Top 10 Things to Do in Paris France

Ahh, Paris. Or, as some fondly call it: “the city of light.” Whatever name you prefer to use, Paris is a most magnificent city to be sure.  In this post I will show you Why You will fall in love with Paris France and I will give you the list of Top 10 Things to Do in Paris France!

Paris is one of those beloved gems that often is associated with romance and love, especially when it comes to movies. My wife, Anne, and I embarked on our trip to Paris in early November of 2018 and it did not disappoint. In fact, I think you will fall in love with Paris, France, should you have the opportunity to visit. Keep reading to find out why!

Map Of Paris Top 10 Things to Do in Paris France
Map Of Paris Top 10 Things to Do in Paris France

Our journey to Paris began with a train ride. We arrived in the city on Thursday, November 8th and immediately set about taking in the sights. It feels as though you could spend nearly a lifetime in Paris yet never be bored or run out of amazing things to do or exquisite food to savor.

Even the Tourist Office in Paris France is Amazing Top 10 Things to Do in Paris France
Even the Tourist Office in Paris France is Amazing

Is it only in Paris where the tourism office would be filled with as much history as the city itself??

The Hôtel de Ville de Paris has been the seat of the Paris City Council since 1357. The current building, with a neo-renaissance style, was built by architects Théodore Ballu and Edouard Deperthes on the site of the former Hôtel de Ville which burnt down during the Paris Commune in 1871. Visits to the town hall, a powerful and prestigious place, are possible. Guided tours are offered by reservation only and are organized by the city’s Protocol Department. Visitors can discover the function room, created as a replica of the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. Free major exhibitions are also organized here and are a great success.
Architectural style Neo renaissance

9 Notre Dame Cathedral

First up on our sightseeing agenda was a visit the legendary Notre Dame cathedral. Before we dive too far into the details of our trip, I feel compelled to address the fire that occurred just mere months after our visit. I cannot stress how fortunate we were to have been able to visit Notre Dame prior to this devastating fire. Indeed, I was blessed to be able to capture some amazing pictures from both inside the cathedral and out.

  Notre Dame Cathedral Paris France  Top 10 Things to Do in Paris France
Notre Dame Cathedral Paris France – Before the Fire

For those who are not familiar with the incident, Notre Dame sustained massive damage due to a fire that occurred in April of 2019. The iconic spire is sadly no longer in existence, post-fire. Renovations were under way at the time and due to the way the grand cathedral was designed, there was a fairly significant delay from the time the fire was discovered and the arrival of firefighters. This is according to an April 2019 article from the New York Times which covers this horrific loss in much more detail if you care to read up on it.

Interior Notre Dame Cathedral Paris France - Before the Fire
Interior Notre Dame Cathedral Paris France – Before the Fire

Suffice it to say that I am forever grateful that I was able to take in the magnificence of this Gothic structure in its entirety! My images of Notre Dame in its full glory are something I will savor for years to come.

8 Palace of Versailles

Palace of Versailles  Top 10 Things to Do in Paris France
Palace of Versailles Paris France

We began our day at the Palace of Versailles which is located just a few miles outside of the city. I can only think to describe our experience here as crazy and overwhelming for a few reasons. It was absolutely incredible soaking in the rich history of this storied royal palace; we experienced a distinct sense of awe as we stood on the very grounds where royals once walked. Centuries of history took place right here in this spot!

Front Golden Gate Palace of Versailles Paris France Top 10 Things to Do in Paris France
Front Golden Gate Palace of Versailles Paris France

The other aspects that contributed to this sense of overwhelm were the sheer number of things to see and the multitudes of visitors. We arrived at the Palace rather early in the day which was a smart move on our part. If you decide to visit (and I highly recommend that you do), plan to arrive as soon as you can after they open for the day.

Hall of Mirrors Palace of Versailles Top 10 Things to Do in Paris France
Hall of Mirrors Palace of Versailles

7 Arc de Triomphe

No visit to Paris is quite complete without stopping to see the famous Arc de Triomphe. It is a beautiful sight to behold but it’s not just another pretty landmark: it holds significant meaning for Parisians. The Arc was built in the 1800(s) and serves as a monument to honor the French who fought on behalf of their country.

Arc de Triomphe Top 10 Things to Do in Paris France
Found a Minnesotan at the Arc de Triomphe

As it happened, our visit took place as they were decorating it for the 100th Armistice Day World War I celebration. What a pleasant bonus addition to our second day touring Paris!

6 The Eiffel Tower

But of course, we admired the Eiffel Tower on our trip. This is truly an icon and dare I say one of the most recognizable structures in the world. There was even a special light show that evening just for us (or so I like to think).

The Eiffel Tower Paris France Top 10 Things to Do in Paris France
The Romantic Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower at night is a spectacular sight to behold with its glittering, shimmering lights. It was just a touch surreal though to observe it in person after having only glimpsed it on film.

5 The Louvre

We decided to do a bit less walking and we took advantage of the hop-on, hop-off bus tour on our third day.

The Louvre Pyramid and Night - Top 10 Things to Do in Paris France
The Louvre Pyramid and Night

One of our stops included the Louvre Museum, the largest art museum in the world. That’s quite an impressive title to match such intricate architectural detail and beauty; it very nearly took our breath away when we first set our eyes on it.

4 Mona Lisa Debate

When you go to the Louvre you have the opportunity to take in one of the most well known paintings in the word, The Mona Lisa. The question on my mind is, whether or not the Mona Lisa deserves all it’s high accolades? I get a sense that people think it is amazing because someone told that that it was supposed to be amazing.

The Mona Lisa The Louvre Paris - Is It worth all this? Top 10 Things to Do in Paris France
The Mona Lisa The Louvre Paris – Is It worth all this?

For me, it is not worth fighting these mad crowds. I would much rather just simply turn around and see the incredible masterpiece, The Wedding at Cana.

The Wedding at Cana Paolo Veronese The Louvre Paris France Top 10 Things to Do in Paris France
The Wedding at Cana Paolo Veronese The Louvre Paris France

The Wedding Feast at Cana (1563), by the Italian artist Paolo Veronese, is a painting that depicts the biblical story of the Marriage at Cana, at which Jesus converts water to wine (John 2:1–11). This amazing oil painting some 22 ft tall is in the style practised by the artists Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo.
wiki

The amazing thing was that nobody was looking at this incredible masterpiece. Note the two little people at the bottom of the image getting their picture taken with it. I for one would much rather take in an amazing piece like this.

The Louvre Paris France Top 10 Things to Do in Paris France
The Louvre Paris France

But either way, there is so much to see at The Louvre that people of every taste will be satisfied.

3 Musée d’Orsay

Bal du moulin de la Galette Renoir Musée d'Orsay in Paris Top 10 Things to Do in Paris France
Bal du moulin de la Galette Renoir Musée d’Orsay in Paris

Our afternoon was a bit more packed, beginning with our trip to the Musée d’Orsay to get our fill of French Art and Impressionism. This museum is one of Europe’s most pleasant art experiences! It is a must-have item on your bucket list if you are someone who appreciates art.

Musée d'Orsay in Paris Such an Amazing Space
Musée d’Orsay in Paris Such an Amazing Space

2 Musée de l’Orangerie

We followed up the Musée d’Orsay with a visit to the Musée de l’Orangerie. Our exploration here took us a grand total of 15 minutes. The Monet work in this museum was completely uninteresting and, in my opinion, uninspired. If you’re pressed for time during a trip to Paris, I recommend skipping the Musée de l’Orangerie; instead, those 15 minutes are better spent prolonging a tour of Musée d’Orsay.

Argenteuil Claude Monet Musée de l'Orangerie Top 10 Things to Do in Paris France
Argenteuil Claude Monet Musée de l’Orangerie

On a more positive note, I liked one some of the Monet work displayed in the museum. There was even a painting of sailboats that called to mind a picturesque day at Lake Harriet or Lake Calhoun in our very own Minneapolis!  

Harlequin and Pierrot André Derain Musée de l'Orangerie Top 10 Things to Do in Paris France
Harlequin and Pierrot André Derain Musée de l’Orangerie

1 Sainte-Chapelle

The Sainte-Chapelle is a royal chapel in the Gothic style, within the medieval Palais de la Cité, the residence of the Kings of France until the 14th century, on the Île de la Cité in the River Seine in Paris, France.

Sainte-Chapelle Top 10 Things to Do in Paris France
Sainte-Chapelle Top 10 Things to Do in Paris France
 
 

Construction began sometime after 1238 and the chapel was consecrated on 26 April 1248. The Sainte-Chapelle is considered among the highest achievements of the Rayonnant period of Gothic architecture. It was commissioned by King Louis IX of France to house his collection of Passion relics, including Christ’s Crown of Thorns – one of the most important relics in medieval Christendom, later hosted in the nearby Notre-Dame Cathedral until the 2019 fire, which it survived.

Sainte-Chapelle Top 10 Things to Do in Paris France
Sainte-Chapelle Amazing Stained Glass
 

Along with the Conciergerie, the Sainte-Chapelle is one of the earliest surviving buildings of the Capetian royal palace on the Île de la Cité. Although damaged during the French Revolution and restored in the 19th century, it has one of the most extensive 13th-century stained glass collections anywhere in the world.  www.sainte-chapelle.fr

Sainte-Chapelle Top 10 Things to Do in Paris France
Sainte-Chapelle Paris France

 

Bonus 1 The Fine Art of Gastronomy

Of course we got hungry throughout all of these excursions! For lunch after the Louvre we tried out some amazing French cuisine (what else?). I sampled the duck foie gras, which for non-French-speakers is a liver paté, along with an absolutely amazing lamb and sauce. Anne decided on the veal which was, quite simply, to die for.

It is worth mentioning the meal we had next at a restaurant that was recommended to us by our hotel’s concierge. While dining there we ended up meeting another American couple and got into a wonderful discussion about Normandy. This couple had just come from a visit there and thoroughly enjoyed their recent experience with a private tour guide.

It was so fitting that we ran into them at dinner that night as we were headed into Normandy the following day. What a fortuitous and perfect way to spend our final evening in Paris!

Bonus 2 Exploring on Your Own

Our first day in Paris also included some leisurely walks to take in the sights and sounds as we got acclimated to the area. Anne and I enjoyed a rather romantic stroll along the Seine River which flows near the Cathedral; this was a romantic evening at its finest!

 

 

A Romantic Evening Stroll Along the Seine River Paris France Top 10 Things to Do in Paris France
A Romantic Evening Stroll Along the Seine River Paris France

As we quickly found out, there is no shortage of both historic and modern sights to behold when you explore Paris on foot.

We retired to our hotel, the Rue Saint-Honoré, for the evening and rested so we would wake up fresh and ready to hit the pavement again the next day.

It turned out that rest was much needed, as our second day’s itinerary ended up being rather intense. At one point, I thought to myself: Yikes, my feet are bleeding! Don’t let that assessment frighten you off, though. Our excursions were well worth it (and no, my feet weren’t actually bleeding).

There’s nothing like indulging yourself with a morning of sleeping in after three days of discovering Paris, and that is exactly how we started out our fourth day.

Strolling along the Champs-Élysées - Paris France Top 10 Things to Do in Paris France
Strolling along the Champs-Élysées

After our relaxing morning in the hotel we attended the Hillsong Church Paris where their head pastor (from Australia) delivered a delightful Sunday sermon.

Conclusion

All good things must come to an end, as they say, so we departed Paris for Normandy.

We enjoyed our visit to Paris immensely, from the delectable meals to the awe-inspiring landmarks and stunning architecture. Our few days in this city illustrated why so many people have fallen in love with it. If you are considering your own adventure to Paris, I hope I have given you some inspiration for creating a most satisfying itinerary. There are many other worthwhile attractions you could visit if you have the time, but these are almost guaranteed to make you fall in love with Paris!

Co Author: Brittany VanDerBill – www.bvanderbillconsulting.com

Next we are on to Normandy France!

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Top 10 Things to Do in Paris France

Written by Wayne Moran - Visit Website
moran.wayne@gmail.com