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Top 5 things to do in Paris

Musée d'Orsay
#1
Musée d'Orsay
Housed in the stunning Beaux-Arts style Gare d'Orsay railway station, The Musée d'Orsay is home to significant and stunning works by painters including Gauguin, Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, and Van Gogh. It's widely considered to be one of the most culturally important museums in the world. Its entire collection is from the period 1848-1914, including many of the most significant Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings ever created. Chronologically, the works come after those of the neighboring Louvre, and before the collection of the nearby Pompidou Centre.
Palace of Versailles
#2
Palace of Versailles
This luxurious 17th-century French palace is a masterclass in excess. It has hundreds of acres of magnificently landscaped gardens, more than 700 rooms, a large collection of French Renaissance art, an opera house, and a 75-meter long hall of mirrors lined with priceless statues and busts. There are no half-measures in its conception or execution – it has more than 1,200 fireplaces! It's one of the most visited attractions in France, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Centre Pompidou
#3
Centre Pompidou
Europe's largest collection of modern and contemporary art (oh yes, there is a difference!) is housed in a building that was deemed to be architecturally daring in the 20th century. The building features plumbing and piping on the outside and Picasso and Pollock on the inside. And to top it all off, from the rooftop you'll find gorgeous views of Paris and the Eiffel Tower. The Centre Pompidou is one of Paris's 'Big Three' museums – the other two being the Louvre and Musée d'Orsay. The Louvre holds art and artifacts from up until 1848. The Musée d'Orsay contains the world's greatest collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, all produced between the years 1848-1914. The Centre Pompidou holds 20th and 21st-century works (created after 1914). Altogether, the three museums house a complete timeline of Western art history.
Aquarium de Paris
#4
Aquarium de Paris
The Paris Aquarium is not only Europe's oldest aquarium (it was built in 1867), for years it was also Europe's largest. Housed in the center of the city, on the quarries where Napoleon would house his cavalry, this institution has been part of the fabric of Parisian life for more than a century. This institution embodies the late 19th century fascination with the spectacular. Alongside bearded ladies and camera obscuras, aqua vivariums were all the rage. With 4 million liters of water, and 10,000 fish from around the world, there's plenty to keep you and your family entertained here for hours on end.
Opéra Garnier
#5
Opéra Garnier
This 19th-century architectural masterpiece was built by Charles Garnier at the wishes of Emperor Napoleon III. It's located at the Place de l'Opera, a square in Paris's 9th arrondissement. The insides of the Opéra Garnier boast some stunning Beaux-Arts architecture (the 30-meter high marble Grand Staircase for example). Its intricate interior inspired Gaston Leroux's 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera (and thus Andrew Lloyd Webber's smash-hit musical), making this the perhaps the most famous opera house in the world.
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Reasons to visit Paris

All things to do in Paris

Planning your Paris visit

Language

French

Currency

Euro (€)

Dialing code

+33

Time zone

Central European Time (CET)

Public Transport

Whether you take the Metro, the bus or the RER suburban trains, the whole city is very well covered. The Metro is probably the best way to get from A to B, while you’ll see more of the city if you travel by bus. There are various ticket options so you should easily find one that suits your stay. The best place to buy them is in any of the Metro and RER stations. Alternatively, rent a Vélib' bike for the day and explore the city on two wheels.

Parks & Gardens

With over 400 parks and gardens, and 250,000 trees, Paris has the honor of being the most wooded capital in Europe. Pack a picnic of Cabernet Sauvignon and some Camembert, then head to the Tuileries or Luxembourg Gardens. Or perhaps make like a philosopher and ponder the world in the Buttes Chaumont, Bois de Vincennes or Bois de Boulogne. They’re all accessible by Metro or bus, and entrance is gloriously free.

French Cuisine

In a country synonymous with great cuisine, Paris just might be the culinary capital of the world. You’ll certainly have your choice of great eateries at any time of the day. The traditional Parisian brasserie is a must-do while there are a multitude of fine dining restaurants. You’ll find great little cafés and bars dotted all over the city serving the best of French cuisine and international specialties.

What to do in Paris for 3 days

The Eiffel Tower

With the exception of Rome and the Colosseum, no building is as interwoven with the idea of a city as Paris and the Eiffel Tower. But that wasn't always the case: Gustave Eiffel's tower project was widely hated before, during and after its construction. In fact, hundreds of Parisian artists and intellectuals signed a protest letter in which they railed "against the construction, in the very heart of our capital, of the useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower." But by then, Paris had already decided that the tower would serve as a monumental archway during the 1889 World's Fair. And on 15 March 1889 it was completed. With 18,000 metallic parts and 2.5 million rivets, it was a true feat of engineering - the perfect centerpiece. It was scheduled to be dismantled in 20 years, but partially due to its use as a radio transmitter it endured. And now, it's synonymous with the city itself - and a must-do in Paris.

World-Class Museums

Paris is blessed with some truly outstanding museums. The star is of course the Louvre, which houses history’s most famous painting (we don’t really have to name it, do we?). What you might not have known is that the building - and the collection - originally belonged to the royal family, and only opened to the public during the French Revolution. Today, the museum holds over 65,000 objects that date from pre-history to the 20th century. The Musée d’Orsay is another world-class museum. Housed in a beaux-arts building on the left bank of the Seine, it’s best known for its collection of French art (including sculpture, photos and furniture) from 1848–1915. It boasts the world’s largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces. If contemporary art is more your thing, visit the Centre Pompidou, which turned the art world upside-down in the 1970s, with its 'inside-out' construction.

Fashion & Shopping

Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Dior… The names of world famous Parisian designers trip off the tongue, and the city has long been a mecca for fashionistas. Whether you desire haute-couture or prêt-á-porter, you really are spoiled for choice in Paris. To narrow it down, consider heading straight away to Galeries Lafayette, the upmarket department store, which hosts a free fashion show every Friday afternoon. Le Printemps, also in the Hausmann-Opera district, is another elegant old department store in the Bloomingdales tradition. If neither of those excite your credit card, head to The Golden Triangle – the area between Avenue Marceau, the Champs Elysees and Avenue Montaigne, which is home to boutiques from your favorite high-end labels.

The Seine River

In his will Napoleon Bonaparte asked to be buried on the banks of the Seine. His request wasn't granted, but it's easy to understand why he was so taken with this waterway; there's a special pleasure in taking a lazy cruise along this famous river. Most of the one-hour tours are narrated in several languages and are a great way to learn about Paris’s history while admiring the many iconic UNESCO World Heritage sites in the City of Light. There's something about seeing the monuments from Paris's heavily-traversed central river that gives both a literal and figurative 'fresh perspective'. Our suggestions are to let yourself drift along with the current on one of the famous Bateaux Parisiens. Or, if you're feeling indulgent, sip a glass of Champagne on the Vedettes de Paris.