In honor of our exciting, new Parisian Melodies promotion – which pairs Paris with the can’t-go-wrong and utterly romantic cities of Rome, Madrid, Prague, Barcelona, Venice and Florence – today we’re going to spotlight Paris, a dazzling destination known round the world as “the City of Light” and one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations. What’s our angle? As France’s capital offers something to every kind of visitor, there isn’t just one. Besides, we understand that everyone doesn’t like to do the same stuff while on vacation! Why not fine tune your vacation experience to match your interests? Whether you love gastronomy, art, history, shopping, music, the great outdoors or sports, we’re happy to make suggestions on what to see and do in Paris. Therefore read below to design your very own Parisian bucket list from Our Favorite Stuff to Do While on Vacation in Paris.
Your inner epicure will hit the jackpot in Paris, a gourmet mecca known for its multitude of Michelin-starred restaurants. It’s not all fine dining though. Part of the city’s charm is best experienced through its neighborhood cafes, brasseries, bistros and wine bars. A couple of our favorite spots include the historic Café de Flore and the Blé Sucre pastry shop on the Square Trousseau. While in Paris, you can check out artisan cheese shops, spice shops and bakeries – or take a cooking class, market tour or day trip to Champagne. Paris has many lovely parks, so on a sunny day – if you’re looking to picnic (or a “pique-nique” as the French say) buy your fresh food goodies at a bakery, market or neighborhood charcuterie-traiteur for a French version of takeout.
Exceeding 2200 years in age, the ancient city of Paris is a wonderland for anyone interested in history, and the Île de la Cité – often called the historical heart of Paris – is an ideal and unbeatably picturesque spot to begin your historical sightseeing. This scenic island located in the Seine River is home to many of Paris’ best ancient and medieval sights including the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, the Archaeological Crypt and Roman excavations, and the magnificent 13th-century Sainte-Chapelle. From there, exploring the nearby Latin Quarter is an absolute must for history fans. Other interesting historical attractions to consider in Paris include the Hôtel des Invalides (the burial place of Napoleon) and the Palace of Versailles. If you’re willing to make day trips outside of Paris, we wholeheartedly recommend the Chartres Cathedral – a World Heritage Site – the spectacular castles of the Loire Valley and the Palace of Fontainebleau. Slightly further away, many travelers make day trips west from Paris to Normandy to the D-Day landing beaches and memorial sites.
In addition to the attractions mentioned above, other iconic Parisian architectural masterpieces include the Eiffel Tower, the neo-Byzantine Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Montmartre, the incredibly historic Church of St-Germain-des-Prés (6th arrondissment) and the Arc de Triomphe. Modern architecture fans will be pleased to know that Paris is also the home of several works by Le Corbusier.
For a little romance
If you’re not in hurry, Paris is a wonderful place to explore on foot. For romantic strolls, we’re partial to walks along the banks of the Seine, through the historic Tuileries Garden and up among the charming streets of Montmartre. Relax in the gorgeous Place des Vosges. Dine in a cozy restaurant on the surprisingly serene Île Saint-Louis, a small island in the Seine. Enjoy an evening river cruise when many of Paris’ best sights – including the Eiffel Tower – are illuminated.
While the weather isn’t Paris’ best feature, the city itself is something of a museum so while this suggestion is rather urban, it is out-of-doors; we encourage you to take your time and walk as much as you can while in Paris to appreciate the charm and character of its many diverse neighborhoods. Gardeners traveling to Paris should make the day trip to Claude Monet’s House and Gardens in the Norman village of Giverny.
Paris is home to some truly great local entertainment. Live music – and jazz bars in particular – can be enjoyed all over the city. Larger venues like the Palais Omnisports de Bercy host French and international musical acts, and in the summer months, the city often hosts many great (and free) outdoor concerts. Paris is also home to a superb classical music, opera and ballet scene. And if you’re looking for a return to the Belle Époque days of Paris’ iconic cabaret dance halls, you can get tickets to a show at the Moulin Rouge or the Paradis Latin.
If you’re a soccer fan, try getting tickets to a Paris Saint-Germain F.C. match (you can generally buy them online on the team’s website). Otherwise, head to a local bar to watch the very popular sports of soccer (football), rugby and horseracing with the locals! Bars that show horseracing usually display a sign out front that says PMU.
For those of us traveling on a budget
Paris has a great metro system. If you feel comfortable navigating the subway, you’ll definitely save a few euros. At meal times, see if your restaurant offers a “formule.” Ordering from a set menu (versus ordering a la carte) can offer good value. Last but not least, if you’re willing to be flexible and wait in potentially long lines, check out the free days at Paris’ museums. Click here for info.
Despite being a fashion giant, most Parisians cannot afford to wear designer brands all the time. While shopping in Paris, you’ll see plenty of high-end shops (on streets like rue St-Honoré) as well as more reasonably priced stores around the Boulevard Haussmann (including the large department store, Galeries Lafayette). For boutiques, book stores and interesting shops, try neighborhoods like Montmartre or the Marais. And if you’re really hoping to score designer duds at good rates, sign up for an outlet tour to La Vallée Village.
Where do we begin? Paris is home to some of the best art museums and galleries in the world including the world-renown Musée du Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, the more contemporary Palais de Tokyo, the Musée Rodin and many, many more.
For the quirky in all of us
Paris is also home to several bizarre tourist attractions, with one of the most famous being the bone-filled tunnels of its Municipal Ossuary, commonly called “Les Catacombes.” Another is the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, a site which attracts many tourists hoping to see the graves of some of France’s most famous writers and artists. It’s also the final resting place of some Americans, including Jim Morrison. And if you’re interested in drainage – then head to the Paris Sewer Museum (Le Musée des Égouts de Paris), which takes you down into Paris’ underworld… See, there is more to Paris than romance after all!
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about some of our favorite tourist attractions to visit in Paris! To read our French Travel Guide, please kindly click here – or click here to see all of our vacation packages to France and sightseeing in Paris. And be sure to check out the exceptional pricing for our new Parisian Melodies promotion, which features the following packages to Paris – and beyond:
* New Year’s in Paris: 6-night vacation package – from $1199 per person
* Paris Valentine’s Day Escape: 4-night vacation package – from $1099 per person
* Paris and Prague: 6-night package – from $999 per person
* Paris, Madrid and Barcelona: 9-night package – from $1299 per person
* Paris, Rome, Florence and Venice: 11-night package – from $1399 per person
We want to be honest and clear, so please kindly read the information below:
Customers should use the promo code GTFRANCE100 to receive the pricing listed above. Please note that the promo code is non-combinable and not valid on existing reservations or groups. These discounted rates expire on December 31, 2014, and New Year’s Eve packages must be booked by December 14, 2014.