The quote below totally encapsulates how I feel about Europe’s prettiest and most romantic city. I’m always swept away by the charm of Paris. In my opinion it has it all – world-class museums, Michelin starred restaurants, incredible architecture and gleaming boutiques to make you swoon so today I share with you my 11 unmissable Paris experiences.
Paris exists to remind you that dreams are real ~ Anon
Here is the highlights video from our Parisian weekend:
Places to visit in Paris
Some regard it too touristy, dirty, crowded and unfriendly. I mean, each to their own but who are these people?
Being a lover of this charming city, my recent trip revolved around introducing my girls to the magic of Paris – with absolutely no Disneyland on the agenda! Here all 11 unmissable experiences which brought a smile to their faces and joy in my heart, watching the city of light cast its spell on the next generation.
Admire the Eiffel Tower
Well I couldn’t start a list of unmissable experiences in Paris and not include the most iconic landmark! Purchase a roof time access ticket to head to the top for incredible views of the capital. There’s also a champagne bar if you’d like to indulge in a glass of bubbles. For my fellow gourmands a restaurant on the first floor called Restaurant 58 serves lunch and dinner or a Michelin starred experience at Le Jules Verne on the second.
And you don’t need to head to the top to enjoy the Eiffel Tower. On our recent visit we soaked in the scene from the Trocadero and meandered down the Plaza. It’s the perfect place for a picture of you with the tower. The best time to visit is definitely at sunset to watch the lights turn on. Truly spectacular.
Climb the Arc de Triomphe
Want the Eiffel Tower to appear in your Parisian panoramic holiday snaps? Well then, climb the 284 steps to the top of the Arc de Triomphe for a mere €9.50. It’s worth it.
If climbing is not an option you can marvel at its magnificent from street level. We only wandered around and paid our respects to the tomb of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. Also, you’re bound to drive through the crazy thoroughfare at some point too, so be sure to have your camera at the ready on sports mode!
Explore the Louvre
The world’s greatest art museum is gargantuan with 675,000 square feet of works from almost every civilization on earth. You could spend days wandering around the galleries and wings of the Louvre. Delighting your eyes with treasures like the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Nike of Samothrace and the Egyptian mummies.
My one tip – be realistic. You’ll never see everything in one visit, focus on quality rather than quantity and target the works you want to see the most. Or do as we did, hire a guide. Our private family scavenger hunt tour with Paris Muse was one the best things we experienced on our trip. Read more about it here.
Kick back in Tuileries Garden
This is the perfect place to relax after visiting the Louvre, in a garden at the heart of Paris. Take a seat on the green metal chairs dotted around and watch the world go by Parisian style.
You can completely lose yourself in the stunning landscape of gardens, fountains and ponds. The cute little French cafes will surely entice you in further too.
Savour a hot chocolate at Angelina
Close to the Louvre is the elegant Belle Époque salon home to Angelina. Full of pastries and cakes and all things nice, a must is their decadent, silky, rich hot chocolate.
You’ll have to join the long queues for the famous liquid cocoa. If it’s good enough for Coco Chanel it’s good enough for you, right? I don’t do queues, so booked a table in advance for brunch.
Enjoying a family brunch amongst the faded grandeur and charm of the tea room is one for my favourite Parisian foodie memory
Marvel at Notre Dame
The famous gothic Parisian cathedral looms high on the Ile de la Cité. In Paris’s medieval core the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris translated as Our Lady of Paris began works in 1163 and completed just under 200 years later.
On all my visits I still haven’t made it to the top of the towers, but hear the unforgettable view of Paris framed by stone gargoyles is stunning.
Overlooking Paris from the summit of the Butte Montmartre hill is the stunning Sacre-Coeur Basilica, the Sacred Heart of Paris. After you’ve climbed the steps up to the magnificent monument, your ascent can continue to the top of the gleaming white dome.
We spent time admiring the views from the grassy hillside. If crowds don’t bother you, it’s a perfect spot for a picnic.
Get lost in the backstreets of Montmartre
Hands down Montmartre is one of my favourite areas of Paris. It’s a labyrinth of backstreets and cobblestone lanes, full of cute houses, quintessentially cosy cafes and a hotbed of unfortunately tacky souvenir shops in recent years.
Don’t fear the 18th arrondissement still clings to the beautiful Parisian charm everyone goes in search for, you just need to find it.
Montmartre is the home that nurtured most of the great artists and writers living in France for over 200 years. Picasso, Van Gogh and countless others lived and worked in these narrow streets.
Hunt down macarons at Ladurée
The classic French dessert is without a doubt one of the most delicious little sweet treats you’ll find in France. They’re made of two coloured mini meringues and filled with a yummy creamy filling of buttercream or ganache. There really is no better way to introduce kids to the art of French pastry then to have them bite into a macaron.
And if you’re going to indulge in these delights, it has to be at Ladurée, the place credited with the creation of the macaron. The recipe hasn’t changed since Pierre Desfontaines invented it in the middle of the 20th century. There are several outlets around Paris, but the flagship store is on the Champs Elysées and definitely worth a visit.
Appreciate the Centre Pompidou
Designed in the 1970s by Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers and Gianfranco Franchini, the Centre Pompidou is an art gallery and cultural hub. With a unique colorful tubular facade, it’s probably the most colourful and vibrant piece of architecture in Paris.
We didn’t have time to see any of the exhibitions but headed straight to the top floor via the transparent escalators for dinner at Georges.
It’s a swanky bar restaurant with incredible views serving French fusion food with a DJ spinning tracks in the corner. Considering the trendy crowd it’s very welcoming to families.
Cruise down the River Seine
Pretend you’re Audrey Hepburn in Charade and take a scenic boat ride down the River Seine. Or like us enjoy a wonderful dinner cruise admiring the city of light from the waters.
We booked a Bateaux Parisien Cruise which included a three course dinner with wine and soft drinks. The earlier cruise at 18:15 is perfect timing if you’re with kids or they do a later one at 20:30 when you’ll experience twinkling Paris.
You’ll glide past major landmarks like Notre-Dame, Place de la Concorde, the Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre. Admiring the iconic monuments from the water is a lovely way to see the city.
Do you have any favourite places you like to see or things to do when you visit Paris? Let me know in the comments box below.
Where would we be without our Lonely Planet Guide!
Below are some easily bookable activities to help plan your trip:
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