(And some hidden gems)

Cafe Nemours at night louvre

So you've booked a trip to Paris and now you want to know how to hit the ground running when you arrive? 

Look no further, we'll guide you through some of the must-sees and experiences of the city and give you an insight into the lesser known places you should go. 

1) The Louvre

The biggest, busiest museum of them all - in 2018, over 10 million guests visited the Louvre. But the Louvre is a legend for a reason, and there are ways to get around the crowds to see the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Venus de Milo... as well as the quieter Richelieu statue courts, the remains of the old Louvre castle in the Sully wing, or the much less frequented third floor of the museum. The Louvre is free for those under 18 (non-EU residents) and under 26s (EU residents), and it is regularly open late on Fridays if you want a leisurely stroll through the museum in the evening. 

2) People watch from a cafe terrace

After walking around the Louvre, you'll probably want to rest your feet and re-energise with a coffee. Take a seat at one of the many bistros or cafes, sit back and watch the world go by. There are countless options for each budget, taste and style - some of our favourites include Cafe Nemours (shown above), Le Compas (on Rue Montorgueil, perfect inbetween shopping and sight-seeing), or the Comptoir du Pantheon (a wood-panelled haunt for the local students and professors, overlooking the Pantheon).

3) Pompidou Centre

Home to an enormous collection of modern and contemporary arts, the Pompidou Centre is a huge, awe-inspiring museum in a historically hated building. You need to see its inside-out architecture yourself to make your mind up whether you love it or hate, but we love it - the different colours of the pipes marks what they're used for (air, electricity, people...), and the building also holds an enormous public library (the Bibliothèque publique d'information, or BPI), a bookshop, cafe and rooftop bar. You can also buy a ticket taking you up the escalators on the outside of the building, for an unparalleled view over the city. 

4) Take a walk along the Seine

The two sides of Paris are divided by the river Seine. Beautiful in every season, why not take a walk along the river, stopping at the book stands (the ever present bouquinistes) on the way, or watching the boats go by. We recommend walking from the Louvre on the Right Bank towards the Ile de la Cite (where Notre Dame is), and then on to the Ile St Louis to grab some Berthillon ice cream. But both sides of the river are equally beautiful, and full of breathtaking sights. 

5) Relax in a park

No matter the weather or season, Parisians always head to the green spaces of the city to relax. Follow their example and take a walk - or bring a picnic - to one of the many public parks dotting the city. From the huge Jardin de Tuileries, to the hidden park inside the Palais Royal, the Right Bank has any number of spaces for you to relax and unwind after a busy day visiting Paris. And the Left Bank boasts the elegant Jardin de Luxembourg, home to the French Senat, and the Roman-era remains of the Arènes de Lutèce.

6) Shop in the Marais

The Marais is home to hundreds of boutiques and famous brands, and its winding streets make it the ideal place to spend an afternoon exploring. Start at the Place des Vosges and work your way through the neighbourhood, stopping at ancient mansions, vintage shops, patisseries and more along the way. 

And if you're looking for more ideas, or want to compete with your friends and family while exploring the city, why not try one of our tours? 

scavenger hunt paris latin quarter left bank arenes de lutece