A Total Guide to Things to See and Do in Paris

Getting the most out of your trip to Paris will require a little bit of knowledge so where best than TotalGuide to help you. We’ve compiled a list of the most visted attractions and instagrammable locations so you can plan ahead as to what suits you and what doesnt.

Remember we’ve also compiled a list of top tips and how to get around this beautiful city to make visiting Paris a breeze.

So without further ado here’s the TotalGuide list of things to see and do in Paris.

Eiffel Tower

You can’t spend time in Paris without having your picture against the backdrop of the iconic Eiffel Tower. Opened in 1889 it is without a doubt the one landmark that defines Paris to the world. It is one of the most Instagramed landmarks in the world and offers tours throughout the day to the top. If you’re feeling flush then why not book in for dinner at one of the two restaurants situated at the top? 

Louvre

Over 10 million visitors graced the Louvre last year, its most popular exhibition is the Mona Lisa by the Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci. The stunning triangular architecture is a photographer’s beauty spot. It’s iconic, instantly recognisable and is a statement of what’s to come.

Musee d’Orsay

Famous for its vast collection of impressionist paintings it holds the largest collection of famous artwork from the likes of Monet, Manet, Pissaro, Morisot and Renoir.

Want more museums?

There are over 130 museums in Paris, read up on the most popular in our Total Guide to Museums in Paris

Notre-Dame

You will find stunning architecture in abundance in Paris and so a visit to Notre-Dame is a must. The Lady of Paris is a medieval Catholic cathedral and is considered to be one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in France. Those of you who are fit enough should climb the 422 steps of the towers and take in the stunning backdrop of Paris from above. Tours should be booked in advance, click here to find out how. If you’re strapped for time and don’t want to take a tour then we suggest you take in Notre-Dame from the Pont De L’archeveche bridge. Here you will get a great vantage point.

Arc de Triomphe

As you are starting to find out, Paris is full of landmarks and after a gentle stroll up one of Paris’ most famous streets the Champs-Élysées you will arrive at the Arc de Triomphe. It is arguably the most famous monument in Paris and it honours those who fought and died for France in the French revolution and Napoleon wars.

The Pantheon

Located in the Latin Quarter of Paris, The Pantheon is a temple to all gods. Modeled on the Pantheon in Rome it is a nod to Saint Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris.

If you want one of the best views in Paris, then climb the 276 steps to the top of The Pantheon and you’ll be met with panoramic views.

Need inspiration? Not sure how to fit it all in? Take a look at our Total Weekend in Paris Itinerary

Les Invalides

If military history is on your agenda then you need to visit Les Invalides. Home to the tomb of Napoleon, this museum contains some of the most important artifacts and monuments relating to French military.

You’ll also find the largest church in Paris here, the Dome des Invalides standing at 107 meters tall.

Paris Catacombs

Those of you who aren’t easily freaked out should have the Paris Catacombs high up on your list of things to do in Paris. Located 20 metres underground the catacombs are a maze of galleries and ossuary containing the remains of several million Parisians.

This fascinating place isn’t for the light hearted and be aware that there are 131 steps to go down and 112 steps to climb back up.

Need to book a hotel but don’t know where to start? From budget to luxurious, check out our Total Guide to Hotel Rooms in Paris

Moulin Rouge

The Moulin Rouge is best known as the birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance and is an original cabaret theatre dating back to 1889. Its distinctive red windmill on its roof is viewed by millions of visitors per year.

History aside, you can watch a show at the Moulin Rouge but tickets will set you back around 100 euro’s.

Palais Garnier

Love opera or just want to broaden your horizons? The Palais Garnier is the place to be. It’s elegant interior and dazzling architecture makes it a masterpiece.

It is also an opportunity to discover one of Paris’s most legendary characters, the famous Phantom of the Opera. Guides will even take you to box number 5, the one belonging to Gaston Leroux.

Disneyland Paris

Make someone’s year and take them to Disneyland Paris. Located 32km from the centre of Paris. Enjoy two theme parks, restaurants, and an entertainment complex in all the magic of Disney.

1 Day 1 Park tickets costs around €53.00 for adults and €49.00 for children. You can buy your tickets in advance here.

You can take a RER train to Disney, which will take 1hr 45mins and cost around €25.00.

Getting around Paris is as easy if you know what to do, we give you all the information you need in our Getting Around Paris Guide

Sightseeing Bus

See Paris in all its glory quickly by getting on a sightseeing bus. The beauty of these busses is that you can hop on and hop off at your leisure, so if you’re buzzing to see the Eiffel Tower but no so much Notre Dame, then see it anyway from the comfort of an open-top bus.

Book your tickets in advance here

Basilique du Sacré-Cœu

The Basilique du Sacré-Cœu or Sacred Heart of Paris Basilica is the second most visited monument in Paris (Arc de Triomphe is the first). It stands at the summit of the highest point in Paris making it a stunning vantage point.

It is a Roman Catholic church so if you are visiting at either Christmas or Easter then check to see if there are any masses on when you visit.

Entrance is free

Sainte Chapelle

Built in just seven years, the Sainte Chapelle was intended to house precious Christian relics, including Christ’s crown of thorns, acquired by Saint Louis. 

Most visitors to Sainte Chapelle come for the quite remarkable stained glass windows (all 1,113 of them) and 13th-century gothic styled architecture.

Price is from €11.50 however entry is free on the first Sunday of the month from November – March.

Palais-Royal

Located opposite The Louvre the Palais Royal is yet another former palace in the centre of Paris that hosted the royal families of France until the Palace of Versailles was built in 1631.

Entry to Palais-Royal is free and is a great place to stroll through its gardens and take in yet more stunning architecture. You can also visit The Comédie-Française and Palais-Royal theatres and the Grand-Véfour restaurant.

Pont Neuf

Take a stroll along the oldest standing stone bridge in Paris. The Pont Neuf was constructed in 1578 and is famous for being the first stone bridge that didn’t support houses. It was declared a Unesco world heritage site in 1991.

There are 381 German Pilon sculptures decorating the stone brackets on the bridge, how many can you see?

Scrub up on your French and learn to speak the language when visiting Paris. Pick up a French dictionary to help you

Place De La Concorde

The Place De La Concorde is the largest public square in Paris and whilst it is a great place to sit with a patisserie and watch the world go by, it was also the site of many notable executions (by guillotine) including that of King Louis XVI and Queen Mary Antoinette during the French revolution.

FACT : The obelisk in the centre of the square was gifted to the French by the Egyptians in the 19th century. It once marked the entrance to the Luxor Temple.

La Madeleine

Once you’ve finished your patisserie and taken in the gruesome events of Place De La Concorde then why not walk north and visit La Madeline. A catholic church perched in a commanding position in the 8th arrondissement designed to form a temple.

Lucky visitors may also get a glimpse of a wedding (or funeral) as they are still celebrated here. If you are hungry, you can dine at La Madeline.

Versailles

Located 12 miles from the centre of Paris The Palace Versailles was once the royal residence of Paris until the start of the French revolution in 1789. Today it is still regarded as one of the most spectacular palaces in the world and if stunning architecture and elegant displays of wealth are on your to-do list then a visit to Versailles is a must.

Visit the palace and hear all about the history of French royalty and its power. You’ll also be able to visit the estate of Trianon, the magnificent gardens and a haven of greenery in the park.

You can pre-order your tickets here.

Luxembourg Gardens

Covering over 23 hectares of Paris is a wonderful oasis of lawns, tree-lined promenades, geometric forest, flowerbeds, and a picturesque fountain, the Luxembourg Gardens or Jardin du Luxembourg is located next to the Luxembourg Palace in the 6th arrondissement.

Take the afternoon off and take a leisurely stroll away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy a truly splendid area of calm. Kids will enjoy the gardens as there are many activities to keep them occupied including puppet shows, rides and slides, and remote control boats. Adults can enjoy chess, bridge, and tennis with the locals too.

View from Montmartre

Looking for the perfect spot to unwind or take in a panoramic view of Paris that won’t cost you an arm or a leg? Then climb through the ancient, cobbled streets of Montmartre and take in the stunning view

Why not bag yourself some crusty bread and cheese and watch the sunset, or even better, propose to the love of your life up here and get a round of applause?

Seine River

There are so many landmarks dotted along the banks on the Seine River such as Notre Dame, The Louvre and Musée d’Orsay. There are so many cool places to sit and watch the world go by for a relaxing and free way to enjoy Paris.

Why not take a gentle river cruise? Relax as you swoop under wonderful bridges, see landmarks from an alternative view and take in the scenery from the boat? Of course, it’s better to book ahead and take appropriate clothing. Get your tickets in advance here.

Père Lachaise Cemetery

The largest cemetery in Paris is visited by more than 3.5 million people annually making it the largest necropolis in the world, but why?

Well, it is the final resting place of The Doors frontman Jim Morrison and since his death in Paris in 1971, fans have been coming to Père Lachaise ever since. Other notable graves and tombs include those of Poet, Oscar Wilde, classical composer Frederic Chopin, and Author Marcel Proust.

You can book a semi private tour here.

Walk along the Champs-Élysées

A walk along one of Paris’ most famous streets is something of a highlight and it will lead you to one of Paris’ most famous monuments the Arc de Triomphe.

Here you will find chic restaurants, boutiques and Parisian cafes in abundance and there is always an opportunity for a photo. Shoppers should head for the Golden Triangle where they will be in their element with all the top French fashion houses such as Chanel, Dior & Louis Vuitton.

Saint Germain des Prés

This is the most beautiful quarter in Paris and a late afternoon/evening stroll is not to be missed. It’s artistic and high-end vibe really makes you feel at ease and those of you looking for good photography shots will not be disappointed.

It’s home to the oldest church in Paris, the Eglise Saint Germain des Prés as well as famous cafes favored by nonother than Ernest Hemingway. Here you will find a truly authentic Parisian vibe. Movie buffs will also be interested to see the St Sulpice church which was featured in the 2006 film The Da Vinci Code.

Pont Alexandre bridge

If you want to propose on a bridge in Paris, then this is the one to do it on. This beautiful 19th-century bridge has a view that includes the Eiffel Tower, Grand Palais and Invalides to name but a few.

Our top tip would be to visit at sunset when the lights turn on to give it that extra special romantic feel.

Climb the Eiffel Tower

Don’t just look at Paris’ most famous landmark, climb it.

You have 2 options. You can take the stairways (674 steps) but they will only take you to the 2nd floor. If you want to go all the way to the top then you’ll have to take a lift from the 2nd floor.

You can book tickets in advance to skip the ques here.

Montmartre Neighbourhood

Walk the delightful and charming cobbled streets of Montmartre and not only will you visit a place full of history and character, but you’ll also get a panoramic view of Paris in all its glory.

Check out the talented street artists and sculptures, The Musée d’Art Naïf Max Fourny bookstore & museum, or release your inner confectionery making and take part in a Macaron making class at Mesny?

French Pastries

Do not leave Paris without indulging in its simply delicious french pastries.

There are boulangeries or patisseries all over Paris and they are simply mouth-watering. If you haven’t tried a pain au chocolat then you are missing out. It is a croissant but with chocolate in the middle. If you’re stuck for choice, try Stohrer or Fou de Patisserie.

Wine & Cheese Tasting

Cheese lovers will be in their element in Paris as France produces some of the finest quality cheeses in the world. There are a few really good cheese shops in central Paris, we would recommend Fromagerie Laurent Dubois or Androuet. Here you will be able to indulge (or take home) a slice of Brie, Comté, Roquefort or Bleu d’Auvergne.

And then why not compliment your cheese with some equally good french wine? (because we are really good at that too)

Take your wine and cheese tasting up a notch and make an afternoon of it with a Wine & Cheese tasting session? You won’t regret it, we promise.

Sunset watching

You can’t beat a good sunset can you? It’s the best way to see out a beautiful day in Paris and watch the city transition from day to night. One of our favourite places to watch the sunset in Paris is the vantage point from Sacré-Cœur Basilica. Another good suggestion, if you are wanting some really cool sunset pictures with a typically French backdrop, walk the streets of Montmartre at dusk.

The Wall of Love

Ah love, that beautiful feeling of warmth, coziness, and compatibility, but if you need more of it then head to The Wall of Love or Le mur des je t’aime.

Created in 2000 by Fédéric Baron it is composed of 612 tiles of enamelled lava in which the phrase “I love you” is written 311 times in 250 languages.

Better still, the wall is free of charge and open to the public all year round.

And movie lovers can also kill two birds with one stone as the nearest metro station to The Wall of Love is Abbesses Metro Station which is also featured in the 2001 popular French film Amelie.

Galeries Lafayette Paris

If shopping is high on your list to do in Paris (and why wouldn’t it) then you will be in awe of what’s on offer.

Every famous fashion house in France has a flagship store in Paris. Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, Balmain, Yves Saint Laurent and Thierry Mugler to name just a few.

You’ll find most of them on the Champs-Élysées or head to one of the other fashion malls such as Carrousel du Louvre, Galerie Vivienne or the famous Galeries Lafayette.