What to Do in Paris

This post covers our picks for the top things to do in Paris, including free, nighttime, as well as family-friendly activities, updated for 2020. 

 

 


TOP 10 THINGS TO DO

Here is our list of the absolute top 10 best things to see and do in Paris, including tours, palaces, music, and other attractions.


1) Go on a Sightseeing Tour

There are many great guides ready to show you around Paris!

One of the most popular options is to take a hop-on-hop-off bus tour that gives you convenient transportation around the city complete with entertaining narration.  

 

 

Paris also has the River Seine running through it, which means there are fun boat tours that give you a different perspective of the city.  


2) The Louvre Museum

The Louvre started out as a palace where French royalty lived and is now one of the most famous museums in the world.

It is instantly recognizable by the glass pyramid that sits in the courtyard and the lavish architecture that makes up the palace.

 

 

On the inside, you’ll find the famous Mona Lisa painting as well as other masterpieces.

And the great thing about the Louvre is that you aren’t restricted to daytime entry! The museum is open late multiple days per week.

For a breathtaking view of the large pyramid, we recommend visiting after the sun goes down.

TIP: Skip-the-line admission to the Louvre is included with several Take Walks tours, including one that provides after hours access to the museum.


3) See the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is almost synonymous with Paris. It is a symbol of the city and one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world.

The views from the observation decks are also impressive. You have the option of climbing the stairs or taking the elevators.

 

 

In both cases, we recommend purchasing tickets in advance or using a tourist pass that includes skip-the-line access, to avoid waiting in too many lines.

TIP: Skip-the-line admission to the Eiffel Tower is included with some combo tickets and guided tours.


4) Parisian Parks

There is a multitude of beautiful parks to visit in Paris.

Whether you want to escape the crowded streets, eat a picnic lunch, or have kids who want to run around and play, there is a park for you to enjoy.

 

 

  • Parc du Champ de Mars is the green space next to the Eiffel Tower, and perfect for a picnic.
  • Jardin de Luxembourg is an impressive paid playground that many local children love.
  • Parc des Buttes-Chaumont has beautiful, shady footpaths for walking and running.
  • Le Petite Ceinture is an interesting former railway line that is now a lovely and less-well-known green space.

Most of these parks are completely free to enjoy, which is perfect if you’re on a budget! 


5) Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles is a massive estate approximately 40 minutes outside of Paris that is both beautiful and historically significant.

It has seen many important events such as the Peace Treaty signing between the Germans and Allies for WWI.

 

 

Versailles is definitely worth seeing, but its popularity makes it likely you’ll have to wait in long lines unless you plan ahead.

For the most in-depth information regarding ticket types and how to purchase them or which tours might be best to take, head over to our comprehensive guide to Versaille tickets and tours.


6) Experience Paris Sports

Paris is a hub of top-level sports. All throughout the year, you can find championships, tournaments, and a wide number of sporting events.

Football (Soccer)

Basketball

Handball

Championship Events and Tournaments

If you’re with the family, keep in mind that many tournaments have play areas with games for the kids to enjoy. For more family-friendly outings, take a look at the section below.


7) See the Moulin Rouge

That famous cabaret with the iconic windmill is still one of the most popular shows in Paris. The Moulin Rouge is defined by extravagant costumes and beautiful performers.

 

 

There are plenty of opportunities to see the show. We recommend booking a spot several months in advance as they usually sell out quickly.

Keep in mind that there is a dress code to enter the Moulin Rouge. No sports shoes or sportswear or shorts are allowed to be worn.  

TIP: This location is included in some Montmartre tours.


8) Find Live Music Every Day of the Week

Take a stroll down Champs-Elysees to see a wide variety of street performers singing or playing their instruments. If you enjoy what you hear, we recommend tipping!

 

 

Of course, Paris is a hub of cultural experiences. There are Opera and Ballet performances widely available almost every night of the week, and the artists are some of the best in the world.

If you’re looking to find a concert with someone like Maroon 5 or Elton John, take a look at the schedule of the AccorHotels Arena.  


9) The Food Scene

French food is famous all over the world for being delicious, high-quality, and exotic. From crepes to Macarons, you won’t find a shortage of delicious pastries or sweets.

And if you don’t know where to start, why not a Parisian food tour?

 

 

A Few Restaurants We Suggest:

Many of these places are great for family time or for entertainment at night.


10) See More with a City Pass

Want to see it all in Paris? A tourist pass will allow you to save 50% or more by bundling up the attractions you want to see most and paying for just one pass.

 

 

You can find all-inclusive packages which give you free entry to a number of locations, or passes that give you discounts to specific tours and locations.

Attractions and Features Included in Some Passes:

  • Hop-On-Hop-Off Big Bus Tour
  • Palace of Versailles
  • The Louvre
  • Picasso Museum
  • River Seine Cruise
  • The Aquarium
  • Fast Track Entry

See our Paris City Pass comparison here.


Honorable Mention: See the Paris Catacombs

This is one of the most historic sites in Paris, and it’s right beneath your feet!

Whether you’re interested in the macabre or you just want to learn more about this city, a trip to the catacombs is sure to be interesting.

Take Walks currently offers a special access tour of the Paris Catacombs with skip-the-line admission. 

We recommend exploring the catacombs with a guide so that you won’t get lost and you’ll learn as much as possible about the area.

 


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FREE THINGS TO DO

While Paris is known for being classy, you don’t have to worry about busting your budget because there are plenty of free things to do! Here’s a list of our top 10 free things to do.

 

 

Our free things to do in Paris post has even more detail about this top 10 list and even more ideas for the budget-conscious traveler.

  1. See the view from Basilique du Sacre Coeur.
  2. Take a completely free GPS-led audio walking tour of Paris.
  3. Find a free museum, like Musee Carnavalet or the Museum of Modern Art.
  4. Explore the Parisian neighborhood of Montmartre.
  5. See the Eiffel Tower during the day or night.
  6. Find famous gravestones at Cemetery Pere Lachaise.
  7. Watch street performers on Champs-Elysees.
  8. Find a free, sidewalk wine tasting at Les Caves Auges.
  9. Relax in one of Paris’s many parks.
  10. Take a look at Marie Curie’s lab in Musee Curie.
  11. Listen to a free concert at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique.

For more inspiration, check out our master post on free things to do in Paris.

 


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THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT

The City of Lights is even more beautiful at night! Here is our top 10 list of things to do at night in Paris.

 

 

For more things to do after dark in Paris, take a look at our things to do at night post.

  1. Learn about Parisian murder mysteries through the ages.
  2. Catch a basketball game with Paris Basketball.
  3. Enjoy The Louvre while it is lit up at night.
  4. See a cabaret, like the famous Moulin Rouge.
  5. Explore Parisian cuisine on a food tour.
  6. Find open-late museums on Sunday or Thursday nights.
  7. Go on a spooky walking tour with the kids.
  8. See the Eiffel Tower light show.
  9. Watch the Versaille Gardens fountain and fireworks show.
  10. Take a dinner cruise down the Seine River.

To see everything there is to do at night, check out our full post.

 


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FAMILY-FRIENDLY THINGS TO DO

Paris is an excellent city in which to have a family vacation. Here is our top 10 list for things to do with kids.

 

 

For a more detailed version of this family-friendly top 10 list, and even more ideas, check out our full post.

  1. Find the “I Love You” mural.
  2. Spend an afternoon at the Pompidou Centre.
  3. Enjoy a Paris Ballet or puppet performance.
  4. See a Saint-Germain football game.
  5. Learn about Parisian cuisine on a food tour.
  6. Enjoy the Parisian parks.
  7. Go on an evening coach tour of the city.
  8. See the Eiffel Tower from the ground or the observation deck.
  9. Take a guided cemetery tour of Pere Lachaise Cemetery.
  10. Go to the largest science museum in Europe.

Find even more things to do with your kids in the City of Lights on our full family-friendly post.

 


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About the author

Christina studied art history and French literature at the Sorbonne for a year in Paris as an undergrad. Now based in Washington, DC, she visits Paris as often as possible and loves introducing family and friends to her favorite places there. She has worked as a travel writer, museum professional, English tutor, and editor, and her favorite French cheese is Pont l'Eveque.