Ah, how we love Paris! This breathtakingly beautiful city is perfect for a weekend escape, whether you’re visiting for the art, the shopping, the food or simply want to soak up that Parisian ‘je ne sais quoi’. Don’t miss a single highlight, thanks to our list of the top 10 things you must do on your Paris city break!
1. Climb the Eiffel Tower
A visit to the most iconic sight in all Paris is a must – whether you want to climb the tower for spectacular views, or simply watch the (free) light show that sparkles on the hour from sunset to 1am.
2. Visit the Mona Lisa in the Louvre
The Louvre is the largest museum in the world, and you’ll never see it all in one visit. Pick out some highlights before you go, and aim for them. Of course you’ll want to see Leonardo de Vinci’s Mona Lisa, perhaps the world’s most celebrated portrait. Then take a refreshing stroll through the gorgeous Tuileries Gardens, laid out in the 16th century, to admire the flowers and fountains.
3. Watch the sun set from Montmartre
For the most romantic views of the most romantic city on earth, head up to Montmartre at sunset. You can stroll up through the cobbled streets or take the little funicular to reach the Sacré Cœur Basilica, which crowns the highest point in Paris. The whole city is spread out at your feet in an unforgettable panorama. You could follow it with a night at one of the famous cabaret theatres nearby, such as the Moulin Rouge.
4. Admire the Gothic cathedral of Notre Dame
Notre Dame is one of the largest and most impressive Gothic cathedrals in all France. Take one of the fascinating free guided visits to discover its fascinating history and the treasures it contains. There is an admission fee to climb the towers, but you will be rewarded by stunning views. Notre Dame is set on the Île de la Cité, an island in the middle of the Seine, which is the oldest part of Paris. Take a stroll through its enchanting squares and gardens, and don’t miss the handsome Pont Neuf, built in 1568, or the charming pedestrian-only Pont des Arts.
5. An afternoon at the museum: the Musée d’Orsay
Paris bristles with amazing museums, dedicated to everything from vampires to fairground attractions. But the Musée d’Orsay, set in a beautifully converted 19th-century railway station, is a must-see for its glorious collection of Impressionist artworks. After the museum, take a stroll along the banks of the Seine to browse through the charming bouquiniste stalls, a quintessential Parisian fixture.
6. A stroll down the Champs Élysées
No visit to Paris is complete without a stroll down the famous Champs Élysées. This elegant avenue, which links the Arc de Triomf with the Place de la Concorde, is home to some of the city’s most exclusive designer boutiques, such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel, as well as historic restaurants and tea salons like Fouquet and Ladurée.
7. Visit the inside-out Pompidou Centre
One of the most recognisable contemporary buildings in Paris, the Centre Pompidou is famous for the curious escalators in tubes that sit on the outside of the building. The museum boasts a superb collection of modern art, with works by everyone from Picasso to Anish Kapoor. Even if you don’t have time to see the artworks, you can get a ticket just for the fabulous rooftop viewing deck.
8. Escape the crowds in the Bois de Vincennes
The Bois de Vincennes, former royal hunting grounds, are now one of the largest and most beautiful public parks in Paris – perfect for getting away from the hubbub of the city centre. There’s a spectacular royal château, the Château de Vincennes, complete with a moat, plus a boating lake, an enormous zoo, and a gorgeous botanical garden.
9. Shop till you drop
Who doesn’t envy the effortless chic of the Parisians? You can get yourself kitted out with French panache at the grands magasins – the lavish, turn-of-the-20th-century department stores that are about much more than simply shopping. Or you could hit some of the city’s most enticing neighbourhoods to find some unique shops – perhaps the chic one-off boutiques of the Marais or the fabulous fromageries and delis in the elegant 7th arrondissement, or the funky street style stores near the Canal St Martin.
10. Get out of town
There are some fabulous places to visit within easy reach of Paris. You could head to Versailles to see the dazzling palace and gardens where Louis XIV once held court. Or you could make for Disneyland Paris, to hang out with Mickey Mouse and his pals at the most popular theme park in Europe.