Paris Travel Guide

As much as I would like to say, “when in Paris, do as the Parisians do,” I cannot. Because, when in Paris, especially for the first time, there are myriad things that every tourist must see and must do. And no matter how long your holiday is, there is only a certain number of things you can do, so for now, we are going to go very touristy.

Paris Panorama. View from Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris. France.

Top Things to See in Paris

It best not to rank and number the top sights in Paris, every person has their own preferences and priorities. I will only list the spots the without seeing you cannot really say you have been to the capital city of France.

The Pompidou Centre is a complex building in the Beaubourg area of the 4th arrondissement. It houses the Public Information Library and the museum of Modern art.

My personal favorite, however, and the location I chose to explore the rest of the city from is the Montmartre. It is not only a very quaint and artsy ‘arrondisement’ (district) of Paris, but it is also one in which one can find accommodation easily and in a budget-friendly manner. Book a place in Montmartre, stroll along its lovely streets, sit on a square with a pot of mussels (they actually serve up a whole pot for you for a small price) and have your portrait or caricature drawn by a street artist. Then climb the stairs to admire both the Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre, a beautiful white church majestically towering over the city,  as well as the view of the city from this 18th district hill.

Centre Georges Pompidou and Atelier Brancusi

Disregarding the great classical monuments of Paris, young architects from all over the world come to see the Pompidou Centre. When constructed, its architecture and structure were one of a kind. It now houses modern exhibitions and is a venue for various cultural events, so it is a living hub of the Parisian art scene. Sit on the square adjacent to it and admire its tube-like structure and do not forget to pay a short visit to the workshop of Brancusi, a world-famous Romanian sculptor who lived and worked in Paris.

Jardin du Luxembourg

Paris is famous for its many gardens and parks, among which the Luxembourg Garden is a very representative specimen. With neatly mowed lawns and trimmed bushes, this garden welcomes you with beach chairs. Bring your croissant or Parisian sandwich and lounge on one of these seats or look for the small green patch where picnicking is allowed.

Le Louvre

Hosting the most treasured pieces of art in the world, the Louvre is the most visited museum on the planet. Buy your ticket in advance on the internet and get there way before the opening hours in the morning (9 o’clock), because you will need the whole day to see its grandiose halls. Tourists usually head first for the Mona Lisa, then for the Venus of Milo, and once they picked these masterpieces on their bucket list, they choose according to their interests. Definitely get an audio guide for the better experience. You need to deposit your passport at the stand you rent it from, but then you will be able to change it at various points once the battery runs out. Just make sure to return the last audio guide to the spot you took the very first one from and retrieve your passport before leaving the museum.

Le Tour Eiffel

The most visited paid monument on the planet, the Eiffel Tower is the number one destination in Paris. Book your ticket online to avoid part of the line, but be prepared that many people did the same, so a little bit of wait is unavoidable. This global cultural icon is the tallest standing structure in the capital city of France, so either you choose to mount it by elevator, or part of it by braving the stairs, you will have a wonderful view. It has three levels for visitors, with restaurants on the first and second levels and an observatory on the third one. Don’t forget to peek into the room in the middle of the observatory, you will see the replica of Gustave Eiffel’s room with his figure sitting in it.

Le Champs Élysées and L’Arc de Triomphe

Starting from the Place de la Concorde, a crazy Carrefour with many, many lanes and rules of priority only the French can follow, the most beautiful avenue in the world, the Champs d’Élysées offers a fashion tour of the county. Try to stand in the middle of a crossing for a minute when the street lamps show green and the cars are stopped and admire its geometrical precision for a moment. The Champs d’Élysées runs into L’Arc de Triomphe, one of the most prominent landmarks in Paris. You can take pictures and admire it from the ground level or can go to the top by climbing forty stairs.

Musée d’Orsay and Musée Rodin

Your ticket for the Orsay Museum, the most beautiful collection of impressionist paintings I have ever seen, is a joint ticket for the Rodin Museum as well. So make sure you start your pleasurable art journey in the first part of the day in order to have time to get to the beautiful gardens of the exhibition housing the works of Auguste Rodin. Originally a train station, the Musée d’Orsay has many prominent paintings by Monet, Manet, Renoir, Gauguin and many other art geniuses. Get an audio guide, but listen sparingly, since you will not have time and energy for each painting. Then, grab a reproduction of your favorite piece in the stylish museum shop and head for Le Musée Rodin. This ambitious mansion welcomes you with a sculpture garden as well as exhibition rooms sheltering the most famous pieces of Rodin, like The Thinker, The Kiss, and many others. Remember to appreciate the work of Camille Claudel as well, Rodin’s tragic-fated lover who inspired the great artist in aspects he himself was too proud to admit.

View of D'Orsay Museum. D'Orsay - a museum on left bank of Seine, it is housed in former Gare d'Orsay. D'Orsay holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1915. Paris, France.

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