Best Things to Do in Paris

Go Outside, Take a Deep Breath of Fresh Air and Explore Paris

As the world once again becomes our playground, many of us feel compelled to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. Here in Paris, that is a good impetus to follow, since most indoor venues now require you to show a vaccine passport in order to enter. This is true of museums, cafes, restaurants, theaters, cinemas...well, you get the picture. Lucky for us, Paris remains one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Beyond the obvious splendors of the Eiffel Tower and the Sacre-Cœur Basilica, Paris has a wealth of sites and experiences to offer. 

And others, like Le Village St.-Paul, and the nearby basketball courts, the Terrain de Sport des Jardins St.-Paul, both in the Marais, make you feel like you've discovered a hidden nook of Paris all your own each time you stumble upon them.  The Village St. Paul is recently renovated and is now an exquisite labyrinth of quaint shops, casual restaurants and bars and simply just quiet spaces where you can catch your breath underneath the shade of a tree. It was once the private gardens of King Charles V, but that was centuries ago.  Likewise historical, and not to miss noticing, is the original old wall of Paris built in the 12th and 13th centuries by France's then King, Philip Augustus. Today, it still fortifies one side of well-used open-air basketball courts of the Marais. In other words, you can both shoot hoops (or jump rope or stretch or do open-air calisthenics) while taking in one of the oldest exposed monuments of historical Paris. 

The Parc Rives de Seine is another popular destination for families and sporty types, or even just people looking for a nice outdoor walk along the Seine or a place to picnic by the river. On warm spring, summer and fall evenings, you'll find groups of friends enjoying bottles of wine or beer al fresco or ordering a beer at one of the many food stalls there. 

New to the Parisian façade is La Samaritaine. Or, I should accurately denote, all things old become new again since this iconic department store in the Chatelet district of the 1st arrondissement is now fully refurbished and open again for business. It's the LVMH group who undertook this project, which lasted for nearly a decade, and the architecture shows its modern bent. For architecture buffs and shopping enthusiasts, it's a must-see. 

In Paris, it pays to just wander because many Parisian gems and treasures can be found along a meandering path. Some of these treasures, such as the covered passage of Galerie Vivienne, are found right under your nose as you walk the city's charming streets. Its main entrance is tucked in just behind the Palais Royal and once you enter into this covered passage, you feel yourself instantly transported through time. 

One last reassurance when exploring the city: When your feet get tired of walking, there is a boat-bus service, the Batobus, that you can hop on and off. It motors you from the Eiffel Tower to just past the Ile St. Louis by riverway, and back again, if you so choose. 


Getting outside these days can feel like something of a privilege. Who would have thought? But here we are. So, in honor of maximizing that privilege, these are outdoor basketball courts open to the public where you can shoot hoops and otherwise do open-air calisthenics. The kids from the high school across the street are often here playing on their sports hour, but there are many hours when there isn't a single soul inside this expansive sports terrain. It's a great place to bring your yoga mat and do some stretches, or a jump rope and get a vigorous workout. If you have some buddies you can shoot hoops with, go for it. The baskets are yours for the playing. While you're here, don't forget to notice the 12th century wall that holds up one side of the encircling façade.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The great outdoors! Even in the heart of the Marais, you find these hidden oases where you can play, sweat and absorb some culture, too.

Paige's expert tip: Come here for the outdoor exercise venue, stay for the history lesson... Right here on an ancient street in the Marais are these fabulous outdoor basketball courts. The playing field is large enough that if you want to do calisthenics like jump rope there's plenty of room off to the side without getting in the way of the game. Be sure to notice the ancient wall to your right as you enter. It is one of the only remnants of the historic Paris city wall that once encircled what was then the outer limits of the city. It dates back to the end of the 12th c., beginning of the 13th c and was built by King Philip Augustus to protect against the threat of a pending Richard The Lionheart invasion.

Read more about Terrain de Sport des Jardins St-Paul →

Though not strictly an attraction, the Batobus is more than just river transportation along the Seine. A hop-on, hop-off shuttle between the major Paris monuments that's easily accessible from the Seine, it's nice to ride the Batobus for the sheer pleasure of seeing the city from a different perspective. And while the Bateaux-Mouches and the other wonderful dinner and cocktail Seine river cruises are experiences many rave about (rightly so), this little Batobus-that-could offers the same views at a fraction of the price - dinner and cocktails not included, of course. It's a family friendly transportation option for getting around the city. Its stops are all along the river, of course. These strategic stops are at areas which make visiting the Louvre, St.-Germain des Pres, the Marais and Latin Quarter and the Eiffel Tower/Trocadero areas very convenient by foot.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: Paris, when seen from the river Seine, is even more beautiful. And that goes for day and night.

Paige's expert tip: Hop on and hop off all day long. Or buy the 2-day pass and make the River Seine your main method of transportation to see many of Paris's landmark sights.

Read more about Batobus - Louvre Stop →

4ème Arrondissement

The area along the Rive Droite (right bank) riverfront that was once a thoroughfare for cars, stretching from the Tuileries tunnel to the Henri IV tunnel, is now a pedestrian zone. You can either start at Hôtel de Ville and head east toward the Bastille, which is a shorter walk but will take you along the stretch where the eateries are, often packed with people on the weekends. Or you can head west, still along the Seine, towards the Pont des Arts which will take you along some of Paris' most beautiful sites such as the Conciergerie, the Pont Neuf and Île de la Cité. It's a win-win and, either way, will leave you refreshed. An equally beautiful walk awaits you on the Left Bank side of the Seine. Optimally, start from the Pont Alexandre III and walk towards the Eiffel Tower, allowing for plenty of pauses along the way.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: These green spaces and pedestrian areas along the riverbanks are well-loved, especially by the kids. They get packed in the warmer months with fun-loving crowds.

Paige's expert tip: After big meals and sugary treats, the best thing to do to maintain equilibrium is to take a nice long walk outdoors. Start just under the Hotel de Ville (Paris' City Hall) where you'll find a children's playground, a swing set, some water fountains and the Batobus ticket kiosk. From this point, you can walk West towards the Pont des Arts, or East towards Pont Sully. Either way, you'll encounter eateries, refreshments, shady places to sit and picnic tables. No cars, the gorgeous River Seine, and some of Paris' most beautiful landmarks await you on this walk.

Read more about Parc Rives de Seine →

1er Arrondissement

Founded originally in 1870 by Ernest Cognacq and Louise Jay (namesakes of the famous Cognacq-Jay Museum) this Parisian landmark is once again alive. Fully refurbished top-to-bottom, its entire 70,000 square meter, 10 floors of luxury goods, French culinary treats, artistic installations and beauty day-escapes are now all yours for the taking. One of the façades, the most modern one, fronts onto the rue de Rivoli, giving this little Pont-Neuf neighborhood of Paris the sleek LVMH imprint. But other parts of the building were maintained to preserve its Belle Epoque appeal. The building takes up a whole city block and then some. There is also the Cheval Blanc hotel that is adjacent to this department store (also LVMH owned). This department store is well-equipped to deliver whatever you might need for person or home. Clean-lined furnishings are for sale, along with china, kitchen appliances, and bedding. Men's and women's fashions guarantee something stylish to wear, and cosmetics let you put your best face forward. Sportswear, a bookstore, a pet department, and children's clothing, toys, and accessories are available as well. METRO: Pont Neuf

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: Beauty day-escapes, including one devoted solely to reshaping your eyebrows, gourmet cafes and, of course, luxury shopping are all here. Paris at its finest!

Paige's expert tip: This is Le Shopping destination now in Paris. Closed in 2005 as a safety hazard, Parisians have waited over a decade to be able to once again frequent this Belle Epoque, beloved department store. And LVMH, the new owner and instigator of the renovations, certainly has delivered. The splendor of the interior is barely grasped by its exterior, so, by all means, go inside and enjoy!

Read more about La Samaritaine →

18ème Arrondissement
Basilique du Sacré-Coeur

The Sacré-Coeur Basilica, also known as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, is blessed with its location in Paris. At the top of a huge hill in Montmartre overlooking the city, large steps cascade down the hill on one side, the basilica's white domes looming up in magnificence behind them. Head inside the Sacré-Coeur to experience this sacred Catholic cathedral, built in 1876. With its high point at the top of the Montmartre hill, plus its gleaming white stone exterior, Sacré-Coeur Basilica is an amazing sight to behold from a distance as well, and views of it can be seen from many different points in Paris.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The Sacré-Coeur sits like a majestic white lady, regal and pure, at the top of the Montmartre Hill, otherwise called the Butte Montmartre.

Paige's expert tip: The steps are great for sitting on with a loved one or friends. Music performers are often playing and you'll have an impressive view of the city spreading out below.

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20ème Arrondissement

Named for Louis XIV's confessor, who once lived in the vicinity, this cemetery was established in 1804. It was planned as a repository for human remains when authorities sought to improve sanitation by moving graves from the center of the city to its outskirts. Now park-like in its appeal, Pére Lachaise is a much-desired place to be buried. Within its bounds are the graves of Moliére, Oscar Wilde, Heloise & Abelard, Jim Morrison, Frédéric Chopin, Edith Piaf, Sarah Bernhardt, Marcel Proust and other famous figures. Stately trees and beautiful memorials add to the cemetery's present-day calm. The area surrounding the cemetery is also something of a budding bohemia. Many young families have flocked to the 20th arrondissement in recent years for its wider streets and bigger, more affordable apartments.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: Can you really come all the way to Paris and not pay tribute to Jim Morrison's grave?

Paige's expert tip: Schedule a whole day if you want to explore the entire cemetery. There are a whole 110 acres to cover and many famous tombstones to hunt down, in addition to Jim Morrison's and Oscar Wilde's.

Read more about Cimetiére du Pére Lachaise →

7ème Arrondissement

This gorgeous architectural gem, completed in the 17th century, is located in the city's Faubourg Saint-Germain region. It was created by Louis XIV, the Sun King, as a home for aged soldiers and disabled/injured veterans. Among its prominent features are a sweeping esplanade, a series of gardens, and a striking domed church, where Napoleon I and other military heroes are interred. One of those military heroes is Turenne, one of the most famous marshals of France, whose tomb was installed in 1800 under the Dome. It wasn't until 1840 that Napoleon I's body was transferred to this site under the direction of King Louis-Philippe. Also at this location is the Musée de l'Armée: an outstanding art and military history museum, with extensive armament collections.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte's body was interred in the tomb at Hôtel National des Invalides in 1840.

Paige's expert tip: In the summer months, catch the evening light and sound show. It's an exhilarating romp through Paris history from the perspective of battles fought and wars won.

Read more about Hôtel National des Invalides →

5th Arondissement - Latin Quarte

This Roman-style arena was built between the first and the 2nd century A.D. Named after the city when it was still under the Gallo-Roman rule, the Arènes de Lutèce are one of only two monuments that are still standing from that early historic time of the city, nearly 2,000 years ago. It had been completely covered over and only in 1883, after the demolition of the Daughters of Jesus Christ Convent, was a third of the amphitheater uncovered. Today, you can still see the stage and wings where the actors stood when performing in front of the assembled crowd. It's a huge monument but not seen from the street. So you literally have to go and unearth it yourself by following the little street that leads to the entrance. It's a breathtaking venue. It's also very close to rue Mouffetard, so plenty of fun cafes, bars and restaurants nearby!

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: This arena dates back to the early Roman times when Paris was called Lutèce.

Paige's expert tip: This amphitheater, originally used as a stage, was later a cemetery. It was later filled in following the building of the wall of Philippe Auguste in 1210. Les Arenes were rediscovered between 1860-1869 when the Compagnie Generale des Omnibus sought to build a tram stop on the site.

Read more about Arènes de Lutèce →

7th Arondissement - Eiffel Tower

First built in 1780, the Parc du Champ-de-Mars is a large green space that stretches from the Eiffel Tower all the way down to the École Militaire to the southeast. It is a favored place for leisurely strolls, rain or shine. It is also one of the best places in the city to stretch out a picnic blanket and while the afternoon hours away over a shared baguette, some French cheese and other treats. Now that there is a glass protective shield around the bottom of the Eiffel Tower, approaching from the great monument from the Champ de Mars affords you a magnificent perspective onto the Iron Lady. Here, you can still lay out a blanket and picnic goodies and simply enjoy some time spent in the shadow of a one-of-a-kind view.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The Eiffel Tower is among the ten most recognized landmarks in the world.

Paige's expert tip: The Champ de Mars is the favored spot for picnics and afternoons spent with a book stretched out on a blanket under the sunshine and the Eiffel Tower. It is open both day and night, so star-gazing is also a popular pastime here.

Read more about Champ de Mars →

4ème Arrondissement

Fresh from a complete refurbish, this little village within the heart of the Marais district of Paris is now fully re-opened for business, browsing, antiquing and simply enjoying peace & quiet within secluded, interconnected courtyards. Collectors of art and antiques will know this little village well, as many of the shops are oriented towards antiques and other fine collectibles. But not all. Other shops include Venus sur Cour, a shop specializing in erotic collectibles. The network of interconnected courtyards also houses many artist ateliers including photographers, ceramic workshops and even a hatmaker. Le Village St. Paul, now that it is once again fully open and in pristine condition, is also a very popular spot with the locals for lunch/dinner. Restaurants range from casual Italian to casual French to a bar aptly called Dad's Den. As you meander it's easy to imagine that King Charles V himself once walked here.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The City of Paris spent heaps of Euros and several years refurbishing these ancient gardens once owned by King Charles V. They are now re-opened.

Paige's expert tip: Once upon a time this was the private gardens of King Charles V.Today, it is known as Le Village St. Paul. A labyrinth of interconnected courtyards filled with quaint shops, artists' ateliers and restaurants/bars, few places in the Marais offer such a charming oasis from the hustle and bustle of the main streets as Le Village St. Paul.

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Meet Paige Donner

Paige's guidebook Paris On 4 Paws, A Dog Lover's Guide To The City of Light , her cookbook, Le CBD Cafe Coockbook and novel, I'll Take Paris are all available on Kindle and Amazon. .

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