paris ferris wheel across the seine best things to do in paris

16 Best Non-Touristy Things To Do in Paris

Paris, a city I’ve adored for a long time and returned to over and over, beckons with its undeniable charm. I’ve curated a list of the best things to do that will help you feel like you’re getting a local’s view of Paris that’s off the beaten path and tailored to your own interests. From aimless strolls in charming neighborhoods to culinary adventures and fresh twists on iconic landmarks, my guide will help you plan a unique Parisian experience!

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Paris is the type of city that inspires strong feelings from most people. People seem to love it or hate it, think it’s worth endless exploration or think it’s overrated. I’m definitely in the former group.

I know this is such a cliche, but Paris is honestly one of my favorite cities in the world. Every time I visit—which is definitely as often as possible—I leave even more convinced that it’s one of the best places on earth.

After this latest trip to Paris I knew I was so excited to come home and tell you all my favorite cool things to do in Paris. After visiting so many times, both with people who have never been, and with people who are regulars, I feel super confident bringing you this list of all the best things to do in Paris.

Delve into France

The Best Things To Do in Paris

Before you get into the list, I wanted to explain how I’ve organized it. 

I strongly believe that the best way to have a nice time while traveling is to empower yourself to make your trip uniquely yours, rather than just adding everything to your itinerary because some blogs and Trip Advisor told you to. 

Because of that, I like to create my “things to do” posts a little differently than some blogs might.

a floral corner bistro in the marais - things to do in paris

Mostly, you’ll notice that I often give multiple options for each list item in the hopes that you can better understand what to do in Paris that speaks to you specifically.

I most commonly link to Google Maps because I swear by Google Maps for trip planning (check out the rest of my holy grail travel resources), but you’ll also find some links directly to websites when I think that’s the most useful way to do it.

I’ll also link to my more targeted blog posts where relevant. 

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!

1. Be a flâneur in the best neighborhoods

les artes corner cafe in latin quarter paris - things to do in paris

Flâneur is a French word that literally translates to “stroller”. As in, a person who strolls. 

Frequent readers of this blog will probably already be familiar with the concept, because it’s definitely one of my favorite things to do when traveling—I just don’t normally use the French word for it. But seeing as it’s a French concept, and in my opinion, one of the best ways to experience Paris, I wanted to be more specific!

Basically, the idea is to set off walking without a set agenda, without set hours, with no plan or destination in sight. Let your curiosity and senses set the path, speed, and agenda. 

Be fully in the moment, and really experience all that Paris has to offer. Sit down for a quick coffee at whatever sidewalk café grabs your attention. Pop into a cute boutique, or just window shop. Take a sharp left down a charming street. The great thing about this is you’ll probably end up discovering your own things to do in Paris off the beaten path!

Some of my favorite neighborhoods to be a flâneur are Montmartre, Bastille, St. Germain, the Latin Quarter, the Marais, and Canal St. Martin (check out my neighborhood guides for these spots by the way – they’re all hyperlinked!).

PS – if you want all the details about the best neighborhoods in Paris, check out my Ultimate Paris neighborhood guide.

P.S. When you book using my links, you help support Rachel IRL at no extra cost to you. It’s a win-win!

2. Get your bearings with a walking tour

take a walking tour in paris - fun things to do in paris latin quarter

A walking tour is such a basic—but often overlooked—option for cool things to do in Paris. 

Although I’m obviously a fan of wandering aimlessly, a tour can be a great first activity on your trip. It’ll help you get your bearings, set the tone for the rest of your days in Paris, and maybe even give you a push to flâneur with confidence later.

My absolute top pick for those wanting a quick intro to specific Paris neighborhoods is this tour which actually has five different options covering five different neighborhoods. Each one is cheap and relatively short (1.5-2 hours), making it the perfect “taster” guide to Paris if you don’t want to spend your whole day doing something so structured.

Personally, I usually prefer to do walking tours that either have a food slant to them or a specific history component, depending on my interests or the location.

Here are a few must do in Paris food tours that I would choose in a heartbeat:

And here are my top picks for must see Paris neighborhood tours with a more specific focus:

3. Relax in the beautiful gardens

Things to do in paris: explore the gardens: Tuileries Garden
Jardin des Tuileries

When traveling it’s only natural to become tired of walking around all day to see as much of the city as you can! When this exhaustion strikes, my two favorite things to do in Paris are: sit at a cafe, or sit at a park/garden. The nice thing about the latter is that the parks and gardens are also some of the best things to see in Paris, so it’s a bit of a win-win!

Here are my favorite gardens you must see in Paris:

La Coulée Verte: Very similar to the High Line in New York City (and in fact, this was the inspiration for it), La Coulée Verte is a former railway line in the 12th arrondissement, just next to Bastille. The walkway goes for nearly 3 miles from Bastille to the Bois de Vincennes and is made up of elevated gardens, cycling paths, and stunning views of the streets without the hustle and bustle of cars and many pedestrians.

Jardin du Luxembourg: Definitely the most famous, and probably the most crowded, but also my favorite option on the list. Located in the 6th arrondissement, just between Saint-Germain and the Latin Quarter, the Jardin du Luxembourg manages to still feel authentic and local despite being such a big tourist draw.

There are so many things to do and see in the garden such as renting toy boats in the lake, visiting the Statue of Liberty or Medici Fountain, or visiting the Musée du Luxembourg. If you want to learn more about the garden’s history, significant spots, and sculptures, I also highly recommend this self-guided audio tour.

But my personal favorite thing is to bring a book, find one of the reclined lounge chairs (bonus if you can find a second chair for your feet), lie back, and read while enjoying the stunning view the garden offers. This is also one of my favorite things to do in Paris as a couple.

Things to do in paris: explore the gardens: Luxembourg Gardens
Le Jardin du Luxembourg

Place des Vosges: The oldest planned square in Paris, the Place des Vosges is a small square conveniently located in the trendy Marais district, and is right next to Victor Hugo’s former home (which is now a museum). The garden is beautifully manicured and the setting strikes the perfect balance between lively—with cafes and shops surrounding the square and the blocks nearby—and serene, as it’s tucked off the main areas. This is the ideal place to stop and rest if you’re in the Marais.

Jardin des Tuileries: The most central option here, the Jardin des Tuileries is located in the 1st arrondissement, between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde. You can stroll the beautifully manicured gardens and sit by the ponds while taking in the beautiful setting around you, which is quite a feat for such a central location. Additionally, the Musée de l’Orangerie, which holds the stunning Water Lilies masterpieces by Monet, is located in the gardens. 

4. Picnic the afternoon away

Place des Vosges garden for a picnic in the marais fun things to do in Paris

In a similar vein to visiting the parks and gardens, you can take it a step further and have a full on picnic in one of them! Paris is obviously well known for its food scene, but sometimes I find that I spend so much time eating at all the amazing restaurants and bistros that I don’t make enough space in my stomach for pastries and snacks from boulangeries, or the fancy pastries from talented pastry chefs.

Grabbing a bottle of wine and a few favorites—or even a quick baguette and cheese if you’re in a pinch—and bringing your feast to a park to enjoy is a great experience and one of the best things to do in Paris that are not touristy. It’s also one that feels quite local, and you’ll see many Parisians doing this throughout the year!

If this is an experience that sounds enticing but you don’t feel like having to put together a picnic yourself (or you just don’t have the time), here are a few options for picnics that can be arranged for you!

5. Discover impeccable examples of Art Nouveau

art nouveau metro station in paris best things to do in paris

Art Nouveau (not to be confused with Art Deco) is an artistic and architectural style that emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It aimed to reject the mass-produced aesthetic of the Industrial Revolution. 

The style incorporates a lot of flowing lines, intricate patterns, and earthy colors. Stained glass windows and sculptural elements are common features, and the result is always a stunning, awe-inspiring building.

If you want to see some of the splendor of Art Nouveau yourself, you’re in luck! The easiest way to appreciate the impact this style has had on Paris is in the iconic metro station entrances, which you can see all over the city.

The real Art Nouveau enthusiasts can go even further by visiting the home of Jules Lavirotte at 29 Avenue Rapp things to do in paris

A more grand way to see this architecture is to visit either of two elegant department stores: Galeries Lafayette Haussmann or La Samaritaine. Even if you aren’t in the market to purchase anything, these stores are still a beautiful sight to see, and definitely worth going out of your way to look at the inside!

The real Art Nouveau enthusiasts can go even further with this private Art Nouveau-specific guided walking tour with an expert guide.

Or, if you don’t have time for a whole tour, you can visit the home of Jules Lavirotte at 29 Avenue Rapp, where the facade is still in his intricate design. You can also dine at Maxim’s, a French restaurant with some stunning Art Nouveau wood detailing inside.

6. Shop ‘til you drop

shopping in the central area in paris - things to do in paris

Paris certainly has a reputation for being a city you can do some serious retail damage in, and for good reason! It’s home to tons of major fashion houses, designers, concept stores and vintage shops. 

Personally, I love to include shopping as one of the cool things to do in Paris, or any city I’m visiting really. Sometimes you find something so specific and unique to where you are, or you find the perfect vintage piece, and it becomes a one-of-a-kind souvenir.

If you want to shop a bit while in Paris, here are my favorite must see Paris shops to browse:

Le Bon Marche & Grande Epicerie: You’ll find this epic department store (and neighboring gourmet food shop) in the 6th. The department store is worth it just to browse, and the food shop is great if you want a bougie picnic or souvenir.

Merci: Located in the 3rd, this place is almost like an installation blended with a shop. It showcases current trends in real-life settings, as well as offering vintage furniture, more modern items and fashion pieces. As a bonus, there’s a book cafe.

Officine Universelle Buly 1803: This very cool and vintage looking parfumerie is in the 4th (they actually have three locations though, so don’t feel tied to this one). Jean-Vincent Buly’s apothecary combines modern techniques with French perfume heritage, seen in the old-world interiors, glass cabinets, herbal tinctures, and stunningly scented products.

vintage and thrift shop in the marais in paris - things to do in paris

Moving onto some vintage and thrift options: 

Thanx God I’m a V.I.P.: A vintage market located just on the edge of the 3rd that has a reputation for having hidden gems and incredible designer pieces. 

Vintage Désir: Just nearby, technically in the 4th, this cramped shop with a gorgeous old wooden facade always yields a treasure or two. 

Chinemachine: Another favorite of mine with a couple of different locations (one of which is in the heart of Montmartre), this shop luckily manages not to be too overrun with tourists, or at least not the annoying kind! 

BIS Boutique Solidaire: This shop also has a couple of locations, but the one in the 3rd is another fave—spacious, on-trend, and good (elevated) brands!

You may have noticed that I’ve failed to mention the Champs-Élysées. That’s because, honestly, I don’t think it’s worth your time in most cases as there are much better things to do in Paris!

Unless you have some serious money to spend (no judgement if you do!) or you really love to look at super pricey designer shops, it’s just not that interesting. My advice is to skip the Champs-Élysées and fill your time in the much quainter boutiques mentioned!

And last but certainly not least, one of my favorite things to do in Paris on the weekend is visit the excellent flea markets near Porte de Clignancourt in the 18th, on the northern edge of Paris. This tour of Montmartre also feature a visit to these flea markets, if you’d like to venture to this not-very-often-visited area with a local as your guide!

The Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen as well as the Marché Malassis are two excellent ones, but there are several others and they’re all clustered together. Even if you aren’t in the market for anything, it’s perfect browsing territory and is a must do in Paris if you want a day out like a local. Be aware, these markets are only open Friday to Monday (some Saturday to Monday).

7. Explore the many museums the city has to offer

musee d'orsay sculpture section best things to do in paris

Paris is a city of so many museums that you couldn’t possibly expect to see them all in one visit. Honestly even seeing them all in two or three visits feels ambitious unless all you’re doing is going to museums.

Because there are so many, I’ve written a larger post about which museums I think are worth visiting to help you pick which one is best for you (check out my ultimate guide to Paris Museums). But here’s a smaller selection of my top picks for must see Paris museums:

Musee D’Orsay: Huge (but manageable) museum located in a former train station. The setting is already stunning, but the collection is somehow even more impressive. Don’t miss the incredible selection of Impressionist masters, Art Nouveau pieces, and the vast sculpture collection. Big enough to spend several hours, but probably won’t eat up your whole day.

Musée du Louvre: Founded in 1793, this is the world’s largest and most visited museum. You’re likely already familiar with its iconic pyramid roof, and the fact that it houses the Mona Lisa. It’s a shockingly vast, multi-level maze housing over 35,000 works of art. Do not expect (or try) to see everything, you’ll just get overwhelmed and stressed!

centre pompidou is a modern art museum in central paris is a great thing to do in paris

Centre Pompidou: Sticking out like a big modern sore thumb in the otherwise historic 4th arrondissement, this distinctively modern building houses Europe’s largest modern art collection, rivaled only by MoMA in New York.

Musée de l’Orangerie: This slightly lesser known museum has eight grand paintings from the iconic Monet that take center stage in otherwise plain oval rooms, creating an all-encompassing experience. Downstairs, you’ll also find work by Cézanne, Renoir, Matisse, Picasso, and other notable Impressionists.

Check out my full Paris museums post to read about the rest of the museums in Paris I think are worth your time!

8. Visit the Opera

palais garnier opera house is a top thing to do in paris

The Palais Garnier opera house is a one of the top things to do in Paris whether you’re normally a fan of opera or not!

The building itself is a beautiful example of mid-19th century architecture that just radiates opulence.

If you’re not interested in catching a show (though I recommend it as a unique experience!) you can join a public tour of the building instead. 

9. Eat, eat, eat

chez janou french bistro in the marais - eating is the best thing to do in paris

There are some places you may travel to in your life where you’re going to skimp and save on the food budget because it’s just not the top priority to you.

I can tell you right now that Paris should not be one of those places. 

Paris has so many incredible restaurants it’s almost overwhelming (actually, it is overwhelming) to figure out how you’re going to manage to eat at all of them! Another great thing about eating amazing food is that it’s one of the best things to do in Paris that are not touristy—everyone needs to eat!

If you want to get my full guide to Parisian foods and where to eat them, check out all my individual Paris neighborhood guides (you can browse them all in the Paris archives) but if you just want a quick glance at my top picks, here they are:

Au Passage: modern French and natural wines (dinner)

Bouillon Pigalle: traditional French at affordable prices (lunch or dinner)

Big Mamma Group: multiple Italian restaurants scattered across the city (lunch or dinner)

Breizh Café: multiple locations, and amazing crepes—especially the butter and sugar, which would normally bore me (lunch or dinner, but I recommend going for lunch)

Bouillon Pigalle french bistro where to eat in paris things to do in paris cafe montmartre

Le Saint-Regis: traditional French, (open all day; I prefer for lunch or dinner)

Chez Janou: traditional French in a kitschy-cute setting (best for dinner but may be easier to be seated at lunch)

Ble Sucre: bakery known for their pain au chocolat and amazing madeleines (all day)

Chez Alain Miam Miam: used to be a popular lunch stall in the Marché des Enfants Rouges, but now has a stand alone shop just around the corner (breakfast or lunch, I prefer lunch)

La Belle Hortense: wine bar, book shop, and restaurant (open only in the evenings)

Little Red Door: cocktail bar (evenings)

10. See the main sights (if you’re feeling it!)

eiffel tower view - seeing all the main sights in paris best things to do in paris

Now, obviously I really like to preach the importance of only doing things you want to do when you’re traveling, but at the same time, let’s be real: sometimes we want to see the main attractions! 

And if you want that, you should make it happen. 

Here are the more on-the-beaten-track things to do in Paris that I think are most worth it:

The Eiffel Tower: Pretty self explanatory, and worthwhile both at night or during the day depending on your preference. If it is a lifelong dream of yours to go the top, you can book tickets here (and I will wholeheartedly support you). However, I usually prefer to enjoy it from the Champ de Mars gardens extending towards the southeast, sometimes even with a picnic! This will be much cheaper, and you won’t be packed in with other tourists.

Arc de Triomphe: Now this is one I think is worth going to the top of, because you can actually see some great views of the city and the cool way that all roads lead to the Arc—literally. Also, from the ground it’s just at the center of a very busy roundabout, so it’s a bit overwhelming and frankly, a bit of an ugly area.

Churches: In my opinion, there are three churches worth mentioning as things to do in Paris: Sacré-Coeur, Notre Dame, and Sainte Chapelle. Personally, I think Sainte Chapelle is the only one worth going inside, due to the stunning stained glass. The other two are nice, and probably worth it if you’re particularly interested in churches, but to me, a non-enthusiast, they just look like most other churches in Europe. The outsides are all stunning though, and Sacré-Coeur also comes with a view of the city.

Les Catacombes: Although the Paris Catacombs are relatively well known, I think they’re also one of the best things to do in Paris off the beaten path. Especially because they’re located in the heart of Montparnasse—a lovely neighborhood in the 14th that most tourists won’t have any other reason to visit. It’s required to visit the catacombs on a guided 1.5 kilometer (1 mile) tour—understandably, as you’ll be deep underground with the bones of 6 million 18th century Parisians. This is especially a must do in Paris for anyone who loves spooky activities while traveling!

11. Take a baking or cooking class


Learning to make food that’s part of the local culture or history of wherever you’re visiting is one of my favorite things to do in Paris, or when traveling generally. 

Not only do you always get something tasty out of it at the end, you also get to learn a new skill, and most often you also get to interact with a local who’s knowledgeable about the place you’re visiting.

Taking one of these classes is a must do in Paris because there are so many delicious foods to try. Maybe take a bread baking class, or a market tour and cooking class. Or if you want to really challenge yourself, you can try macarons, French pasty, or a choux pastry/chocolate éclair class!

These kinds of classes are great with a group or to do solo. I’ve linked my favorite options below!

12. Enjoy the peace of Père Lachaise Cemetery

Cimetière du Père-Lachaise things to do in paris

I’m not typically one for cemeteries, but Daniel wanted to visit this one on our most recent visit and we happened to be nearby, so I went. 

I’ll be honest, I was pleasantly surprised! 

Père Lachaise is the largest cemetery in Paris, and is home to a ton of famous graves, including Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Molière, and (our purpose for visiting) Gertrude Stein. 

Despite being such a tourist attraction due to the many famous gravesites here, it still felt peaceful and interesting to walk around. We encountered several walking tours during our visit, which to be honest I wish we had opted for since finding the specific graves can be quite overwhelming!

I think visiting Père Lachaise is a super interesting thing to do in Paris if you’re in the general area and you have an interest in some of the gravesites here. There are also some nice seating areas to take in the views of Paris.

13. Browse les bouquinistes de la Seine

les bouquinistes de la Seine on the left bank is one of the best things to do in paris

Strolling along the bank of the Seine is a favorite pastime of mine, and totally one of the more romantic things to do in Paris already, but les bouquinistes make it even more appealing. 

Along the banks of the Seine throughout the center part of Paris you’ll come across bouquinistes: vendors selling used books, vintage maps, posters, and souvenirs. Sometimes you’ll only find touristic things, but patience can sometimes yield treasures like vintage posters or first-edition books. 

This tradition of riverside vendors dates back to the 16th century, so you’ll really be taking part in an age-old Parisian pastime.

14. Delve in Paris’ literary past

shakespeare and company left bank bookstore paris literary past things to do in paris

Paris is one of the most literary cities in the world, and if that’s something that sparks excitement for you, then you’re going to want to pay attention to this part of the post.

First, here’s a selection of my favorite must see Paris bookstores:

Shakespeare and Co.: Obviously one of the most famous bookstores in the city, and definitely a must do in Paris. This is a very charming English bookstore right along the Seine that was opened during the Lost Generation’s heyday in the 1920s. I’ve visited every time I’m in Paris and walked right in, but the last time I was here there was a massive line, so be wary of your timing!

San Francisco Book Co.: A no-fuss used bookshop (with a huge selection in English) just north of the Jardin du Luxembourg where you can always find a gem if you’re willing to hunt!

Librairie Galignani: The oldest English bookshop in Europe, and it has an incredible selection of both classics and contemporary titles. It’s quite centrally located as well.

san francisco books co bookstore paris literary past things to do in paris

I also always recommend buying and reading books that take place in whatever place you’re visiting, and Paris is no exception! 

I highly recommend A Moveable Feast and The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. Both of these are literary nonfiction, and describe the experience of living in Paris—mainly the areas around the Jardin du Luxembourg—in the early 1900s. 

I like both of these titles especially because they offer a lot of addresses, so you can take yourself on your own literary tour. If you want to fast track this, I recommend visiting Gertrude Stein’s address at 27 rue de Fleurus and Hemingway’s two first Paris addresses at 74 Rue du Cardinal Lemoine, and 113 Rue Notre Dame des Champs.

You should also visit Cafe de Flore, and Les Deux Magots, which were popular hangouts for the Lost Generation.

If you’re more interested in even older Paris literary history, I recommend reading (or watching, since it is quite a hefty book), Les Miserables.

The barricades and fighting described in the story mainly took place in the Les Halles area, and Cosette and Marius first encountered one another in the Jardin du Luxembourg. You can also visit Victor Hugo’s former home, which is now a museum.

15. Admire all the views

best things to do in paris is to see a view from the arc du triomphe roundabout

Paris is an obviously stunning city, and it can be easily appreciated from the ground, but every so often you want to get a birds eye view! Luckily, there are plenty of places you can do that from, and I’m going to tell you about the best options for things to do in Paris with a view!

The Arc de Triomphe is one of my favorite views to get in Paris because you get to see all the roads split off from it, and it’s well located to the Eiffel Tower, so you get a particularly nice view of that. It’s one of the few “tourist traps” I’ve found to be worth my time and money. The Pantheon offers a similarly good view, though without the roundabout effect on the roads.

Institut du Monde Arabe always has fascinating exhibitions that showcase the Arab world, so it’s also interesting to check those out if you have time in Paris. But the reason I’m including it here, specifically, is because they also have a stunning rooftop with incredible views of the city. It used to be free to visit, but I believe now you have to visit the cafe in order to access it.

Similarly, Centre Pompidou has a great rooftop that serves as a nice end cap to a day at the museum. 

And finally, Montmartre, specifically the steps in front of Sacre Coeur also offers a great, and free, view of Paris—although it’s one that will likely be very crowded at almost any time. 

16. Catch a classic at an arthouse cinema

cinema le champo arthouse cinema paris french films best things to do in paris

If you’re a fan of classic French films, or just a film buff in general, one of the best things to do in Paris is to see a classic playing at one of the many historic arthouse cinemas around the city.

Here are some of the best:

Le Champo: Located in the 5th, home to many literary heroes of the past, this cinema is a favorite for students at the nearby Sorbonne. 

Cinéma du Panthéon: Also in the 5th is Paris’s oldest surviving and functioning movie theater, which dates back to 1907.

Le Balzac: A great choice if only for the Art Deco facade and lobby, which are truly a sight to see, you’ll find this one in the 8th.

Cinéma Studio 28: This one is a Montmartre institution, opened in 1928 as Paris’s first avant-garde cinema—and it’s still quite popular today!

montmartre views of paris things to do in paris

Frequently Asked Questions About What to See in Paris:

What shouldn’t you miss in Paris?

My personal list of things you shouldn’t miss in Paris includes (but is certainly not limited to): Shakespeare & Co. Bookstore, a small picnic at the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, Jardin du Luxembourg (bring a book), at least one museum, and Canal St. Martin.

The thing is: there’s just so much you must do in Paris that it’s pretty much impossible to answer this concisely. If you’ve been around the blog before, you may know that I’m going to say that the main element to consider here is your personal preferences. 

Some people may just tell you that, unequivocally, you need to see the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame, but I genuinely don’t think you need to do this to have an amazing and fulfilling time in Paris.

That said, I equally believe that you may choose to see those things to do in Paris and have a similarly amazing time! Travel is personal!

The things I listed are the things that I must do in Paris, but maybe they won’t be yours! That’s why I made this guide to Paris so extensive.

marais courtyard in paris things to do in paris

Can you do Paris in 3 days?

Yes, you can definitely do Paris in 3 days, just don’t expect to see everything without wearing yourself out! Paris isn’t a particularly large city, but it’s not exactly small either.

And more importantly, there’s so many things to do in Paris that it feels like you could probably spend at least a week there without exhausting your options. 

In three days you can easily knock some of the must see Paris sights, hit some shops, explore a handful of neighborhoods and eat some seriously good food. Just make sure you don’t exhaust yourself. Travel stops being fun when you run yourself into the ground.

Is it worth it to spend a day in Paris?

Yes, it’s definitely worth it to spend a day in Paris, even if that’s all you have. Paris is, frankly, a magical city, and even if you don’t have time to do everything on your list you’ll have an amazing time, eat amazing food, and be wowed by the beauty of the city. 

My top tip for spending only a day in Paris would be to either 

A. be really clear on your itinerary, what you want to see, where you’ll eat, and how you’ll get from place to place,


B. have no plan at all, wander the whole day and see where the wind takes you, while being okay with the reality that you might not see a lot of the big things to see. 

Both options are great. Just be clear on what you want from your day, and go from there!

montmartre cute streets things to do in paris

What to skip in Paris?

There’s no one-size-fits-all for this question, but there are definitely some things to do in Paris that I think most people can reasonably skip and still feel satisfied. The first and foremost being that I think you can definitely skip climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower. 

I think the view is best from the bottom, or from various other viewpoints around the city (Arc de Triomphe, rooftop at the Institut du Monde Arabe, Place du Trocadero, etc.), and the money and time it will take you to get to the top will just be a bit of waste.

Another thing you could probably skip, unless you want to see a good amount of the collection, is the Louvre. Most people want to go just for the Mona Lisa, but will be disappointed when they end up in a crushing crowd of people with their phones out trying to get a picture of the (relatively small) masterpiece. 

And finally, unless you’re genuinely interested in luxury shopping, I would skip the Champs-Élysées. If you’re just going because you think you’re meant to see it, you’ll probably be bored and disappointed by just walking by overpriced shops and other tourists.

There are definitely more things worth skipping in Paris, but really just use your intuition. If something doesn’t speak to your curiosity or interests, it’s probably worth skipping!

montmartre artists in the square best things to do in paris

How safe is Paris to walk around?

Paris is incredibly safe to walk around. What people seem to forget is that Paris is a major city, so of course it will be less “safe” than, say, a small town in the Midwest of the U.S. But cities aren’t inherently dangerous, and as far as cities go, it’s really quite safe. 

I’ve been to Paris so many times over so many years, and every time I’ve been there I’ve felt incredibly safe (which is always notable to me, as I’m quite paranoid by nature!). I’ve never been pick-pocketed, mugged or scammed (knock on wood) while in Paris, and every time I’ve been there I’ve spent time walking around by myself and felt totally fine. 

Like any city, you should always be smart and discerning about your behavior and whereabouts, and be aware of your surroundings, but so long as you have common sense, and know how to act in a city (and know how to not stick out like a sore thumb when traveling **coming soon**), you should be fine.

Is Paris an expensive city to visit?

I think there’s a chance you already know the answer to this: Yes, Paris is a pretty expensive city.

Like many major cities, the cost of accommodation, food, museums, and shopping isn’t exactly cheap, but I think that at this point it’s what we’ve come to expect.

For reference, €40 is an average standard per person price at a like, not-too-nice but-also-not-cheap restaurant. Obviously this can vary by neighborhood, and you can always choose to eat cheaper. I personally don’t prefer to skimp on meals when I’m traveling, especially when it’s to such a foodie place like Paris.

paris ferris wheel across the seine best things to do in paris

Where do cool people hang out in Paris?

I mean arguably cool people hang out all over Paris, because Paris itself is so inherently cool. But I digress. 

The three coolest, or most “hipster” areas where people hang out in Paris are Canal St. Martin, Bastille, and Belleville.

Canal St. Martin and Bastille are two of my favorite areas in Paris. Both have such amazing restaurants and shops, and they’re so cute as well. Bastille isn’t exactly off the beaten track, but it’s also not at all overrun with tourists. Canal St. Martin is pretty much only locals, so if you’re looking for an authentic experience, these are good areas to wander around.

On the other hand, I hesitate to recommend Belleville. After visiting myself, it became clear to me that Bellville is currently undergoing some serious gentrification, and I don’t really want to encourage that to accelerate.

P.S. When you book using my links, you help support Rachel IRL at no extra cost to you. It’s a win-win!

Are you ready to discover Paris?

I know this one was a big one, so thank you for sticking through it to the end! I hope you feel totally equipped to plan the perfect trip to Paris now, and if you’re still trying to fine tune the details, I suggest you check out the rest of my Paris posts!

Feel free to leave a comment if you try any of these, have any questions, or think I’ve missed something! You can also always find me on Instagram (tag me in your travel content!), Youtube, or Pinterest.

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12 Excellent Paris Museums You Should Visit

Exploring Paris's vibrant museum scene can be overwhelming, with so many options spanning every topic you could imagine! Whether you're a modern art enthusiast, lover of sculpture, or history buff, there's a museum in Paris tailored to your taste. My list will help you find the perfect Parisian museum to suit your interests and make the most of your visit to the City of Light!

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