I’ve spent the past two years making a point to stop in Paris every trip over to Europe that I could. I’ve been keeping a carefully curated list from advice from travel bloggers, locals, and travel professionals. Whether it is your first time in Paris, or you’re a seasoned professional traveler our city guide will direct you to cannot miss spots in Paris for food, for drinks, for history, art, culture, shopping, and more.
First things first. If you’re heading to Paris for the first time there are of course things you will want to see that are just like everyone else, but you don’t have to fall in to the tourist trap of it all. You can still visit these attractions and not be stuck waiting in line for hours.
Eiffel Tower – The number one iconic site in Paris. Yes, of course you’ll want to see the Eiffel Tower and by all means, do. However, if you truly want to climb the tower, buy your ticket in advance. And don’t think that this is the only amazing view of the city. You have other choices that are much less crowded than this and are equally as beautiful. The best thing about visiting the Eiffel tower is that you can be in all its glory without climbing. The best pictures are usually taken across the bridge at Trocadero but – wander the nearby streets, enjoy some overpriced drinks in the garden nearby with the locals. Pack your own picnic! You don’t have to be the tourist with his professional camera hanging around his neck in white tennis shoes complaining about waiting in line to reach the top.
The official website – for more information
Getyourguide.com – my favorite way to purchase tickets ahead of time for attractions – usually they include skip the line.
Arc de Triomphe – one of the most iconic monuments found at likely the most iconic street in Paris, the Champs-Élysées. When you climb to the top of the arc, for me it’s one of the most beautiful views in Paris. The line is dramatically shorter than the Eiffel Tower. The inside of the arc is treated like a museum with information filling all the rooms. And of course the sheer size of the structure is daunting all on it’s own.
view from the top of the Arc de Triomphe
Again, I used getyourguide.com for tickets but if you don’t want to go inside or climb to the top you don’t need any tickets. Save your money and include a stroll down the Champs-Elysees while stopping by to see the Arc.
Latin Quarter / Notre Dame – on the left bank of the Seine is one of the most popular areas in Paris, the Latin Quarter. As soon as you step off the bridge crossing the Seine you’ve arrived. Square St Michel is right there with the enormous fountain towering over you and likely some type of street performing belting his heart out for some coins. This entire area is overly tourist but it’s still got its charm. Shakespeare and Co is a bookstore that was opened by a Parisian beatnik in 1951 – a must for literary nerds like me. If you walk less than a mile you’ll find the Luxembourg Gardens and Palace. A perfect spot for a picnic, if you havent already found a space on the bank of the Seine. Notre Dame stands on the island in the distance and you almost feel transported back in time. If you have a lot of time to spare, wander around the Île de la Cité you can find your way to Sainte Chappelle, a beautiful, gothic style chapel. Pro Tips: Visit Notre Dame for free during mass. Walk over on Pont Neuf the oldest bridge in all of Paris! Watch out for pickpockets in this area as it is highly trafficked. Just use common sense – and if you need some tips on how to prepare yourself for pickpockets – here’s some helpful tips.
Montmartre – My favorite part of Paris. The Paris that is full of authentic charm, tiny streets bursting full of cafes, caves, pasteries, chocolates, crepes, artists and more. At the top of a hill overlooking all of the city you’ll find Sacre Coeur and the most beautiful view of all of Paris. If you’re lucky you’ll find a local farmers market surrounding the Basillica full of samplings of honey, wine, goat cheese, pate, rillettes and more. Wander back through the village to find Le Consulat and have a glass of wine and a small bite while watching the heart of Montmartre beat around you. Montmartre is full of wonderful secrets and an insane amount of photo ops. Here’s a list of all the places we think are instagram worthy.
Every corner in Paris has a cafe or a restaurant beckoning you to come inside, or to dine on the terrace as you watch people walk by. Paris is full of choices. This list is just a selection of some of the amazing places you can find if you know where to look.
L’Avant Comptoir de la Mer – I found this one by accident but there’s a reason I’m telling you about it first. Tucked away in Saint Germain you’ll find this gem tucked away behind a plastic curtain and next to a much busier restaurant by famed chef Yves Camdeborde. This Hors d’Oeuvres bar has tons of fresh oysters and a fantastic wine selection. Glancing up you’ll find small plastic cards hanging all over the ceiling with the menu items for the seafood side. Just next door you can find L’avant Comptoir filled with small tapas style plates from the land. You can even order from one side and dine on the other. It’s standing room only with a few high top tables but its always bursting with locals waiting to find a space. We ran in on a rainy night and found a spot fairly quickly. Even better, this one comes Anthony Bourdain recommended.
Mobilis in Mobili – One of the most iconic French dishes is a seafood tower. At most restaurants you cant custom make yours seafood tower, but at Mobilis in Mobili you can choose everything. And we did. Some other really great options for seafood or oysters are Le Mary Celeste ( 1 Euro Happy Hour Oysters!), Clamato, Huitrerie Regis are all delicious.
There’s more museums than you can count in Paris. Really there’s a museum for everything you can think of. These museums listed have some of the most famed works of art in Paris. I’ve only picked my top three but believe me, dive into what Paris has a little bit and you’ll find things more specific to your tastes.
The Louvre – what is there to say? Everyone knows the Louvre. Everyone has to see the tiny Mona Lisa. You could spend days in here and still not see everything. Pro Tip: Go during the evenings they stay open late for a less crowded tour of the the Museum.
Musee D’Orsay – Honestly probably favorite museum. Housed in an old train station, it’s full of Van Gogh, Toulouse Lautrec, Monet and Renoir. It’s on the smaller side so you can easily see all of it in an afternoon. Want to see more Monet? Visit Musee De L’orangerie
Centre Pompidou – if you’re a modern art enthusiast this is the museum for you. Even the outside is fun and creative. Also, a great view of the city if you don’t have time to visit the museum you can still visit the rooftop.
Shopping is everything in Paris. Whether you want to find a local food market to discover things unique to France or to search for a flea market to buy vintage maps and vinyl or even if you are here for the big names like Channel we’ve got places for you to shop.
We loved visiting Saint Ouen Flea Market just north of Paris. There is truly anything you could wish to find there. Tons of decor, clothings, vinyl, maps, and antiques you can find something for any budget. If you’re looking for a top food market visit Le Marche des Enfant Rouge for the most popular food market in Paris. If you’re looking for premade meals or fresh ingrediants you’ll find it here. Looking to spend all your money in one place? Head over to the Champs- Elysees for names like Channel.
Obviously Paris is a city that has everything you could dream of but we’ve pretty much covered the must sees and do for people of all ages. We’ll have a Paris guide to nightlife coming up shortly and for the money after a guide to Parisien coffee shops. We cant get enough of Paris. Haven’t made it to Paris yet and want to book a flight? Check out our methods on the cheapest flights to Europe and get over here ASAP! Is there anything missing from this list? Reach out and let us know some of your Paris faves!