study abroad · travel

City Guide: Paris

I’m jumping back into my City Guides series with another favorite city; Paris. I don’t care how cliche it may seem, I love Paris and I will never go enough times. I’ve been twice and I still have a long list of things to do in Paris. 

But, if the City of Lights is on your itinerary, I do have a list of things for you to see and do! Paris is a huge undertaking, as it is chock full of sights, sounds, museums, cafes, tourist traps, and hidden gems. So whether you have a weekend or two weeks, what’s worth your time?

Museums

  • Louvre. Don’t be afraid of the line. There are ways around it. Once you make it inside, have a gameplan. Pick a few favorite works or galleries that you wish to see. You can spend days in the Louvre, but you probably don’t have that much time in Paris! And yes, go see the Mona Lisa, but make sure to check out the beautiful, massive painting on the opposite wall!

Things to do in Paris | Hepburn and Handbags

  • Musée Rodin. I had to add this museum to my list for my second trip to Paris. It is small and easily done in an hour or two. When I visited, the museum was under construction so the indoor part was closed (it is open now!) but all the famous works are outside, such as The Gates of Hell and The Thinker. 

Things to do in Paris | Hepburn and Handbags

Things to do in Paris | Hepburn and Handbags

Things to do in Paris | Hepburn and Handbags

  • Musée d’Orsay. This is one of my favorite museums in the world (I’ve seen a lot of museums). Impressionism is my favoriet style of painting, so naturally I love a museum full of Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet, Manet, and more. You can purchase tickets in advance to avoid the general entrance line!
  • Les Invalides. Les Invalides is a complex of buildings that includes the France’s military museum (Musée de l’Armée) and the tomb of Napoleon. Les Invalides has also been historically used as a military hospital, hence the name. 

Outdoors

  • Jardin des Tuileries. I didn’t get to visit the gardens until my second time around, and oh my goodness. They sit directly across from the Louvre, so when you’ve exhausted yourself from knocking elbows with other tourists, step out into the fresh air for a walk in the gardens. 

Things to do in Paris | Hepburn and Handbags

  • Jardin du Luxembourg. Attached to the Luxembourg Palace and built by a Medici, the garden is now owned by France’s senate, which meets inside the palace. It is also near Notre Dame and the Sorbonne. 
  • Picnic in the park. If you get the time, grab some good French cheese, fresh bread, wine, and your best friends, and find a place to plop down for a few hours. We spent a good part of our last afternoon in Paris sitting in the Jardin des Tuileries, snacking and people watching!
  • Versailles. If you have more than a weekend to spend in Paris, make Versailles one of your stops! It is a quick day trip (or half day if you get up and go early!), and the gardens and palace are stunning. 

Sights

Things to do in Paris | Hepburn and Handbags

  • Eiffel Tower. Everyone is a tourist, even when they don’t want to be. You can’t go to Paris without getting at least one picture. But, you should definitely skip the line and instead climb the…
  • Arc de Triomphe. It is a much shorter climb, you won’t wait in line for hours on end, and the views are much better. Instead of getting a cloudy view of Paris from up high, you can actually see the city all around you; not to mention the Eiffel Tower actually will appear in your photos from the top of the Arc.
  • Notre Dame. After you’ve wandered through the Jardin du Luxembourg, walk towards the river to the stunning cathedral. 
  • Sacre Coeur. Sacre Coeur, and its home neighborhood of Montmartre, are worth the trek up a few hills. While the actual church is beautiful, and provides incredible views of the city, Montmarte is a gem itself. A haven for artists and bohemians, the quirky neighborhood is full of history. Take a walking tour and see the Moulin Rouge, Van Gogh’s former home, and many other spots. 

Ther is a lifetime’s worth of things to do in Paris, and I still have things to tick off my list! Make sure you slow down while visiting, and this applies to any city. Don’t get too caught up in running from sight to sight; take time to sit, have a café au lait and watch the locals go by. Always be looking around, you may find a few hidden gems along the way. 
Things to do in Paris | Hepburn and Handbags

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