What to do in Paris – Our Top Recommendations

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I have been going to Paris for almost 40 years. It is one of my favorite cities and in my opinion one of the best walking cities with one of the best subway systems. So ride the Metro and explore the wonderful neighborhoods of Paris

Of course you have to see the traditional sites like Notre Dame, The Eiffel Tower, and the Arch de Triomphe but I love:

Sainte-Chapelle, 4 Blvd du Palais: Located on the Ile de la Cite, this wonderful church has amazing stained glass windows that are not to be missed.

The booksellers along the Seine, near Notre Dame, are always a part of Paris. This was where I purchased one of my first two art prints over 40 years ago. I still have them!

Stop in for a mass in Notre Dame. You might also find a concert to attend.

Marche aux Oiseaux or Bird Market: Near Sainte-Chapelle, this is a fun place to visit on Sunday’s. On the other days it is the Marche aux Fleurs or the colorful year round flower market.

The Marais: Where I used to stay in the 6th, I have recently gravitated to the Marais. It is a wonderful neighborhood to explore. It has beautiful buildings and architecture. Don’t miss the Place de Vosges which is one of my favorite places in Paris. With its perfect symmetry, this is one of the most beautiful squares in the world. Walk through Maison de Victor Hugo, at No. 6, where he wrote most of Les Miserables.

Ile St. Louis: It is fun to walk through the quiet Ile St. Louis and enjoy coffee at a café or lunch or dinner in one of its restaurants.

Opera Quarter: It is great to walk around the Opera Quarter. I still enjoy Café de la Paix across the street from the Opera de Paris Garnier.

The Opera Garnier building is outstanding. I saw my first opera there in 1972 and will never forget the experience. Though most Operas have moved to the new Opera Bastille, I would try to catch an opera or a ballet at Garnier; there is always a tour if you can’t. But there is something about stylish Parisians ascending the Grand Staircase on the night of a performance.

St-Germain-des-Pres: This is a great place to stay and to explore. After WWII, this area became associated with the intellectual life of Paris where philosophers, writers, actors and musicians frequented the cafes. I like Café Les Deux Magots, the best, but have been to Café de Flore also. The Brasserie Lipp is across the street. Hotel St. Germain des Pres is just down from Deux Magots and is always good.

The boulevard St. Germain has bookstores, boutiques and many restaurants. Also stop in at the St-Germain-des-Pres church, the oldest in Paris. There are often concerts you can attend. It is located right at the entrance of the Metro.

Marche aux Puces de St. Ouen: I finally made it to the famous flea market on my last trip. What a fun way to spend a Saturday or Sunday. It is located on 15 acres with more than 2,000 stalls. It has great furniture and other antiques. It is a short walk from the Clignancourt Metro Station. We had a great lunch on the main street near the market.

Place Vendome: This is one of the most elegant squares in the city. I used to stay at the Hotel Vendome, years ago, before it became a luxury hotel. I like the location but prefer to visit it rather than to stay there. That’s why on my recent visits I have stayed in the 6th or in the Marais. You should stop in for a drink at the bar of the famous Ritz Hotel.

Jardin des Plante Quarter: On one of my last trips, I enjoyed exploring this more residential area and Rue Mouffetard which is one of the oldest Paris street markets. I also loved exploring the Canal Saint Martin which is off the beaten path, but a wonderful area to walk, ride a bike and have lunch in a fun neighborhood cafe.

Luxembourg Gardens: I always enjoy walking through the park and love the activity around the Grand Basin in the center. The nearby church, St. Sulpice, is interesting particularly since being featured in the book and movie The da Vinci Code.

Walk the Champs Elysee and stop in for a drink in one of the many cafes. Check out the schedule for the Grand Palais which often has major art exhibitions or installations. My favorite was a Renoir Exhibition many years go.

Walk the streets of Montmartre, which was made famous as the home to many writers, artists and poets. A good place to start is at the Moulin Rouge. This is a charming area with many old cafes like the Au Lapin Agile and many street painters at the Place du Tertre. Check out the old windmill from the Moulin de la Galette where Renoir painted his famous café scene. The view of Paris from the steps of the Sacre-Coeur is always great.

The Moulin Rouge, Lido or Folies Bergere: You have to see one of these famous cabaret shows, at least once. I would avoid doing the package that includes dinner but just do one that includes a drink. In the past I have just found a seat in the bar.

Explore the Rue Paradis where you will find many of the glass and ceramics retailers.

There are great side trips to Versailles, Chartres and Giverny to tour Monet’s home, studio and gardens. See Globalphile on Giverny.

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