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Top 10 Things to Do and See in Paris

May 17, 2021

Paris is the kind of city that reveals itself in the details. That’s why a lot of locals and tourists alike would recommend you to take to the streets if you really want to experience the City of Lights at its finest. But with a lot of things to do and places to see, knowing where to go often becomes overwhelming. If you don’t want to end up spending all your precious vacation time flicking pages of travel magazines in your Paris apartment accommodation, this simplified travel guide will hopefully get you started in the right direction.

Paris vista

Souce: Lonely Planet

As a tourist, it’s easy to romanticize Paris. We’ve all seen it in movies. We’ve read about it in books and magazines. Friends who’ve been to the city boast about it on social media (minus the un-Instagrammable moments). Paris - the city of love and lights. That is until you find yourself stuck among a throng of people because you visited during the peak season and romantic is the last thing on your mind when you’re deligently following Google Maps to the Louvre museum.

Don’t spoil your fantasies! While the Louvre is indeed grandiose, there are aplenty of other sites to experience Paris l'authentique that are worth a lot more than just getting elbowed by a cranky tourist who wants to take a selfie with Mona Lisa.

Here are our top recommendations of things to do around this historic city. Pro tip: learn to be in the moment. Take a breath of fresh air, look up, and take in the sights, scents, and sounds around you. The experience is worth way more than any picture.

  1. Embark on an urban adventure

streets of Paris

Source: The Local France

Speaking of romantic, any traveler who’s been to Paris would tell you the same advice: walk, walk, and walk. Those sweet cobblestone streets are made for strolling. Explore hidden Parisian passageways and you might be surprised at what you will find.

The most expensive street lined with global fashion brands such as Dior, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton is Champs Elysées. Start at Place de la Concorde on Metro Lines 12, 1, and 8, and from there, move forward to the Arc de Triomphe where you can find the eternally-burning tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

If you want fancy jazz grooves, the oldie-jazzy streets of Rue De La Huchette and Rue Du Chat Qui Pêche located near metro station Saint-Michel are the best places to visit.

If personally witnessing the vibrant night life of Paris is something you’d like to experience, we recommend heading over to Rue de la Roquette located next to Bastille square on metro line 1, 5 and 8. Its a popular site for having drinks by the end of the day with a couple of servings of Asian food. On the weekends, the place gets entirely occupied by people.

The best French foodie adventure happens at Rue Montorgueil where many locals shop. And if you want to simply relax, drink a cup of coffee while reading your favorite book or people watching, the café terraces at Rue Des Barres are known for its quintessential Parisian display of spending French afternoons.

  1. Seek out your favorite French movie’s settings on a French film-themed walk


Source: Tim Cornbill

From the river-side bench scenes of the Before film series to the iconic street shots of Amelie, hunting for your favorite Paris film’s settings would be equally adventurous and challenging, akin to how the peculiar characters of Bernardo Bertolucci’s 2003 romantic film drama The Dreamers reenacted a famous scene from Bande à part of breaking the world record of running through the Louvre.

There are actually agencies that offer such exclusive tours. If you can’t join them, no worries. A regular tour group’s guide would most likely tell you the cinematic contribution of a certain building in any of your stops.

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  1. Indulge in authentic French cuisine

Le Cinq

Source: TripAdvisor

A trip to Paris is never complete without exploring the food havens of the city, considered one if not the best in the world. From your hunt for the best local cheeses in France at the Rue Montorgueil to the fine dining menu at Pierre Gagnaire at 6 Rue Balzac or tasty food choices at Le Cinq at 31 Avenue George V, guaranteed you will not run out of options for your gourmet adventure.

There are even local hosts that open their homes to tourists who want to experience homemade cooking from a local. Always observe courtesy. Though you are not expected to bring anything along, a little something - especially a bottle of wine - is always a pleasant gesture of gratitude.

  1. See the full French emblem of Impressionist art

Mussee d Orsay

Musée d'Orsay

Source: tiquets.com

The subtle, figurative brushstrokes characteristic of the radical art movement known as Impressionism debuted in France from innovators like Claude Monet and Paul Cezanne. Though it was not initially beloved, it eventually became a revolutionary artistic crusade that highlighted the artistic timeline in the later part of the 19th century. Such an iconic campaign gives no doubt why the city harbors some of the most prized Impressionist works to exist.

The top art museums in Paris always displays a piece of Impressionist work but the most famous ones can be found in Musée d'Orsay located adjacent to the Louvre just across the river Seine. Musée d'Orsay’s collection includes paintings, sculptures, and drawings by the likes of Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Delacroix, Gaugin, and Caillebotte, among others. It also extends its repertoire to Post-Impressionist art such as that of Van Gogh.

Other great impressionist treasuries include the Marmottan-Monet Museum, the Petit Palais, the Orangerie, and of course, Claude Monet's House and Gardens at Giverny.

  1. See an extensive collection of French modern Art

Centre Pompidou

The Centre Pompidou
Source: The Real Deal

As if the expansive Impressionist museums that dot the city are not impressive enough, the 40-year-old post-modern design of the Centre Pompidou will remind you exactly why Paris has become a personal nirvana for creatives and artists. This controversial building with its criss-crossing primary coloured pipes and a diagonally rising tube escalator houses a grand collection of contemporary art. The year-round exhibitions feature avant-garde styles from the world’s fore-running avant-garde artists.

A vast 1930s edifice situated on the banks of the Seine called Palais de Tokyo also boasts a proud collection of experimental modern art.

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  1. Be amazed by the architectural marvels of the city


Source: The Paris Tourist Office

Being the European birthplace of the most notable art movements of the past centuries, it’s easy to see the architectural equivalents of the artistic timeline. From the pure Gothic style of the royal chapel Sainte-Chapelle at 8 Boulevard du Palais to the Napoleon III style of the Palais Garnier at the Boulevard des Capucines which integrates Baroque, classism, and Renaissance styles, there's an unparalleled display of amazing architectural marvels all throughout the city which does more than make it pretty but timelessly elegant and deserving of respect for all its manifestations of human genius.

Also visit the Notre-Dame de Paris, one of the first buildings in the world to use flying buttresses, the modern establishment of the Louvre, the Ancient Roman and Byzantine architectures of Sacré-Cœur, the neoclassist mausoleum of the Pantheon, the Romanesque style of the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and the Beaux-Arts architecture of the Grand Palais, among others.

  1. Visit Disneyland!

Disneyland Paris

Source: Paris Tourist Office

You won’t often find this in a Paris travel listicle but Paris knows how to indulge your own inner child just as well as it engages your inner poet. Located just 27 miles or 45 kilometers east of the city, the Disneyland Park features film-themed Walt Disney studio parks, shows, restaurants, and shops!

  1. Visit the zoo!

Paris Zoo

Source: FranceToday.com

Parc Zoologique de Paris is a spectacular five-biozone inclusion (originally a 1930s Vincennes zoo called Bois de Vincennes Zoological Park) that insures its beasts receive a kind of treatment that is as close to their natural habitats. The zoo includes a 43,000 square feet greenhouse that shelters a tropical rainforest climate. It features snakes, lizards, turtles and tortoises, amphibians, mammals such as the magnificent Fossa, insects and anarchids, colorful aves, crocodilians, and bony and cartilaginous fishes, etc.

The environments are wide and well-maintained to observe the animals in their natural behavior. It may be hard to spot some of them but it's always fascinating to catch them in their most graceful animalistic states.

  1. Watch a match at the stadiums

Source: State de France

If you’re a huge sports fan, there’s no reason to miss the action in the city. Head over to their most iconic stadiums such as the Stade de France in Saint-Denis north of Paris which never disappoints with its festive matches. Games include international fixtures for football and rugby among others.

  1. Never miss the charming bookstores of Paris

Shakespeare Paris

Source: Paris Insights

Some of the best literary artists that graced the world were born in Paris such as Marcel Proust, Victor Hugo, Jules Verne, Albert Camus, and Simone de Beauvoir. More called it home at some point in their lives and even to this day, this charming city continues to attract a huge collective of artists. Bookstores are frequented not only by tourists but by many locals alike. What makes these bookstores especially attractive is their rustic, homely style that jives well with the city's character. Any self confessed book lover will delight in this pure haven of dog-eared paperbacks, like a child in a candy store.

The top bookstores we can recommend include:

  • La Hune located in a quiet corner of 16-18 Rue de l’Abbaye in Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the 6th arrondissement
  • Librairie Galignani on Rue de Rivoli, close to Place de la Concorde in the 1st arrondissement
  • Violette & Co. on the 11th arrondissement near the Place de La Bastille
  • Shakespeare and Company situated at the 5th arrondissement with a café next door
  • WHSmith at Rue de Rivoli in the 1st arrondissement
  • Taschen in 2 rue de Buci
  • Librairie du Marais at 89 Rue Saint-Antoine
  • Le Gai Rossignol located between Centre Pompidou and Rue de Rivoli in the 3rd arrondissement; and the
  • Comme un Roman at 39 Rue de Bretagne

Where to Stay

Experience authentic French living. Stay in an bona fide French home. Our selection of luxury rentals and short term Paris vacation homes offers premium choices for those who want to live like a local during their stay in the city.

All Luxury Apartments connects the best properties with tourists and travelers around the globe. We have an extensive list of homes that satisfy the most common traveler preferences in popular cities and destinations all over the planet. From location, proximity to restaurants and tourist spots, to amenities and aesthetics, we take care of the details so you are confident that every choice you make at ALX is a top one.

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