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Our Ultimate List of Fun Things
to do in and Around Paris

September 06, 2019

Sights For New Travelers to Paris

Eiffel tower in Paris

The Eiffel Tower

Everyone knows this monument is a classic. The Eiffel Tower is a symbol of Paris that we all know and love! Our tour can make sure this iconic landmark makes your week with a skip the line pass with one of our knowledgeable guides.

If you don’t have time to climb the iron lady, then don’t forget to pack a picnic and stare up from the Champ de Mars. This massive park is spread out behind the tower and leaves plenty of room for a lunch or sunset picnic in the lush grass with an incredible view of the Eiffel Tower.

A great street to visit for food shopping would be Rue Cler. This famous market street is only a 15-minute walk from the park and has everything you could want from wine to fine cheese, to meat and French classics. There’s even a flower shop if you feel like adding a little color to your picnic.

 

France. Paris. Dense traffic on the Champs Elysees. Triumphal Arch. Golden sunset

The Arc de Triomphe

This is one of my favorite views of Paris. It’s definitely worth the climb to perch yourself on the top of this massive arch. While sitting up here, you have the impression all of Paris is leading into you!

Because the Arc is in the middle of a traffic circle, there are several main roads all leading right into it, creating some fantastic photo opportunities. Also, everyone knows you can’t see the Eiffel Tower while you are in the tower! From the top of the arch, you’ll have an amazing view of the tower as well as the rest of the city. Even better, the arc is open late, until 10 pm, which gives you the chance to take a look at the sunset from high above the city.

Don’t forget to take the underground tunnel from the Champs-Élysées, so you pop up in the center without entering into traffic. Many people have mistaken this underground passageway for a metro instead of the entrance.

 

View of famous Louvre Museum with Louvre Pyramid at evening. Louvre Museum is one of the largest and most visited museums worldwide.

The Louvre

The Louvre is one of the largest museums in the world, and also the most visited! This is definitely a place you where a tour guide can go a long way and help you skip the line. Getting lost makes it too easy to miss some of its’ most famous masterpieces!

The mammoth museum is home to the Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory, and let us not forget the Venus de Milo to name a few. But my favorite secret spot is the Napoleon apartments.

Hidden away at the end of the Richelieu wing the Napoleon III Apartments, give you a look into the gorgeous furniture and decorations of this period. It’s like a sneak-peek into Versailles without the crowds. And best yet, it is always reasonably empty since it is at the end of one of the extended wings of the museum. It’s a must-see when visiting the Louvre. Don’t forget to stop in Cafe Marly after for a great place to people watch inside the Louvre.

 

Paris, France - famous landmark, Luxembourg Palace and park. UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Luxembourg Gardens

These beautiful gardens are a great play place for families and couples. The garden is full of circular fountains where tiny toy sailboats can be rented for a small fee for kids and others.

There are also pony rides, a playground, and more lush gardens for kids to run around in and play. It’s a great place to picnic as well. You can spend a lot of time discovering the garden’s secret little statues, each with a different and unique history.

Don’t forget to pay a visit to Medici Fountain for one of our favorite views of the garden. For this place you will want to pack a picnic lunch and lay around in the sun on Parisian summer days. See if you can find the statue of liberty while visiting as well. She’s a remake hidden among the many towering statues of the garden.

 

Sacré-Cœur Basilica just before sunset with people sitting on grass in square Louise Michel

Montmartre

This part of Paris holds a special place in our hearts. One of the oldest sections of the city and maintains a classic village charm. Much of the district was torn down and rebuilt during the Napoleonic period. At that time, Montmartre was still on the outskirts of the city and was left untouched during the rebuilding of the rest of the city.

The area is considered the artist district and still houses many of Paris’ local artists with low-cost studios provided by the city. You can also visit Van Gogh’s old apartment in this part of the city. One of our favorite things to do here is to visit the iconic Place du Tertre square. This unique square is surrounded by cafes and restaurants, in the center you can find certified painters working in the street. It provides the perfect spot to pick up local art and buy direct from the artists. You can even have your own portrait painted while sitting in this area, providing the perfect souvenir of your time in Paris!

 

Musée d'Orsay, ehemaliger Bahnhof Orsay an Ufer Seine, in der Abenddämmerung, Paris, Ile de France, Frankreich

The Musee d’Orsay

This museum has something that everyone can love. If you have little interest in art, it’s a great place to visit simply because the building itself is a masterpiece. The artwork is kept in an old train station built for the world’s fair. The building is now home to one of the largest collections of impressionist art in the world. You can find some of Van Gogh’s and Monet’s beautiful pieces there.

One of our favorite secrets in the museum is atop the building, you can take the escalator all the way there. First, you’ll see a restaurant, but wander past it, and you’ll find a room full of beautiful paintings and the famous clock faces of the building. The view from the clocks is magnificent. You can look over the whole city from there and also take some great silhouette shots.

 

Places For Locals

 

Jardin des Plantes

We love this garden because it was made for locals. Situated at the opposite end of Paris, away from all major tourist attractions from the center is this beautiful lush garden.

It hosts plenty of grounds to explore, multiple greenhouses, and the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution. A fascinating museum to explore full of natural history and giant taxidermy animals. There is also a small zoo situated in the garden.

 

Canal Saint-Martin

The Canal Saint-Martin is a 4.6 km long canal in Paris, connecting the Canal de l’Ourcq to the Seine river. Nearly half its length between the Rue du Faubourg du Temple and the Place de la Bastille was covered in the mid-19th century to create wide boulevards and public spaces. Today, locals love to spend evenings by the canal’s edge as a gathering point for picnics and live music. The canal also hosts an assortment of bars and restaurants, so if you don’t feel like picnicking, head indoors to hear live music or try the newest trendy bite.

 

Belleville

Head on over to the Belleville district to see a different side of Paris. The name Belleville means “beautiful town.” Here you will find a grittier Paris, which is home to many cheap local bars and restaurants.

We think of this area as a more local Montmartre. It was once the independent commune (municipality) of Belleville which was annexed by the City of Paris in 1860. The neighborhood is situated on and around a large slope, which competes with Montmartre as one of the highest and best views in Paris.

 

The Marais

The Marais is a fascinating quarter that combines the LGBT community with the Jewish quarter, making it fantastic for shopping and delicious Jewish delicacies, including the most famous of all, falafel!

The Marais also hosts several beautiful museums including the Picasso and Musee de carnival, which houses some of Paris’ most valuable history and is free for visitors. Don’t forget to pay a visit to Victor Hugo’s home, which is just off of the oldest park in Paris, Place des Vosges. It is one of the oldest sections of the city, so there are plenty of winding streets to explore as well as secret passageways and beautiful crumbling buildings.

 

Activities for Families

 

Musée des Arts Forains

This little known museum is fantastic for kids and adults. It’s a museum of Parisian carousels! The rides are dating back between 1850-1950, they include 14 amusement rides, 16 fair stalls, and restored attractions, 18 sets of historical works, and 1522 independent works.

The museum was created by Jean-Paul Favand, an actor and antiques dealer, from his private collection. The rides can still be used today, making it an excellent visit for kids. The carousels are powered by foot power and make for a great afternoon for the kids to let out some energy and take a ride back into history.

Anyone can visit the museum, but it is important to make a reservation by calling the museum in advance or booking on this website: http://arts-forains.com/

 

Jardin d’Acclimatation

This garden is in the Bois de Boulogne just outside of Paris. The park is home to pony rides, puppet shows, a farm, and an aviary with over 150 different birds!

They also have a Jardin plage in the summer which is ideal to allow kids to cool off with an array of water activities including an enchanted river ride. With so many different activities, there is something for kids of all ages here.

 

Disneyland Paris

Only about an hour outside of Paris, families can easily take the Réseau Express Régional to Disneyland Paris for a fun-filled day with the kids. With the exception of a few, Disneyland Paris is acclaimed for being one of the most beautiful parks of all! Designers spent many more hours with attention to delicate details and decor that can be spotted all over the park.

There are also rides for kids of all ages so that something is there for everyone. Just outside the park lies Val d’Europe Shopping Center for those parents looking to do some outlet shopping after or before a day in the park.

 

Aquarium de Paris – Cinéaqua

Did you know there is an aquarium in Paris? It lies on the edge of the Trocadero gardens and is an excellent visit after spending some time at the Eiffel Tower. The aquarium itself is home to clownfish, puffers, sharks, and stingrays. While there are no dolphin shows here, there are still lots of demonstrations each day for kids to enjoy. The aquarium hosts activities about the animals as well as shows featuring pirates!

 

The French National Museum of Natural History – Muséum national d’histoire Naturelle

This museum has several different galleries devoted to all sorts of animals from the past and present. You’ll find dinosaurs in the paleontology building as well as a formerly royal collection of stuffed animals. There’s also an assortment of African animals including giraffes, elephants, lions, and all varieties of birds. Don’t forget to check out the giant suspended whales living on the ground floor!

 

Le cafe des chats

Comparable cafes in Japan inspired this cat cafe. If your children are not allergic to cats, this cafe is worth a visit. You can enjoy pastries and drinks while everyone in the family has some cat therapy with the residents of this two-story cafe. There are comfortable sofas to be found on every level and a grand piano in the basement.

 

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

This park can be described as one big playground with fields of green grass for kids to play and roll around in. It houses a gazebo atop a hill connected with a suspension bridge over the water, next to hidden waterfalls just next to secret caves. An oasis of fun for kids of all ages. There are also donkey rides and carnival games in the spring and summer.

 

Champ de Mars

This park has fantastic views of the Eiffel tower and lots of green space for picnicking and for the kids to run around! Also if you are in Paris for July, this is a must-visit for Bastille day on July 14th. Every year the park sets up a band to celebrate this national day and then ends the night with a half-hour fireworks show!

 

Seasonal Attractions

 

Paris floating bars and restaurants

If you venture down past bastille, you will find an array of floating bars and restaurants during the spring and summer months. These boats make for a wonderful visit to escape the Parisian heat and sip fruity cocktails while taking in a different view of the city of light! Our personal favorite is the hotel/bar restaurant boat by the name of Off Paris Seine (Located Here). This boat host nightly cocktail parties alongside its very own pool. Rooms are very affordable if you want to make this your stay in Paris and on Sundays they host their delicious brunch menu.

 

The Christmas Markets

Every year Paris becomes a winter wonderland full of shining lights and cute little cabins along the Champs Elysee. The shops sell everything from hot mulled wine to spiced sausages and lovely little presents for everyone to enjoy. The markets are spread throughout the city from the champs up to the Tuileries, and even further out in La Defense under the Grande Arche. It’s also worth visiting the grande shopping centers including Printemps and Galleries Lafayette. Their storefront windows have become home to beautifully animated puppet shows every year spreading holiday cheer.

 

Paris Plage

Since over 10 years now, every summer the banks lining the seine become beaches and were dubbed the name Paris Plage or Paris beach. The sand is full of deckchairs, food stalls, and even volleyball nets so that if you can’t escape the beaches in the south, you can bring the beaches straight to you.  There are also beaches set up along the canal at the Bassin de la Villette, which is also worth a visit!

 

Paris Electric Boat Rentals

Another great way to escape the heat are the mini electric boat rentals at the Canal Saint-Martin. Ranging from 1 hour to full-day rentals, no boaters license necessary to cruise the canal in these adorable little boats. You can even pack your very own picnic and alcohol to take on board while you cruise. You can book in advance, which we recommend in the summer through this site: https://www.boating-paris-marindeaudouce.com/

 

Outdoor Cinema

Every summer at the Parc Villette Paris brings the outdoor theatre to you for free! For July through August, there is a different film playing every Wednesday to Sunday night. Most movies are in English with French subtitles, so no worries about language barriers. You can view all the upcoming titles on this site: https://lavillette.com/. Pack a picnic and some wine then head on over to the grass at Parc Villette for this summer series.

 

Day Trips from Paris

Fontainebleau Château

Many of you know of or have been to the Versailles castle, but there’s another castle that deserves the spotlight too. The Fontainebleau castle is a beautiful chateau only about an hour train ride outside of Paris and is much less busy than Versailles. The castle boasts a large garden where rowboats and bikes can taken for rent. The chateau itself is stunning, which is home to many original period furniture pieces without the crowds around every corner. There’s a vast forest surrounding the area which makes it an excellent location for hiking and exploring.

 

Chantilly

Chantilly is another beautiful chateau that you shouldn’t miss. Only a 40-minute train ride outside of Gare du Nord, you’ll arrive in a picturesque city famed for its equestrian shows. When you visit the chateau, you also gain access to visit the horses, and for a small fee watch, one of the dazzling horse shows full of acrobatics and fun for the kids. This chateau is almost always empty and is a great place to escape the buzz of the city to relax in a quiet garden and explore a local town.

 

France, the Monet house in Giverny in Normandie

Giverny

We recommend visiting this village in early spring to avoid crowds and to profit from the gorgeous weather. Giverny is home to Monet’s famed gardens full of tulips and lily ponds. You can visit Monet’s home on-site at the gardens, where he raised his family and painted his famous watercolor masterpieces. You will find yourself in complete serenity as you bike along the countryside there. It’s easy to take the train there and rent a bike at the train station upon arrival or experience it in more lavish detail with a certified guide on our tour of Giverny.

 

Étretat

This town is on the north coast of France and is very much like visiting parts of Ireland! There are beautiful rock formations all along its coast that strike out at you upon gazing, and a rocky beach where you can spend summers sunbathing on or winters hiking across. Don’t forget to snap a picture of the spectacular Porte d’Aval arch and L’Aiguille (the Needle), a pillar rising from the sea. To the north of the cliffs, you can visit the quaint chapel of Notre-Dame de la Garde for more dramatic views. Another unique place to visit is the nearby, Le Clos Lupin villa, which was once home to French author Maurice Leblanc.

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