The best things to do in Paris include the city’s grand landmarks. It is famed as a must-see destination for very good reason. History buffs will be delighted by the many historic buildings and monuments, fashionistas will be pleased to shop in the trendiest boutiques, gourmands will be thrilled to sample the outstanding food and wine, and the list could go on and on…

    This selection of the best things to do in Paris was not simple to make. Paris has so many places of interest, making it difficult to compress down to a reasonable number. Please don't blame us if your favourite Parisian site is not listed below. It certainly will be part of one of our many pages introducing all that you shouldn't miss in Paris, the “city of light”, the capital city of France.

    What are the best things to do in Paris?


    Eiffel Tower

    Take in the view from the top of Paris' most iconic monument

    The wrought iron lady – a tower is feminine in French – is a must-see if you come to Paris. With a height of 324 metres, 3 storeys, and a 674-step staircase, it certainly can't go unnoticed. You'll find a Michelin-starred restaurant and a French macaron bar on the second floor, and a champagne bar on the third floor. Its worldwide fame makes the Eiffel Tower a crowded place: you should book a ticket online beforehand if you want to get to the top by lift. Be aware of the scam artists roaming around the Eiffel Tower square.

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    Location: Right next to the Seine River on the Champs de Mars in the 7th Arrondissement of Paris, France

    Open: Daily, from 9.30 am to 11 pm



    Enjoy a stroll on the "most beautiful avenue in the world"

    Stretching for almost 2 km between Place Charles de Gaulle and Place de la Concorde, Champs-Élysées Avenue is an iconic street of Paris famed for its stylish restaurants and cafés, luxury boutiques, big-brand stores and theatres. Go to the top of the Arc de Triomphe on Place Charles de Gaulle to get a stunning view of the tree-lined avenue and of the Voie Triomphale – the Triumphal Way. The street forms a straight line between the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, the Obelisk of Place de la Concorde, and the Grande Arche of La Défense.

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    Location: northwest of Paris in the 8th Arrondissement, France


    Arc de Triomphe

    One of Paris' most quintessential and recognisable sights

    Arc de Triomphe is undoubtedly one of the most iconic monuments in Paris. Inaugurated in 1836, the mighty structure was originally built to commemorate Napoleon's 1805 victory at Austerlitz, and today stands as a tribute to the French soldiers who lost their lives fighting in World War I, the Napoleonic Wars, and the French Revolution.

    The imposing 50-metre structure sits at the western end of the Champs-Élysées in the centre of Place Charles de Gaulle. Inscribed on the Arc's walls are the names of all France's wartime victories and its generals, and underneath the structure lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It's possible to climb the Arc's 280 steps for breathtaking views of the Paris skyline.

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    Location: Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris, France

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 10 pm


    Louvre museum

    Go and meet Mona Lisa

    It seems that everything’s over the top at this former royal palace, now the most famous French museum. From paintings to sculptures and from archaeological finds to drawings, The Louvre has 35,000 works of art plus over 350,000 objects on display. The permanent collections cover an area of 60,600 sq m. A good hint to make your day is to get a map and an audio guide at the ticket desk before starting your visit of one of the largest museums in the world.

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    Location: Rue de Rivoli in the 1st Arrondissement of Paris, France

    Open: Friday and Wednesday from 9 am to 9.45 pm; other days from 9 am to 6 pm; closed on Tuesdays


    Notre Dame Cathedral

    Pay a visit to Our Lady of Paris

    Notre Dame Cathedral overlooks the Seine River from the southeastern tip of Île de la Cité. It’s one of the largest church buildings in the world and an exceptional example of French Gothic architecture. From the important Catholic relics of the cathedral treasury to the splendid gargoyles and sculptures of the cathedral towers, Notre Dame Cathedral takes you for a mystical stroll into history. If you want to avoid the crowd, the best time to go there is around 5.30pm.

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    Location: On Île de la Cité in the 4th Arrondissement of Paris

    Open: Daily from 7.45 am to 6.45 pm (7.15 pm on weekends)



    Take a stroll in the most artistic district of Paris

    Montmartre is one of the most picturesque districts in the city. It’s a quaint neighbourhood that feels like a village in a big city. Built on a hill, it has the splendid Sacré-Coeur Basilica as its centrepiece. Famous for its artistic scene that still attracts painters, musicians and writers, Montmartre is a pretty active area at night. You’ll find nightclubs, live music venues and, down the hill on the southwestern side, the world-famous cabaret show at Moulin Rouge.

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    Location: 18th Arrondissement of Paris, France


    Seine River

    See Paris monuments from an open excursion boat

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    The Seine is the 5th longest river in France and its course through the centre of Paris offers you the opportunity to see many of the most notable monuments of the city from a different angle. Funnily nicknamed ‘bateaux mouches’ (‘fly boats’ in French), long and thin open excursion boats take you to see the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum, the Town Hall, and many more places of interest on cruises that last slightly more than 1 hour. If you really want to indulge yourself, a dinner cruise on the Seine River is worth the extra cost as the monuments are even more beautiful when illuminated at night.

    Location: Port de la Conférence, Port de la Bourdonnais, Quai Branly and Quai de Montebello are a few of the Seine River excursion boats embarking ports in Paris, France


    Disneyland Paris

    Take your children - or your inner-child - to the most popular amusement park in France

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    Located in Marne-la-Vallée, 32 km east of Paris city centre, Disneyland Paris is a must-visit for families. The 20 sq km park is home to a huge number of rides and attractions inspired by Walt Disney’s characters and franchises, including Star Wars and Marvel. Enjoy themed roller coasters, a haunted house, a pirate ship and more. The park also has over 50 restaurants and 7 hotels on site. You can even play a round of golf at the 9-hole and 18-hole Golf Disneyland courses.

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    Location: In Marne-la-Vallée, 30 km east of Paris centre, France

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 8 pm


    Palace of Versailles

    Walk in the steps of the Sun King

    The Palace of Versailles is not exactly in Paris as it’s about 20 km southwest from the city centre. This should not stop you going to visit this remarkable edifice. A symbol of the absolute monarchy that ended with the French Revolution in 1789, the palace is now a museum and one of the most visited historical sites in France. It was entirely restored to the appearance it had during the 17th century, so you really feel like you’ve travelled to the past when walking through the Hall of Mirrors or in the King’s Apartment. The gardens that surround Versailles are also an impressive illustration of jardin à la française – French-style gardening. You can totally lose yourself for the day in Versailles Palace as a good choice of restaurants and snack bars are available right next to the park.

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    Location: In Versailles, 20 km southwest from Paris city centre, France

    Open: November–March: Tuesday–Sunday from 9 am to 5.30 pm. April–October: Tuesday–Sunday from 9 am to 6.30 pm. Closed on Mondays.

    Phone: +33 (0)1 30 83 78 00


    Paris vineyards

    Learn more on viniculture and sample wines

    Vine-growing and wine-making in Paris dates back to the Roman Empire. Even though it’s not as renowned as the nearby Burgundy and Champagne vineyards, you can visit a vineyard and sample a wine produced in Paris itself at The Clos Montmartre. It’s a 1,550 sq m vineyard a mere 300 metres from the Sacré-Coeur Basilica. It produces a decent Gamay/Pinot Noir wine. It’s celebrated at a yearly event in October, the Harvest Festival of Montmartre.

    Location: Rue des Saules, in Montmartre, 18th Arrondissement of Paris, France

    Stephan Audiger | Compulsive Traveller

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