Places to Visit in Paris
While we were in Paris, my friend and fellow junior high drill team member, came to visit. She had 4 days in Paris and we wanted to do it up. I came up with a four day Paris itinerary of the must see in Paris attractions.
(These places to visit in Paris would be perfect for a couple’s getaway, a group of friends, or just about anyone — minus kids at some of the venues.)
Christine had been to Paris in her twenties, but I had never been. I consulted the Internet and the pile of guidebooks we found in our rental apartment to come up with some options and then ran them by her.
How many days in Paris do you need to get a real feel for the City of Lights? Probably a lot, but if you only have a Paris weekend or three days in Paris, you can still use my guide to Paris. So, start planning your own Girls Weekend Paris.
For two days in Paris, choose days two and three, for a long weekend in Paris, add day four with my recommended changes. If you have a week in Paris, keep reading to check out some of the other things to do in Paris since Henry, the kids, and I spent an additional four nights in Paris before and after Christine visited.
I’ll also post a couple videos at the end, including the one where Henry gets robbed. Pickpocketing is super common in Paris, so beware!
Girls Guide to Paris
Day 1: Things to do in Montmartre, Paris
- Walking tour of Montmartre
- Sacré Coeur
- Crepes and wine
- Walk to Notre Dame and the Left Bank
Since we were staying in the Montmartre area, we started our fun things to do in Paris tour there. From our Airbnb apartment, which was gorgeous, we could walk right over to Sacré Cœur Basilica. We were also in the heart of a diverse part of the city.
Montmartre history and Montmartre facts from Wikipedia:
“Montmartre is a large hill in Paris’s 18th arrondissement. It is 130 m (430 ft) high and gives its name to the surrounding district, part of the Right Bank in the northern section of the city. The historic district established by the City of Paris in 1995 is bordered by rue Caulaincourt and rue Custine on the north, rue de Clignancourt on the east, and boulevard de Clichy and boulevard de Rochechouart to the south, containing 60 ha (150 acres). Montmartre is primarily known for its artistic history, the white-domed Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur on its summit, and as a nightclub district. The other, older, church on the hill is Saint Pierre de Montmartre, which claims to be the location at which the Jesuit order of priests was founded.”
Montmartre is the artsy, Bohemian, gritty, alternative part of Paris. Or at least it was; now it’s mostly tourists, but it’s still worth seeing. Montmartre artists, including Vincent Van Gogh, Edith Piaf, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, and Auguste Renoir called this neighborhood home because it was outside the city and a much cheaper place to live. Montmartre is also known for cabarets and sex shows and is home of the famous Moulin Rouge. As for places to see in Paris, Montmartre should be on your list. And there is that huge church on a hill, the Basilique du Sacré Cœur. If you aren’t staying in the Montmartre area, it’s an easy ride on the Metro.
Tip: Use the RAPT app to find Metro, bus, and train schedules in Paris.
Then grab a picnic and sit on the lawn at the Sacré-Cœur and enjoy one of the best views of Paris…and great people watching. We picked up lunch from the nearby Pret a Manger because it’s so easy, good, and has a lot of veggie and vegan options, but it’s not the most French of the Montmartre restaurants, despite the name.
From there, we walked up to the church and to a famous street in Paris, Cité du Sacré Cœur. It’s famous because a million people try to sell you a sketch of yourself or your kids. In fact, it is mostly souvenir shops and pricey cafés, but we didn’t let that stop us from getting crepes for the kids and a glass of wine for Christine and me. This is also a great spot to buy a cheap beret to wear in your super cheesy, but required, Eiffel Tower photo.
There are lots of side alleys and other places to wander, but Christine had flown all night and we needed to get back to the apartment in the hope that her lost luggage would be delivered.
One of my favorite ways to prepare for a trip is by reading books set in that country. This list of 28 books set in Paris will definitely get you started. See also books set in Croatia, books set in Italy, and best travel books for more travel inspiration.
That evening, after the luggage did not arrive, Christine and I walked from Montmartre to Notre Dame, about an hour’s walk. As we sipped horrible mojitos that tasted like dirty water in a place I will not name, we agreed that just walking around the city with no agenda is pretty great. There are a lot of cool things to do in Paris and wandering is one of them.
Day 2: Best Places to Eat in Paris
- Shoah Memorial
- Palais Royal Garden
- Bar Hemingway
- Moulin Rouge
We started the day on a serious note with a visit to the Shoah Memorial. This holocaust memorial was built in 2005 on the site of the Mémorial du Martyr Juif Inconnu (Memorial to the Unknown Jewish Martyr).
At this Paris holocaust memorial, you learn about the plight of French Jews and the role Paris played in the holocaust. Obviously, it’s a somber place to visit on a fun-filled girls trip to Paris, but it’s so important that we stay diligent to persecution due to religion, ethnicity, or other factors.
Next it was time for lunch Paris style. Christine’s friend recommended Ellsworth in the trendy Right Bank (north of the river). Since we got there a little early, we wandered the neighborhood and ended up in the garden at the Palais Royal. The Palace has an interesting history. It was built for Cardinal Richelieu by French architect Lemercier who also designed the Sorbonne. It became a royal residence in 1634 (during the regency of Anne of Austria) and then the seat of the Orléans family from 1661. In the 18th and19th centuries it was known as a place of promiscuity. Those French! We just walked through the garden and took pictures with the modern art.
Lunch at Ellsworth was delicious and I learned why people like champagne when I had a delicious glass or two of bubbly ordered by Christine. She almost turned me into a foodie on this trip.
It’s so hard to choose out of the many restaurants in Paris—the food in Paris is so renowned—and I think this was a good choice for lunch. It’s quite close to the Louvre and would be perfect before or after a visit there. We were able to squeeze in, but they recommend making a reservation at least a week in advance, which you can do online.
34 Rue de Richelieu 75001 Paris, France
After lunch we did a little shopping as Christine’s luggage hadn’t arrived and she wanted to change out of the clothes she had been wearing for two days. We didn’t go to the famous Champs Elysees, but rather hit up the H & M and other more affordable shops along Rue Rivoli. Our original plan was to visit the Musée d’Orsay. Next time.
Then, back to our apartment for resting, showering, and getting ready for a big night on the town.
We took a cab from our apartment to Frenchie Restaurant one of the famous Paris restaurants.
Christine found the restaurant online and read that it was one of the best restaurants in Paris. She tried to get a reservation before she came, but to no avail. We decided to go to Frenchie Wine Bar across the street instead since they serve the same food, but when we got there we were able to slip into Frenchie when someone was very late for their reservation. The French cuisine with International influences was out of this world. As I said, I am not a foodie, but now I want to be. They serve a prixe fixe menu, but I was able to request a vegetarian/seafood menu. Our dinner in Paris was way beyond my expectations.
5 Rue du Nil, 75002 Paris, France
From Frenchie we went to the famous Bar Hemingway in the Ritz Hotel. If you are in Paris for the weekend, don’t miss a cocktail here. It’s crazy pricey, but worth it just to see the golden bathrooms and the famous vibe, not to mention the expertly mixed cocktails. Cole Porter, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gary Cooper, and of course, Ernest Hemingway all drank at the Hemingway Bar in Paris, though it was probably called the Ritz Bar when Hemingway drank here.
15 Place Vendôme, 75001 Paris, France
We finished our cocktails and headed back to Montmartre for the 11pm show of the Moulin Rouge cabaret. Is this super cheesy and touristy? Yes. But, it is still a “Paris must see” in my mind. If you’ve seen the Moulin Rouge movie, you know what I am talking about. You can get the Moulin Rouge soundtrack if “Lady Marmalade” is stuck in your head right now and you need to know more of the words to get it out…or is that just me?
We arrived to a crazy scene of hundreds of people streaming in beneath the famous neon windmill. (Moulin rouge meaning: the red mill.) Christine bought our Moulin Rouge tickets online and you do need a reservation. She got VIP tickets, so we were escorted in, served a bottle of champagne, and seated on the balcony. We had a blast at the Moulin Rouge Paris. The costumes, the lights, the music, the rapid fire can-can, and a naked woman swimming in a tank of water with a giant snake—I kid you not, this show has it all. The Moulin Rouge dancers are amazing; there were even some Cirque du Soleil-type acts in there. It probably is on of the best places to see in Paris if you can swing it.
82 Boulevard de Clichy, 75018 Paris, France
If you are really in Paris to get crazy, check out these party hostels.
Day 3: Must See Paris
- Eiffel Tower
- The Louvre Museum
- Café Blanc
- Seine Boat Tour
Of all the things you must do in Paris, seeing the Eiffel Tower is one of the most obvious. We were too late to buy our Eiffel Tower tickets online, but lucked out and found short lines. You can find all the Eiffel Tower information you want on their site, including how to make Eiffel Tower reservations and the Eiffel Tower restaurant.
We thought about climbing the tower to the second floor, but you can’t catch an elevator from the second floor to the top and it’s a long way to the top. How tall is the Eiffel Tower? It is 324 meters (1,062 feet) to the top and 276 meters (905 feet) to the 3rd floor (the highest spot you get to go).
Tip: Download the Eiffel Tower app on your phone and take a self-guided tour.
Remember those berets we bought in Montmartre? Here’s where they came into play. We took photos of the kids in the berets (with the striped shirts Christine brought them!) and of course, our besties photo with berets at the Eiffel Tower. It doesn’t get better than that. Plus, Christine got to bring them home as souvenirs for her kids.
Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France
After a picnic on the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower (lunch in Paris doesn’t get more iconic than that!), we hoofed it to the Louvre. It was kind of a long walk, but nice. We could have taken a bus, Metro, or cab.
Musée du Louvre, 75058 Paris, France
Our tour ended around 7:00 pm and it was time for one the famous French cafés. We asked our guide where to eat snails in Paris since Anders was anxious to try escargot, and Christine was anxious to be the one that got it for him.
We kept seeing these dishes in our airbnbs with 10-12 rounded divots. Now we know what they were for.
I don’t know if Café Blanc has the best escargot in Paris, though everyone who tried it seemed to like it, but I would say it is one of the best cafés in Paris or one of the best brasseries in Paris. The whole experience was perfectly Paris—sitting outside under the awning, sipping wine after visiting the Louvre, eating escargot with friends. And it was an affordable restaurant in Paris—that’s a big deal.
10 Rue Croix des Petits Champs, 75001 Paris, France (no website)
It was closing in on 10:00 pm by the time we finished our dinner, so we took a cab back over to the Eiffel Tower area for a Seine River cruise. We went on the Bateaux Mouches Seine River cruise. We wanted to see the Eiffel Tower at night and knew that the light show happens on the hour, so we planned our Seine River tour to start on the hour and with a view of the Eiffel Tower. There were not very many people on the Seine river cruise night, which surprised us, but we were delighted to mostly have the top deck of the boat to ourselves. We bought tickets at the boat, but could have bought them online. They also offer a Seine dinner cruise as well as lunch and brunch cruises.
Seeing the Eiffel Tower light show was pretty amazing, and we got to see it at the beginning and end of the cruise since the boat ride lasts just over an hour and cruises up then back down the Seine. We also saw the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Conciergerie, and the Musée d’Orsay from the water, as well as all the people hanging out by the river talking, dancing, drinking, and having fun. It was the best Seine River cruise I’ve ever been on.
Port de la Conférence, 75008 Paris, France
Check out these other great summer European destinations.
Day 4: Do As I Say, Not As We Did
- Luxembourg Gardens, Pavillon de la Fontaine
- The Fish Club
No girls trip to Paris would be complete without a visit to the Catacombs of Paris (Catacombes de Paris), right? Unfortunately, this is where our “show up without reservations” luck ran out. We should have bought our tickets online, but we didn’t try until it was too late. So instead, we stood in line for two hours. We got the audio tour and learned a lot about Paris catacombs history and it was really interesting to be in there, but I’m not sure it’s worth waiting in the sun for two hours. Learn from us, either book a Paris Catacombes tour and walk right in, or… visit the Jardin des Plantes and Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle. Next time I am definitely going to the botanic garden and natural history museum.
1 avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy- 75014 Paris, France
We climbed back to the surface and walked over to Luxembourg Garden (Le Jardin du Luxembourg). Hanging out in a park is a must do in Paris, in my opinion. There were locals and tourists enjoying the sun, eating in the café, and playing with boats in the fountain. Even weekend trips to Paris need to make time to sit in a park.
We had a drinks and snacks at the Pavillon de la Fontaine in the park. It was such a iconic Paris café in a park on a lovely, sunny day. Our Paris lunch made up for all the line standing earlier in the day.
Jardin du Luxembourg, 75006 Paris, France (no website)
After our park wine and food, Christine went for a walk, Henry and the boys went back to the apartment, and I found a chair in the shade and watched kids push boats around the fountain pool.
Christine and I met up later for dinner at The Fish Club. Christine made reservations online, but there wasn’t anyone else there when we showed up. It was empty. While we ate, another man and a couple sat down, but it was pretty quiet. Christine chose the place because it was meant to have really good cocktails made by an official mixologist. My drinks were delicious. We thought the food was ok, but were a little disappointed because we only had two nights out for dinner and wanted them to be great. Maybe we were spoiled by Frenchie. It wasn’t bad by any means, it just wasn’t great.
58 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau 75001, Paris, France
Our next stop was Café Etienne Marcel, just a short walk from the Fish Club. We sat outside and people watched. The inside seating was pretty funky and cool and if it wasn’t such a nice night, it would have been nice to sit in there. On their website they describe the décor as “a nice UFO that just barely landed.” Can you picture that? Their menu looks pretty good and decently priced, we probably should have eaten there after a cocktail at the Fish Club.
64 Rue Tiquetonne, 75002 Paris, France
If you are looking for places to go in Paris, I think I’ve got you covered. This Paris itinerary isn’t just for gals’ getaways, it’s for anyone.
If you have more than four days in Paris, as Henry, the kids, and I did, there are a lot of other things to do—obviously. The hardest part about visiting Paris, aside from the price tag, is deciding what to do and what not to do. There are so many Paris points of interest that you don’t want to miss. On the other hand, you don’t want to be so busy that you are too overwhelmed to appreciate it.
Tell me what you must do in Paris!
And those videos I promised….