(Last Updated On: August 2, 2021)

There are honestly so many fun things to do in Paris that putting together a list of things to do in the city of lights and love is a long and considered task. I’ve been to Paris three times now, and I honestly feel like I still haven’t seen anywhere near the number of things to see here. Basically, your France bucket list starts here

For this list, I’m determined to make sure I tell you about a mix of the main tourist attractions and some things that are slightly different.

So, here’s my list of all the fun things to do in Paris (in no particular order).

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Where to stay in Paris

There are so many great accommodation options in Paris, particularly as it is one of the most touristy cities in the entire world. The good news is, there is something to suit every budget, from shared dormitory rooms to luxe upmarket apartments. 

 

Fun things to do in Paris

1. See the amazing stained glass windows of Sainte-Chappelle

Paris is famous for the Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur, but my pick of Paris churches is definitely the lesser known Sainte-Chapelle.

It’s close to a heap of other sights on the Ile de Paris – Notre Dame, Marche aux Fleurs, Conciergie to name a few – so make a morning of it and tick a few things off your bucket list while you’re there.

Pick a good day to head to Sainte-Chappelle because the real wonders at this church are the enormous stained glass windows in the upper chapel.

It’s roughly 10 euros to get in, but for a view like this it’s well worth it. Try to get there in the morning – I arrived around 10am with no line, but as I was coming out the crowds had banked up.

Sainte-Chappelle windows, Paris

2. Experience the kooky and macabre Catacombes

One of the more macabre things to do in Paris is to head down into the catacombs under the city where you’ll rub shoulders with the dead. Not literally, of course. There’s no touching allowed.

The catacombs used to just be a bunch of tunnels under the city, but when hygiene became a bit more of a thing in the late 1700s the Parisians decided to dig up their very unhygenic way of burying their dead and move the bones down into the catacombs.

Today, the tunnels are lined with bones and you can walk through them. Creepy? Yes. Awesome? Absolutely.

It’s 12 Euro to get in and like most things in Paris, if you can get there in the morning, do. I got there around 3pm and the line was epic.

The Catacombs of Paris

3. Fall in love with the artsy village vibes of Montmartre

This is probably my ultimate activity of all the fun things to do in Paris. Paris on the Way tours run a fantastic walking adventure through Montmartre starting at the Moulin Rouge and ending up on the peak at Sacre-Coeur.

As part of the tour you get to see local producers opening up their stalls for the day and you can also roll up your sleeves and learn how to make baguettes in a real French bakery.

It is a brilliant way to see the local side of Montmartre as it can get VERY touristy with foreigners everywhere searching for their own bohemian adventure.

Baguette making in Montmartre

4. Remember the victims of the Jewish deportation in World War 2

I came across this memorial to the victims of the Nazis in WW2 by complete accident. It’s about 2 mins walk behind Notre Dame. I just saw a sign pointing to a monument and thought I might as well go since I was in the area.

It’s less of a monument than a memorial with a garden of green grass on one level, followed by a sparse concrete courtyard that houses the main memorial. In the courtyard there are two stones with a little opening in them, through there is where you’ll see an incredible contemporary split level memorial naming the concentration camps and the people lost there.

The Deportation refers to those people who were taken from their homes and deported to concentration camps to await their almost certain death. In addition to it being a beautiful tribute to the lost lives, it is also free to enter and there were hardly any people there, so I was really able to reflect on this enormous tragedy.

Well worth the visit.

5. Taste some of Paris’ best cheeses

What Paris experience would be complete without cheese tasting? Cheese is everywhere in Paris, but treat yourself and go to a proper fromagerie (Cheese shop). Try a few different types – ask the store owners what their favourites are because they’ve got the inside knowledge.

If you’re not confident in doing this by yourself, there are plenty of tours that will help you out. I did my cheese tasting as part of the Urban Adventures Secret Paris walking tour which took the hassle out of having to do the ordering myself!

As a side note, the Secret Paris tour run by Tim and the Paris Urban Adventures is pretty ace & they have a lot of other day tours that will help you orientate yourself in the city as well, so check them out. And cheese eating? Definitely one of the most fun things to do in Paris. 

6. Be amazed at the architecture of The Pantheon

Immediately on walking towards the Pantheon it impresses. In my opinion it’s the most beautiful building in Paris, and there’s some pretty stiff competition there.

Its vast dome, gorgeous artworks and massive pendulum moving in the centre gave me a sense of awe like I’ve rarely felt. It was quiet even at 2pm, hardly any tourists jostling so I could really enjoy the vastness of it all.

Make sure you go down into the crypts below the main building to see where enlightenment philosophers like Voltaire, Rousseau and Marat were laid to rest as well as Victor Hugo and Marie Curie.

The exterior of the Pantheon building

7. Sail a wooden boat on the pond in the Jardin du Luxembourg

Even on a wintery, gloomy day le Jardin de Luxembourg can lift your spirits. Walk down to the central lake through rows of trees (in Autumn this is especially beautiful) and see the bursts of pink and purple flowers that surround the paths.

Take a book, listen to some music or just people watch as children hire boats to sail on the pond.

The best part – you could literally spend hours here. And it’s free.

My Paris Top Ten - The Luxembourg Gardens

8. Eat a delicious steak-frites

For the ultimate steak-frites experience in Paris you need to visit Le Relais de l’entrecôte. It was recommended to me by a friend, so on my last night there I decided to splash out, get a table for one and give it a go.

This restaurant doesn’t even have a menu – people come for one thing only and that’s the steak-frites.

The only question you’ll need to answer is how you’d like your meat cooked. Oh and what to drink – of course the answer to that question is FRENCH WINE PLEASE.

If you’re feeling really fancy, have a crème brulee for dessert. It’s pretty magical.

9. Late night at the Louvre

Want to spend hours in the Louvre but not quite sure how you’ll fit it in? On Wednesday night the Louvre is open late, so you can get your Paris fix during the day and see everything you need to squeeze in, have some dinner and then head over to the Louvre to see the famous Mona Lisa smile by night.

I mean, the Louvre is so huge that you could literally spend days in there, but if you do your research you should be able to see everything you want to in 3 hours or so.

It’s pretty cool seeing the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and Vermeer’s The Lacemaker but the REAL highlight of the Louvre?

The sculpture courtyards that are vast, light and make you feel like you’re in a Grecian villa. Or just wander the halls and marvel at the hugeness of the place. The Louvre costs around 15 Euros and is open until 9.54pm on Wednesdays & Fridays (until 6pm all other nights except Tuesday when it is closed all day).

A large glass pyramid at the Louvre

10. Watch the Eiffel Tower light up

They say no trip to Paris is complete without seeing the Eiffel Tower. And sure, you can climb it and see the view of the city (which is impressive, don’t get me wrong).

But the real treat is to be on the other side of the river a little further up just in time for the lights to come on at night (away from the fifty street sellers all trying to sell you a mini tower key ring).

Seeing the Eiffel Tower all of a sudden illuminated and sparkling across the Seine beats fighting off the hordes of other tourists any day.

And you get to save yourself some Euro while you do it!  

11. Explore the wonder of Notre Dame 

Paris is a city full of stunning churches and no church looms larger than the incomparable Notre Dame Cathedral. Even before you enter the church, the decorative exterior impresses with flying buttresses and gargoyles adorning the rooftop of the building. 

Despite the devastating fire that collapsed parts of the building in 2019, the recovering Notre Dame is still a stalwart of Paris’ attractions. Entry is free, so it is a no brainer to pop in for a wander around.

Blue skies over a side view of Notre Dame Cathedral

12. Take a day trip to the Palace of Versailles

Just a short way out of Paris is the incomparable grandeur of the Palace of Versailles, a worthy day trip from the capital. The palace is an UNESCO World Heritage site and features the famous Hall of Mirrors and stunning gardens. 

The entire site of Versailles is utterly spectacular and hearkens back to the age of the Sun King, Louis XIV where no expense or luxury was spared. 

Tickets cost around 20 euros with an audio guide.

The coloured exterior of the Palace of Versailles

13. Take a cruise down the Seine

The beautiful Seine River runs right through Paris with plenty of spectacular sights to be spotted on either bank. The Eiffel Tower, the city’s many bridges and the Notre Dame can all be spotted from a cruise down the Seine

The perfect way to experience this vibrant flowing river is on a cruise, where you can see all the sights and listen to a knowledgeable guide walk through the history of the city from the water. 

A boat cruising along the Seine River

14. Try a crepe from Au P’tit Grec

Parisians love their food and for something a little different, try a crepe from the super popular Au P’tit Grec on Rue Mouffetard in the 5th arondissment. 

This lovely little shop attracts huge crowds around lunchtime each day and you can choose from a plethora of sweet and savoury options to suit every taste. 

My recommendation? Mix Greek and French flavours and try the AuP’tit Grec crepe which includes eggplant, feta, lettuce, tomato and onions – yum.

A blue and white shop sign reading Au P'tit Grec

15. Go book shopping at Shakespeare & Company

Bookshops don’t get much more iconic than the beautiful Shakespeare & Company bookstore which feels homely, quaint and is absolutely every book lover’s dream. 

Shakespeare & Company is an English language bookshop that has been in operation since 1951 on the left bank right near Notre Dame. The shop also provides shelter to aspiring creatives and writers in exchange for their assistance around the store. 

 

The green and yellow frontage of Shakespeare & Company bookstore with a portrait of Shakespeare hung over the entrance.

16. Get lost amongst the blooms in the Marché Aux Fleurs

France is the country to visit for lovely markets with so many great commerce centres located right in the heart of the streets. 

The most famous market in Paris is the Marché Aux Fleurs in the Île de la Cité. This space has been in operation since 1830 where locals have come to buy fresh flowers and even birds each day from 9.30am – 7pm.

Flowers adorning the front of the stalls at the Paris Flower Market

17. Immerse yourself in elegance at the Opéra Garnier

The Opéra Garnier of Paris has a rich history in both fiction and real life. Dating back to the time of Emperor Napolean III, this remarkable building created by Charles Garnier is perhaps best known for being the setting for Gaston Leroux’s novel The Phantom of the Opera and Andrew Lloyd Weber’s musical based on the book. 

Now, the opera house is used mostly for ballet and is also open for tours.  

The green and gold roof of the Opera Garnier

18. Explore Le Marais, the most historic district of Paris

The most historic neighbourhood in Paris is Le Marais, an area on the right bank of the Seine. It features many significant buildings and used to be the aristocratic heart of the city.

The area is home to the lovely Place des Vosges, which is the oldest planned square in Paris. Novelist Victor Hugo was a resident of this area as was philosopher Émilie du Châtele.

A fountain in the middle of the green grass of Place des Vosges. Apartment buildings are in the background.

19. Experience the Musee D’Orsay

The Louvre might be the biggest museum drawcard in Paris, but the Musee D’Orsay definitely shouldn’t be ignored as its collection features Van Gogh, Monet, Manet and Renoir to name a few.

The museum building is a former Beaux-Arts railway station and is gorgeous in its own right. In particular, keep an eye out for the spectacular Musee D’Orsay clock keeping the time.

The large guided clock of the Musee D'Orsay

20. Take in the iconic Arc De Triomphe

Few sights are more iconically Paris than the enormous carved archway of the Arc De Triomph, situated on Paris’ most famous street the Champs Elysées.

This monument memorialises the sacrifices made by French soldiers in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier underneath the monument.

Visitors can also climb to the top of the Arc De Triomph for a bird’s eye view of the city.

 

The Carved Memorial of the Arc De Triomph against blue sky

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Fun Things To Do in Paris - Emma Jane Explores
Fun Things To Do in Paris - Emma Jane Explores

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