Things To Do and See In Paris

Clockwise: Pyramid of the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Looking towards La Défense, Skyline of Paris on the Seine river with the Pont des Arts bridge, and the Eiffel Tower

Paris is sophisticated and awe-inspiring. The amalgamation of art galleries, museums, cafés, historical attractions, and fashion stores makes it one of those places where tourists love to come back again and again. The capital of France is not just a historical city with fascinating sights but also a city with a more enhanced sense of preservation and new-age creations. On one hand you will see art, culture, and music reminiscing the older times, and on the other there are galleries displaying contemporary art, shopping districts with trendy stores, and restaurants serving contemporary cuisine.

The key to enjoying your days in Paris is to get a great pair of walking shoes and a camera. Walking down well-paved streets of the neighborhoods of Paris can be rewarding and quite memorable. When you are tired you can retire at a café or bar, try French cuisine, and taste some exquisite wine, while watching everything happening around you.

Hop On and Off a Sightseeing Bus

It’s the best way to see all the wonderful attractions of Paris including Arc de Triomphe, Louvre Museum, Musee d’Orsay, and Centre Georges Pompidou. Bus tours are very popular as they allow you to see most of the attractions from the top of a double-decker coach and without getting out of your seat. An audio or a regular guide is provided to describe each site. These tours usually last for two to three hours. If you like to explore the sites you visit, you can reduce the cost of entrance fee by getting a Paris Pass. It allows free entry and transport (for a limited number of days) to more than 60 tourist attractions in the city. To make the most of your tour, use the Paris map and time the visit to each destination wisely. It is easy to lose track of time while exploring a destination.

Take a Sightseeing Cruise

Most of the top tourist attractions in Paris are situated near and on both sides of the River Seine that flows through the city. In addition, the river provides a serene setting to tour this beautiful city. The glass-covered boats are ideal for sightseeing even during the rainy season. You can either enjoy a guided one-hour long tour, in which the guide points out the sites to you while narrating interesting details, or get off near an attraction and have a close look at it before taking the next boat from a designated stop.

Visit the Louvre Museum

Your visit to Paris is incomplete without seeing the art collections in this renowned museum. Visiting Louvre makes you a true tourist and part of a distinguished community of people who have witnessed the greatest works of art in the world like The Winged Victory of Samothrace, Madonna on the Rocks, Mona Lisa, and Venus de Milo. Having a look at every exhibit in the 15-acre museum in a day is impossible. A trick is to know what you wish to see and use a map to get around this gigantic building.

After exploring the Louvre Museum, head towards the area in the vicinity that has cafés, bars, and restaurants. You can also try any of these fancy cafes – Louise Café, Le Louvre Ripaille, Café Le Nemours, and Café de L’Epoque.

Visit the Art Museums

Apart from the Louvre, Paris is home to a large number of art museums that exhibit a collection that you may not find anywhere else on the planet. The 16th arrondissement has about 10 art museums including the Palais de Tokyo, Musée Marmottan Monet, Musée Arménien de France, and Musée Clemenceau.

Better known art and history museums in Paris, in other areas, are Musée d’Orsay (it was a train station that was renovated into a museum), Musée Picasso (displays Picasso’s creations), Musée Carnavalet ( showcases rich history of Paris), Musée de l’Orangerie (showcases impressionist paintings and has a stunning glass roof), and Centre Pompidou (exhibits the largest collection of modern art in Europe). You can get a Paris Museum Pass to reduce the entry fee for many museums.

Tour the Arc de Triomphe

Since its construction in the 19th century, this massive 165-ft-tall arch has been a landmark symbolizing victory and rich Parisian history. Its detailed relief sculptures on the façade, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Memorial Flame, and the little museum are worth seeing even though you may have seen them online. In addition, the view from its terrace of the 12-branched streets and the nearby monuments and buildings is breathtaking. The climb to the terrace will cost not only your energy (284 steps! Then again, a lift is available), but an entry fee as well. The experience is well worth the cost. Do keep your camera handy to take some memorable shots.

Visit the Garden of Peace (UNESCO Headquarters)

This contemporary Japanese-style garden in the UNESCO Headquarters is a lesser-known attraction in Paris. What makes it worth visiting is its angelic look and the fact that from a particular place (upper garden) you get a panoramic view of the entire scenery and greenery – a feature that is quite unlike traditional Japanese gardens. In addition, the stone Nagasaki Angel installed in the garden is also worth seeing. It survived the World War II bombings in Nagasaki.

Apart from the Garden of Peace, there are other widely renowned gardens and parks across Paris known for their fountains and art works. Some of the well-known parks include Tuileries, Luxembourg, Buttes-Chaumont, and Jardin des Plantes. You can spend a relaxed afternoon picnicking, or just strolling around.

Enjoy the Opera at the Palais Garnier

If music is a temptation for you, Palais Garnier is a must-visit. This Parisian Opera House seats over 1,900 people at a time and showcases some of the greatest works in symphony and ballet. Besides watching a performance, you must take a tour of this magnificent building. The architecture and interior designs depict a sense of parity between different worlds of art – music, poetry, dance, painting, and sculpture.

Explore the Fashionable Side of France

Paris, the fashion capital of the world, is home to some of the biggest names in the international fashion industry: Louis Vuitton, Jean Paul Gaultier, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, and Chanel. From Champs Elysées to neighborhoods of Vide Greniers (French for yard sales) and vintage shops to flea markets (which are more pocket-friendly, provided you bargain hard), shopaholics have lot many places to explore. You can also check out shopping centers like Vanessa Bruno, La Vallée Village, Monoprix, and Tati for retail therapy at reasonable price.

Paris is also renowned for its stores on interior designs. An item for your home can be a great souvenir. Fleux’, L’Autre Sens, The Collection, and Emery and Cie are famous for their home décor collections.

Soak in Spiritual Paris

Paris has an equally rich spiritual heritage. The Notre Dame Cathedral, with its Gothic architecture representing medieval France, reminds you of Victor Hugo’s 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame.' If you are a fan of Dan Brown’s novel 'The Da Vinci Code', your trip to Paris must include a visit to the Saint-Sulpice Church. What makes the visit to this18th-century Roman Catholic Church interesting is its imposing Romanesque architecture and exquisite murals painted by Eugène Delacroix.
Among other cathedrals and churches in Paris, you can visit the Eglise de la Madeleine that resembles the Parthenon in Greece. While Sainte-Chapelle is known for some of the best stained glass panels, Sacra Coeur Basilica is famous for its Romano-Byzantine architecture.

Get a Panoramic View of Paris

Getting a view of the skyline of Paris is always on a traveler's mind. The Eiffel Tower is a popular spot for enjoying the view. You can also get one of the best views of Paris from the Sacre Couer Basilica. Located on a hill, this Basilica opens to a wider horizon and gives you some incredible panoramic photographs. The Arc de Triomphe is also known for its view from the top.

Image Credit : Paris 16

Published On: Saturday, December 28th, 2013