There’s no other city on earth quite like Paris, a destination with a fascinating history, incredible culture, delicious food and a little bit of magic in the air. When you start planning a trip to Paris, it can be overwhelming trying to decide what to include in your itinerary. Having spent six wonderful nights in Paris, we wanted to share with you some insight on what we got up to, to help you plan your very best adventure too.
If you’re after more detail, be sure to check out our Paris Travel Guide videos on YouTube where we share all our travel tips including where to stay and the best things to see, do and eat. For now, here are 33 of the BEST things to do in Paris + a few must-know travel tips.
Note: Not all images will align with the corresponding list item – I didn’t have a photo for everything so have used photos from different locations.
1. Ride bikes along the Seine
Bicycles are a great way to explore a new city! Instead of being underground on the train or sitting in the back of a car, you can be gliding along the banks of the Seine, wind in your hair, baguette in your basket. We used bikes provided by our hotel, Le Pavillon de la Reine, but you could also hire a bike for a day. We spent a day riding around Paris, visiting a local bakery and corner store to pick up juice, croissants and snacks then made our way to the Seine for a picnic. Find bicycle hire Paris information here.
2. Do a vintage sidecar tour
For an unforgettable experience that will show you Paris from a unique perspective, you might like to do a side-car tour with Retro Tours. We buzzed around the city on a vintage bike, driven by our amazing tour guide! Matt sat behind him and I climbed into the sidecar as we tore through the streets of Paris, taking in famous sites. It was an incredibly fun experience, a trip highlight for us and the best way to see the city! The company run tours of different lengths and times so there’s sure to be one that suits your needs. Find Retro Tours Paris here.
3. Stroll around Le Marais
We stayed at two different hotels in Le Marais, in Paris’ 3rd and 4th Arrondissements. I didn’t know much about the different Parisian neighbourhoods before we arrived so I wasn’t too sure what to expect. Turns out, we fell in love with Le Marais! The area is welcoming, friendly and perfect for on-foot exploration. We spent hours walking through the backstreets, stopping at little boutiques, galleries, cafes and restaurants, laughing at cute dogs in the park and listening to buskers. It was an unexpectedly wonderful experience. If you love to wander around a city but aren’t quite sure where to do this, you might just enjoy a few hours wandering around Le Marais. Find out more about Le Marais here.
Bonus Paris Travel Tip: Worried about queue times at popular locations? There’s an app for that! Download the ‘Affluences’ app for iPhone and Android for real-time updates on expected wait times, occupancy at the location and opening hours. It’s a great way to figure out if that must-visit spot has a 2 hour wait time to get in and figure out the best time to visit instead! Find Affluences here.
4. Marvel at L’Atelier des Lumiéres
Paris is renowned for its exceptional galleries and museums but the one that stood out most for us was one we’d never heard of before! L’Atelier des Lumières holds immersive exhibitions using 140 video projectors and an incredible sound system. Art is brought to life, projected on the walls, floors and ceilings of the building and perfectly accompanied by music. During our visit, the masterpieces of Van Gough were one of three video exhibitions shown. It was an amazing experience, taking us on a journey through his work. We absolutely loved it – it’s a thing that’s a little tricky to explain so be sure to visit the website to get a better mental picture of what it is! Find L’Atelier des Lumières here.
5. Eat at Le Potager du Marais
Try delicious traditional French cuisine at Le Potager du Marais, a fantastic restaurant located in Le Marais. Serving authentic, traditional French food that is 100% plant-based, it’s the perfect end to a day of sightseeing. We didn’t have a booking and showed up at the dinner service opening time, 7pm. We were lucky to get a seat on the street as it was totally booked! In my mind, popular = good and, honestly, the food did not disappoint. The service was excellent, the food was yummy and it was really nice sitting on the street watching the world go by. Find Le Potager du Marais here.
6. Explore Musee D’Orsay
Of all the museums in Paris, my favourite by far is Musee D’Orsay. The museum is housed in the former Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station that makes for a rather stunning museum location. Musee D’Orsay holds mainly French Art from around 1848-1914 and is home to the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world! It’s a chance to see famous works from masters including Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas and Van Gough, just to name a few. Given this, it is very popular and you will, undoubtedly, run into crowds. Find Musee D’Orsay here.
Bonus Paris Travel Tip: If you’re planning on visiting a number of museums and famous attractions, you may like to look into a Paris Pass or Museum Pass. These multi-day passes are purchased at a set rate, allowing faster entry at many spots. The basic concept is you save money and time! I haven’t used one personally, for no other reason than I keep forgetting about it (idiot!) but I would recommend at least looking into it to see if it’s a good fit for you and your travel plans. Find the Paris Pass here.
7. Visit the Arc de Triomphe
No trip to Paris is complete without a visit to the Arc de Triomphe! Meaning ‘Triumphal Arch of the Star,’ the Arc de Triomphe is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. Designed by Jean Chalgrin in 1806 and standing at 50 metres tall, it is located at the western end of the Champs-Elysees, it forms the centre of a star with twelve radiating avenues. The Arc honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from WWI. For great views of the city, buy a ticket and head to the top of the Arc! Find the Arc de Triomphe here.
8. Grab macarons from Ladurée
Fulfil all your romantic, macaron-fuelled dreams with a visit to Ladurée. The French luxury bakery and sweets maker was created in 1862. It is one of the world’s best-known premier sellers of the double-decker macaron, after the idea to stick two macaron shells together with ganache came about in 1930. Gossip Girl fans will know them as Blair Waldorf’s favourite pastries! The flagship store is located on the Champs Elysees but you’ll find other locations dotted about Paris too. Find Ladurée here.
9. Peruse the Marché des Enfants Rouge
If you love exploring food markets, you may like Marché des Enfants Rouge. Paris’ oldest covered market, it was established in 1628 and is located in the Marais. The market has been listed as a historic monument since 1982 and his home to a range of restaurants as well as stalls selling fruits, vegetables, flowers and baked goods. We nabbed a seat at an Italian Epicurie that caught our eye and enjoyed big bowls of gnocchi while it was raining. The market’s name translates to ‘Market of the Red Children,’ referring to the nearby orphanage where children wore red, the colour of charity. Find Marché des Enfants Rouge here.
10. Eat at Le Pain Quotidien
While on the hunt for our first lunch in Paris, we visited Le Pain Quotidien, a fantastic little cafe chain with a few locations dotted around Paris. We absolutely loved the food here, tucking into delectable bowls of the best-looking salads perfectly accompanied by freshly baked bread, Cafe au lait and hibiscus croissants. They do vegetarian and vegan options, even offering totally plant-based croissants! In short, the food here was delicious and it’s a great spot for brunch or lunch. Find Le Pain Quotidien here.
11. Spend a morning in Montmartre
We enjoyed a few hours wandering through the famous district of Montmartre, perched on top of a hill offering fantastic views of Paris. It’s my favourite Parisian neighbourhood to explore, which is saying something given it’s a tourist favourite and packed with visitors. Still, for me, this doesn’t detract from the beauty of the area. We loved walking through the streets, eating gelato as we wandered around Sacre Coeur and sipped coffee at a local bistro. The area is renowned for its artistic history, a place once called home by renowned artists including Monet, Dega, Picasso and Van Gogh. It has also been the site of many famous films including An American in Paris, Moulin Rouge and Amelie. Find Montmartre here.
12. Wander through the Louvre
If you’ve never visited Paris before, a trip to the Louvre is probably on the cards! I visited on my first trip and was glad I got to check it off my life bucket list. That said, we didn’t make the effort to visit again this time as it didn’t feel necessary. Aside from it’s iconic exterior, the Louvre is probably most well-known for Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece, the Mona Lisa. Prepare yourself for a very crowded room of people trying to get a photo of the artwork, safely guarded behind a thick plastic barrier with a crowd-distancing perimeter set up around it. Like I said, I’m glad I’ve seen it but I’m not in a rush to do it again. Find The Louvre here.
Bonus Paris Travel Tip: The Metro is a safe and easy way to get around Paris. You can pre-purchase tickets or buy them as you go for around €1.90 p.p per one-way trip. The map system is easy to figure out and the trains run regularly, with multiple language options available at the ticket booths. Be sure to have the cash to use the ticket booths or you can purchase using your credit card from the staff. Just be sure to be wary of pickpockets – keep your bags to the front and watch each other’s back!
13. Take a cruise along the Seine
No doubt, you’ll be doing a lot of walking so it’s a good idea to plan a few activities that give your legs, knees and back a well-deserved rest from time-to-time. One great way to do this is taking a sunset cruise along the Seine, so you can just sit back with a cool drink, soak in all the sites and enjoy your vacation. There are a few different companies you can go with, so it pays to research and find one that meets your needs. Keep in mind, there are also some companies who offer dinner cruises, which could be a good option for you as well. Find the 10 best Seine river cruises here.
14. Check out Museé national Picasso-Paris
We visited Museé national Picasso-Paris on a rainy day and found it to be far more enjoyable than we expected! The museum is located in the Marais district, dedicated to the works of renowned Spanish artist, Pablo Picasso. The museum itself is gorgeous and there are works on display from other artists as well, including those who worked alongside Picasso. It was amazing to be so close to his artworks and get an in-depth look at his life story and what influenced his artwork. My favourite bit was a short film shown at the top of the museum, where a recording had been made of Picasso painting through a clear surface – it was fantastic to see his brushstrokes and get an idea of how he created his works. Find Museé national Picasso-Paris here.
15. Join a guided Eiffel Tower tour
A trip to the Eiffel Tower is going to be on every must-do Paris list! But, there are a few things you should really know before you go. We joined a guided tour and found it to be a great way to see the Eiffel Tower, for a few reasons. Our guide sorted out tickets and helped us find the shortest queue, which took a lot of the wait-time and guesswork out of it. Without his knowledge of different access points, we would’ve been waiting much longer to get up to the top. Our tour started at the Trocadero and included a lot of detailed information, helping us gain a deeper appreciation for the Iron Lady! Our tour was booked through Viator but there are many other tour options to choose from so be sure to find one that suits your needs and budget. Find guided Eiffel Tower tours here.
16. Eat your body weight in gelato
Life’s short, eat the gelato! There’s no shortage of fantastic spots to eat in Paris, included among those are a seemingly endless number of gelato shops and crepe stands. Be sure to eat as much of both as your body can physically handle! Remember, you always remember the meals you didn’t eat.
17. Visit Notre Dame Cathedral
After a morning strolling around Le Marais, we wandered over to Notre Dame Cathedral on foot. Notre Dame is considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic Architecture and was the basis for Victor Hugo’s iconic novel, Notre-Dame de Paris or The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, in English. While the famous catholic cathedral is temporarily closed for restorations following the fire that threatened to destroy it in April 2019, visitors can still view its exterior. Find Notre Dame here.
18. Stroll along the Champs-Elysees
Nearly 2 kilometres in length, the historic Champs-Elysees runs from Place de la Concorde to the majestic Arc de Triomphe. Described as ‘The world’s most beautiful avenue’, it was actually once fields and gardens! It was in the 17th century that Andre le Notre, gardener to the Sun King, traced its original path, forging the way for what would become one of the most famous streets in the world. Now, it’s home to high-end brands like Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co as well as theatres, cafes, Michelin-starred restaurants, the annual Bastille Day military parade and the finish of the Tour de France. Find Champs-Elysees here.
Bonus Paris Travel Tip: On the first Sunday of each month, cars are banned from the Champs-Elysees, making it a pedestrian-only spot!
19. Eat at Hank
For affordable, fast and delicious eats, head directly to Hank Burger or Hank Pizza! We started out at Hank Burger and enjoyed our food so much we ate at Hank Pizza a few days later. Both spots offer budget-friendly, tasty eats which can be made into meals/combos that can include a drink, side and/or dessert. We loved the laid-back, low-key vibe and great views of the street below at both spots. Hank Burger and Hank Pizza are 100% plant-based and 100% flavoursome! I will say, Hank Burger is a lot smaller than Hank Pizza so if you’re after a more spacious dining spot, go with Hank Pizza. Find Hank here.
20. Visit Place de la Concorde
Measuring 7.6 hectares, the Place de la Concorde is the largest square in the French capital, located at the eastern end of the Champs-Elysees. During the French Revolution in 1789, the statue of Louis XV was torn down and the area renamed Place de la Revolution. The new revolutionary government erected a guillotine and it was here that King Louis XVI was executed on 21 January 1793. It was also the site of many other notable public executions including Marie Antoinette! The centre of the Place is occupied by a giant Egyptian obelisk decorated with hieroglyphics exalting the reign of the Pharaoh Ramesses II. It is one of two given to the French by the Egyptian government in the 19th century. The roman numerals on the pavement are the numbers of a giant sundial and the shadow of the obelisk functions to give the time. Find Place de la Concorde here.
21. Grab a hot chocolate at Angelina
Paris is heaven for those with a sweet-tooth! If that sounds like you, you’ll want to visit Angelina. Angelina’s is one of the best hot chocolates in Paris with Coco Chanel regularly seated at table #10, a daily customer for the hot chocolate. The signature pastry of Angelina is the Mont Blanc, a very simple concoction of cream of chestnut, Fromage blanc (a soft, fresh type of cream cheese) and meringue. The exact recipe is a closely-guarded secret! Find Angelina here.
22. Marvel at Bibliotheque National de la France
If you love books and visiting libraries (me!) be sure to check out the Bibliotheque National de la France Richelieu location. It’s free to enter and the interior is absolutely stunning, with a huge ceiling and books adorning the walls (like something out of Beauty & the Beast!) As tourists, it’s not possible to walk into the library and wander around but you can go a few metres in and take a moment to enjoy it, free of charge. Find Bibliotheque National de la France here.
23. Eat at Le Petit Italien
After a huge day of sightseeing, we grabbed a delicious dinner at le Petit Italien in Le Marais! The restaurant offers street-side dining so you can fulfil all your Parisian bistro dreams while enjoying your meal. We loved the food here, scoffing down our full bowls of pasta a little too quickly. The service was fantastic, the food absolutely delicious and we found it to be fairly priced. Find Le Petit Italien here.
24. Check out the brightly coloured houses of Rue Cremieux
Rue Crémieux is a one-block pedestrian street located in the 12th arrondissement of Paris. The housing was originally built as workers’ accommodations but has become Instagram famous over recent years, due to the brightly coloured housefronts. When visiting, you’ll notice signs set up asking visitors to be respectful of residents and I just want to echo this sentiment. While there, we made sure not to get too close, make too much noise or disturb the residents in any other way. Find Rue Cremieux here.
25. Dine at Créatures atop Galeries Lafayette
For a meal with an unbeatable view, head to the top of the iconic Galeries Lafayette where you’ll find Créatures, a 100% vegetarian restaurant. Here, you can take in incredible views over Paris while enjoying a delicious meal. When we arrived there was a queue to get a seat but we found it moved quite quickly. The food was absolutely delicious and the views of the Eiffel Tower and the world below made it even more worthwhile. One thing to note, there are many seats without shade so just beware it can be scorching on a very hot, sunny day – I’d recommend waiting for a shaded seat or just packing a hat/lots of sunscreen. Find Créatures here.
26. Eat delicious baked goods at Du Pain et des Idées
20 years ago, Christophe Vassuer decided to quit his job and former life to follow his passion for bread. In a true 19th-century bakery, Christoph creates exceptional bread and viennoiseries, using the best natural ingredients, mostly organic, to make not only incredibly tasty but also healthy products. The specialities here are a chocolate-pistachio roll, fresh apple Chausson, orange blossom brioche, traditional flan and the iconic pain des Amis. Find Du Pain et des Idées here.
27. Visit rooftop bar Mademoiselle Mouche
If you have a fondness for rooftop spots, be sure to check out Mademoiselle Mouche. Here, you can sip on delicious cocktails in a gorgeous green space while enjoying views of the Eiffel Tower. There’s a DJ, loads of comfortable seats and plenty of drinks to choose from too. Just be sure to keep an eye on the weather because, as an open-air venue, Mademoiselle Mouche will be closed if it looks like rain. Find Mademoiselle Mouche here.
28. Explore the Catacombs of Paris
For a slightly eerie experience, you might like to visit the Catacombs of Paris, a series of underground ossuaries which hold the remains of more than six million people. The catacombs tunnel network was built to consolidate Paris’ ancient stone mines and is a fascinating attraction for visitors. One very important thing to keep in mind is, if you plan on visiting, you need to book your tickets well in advance as they can and will sell out days in advance! Find the Catacombs of Paris here.
29. Catch a show at the Moulin Rouge
Indulge your senses at the world-famous Moulin Rouge, catching a cabaret show to end all cabaret shows! Located close to Montmarte, Moulin Rouge is best known as the birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance, though you may know it from the iconic Moulin Rouge film and book, which tells the story of the life and loves of renowned artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Again, be sure to book your tickets in advance so you don’t miss out! Find Moulin Rouge here.
30. Eat at Soya
For our last meal in Paris, we visited Soya Cantine Bio, a fantastic restaurant serving delicious plant-based food. We showed up at the opening time and, again, were lucky to nab on-street seating as they were fully booked inside the restaurant. The food here was absolutely delicious, incredibly fresh and well priced. We had a memorable meal and would definitely eat there again. Find Soya Cantine Bio here.
31. Take a day trip to Versailles
If you fancy getting out of the heart of Paris for a day, you might like to take a trip to the Palace of Versailles. It offers amazing insight into the history of Paris and is, quite simply, gorgeous! There are several areas to explore so be sure to allow enough time to do it all. It’s also very important you pre-purchase your tickets as the queues here are very long! Nomadic Matt has a fantastic, detailed guide on visiting which you should definitely read if you’re planning to go: The Palace of Versailles: A Complete Visitor’s Guide. Find The Palace of Versailles here.
32. Visit Disneyland Paris
Another popular day trip from Paris is Disneyland, perfect for big kids and little kids alike! While we didn’t get to visit on this trip, I wanted to include it on this list as a bit of inspiration for anyone else visiting. We really wanted to go but ran out of time with all the great sites and food we packed into our itinerary already! Find Disneyland Paris here.
33. Pay your respects at Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde’s Tombs
I’ve left this one for last as it may be a little macabre for some. When we arrived in Paris, Matt made it known he fancied a trip to the cemetery, which took me by surprise. He had heard the story of how Jim Morrison had wandered the Père Lachaise cemetery shortly before his death, requesting he be buried there alongside the likes of Oscar Wilde, who you can also visit. The site was easy to find, thanks to maps located at the entry of the cemetery and, I have to say, it was actually really beautiful and peaceful. Find Pére Lachaise cemetery here.
How to get to Paris
We flew from Singapore to Paris on a direct flight with Singapore Airlines. Our trip was actually broken up as we flew from Brisbane to Singapore, spent a couple of days exploring Singapore then went onward to Paris. It was a really nice way of breaking up the long flights and allowed us to finally visit Jewel at Changi Airport! If you’re weighing up which airline to go with, we had a fantastic experience with Singapore Airlines and highly recommend them. We love the amazing service, delicious food, comfortable seats and great entertainment!
On arriving in Paris, we had a private transfer organised to take us from Charles de Gaulle airport to Hôtel du Petit Moulin. After a 14-hour flight, we were really glad to have done it this way as the guesswork was taken out of it! Instead of figuring out how to get from the airport to Le Marais, we strolled out of customs and were met by our driver who helped us with our bags and got us to the hotel with no fuss whatsoever. The drive took a little less than an hour. Private transfer can be arranged through the hotel or you can source your own company if you prefer. Our transfer was arranged through Blacklane at a cost of around €86.
Where to stay in Paris
Both hotels are located in Le Marais, an area of Paris we absolutely loved. The neighbourhood is welcoming, safe and friendly and we found it very easy to get everywhere we wanted to visit using the metro. Both hotels were fantastic, combining great rooms, excellent service and delicious food with a top-notch location. We enjoyed our stay at both spots and would definitely recommend the two hotels to our family and friends.
If you’re thinking of having a boutique hotel experience in Paris (which, by the way, I highly recommend as it’s the perfect place for it!) I’d recommend taking some time to check out the Small Luxury Hotels website to see if there’s something else that is the right fit – you can find the Small Luxury Hotels property listing for France here.