With more than 130 world-class museums to visit, scores of attractions to discover, extraordinary architecture to gape at, and wonderful neighborhoods to wander, Paris is an endless series of delights. The hardest part is figuring out where to begin. Fortunately, you can have a terrific time even if you don’t see everything. Some of your best moments may be simply roaming around the city without a plan. Lolling on a park bench, dreaming over a drink at a sidewalk cafe, or noodling around an unknown neighborhood can be the stuff of your best travel memories.
The following pages will highlight the best that Paris can offer area by area, from iconic sights known the world over to quirky museums and hidden gardens, from 1,000-year-old castles to galleries celebrating the most challenging contemporary art, and from the must-sees to the only-if-you’ve-seen-everything-else. Just remember that it is always advisable to reserve advance tickets for the bigger attractions. You will not get into the Louvre without a pre-paid, time-stamped ticket, for instance. Also bear in mind that at time of writing, late-night openings had been canceled at many museums, but they could well be reinstated., then, is the best of Paris’s attractions.
Passing on the Passes
Paris is a walkable city with numerous free museums and serendipitous experiences, so paying for its sightseeing pass, the Paris Passlib’, might not make sense. It comes down to the math. Introduced in 2021, the fully digitized pass is valid for a year and comes in four versions: Mini (32€ for 3 activities from 14 offered), City (69€ for 5 attractions from 33 offered), Explore (119€ for 6 attractions from 38), and Prestige (189€ for 6 attractions from 57). An activity is classed as anything from entry to a museum to an experience like a boat trip or a cabaret show, depending on the pass you choose. The passes claim that buying one can save you roughly 15%. However, if you look at the details, this is mostly true only if you select the most expensive activities on the list. Take the Mini pass: If you use it to book a river cruise with Bateaux Parisiens, a ticket to the Monnaie de Paris, and the Musée Rodin, the pass will save you 7€. If, however, you use it on the Musée du Quai Branly, the Conciergerie, and the Château de Vincennes, you will lose 4€. In short, don’t dismiss the pass, but do your homework: Deciding which activities you’d like to experience and totting up the sums before you buy is a time-consuming activity, but worth it to save some cash. And don’t forget that Paris has multiple museums that offer free entry. For more information, visit www.parisinfo.com.
Paris's Top 14 Sights and Attractions
- Arc de Triomphe
- Basilique du Sacré-Coeur
- Musée Rodin
- Centre Pompidou
- Cimetière du Père-Lachaise
- Hôtel des Invalides/Napoleon's Tomb
- Jardin du Luxembourg
- Musée d'Orsay
- Musée du Louvre
- Musée du Quai Branly
- Palais de Tokyo
- Parc de la Villette
- Sainte Chapelle
- Tour Eiffel
Seeing Museums for Free
Most museums offer free entry to students and young adults ages 25 and under from the European Union with valid ID. If this is you, ask when you buy your ticket. Children, typically ages 17 and under, but sometimes only up to age 7, often get in for free too. See the listings below for details. With only a few exceptions, all city museums are free (permanent collections only), all the time. That includes the following cultural cornucopias:
*Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
*Maison de Balzac
*Maison de Victor Hugo
*Musée Zadkine, except during temporary exhibits
*Musée de la Vie Romantique
*Musée du Louvre, October to March
Getting Out of Line
Lines at Paris’s museums and other attractions keep growing, and visitor frustration levels are rising accordingly. Even smaller museums can have long lines during school holidays and special temporary exhibits. To avoid wasting precious hours standing in queues, buy your tickets ahead of time whenever possible, either online or at an Fnac store (www.fnac.fr). They may cost 1€ or 2€ more than at the door, but e-ticket in hand, you can generally breeze past everyone; just follow the signs marked billet coupe-file. A Paris Passlib’ card (http://booking.parisinfo.com) will also get you to the front of the line at many major museums.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.