With so many stunning places to visit in Paris, it's easy to see why the charming French capital is one of the most visited cities in the world. In fact, Paris welcomes over 17 million tourists every single year. Despite this crazy number, there are several places in Paris which are not as touristy as you may think. So beyond the main attractions, there are many cute locations which you should add to your itinerary list. First, you'll need to figure out where to stay in Paris, then pin on the map all the cool things you'll want to see from the closest to the furthermost. This helped us organise our Paris itinerary.
So, what are the best places to see in Paris during your epic journey to the city of lights?
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What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Paris? The iconic Eiffel Tower, of course. Now one of the main attraction in Paris, the Eiffel Tower was initially criticised for its design during its construction between 1887-1889. During our weekend in Paris, we decided to climb the steps rather than take the elevator, but this is entirely up to you. If you wish to visit the tower and see how beautiful Paris looks like from above, please make sure to book tickets in advance and select the time of your visit. Just remember that it gets a little windy at the top, so bring a windproof jacket with you.
The Eiffel tower is open every day, except 14th July, from 9 am to 11 pm.
Did you know: A petition called "Artists against the Eiffel Tower" was signed by many artists in Paris? Little they knew that this "ridiculous tower dominating Paris like a gigantic black smokestack" will become the icon of the city which in turns brings in more tourists than the Royal Family in England.
Notre Dame Cathedral
I was a child the first time I ever heard of the glorious Notre Dame Cathedral. It was 1996 when I first saw The Hunchback of Notre Dame on a video cassette. I dreamt of seeing the Notre Dame ever since. I imagined so many mysterious things about it, how its gargoyles will come to live, what I will see from its towers. Perhaps the most important lesson was that imagination plays an important role in development and expectations because no matter how busy the Notre Dame was when I finally visited, it didn’t matter. I finally got to live a childhood dream.
The Notre Dame is an iconic Catholic Church and it is the most visited places in Paris. The cathedral was begun in 1160 and largely completed by 1260.
For those of you who love gothic architecture, the Notre Dame is perhaps the finest examples of French Gothic architecture.
The moment you saw the name, I’m sure you started imagining the painting of Mona Lisa. But I promise, there is more to the Louvre than just Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” and Michelangelo’s “Dying Slave”. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know I recommend waking up first thing in the morning to be the first in line when visiting a famous place such as the Louvre. It will inevitably get very busy, but it’s worth skipping the line at least.
If you wish to visit the Louvre just from the outside, then going there just on time for sunrise is the best idea.
Open every day, except on Tuesday, from 9 am to 6 pm
I studied French for the majority of my school years. I would listen to French music and watch French movies, daydreaming of a romantic walk down the famous Champs Elysées. I will wear a long black coat and be hand in hand with the love of my life. The thing is, wishes do come true, because the first time I walked down the Champs Elysées, was during November, in my black coat, holding my husband’s hand, taking cute pictures together.
So as you can imagine, I hold dear memories about this seemingly ordinary boulevard. But Champs Elysées is anything but ordinary: known for its theatres, cafés, and luxury shop, this avenue has been the site of military parades, celebration and of course, romantic walks for in-love couples.
Arc of Triumph
One of the most interesting places to visit in Paris is the famed Arc de Triomphe (Triumphal Arch). It is located at the junction of twelve avenues, making it look like an emblematic star, the Arc de Triomphe honours those who fought and died for the country. You can enter the Arc de Triomphe and admire Champs Elysées from above.
Open every day, except 1st January, 1st May, 8th May, 14th July, 11th November and 25th December, from 10 am to 9.45 pm.
Cruise on the Seine
Ah, the beautiful and romantic Seine, the magnificent river which inspired countless artists. You cannot visit Paris without enjoying a walk by the Seine. I especially recommend doing it during the evening, before sunset, just so you see Paris in different colours.
Walking is not the only way to experience the Seine, but a cruise on the river can offer different views of the city and it's often recommended for first-time visitors. We very much enjoyed our first ever cruise on the Seine, as we could take incredible photos.
Sacré-Cœur or the Basilica of the Sacred Heart is a popular place to visit in Paris and the second most visited monument in the city, after Notre Dame. Due to its location, you can see panoramic views of Paris from the Sacré-Cœur, making it also popular with photography lovers.
Did you know: A smaller version of the basilica, Sacré-Coeur de la Balata, can be found outside of Paris, on N3.
Saint-Pierre de Montmartre
Did you know that Saint-Pierre De Montmartre is one of the oldest surviving churches of Paris? Saint-Pierre De Montmartre is one of the two known churches located on the hill of Montmartre.
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Musée de Montmartre
Since you are visiting the gorgeous area of Montmartre for the Sacré-Cœur and Saint-Pierre churches, why not extend your visit to the art museum of Montmartre as well? The building which houses the museum is 300 years old.
The museum is open all year every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m
Palace of Versailles
One of the most visited places in Paris, the Palace of Versailles is an iconic royal residence known for its lavishing rooms and blooming gardens.
Did you know that more people visit this palace than the Eiffel Tower? The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site, especially because of its Hall of Mirrors and Royal Opera. Do visit the rustic Hamlet created for Marie Antoinette.
If you love French Baroque, then make sure to add Palace of Versailles to your list of epic things to do in Paris.
The Latin Quarter
The Latin Quarter is a lively and dynamic neighbourhood known for its exciting cafes and small bistros. This is a fantastic place for photographers looking to snap a few images of quaint bookstores located around the district. The Latin Quarter also houses the Pantheon which should be visited for the crypt containing the tombs of various known French figures.
Did you know: this neighbourhood gets its name due to the Latin language which was widely spoken in the university during the Middle Ages. The Latin Quarter houses many educational establishments.
The first time I saw anything related to Moulin Rouge was in art class in school, when, we started learning about Toulouse Lautrec and his fascination with Moulin Rouge. I was fascinated to discover that Moulin Rouge was a cabaret located close to Montmartre.
Did you know that Moulin Rouge was the birthplace of modern can-can dance? More decadent in the past, Moulin Rouge is now a main tourist attraction which offers musical dance entertainment accompanied by dinner, depending on the ticket you wish to purchase.
The most interesting thing about Moulin Rouge is perhaps the revolutionary architecture of its time, marked by the red windmill.
A happy place which needs no introduction, Disneyland is a wonderful place to visit in Paris whatever your age. Meet fun characters, attend great events and get immersed in a world of entertainment.
To make the most out of your experience, you can stay in one of the designed hotels within the resort. We absolutely recommend that you book your tickets in advance and remember that Disneyland is a popular place so it can get quite busy during peak times.
Similar to the Eiffel Tower, Disneyland was met with much criticism from French intellectuals who didn't want American consumerism to take the stage in their country. Nevertheless, Disneyland was built and continues to be one of the main attractions in Paris.
If you love art, then the Musée d'Orsay is the right place for you. Musée d'Orsay holds an impressive collection of French art from including masterpieces from well-known painters such as Monet, Gauguin, and Van Gogh.
Did you know: The museum building was once a railway station? This explains the interesting and unusual interior decor.
Open every day, except on Monday, 1st May and 25th December, from 9.30 am to 6 pm.
The first time I visited the Tuileries Garden was during sunrise, as we were going towards the Louvre. It was a fine day in November with crisp air and autumn leaves. There were only a handful of people around, which made the place look even more exciting than what we've seen in the picture. The gardens feature benches, so if you happen to visit during Spring or Summer, make sure you take a moment for yourself to just admire the blooms around.
No doubt so many artists decided to live in Paris, with gardens like this, even I was inspired to write poetry and draw on my notebook.
Place de la Concorde
Even if you don't add the Place de la Concorde on your itinerary list, you will very likely see it en route to the Tuileries Garden or when you make your way to Champs Elysee. But what makes the Place de la Concorde so special for me is the fact that it features an Egyptian Obelisk. At first, I was a bit puzzled, but quickly became intrigued by it.
How can a Luxor Obelisk find its way to Paris of all places? Turns out, this is an original from Luxor, given to France by the Egyptian government. This very obelisk once marked the entrance to the Luxor Temple, How amazing is that?
National Museum of Modern Art in Paris
Raise your hand if you love modern and contemporary art. Great, then the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris is for you. Here's s fun story. When I was a teen, I went to visit a museum of modern art and honestly, I didn't get it at all.
Years later, I spend a few days in London and visited Tate. My whole perception of modern art changed. Now, I go out of my way to visit them all. They should give me a little booklet to collect stamps for every contemporary museum I visited around the world.
Back to the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris: its collection includes more than 10,000 works from art movements of the 20th century, so you can keep busy for a few hours.
Palais de Tokyo
Located close to the Eiffel Tower, the Palais de Tokyo is yet another building dedicated to modern and contemporary art. I am obsessed with everything Tokyo, so of course, I made it a priority to visit its exhibitions.
Did you know that in May 2018 it was possible to visit Palais de Tokyo naked? Wish we were there to see it for ourselves. Maybe next time. Perhaps, make sure to check this in advance, so you don't find yourself visiting during the wrong day.
The Palais de Tokyo is open every day, except on Tuesday, from 12 pm to 12 am.
Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume
If you need an excuse to visit the Tuileries Gardens yet again, then you found it: the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume located just at the north corner of the gardens.
As an avid photographer, I wanted to see the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume which is an arts centre for modern photography.
Centre Georges Pompidou
I've been telling you how much I enjoy modern art, so naturally, I'm going to talk about the Centre Georges Pompidou. Known for its unusual "inside out" architecture, the Centre Pompidou was created to bring together different types of art and literature.
I first heard of it because of its intriguing architecture which was described to me as "quirky". When I saw it for the first time, I remained puzzled by the choice of colours and pipes but loved it all the same. Perhaps National Geographic managed to describe it in the most accurate way as "love as second sight".
However, beyond the facade are various incredible contemporary works of art waiting to be discovered. As such, Centre Georges Pompidou is, in my opinion, one of the best places to visit in Paris.
Père Lachaise Cemetery
This may seem like a rather macabre place to visit in Paris but it's actually a wonderful place for a relaxing stroll. Père Lachaise Cemetery is a garden cemetery, with plants, flowers and trees all around it.
While it's not for every type of visitor, I recommend it because it is the resting place of Oscar Wilde, one of my favourite writers as I'm a huge fan of The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Pont Alexandre III
Who doesn't love a beautiful ornate bridge which is absolutely perfect for stunning photography? Make sure to add Pont Alexandre III to your itinerary as this extravagant bridge is classified as a French Monument historique.
I especially recommend visiting during twilight, when you can capture the street lamps softly shining, making Seine look surreal.
Clignancourt Flea market
Known to be one of the biggest flea markets in the world, Clignancourt has almost 200,000 visitors each weekend. With 3000 different merchants, you'll definitely find something to take home with you.
While the merchandise is very interesting ranging from small trinkets to large furniture items, I personally think this market is best for photography rather than shopping.
As a tip, please be vigilant when you visit as pickpocketers operate in this area. But don't let it deter it from visiting such an interesting place, rather be mindful of your surroundings and practice common sense.
We usually see Paris's rooftops from the Eiffel Tower, but how about admiring the city's elegance from above from the Montparnasse Tower, a 210-metre office skyscraper which offers panoramic views of Paris.
Of course, for the best photos, I recommend taking pictures during sunset, but don't worry if you miss the last sunlight, as Paris looks incredible during nighttime too. After all, it is called the City of Lights.
Open every day, from 9.30 am to 11 pm
Galerie Viviene is a covered passaged line with shops, registered as a historical monument in Paris. This is a popular place for photography, but I recommend sitting down for a coffee at the entrance of the Galerie Viviene on the rue des Petits-Champs.
Stroll along the passage and discover a few exciting haute couture shops and cute little restaurants which serve lovely Parisienne food.
Château de Chambord
France sure knows how to enchant us with its incredible castles. Located just outside of Paris, the almost half a millennial old Château de Chambord is a dream to visit. Like a jewel on the Loire Valley, this chateau has a decorative moat and features elements of Italian Renaissance architecture. Perhaps not as practical for the weather in the North of France, yet incredibly beautiful and visually stunning.
Open every day, except on 1st January and 25th December, from 9 am to 5 pm.
Jardin des Plantes
My husband and I love visiting botanical gardens and no visit to a new city is complete until we see the glass houses. Jardin des Plantes was a pleasant surprise, even during November when we last visited Paris. The glass houses might not be as big as Kew Gardens but the outdoor gardens are a joy, even during autumn.
There are benches where you can just take a break and enjoy a quiet afternoon with a book. I always tell my friends that botanical gardens are the best places to unwind from a busy day at work.
The Panthéon is located in the Latin Quarter in Paris. The building was originally intended as a church but nowadays it functions as a secular mausoleum. If you visited Rome, you are probably familiar with the Pantheon in Rome. The Panthéon was modelled on its counterpart in Italy and displays early examples of neo-classicism.
Did you know that Panthéon comes from Greek and it means temple to all gods?
Jardin du Luxembourg
The Jardin du Luxembourg is without a doubt one of the best places to visit in Paris. It's free to enter and it displays an array of beautiful plants and blooming flowers. Make sure to see the stunning Medici Fountain, built in 1620. The garden covers over 23 hectares and it features over a hundred statues, monuments and fountains.
It's a known place for a relaxing stroll and since you will find small benches scattered all around the gardens, it's common to see locals taking a break, relaxing in the sun. With gardens like this, it's easy to see why Parisiens love their city.
If you want to take a break from the elegance of Paris, head towards the hip hub in Le Marais. This neighbourhood changed throughout the years, now being one of the popular places to live in and shop. Le Marais used to be known as one of the main Jewish quarters, and although it still preserves some of its kosher restaurants, the district is alive with LGBT bars and shops.
Check the Musée Victor Hugo, as that's where the writer lived and the Musée Picasso which features over 5000 works by the artist.
Catacombs of Paris
One of the most visited places in Paris are the catacombs, which hold the remains of over 6 million people. Although not your ordinary tourist attraction, the catacombs are a curious point of interest.
The ossuary is now open to the public and you can purchase your tickets online. Please be mindful that this is a resting place.
Champ du Mars
Champ du Mars is a large green space leading to the Eiffel Tower. It's usually popular with both tourists and locals during the summer, where many come to relax with a book or have a picnic with their loved ones.
On our first trip to Paris, we decided to enjoy the sunset on Champ du Mars so we can photograph the Eiffel Tower during twilight. Since we visited in November, the sunset quite early, so we had plenty of time to still walk along the Seine in the evening, and enjoy the many sparkles of the Eiffel Tower.
My favourite place to visit in Paris has to be the beautiful opera house Palais Garnier. One glance at it and you'll fall in love. It used to be called Salle des Capucines due to its location.
If you just wish to enjoy the magnificent and grandiose architecture, buy tickets for the tours organised inside the opera house. Learn about the Monumental stairway, the Grand Escalier and walk along the Grand Foyer.
As an alternative, I recommend buying tickets to one of the spectacles in advance. We found tickets for as little as £30 per person and included in the price we got to also see the interior of the opera house, as well as enjoy a show.
Giverny – Monet’s House and Garden
Imagine stepping into Monet's paintings. This is how his house and garden in Giverny looks like.
Monet lived in this house from 1883 until his death in 1926. Many of his paintings were painted here, in Giverny. The gardens look like an impressionist dream with waterlilies, beautiful nature, flowers and a Japanese bridge. The house has been restored to its original 19th-century condition.
The most memorable time to visit is during Spring when all the flowers are in bloom. Our favourite part was the blue kitchen.
Open every day from the end of March to the end of October.
Galeries Lafayette is a wonderful place to visit in Paris if you love shopping. This is a French department store chain which looks elegant and grandiose. There are several stores opened all around the world, although the original department store was opened on Boulevard Haussmann.
Even if shopping is not the main attraction for you, the interior of the store looks extravagant and it's perfect for a picture or two.
The department store looks especially fine during the winter holidays just before Christmas.
Château de Chantilly
Located 50 km away from Paris, the Château de Chantilly is a fairytale castle which features a lake and gorgeous gardens. The site itself has two buildings: the Petit Château (small castle) and the Grand Château (big castle).
Château de Chantilly houses the Musée Condé where you can admire works of art by Raphael and Delacroix.
One of my favourite Gothic chapels in the world, the Sainte Chapelle is a royal chapel which used to be the residence of the Kings of France.
Enter the chapel to admire its interior architecture, one of the best examples of a Gothic architectural style called "Rayonnant".
The ceiling is beautifully painted and the stained glass is a work of art to look at.