Paris. Nearly every traveller dreams of walking its cobblestone streets, tasting the delectable food, and visiting the notorious landmarks throughout the city. Planning a trip to the City of Lights? This guide will help you plan the best things to do in Paris.
Paris is one of those places that nobody can stop talking about. It is a city rich in trends, glamour, and must-sees for any traveller. The things you can do seem endless in Paris that it’s overwhelming to even know where to begin in this popular city. That is why we have compiled our top picks for things to do in Paris, including essential stops and plenty of free options along the way. Make the most out of your next trip to this incredible city!
Fun fact: Do you know why Paris is nicknamed the City of Lights? Because it was one of the first cities to get electricity!
Things to Do in Paris: Must-See Attractions
See the best of Paris with this list of bucket list attractions for any trip to Paris.
1. Get a great view of the city from the Arc de Triomphe
Right at the Western end of the Champs-Elysées, lies this well-known Parisian landmark. This is one of the top things to do in Paris and a trip will most definitely include this – as most tourists flock to this street at some point during their trip. This landmark honours those who fought and died in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. While you can enjoy the outside without a cost, it is worth paying the subliminal fee to get to the top, where panoramic views of the city are vast, and the Eiffel Tower is right in sight.
Insider Tip: If you are travelling with kids, those 17 and under get free admission. Admission for students is around $8 and for adults $12. One of the best days to visit is on Bastille Day (July 14), when a parade ensures down the Champs-Elysées, and a huge flag is hung from the Arch’s crown.
2. See world-famous art at the Louvre
Visiting a museum is one of the top things to do in Paris. In fact, you could easily spend your whole trip hitting up the over 60 sights and museums. But if you are a bit more limited on time, and want to explore other options, the Louvre is one of those museums not to be missed. This is the largest art museum in the world and is home to the infamous Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Be prepared to spend at least a whole day here, as the halls are endless.
Insider Tip: If you want to save and see more of the top museums then it’s worth looking into the Paris Museum Pass.
3. Take a day trip to Versailles
The Palace of Versailles is without a doubt a must-see attraction on a trip to Paris. A little outside of the centre of Paris but worth the day trip, Versailles is more than just a museum. What was at first a hunting lodge in the 17th century, eventually turned into a house of power for the French Monarchy. It was the main royal residence of France for people such as Louis XIV and Louis XVI until the start of the French Revolution. Today, Versailles encompasses not only the Palace but also the beautiful gardens, the Park, the Trianon Estate and several buildings in town. The Museum is closed on Mondays.
Insider Tip: The easiest and cheapest way to get to Versailles is by taking the train. You can take the RER Line C, which arrives at Versailles Château – Rive Gauche train station, only a ten-minute walk to the Palace. Alternatively, there are several trains that leave from Saint Lazare Train Station daily.
Free Things to Do in Paris
1. Wander Montmartre
Montmartre was once an area in Paris for creatives and artists, and you can certainly feel that as you wander through the various corners and streets, admiring the bohemian influences. Start off at Sacré-Coeur for vast views of the city. Then just get lost going up and down the cobblestone streets and alleyways. It is a guaranteed way to get past the frequent tourist confections and traps that directly circle around Sacré-Coeur. Aim to find rue des Martyrs, a street full of character, delectable macaroons and sweet little shops. The more you allow yourself to wander, the more you will be able to take in this unique, Parisian neighbourhood, reminiscent of another time.
2. Enjoy a sunny afternoon in the Tuileries Garden
Tired from all your exploring and walking around the city? Take an afternoon detour to relax in the Tuileries Garden, located between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde. Snag one of the green seats located around one of the ponds in the centr of the park with a good book or cup of gelato. Then if you are feeling up for it, take a leisurely stroll along the pathways lined with flower beds of gorgeous daffodils and irises. With the lovely smell of the flowers and the tranquil sound of the fountains, an afternoon spent at the Tuileries will reset you for more adventuring in the city.
3. Indulge in a free wine tasting
Want to get a little bougie in Paris without paying big money? Well, the secret’s out – because there are several ways to sample some Parisian wine if you know where to go and when to go there. Paris wine shops routinely offer free wine tastings. Les Caves Augé (116 Boulevard Haussmann) is one of the oldest wine outposts in the city and during the spring and summer months, if you go on a weekend, you will find the wine tastings spilling on to the sidewalk. Then La Dernière Goutte ( 6 Rue de Bourbon le Château) is well-known for its free wine tastings held on Saturdays from 11 am to 7:30 pm with various winemakers.
Insider Tip: If you are feeling extra fancy, buy a baguette and some delicious French cheese to taste with your wine. It will be a truly Parisian experience you will always remember!
4. Visit Notre-Dame Cathedral
*Please note that due to extensive damage sustained in a 2019 tragic fire, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame is currently closed to the public. The French government hopes it will reopen in 2024.
Thanks to Victor Hugo’s novel ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’, this is one of the most recognized cathedrals in the world. Another iconic landmark of Paris, Notre-Dame Cathedral must be one of the things you do on your next trip. This 13th Century Gothic Cathedral still holds up today. Go to observe the unparalleled architecture, colourful stained glass windows and the gargoyle statues it’s well known for. Entrance to the cathedral is free, however, if you want to go up to the two towers for views or down to the basement to see Archeological crypts, you have to pay a small price of around $13 for the towers and $9 for the crypts. If you purchase the Paris Museum Pass, both of these activities are included.
Insider Tip: The line to enter goes pretty long as the day goes on. By 10 am or so, crowds are already forming. To bypass a long wait, head to Notre-Dame at the start of your day in the morning. Take the Metro Line 4 which will drop you off at Cité, the island where the cathedral is located.
5. Watch the Eiffel Tower lights sparkle at night
A little cliché? Kinda. Essential? Definitely! With the Eiffel Tower being a classic representative of Paris, at some point in your trip, you will make the journey to this world-renowned tower. But why not opt for a more magical experience and go at night! Every evening, the Eiffel Tower shines and sparkles in gold for 5 minutes every hour on the hour. It’s one of those monuments that has a completely different atmosphere at night compared to day, so it’s worth coming back to see it illuminate the city.
6. Window shop in Le Village Royal
Le Village Royal is an open air court in the 8th arrondissement with designer name shops and cafés. This place screams chic and glamour, but if you are on a budget, you can certainly window shop the names of Chanel or Dior. The shops are beautifully decorated and the atmosphere is pleasant and calm, making for an elegant stroll at any season. Currently, there is an ‘Umbrella Sky’ installation made up of 800 colourful umbrellas suspended in the air above pedestrians walking through Le Village Royal. If you are looking for that Instagrammable moment – this may be it. The installation will be up until April 30 – so it might be time to book your next trip to Paris today!
Where to Stay in Paris
Looking for a place to stay in Paris? There are a variety of hotels and hostels for any type of traveller in Paris. Costs range to be around $1,000 CAD/night for the more luxurious, high end hotels. Then on the other hand, there are plenty of hostels and hotels that range from being around $25 – $50/night for those on a budget. These cheaper options are great if you want to save on accommodations so that you can ‘splurget’ on other experiences.
Whether you are looking for something budget-friendly or something on the more indulgent side, you can find it all using Skyscanner’s hotel search below.
Find that perfect hotel for your next getaway to Paris.
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