8 Things You Absolutely Cannot Miss in Paris
The city of love is one of my favorite places in the whole world. The first time I went I loved it so much that I actually went back just a few months later. And that’s saying a lot considering I had to fly all the way from San Francisco and my first trip wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies (I stumbled into some protests and a lot of tear gas).
To my surprise, my blogpost on 8 Things You Absolutely Cannot Miss in London continues to be one of my most popular posts of all time. Paris is similar to London in that everyone and their mom has recommendations on what to see and do there since it’s such a popular destination. I myself have a huge list of recommendations that I share with friends, one that I’m sure can be overwhelming.
So, given all of the above, I’ve decided to narrow down my list into 8 things you absolutely cannot miss when visiting the city of love!
IS IT YOUR FIRST TIME? DON’T MISS THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU VISIT PARIS — A FIRST-TIMER’S GUIDE
1. GET LOST IN LE MARAIS
There is nothing in Paris that I love more than the neighborhood of le Marais. It is without a doubt the cutest area, spread across the 3rd and 4th arrondissements, just north of the Seine. I stay there every time I go and always dedicate at least a day or two for exploring the area, getting lost while finding new favorite spots.
Some places I recommend visiting:
Le Petit Marche - Local, non-touristy place. The menu is only in French. Really good food!
Les Philosophes – They have an amazing asian chicken salad here that I just love.
La Briciola - Best pizza outside of Italy, allegedly!
L’As du Fallafel - Is it worth the wait? Yup
Pro tip: want some photos with no one in them? Get up for sunrise!
You may also want to check out some of these tour options in le Marais:
Le Marais is also home to my favorite hotel in Paris: le Pavillon de la Reine. Pavillon de la Reine is a jaw-dropping five-star hotel located in the heart of Marais in Place des Vosges, the oldest quartier in Paris. There is no where better to stay in Paris!
LEARN MORE ABOUT LE PAVILLON DE LA REINE IN MY "WHERE TO STAY IN PARIS" POST OR CHECK AVAILABILITY AND BOOK YOUR STAY BELOW!
If Airbnb is more your style, here are 8 Paris Airbnbs in Le Marais You Must Stay In.
2. PRINTEMPS TERRACE, THE BEST KEPT SECRET IN PARIS
Printemps, a department store in the 8th arrondissement, surprisingly offers one of the best views in all of Paris! On top of the department store is an open-air terrace which is free to visit. Stop by for a quick bite at the cafe so you can enjoy the view and of course snap some photos.
While you’re in the area, also visit the Opera House for great photo opps.
3. PICNIC ON THE SEINE AT SUNSET
If you happen to find yourself in Paris while the weather is nice, grab yourself some fresh bread, meat, cheese, wine, etc. and catch the sunset from the Seine. During summer the river will be almost fully lined with people doing this, with their feet dangling off the ledge, and for good reason! It’s cheaper than doing a boat tour and I’d argue that it’s even more enjoyable :)
If a cruise is more up your alley, here are a few good options (definitely book in advance):
4. VISIT THE EIFFEL TOWER AT NIGHT
The Eiffel Tower is beautiful at all times of the day, but nothing compares to visiting it after dark during the light show. At the top of each hour for five minutes the lights of the tower sparkle, making the most beautiful light show you’ve ever seen. Do note however that posting photos of the tower lit up at night is apparently illegal, so do so at your own risk.
5. STROLL THROUGH RUE CLER AND STOP AT L'ECLAIR FOR COCKTAILS
Located in the 7th arrondissement is Rue Cler, one of my favorite streets in the whole city! It is a market street with a specialty store for just about everything - cheese, meat, flowers, etc. If you do plan on visiting the Eiffel Tower for the light show, stop by Rue Cler first to pick up some picnic items to enjoy while sitting on the lawn.
Rue Cler is also home of one of my favorite spots, a bar called L’Eclair. They make a mean cocktail and will even whip you up something custom if you tell them a little bit about what you like. There is outdoor seating, making it the perfect spot to relax and people watch while downing a few delicious, unique cocktails. If you’re around during a non-cocktail appropriate time, stop in for breakfast.
Another fun way to see Rue Cler (and Paris) is via bike! The tour below includes a Rue Cler snack break with time to explore, amongst many other things.
6. BREAKFAST AT CAFE SAINT REGIS
Le Saint Regis is a cafe located on the island of Ile Saint-Louis, just south of Le Marais. Every time I am in town I find myself grabbing breakfast here numerous times. The food is great, reasonably priced, and even more importantly - the ambiance is great and very Instagram friendly 😉 I believe they are open for all meals so you don’t necessarily have to visit for breakfast.
Once you’re done, walk over to the Ile de la Cite to see Notre Dame and stroll through Place Dauphine.
Skip the line by grabbing Notre Dame tickets now:
7. JARDIN DU PALAIS ROYALE
One of the things I love about Paris is that everywhere you go you seem to stumble upon yet another garden or park that you did not know existed. Years before I had ever been to Paris I had loved Jardin du Palais which I only knew of because a friend from Paris had sent us a photo of it.
Located in the 1st arrondissement just north of the Louvre and inside the Royal Palace, if you weren’t specifically hunting for this I doubt you’d ever just stumble upon it.
If you plan to visit the Louvre before or after, here are a few tour options:
8. CLIMB TO THE TOP OF THE ARC DE TRIOMPHE
While I try to keep my recommendations to non-cliche things, this is one I just could not pass up. The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most famous monuments in Paris, located in the 8th arrondissement at the end of the Champs-Elysees. Despite having a very interesting experience, some of my favorite photos of all time were taken from here - ones that I continue to (re)share to this day even though they were taken almost three years ago. The view is like nothing else in the city, and I’d recommend it 100 times over the top of the Eiffel Tower because this way you’ll get the Eiffel Tower in your shots. Aim for golden hour.
PS. I highly recommend buying your tickets below right now so that you can skip the line!
That’s it! If you're in the market for some travel photography tips, check out my post on how to take travel photos before your trip, too.
Any absolute can't miss spots from your own list that I missed?
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