20 Must-Do’s In Paris That Are Totally Worth It

Just so you’re not overwhelmed with too much to do in Paris!

It’s your first time in Paris and all you’re thinking about are tourist hotspots, except there are a million of them in the city. Here’s an overwhelm-free rundown of must-sees to ensure a trip packed with ohlalas!

1. Watch the sunset from the Eiffel Tower.

Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 (mapwebsite) Metro: Bir-Hakeim (line 6)

Going during the day, you’re sure to be standing in line for hours along with every other tourist on the planet. So, your best bet is to Eiffel at 8pm. You’ll be standing in line for about 30 minutes then enjoy more than two hours of views at different levels (since it closes at 11pm). And you’ll want to save that much time for it, because there will be lots of climbing, snapping pictures and people around.

EIFFEL TOWER
PHOTO WENDY HUNG

2. Spend a day at Le Louvre, because it takes a day.

75001 Paris, France (map, website) Metro:Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre (line 1, 7)

One of the world’s largest museums in the world is also, considered by many, as the most important museum. Louvre Museum is situated in the center of Paris in the 1st arrondissement, and houses over 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century over an area of 60,600 square meters. During the late 12th century, it was originally established as a fortress. Today’s museum is embellished by the famous Glass Pyramid designed by renowned architect I. M. Pei. To name all the must-sees in Le Louvre is difficult as there are too many, but don’t miss: Antonio Canova’s Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss, The Venus de Milo, and Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

LOUVRE
PHOTO WENDY HUNG

3. Check out the best French Gothic architecture: Notre Dame Cathedral.

6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Place Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France (map, website) Metro: Cité (line 4)

Considered as the world’s best example of French Gothic architecture, Notre Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris) was a groundbreaking phenomenon during the mid-1300s, setting itself apart from the previous Romanesque era. Go inside the cathedral and gaze at the stained glass windows, especially the one above the organ. You can also climb up 387 steps to catch an up-close view of the gargoyles that act as rain diversion devices.

NOTRE DAME
PHOTO WENDY HUNG

4. Musée d’Orsay.

1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris, France (map, website) Metro: Solférino (line 12)

Besides its authenticity of residing in an old railway station on the left bank of Le Seine, Musée d’Orsay specializes in neo-impressionism art. Most art fanatics revisit to appreciate works from Monet, Degas, Gauguin, Van Gogh and Cézanne. Don’t miss the reproductions of  Opéra Garnier, and a maquette de Paris which is a miniature of Paris’ floor map so you can step foot on Montmartre and hop over to the Eiffel Tower in the next second. Also, “Apples and Oranges” painting by  Cézanne is a must-see.

SEE ALSO: 7 Museums in Paris Without Le Louvre…

MUSEE D'ORSAY
PHOTO WENDY HUNG

5. Drink a glass of wine at an outdoor café.

Paris is known for its galore of cafés, and to people-watch while drinking a glass of Bordeaux is a must-do. In between museum visits, rest your feet at any outdoor cafe. Note: steer away from ones in tourist areas as the menus tend to up-charge. Only make an exception if you’re at Cafe de Flore or Les Deux Margots in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Both were frequented by writers and artists including: Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Ernest Hemingway, Albert Camus, Pablo Picasso, James Joyce, Bertolt Brecht.

Le Cafe Marly
INSTAGRAM wendyhung915

6. Montmartre & Sacré-Cœur Basilica.

Exit metro: Blanche (map) Metro: Blanche (line 2)

This is going to be a heavy day of touristy vibes, but you’ve just gotta go with it and mix it up a little bit. The key is to walk around on your own. When you get off the metro stop: Blanche (line 2), walk up Rue Lepic where you’ll pass by Café des deux Moulins (where Amelie was filmed). You can either start your day at a cafe or end it with a glass of wine here.

Keep going on Rue Lepic, you’ll see Rue des Abbesses where a left turn leads to walking through windy streets (pass by Van Gogh’s house) but a right turn is a road full of shops, restaurants, fromageries, boulangeries. We highly recommend starting your day with a left turn, then hike up the hills. You’ll pass by charming houses, and through windy alleys in ten minutes, you’ll reach the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, or Sacré-Cœur Basilica. Sit on the steps for a few minutes, enjoy the view of the entire city.

SACRE COEUR
PHOTO: WENDY HUNG

7. Then see a show at Moulin Rouge.

82 Boulevard de Clichy, 75018 Paris, France (map, website) Metro: Blanche (line 2)

Moulin Rouge was built and established the same year as the Eiffel Tower in 1889. It has survived two World Wars and multiple economic crisis. Evolved with time, it has become more international with its clientele as well as its dancers. The 60 dancers on stage comprise of 14 nationalities, with Australians, English and the French as dominant groups. The show is comprised of a series of cancan dances in elaborate costumes. You might be surrounded by masses of tourists but the show is full-on entertainment.

SEE ALSO: Interview with Moulin Rouge: Sparkling Glamour with a Wink of Naughtiness

MOULIN ROUGE
©Moulin Rouge-SandieBertrand (12)

8. Snap photos at L’Arc de Triomphe.

Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris, France (map, website) Metro: Argentine (line 1)

The “Triumphal Arch” was built to honor soldiers who died in honor of France during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. It’s situated in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle and you can also see it at the end of Champs-Élysées. The world-famous landmark is 50 meters (164 ft) in height, 45 m (148 ft) wide and 22 m (72 ft) deep. Located beneath the Arc de Triomphe is Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with an eternal flame remembering the soldiers who died but were never identified.

L'arc de triomphe
PHOTO WENDY HUNG

9. Browse and shop in Le Marais.

(mapwebsite) Metro: Saint-Paul (line 1)

Le Marais might be known as the “gay district” in Paris, but if you want to shop the right way, then do it here. Exit the metro: Saint-Paul (line 1), then get lost in tiny alleys in the district. Doesn’t matter where you go, you’ll find one-of-a-kind boutiques of clothing, jewelry, designer brands, furniture. This is also a great hub of antique and vintage shops.

PHOTO JETSET TIMES

10. Then check out Musée Picasso, also in Le Marais.

Hotel Sale, 5 rue de Thorigny75003 ParisFrance (map, website) Metro: Chemin-Vert (line 8)

NOTE: Museum is currently closed for renovation but will open on October 24th, 2014. It’s easy to wanderlust and lose yourself in Le Marais, but a must-see destination is Musée Picasso which carries over 5,000 works of art by Picasso. You’ll see his personal works on paper, ceramics, sculptures in wood and metal and, of course, many of his celebrated paintings. During his life, Picasso was also an avid art collector who loved: Degas, Cézanne, de Chirico, Matisse and Rousseau. These works are also displayed throughout the museum along with many pieces that Picasso made later in his life (after his 70th birthday).