Ever since I started living in Paris, I have had friends, family and followers asking me for suggestions of things to do while visiting the City of Light.
It’s taken me almost 2 years to compile a real substantial list of things to see and do in Paris.
I have been blessed to see Paris through the eyes of the incredible women I have connected with—not to mention the man I may have moved to the city for in the first place.
I feel like I could regurgitate all of the things I have ever seen and done in Paris, but I wanted to keep the list as succinct, yet informative, as I could. If you ever have specific questions, feel free to leave a comment, direct message me on Instagram, or you send an email.
Favorite Paris Walks
You can’t really go wrong walking anywhere within the center of Paris.
I like walking along rue de Seine—starting at Jardin du Luxembourg, pass by Saint Sulpice, walk through Saint Germain des Prés, see the terraces of Les Deux Magots and Cafeé de Flore, then take a right somewhere back on to rue de Seine, walk out to the Seine onto Pont des Arts across from the Bibliothèque Mazarin. (approximately 25 min)
Then there’s the long walk along the Seine itself—starting from Pont Alexandre III, catching a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, facing Musée d’Orsay across the way, walking the length of the Louvre and the Tuileries gardens, walking by Pont des Arts, Pont Neuf, Notre Dame and ending on a quiet island behind the cathedral called Île Saint Louis. You get to see Rive Gauche and Rive Droite alongside each other. (approximately 50-60 min; wear sensible shoes)
One of my favorite walks I’ve ever been on was enjoying sundown with a close friend along rue de Cherche-Midi—we started at her apartment in Montparnasse, finding our way to rue de Cherche-Midi, cutting through a side street to the historic Bon Marché, then weaving our way towards the newly opened Beau Passage. (approximately 30 min)
I also enjoy walking through Montmartre and playing tour guide for friends… but I would advise first-timers in Paris to be very careful because it’s a high-volume tourist destination. It’s still safe, it’s just that there are pickpocketers and vendors who will approach you if you’re openly speaking English. If possible, visit Montmartre early in the morning to avoid crowds. (approximately 30 min)
Favorite Monuments and Museums
Let’s cover the obvious hitlist.
There is nothing about the Louvre that is overrated. Do. Not. Miss. It. The ticket line is annoying and the museum itself is enormous—and yes, you can spend an entire day if you wanted to—but you must visit it once in your lifetime, even if only to see the major historical works.
Musée d’Orsay. It’s one of the most beautiful museums in Paris and houses an important collection of Impressionist paintings.
Notre Dame. Basilica at Montmartre. Arc de Triomphe.
And last, but certainly not least, the Eiffel Tower. If you’re pressed for time, I don’t think it’s necessary to climb it—I believe the best views of Paris include the Eiffel Tower in the photos. The panoramic view of Paris from the top of the Arc de Triomphe is jaw-dropping.
Moving onto my personal favorites and hidden gems.
I love Petit Palais—the exhibits may not be the finest, but I enjoy having a reasonably priced tea time and a quiet moment in the courtyard café. Naturally, Grand Palais is across the street from Petit Palais. You’ll find larger scale exhibitions that appeal to most audiences.
La Maison de Victor Hugo is a small museum located in Place des Vosges, the heart of Le Marais. You’ll learn how one of the great French authors lived in his apartment.
Musée Bourdelle is another small museum with a very unique layout—it’s a sculptor’s studio with exceptional grounds in the heart of Montparnasse. I discovered it while searching for various fashion exhibits.
Musée des Arts Decoratifs is renowned for its fashion exhibits—it hosted the groundbreaking Dior exhibit in 2017. Their visiting lecture talks open to the public are equally compelling (note: they’re in French).
For any digital nomads, I am obsessed with Café Craft on rue des Vinaigriers near Canal Saint Martin—I would have purchased a monthly pass there if I lived in Paris full-time. Great co-working space with excellent coffee and freshly prepared food.
Café Kitsuné is slightly overrated for locals, but it’s still a great place to snap a few Instagram photos and a beautiful place to take a café pause in the middle of Palais Royal. Note: there’s no indoor seating, just tables and chairs in the garden.
I had the pleasure of stopping Treize Bakery before they relocated to a larger space by Jardin du Luxembourg—the smell of their homemade American Southern-style biscuits is intoxicating.
If you’re looking for a modern Parisian bistro, I would recommend Café Charlot in Le Marais. Great people watching spot to feel almost like a Parisian.
For those with dietary restrictions or want clean eating— gluten-free and organic—Café Pinson is your spot.
For the most part, I actually cook at the apartment whenever I’m in Paris, so I’m a bit limited on my restaurant recommendations.
Au Pied de Cochon is the traditional French restaurant take any first-timer in Paris—the place is open 24 hours, 7 days a week.
My boyfriend and I found Le Garde Temps in Pigalle after passing up the long queue for Pink Mamma down the street. The wine list and traditional French menu make this gastronomic restaurant an incredible find.
Any of the restaurants in the Big Mamma Restaurant Group have a cult following in Paris. Pink Mamma’s highly Instagrammable interior has made it a social media sensation, but the “no reservations” rule makes it tough to get in at a reasonable hour. The older East Mamma location has a warm atmosphere and delicious Italian food.
For lunch, a friend and I went to ASTAIR in Passage des Panoramas. We got there early to take photos and grab a table before the crowds came in—the parmentier de confit de canard on the prix fixe menu was tasted like a true traditional homemade dish in a French home.
If you want to try something completely different, my boyfriend found a Tibetan restaurant called Lithang on Rive Gauche. We tried it on a freezing winter night and it was well worth trekking out for from our apartment in Neuilly-sur-Seine.
Favorite Bars (?)
So. I’m probably the lamest American in Paris because I don’t go out.
However. Le Comptoir Général in Canal Saint-Martin is still a fun option for those visiting Paris for the first time—you’ll be hard-pressed to find French people, it’s mostly tourists or English speakers.
La Favorite for cocktails. Period.
Also, I have recently confirmed that the Yellow Mad Monkey in Le Marais is still around from when I studied abroad in January 2014 and remains one of the best places to let out your inner Hot Mess Express…
The magic of Paris—or any city, really—is that no matter how well you think you may know a place, there are always new things or hidden gems.
It bears repeating that this by no means an exhaustive list. There are so many wonderful places that I have yet to discover or places that I’ve heard of, but haven’t had the time to go…
At least, not yet.