Best Things to Do in Paris

As the world once again becomes our playground, many of us feel compelled to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. Here in Paris, that is a good impetus to follow, since most indoor venues now require you to show a vaccine passport in order to enter. This is true of museums, cafes, restaurants, theaters, cinemas…well, you get the picture. Lucky for us, Paris remains one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Beyond the obvious splendors of the Eiffel Tower and the Sacre-Cœur Basilica, Paris has a wealth of sites and experiences to offer. 

And others, like Le Village St.-Paul, and the nearby basketball courts, the Terrain de Sport des Jardins St.-Paul, both in the Marais, make you feel like you’ve discovered a hidden nook of Paris all your own each time you stumble upon them.  The Village St. Paul is recently renovated and is now an exquisite labyrinth of quaint shops, casual restaurants and bars and simply just quiet spaces where you can catch your breath underneath the shade of a tree. It was once the private gardens of King Charles V, but that was centuries ago.  Likewise historical, and not to miss noticing, is the original old wall of Paris built in the 12th and 13th centuries by France’s then King, Philip Augustus. Today, it still fortifies one side of well-used open-air basketball courts of the Marais. In other words, you can both shoot hoops (or jump rope or stretch or do open-air calisthenics) while taking in one of the oldest exposed monuments of historical Paris. 

The Parc Rives de Seine is another popular destination for families and sporty types, or even just people looking for a nice outdoor walk along the Seine or a place to picnic by the river. On warm spring, summer and fall evenings, you’ll find groups of friends enjoying bottles of wine or beer al fresco or ordering a beer at one of the many food stalls there. 

New to the Parisian façade is La Samaritaine. Or, I should accurately denote, all things old become new again since this iconic department store in the Chatelet district of the 1st arrondissement is now fully refurbished and open again for business. It’s the LVMH group who undertook this project, which lasted for nearly a decade, and the architecture shows its modern bent. For architecture buffs and shopping enthusiasts, it’s a must-see. 

In Paris, it pays to just wander because many Parisian gems and treasures can be found along a meandering path. Some of these treasures, such as the covered passage of Galerie Vivienne, are found right under your nose as you walk the city’s charming streets. Its main entrance is tucked in just behind the Palais Royal and once you enter into this covered passage, you feel yourself instantly transported through time. 

One last reassurance when exploring the city: When your feet get tired of walking, there is a boat-bus service, the Batobus, that you can hop on and off. It motors you from the Eiffel Tower to just past the Ile St. Louis by riverway, and back again, if you so choose. 

Batobus - Louvre Stop

Photo courtesy of Paige Donner copyright 2014

Though not strictly an attraction, the Batobus is more than just river transportation along the Seine. A hop-on, hop-off shuttle between the major Paris monuments that’s easily accessible from the Seine, it’s nice to ride the Batobus for the sheer pleasure of seeing the city from a different perspective.

And while the Bateaux-Mouches and the other wonderful dinner and cocktail Seine river cruises are experiences many rave about (rightly so), this little Batobus-that-could offers the same views at a fraction of the price – dinner and cocktails not included, of course.

It’s a family friendly transportation option for getting around the city. Its stops are all along the river, of course. These strategic stops are at areas which make visiting the Louvre, St.-Germain des Pres, the Marais and Latin Quarter and the Eiffel Tower/Trocadero areas very convenient by foot.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: Paris, when seen from the river Seine, is even more beautiful. And that goes for day and night.

Paige’s expert tip: Hop on and hop off all day long. Or buy the 2-day pass and make the River Seine your main method of transportation to see many of Paris’s landmark sights.

Read more about Batobus – Louvre Stop →

Basilique du Sacré-Coeur

Basilique du Sacré-Coeur

The Sacré-Coeur Basilica, also known as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, is blessed with its location in Paris. At the top of a huge hill in Montmartre overlooking the city, large steps cascade down the hill on one side, the basilica’s white domes looming up in magnificence behind them. Head inside the Sacré-Coeur to experience this sacred Catholic cathedral, built in 1876. With its high point at the top of the Montmartre hill, plus its gleaming white stone exterior, Sacré-Coeur Basilica is an amazing sight to behold from a distance as well, and views of it can be seen from many different points in Paris.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The Sacré-Coeur sits like a majestic white lady, regal and pure, at the top of the Montmartre Hill, otherwise called the Butte Montmartre.

Paige’s expert tip: The steps are great for sitting on with a loved one or friends. Music performers are often playing and you’ll have an impressive view of the city spreading out below.

Read more about Basilique du Sacré-Coeur →

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Photo courtesy of Par Olevy via Wikimedia Commons

Designed by architect c—lebre, Frank Gehry, this $143 million museum in Paris’ westside is a cultural center as well as art museum sponsored by the Group LVMH, headed up by Bernard Arnault, Chairman of the Group.

The structure itself is in the form of a ship, though granted with artistic interpretation. Some of the finest art exhibits have already occurred her. There is also a great emphasis on multi-sensory experiences here, so art is interpreted beyond just the visual. The auditorium hosts fabulous presentations and talks so be sure to check the website to see if you can catch one while in town. Do be advised to reserve in advance for any visit here.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: With its constantly refreshed exhibits, this is more than a privately funded museum, it is a must-see Paris landmark.

Read more about Fondation Louis Vuitton →

Body Float

Body Float

Photo courtesy of Paige Donner

Let’s face it, even the fittest of us sometimes pull a muscle, sprain an ankle or simply sleep on the wrong side. When you’re traveling and this happens, it can sure put a dent in your scheduled activities. Bodyfloat is a remedy for (nearly) all your muscular aches and pains.

Never done a flotation session? Here’s what to expect: The immersive basin, the size of a large square jacuzzi, is filled with highly salinated water (Epsom salt, good for inflammation) that allows you to float effortlessly.

Once you are ensconced in your private basin, the lights automatically go off and the meditative music is lowered to an inaudible hum. It is said that one hour in the flotation is like getting 4 hours of deep sleep. This is no exaggeration.

Each basin has its own private, individual shower room. Towels are provided. Bathing suit is optional but not advised.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: Self-care and body care are a top priority when doing the rigorous work of traveling. This is one of the gentlest muscle remedies around.

Paige’s expert tip: The water is 100% cleaned and filtered and additionally put through an ultra UV purifying light between each guest. It’s also filtered again all night long. This experience is very hygienic, perhaps even more so than at the habitual massage spa. At this location, too, there is one couple’s Float, so be sure to request it if that’s what you want.

Read more about Body Float →

Parc Rives de Seine

Parc Rives de Seine

Photo courtesy of Paige Donner copyright 2017

The area along the Rive Droite (right bank) riverfront that was once a thoroughfare for cars, stretching from the Tuileries tunnel to the Henri IV tunnel, is now a pedestrian zone. You can either start at Hôtel de Ville and head east toward the Bastille, which is a shorter walk but will take you along the stretch where the eateries are, often packed with people on the weekends. Or you can head west, still along the Seine, towards the Pont des Arts which will take you along some of Paris’ most beautiful sites such as the Conciergerie, the Pont Neuf and Île de la Cité. It’s a win-win and, either way, will leave you refreshed.

An equally beautiful walk awaits you on the Left Bank side of the Seine. Optimally, start from the Pont Alexandre III and walk towards the Eiffel Tower, allowing for plenty of pauses along the way.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: These green spaces and pedestrian areas along the riverbanks are well-loved, especially by the kids. They get packed in the warmer months with fun-loving crowds.

Paige’s expert tip: After big meals and sugary treats, the best thing to do to maintain equilibrium is to take a nice long walk outdoors. Start just under the Hotel de Ville (Paris’ City Hall) where you’ll find a children’s playground, a swing set, some water fountains and the Batobus ticket kiosk.

From this point, you can walk West towards the Pont des Arts, or East towards Pont Sully. Either way, you’ll encounter eateries, refreshments, shady places to sit and picnic tables. No cars, the gorgeous River Seine, and some of Paris’ most beautiful landmarks await you on this walk.

Read more about Parc Rives de Seine →

La Samaritaine

La Samaritaine

Photo courtesy of Paige Donner

Founded originally in 1870 by Ernest Cognacq and Louise Jay (namesakes of the famous Cognacq-Jay Museum) this Parisian landmark is once again alive. Fully refurbished top-to-bottom, its entire 70,000 square meter, 10 floors of luxury goods, French culinary treats, artistic installations and beauty day-escapes are now all yours for the taking.

One of the façades, the most modern one, fronts onto the rue de Rivoli, giving this little Pont-Neuf neighborhood of Paris the sleek LVMH imprint. But other parts of the building were maintained to preserve its Belle Epoque appeal. The building takes up a whole city block and then some. There is also the Cheval Blanc hotel that is adjacent to this department store (also LVMH owned).

This department store is well-equipped to deliver whatever you might need for person or home. Clean-lined furnishings are for sale, along with china, kitchen appliances, and bedding. Men’s and women’s fashions guarantee something stylish to wear, and cosmetics let you put your best face forward. Sportswear, a bookstore, a pet department, and children’s clothing, toys, and accessories are available as well. METRO: Pont Neuf

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: Beauty day-escapes, including one devoted solely to reshaping your eyebrows, gourmet cafes and, of course, luxury shopping are all here. Paris at its finest!

Paige’s expert tip: This is Le Shopping destination now in Paris. Closed in 2005 as a safety hazard, Parisians have waited over a decade to be able to once again frequent this Belle Epoque, beloved department store. And LVMH, the new owner and instigator of the renovations, certainly has delivered. The splendor of the interior is barely grasped by its exterior, so, by all means, go inside and enjoy!

Read more about La Samaritaine →

Cimetiére du Pére Lachaise

Cimetiére du Pére Lachaise

Photo courtesy of Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Named for Louis XIV’s confessor, who once lived in the vicinity, this cemetery was established in 1804. It was planned as a repository for human remains when authorities sought to improve sanitation by moving graves from the center of the city to its outskirts. Now park-like in its appeal, Pére Lachaise is a much-desired place to be buried. Within its bounds are the graves of Moliére, Oscar Wilde, Heloise & Abelard, Jim Morrison, Frédéric Chopin, Edith Piaf, Sarah Bernhardt, Marcel Proust and other famous figures. Stately trees and beautiful memorials add to the cemetery’s present-day calm.

The area surrounding the cemetery is also something of a budding bohemia. Many young families have flocked to the 20th arrondissement in recent years for its wider streets and bigger, more affordable apartments.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: Can you really come all the way to Paris and not pay tribute to Jim Morrison’s grave?

Paige’s expert tip: Schedule a whole day if you want to explore the entire cemetery. There are a whole 110 acres to cover and many famous tombstones to hunt down, in addition to Jim Morrison’s and Oscar Wilde’s.

Read more about Cimetiére du Pére Lachaise →

Arènes de Lutèce

Arènes de Lutèce

Photo courtesy of Gzen92 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]

This Roman-style arena was built between the first and the 2nd century A.D. Named after the city when it was still under the Gallo-Roman rule, the Arènes de Lutèce are one of only two monuments that are still standing from that early historic time of the city, nearly 2,000 years ago.

It had been completely covered over and only in 1883, after the demolition of the Daughters of Jesus Christ Convent, was a third of the amphitheater uncovered. Today, you can still see the stage and wings where the actors stood when performing in front of the assembled crowd.

It’s a huge monument but not seen from the street. So you literally have to go and unearth it yourself by following the little street that leads to the entrance. It’s a breathtaking venue. It’s also very close to rue Mouffetard, so plenty of fun cafes, bars and restaurants nearby!

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: This arena dates back to the early Roman times when Paris was called Lutèce.

Paige’s expert tip: This amphitheater, originally used as a stage, was later a cemetery. It was later filled in following the building of the wall of Philippe Auguste in 1210. Les Arenes were rediscovered between 1860-1869 when the Compagnie Generale des Omnibus sought to build a tram stop on the site.

Read more about Arènes de Lutèce →

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Photo courtesy of Paige Donner

One of the world’s most popular and well-known sites, this tower is not only a must-see for visitors but Paris’s signature landmark. Although the structure was poorly received when it premiered in 1889, it’s now a symbol of great civic and national pride. In fact, visitors must have a reservation and then wait in line before taking the elevator to the observation decks on the 1st and 2nd Upper Floors. But from these views, seeing the city spread out below is breathtaking. At night, the tower becomes a beautifully illuminated sculpture. Gustave Eiffel, who designed the tower, also created the framework for NYC’s Statue of Liberty. METRO: Bir Hakeim

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The Eiffel Tower, Paris’ Iron Lady, is among the ten most recognized landmarks in the world.

Paige’s expert tip: Even with the security glass periphery now around the stately tower, it’s still well worth visiting! Here’s a tip: If you make lunch or dinner reservations at the brand new restaurant, Madame Brasserie, you get to jump the line. Well worth it and the restaurant is Top!

Read more about Eiffel Tower →

Le Village St Paul

Le Village St Paul

Photo courtesy of Paige Donner

Fresh from a complete refurbish, this little village within the heart of the Marais district of Paris is now fully re-opened for business, browsing, antiquing and simply enjoying peace & quiet within secluded, interconnected courtyards.

Collectors of art and antiques will know this little village well, as many of the shops are oriented towards antiques and other fine collectibles. But not all. Other shops include Venus sur Cour, a shop specializing in erotic collectibles. The network of interconnected courtyards also houses many artist ateliers including photographers, ceramic workshops and even a hatmaker.

Le Village St. Paul, now that it is once again fully open and in pristine condition, is also a very popular spot with the locals for lunch/dinner. Restaurants range from casual Italian to casual French to a bar aptly called Dad’s Den. As you meander it’s easy to imagine that King Charles V himself once walked here.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The City of Paris spent heaps of Euros and several years refurbishing these ancient gardens once owned by King Charles V. They are now re-opened.

Paige’s expert tip: Once upon a time this was the private gardens of King Charles V.Today, it is known as Le Village St. Paul. A labyrinth of interconnected courtyards filled with quaint shops, artists’ ateliers and restaurants/bars, few places in the Marais offer such a charming oasis from the hustle and bustle of the main streets as Le Village St. Paul.

Read more about Le Village St Paul →

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