Top 10 things to do in Paris

Top 10 things to do in Paris

Europe it is! It feels so magical to start with Paris on my first trip to Europe. The sight of standing in front of the Eiffel Tower itself gave me an adrenaline rush to jump on the plane immediately. So touristy but so true! Soon the day has arrived to land in the Paris ORLY airport which is about 20 KM from our hotel. I checked in my local guide aka Google Maps and immediately know the best way to head out. At that moment, an epic tour has kicked off to check out our top 10 things to do in Paris.

The bus to Montparnasse is waiting just outside the terminal and I had to buy the ticket before stepping in the bus, right at the bus stop. Instructions on the kiosk are in French and there aren’t any representatives to help. But with the help of Google Translate (Image Translator), figured out its one price for all stops. The credit card was accepted and I am all set to head out to the city. I couldn’t help but smile traveling on Paris roads. It’s a beautiful city and well organized.

20 min later, Gare Montparnasse (train/bus station) welcomed and it only took a few seconds to recognize the Montparnasse tower which offers pretty views of the Eiffel Tower. But we first headed to our Hotel Tourisme Avenue by Metro train.  It is a great hotel with all modes of public transportation just on the front door and also Eiffel Tower an only a couple of blocks away. And it offered the best price in the area. We checked in and before long, we are in Montparnasse again.

At least this is the part of the city we know already right? 😛

First things First, is City Pass worth it? Not for us. We are visiting only a few locations listed in the attractions and no we aren’t taking Hop on-Hop off Bus Tour. Though it covers full public transportation for the duration, we are only using 1/3 of its value. Also, 3-day City Pass comes with only 2-day Museum Pass. Find more about it here.

La Creperie Bretonne, Paris
Savory crepes at La Creperie Bretonne

Flying in Norwegian Air Shuttle made our stomachs growl. And with all the saved places in Google Maps, I knew exactly how to eat like a local. Just a few steps from Montparnasse station is – La Creperie Bretonne. Serving the most delicious crepes and applauded for its most authentic food, this is without any doubt the best place to start our Paris expedition. Nutella is my all-time favorite but chef specials are really good. Later, we explored the area for a bit and decided to skip the Montparnasse Tower as it is a very cloudy day, still, we have a long list to explore in the city of Lights/Love/Fashion, probably everything.

Here are the top 10 things to do in Paris from our trip —

Les Catacombes de Paris

Catacombs of Paris

Just a few minutes ride from Montparnasse are the Catacombs of Paris. Catacombs are underground cemetery where the skeletal remains are stored, first such are built by Romans. This is not for the faint-hearted as the underground confined spaces in the midst of millions of skulls may create nausea. And also there will a lot of walking and passing on spiral staircases. This is good for those who haven’t checked Catacombs anywhere else.

Be prepared for long lines as there is a limit of 200 visitors inside the site.

  • Worth                     :  ♥♥
  • Time spent            :  1 hour
  • Best time to visit :  Late in the evening if you’d like the thrilling experience at night and also as other attractions will be closed. The site closes at 20:30 and the last entrance at 19:30. Closed on Mondays. More about it here.

Trocadero

Trocadero, Paris
Art work at Trocadero

Trocadero is a site in front of the Eiffel Tower across the Seine river. One will instantly realize the place if you are an Instagrammer, as it is one of the most photographed spots in Paris. The steps, elevated hill, and the water fountain add up to a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower. It is one of the best views and definitely worth it. The other side of the Tower is Champs de Mars park which again provides a beautiful view over lush green gardens. This is the best place to picnic with snacks and wine. Yes, it is legal as in most of Europe provided, no nuisance created.

  • Worth                     :  ♥♥♥♥
  • Time spent            :  2 hours
  • Best time to visit :  Early morning to Champs de Mars and evening – Trocadero wrt. to Sun.

Yup. We aren’t going to Eiffel Tower yet. Stuck with Eiffel Tower employees strike. The Twitter account of Eiffel Tower did a great job with constant updates so we could plan. Strikes are very common in France. There are Govt. employees strike often. So always research about them, though some strikes can pop up with no advance notice.

Sainte-Chapelle  

Sainte Chapelle in Paris
Brilliant architecture and glass work at Sainte-Chapelle

A Royal Christian worship place built with exceptional stained-glass windows portraying various scenes from Jesus’s life. This place looks so colorful when the sun shines. When we thought the ground floor itself is amazing, the first floor stunned us. The amount of artwork put in each glass is unbelievable. We strained our necks marveling at its beauty. It is one divine experience.

  • Worth                     : ♥♥♥♥
  • Time spent            : 1 hour
  • Best time to visit : In the morning or evening. Check site timings here.

Public Transportation and walking are the best ways to explore the city. Ubers add up so quickly and before you realize it, they will be more than the flight price 😀

Notre-Dame de Paris

A few min walk from Saint Chapelle is – Notre Dame, the finest example of French Gothic architecture and is one of the best cathedrals to visit. There is beauty everywhere -the entrance, ceiling, walls, corners. Entrance to the ground level is free but worth it to pay and visit the towers. Be ready to climb 300+ steps but hard work always pay right? Notre Dame towers have one of the best city views which include the Eiffel Tower, the Seine river, and other prominent buildings. 

  • Worth                     : ♥♥♥♥♥
  • Time spent            : 2 hours
  • Best time to visit : Anytime. Information about towers here.
L’as Du Fallafel, Paris
Long lines are a usual sight at L’as Du Fallafel

After our hearts are filled with all the beauty of Notre Dame, it’s time to fill the bellies. And we are in one of the best neighborhoods to walk and explore. 15 min walk from the cathedral is L’as du Fallafel, the best falafel sandwich in the town. They serve the best hummus and the eggplant, we absolutely loved it. We grabbed a take-out, ate on the streets, and tried not to make a mess from the huge sandwich.

Take a walk…a long one

We walked back on Rue de Rivoli, one of the famous streets in Paris, a commercial one with beautiful stores. Best place to window shop. But the prettiest part is in the little alleys. We skipped the main road and walked the small ones to catch Paris vibes –  the murals and street artists. We are on Pont Marie by now and it’s time for?. Berthillon glacier has a huge range of ice creams in beautiful colors and we aren’t surprised to find lines outside the building. It’s hard to choose from hundreds of options but we believed nothing could go wrong. On our way out, we grabbed a few extra napkins and glad we did it. Scoops are nothing like we see, they are huge. 

The Seine River

We set our little expedition by foot along the Seine river stopping at various Ponts (~bridges) along the way. Every pont is historic with statues and adds beauty to the river. We skipped the river cruise as it is a little touristy. And stopped along the way to check out the beautiful views over the Seine river. We walked until Pont des Arts, the historic bridge where all the love locks used to be. They were removed a few years back as they are adding huge weight to the bridge and it is illegal now to lock. I am glad they took action to protect it. The walk on the bridge is still historic with several street artists performing their best. 

Craving for more Paris, we continued our expedition on Rue de Seine.

This is another perfect street to walk in Paris. With budding shops and local markets, the street is colorful and lovely. A small fruit market greeted us followed by several classic intersections surrounded with outdoor seating restaurants. It is a beautiful scene, Paris is living the modern life, preserving history and art in every corner. Classic!

Popelini Store in Paris

There is this one store we passed and couldn’t resist but come back. It is a small and beautiful rose color store – Popelini where cream puffs are served. We tried rose flavor and loved it immediately. It just melted in the mouth, so delicious.

A couple of blocks away, there is another store that just opened, Pierre Marcolini. We tried chocolate and they are worth a try. Overall, we loved this walk from Notre Dame. Absolutely must to do in Paris to shed some calories after so much intake. I would do it again to explore other stores along the way. 

Palais du Luxembourg

Palais du Luxembourg, Paris

A block further Rue de Seine is Luxembourg Palace. Palace is beautiful and surrounded by acres of gardens. Entry to gardens is free and every corner is filled with locals, it is a great place to meet them. They would bring chairs, sit next to the water fountain and just enjoy the day. We walked along with the garden to the other end. And had to watch for footballs flying around as there are several kids having their usual lovely evening. We skipped the museum, it has an entry fee. 

  • Worth                     :  ♥♥♥
  • Time spent            :  1/2 hour
  • Best time to visit : Evening. 

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe, Paris

Metro took us directly to the station underneath Arc de Triomphe. Upon climbing stairs to reach the ground level, we are rewarded with another beautiful scene in Paris. Paris’ beautiful historic monument right before us and huge Ferris wheel all the way across Champs-Elysees, the world’s most beautiful avenue. The stores along this avenue stand for the prestige and luxury of Paris. It is one of the best moments to walk along this avenue and, feel the richness and warmth of Paris. And of course, we are pulled towards Ladureeone of the best luxury bakeries in the world. We loved their double-decker macaron and gulped a few other macarons right at the door. We are not ashamed. They have some of the best pastries, chocolate eclair and sucre are my favorites. The fruit and flower jam is a unique souvenir to take home. 

I agree, I got sucked to Laduree but let’s back-up to the place of the moment. Arc de Triomphe was built in remembrance of those who fought in the French historic wars. This is the most beautiful symmetrical place in all the cities. The top view of Paris shows that all avenues meet at Arc de Triomphe at a fair angle and it is the perfect design. Even from the top of the monument, we could see at least a dozen avenues merging and it feels so charming.  Above all, it offers the prettiest view of the Eiffel Tower.

A spiral staircase with about 300 steps at this monument is not really for everyone to climb. But there is a lift to take to the attic which comes with a wait time and another 46 steps to reach the top. The monument is surrounded by roundabout traffic and it is mandatory to use the underpass.

Plan accordingly.
  • Worth                     :  ♥♥♥♥♥
  • Time spent            :  3 hours
  • Best time to visit :  Evening. Every hour on the hour (7 PM to 1 AM), the Eiffel Tower sparkles, and Arc de Triomphe is the go-to spot in Paris for that view. 

Pont de Bir-Hakeim is another popular spot to check out Eiffel Tower sparkles. The view across the Seine River is magical. If it gets crowded, any spot along Port Debilly until Trocadero, won’t disappoint. 

Fun Fact: It is illegal to post Eiffel Tower sparkles picture on Social Media without permission from Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel. Looks like they got patents for that. So be aware 😛

Louvre Museum

Angelina Hot Chocolate, Paris

Before we take a trip to Louvre, the world’s largest museum, we had to stop at Angelina to stock up some calories. It is the best breakfast place in the town. The combo in the menu is the apt choice to taste everything. And the hot chocolate is just so delicious. Every bit of the restaurant is pretty classic, even the bathrooms are beautiful.

We arrived Louvre at 8:30 AM and it is not crowded to snap pretty pictures before the Pyramid, the museum entrance. We are inside the museum in less than an hour with purchasing tickets on-site, perks of being early to these attractions. 

Louvre Museum, Paris
Louvre Museum Entrance

Louvre museum is huge. 38000 exhibits. That’s a lot of them.

It is wrong to point a few of them but here are the most famous attractions:
  • Venus de Milo, The Rebellious Slave, Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss on Level 0.
  • Mona Lisa, The Coronation of Napoleon. Liberty leading the people and Winged Victory of Samothrace on Level 1.
  • The Lacemaker and several other beautiful paintings on Level 2.

And of course, there are 37992 more exhibits all of similar importance. I tried to put room numbers for these exhibits, but the setup changes frequently and it becomes outdated pretty soon. However, the Louvre floor plan keeps the info of every exhibit pretty accurate. It is highly recommended to browse and at least take a note of few exhibits, otherwise, it is very easy to get lost at this largest art museum in the world.

If exiting before noon, there will be several street vendors who might ask for your tickets in exchange for keychains/small souvenirs and re-sell these Louvre tickets as they are full day-passes. Be aware of and avoid selling/buying tickets outside the museum.

  • Worth                     :  ♥♥♥♥♥
  • Time spent            :  3 hours
  • Best time to visit :  Reach the museum by 8:30 AM and spend the morning. Totally worth it.

  We purchased all our tickets on-site. If arrived at least half an hour before opening, there would be fairly fewer queues for Louvre and even Eiffel Tower. At any other time, online tickets are highly recommended. 

Passage des Panaromas

It’s stomach growling time and nothing looks better than a food haven. We continued our walk towards Passage des Panoramas and instantly drawn towards a huge building standing across Avenue de l’Opera. The street looked fancy with several branded stores. Along the way, we found another delicious chocolate store – Pierre Herme. And of course, we stepped in right away and tried several chocolates. Jaipur is the new flavor and it’s delicious.

Academie Nationale de Musique, Paris
Palais Garnier

End of the street is – Palais Garnier, an Italian style Opera house with a beautiful exterior. There is a paid entrance to enjoy the interiors. We took a couple of pictures and proceeded to our paradise – Passage des Panaromas, which is a narrow alley with several restaurants – delicious, authentic, and cheap eats. And took a quick walk and then decided to try the pancake restaurant at the entrance – Bisou Creperie. We had to eat in the basement as the place is full, but the crepes are yummy.

  • Worth                     :  ♥♥♥♥
  • Time spent            :  1 hour
  • Best time to visit : Lunch, explore the place and take your best shot, no restaurant would disappoint.

Montmartre

Once known for artists, Montmartre is flooded with tourists now. Still, this is one of the best neighborhoods and the finest way to appreciate Paris. There is art in every corner, every wall, and on every road. Just had to look up. The best way to explore is to climb the 300+ steps that lead to Sacre-Coeur, a beautiful Basilica that sits on top of the Montmartre hill.

A funicular that runs along is also fun to reach to the top. It is so entertaining to walk along the hill, there will be so many street performers, iconic art, and beautiful buildings. Sacre-Coeur offers one of the best views in Paris and it feels pleasant to sit on the steps and enjoy the moment from the top of the hill. There might be many tourist traps but try a restaurant that does not have a server standing out. This is also home to the famous cabaret – Moulin Rouge.

La Maison Rose Store, Montmartre, Paris
A beautiful neighborhood of Paris – Montmartre
  • Worth                     :  ♥♥♥♥♥
  • Time spent            :  3 hours
  • Best time to visit :  All day. Try to spend as long as you are tired of walking.

Eiffel Tower

Let’s be real. Eiffel Tower cannot be missed while visiting Paris and I had to believe myself, it is totally worth the hype. Standing next to it is absolutely wonderful. The surrounding gardens are added beauty and to sit there or most probably sleep to enjoy the view is definitely one of the moments to remember for life. There would be lines at all times, so be prepared for the wait. It is highly recommended to climb stairs until the second floor, it is definitely not that hard with few stops and is worth it for the views.

Elevator lines cannot be avoided from the second floor to Summit. View from the top had to be experienced. It is an incredible feeling to stand on the Tower, hard to miss, and sure, it could be just a one-time thing. View from the Summit is thrilling and one would absolutely love it. But if you are acrophobic, even while going up the elevator might cause discomfort; otherwise it is a lifetime experience. There are some restaurants and shops on the second floor as well. If you loved it so much and willing to stay, there is even a secret apartment waiting for you.

There would be so many things to spot from Eiffel Tower – Louvre, Sacre-Coeur, Notre Dame Cathedral. But there is one thing which is so close yet hiding. About 15 min walk along the Seine river is Pont de Grenelle where the Statue of Liberty Paris is situated. Yup, there is one in Paris too.

  • Worth                     :  ♥♥♥♥
  • Time spent            :  3 hours
  • Best time to visit : First thing in the morning to avoid long lines.

There is always a happy ending, isn’t it?

And nothing could be more perfect than Au P’tit Grec. It serves some of the best crepes in town, the savory ones being most delicious. Of course, there would be long lines, and make sure to carry cash to feast the heavenly crepes. Now I would say, I had the best trip of my lifetime.


Let’s make it easier, shall we? Here are all the places worth-saving. Click the map below and add places to your google maps. Then download an offline map and roam around —– like a local. Check notes on each place, read my review or a thousand others, and then decide. How about that??

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What do you think of these top 10 things to do in Paris? Comment your thoughts and share with the travel buddies. Have a great trip to Paris!

Are you looking for more Europe? How about Amsterdam or Rome? Go farther and check out the Golden Triangle of India. India is such a diverse country that from North to South, it is a total changeover. Learn about the biggest festival in South India.

Cheers and Safe Travels.

Thoughts?

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