself following in the footsteps of great artists and painters like Van Gogh and Picasso, to name a few. The place is still full of street painters, bookstores, arts, and craft stores. This colorful neighbourhood will make you busy for hours!
To get there, you can go up by subway or by funicular. Take into account that it is situated at the upper part of the city, so if you want to walk, be ready for an uphill climb.
Once there, don’t forget to stop by the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. In addition to its interesting architecture, the place will give you a beautiful view of the city. You can also enjoy a walking tour if you want to have more information about the neighbourhood.
The best thing about Montmartre is the street atmosphere. Although it is already super touristic, it still has that historical charm and you can enjoy a coffee there (which is a bit pricey).
Another interesting corner to see in this place is the Café des Deux Moulins, the location where Amélie worked in the film.
9. Seine River
Seine River is a vital vein of Paris. The city has been growing over the centuries on Seine’s two banks. These banks are very important for the city in many aspects. One of the most important things about Seine River is its banks (from Sully Bridge to Jena Bridge) being added in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe in 1991.
Seine River has three main islands, namely: Île Saint-Louis, Île de la Cité (where Notre Dame and Sainte Chapelle are), and Île aux Cygnes which is a small artificial island. All are great for walking!
There are 37 bridges in total over the Seine River in Paris alone (and of course much more on the river outside of Paris). Some are very famous like the Pont Neuf or New Bridge, which despite its name, is the oldest in the city. Adding to the list is the Mirabeau Bridge or the Alexander III Bridge.
There is also another bridge called Pont des Arts or the Bridge of Arts. It is famous for the tradition that lovers put padlocks with the letters of their names engraved on them to the railing with the key being thrown into the river. But due to damage to the structure of bridge, the City Council now tries to prohibit people from putting more padlocks.
Talking about the romantic experience on the Bridge of Arts, I should add that as the Paris name by itself reminds a romantic ambient in mind, you should not miss the experience of watching sunset from one of the bridges over Seine River. This is a very nice moment for lovers and solo travelers alike.
You also have another option to experience the river by cruising for an hour. While on cruise, you can see the main monuments on the either side of the river while listening to the audio guide.
Another option is the Batobus, a boat that communicates as a shuttle through the main attractions of the banks of Seine. Batobus is like tourist buses that you find in any big city. You also have the Hop-on Hop-off Seine River Cruise as an option!
10. Other places to visit
As previously mentioned, Paris is big and full of attractions. It is almost impossible to end up just with 10 places. Therefore, for having more options in mind, here is a bonus shortlist of other places that you can visit:
- Tuileries Palace: Located in the right bank of Seine River, the Palace and the Gardens of Tuileries were the meeting place of the French Monarch before building Versailles. The gardens are open to public.
- Père Lachaise Cemetery: The Père Lachaise Cemetery receives more than three million visits a year because it is the largest English style park and cemetery in Paris with 70,000 graves, mostly of famous people like Marcel Proust, Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Balzac and many other persons. It is better to have a guided tour for this huge place. Or if you are going on your own, download the free map beforehand.
- Catacombs of Paris: Originally the catacombs of Paris were a quarry. From there, many stones have been taken to build buildings like the Notre Dame Cathedral. At the end of 18th century, due to an epidemic that affected a huge proportion of the French population rate, the government decided to use 300 kms of this underground tunnel to turn it into an ossuary to control the plague.
- The Place de la Bastille (The Bastille Square): The heart of the French Revolution today is a square with many interesting programs, markets, concerts, dances, and events. It is also a typical nightlife place with restaurants.
- Le Marais: One of the trendy neighbourhoods with lots of galleries and gay bars. And as it is located in the Jewish quarter you can find many kosher restaurants.
- Lafayette Galleries: This Shopping Mall has a lot of stores and very nice famous designed glass Coupole (dome). It deserves a visit specially during Christmas time.
- The flea market of St. Ouen: Do you visit flea market everywhere you go? If yes, then the St. Ouen flea market is a good place for you! You are in a city with the largest flea market (antique) in the world and is located in the Porte de Clignancourt called Les Puces de Saint-Ouen. It is a vivid market where you can find antiques, art, vintage, and second-hand stuff.
Free museums in Paris
In general, there are days when most of the museums and monuments in Paris are free to visit. For example, during the first Saturday of each month the Louvre Museum is free.
There are also lots of museums which are free to visit on the first Sunday of the month. One of these is the Musée d’Orsay and the other one is the Pompidou Centre. However, sometimes, this plan is only applicable during low seasons (fall and winter). To make sure, check the websites before going.
If you are under 26 years old and you are a citizen of the European Union the good news is that you can enter a lot of places for free!
You can check the complete list of free museums in Paris here.
Best places to visit in Paris with kids
If you are travelling to Paris with your children, there is no doubt that this place that I am going to share to you is one of the most favourite places. The Disneyland Paris is always charming for children and even for kids at heart!.
A bit far from the center of Paris, this huge complex includes 2 main theme parks, the Disneyland and Walt Disney Studio. The complex also hosts 15 hotels (8 resort and 7 associate), a golf course, a rail station, an entertainment area with a big shopping center (Val d’Europe), an outlet center (la vallée village), and the Disney village with lots of restaurants and shops. In one sentence, you have all you want!
According to the official website of Disneyland, the most favourite attractions in the theme parks are: It’s a Small World, Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters.
The Walt Disney Studios focuses more on the company’s films, getting into different filming environments and seeing how specialists work or discovering Pixar movies. All are very attractive and super interactive, of course.
The main park is open from 10 am until 11 pm; while the studio is open until 8 pm.
Paris for children doesn’t limit only to Disneyland. If you can’t visit Disneyland, there are other options below:
- The Playmobil Fun Park: Located outside Paris, is a fairly good fun park in price and game options.
- The Parc Astérix: A smaller-like version of Disneyland and is located just inside the city. It offers a great experience for comic book fans and is big enough so that children do not get bored.
- National Museum of Natural History (Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle): Natural History Museum is always my recommendation for those who have kids. Not only in Paris, but any city in the world that has this museum. The attraction for all kids is unbelievable. Giant animals, skeletons of dinosaurs, and much more! Try it with your kids, and you won’t regret!
- France Miniature: Located very close to Versailles (5-min train), you can visit France Miniature which is a huge (five hectare) outdoor park with main French Monuments in small size (1/30-scale). It can be very interesting for children.
- Eiffel tower with kids: Normally the tower and its structure is interesting enough for kids but if you want to make the experience more memorable for them, you can involve them in the adventure game entitled “The Secret Dossier on the Eiffel Tower” which has been launched for Eiffel Tower’s 130th birthday.
What to see in Paris in 2 days
A weekend or any 2 days is not much for visiting Paris. But there are still a lot of options to do in these 2 days. So let’s take the most out of it!
1 Early in the morning directly go up to the Eiffel Tower and then take your time in the area around the tower and of course the Trocadero Gardens. Then as you are on the other side of the river go towards Arc de Triomphe. Spend your evening in the Champs-Elysees Avenue (Avenue des Champs-Élysées). And finally end your day in the Place de Concorde.
2 By being an early bird spend the whole morning in the Louvre Museum. Try to visit the main artworks at least. Then by walking 10 minutes you reach the Tuileries Gardens. You can have your prepared lunch and eat while visiting. You can then enjoy your evening by taking a cruise on the Seine River. And at the end, you can sit and enjoy your dinner or cafe in Latin quarter.
What to see in Paris in 3 days
You already have the plan for two days. With one extra day you can visit the places in Paris that I have mentioned before according to your interest.
3 I personally recommend Palace of Versailles although a bit far away from the center but good enough to visit. For the afternoon take a walk through Montmartre and end up with the sunset view at the top of the neighbourhood.
What to see in Paris in 5 days
By having more days you don’t need to rush and also you can enjoy visiting more places in Paris.
For the first three days you can go according to the previously mentioned plan, in case you get tired you can keep visiting some places for the 5th day.
4 Starting from the Catacombs you can walk towards the Panthéon and enjoy your evening in the Latin Quarter. If you have more time, you can also visit Sainte Chapelle and pass from the front of Notre Dame Cathedral, although it’s burned, still it is worth a visit from outside.
5 This day is for taking a rest and enjoying. Walking maybe alongside the Seine River or any neighbourhood that I have mentioned above. Or you can visit any special place of interest according to your taste.
Paris Pass provides you the opportunity to enter many sightseeing places. If you ask if it is worth it or not, I should say it depends on your plan. If you are going to visit a lot of places that require you to pay entrance, I think it is worth it. You can buy your Paris Pass here.
- You save a lot of queues at entrance of museums and other tourist attractions.
- It includes the entrance to the most important places.
- You can use public transport.
- It is much cheaper than buying tickets separately.
- You can buy the Paris Pass for 2, 3, 4 or 6 days, which starts counting from the moment you use it for the first time.
If you find it too much, there are other options to have the entrance. For example, just to the museums (Paris Museum Pass) or tourist attractions such as the famous Seine cruise (Paris Attractions Pass).
Attention: If you really want to take advantage of it, first organize the itinerary you are going to do and what you want to visit. If not, you will go crazy trying to see everything.
Public Transport in Paris
Metro, bus or train works quite well and are very comfortable. With that you can move perfectly around the city an its surroundings without any complications.
The basic ticket for the metropolitan area is around two euros, but if you are in a rush and do not want to walk a lot, you can use the metro. In this case, it is often better if you buy a 10-trip ticket which is cheaper.
Paris Visit: You can also get the Paris Visit for 1, 2, 3 or 5 days. Depending on the plan you have in mind, this can be very useful. However, if you are going to be in the center, a 10-trip ticket will be enough, if you manage it well.
Hop on / hop off buses: These are the typical double-decker tourist buses where you buy a one-day ticket and you can enjoy visiting tourist places by a group of people who are with you in the bus.
The Batobús: This is a boat that moves along the Seine with stops in most of the famous places. It works like tourist buses, and with a daily ticket, you can get on and off at each stop.
If you buy the Paris Pass, it also includes the entrance to public transport (metro, bus and commuter train), and there you can save a lot of money.
When is the best time to visit Paris?
Well, based on the weather, spring and fall are the best times as Paris can be very cold during winter and very hot during the summer. But don’t worry, the good news is that Paris always has something to offer. No matter when you visit, you will have enough fun according to the season.
But of course, there is something that can be annoying: Paris is very touristy that for every visit you need to wait on long queues. To avoid this, as much as possible, do not visit this magical city during very typical holidays.
There are also some days when visiting Paris can be more memorable.
- National Day of France (Bastille Day ): July 14th is an important day for French people as it is their National Day. They celebrate it with different plans. What I like more about this day is the amazing firework around Eiffel Tower. You also can find many street festivals and music on this special day.
- The Paris Marathon (Tour de Paris): This marathon is held on a Sunday in April of every year with thousands of participants from all over the world. You can enjoy this big event either as a participant or as a visitor.
- The Jazz Festival or the Autumn Festival: These two festivals show you the vivid face of the city. If you like live shows and music, you can enjoy the jazz festival in May and the other one of course in fall.
- The Paris Pride (Marche des Fiertés LGBT): This festival is held each year in summer time (end of June) alongside other big cities in the world to celebrate love for all people. Gay Pride nowadays has changed to a tourist attraction with different and colourful plans.
- Techno Parade: The last recommendation is for music lovers. An electronic music festival which every year is held in mid-September.
What should I take on my trip to Paris?
Attention: You are going to walk a lot in this city, either alongside the Seine River, or exploring Louvre Museum or walking down in Champs-Élysées. So the most important thing to have is a comfortable pair of shoes.
Always try to have light backpack to avoid tiredness and back pains; and of course a bottle of water and maybe a prepared sandwich while you are in a middle of a visit and you feel hungry.
Don’t forget the weather in this city can be crazy: very cold in the winter and hot in the summer. Just have your umbrella with you for the rainy days. So be well prepared according to the season that you plan to travel.
Last but not least, you are in a city which always is full of tourists so be very careful with your personal stuff.
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