things to do paris

Things to do in Paris: 8 must-see attractions in the French capital

01 May 2024 | |By Annie Lewis

Skip the queues for the Eiffel Tower and enjoy Paris like a local

Paris is always a good idea but, this year, it has even more buzz than usual as it gears up to host the Olympic Games from 26 July to 11 August 2024. Of course, the French capital is no stranger to the spotlight. Having been a hub for European creatives for centuries, Paris has produced some of the world’s most famous artists and designers, from Coco Chanel to Claude Monet, as well as historical figures such as Marie Curie and Napoleon Bonaparte. It’s quite easily one of the most iconic cities in the world, being the birthplace of cafe culture, as well as a centre for world-class cinema, art, fashion and, of course, delectable cuisine. The sheer amount of things to do in Paris can make planning a trip there overwhelming, especially with the hype around the Olympics, so read on for our insider’s guide to the City of Light, whether you’re in town for a romantic rendezvous or as a sport spectator in need of a little culture beyond the Stade de France. 

Try posh pastries at the Cédric Grolet bakery

cedric grolet

Parisian patisserie is an art form in itself and, while there will be countless decorative counters to tempt you during your tour of the French capital, we’d recommend saving yourself – and your appetite – for Cédric Grolet’s delectable creations. You’ve likely spotted the social media-savvy pastry chef’s impressive videos on the internet, but he’s more than just a pretty face. Grolet helms the bakery division at the five-star Le Meurice in Paris, which serves his signature pillowy croissants, classic pains au chocolat and more extravagant creations, such as the famous chocolate-lacquered apple cake (which looks exactly like the fruit). The small boutique bakery adjacent to the hotel opens early, and we recommend getting there pronto unless you want to spend your morning queueing… 

La Pâtisserie du Meurice par Cédric Grolet, 6 rue de Castiglione, 75001 Paris, visit

Listen to classic jazz music at La Bal Blomet

Another arm to Paris’ never-ending creativity is to be found at its plethora of jazz bars. For old-school glamour, and seasoned performances that will blow you away, head to Montmartre, where many of the original jazz clubs set up shop over a century ago. The oldest of them all is La Bal Blomet in Montparnasse, founded in 1924 by Jean Rézard de Wouves. Ernest Hemingway, Joséphine Baker, Joan Miró and Simone de Beauvoir are known to have graced its dancefloor – and if it’s good enough for them, it’s certainly good enough for us. 

33 rue Blomet 75015 Paris, visit

Take a tour of the Palace of Versailles

You don’t need to be a history buff to enjoy a trip to Versailles. Although its slightly out of the capital (hop on the RER B to RER C trains from Gare du Nord and you’ll be there in an hour), the historical golden palace is not only famous for its Hall of Mirrors and manicured gardens, but it was also the home of Marie Antoinette, the epicentre of the start of the French revolution and where the Treaty of Versailles was signed after the First World War. You could quite literally get lost in its marble halls and ornate rooms, so it’s worth booking a professional tour guide to unlock all the stories within its walls. Outside of the palace gates, you won’t have to venture far before you stumble across many quintessentially-French bistros serving snails, charcuterie and red wine galore. 

Palace of Versailles, Place d'Armes, 78000 Versailles, visit

Enjoy rare artworks at Fondation Louis Vuitton

louis vuitton fondation
Image: Shutterstock/EQRoy

Having produced most of the world’s iconic fashion houses – from Dior to Givenchy, and Christian Louboutin to Yves Saint Laurent – it was only a matter of time before one put a physical stamp on Paris, and that came courtesy of Louis Vuitton in 2014. Designed by architect Frank Gehry, the striking glass behemoth that is the Fondation Louis Vuitton is situated in the 16th arrondissement and lures art aficionados from across the world to visit its world-class exhibitions. This year’s roster includes unseen artworks in a landmark exhibition dedicated to The Red Studio (1911) by Henri Matisse and a new retrospective of works by Ellsworth Kelly featuring paintings, sculptures, photographs and drawings. During the Olympics, and as part of LVMH’s support for the event, the Fondation will also present a sport-themed selection of works. Feeling peckish? The ground floor restaurant, Le Frank, puts an uber stylish spin on lunch courtesy of Michelin-starred chef Jean-Louis Nomicos. Bon appétit.

8 Avenue, du Mahatma Gandhi, 75116 Paris, visit

Catch a film at the Latin Quarter’s cinemas

Paris would be nothing without its vintage cinemas, which can be found in the city’s fifth and sixth arrondissements. Echoing the styles of films first watched in the 1920s, including black and white and silent pictures, the most famous independent cinemas include Le Champo (a notable haunt for Nouvelle Vague directors in the 1950s) and Filmothèque: a former stomping ground for acclaimed director Quentin Tarantino. Other establishments cinephiles should have on their radar include the Panthéon, opened in 1907 and now one of the oldest functioning cinemas in Paris, and Le Grand Rex: an Art Deco paradise home to the largest screening room in Europe with a whopping 2,800 seats. Just don’t forget your popcorn…

Enjoy city views from the Arc de Triomphe

Some may deem the Arc de Triomphe a tourist trap, however, we’re of the opinion that it’s a must-see architectural masterpiece. Constructed in 1806, but not until finished 30 years later, it’s one of the most famous monuments in Paris, situated at the west end of the Champs-Élysées and at the centre of Place Charles de Gaulle, formerly named Place de l'Étoile – the golden star of the juncture which feeds 12 avenues. Climb the 284 steps to be greeted by unrivalled panoramic vistas of the city, where you can spot attractions such as the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. Forget long queues, the admission system is swift and simple – and your camera roll will thank you for pictures of those views. 

Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris, visit

Spot the Mona Lisa at Musée du Louvre

Don’t expect to see all the Louvre has to offer in one day – it would take years to get round to all of its 35,000 artworks. The most famous of them all is, of course, the Mona Lisa and, while we don’t wish to dampen expectations, given its popularity a glimpse of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous painting through the crowds is all you're likely to get. The good news is there’s plenty more to keep you occupied beyond the diminutive portrait. Sport enthusiasts should bookmark this summer’s Olympiasm, an exhibition focusing on how the historical games were born, the political context of the time and the iconographic sources on which they were based. Head outside to the museum’s cobbled courtyard to spot the Louvre Pyramid – and the dozens of tourists snapping a photo of it – before sauntering down one of Paris’ most famous shopping streets, Rue de Rivoli. 

Louvre Museum, 75001 Paris, visit

Visit the iconic Café de Flore

cafe de flore paris
Image: Shutterstock/ColorMaker

There are too many beautiful Parisian cafes to list, but if you only have time to visit one, it must be Café de Flore. You’ll spot the iconic establishment’s floral displays on its exterior walls long before you realise you’ve arrived, but nab one of the streetside tables to sample Parisian cafe culture at its finest. Having stood proudly on this corner of the Saint-Germain-Des-Prés neighbourhood since 1887, this cafe is no stranger to fame, having once been a haunt for Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Coppola, Quentin Tarantino, Yves Saint Laurent and Paco Rabanne. Menus feature laidback fare, such as club sandwiches, signature salads and classic pastries. 

172 Bd Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris, visit

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