The best things to do in Paris
by a local

Joe deSousa, the Seine River at sunset

In short

Paris, we have been living and working there for a little over 10 years with Sandrine. This article is not a travelogue, but rather a sharing of places that will make your visit more authentic.

Rue parisienne avec immeubles Haussmanniens Vue sur les toits de Paris


Best places to eat and sleep in Paris ?

Where to stay in paris?

For starters, housing. Paris is quite an expensive city, but if you plan ahead, you should be able to find good deals. Whether you are more of a hotel, Airbnb or dormitory in a youth hostel, there is everything in Paris. The best is to be in the center (in the first 8 arrondissements). But if you have to go a little further, it's not a big deal because Paris is a relatively small city and in around 30 minutes you can cross it (with Metro).

For small budgets, don't hesitate to cross the « périphérique » and stay in a neighboring town, prices will drop and you can travel quickly with RER trains.

The best restaurants in Paris

Where to eat ? This is one of the important questions I ask myself when I travel. It's difficult to answer you as there are so many different cuisines in Paris and I don't know your tastes or your budgets. Overall everything is good, I have rarely been disappointed even in tourist places. If you want to eat like a local, I suggest you follow my Mapstr map where I save all my good addresses. And to go further, I recommend this blog from 2foodtrippers which has really done an incredible job of ranking good addresses (in English).

There may be less street-food in Paris than in other major capitals, but you can try Marché des Enfants Rouges, Food Society (near Montparnasse) or Ground Control (near Gare de Lyons).

Les quais de Seine avec vue sur la Tour Eiffel Un restaurant parisien

What to do in Paris

The best museums in Paris

There are too many museums in Paris to name them all. The best known are the Louvre, Orsay, the Quai Branly, the Palais de Tokyo, the Centre Pompidou (Beaubourg)...

The Musée de l'Orangerie is a little less known but you will find Monets, Picassos and Cezannes there. If you want less conventional visits you can discover the catacombs, the cemetery of Père LaChaise or even the museum of the sewers of Paris.

If you like historical places do not miss the many churches of Paris, in particular the Notre-Dame cathedral, but also the Sainte-Chapelle, the church of the Madeleine, that of the Sacré Coeur in Montmartre. Slightly less known, but magnificent churches: Saint-Roch, Saint-Etienne-du-Mont, Saint-Eustache, Saint-Sulpice or the great Mosque of Paris.

Among the most visited places in Paris you will find the Opéra Garnier, Montmartre, the Grand Palais, the Invalides (Napoleon's tomb) and of course: the Eiffel Tower.

If you want a cruise on the Seine, there are several companies and several types of visits. Some are accompanied by comments from a guide, others with a glass of champagne. You can dine on the boat or listen to music. Day or night, discover the different possibilities on the Getyourguide website.

If you are planning several visits, it may be interesting to take a City Pass.

The most beautiful castles outside of Paris

The exterior of Paris is also magnificent. The most famous castle is of course Versailles, but I will advise you many other good addresses accessible by public transport. Do not miss to visit the castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte which itself inspired Versailles. I live next to the Parc de Sceaux and its small castle, it also deserves your visit. Still to the south of Paris, discover the Château de Fontainebleau and its forest. To the north of the capital, you will have the choice between the Château de Chantilly or that of Pierrefonds.

It's not a castle, but don't miss Claude Monet's gardens and house in Giverny. Admire his flowerbeds, plants, and weeping willows. It can be a daytrip from Paris, or a stop on your way to Normandy (see below).

And if you stay long enough, why not go to Disneyland?

Paris with kids

If you are traveling with your children, know that there are two zoos in Paris (Vincennes and la Ménagerie). There is also a small educational farm deep in the Bois de Vincennes. You can also spend a day at the Cité de la Science.

Paris also have 3 amusement parks : Disneyland, Asterix and a smaller one « le Jardin d'Acclimatation » located in the sixteenth arrondissement.

For more ideas for your children, go to the Sortir à Paris website, which has a section dedicated to children.

A little further in France

If you stay in Paris long enough, you might be interested in visiting Reims and the Champagne region or going to Normandy to visit Mont Saint-Michel and the D-Day beaches.

For Reims, it's not very far, around 1h30 drive if you rent a car. TGV trains will take you there in around 45 minutes from Gare de l'Est. You can book it on the SNCF Connect application. Don't miss visiting Reims Cathedral, and the Champagne houses like Mumm, Taittinger and Pommery. They are all accessible via public transport from the station. You can also take a taxi or take a guided tour. You can also book a day trip from Paris. Some will take you to the vineyard.

For Normandy, there are several options. The freest seems to me to rent a car from Paris or take a train to Bayeux or Caen, and rent a car there. You will then have around 1h30 drive to Mont Saint-Michel. From Caen, allow 40 minutes to Ohama Beach, or 20 minutes from Bayeux. There are also guided tours from Paris. If you just want to see the sea, you can take a train from St-Lazare station and go to Deauville, these are the closest beaches to Paris.

Vue aerienne de Paris avec les Invalides et la Tour Eiffel Le pont Alexandre III à Paris

Cross Paris on foot and admire the Haussmann style

The most beautiful parks and gardens in Paris

If like me, you like to walk, here are some ideas :

Don't forget to stop by Parc des Buttes-Chaumont or Jardin du Luxembourg at least once. If you want to play sports, or rent bikes, Paris has two large woods: Vincennes and Boulogne.

For a visit like a local, you can also skip the Seine and instead follow the Saint-Martin or Ourq canals.

The best views of Paris

For sunset or sunrise, there are several beautiful viewpoints in Paris. You can climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower, The Arc de Triomphe or the Montparnasse Tower. You can also admire all of Paris from the heights of Montmartre or from the Saint-Jacques tower. There is also a very nice view from the Belvédère de Belleville.

I can also suggest this article if you like spending time on a roof top with a good drink.

What did you like in Paris? Tell us in the comments at the bottom of this page.