Top Things to Do in Paris

Paris: It’s one of the places that earns automatic placement on every traveler's bucket list. It’s a city rich with history, culture and food—and filled with good, creative people who are sure to surprise you if your vision is of bicycles, baguettes and berets. Among the storied streets are museums containing some of the world's most famous works of art, classic historical sites and grand churches to visit—and when your feet are tired from shopping or sight-seeing, a café with delicious food and wine is never far away.

You could explore the city for weeks and continue stumble upon something new to record in your travel journal, be it a restaurant, a hidden garden, or store with impeccable style. But you have to start somewhere, so follow this guide of “musts” for a traveler’s first visit to the City of Lights.

Musee Du Louvre

One of the world’s most important art collections, including the Mona Lisa. The Denon wing houses European painting and sculpture, large-format 19th-century French paintings, Greek and Roman antiquities, and Greek and Russian icons.

Musee D'Orsay

A dramatically renovated former train station devoted to 19th- and 20th-century art, including the Impressionists, Manet, Van Gogh and Gauguin. Tue-Sun 9:30am-6pm, last tickets at 5pm. Thu to 9:45pm. Guided tours in English Tue-Sat 11:30 am.

Notre-Dame Cathedral

Constructed between 1163 and 1345, it is a Gothic masterpiece. Daily 8 am-6:45 pm. Free guided tours in English W and Th at 2 pm, & Sa at 2:30 pm. Through Dec 31 Paris disparu, Paris restitué, looks at the history of Paris through the vestiges from Lutèce to the 19th century (in the crypt).

Arc de Triomphe

The triumphal arch commissioned by Napoleon and finished in 1836 stands in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle and boasts a fabulous view of the Champs-Elysées and includes the tomb of the unknown soldier. Visit the interactive exhibit on the history surrounding the Arch.

Eiffel Tower

Built as a temporary exhibit for the 1889 World’s Fair, the iron structure now symbolises Paris the world over. The tower sparkles with twinkling lights every hour on the hour from twilight to 2 am. From Jun 15 through Sept 1 9 am-12:45 am (stairs and lifts).

Pantheon

An 18th-century monument combining Greek and Gothic architecture, where Voltaire, Rousseau, Marie Curie and other notables are buried. Through Feb 2015 Le Panthéon, une restauration historique, presents the ongoing restoration of the monument which remains opened during the work in progress.

Moulin Rouge

This famous cabaret is home to the original cancan. The current show, Féerie, sparkles with talented performers, including the 60 Doriss girls, 1,000 costumes of feathers, rhinestones and sequins and spectacular staging. Daily.

Shakespeare & Company

The mythical English-language bookshop and institution is still going strong. Fiction and non, new and used books on every subject imaginable. 7/7 10am-11pm, Sun opens at 11am.

Palais Garnier-Opera de Paris

Designed by architect Charles Garnier, and a brilliant example of Second Empire architecture. Daily visits on your own,10 am-4:30 pm (adults 10€, students and under 25, free) information: 08 92 89 90 90.

Hotel De Ville

Designed in 1533 by Italian architect Boccador and finished in 1628, the Renaissance facade has been preserved throughout the centuries, even after a fire reduced the building to cinders in 1871. Now home to the Mayor of Paris. Entry is Mon-Sat 10 am-7 pm.

Chateau de Versailles

Louis XIV’s magnificent palace, with the Hall of Mirrors, Grands Appartements and Le Nôtre’s superb gardens. Standard visit, 15€. Visites conférences are guided tours with different themes, some in English, available by paying a supplement.