The Ten Best Things to Do in Paris

The sheer number of world-class museums, stunning monuments, and awe-inspiring viewpoints in the City of Light can be overwhelming for any visitor. Here are our top picks for the ten best things to do in Paris.

Aerial view of Paris skyline featuring Eiffel Tower at sunset
Paris at sunset. Photo © Ekaterinabelova/Dreamstime.

Visit The Thinker in Musée Rodin

Musée Rodin is in the former residence of the sculptor. In addition to Rodin’s own sculptures and studies, the museum also exhibits the work of Camille Claudel, Rodin’s mistress and model. In the garden there are several famous statues, including Le Penseur (The Thinker). The charming museum and the beautiful garden can be visited separately.

77 Rue de Varenne, 7th arr.,, Tue-Sun 10am-6:30pm, €13, Metro Varenne or Invalides

Admire the enormous clock in Musée d’Orsay

Image of river and beautiful stone building as seen through a giant clock face.
View from the Musée d’Orsay’s famous clock. Photo © Bruce Beck/Dreamstime.

Musée d’Orsay is housed in a 19th-century train station that was renovated in 1986 and made into a museum. In the grand hall, the station’s enormous clock still hangs. Sculptures line the wide balconies, and in the exhibit halls you’ll find a collection of Impressionist paintings. In addition to the museum café, the museum also has two great restaurants worth trying, which are open only to museum visitors.

1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 7th arr.,, Tue-Wed & Fri-Sun 9:30am-6pm, Thu 9:30am-9:45pm, €16, courtyard free, Metros Solférino, Assemblée Nationale, Concorde, or Tuileries

In Le Grand Palais there are often beautiful exhibitions

Le Grand Palais was built for the 1900 World’s Fair, together with Le Petit Palais and the Pont Alexandre III. It is made of concrete, steel, and glass. The enormous glass ceiling is particularly impressive. Inside the building you’ll find, among other things, temporary exhibitions (Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais) and a science museum (Palais de la Découverte).

3 Avenue du Général Eisenhower, 8th arr.,, see website for opening hours and prices, Metro Champs-Élysées Clémenceau or Franklin Roosevelt

Check out impressive photo exhibits in Le Bal

In the 1920s there was a dancehall where today you’ll find Le Bal—one of the hottest spots in the neighborhood. The venue has an exhibition space where modern photographers and video artists display their work, and there is a store with unique art books. On weekends, the modern café serves English-style brunch.

6 Impasse de la Défense, 18th arr.,, tel. 01 44707550, Wed noon-8pm, Thurs-Sun noon-7pm, €7, Metro Place de Clichy

Wander around the famous Musée du Louvre

Image of green manicured garden with statues with low stone building of the Louvre in the distance.
The Tuileries Garden next to the Louvre. Photo © Captblack76/Dreamstime.

The building that is home to the Louvre Museum (Musée du Louvre) has served many purposes—from medieval fortress to imperial palace. In 1793 Napoleon decided to open the palace to the public, and the Louvre has since become the richest, most visited museum in the world. There is so much to see that, even if you were to just fleetingly glance at all the art, it would still take a full day or two. Tip: avoid the lines and buy your tickets online.

34-36 Quai du Louvre, 1st arr.,, Mon & Wed-Sun 9am-6pm, €17, Metro Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre

Admire the beautiful Fondation Louis Vuitton

In the middle of the Bois de Boulogne you’ll find the museum Fondation Louis Vuitton, which opened in 2015. The futuristic building, which was designed by Frank Gehry, makes it worth a visit. Inside, you’ll find a permanent collection as well as temporary exhibits of modern and contemporary art. Occasionally there are classical concerts. Come to the restaurant Le Frank for an outstanding lunch and, on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, for dinner (reservations required).

8 Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, 16th arr.,, Mon-Thur 10am- 8pm, Fri 10am-11pm, Sat-Sun 9am-9pm, entrance €16, Metro les Sablons (15-minute walk) or shuttle bus from Place Charles de Gaulle (corner of Avenue de Friedland)

Pompidou Centre shows contemporary art

Pompidou Centre—called “Beaubourg” by the political left—was designed by architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers. The building was initially highly criticized when it opened in 1977 but quickly became an important Parisian landmark. The museum’s permanent collection is comprised of more than 1,400 works of art. In addition, there are numerous temporary exhibitions, as well as film screenings and conferences. Don’t miss the bookshop and be sure to go up to the top for a fantastic view of the city.

Place Georges Pompidou,, Mon & Wed-Sun 11am-9pm, €14, view only €5, Metro Hôtel de Ville

View Paris from the front steps of Sacré-Coeur

View of Paris from a church tower with part of the white towers of Sacre-Coeur visible.
View of Paris from Sacré-Cœur. Photo © Martin Molcan/Dreamstime.

The Romano-Byzantine basilica of Sacré-Coeur was built to honor the Sacred Heart and ask forgiveness for the blood shed during the Franco-Prussian War. Those who dare to climb the 222 steps will be rewarded with a stunning panoramic view of Paris. But you can also take the elevator. Although the exterior is very striking, the interior is also worth a visit. The church is decorated with paintings and sculptures. Inside the dome is a large mosaic with one of the largest images in the world of Jesus Christ.

35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 18th arr.,, daily 6am-11pm, free, Metro Abbesses

See groundbreaking exhibits in the Palais de Tokyo

The exhibitions in the experimental 21st-century exhibit space Palais de Tokyo are always unique and boundary-pushing, with light and sound effects and moving objects. The space is enormous, so it can contain large objects. The exhibits vary tremendously, but there is always something to discover. The museum shop is also worth a visit—it sells unique books and fun knickknacks. The restaurant with a terrace serves international fare.

13 Avenue du Président Wilson, 16th arr.,, Mon & Wed-Sun noon-midnight, €12, Metro Iéna

Discover science, film, and music in Parc de la Villette

Parc de la Villette focuses on science and art. The futuristic municipal park has been around since 1986 and has, among other things, a playground, a concert hall, an IMAX theater (La Géode) and a variety of museums. Visit, for example, the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie (science museum) and the Cité de la Musique/Philharmonie de Paris (music museum). The park is full of activity, such as movies in the open-air theater in July and August. Check out the website for the latest program. You can easily spend the entire day here.

211 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 19th arr.,, daily, free to park, museums €7-€16, Metro Porte de Pantin / Porte de la Villette

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