What to do in Paris

With Paris being such a huge destination for so many people all over the world, I reached out to a bunch of fellow travelers and asked them to share their best tips about what to do in Paris with my readers. Enjoy!

what to do in paris, versailles

Melissa Benigan of Break out of Bushwick almost made her daughter throw up when they visited Les Egouts. You’ll have to read her post to find out more about this . . . unique Paris museum.

Mary Jo Manzares of Traveling with MJ had this to say: Do the Math: Decide which museums and attractions you want to visit. Add up those admission fees, along with the benefit of not having to wait in line (for tickets or admission), and see if you can save money with a Paris Museum Pass.

Kate Voyage of 30Traveler has some great tips for people in search of vegan restaurants in Paris.

Caroline Leal of Passport and a Toothbrush had this to share:

  • If you want to see more of the ‘real’ Paris, explore some of the ethnic arrondissements. Place du Château Rouge, a 10-minute walk east of Montmartre, has a great African community. Sunday is definitely the busiest day with its street market.
  • There is a great program called “Meeting the Parisians at Work: where one can shadow Parisians at their workplace. Crafts range from baking to chocolate making, even an umbrella restorer! Definitely a unique experience not to miss.
  • Lastly, LEARN FRENCH! To know some French is essential to a more positive experience in Paris.

what to do in Paris, musee d'orsay, museum

Audrey Bergner of That Backpacker highly recommends you have some crêpes avec Nutella. They’re pretty cheap at about 2euro, and you can find creperies all over the place. [My personal favorite is a crepe with banana, Nutella, and almonds. To die for!]

Fashionista Jennifer Dombrowski of JDomb’s Travels recommends attending the free weekly fashion show at 3 PM (15h00) on Fridays on the 7th floor of the main Haussmann store in the Salon Opéra. It is presented by a team of 6 professional models who show off the latest trends by the most famous designers and couturier collections. This 30-minute presentation requires reservations and includes a commentary done in English. Make the reservation by email : welcome@galerieslafayette.com.

Address: 40 Blvd. Haussmann, 9th arrondissement
Metro: Chaussée d’Antin, Opéra, or Trinité
RER: Auber (Line A) or Haussmann St-Lazare (Line E)

Sarah Vied of Uncaged Traveler is a fellow fan of Montmarte and suggests the following:

  • The view from The Sacré-Cœur Basilica is worth the walk up Montmartre. Paris is relatively flat, so it affords a nice view of the city. There are also a lot of local artists that sell their paintings in a square on Montmartre that’s well worth checking out.
  • Definitely weigh your museum options if you don’t have the time or money to do everything. For example, if you’re more interested in Impressionism, go to d’Orsay rather than the Louvre.
  • Consider a visit to Ladurée, inventors of the double-decker macaron. They have macarons in just about every flavor, and they’re all heavenly. (14 rue de Castiglione)

Alison Cornford-Matheson of Cheese Web had this useful tip: For a great free view of the city, which includes both Montmartre AND the Eiffel Tower, head to the top of the Pompidou Museum. You can ride up the crazy exterior escalators without paying any admission, and if you’d like to splurge, you can buy a drink or a full meal at the rooftop restaurant. The terrace is lovely in the summertime and you can watch the glamorous Parisians eating tiny salads.

what to do in Paris, church, sainte chapelle

Andi Fisher of Misadventures with Andi suggests you don’t try to do everything, as you will end up frustrated. Visit farmer’s markets to pick up picnic items, visit fancy restaurants for lunch, they are cheaper (and picnic for dinner). She blogs regularly about France and Paris, so you might find other useful tidbits on her site.

Camille Poiré of Camille in Wonderlands is a Parisian and shared these tidbits:

  • Walk along the Canal Saint-Martin and stop for a drink and live music at the Point Éphémère art cafe.
  • In summer, bring a picnic and catch a free film on the lawns of the Parc de La Villette at the open air film festival of the same name. Great setting, a good selection of movies every night and you can rent deckchairs and blankets for a small price, or bring your own!
  • For a more pleasant shopping experience, head to Bercy Village with its choice of boutiques, cafes and restaurants housed in quaint village “huts.” You can combine it with a visit of the surrounding gardens, a stroll down the Simone de Beauvoir footbridge (named after the feminist philosopher) and a visit of the National Library on the other side of the river, a film at the Cinémathèque française, or even a sports event or gig at the Palais Omnisports Paris-Bercy, the biggest indoors sport and music venue.
  • A really lovely park off the beaten path is the Arènes de Lutèce, built around Roman ruins in the Quartier Latin. 5. In June, the Solidays music festival against AIDS is a chance to see your favourite international bands for an affordable price while doing a good deed.

Patti Schulz Maghamfar of One Road at a Time, who we met while in Paris, heartily recommends doing the Fat Tire Bike Tour. It’s a 4-hour tour with informative guides and a lot of fun, even in the freezing cold.

Marlys Alfiler-Schuermann of Easy Hiker, who we also met while in Paris (and who fixed us a tremendously delicious dinner) has a fantastic site filled with all sorts of fascinating urban walks. I wish I had known about her site before my 1st visit to the City of Light.

what to do in Paris, shopping

Reena Ganga of Wanderplex wants to spare you from standing in long lines: Paris is notorious for super long lines outside popular attractions and art exhibitions. If you don’t want to spend your whole vacation waiting around, make sure you book advance tickets to these sites. You can pre-purchase tickets to the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, and the Eiffel Tower, among other places.

Building on Reena’s advice, Vera Badertscher of A Traveler’s Library wants you to know it is even easier if you get your tickets at one of the smaller museums. “I learned to my dismay that our rental apartment was only 2 blocks from the Delacroix house, and I could have bought my Louvre and d’Orsay tickets there!”

What would you add, or what would you like to know, about what to do in Paris? Please share your tips or questions in the comment section.

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  1. Thank you for almost every other insightful web page. The best place otherwise may possibly I get this kind of info coded in such a great manner? I’ve a task that we’re just now taking care of, and that i have been with the start looking out to get like details.

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  2. My favorite place in Paris is Jardin du Luxembourg! I go there every time I’m in town!

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    • Such a gorgeous place! Last time we were in Paris it was the middle of winter, so we didn’t go. But this next time it will be spring, and I can’t wait to show Tigger how stunning Paris is during the spring.

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  3. Thanks for including the tip about visiting Musee Les Egouts.. It was definitely an experience to remember. My kid’s olfactory bulb was never the same. 😉

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  4. I definitely agree with the recommendation to visit the Pompidou’s rooftop. The museum is also great, even for a city so focused on more historical artwork…

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  5. I’m hurt you didn’t come to me, especially after our Paris date at Happy Nouilles! 😉

    I’d also throw in a good long walk through the Marais (my favorite part of Paris) and checking out the view from the free observation deck at Galeries Lafayette. Oh, and if you need budget food recs… expatedna.com/2012/12/16/10-under-10-budget-eats-paris/

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    • Oops. I figured you were in the group where I did the query or else I would’ve asked you directly. I’ll remember for next time. 🙂

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      • Ah no, I’m only in the one fb group and I don’t check my groups very often. Try not to spend too much time on fb 😉

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  6. Excellent set of resources! I’m heading there next month and am so excited to find this!

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  7. Hey Talon, I went to the Musée des Égouts too. There are other quirky places I visited, like the Catacombs (millions of human skulls in underground tunnels) and the Pere Lachaise Cemetery (where many culturally notable corpses are resting in peace).

    Also — everyone knows about going to the top of the Eiffel Tower, but many people may not be aware that you can climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, and there are good views from there as well

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    • I mentioned the Arc in my last post about Paris. It’s a pretty cool view. I also loved Pere Lechaise and wrote about it for Travelgeneration.com. As you can imagine, my son wasn’t too interested in visiting there, though. LOL

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  8. My absolute favourite thing to do in Paris is pick up one of the Vélib bikes and ride along the road next to the Seine on a Sunday. They close of a chunk of the street for bikes and rollerblades. It’s great!

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    • I was so bummed we didn’t have a card with a chip in it. I really wanted to avail ourselves of the Velib stations. Then again it was so dang cold when we were there perhaps that was a good thing.

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  9. I love Paris! And I’m always passing through (usually on the way back from a Spanish road trip) – this selection of sneaky tourist tips is just what I needed! Merci beaucoup!

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  10. Great idea to get recommendations from lots of travelers Talon! I might have to steal this concept 😉

    Paris is one of my all time favorite cities – And we only spent 4 days there. That was all I needed to fall in love!

    We hope to go back while in Europe later in the year so Im going to bookmark this because so many of these things we missed!

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    • Paris stole my heart when I first visited there 7 years ago. The 2nd trip only reaffirmed the love affair. I hope to go back and stay at least a month at some point.

      We may be there in December. Let me know you if you’ll be around then!

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  11. Great list of Paris activities, many of which would really get a traveler in touch with the local population.

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  12. Thanks for including our fashion show tip. Great round up of things to do in Paris!

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