Very few cities in the world can compete with Paris. It may be the capital of France, but its influence on history, gastronomy, economy, and fashion has also made it the unofficial cultural capital of the world. As such, there are millions of reasons why you should visit the City of Lights.
Why do people love Paris so much?
Travelers from all over the world still love visiting Paris to enjoy all of the unique characteristics it has to offer, including the
- Historic landmarks
- Romantic atmosphere
- Unique neighborhoods
- Green parks
- Coffee culture
- Vicinity to nearby attractions
And while we can’t dive into each one, we wanted to share our top nine reasons why Paris is worth visiting.
The Historic Landmarks
When you picture Paris, you probably imagine the historic architecture and impressive landmarks. That’s because the city is home to some of the most recognizable landmarks in all of Europe.
The Eiffel Tower is the symbol of Paris, if not the whole country of France. Standing 1,083 feet in the air, this wrought iron structure was originally built for the 1889 World’s Fair. You can admire its beauty from the ground, or you can visit the observation deck or dine at one of the two restaurants in the middle (Le 58 Tour Eiffel or Le Jules Verne).
In the 8th district, you’ll find the iconic Arc de Triomphe monument. It’s located at the end of the Champs-Elysée (another Parisian landmark in its own right) and is considered one of the largest arches in the world.
A visit to the Notre Dame Cathedral is another must-see attraction for architecture lovers. This medieval Catholic cathedral was built between 1163–1345. Although it is closed on the inside for repairs, you can still see the rose windows and flying buttresses on its exterior.
The Amazing Museums and Art Galleries
Paris is a cultural capital for art and history, with over 150 museums in the city center alone. Of course, you’ll want to stop by the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, although it’s also worth checking out a few lesser-known (and less crowded) museums during your trip.
The Musée d’Orsay also features an exceptional collection of art from the 19th and 20th centuries from artists such as Monet, Sisley, Van Gough, Renoir, and Toulouse Lautrec.
For medieval artwork, visit the Musée de Cluny to marvel at paintings, sculptures, and stained glass. And for modern and contemporary art, head to the colorful and eclectic Centre Pompidou.
Musée des Arts et Métiers is the oldest science museum in Europe, where you can find all sorts of tools and gadgets from the last few centuries. Le Palais de la Découverte and the Cité des sciences et de l’industrie are also wonderful choices if you want to learn more about science and technology.
Paris is also home to a few offbeat museums. The Le Musée des Égouts de Paris, or the Paris Sewer Museum, allows you to explore the historic network of canals underneath the streets of Paris.
The Musée Grevin contains wax figures from famous celebrities and politicians. And the Musée de la Prefecture is a police museum located inside a real police station.
The Shopping Opportunities
It should come as no surprise that a city as fashion-forward as Paris would have endless shopping opportunities. From independently owned boutiques to world-famous international designers, you’ll have no problem finding something to buy in Europe’s fashion capital.
Your first stop should be along the Champs D’Élysées. This shopping street is dotted with high-end designers and international brands.
Off the Champs D’Élysées is the Golden Triangle, an affluent area home to Dior, Luis Vuitton, Chanel, and Hermes.
For a true Parisian experience, visit one of the Belle-Epoque department stores on Boulevard Haussmann, like Printemps or Galeries Lafayette. With elegant architecture and luxurious décor, you’ll feel as if you’re walking through a part of history rather than a department store!
If you’re in the market for more handcrafted goods, visit the Marais. Not only will you find boutiques, but you’ll also be spoiled for choice by the sheer number of antique shops, fine art dealers, and stylish home accessories.
St-Germain-des-Prés also has its fair share of quirky shops, making it a great place for picking out one-of-a-kind souvenirs.
The Romantic Atmosphere
Paris may be called the City of Lights, but it also happens to be the City of Love! Between the pretty streets, sultry restaurants, and charming neighborhoods, being in Paris is like starring in your own romance novel.
If you’re visiting with your sweetie, then there are plenty of things you can do to spice up your romantic holiday. Head to the Eiffel Tower on a sunny day to enjoy a classy picnic in the Champs de Mars park.
Or post up in a cozy café sipping hot chocolate or a glass of Pinot Noir.
Don’t forget to find a spot to watch the sunset. If you can’t make your way up to the top of the Eiffel Tower, you can always find a rooftop bar or quiet spot along the Seine to enjoy the transition from day to night. You can also choose to book an evening cruise along the river, complete with a gourmet dinner and live music.
The Unique Neighborhoods
Paris is comprised of 20 different districts (although they are more like small cities rather than individual neighborhoods). Although it might be hard to tick each one off your list, it’s worth visiting a few to soak in the unique atmosphere of each arrondissement.
The first few arrondissements are located in the middle of the city around the Seine River. The 1st and 2nd neighborhoods are the oldest and include notable sights such as the Louvre, Royal Palace, and Tuileries Garden. You’ll also find the Marais in the 3rd district, the Notre Dame in the 4th district, and St-Germain-des-Prés in the 6th district.
One of the must-see areas is the Latin Quarter in the 5th arrondissements. This neighborhood is a mix of modern and old.
Not only will you find lively student bars and cafes, but you’ll also have a chance to visit the Pantheon.
The Montmartre in the 18th arrondissements is a charming neighborhood full of winding streets, quaint cafes, and bohemian shops. It’s also home to the Basilica Sacre Coeur, which looms over the city, boasting dramatic Parisian views.
The Green Parks and Spaces
If you need a breath of fresh air, Paris has you covered. There are over 450 different parks and gardens to choose from! And while only 9% of the city is considered a “green space,” you’re never more than a short walk or subway ride away from nature.
In the center of the city sits the Jardin des Tuileries, a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. In addition to the backdrop of Parisian architecture, you’ll have colorful flower beds, grandiose statues, and peaceful ponds to admire.
The Jardin de Luxembourg is an idyllic garden between St-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter. Besides the sun-soaked lawns and manicured gardens, the park also features a 17th-century palace built by the Queen of France, Marie de’ Medici.
If you’re in the northeastern part of the city (between the 19th and 20th districts), then you’ll be near Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.
Surrounded by lush forests and sparkling lakes, it’s easy to forget you’re in the middle of a bustling European capital.
For one of the best views of Paris, you can stop by Parc de Belleville. Located atop a hilly slope, this park is a great spot for watching the sunset. Bring a picnic and a bottle of wine and admire the Eiffel Tower in the distance as the sun goes down.
The Café and Coffee Culture
If you want to experience Paris like a local, then spend a few hours in a local café. Grab a table on the sidewalk, order a coffee or aperitif, and simply enjoy the bustle of city life. And if you’re hungry, many cafes are open throughout the day and serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Dating back more than 440 years, Café Procope near the Comédie-Française theater is the oldest café in Paris.
It can be touristy during the high season, so try to come early if you want to grab a good seat out front for people watching.
Café de Flore is one of the most photographed cafes, and for a good reason. Over the last few years, its flora-covered façade and art-deco interior have attracted celebrities, artists, and poets from all over the world.
Across the street form Café de Flore is Les Deux Magots. It’s become a “see and be seen” hangout for affluent Parisians, although it was also the beloved meeting spot for Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway.
And in the likely chance that these spots are busy – don’t worry. Paris is home to approximately 7000 other cafes, each with its own history, charm, and style.
The Food Scene
Food is one of the most important aspects of French culture. This is especially true in Paris, where you’ll find restaurant after restaurant serving some of the best cuisine in the whole country.
Start your morning with a freshly baked croissant. These flaky, butter pastries are served in practically every café or boulangerie in the city.
A baguette is another Parisian staple, which you can eat with butter, cheese, meats, or simply on its own!
For lunch, head to a local French brasserie, where you can dine on traditional dishes like steak frites, French onion soup, or a croque-monsieur. If you’re in a rush, you can pick something to-go, like a jambon-beure sandwich (butter and ham on a baguette). You can also grab a savory or sweet crepe stuffed and topped with your favorite accompaniments.
Dinner time brings heartier and more satisfying options to the table. Ratatouille (vegetable ragout), cassoulet (bean and meat stew), boeuf bourguignon (braised beef and vegetables), and coq au vin (chicken stew) are just a few favorites you’ll find on most traditional restaurant menus.
If you’re looking to splurge on a gourmet meal, then you can choose one of the 113 Michelin-starred restaurants.
L’Astrance, L’Atelier Saint-Germain de Joël Robuchon, and Restaurant Guy Savory are considered to be some of the best fine dining restaurants in the world.
The Nearby Day Trips
Paris is centrally located next to many charming villages, majestic castles, and beautiful parks. It’s the perfect jumping-off point for exploring more stunning sites and attractions in France!
Château de Versailles is a popular day trip located just one hour from Paris. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has a 2,300-room palace and 1976-acres of manicured gardens. It’s one of the finest examples of 17th-century architecture (just take a look at the famous Hall of Mirrors inside the palace).
For more breathtaking architecture, take the train to the Loire Valley. Here, you’ll see three French Renaissance-style fortresses surrounded by miles of fruit orchards and vineyards. Speaking of vineyards, the Champagne region of France is also less than an hour away. You can visit the iconic champagne houses of Tattinger, Moët et Chandon, and Veuve Clicquot during your visit.
History buffs can also visit the coastal region of Normandy. You can walk along Omaha Beach (home to the infamous D-Day landing) or pay homage to the fallen soldiers at the Normandy American Cemetery.
What is the Best Time to Visit Paris?
Paris is a city that never sleeps, which means there’s always something to see and do no matter what time of the year you visit. Summer is the warmest season, although it also happens to be the busiest.
Spring and fall are also great times to visit, as the streets aren’t overly humid or swarmed by tourists. Winter (around Christmas) and the weekends around Paris Fashion Week can also be busy, so it’s best to avoid those dates if you want a quieter and more peaceful experience.
How Many Days Do I Need in Paris?
Paris is a massive, sprawling city with something to see around every corner. Ideally, you’ll want to be in town for at least 5 to 7 days.
This gives you time to visit the different neighborhoods and a handful of museums or attractions. However, if you only have a few days, you can still visit the major sites in the city center, including the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.