Paris is one of those cities that has a million things to do and see and often first time travelers to the City of Light get stressed out about all the things they feel they should see while there. It’s easy to go overboard planning all the attractions and monuments to see in Paris, but in reality, Paris is more about taking it all in and enjoying the city just as much as seeing the attractions. So here are the things I think you really NEED to see, so you can whittle down your itinerary to spend time just meandering the quays of the Seine and enjoying macarons under the Eiffel Tower, instead of seeing everything the guidebook tells you to.
Perhaps the most famous monument in the world, the Eiffel Tower is a must-see when in Paris. It’s usually the first place we head when we arrive in the city and it still gets me every time. Check out its massive size by standing underneath it and then head over to the Trocadero to get great photos and a view of the whole tower.
The Arc de Triomphe is another famous Paris monument that really should be experienced. Plus the street it sits on, the Champs-Élysées is one of the most famous shopping streets in the world.
The little Île St. Louis island in the middle of the Seine is a must when in Paris. Wander down its little cobblestone streets and sit on the banks of the river and just take in all of Paris. This is one of the oldest areas of the city and it’s always a treat to just take in the gorgeous building facades and little shops and restaurants scattered along the island.
This lovely garden is a nice respite from the crowds of Paris and is especially lovely in the Summer and Fall. Complete with a palace, flowers everywhere and tree lined pathways, the Jardin du Luxembourg should for sure be on your itinerary, even if just to relax for a bit before heading onto the next thing.
You really can’t come to Paris without seeing the Louvre and its accompanying gardens, the Tuileries. In my opinion, I think the exterior of the Louvre and seeing the Mona Lisa’s wing are the best to do, the rest of the wings can get a little repetitive. If there is a specific piece of art you want to see, check it out and then head out to the Tuileries to get some fresh air and away from the crowds inside the museum.
Notre Dame Cathedral in the heart of Paris really is a site. I also love the little park at the back of the cathedral, which rarely has people in it, to take in the amazing buttresses on the backside of the church.
Paris may be beautiful at street level, but seeing it from above is pretty great too. There are lots of places in the city to take in a rooftop perspective: the Holiday Inn Notre Dame hotel has a great rooftop view (above photo) or take in the view from the Arc du Triomphe or up at Sacre Coeur.
The beautiful basilica of Sacré Coeur up at Montmatre is a must see in Paris. Not only is the church gorgeous but the views from up here reach far out over all of Paris. My favorite time to visit is a twilight when the city is starting to light up.
This gorgeous little church nestled a few blocks from Notre Dame is a hidden treasure. It doesn’t look like anything from the outside but inside of the chapel walls, the stained glass here will blow you away.
And to get your museum fix in a city full of museums, my favorite by far is the Musée d’Orsay on the Left Bank. Go early when they open to beat the crowds but even if you don’t like museums, this one is well worth a visit!
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Very good list! I think Sacre Coeur is the only thing I did not see when I was in Paris last time! Orsay was definitely one of my coup de coeur of the trip, though, it’s amazing! And Notre-Dame de Paris was so grandiose! I was astonished at the feelings I got when I was standing next to it! Just wow!
Yea it’s cool to go up to Sacre Coeur, the view is amazing from up there! And yes, Orsay is amazing!
Amy Lynne Hayes says
Yep! That’s a pretty complete list!! Oh how I miss all those places… 🙂
I know…. 🙂 I miss them daily, though I’m sure you know exactly how I feel! 🙂
Macy Gutermuth says
Great list!! The only thing I did not see was the Trocadero side of the Eiffel Tower. Major regret, but I will be doing that next summer!
Yea, that’s a great spot!!! Make sure to hit it up next time 🙂
Courtney @ Adelante says
You’re giving me some serious Paris lust right now! It’s as if you KNEW that I was thinking about booking a ticket back soon 🙂 I won’t fight it. This is a sign. Hahaha. I would also add the Orangerie Museum to this list! Monet’s waterlilies take my breath away every time.
Yes, go back!!! 🙂 I agree, I like the Orangerie too, but if I’m only going to hit one museum, I would choose D’Orsay. But I do love me some Monet. 🙂
The Starving Inspired says
Annnnnd wanderlust has set in. Again. What a stunning city.
The Starving Inspired
It really is a gorgeous place!
I am so happy to say that I hit almost all of these last year! St. Chapelle was one of my favorites- it’s one I didn’t know much about but I am so glad I didn’t miss it! Simply Stunning!
St. Chapelle really is amazing. I didn’t have much interest in going our first time, but my husband really wanted to and I was so glad he dragged me there. It’s so stunning!
We got the Paris Museum Pass while we were there and St. Chapelle admission was included- which was perfect because I thought the admission price was a little steep for such a small/short visit, but now knowing how amazing it is, I think I would have gladly shelled out the extra money to see it!
Yea the Museum pass is great for that… but you’re right, now knowing how amazing it is, it’s totally worth it 🙂
Such a beautiful city. Have to remember these places once i go there someday.
Yes! Save them for when you go!
Julie @ Artwork by JM says
Beautiful photos!! I definitely want to see Paris some day.
You definitely should, it’s a fantastic city!
Sonja Müller says
There is nothing like Paris. Been there last november. I loved it! I saw most of the 10 things.
Excellent! You are right, there really is nowhere like Paris!
Rima Sagala says
i’m going there for 2 days and I am dying to catch the view of Paris from Tour Montparnasse! Never tired for a little Paris 🙂
Yay!!! Enjoy Paris 🙂
Jamie G @ SnapGinger says
Thank you very much for this list, absolutely filing it for future reference!
Excellent, glad it might help in the future!
Lauren Hughes says
Love this post – will be looking back on this when I go to Paris next month 🙂