Paris: what to do, what to see in France's capital



Un bateau-mouche longe l'île de la Cité et Notre-Dame de Paris
© Givaga / Istockphoto - Un bateau-mouche longe l'île de la Cité et Notre-Dame de Paris

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 22 November 2023, updated on 21 April 2024

Ah, Paris! The city that dares to be all things to all people; everybody's hometown. Paris is like a huge village with more than its fair share of discoveries, surprises, crazy nights, beauty, art, light, fabulous food and great people—it's a city where it’s great to wander, lose yourself, taste adventure, see life and feel alive. From its historic heart to its high-profile street art and the Futurist architecture of the Grand Paris infrastructure plan, Paris and its region quite simply live life to the fullest. 

Not to miss sights in the Paris region

• Eiffel Tower “La Dame de Fer” is not looking bad, for 130 years old! Paris’ favorite monument stands straight along the Seine, transforming with a flourish when night falls, sparkling with a thousand lights. From its height of 325 meters, the Eiffel Tower lords over all of Paris, offering spectacular views from any level!

• The Louvre: from morning to evening, immerse yourself in masterpieces at the Louvre 35,000—this is the number of works exhibited in the Louvre, from the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, to Egyptian antiquities and medieval objets d’art, not to mention Islamic art or paintings from the first half of the 19th century. The treasures of the Louvre are an infinite wealth to discover at your own pace, day or night.

• The Latin Quarter The Latin Quarter is the Left Bank in all its legendary brilliance. This is a district of prestigious universities, replete with scores of students and diverse place: the Arena of Lutèce (a Roman relic), the garden and the palace of Luxembourg, the Pantheon, the museum of the Middle Ages, the place de la Contrescarpe, rue Mouffetard, boulevard Saint-Michel and many others call this part of the city home.

• Montmartre and the Sacred Heart The neighborhood has been able to renew itself while keeping its reputation as an artist’s haunt. We love the shops on rue Lepic, the trendy boutiques of the Abbesses, the lively Place du Tertre, and of course the basilica at the top of the hill, from where the perspective on Paris is 360°.

• The Grand Palace Just a stone’s throw from the Seine and the Alexandre III bridge, this immense building with iron frames topped by an elegant glass dome hosts international exhibitions in its National Galleries and major events under its nave (fashion shows, parties, skating-rinks..). And facing the Grand Palais is the Palais de la découverte, an essential spot to play scientist.

• The Louis Vuitton Foundation All in clear glass, monumental and airy at once, the museum was designed by the American architect Frank Gehry. We love the open spaces, original contemporary art exhibitions, and terraces overlooking the Bois de Boulogne and Paris.

• The Palace of Versailles Former hunting lodge, this royal residence was inhabited by Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI. The heritage is exceptional: the Hall of Mirrors, the Battalions Gallery, the Royal Apartments, the Chapel, the Royal Opera, and in the 800-hectare park, the Grand Trianon, the Hameau de la Reine, the Temple of Love, the Grand Canal—it’s a dazzling journey in the history of France!

• Notre-Dame and the Île de la Cité Formerly called Lutèce, the Île de la Cité is the heart of Old Paris, where everything began 2000 years ago. The island neighborhood is a central district, nestled in the Seine like a privileged village. Strolling on the quays from Pont Neuf and to Notre Dame cathedral, a Gothic masterpiece with expressive gargoyles and sumptuous stained glass windows, is one of the most lovely walks in Paris. Note that since the fire of April 15, 2019, Notre-Dame is closed to the public until further notice.

• The Arc de Triomphe At the top of the Champs-Elysées, crowns the center of Place Charles de Gaulle, where 12 avenues converge. At 50 meters high, it brilliantly symbolizes Napoleon’s victory at Austerlitz. Climb the viewing platform to admire the Parisian skyline: on one side, the towers of La Défense, on the other, the Place de la Concorde.

• The Champs-Elysées and Concorde A timeless symbol of the capital, the Avenue des Champs-Elysées is nicknamed “the most beautiful avenue in the world,” a wide boulevard of great parades and popular gatherings. For nearly two kilometers, starting from the Place Charles de Gaulle, it is punctuated by a succession of restaurants, luxury brands, cinemas, and gardens. Slightly sloping, it opens onto the vast Place de la Concorde, dominated by the Obelisk of Luxor. It’s no wonder the Champs Élysées are named after the ancient Greek concept of paradise!

Things to do in the Paris region

• Sip a coffee at the Café de Flore in Saint-Germain-des-Prés In the heart of the intellectual district of St Germain, the Café de Flore is a must for observing passers-by and regulars. In each district, there’s a must-visit institution: the Café de la Paix at the Opera, the Coupole at Montparnasse, the Wepler Place de Clichy, the Vaudeville at Place de la Bourse, the Café Charbon rue d’Oberkampf…

• Arpenter Station F, the largest start-up campus in the world In the 13th arondissement, Station F, named after the former Halle Freyssinet, hosts more than 3,000 workstations under the same roof! The French Tech label is deployed throughout the country, and other major Parisian incubators support innovative start-ups like Numa, Le Cargo, Welcome City Lab.

• Stroll in the Tuileries Garden Between the Place de la Concorde and the Louvre Museum, the Tuileries Garden is a harmonious oasis, designed by famed garden architect André Le Nôtre in the 17th century. The garden is the ideal place to walk between basins and statues, conducive to improvised picnics.

• Marvel at the Cité des Sciences with the children How to learn while having fun? Areas of discovery and experimentation are designed for children from two to seven years old, and juniors up to 12 years old. All the secrets of science are explained in a fun, dynamic way, interesting both to children and their parents. At La Villette, it’s party time!

• Go from Saint-Ouen Flea Market to Montaigne Avenue Paris is a place of dream shopping for those who love collect. Hunt for hidden treasures in the flea market, browse department store racks, find an original piece from a designer in the Marais, splurge on a luxury brand at the Avenue Montaigne, scout unusual finds on the Canal St Martin, buy beautiful objets d’art and prints in the shops of museums. Paris is the capital of beautiful things for good reason!

• Applaud the dancers of the Moulin Rouge and Lido Fairyland decorations, heart-pounding rhythms, shimmering costumes, dancers recruited from all over the world, rhinestones and glitter galore—your evening in these Parisian cabarets will be sparkling. The joyful tradition of music hall reviews, which dates back to the 19th century, continues with talent and innovation, at the Moulin Rouge, Lido, Crazy Horse Saloon, Paradis Latin, among others.

• List a selection of bistros to test Parisian bistronomy Many young chefs have embarked on the bistronomy, this inventive cuisine inspired by the traditional recipes of the famous French bistrots. Visitors enjoy affordable prices and incredible experiences at Chateaubriand, Dauphin, Porte 12, and Dilia. They have their place alongside Michelin-starred chefs such as Pierre Gagnaire, Jean-François Piège and Guy Savoy, to name a few. And the historic brasseries also have their own atmosphere and their specialties. Just go for dinner at La Lorraine, Vaudeville or at Flo to find out!

• Vélib’ on the banks of the Seine, thinking about the Olympics of 2024 Discover Paris by bike on the landscaped banks of the Seine—it’s a bucolic pleasure for any city dweller! On the right or left bank, Parisians and passing visitors can be found in ephemeral restaurants and terrassed cafés, on rooftops and aboard musical barges. In 2024, the Summer Olympics will take place partly in the heart of Paris, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, in the Seine, the Champ de Mars, the Invalides, among other beloved spots in the City of Light.

• Experience the Seine Musical on Seguin Island This new musical complex is installed on an island of the Seine, opposite Boulogne-Billancourt. Primarily it offers concerts of classical music, but also jazz, rock, and ballets. It complements the already existing concert halls in Paris: the Philarmonie and Zénith in the Parc de la Villette, Accor Hotel Arena in Bercy, La Défense Arena, and the Opéra Bastille.

• Walk in the footsteps of the Impressionists in Auvers-sur-Oise (and go to Normandy to continue the journey) At the gates of the capital, the village of Auvers-sur-Oise has inspired Van Gogh, Corot, Daubigny, Boggio and many others. Some have left house-workshops open to visitors, allowing us to take a peek into the mind of these geniuses. The village castle also offers an “Impressionist Vision” exhibition leading through its different rooms. And by following the Seine west towards Giverny, Rouen, Honfleur and Étretat, you can approach the impressionist landscapes up close.

By Rédaction

The magazine of the destination unravels an unexpected France that revisits tradition and cultivates creativity. A France far beyond what you can imagine…