Top 25 Things to Do in Paris

My mom and dad compiled a fantastic Parisian itinerary I’m posting here. I just sent it to SteelerBabe who spent a week there with her family. If you’re ever going to Paris, do not leave home without this. And if you’re wondering what qualifies us to give travel recommendations on the city of light, we lived in Paris from 1991-1994. Il me manque le Paris!

1. Notre Dame … 700 years old on the Ile de la Cite:

a. Tour inside and outside – look up at the gargoyles and water spouts and the flying
buttresses.

b. Tour the rooftop = fabulous view of Paris. DO NOT MISS THIS – This is my
favorite thing to do in Paris. When facing the front of the cathedral, walk to the left
side of the cathedral where a line will be formed for access to the roof. You
have to see the gargoyles up close and the view is spectacular. (400 steps … so
worth the climb.)

2. Sainte-Chapelle … Part of the Palais de Justice complex; also on Ile de la Cite. Famous for its stunning stained glass windows, like none other. Check out the evening concerts held here, but you must see the windows in the daytime.

a. The Conciergerie – also part of the Palais de Justice complex, where Marie
Antoinette was incarcerated before her execution.

3. Cross over the bridge – Pont St. Louis – onto the Ile St. Louis and walk down the Rue St. Louis en L’ile. (Paris’ finest ice cream shop is at the foot of the bridge “Berthellon”.)

4. Visit Place des Vosges in Le Marais district of Paris’ oldest square and lovely oasis. This was at one time the major dueling ground of Europe. Victor Hugo made his home here and wrote Les Miserables. Dine al-fresco at one of the restaurants under the arcades. This is how much of Paris looked until the mid-1800s.

5. Visit the Latin Quarter (Left Bank) which lies between the Luxembourg Gardens (Jardin du Luxembourg) and the Seine (the heart of the student quarter, home of the Sorbonne, boulevards St. Germain & St. Michel).

a. Musee de Cluny in the 5th Arrondissement. Full of medieval art and history
(Lady and the unicorn tapestries and ruins of Roman baths)

6. Champs Elysee and the Arc de Triomphe – tomb of France’s unknown soldier. Take the underpass (goes under the street encircling the Arch) and visit the eternal flame for the Unknown Soldier.

7. Place de la Concorde – it is here where the guillotine was placed during the French Revolution (King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette lost their heads to the blade).
Great views of Paris’ monuments from the fountain in the center. (Rue de Rivoli, Paris’
souvenir row, has a great English bookshop, W.H. Smith.) The Tour de France ends here.

8. Place Vendome – have afternoon English tea at the Ritz – one of my favorite things to do with friends.

9. Walk through the Jardin de Tuileries (1st Arr.) adjacent to the Louvre + across the street is a favorite tea salon “Angelina.”

10. Musee du Louvre – * rent English speaking headsets and see the main works of art (otherwise it will be overwhelming). Contains many of the world’s art treasures including Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Virgin of the Rocks, St. John the Baptist and Virgin and Child with St. Anne. Venus de Milo and Winged Victory of Samothrace are the most celebrated sculptures. Check out the bookshop for small gifts. **CLOSED Tuesdays.

11. The Opera (Palais Garnier) … Av. de la Opera. Paris’ original opera house, now used for ballet performances. One of the most iconic landmarks.

12. Le Tour Eiffel … after you get your Paris bearings, take the elevator and see Paris lit up at night = stunning. For another great view, especially at night, cross the river and enjoy the Eiffel Tower from Trocadero.

13. Musee D’Orsay (7th Arr.) – rent English speaking tape recorder + tour the highlights. Before leaving, visit the rooftop café + outdoor terrace overlooking Notre Dame. **CLOSED Mondays. Loved for its Impressionist collection: Monet, Renoir, Degas, Van Gogh, etc.

14. Les Invalides – (with a gold dome) home to a gigantic war museum and Napolean’s tomb.

15. Musee Rodin (77 Rue de Varenne, 7th Arr., east of Les Invalides) – tour the beautiful garden first + see “The Thinker” (stands over his tomb) and the “Gates of Hell” (a bronze panel). Rodin is reputed to be the greatest sculptor since Michelangelo. One of Mona’s favorites.

16. Fashionable streets to stroll:
a. Rue St. Honore – behind Place de la Concorde – for chic Paris
b. Ave. Montaigne – for haute couture … Christian Dior, Chanel, Nina Ricci, etc.
c. Boulevard St. Germain – 6th Arr. The streets around the Carrefour de la Croix
Rouge & Place St. Sulpice are full of designer boutiques.

17. Galeries Lafayette (40 Boulevard Haussman, 9th Arr, not far from the Opera) – Paris’ largest department store

18. Luxembourg Gardens (6th Arr., another Mona “must see”) – one of the largest and loveliest green spaces in the city, located in the heart of St. Germain des Pres. A poor Ernest Hemingway used to strangle pigeons here for dinner!

19. Bateaux Mouches – 90 minute boat tour on the Seine = spectacular at night when Notre Dame is lit. The bus/boat tours get a bad rap, but at nighttime they offer a beautiful way to see much of the city in a rather short amount of time.

20. Take a bus tour of Paris on the first or second day to see the main attractions that you may want to visit in person.

21. Montmartre – The highest point in Paris. The core of Montmartre is the “Place de
Tertre” jammed with tourists and “artists” ??. This was the haunt of Toulouse-Lautrec.

a. Sacre Coeur – a Byzantine church with white ice cream dome. *Climb the roof
and see the fabulous views

22. Fauchon – 26 Place de la Madeleine; gourmet food in 2 buildings. Great flower market nearby.

23. Walk over Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge in Paris.

24. Take the RER line A to St.-Germain-en-Laye for a day trip. Stunning town with charming cobblestone streets. Great cafes and shops.

25. For one more day trip Versailles is a MUST.

CAFES

a. Deux Magots – famous café; 6 Place St. Germain des Pres; 6th Arr.
b. Café de Flore – 172 Boulevard St. Germain, 6th Arr.
c. Café de la Paix – 12 Boulevard des Capucines, 9th Arr.

RESTAURANTS

d. Chartier: 7 Rue Faubourg-Montmartre (go for lunch for real Paris) 01 47 70 86 29

e. Le Poulbot (Cos’), 3 Rue Poulbot, in Monmartre: … tel: 01 42 23 32 07

f. Le Caveau du Palais (Sue’s), 17-19, pl Dauphine Paris, 1st Arr., Tel: 01 43 26 04 28

g. Lescure 7, Rue de Mondovi, 75001 Paris, France, +33 1 42 60 18 91

h. L’Ilot Vache, 35 Rue Saint-Louis en Ille, 75004 PARIS tel: 01 46 33 55 16

i. Bel Canto … dinner and opera singing waiters and waitresses per Al Bunshaft

j. L’Itineraire … St. Germain des Pres … per Al Bunshaft

k. Le Grand Colbert: the Restaurant in “Something’s Gotta Give” with Jack Nicholson,
Diane Keaton and Keanu Reeves. 2 Rue Vivienne 75002 Paris, France. Phone: 01 42 86 87 88

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There are 5 comments

    1. Monica

      ha! not yet, but i should request that. maybe i’ll write one for nyc, though feel like my restaurant knowledge may have waned a bit since moving 😉 hope you are well.

      1. Paz

        Yes, write one for NYC. Include lots that don’t cost money and I’ll check them out. 🙂 Hope you are well, too. Did you get married? How’s your dog? Wishing you all the best for 2014!

      2. Paz

        Wait a minute, I’m guessing you DID get married. Just saw the banner above that reads, “Love & Laughter…” Congratulations!

  1. Monica

    hi paz!!! yes, got hitched april 2013. thank you so much!! can’t believe it’s almost been a year already. time has flown. agnes our pooch is doing great. she’s loving our new pad in el segundo. we may not be here for long, but it’s great for now. really hoping to move somewhere we can buy a house over next year or two. hope you are doing great!!! should check out your site for some new recipes. xo!!

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