Visiting Paris soon and would like some helpful information to get the most out of your trip? In our guide you will find out about which neighborhood (quartiers) to visit, where to stay, which landmarks to see, which museums to discover, and of course the French capital’s most beautiful parks and gardens. We have selected all the most unmissable as well unusual activities which will make your stay in Paris truly unique.
For a successful visit of the City of Light, plan a stay of 4 to 5 days at the very least, but if time is tight, rest assured you can tick off the main activities in 3 days.
Neighborhoods to Visit & where to stay in Paris
Discovering Paris is not just going to the museums or admiring the famous landmarks of the city, it’s also strolling around the neighborhoods and losing yourself in the narrow streets of Montmartre or the Marais. Here is our guide to the best quarters to visit in Paris.
Montmartre is one of the best-known quarters of the city and a truly unmissable area of the City of Light. This former village which was absorbed into the city of Paris in 1860 accommodated numerous artists including Van Gogh, Toulouse Lautrec and Hemingway.
The quarter has inherited its bohemian and artistic atmosphere from the narrow streets, vines, and markers of time such as the Moulin de Galette, the Lapin Agile (old cabaret visited by Picasso), and the Moulin Rouge.
The Sacré-Coeur at the top of the hill is of course the symbol of the quarter with a magnificent panoramic view over the rooftops of Paris. Montmartre has also become a popular shopping area thanks to its fashion boutiques, thrift shops and art galleries. Thanks to its very rich cultural life and great variety of restaurants, it is a good neighborhood where to stay in Paris.
- Métro: Anvers, Abbesses, or Lamarck-Caulaincourt
- Find out more about Visiting Montmartre
The Champs Élysées
The most beautiful avenue in the world is also one of the busiest places in the capital. At 1.9km long, it links the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde.
This is an area with plenty of things to see and do, from cultural activities at the theatre or the Grand Palais, or more social activities involving bars, cafés and nightclubs – there is always something to do!
- Visiting the Champs-Élysées Quarter
- Métro: Franklin-Roosevelt, Georges V or Charles-de-Gaulle
The Latin Quarter
The Latin quarter gets its name from the students and professors who used to communicate in Latin there during the Middle-Ages.
Today, it is a very busy student area. It is also one of the most culturally rich places in the whole city with many art-house and experimental cinemas, the Arab World Institute, the Cluny Museum, and the Sorbonne.
You will also find many restaurants on the quayside and along rue Mouffetard.
- Métro: St-Michel, Maubert-Mutualité, Place Monge
Saint Germain des Près
Saint-Germain des Près is not as much of a hangout for writers, artists, and the big names of the Jazz scene as it was in the 60s.
However, with its galleries, contemporary art, famous cafés, libraries, and narrow streets, Saint Germain has managed to retain a “left-bank” feel and remains one of the city’s best loves areas.
It is also one of Paris’ top shopping destinations with its numerous highstreets including rue de Rennes.
- Métro: St-Germain-des-Près, Mabillon, Odéon
Le Marais Neighborhood
The Marais is one of Paris’ oldest quarters. Here, you are sure to encounter its rich historical past in the narrow streets and the hotels in particular.
This is also a very busy quarter with lots of trendy shops, art galleries, restaurants and museums.
Le Haut Marais is known for its nightlife and its bar, pubs and nightclubs. Nights here are long and the mood is jolly.
- Métro: Saint-Paul, Chemin-Vert, Hotel de Villle
- Find out more about Visiting le Marais
The quarter of Canal St-Martin is one of the most charming in Paris, with its footbridges, lakes, colorful shops, and pleasant bars.
It also has a reputation for being a ‘bobo’ quarter with its terraces at the water’s edge inviting you to brunch. In the Summertime, groups come to picnic on the quays of Jemmapes and Valmy.
- Métro: Louis les Blancs, Gare de l’Est
Montparnasse is another busy quarter, with a tower of the same name taking center stage.
Previously loved by artists like Picasso, Chagall and Modigliani, today Montparnasse is full of life with cafés, bars, cinemas and restaurants a-plenty.
- Métro: Montparnasse, Gaité
If you venture off the beaten track and pay a visit to the Belleville-Ménilmontant quarter, you will find a bustling yet affordable area which is popular with Paris’ student population.
- Métro: Belleville or Ménilmontant
The 13th Arrondissement and the Chinese Quarter
It has become one of Paris’ popular attractions, especially in the run-up to the Chinese New Year. The colorful streets of Parisian Chinatown attract many customers to its restaurants and Asian stores.
They also attract lovers of street art as groups in the South-East of the capital served as a support to many graphic artists. The nearby Tolbiac University is a very culturally rich establishment.
- Métro: Tolbiac, Porte d’Ivry, Nationale
Landmarks and Places to visit in Paris
Paris is of course known for its quarters, but it is also a beautiful city thanks to its many landmarks and monuments. It is impossible to arrive in Paris without gazing at the Eiffel Tower in awe, and Paris is full of many other wondrous sights – here is our list of the best Paris landmarks and places to see while visiting Paris.
The Eiffel Tower
What would Paris be without the Eiffel Tower? This enormous structure has become the symbol of the French capital, and so it is a truly unmissable monument.
If you would like to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, book your ticket online in advance to avoid standing in a queue.
- Métro: Bir-Hakeim
The Arc de Triomphe
Another fantastic place in the City of Light, the Arc de Triomphe is located at the Western extremity of the Champs-Élysées. This impressive monument has become the location of celebration after great sporting victories. If you go to the top at sunset, you will be treated to the most beautiful panoramic view of Paris – this is a truly unmissable spectacle.
- Métro: Charles de Gaulle – Etoile
Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral, a statement work of gothic art, takes center stage on the ‘Ile’ (island) of the town. It construction commenced in 1163 and ended in 1345.
Made famous by Victor Hugo, this is one of the world’s most visited monuments. 12 million visitors come to admire its exceptional architecture, gargoyles, stained-glass windows and nave. Climbing to the top is not for the faint of heart, but it is definitely worth the effort.
- Métro: Cité, Saint-Michel, Châtelet
The Sacré Cœur
It’s the symbol of the North of Paris and one of the most visible landmarks of the city. Built at the end of the 19th century at the top of the Montmartre mound, this impressive basilica attracts the many tourists who come to visit it and admire the view over the rooftops of Paris.
- Métro: Anvers, Abbesses
The Sainte-Chapelle is the other beacon on the city’s island. Another of Paris’ gothic gems, it was built in 1248.
- Métro: Cité, Châtelet, St-Michel
Catacombs of Paris
If ever there was a captivating place in the capital, it would surely be the Catacombs. This attraction is most certainly worth the detour. You will be able to pass through the ossuary dating from the 18th century.
- Métro: Denfert-Rochereau
At Les Invalides you can enjoy the promenade, the hotel, the museum, or all three – it’s up to you! The promenade is a lovely place for a picnic or a moment of calm before a visit to the Alexandre III bridge.
- Métro: Invalides
Located in the Latin quarter, the Pantheon houses the tombs of many famed Frenchmen including Voltaire, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Victor Hugo and Jean Moulin.
- Métro: Mauber-Mutualité – Luxembourg
Palais Garnier / Opera de Paris
The Palais Garnier is one of the art deco gems of the 19th century and a symbol of Paris’ power during the belle époque.
Even if the best way to discover the Palais is to attend an opera or ballet performance, it is open for visiting 7 days a week.
- Métro: Opéra
The Palace of Versailles
If you fancy getting out of the city, Versailles is just 15 minutes away by train. You can admire this incredibly famous palace, its gardens, the royal chapel and the Queen’s apartments.
- Access: RERC Versailles Rive Gauche
We have hand-picked a series of museums for you to visit. Of course, this list is not exhaustive as there are more than 40 museums in the city, each with its own enthusiasts.
The Louvre Museum
The Louve Museum is one of the most-visited museums on the planet where you will find art (including La Joconde and La Victoire Guidant le Peuple), history (ancient times, middle ages, and the French Revolution), and Egyptology.
- Métro: Louvre-Rivoli
- Website: Louvre.fr
The Musée d’Orsay
The Musée d’Orsay is housed in the magnificent former Orsay station. Here you will find many masterpieces of the masters of impressionism, realism, and Fauvism. Gaugin, Rodin, Renoir, Manet, Van Gogh, the world’s most famous artists are represented here, so it is an absolute must if you’re looking to see Arty Paris.
- Métro: Musée d’Orsay – Solférino
- Website: www.musee-orsay.fr
Le Musée Rodin
This museum was founded in 1916 thanks to its donor, Auguste Rodin, who bequeathed his works and library collections. Here you can see Le Penseur (the thinker) and Le Baiser (the kiss). This museum is ideally situated near the Hotel Biron and its garden, which is one of the most romantic in Paris.
- Métro: Varenne
Centre Georges Pompidou
One of the most visited museums in Paris, the Centre Georges Pompidou is dedicated to all formes on modern art, and is the site of many great contemporary art exhibitions.
- Métro: Rambuteau, Châtelet, Hôtel de Ville
The Carnavalet Museum
A museum dedicated to the history of Paris, this is especially worth doing because entry is free!
- Métro: Saint-Paul, Chemin Vert
Paris Museum of Modern Art
One of the world’s most beautiful contemporary art collections, this museum is free all year round.
- Métro: Lena
Musée National du Moyen Age (National Museum of the Middle Ages)
This is one of the best museums dedicated to the middle ages. While you’re in the area you can visit the Hôtel Cluny and the Roman thermal baths.
- Métro: Cluny-Saint Michel
Le Musée de l’Orangerie
This museum is particularly famous for Monet’s Water Lilies, and you will find a lot of other impressionist works. In a nice location, this museum is close to the Jardin des Tuileries.
- Métro: Place Concorde
Le Musée Picasso
This museum has recently reopened and is dedicated to the works of Pablo Picasso, who spent a large portion of his life in Paris. Here you will be able to see parts of the artist’s personal life as well as artists who did him wrong.
- Métro: Saint-Sébastien-Froissart | Chemin-Vert
Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie
This science museum with its IMAX Theater (La Géode) is one of the best-loved museums in Paris. It hosts many exhibitions, events and family activities making it perfect for a family day out.
- Métro: Porte de la Villette, Porte de Pantin
The Arab World Institute
The Arab World Institute (l’Institute du Monde Arabe), cloaked in a case designed by Jean Nouvel, attracts people from all corners of the world every year. Located in a spacious area of the Latin quarter, it is also one of the most peaceful places in the city. It is also the site of many exhibitions.
- Métro: Jussieu | Sully-Morland
National Museum of Natural History
Also in the Latin quarter, this museum is a fabulous day out for all the family. You can see the gallery of evolution, the zoo in the Jardin des Plantes, the great greenhouses, and the museum of man. There are also activities for children.
- Métro: Place Monge
Find more on Museums to Visit in Paris
Parks and Gardens in Paris
It is impossible to visit Paris without taking yourself for a stroll in one of the city’s parks. They are varied and great in number, so the choice is yours!
Le Jardin des Tuileries
Le Jardin des Tuileries right in the middle of Paris between Place de la Concorde and the Louvre, making it ideal for a break between museums.
- Métro: Place de la Concorde
Le Jardin du Luxembourg
In Springtime, Parisians like to visit this garden and read in the sun or relax on the lawn.
- Métro: Mabillon – Luxembourg
Les Buttes Chaumont
The Buttes Chaumont park is situated in the North of the city (19th arrondissement), and is popular with picnic-ers. It is also one of Paris’ largest parks.
- Métro: Bolivar, Buttes Chaumont
Le Cimetière du Père Lachaise (The Father Lachaise Cemetery)
This cemetery has over 40,000 graves and spreads over 44 hectares. The abundance of space means it is popular with walkers.
Le Parc Monceau
The Parc Monceau is located between the 8th and 17th arrondissements, and is very popular with joggers. Here you will see mothers enjoying a walk with their strollers on the weekends and young groups of friends who live in the area.
- Métro: Monceau, Villiers
Le Jardin des Plantes
Situated in the 5th arrondissement, the Jardin des Plantes also has a small zoo. This is one of the most peaceful areas in the French capital and in Summer, it is also a good place to get a bit of fresh air.
- Métro: Gare d’Austerlitz
Le Bois de Boulogne (Boulogne Woods)
The Bois de Boulogne is Paris’ biggest green area. It contains 2 hippodromes, a botanical garden, cycle paths, and stretches of water.
- Métro: Porte Maillot, Sablon
Le Bois de Vincennes (Vincennes Woods)
The Bois de Vincennes, situated in the East of the city, is a popular place for sportspeople. Here, you will see lots of Parisians jogging and playing soccer and rugby. Lots of families stroll around the lake and Château de Vincennes, and picnic on the lawn.
- Métro: Château de Vincennes
Guided Tours and Activities
Fun activities and guided visits of museums or the Parisian quarters are available to enrich your vacation in Paris. Here are some suggestions:
- Walks in the historical quarters such as Concordes and Trocadéro
- An evening meal in one of the historical restaurants of the capital
- A cruise on the bateau-mouche (Seine tourist river boat)
- Hire a bike with Vélib and go on a bike ride
- Visit the Parc des Princes and Rolland Garros
- Discover the surprising Catacombs of Paris
- Visit one of the more lively quarters (le Marais, Montmartre, le Grand Boulevard, les Champs Élysées, etc.)
- Take a 2CV sightseeing tour of the city
- Bike ride along the Seine
- Visit the breezeways
- Shopping in le Maris
- Picnic on the banks of the Saint Martin canal.
Would you like a guided tour of the city?
There are many organizations dedicated to guided tours and unique activities in Paris.