PARIS: 10 Touristy Things That Are Still Totally Worth Visiting
I hate when people dismiss something just because it's "touristy". Would you not eat at a Michelin Star restaurant because it's too "micheliny". No? I didn't think so. It's touristy for a reason! There's probably something about it worth seeing, sensing, experiencing. And really I believe that everything in our world is worth experiencing at least once. What is there to lose on your part? You completely miss out on it if you don't even give it a try. So keep your mind open. You never know what you'll find.
Looking for things to do, sights to see, places to be in Paris? Here's 10 "touristy" places in Paris that deserve a second, third, fourth, and maybe even fifth look.
Jardin du Luxembourg or Luxembourg Gardens is the perfect spot to sit back and relax. It's so picturesque there that you'll feel like you've stepped back in time or into a Disney movie. The gardens hold a bit of Parisian magic.
My recommendation is to bring a book along with some charcuterie and camp out by the palace. You really can't hear the noise of the city from inside the gardens. It's pretty amazing actually. So in my opinion there's no place better than here to disconnect from the craziness of Paris but still be completely immersed in it as well.
PS. Even in the summer the gardens don't get that crowded.
Location: 75006 Paris, France
Catacombes de Paris or the Catacombs of Paris are for all you horror movie fans out there. I'm usually terrified of stuff like this but I came out alive and no nightmares too! So that's a win for me.
Their website and I both don't recommend this for anyone who is claustrophobic or has respiratory problems. The air down there is stale and it does get quite tight at some points. To get underground you're going to have to descend a very narrow spiral staircase and there's no exit until the end, which is 1.5 km or about 45 minutes from the entrance.
Also the line to get in is LONG. I got there right when it opened and I waited 3 hours. So carve out some time in your day to wait in line above ground and to be creeped out under ground.
Full Rate: 12 €
Reduced rate (upon presentation of a valid ID): 10 €
Youth and young adults (18-26), large families and holders of the "Paris Pass Famille", school teachers and librarians, holders of"Navigo-Améthyste-Emeraude" card, members of : la Sauvegarde de l'Art Français, la Société de l'Histoire de l'Art Français, la Société francaise d'archéologie, la Société nationale des Antiquaires de France.
Free Admission (upon presentation of a valid ID): Youth 17 and under, disabled and their personal care attendant, job seekers and beneficiaries of the following income support supplements : RSA, allocation parents isolés, allocation personnalisée d'autonomie et aide sociale de l'Etat pour les réfugiés, city of Rome inhabitants (Paris twin City), city of Paris employees and councillors in activity or retired, professional visual artists with written evidence, Art World professionals : International Association of Art Critics, museum guides, French and foreign curators, « la commission du Vieux Paris », ICOM and ICOMOS members, journalists, art press reporters and federations.
Coupled ticket Catacombs of Paris - Archaeological Crypt:
Full rates : 16 € (instead of 19 €)
Concessions : 13 € (instead of 15 €)
Located at the end of the grand avenue of Champs-Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe is extremely difficult to miss. And the view at the top shouldn't be missed either. To get there take the tunnel at the end of Champs-Élysées (looks like a Metro entrance, near Cartier). If you want a photo like the one below then you'll have to brave some traffic. Cross the street halfway to the middle divider and walk down to the end. Disclaimer, I'm not saying that this is a recommended or safe activity. But sometimes, you just need to "do it for the gram".
Location: Place Charles-de-Gaulle, 75008 Paris
Full Rate: 12€
Reduced Rate (upon presentation of a valid ID): 9€
Tourism professionnals, young people (18-25 yo) from non-UE country and foreign teachers.
minimum 20 people
Free Admission (upon presentation of a valid ID): Under 18 (with family and excluding school groups) - 18-25 (citizens of the countries of the European Union and non-European residents regularly resident in France) - Disabled people and their attendant - Jobseekers, on presentation of a jobseeker's certificate dated within the last 6 months. ICOM Card holder.
The Louvre. Oh The Louvre. If you didn't take the "I have my finger on top of the pyramid, overdone but not really that overrated, super instagrammable, hey I was in Paris" photo, then were you really even in Paris?
Probably not. No I'm just kidding. But seriously look at the "The Louvre" or "Musée de Louvre" geotag. It's forever overrun by these types of photos. And hey they're fun to take! I've done it more than once.
So what's so special about The Louvre? Well let's just consider the fact that it's one of the largest museums on Earth and home to both the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa along with more than 70,000 other art pieces. That's enough to make any art lover, architecture admirer, or history buff fall head right over heels.
PS. It gets super busy in the summer and on weekends so plan some extra time if you're heading there during those days.
Location: Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France
Full Rate: 15€
Free admission without queuing for a ticket (valid ID or proof of entitlement required): visitors under the age of 18, 18-25 year-old residents of the European Economic Area (EU, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein), teachers of art, art history, and the applied arts, holders of a valid "Pass Education" card (primary and secondary school teachers in French public schools and private schools receiving government subsidies), artists affiliated to the Maison des Artistes (in France) or the AIAP (Association Internationale des Arts Plastiques), holders of a valid ICOM or ICOMOS card, job seekers and people on income support, on presentation of proof of entitlement (dated within the last year or indicating a period of validity), visitors with disabilities and the person accompanying them, holders of membership cards (permanent collections only)
A list of all acceptable proofs of entitlement is available at the museum from the Information Desks (under the Pyramid).
Tel.: +33 (0)1 40 20 53 17 (except Tuesdays)
Every Friday from 6 p.m. admission to the museum is free for under-26s of all nationalities on presentation of valid ID. From October to March, admission to the museum is free for all visitors on the first Sunday of each month.
Admission is also free on Bastille Day (July 14).
Sacré Coeur or The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris sits above the city on the hill in Montmartre. It's a pure celebration of architectural and historical artistry. The view of the city from its steps is one of the best in Paris.
But that definitely does not mean you should look out only into the city when you're up there. The basilica holds a beauty of its own. Really it does because the style it's build in is not similar to the gothic aesthetic that dominants in the center of the city (like Notre Dame).
It's definitely one of the more flexible stops in Paris. The basilica is open every day from 6am to 10:30pm. A rare abundance of open hours for a city like Paris. And you can get there via the Metro:
- Jules Joffrin (M° 12) + Montmartrobus (Place du Tertre stop)
- Pigalle (M° 12, M° 2) + Montmartrobus (Norvins stop)
- Anvers (M° 2) + Cable car (métro ticket) or steps
- Abbesses (M° 12) + Cable car (métro ticket) or steps
PS. To get this view of it from the center of the city go to Printemps, a department store on Haussmann. And head to my Paris spot, the rooftop terrace. You'll get an amazing 360 view of Paris from up there.
A bridge? Yes and a very cool one.
This ornate bridge sits in the 8e Arrondissement and connects the Invalides to the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais (all also worth a look). Such a prime time location will give you a great view of the Seine, the Eiffel Tower, and the Roue de Paris (Ferris Wheel). Snap a pic! Cause being on the Pont Alexandre III is definitely a Kodak moment.
Also fun fact, the four golden sculptures at each corner of the bridge represent Arts, Sciences, Commerce and Industry.
Location: Pont Alexandre III, 75008 Paris, France
This one's a winter special. Although, like I said above, the Grand Palace is worth a look during any season. There's always some exhibit or event happening in there.
Summer is always an insanely busy season in Paris but the party really starts in the winter. And quite literally. Christmas Markets on Champs-Élysées, extravagant New Year's dinners that reach into the $1000 range, and ice skating at the Grand Palace. Now compared to other festivities ice skating may seem a little tame. But, Paris knows how to party. There's an ice rink (obviously), a bar, a DJ, and when I went virtual reality rides. Imagine a club with awesome lights and fun music but on ice. Best ice skating rink ever.
Full Rate: 15 € / 20 € or 27 € (morning, afternoon , night)
Children (under 12): 12 €
Free: Children under 3
At 854 years old The Notre Dame Cathedral is definitely something to marvel at. The outside facade and colorful stain glass windows are truly works of art.
Entrance to the main cathedral is free but to get up top and to other special exhibits there's an extra charge. As with most other popular spots, the line in the summer gets pretty long. I had to wait about 30-45 min when I went to get inside.
If you decide to visit just keep in mind that it is still a religious institution. Be respectful to the cathedral itself and to the other visitors as well.
You can also attend mass at Notre Dame. The schedule is available for you online.
And how can I leave out the Eiffel Tower? No matter at what angle you look at it from it's always gorgeous. The cherry on top to the Parisian landscape. But, I I think one of the best spots to snap a photo is from the Trocadéro. From there you get an insane view of the Eiffel Tower framed by the entire city. It's definitely an Instagram favorite spot.
Also if you're thinking about skipping out on going to the top of the Eiffel Tower, don't. The 360 view of Paris from up there is unbeatable. To sprinkle a little more magic, try to time it so that you can watch the sunset from the top. Then head back down to catch it twinkle. At night it lights up on the hour every hour for about 5 min.
Lift entrance ticket (valid to 2nd floor)
Adult: 11 €
Ages 12-24: 8,50 €
Ages 4-11, Disabled: 4 €
Lift entrance ticket to top
Adult: 17 €
Ages 12-24: 14,50 €
Ages 4-11, Disabled: 8 €
Stairs entrance ticket (valid to 2nd floor)
Adult: 7 €
Ages 12-24: 5 €
Ages 4-11, Disabled: 3 €
Want to feel like a princess, prince, king, queen? You take your pick. The Palace of Versailles will royally drown you in excess. It's breathtaking to us now. Imagine what it felt like to see it back in the late 1600 and early 1700s.
The Palace of Versailles is a bit of a bonus on this list because it's in, well, Versailles and not Paris. Nevertheless, I highly recommend taking some time to head out to Versailles to see this overly decadent estate. You'll never see anything else like this in the entire world, I'm sure.
So it's not in Paris but it's close enough. To get there you can take the RER C to Versailles-Rive Gauche. Enjoy the view because it's about a 45 min to 1 hour ride. Once you get there you'll have to walk a little before reaching the Palace. Just follow the crowds. If that's confusing or if there's no crowds then here are some landmarks to look for. When you exit the train station turn left towards McDonald's and the Pullman Hotel. Then turn left at Avenue de Paris. Walk straight from there right to the front gate of the Palace of Versailles. Once you see A LOT of gold, you're there!
The palace has an endless amount of things to see or more accurately gawk at, including the famed Hall of Mirrors. And it's huge, 17 acres to be exact, so expect to spend at least half a day here walking around. Getting hungry? I like to grab a bite to eat and an ice cream cone while I wander through the gardens. It's the perfect place to get lost.
Location: Place d'Armes, 78000 Versailles, France
Full Rate: 20 €