Ten best things to do in Paris

By Christina Henry De Tessan & Lindsey Tramuta

Paris’s seductive charms are legendary, and for good reason. Inviting sidewalk cafes, gleaming boutiques, world-class museums, endless things to do, and a fabled restaurant scene make Paris the runway model of cities—beautiful, fashionable, confident, and inspiring envy at every turn.

Here is our list of the things to do in Paris:

Follow the locals

To really shop in Paris these days means to think beyond couture-lined boulevards and packed high streets.

The good stuff will be in emerging shopping neighborhoods like the North Marais, where you can shop brands or crafters like Kitsune, Officine Générale, Sessun, or Papier Tigre; rue du Château d’Eau in the 10th arrondissement for accessories and home goods at Atelier Couronnes, Jamini, or La Trésorerie; and right in the center of town at Les Halles for Parisian-designed goods from Sept Cinq or emerging French designers at L’Exception. For old-fashioned ambience, look to Paris’s covered passages.

Go to laid-back modern bistros

In the last decade, many Michelin-starred chefs have abandoned the rigid confines of haute-cuisine restaurants to open convivial bistros that serve up simpler yet still outstanding meals. And the locals are just crazy about them.

Alternatively, Michelin-starred chef Jean-Francois Piège is behind several popular, lower-priced establishments that play up the best of French terroir.

The Louvre and other smaller museums

Many of Paris’s smaller museums contain equally important and beautiful art—and are often more pleasant, since you won’t be elbowed out of the way by a photo-snapping swarm. You’ll find Monet’s famous Nymphéas (water lily) murals in the Musée de l’Orangerie, at the far end of the Tuileries Gardens; the Musée Marmottan is home to the world’s largest collection of Monets; and the Musée Rodin, housed in a luminous villa with a lovely garden, is one of the most romantic places in all of Paris.

There are plenty of museums that focus on lighter and frothier stuff, including fashion, wine, and money. Take, for example, the Palais Galliera, which reopened in October after a two-year renovation.

Dress as locals 

Parisian style isn’t really about dressing to the nines.

In fact, the French are quite casual these days—they’ve just mastered the art of the clean, coordinated look.

Here are a few tips to keep your attire simple, tidy, and thoughtfully assembled: neutral colors are always a safe bet; accessorize with a single bold scarf, hat, or jewel but not all three at once; and make sure things fit the way they should. Complete your outfit with a fitted jacket and the best shoes in your closet. The final effect should look utterly effortless and send a message of confidence.

Take to heart the french word Flâner

While flâner technically means “to stroll,” it more generally suggests “to walk the city in order to experience it”—words to live by in the City of Light.

The center of Paris is only a couple of miles wide, maps are ubiquitous, and the rewards for taking to the streets on foot include world-class window shopping, observing flirtatious exchanges in sidewalk cafés, and walking off that extra croissant.

When going longer distances, hop on the Métro. From any given spot in Paris, you’re never more than 500 yards from the nearest station; it’s cheaper than a cab and often faster, too.

Find a view and shorter lines

If you want an incredible panorama that includes the Eiffel Tower, you should head instead to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, the top of the viewing deck at the Montparnasse Tower, or book tickets (approximately $12) to climb the Tour Saint Jacques, only open to visitors from June to September – five people at a time or a maximum group of 17 people.

Book a Boutique Hotel

In 2019, foreign travelers to Paris spent an average of 2.43 nights in the city, the perfect amount of time to experience one of the city’s 493 four-star hotels, many of which are beautifully designed and intimate in scale. On top of that, its restaurants and bars are increasingly big draws for locals, so you can dip your toes a bit further into the Parisian lifestyle.

Sweet Treats

There is much more to Parisian pastries than croissants and macaroons – although there is no contesting their star status. Take your sweet tooth to Fou de Patisserie; Jacques Genin; Yann Couvreur in the 10th arrondissement; Bontemps Pâtisserie for sablés; or Maison Aleph  for a complete sampling of the city’s best treats from some of the country’s most talented chefs.

Be mindful of antiquate 

Try to understand and imitate the local customs and you’ll no doubt be amply rewarded for your efforts. Do learn a few French words and phrases. Salespeople in smaller boutiques greet customers and expect to be greeted in return: A simple “Bonjour, Madame” upon entering a shop will do wonders for your status there.

Note that French people tend to talk softly—their voices never carry in the streets, on the Métro, or even when they’re sitting at the next table. Keep your voice low, too, and some of your neighbors might even venture a smile.

(Text and Image Courtesy: Cntraveler.com)

Images courtesy of (Image: Pickyourtrail.com) and Courtesy: Cntraveler.com

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