Top Attractions in Paris
It’s nearly impossible to imagine the Paris skyline without the iconic Eiffel Tower. For less than $20, visitors can ride to the top of the tower for an incredible view of some of the surrounding area and the city’s most famous sites, including the Champs-Élysées, a popular pedestrian avenue known for its many shops and cafés. With about 6 million visitors annually, the Eiffel Tower is one of the city’s main attractions.
At 12 million visitors each year, Notre-Dame Cathedral is even more popular than the Eiffel Tower. Admission to the cathedral is free, and it’s open from 7:45 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. each day. Located on the Île de la Cité, the cathedral is one of the best-known churches in the world and is an extraordinary example of French Gothic architecture.
Other popular points of interest in Paris include the Arc de Triomphe, Sacré-Coeur Basilica, Tuileries Garden, Musée d’Orsay, and Place de la Concorde. Be sure to make a stop at the Louvremuseum, where you can catch a glimpse of the marble masterpiece the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the enigmatic painting “Mona Lisa.” The museum is open every day, except Tuesday, and costs about $18 to get in.
Get off the beaten path with a visit to the city’s largest cemetery and the final resting place to many famous faces, including Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, and Oscar Wilde. Père Lachaise Cemetery is free to enter and is the perfect place for a picnic lunch. If there’s time for an excursion outside of Paris, the Palace of Versailles and Disneyland Paris are popular choices for a day trip.
Paris is a hot spot for foodies from across the globe. The city is synonymous with fine food, whether it’s from one of the many affordable curbside bistros or a costly Michelin-starred gourmet restaurant. Be sure to stop by a boulangerie, or bakery, to pick up a baguette or croissant. Then, swing by a pâtisserie, or pastry shop, to sample some sweet treats, such as macarons, or pain au chocolat, a chocolate-filled sweet roll.
Mussels, foie gras, escargot, quiche, and crepes are just a few of the other foods tourists should try while in Paris. Good food can cost anywhere from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars per meal. Wine lovers won’t want to miss the opportunity to pair each meal with a fine wine from the region.
Nightlife and Entertainment
The nights in Paris are just as exciting as the days. While there are many fun bars and nightclubs where tourists can paint the town red, why not head to the city’s red light district to watch a cabaret show at the world-famous Moulin Rouge. Alternatively, Lido de Paris on the Champs-Élysées also puts on an exciting burlesque show. Tickets to either show start at about $75 per person on the low end, not including dinner.
For something a little less risqué, tourists can check out the Opéra National de Paris, the primary opera company in the country. Most operas are performed at the company’s Opéra Bastille, a 2,700-seat theater. Smaller and more modern shows take place at the 500-seat theater under the Opéra Bastille. Some operas and ballets are performed at the company’s older Palais Garnier theater.
Paris is a great city to see on foot. With so many sites centrally located, it’s easy to walk from one to the next. For visitors who’d prefer to save their energy, there are 300 Metro stations around the city, as well as an excellent public bus system and about 15,000 taxis. Other options for seeing the most popular sites in the City of Light include renting a bicycle, taking a hop-on-hop off bus tour, or taking a boat cruise on the Seine River. For many tourists, driving around Paris is a bit of a nightmare. However, if visitors are looking to get outside of the city, it’s easy to find affordable car rentals or to take the well-connected RER train system.
From June through August, tourists will find perfect weather for strolling the streets of Paris. Temperatures typically hit the mid to high 70s, and the sun shines well into the evening. For tourists who enjoy more a moderate climate, early autumn temperatures range from the 40s to the 60s. Winter tends to be a bit cooler, with the temperature dipping as low as the 30s. For anyone who doesn’t want to pack a raincoat, be sure to avoid visiting Paris in December, one of the wettest, and coldest, months of the year.
When to Go
While most travelers choose to visit Paris during the summer months, there is no bad time to go. Being the peak season, hotel and airfare prices tend to soar in the summer, and there are large crowds at most attractions. With milder temperatures and fewer tourists hanging around, September and October are great times to visit the city. Even though the weather is a bit colder in the winter, tourists can often find great rates on accommodations.
Flying to Paris
There are two main airports that service the City of Light, making it easy to find affordable flights from destinations around the world. Charles de Gaulle Airport is the larger of the two airports in the area and one of the busiest in Europe. Located 14 miles northeast of Paris, many roads and rail lines connect this airport to the city. Most international visitors will travel through Charles de Gaulle. The other local airport, Paris-Orly, is located 9 miles south of Paris and handles mainly domestic and charter flights.