A true city of neighborhoods (the French call these arrondissements), Paris’ many bridges, canals, cobblestone alleys, and sidewalk cafés inject artsy charm while still giving each their own identity, whether it’s posh shopping along the Champs-Élysées, gallery hopping in Île Saint-Louis, or visiting century-old coffee shops in Saint-Germain. From the early-morning café scene to nightlife that doesn’t quit — not to mention museums and cultural attractions — Paris offers a little bit of something for everyone.
Don’t get hung up on actually going into the Eiffel Tower. There’s a fee for that, and the wait might be long. (But if it’s not, and this is on your bucket list, by all means go ahead.) Instead, take photos from the ground — or even from select spots within Paris — for a different perspective. This architectural marvel, which was designed by Gustave Eiffel in 1889 for the 1889 World’s Fair, has been linked to the City of Lights’ skyline ever since.
You’ve no doubt seen photos of the striking, pyramid-shaped Louvre Museum (often referred to as simply “The Louvre”), which happens to be the world’s largest art museum. In fact, the collection is so extensive you may find you need two days to even scratch the surface. The trio of pyramids serves as the main entrance to the museum, and does not hold its entire collection. Tip: if you want to see Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, visit as early in the day as possible to avoid the crowds.
Housed in a former railway station that dates back to 1898, among Musée d'Orsay’s most famous works of art are from French Impressionists. In fact, the museum holds the world’s largest collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings. Here, you'll find works from famous artists including Renoir, Van Gogh, Monet, and Gaughin.
From its 1248 construction until the 14th century, this Gothic-style cathedral once served as the Kings of France’s residence. It’s located on the Île de la Cité, a natural island in the Seine River.
Arc de Triomphe
Perched on the western end of Paris’ most famous shopping street — the Champs-Élysées — Arc de Triomphe is another recognizable Paris landmark. Look for it on Place de l’Etoile.
The Seine River
Come summer, the banks of the Seine River, which separates Paris’ Left Bank from the Right Bank, transform into la plage (French for beach). Outside of winter, dinner cruises or day tours sail along the river. Multiple bridges — narrow in width — make a pedestrian crossing easy. Used booksellers and plein-air artists set up their mobile shops along the Seine River, too. On a warm night, you’re likely to hear music from a street band performing on a bridge. It's just as amazing as it sounds.
This Roman Catholic basilica (its name means “sacred heart” in English) in Paris’ Montmartre neighborhood is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and is free to enter. Even if you aren’t able to build in time to visit, look for the basilica’s dome on the city’s skyline.
Day Trips from Paris
From Claude Monet’s former house in Giverny (the gardens inspired many of his paintings) to the Palace of Versailles, there are plenty of day trips from Paris that will get you back into the city by dinner time. Mont-St-Michel and France's Champagne region — where bottles of Champagne hail from — are both close to Paris. Domaine de Chantilly (the Duke of Aumale Henri d’ Orléans’ former home) is within the village of Chantilly, just 25 minutes outside of Paris.
Paris With Kids
Despite Paris’ sophistication, it's actually a great city for kids — and many kid-friendly attractions are free. Start by consulting this list of free museums and monuments in Paris, including select dates when admission is waived. Jardin des Tuileries is an attraction the entire family will enjoy. Kids may also appreciate some of the city’s more interactive museums, including Musée du Chocolat and Cité de la Musique.