The great thing about Europe is the cities are not centuries in the making, they are millennia in the making. Paris has often been referred to as the capital of Europe which is due to its shift in importance during the 17th through 19th centuries. You already know about the Eiffel Tower and the Mona Lisa so here are 12 more “local” attractions you shouldn’t miss while in Paris!
Pro Tip: When planning trips I always make a folder in my browser with helpful articles. Bookmark this page and add it to your folder so when you’re sitting at a cafe on Île Saint-Louis wondering what to do next you’ll have something to circle back to. Also, check out our perfect first-day Paris itinerary.
12. Visit the Paris Museum of Modern Art
If you have been to Paris more than once and are too cool for the Louvre, it is time to graduate to the Paris Museum of Modern Art. You’ll find works by Matthew Barney, Maurizio Cattelan, Olafur Eliasson, Pierre Huyghe, Larry Clark and more.
This is an incredible collection of modern art located in the 4th arrondissement close to the Eiffel Tower. I am sure a guided tour would greatly enhance your experience but you could also do this one on your own.
Address: 11 Avenue du Président Wilson (4th Arrondissement – near Eiffel Tower)
11. Stravinsky Fountain, Church of Saint-Merri
The fountain is named after Russian born composer Igor Stravinsky. Why name a fountain in Paris after a Russian composer? Stravinsky was one of the most notable, if not the most notable, composers of the 20th century.
He spent at least 20 years of his life living in Paris and was first noticed on the international stage when performing three ballets in the City of Light.
The fountain is strange, emotional, and sporadic. Full of color, happiness, joy, and again strangeness. It’s an incredible work of art and any great person would be proud to have it in their name.
This fountain, created in 1983, shows how Paris is always on the threshold of contemporary style. The contrast between the gothic church of Santi-Merri and this circus-like fountain is really something to admire.
The fountain was sculpted by Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle who wanted to make it feel abstractly similar to a circus of street performers. Wonderful.
Address: Igor Stravinsky Square
10. Liberty Leading the People, Louvre Museum
I, Sean from Youtube, decided to start my tour company after standing in front of the Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli. I was encapsulated by the beauty of the painting.
A large part of my decision to open up in France happened while standing in front of Liberty Leading the People. It was painted by Eugène Delacroix in 1830. It commemorates the people of France leading a revolution to overthrow King Charles X of France (not to be confused with the French Revolution of 1789). She holds the tricolour, current flag of France, in one hand and a musket in the other.
She leads the people over a barricade like a mound of bodies to apparent victory. The female lead is unfortunately not to be confused with early signs of gender-equality. It was far too soon for that, but in my opinion, it was an admittance of the presence of a strong woman being in-part behind every great movement. One step at a time.
It is an extremely romantic painting in many ways. You’ll find a mix of different social classes fighting behind Liberty representing hope for what is to come. According to scholars, this very painting will signify the end of the age of enlightenment and bring on the romantic era.
It is a must-see painting at the Louvre. Like all great works of art, it deserves an explanation. Consider taking one of our guided tours of the Louvre from a passionate English speaking guide.
9. Luxembourg Gardens
It is a strange thing. After visiting Paris many times, I first went into the Jardin du Luxembourg in 2019. It is a wonderful place to relax for a few hours. I think I took the best nap of my life there.
It was created in 1612 by Marie dé Medici, yep from Florence. You can read more about the Medici dynasty here. She was the sixth daughter of Francesco I de’ Medici.
It is a 56 acre, 23 hectares, garden in the center of Paris. It is beautifully curated and free to enter. One of the most beautiful places you may ever go. Bring a cold bottle of bubbly, some cheese, fruit, and a blanket and you’ll have yourself a wonderful afternoon.
Address: Luxembourg Gardens
8. Oysters & Champagne at Huitrerie Régis
This honestly shouldn’t be on this list because it should be a no brainer.
Raw oysters are one of those things that everyone who tries them, likes them. France also happens to have arguably the best oysters out there. They are at least the best I have ever tried.
Go to Huitrerie Régis and eat as many oysters as you can and drink as much champagne as you can buy.
The website says, “The restaurant does not take reservations. No worries, we can whet our appetite by enjoying a glass of white wine, on the terrace or at the bar to enjoy a spectacle offered by the scales.”
I don’t know exactly what that means but they have amazing oysters and everyone working there is very cool.
Address: 3 Rue de Montfaucon
7. Go to Trocadéro
Yes, this is touristy. Yes, Parisians do this too.
Remember, tourist attractions are not just for visitors. Locals can recognize beauty as well.
You don’t see many Parisians heading up to the tower platform on a regular basis but they’ll go to Trocadéro and gaze out at the beauty of the Eiffel tower every now and then.
Just because Parisians don’t go up the tower, doesn’t mean you can’t. Check out our Eiffel tower tour with Seine river cruise.
6. Bois de Vincennes
All the way out in the 12th is the Bois de Vincennes or Woods of Vincennes.
I almost recommend you don’t do this as it is pretty far out of the center and you probably won’t find a single tourist here. That said, it’s pretty cool for a very contrarian trip to Paris.
It’s simply an amazing park outside of Paris that shows you a side of Paris that locals definitely appreciate. You’ll find actual Parisians here enjoying nature.
Address: Route de la Pyramide
5. Stroll Through Place des Vosges
This is a quick little bucket list square to hit but very beautiful.
Parisian architecture and lawn care are simply described as curated and equilateral. Everything is perfect and uniform. Lovely spot to snap some picks and hang out.
Address: Place des Vosges
4. Play Petanque (Kind of Bocce Ball)
The difference between the two is that Petanque is more of a “throw” game-like horseshoes where Bocce is more of a roll game.
Either way, you can look up the rules on your phone and play Petanque in almost any major park.
- Luxembourg Gardens
- Tuileries Gardens
- River Seine (Paris Plages)
- Palais Royal
- Canal Saint-Martin
You can also play inside a bar at Chez Bouboule which looks super cool. I am going to check it out on my next trip.
3. Eat Expensive Food
This almost goes without saying but French people love delicious food which also can be expensive.
Last time I was there I put down a large amount of caviar (which could be confused with a small amount of basically anything else) at a blind caviar tasting.
There are 122 Michelin-Star restaurants in Paris for 2020 and while they all serve different food they have one thing in common – very expensive. You don’t have to do it every night but you should go out at least one night and bring a few hundred euro per person to go all out.
We offer an exquisite experience known as the Super Expensive Food Tour. We refer to it in-house as the “SEFT”. You drink great wine, eat great food, and go all out. It includes a caviar tasting and bares a big price tag!
2. Wonder Through the Colonnes de Buren
This is a really cool courtyard inside Palais Royal. In French, they are referred to as Les Deux Plateaux.
They were installed by Daniel Buren in 1985/86 inside Palais Royal. Apparently, the work is meant to portray the perception and intellectual projections of space.
I personally don’t see that. I see a very unique contrast between classical French architecture and modern art. I think its a cool place to walk through that would definitely impress whoever you are with.
Address: 2 Rue de Montpensier
1. Walk Down the Seine
Ok, I am sorry this is anti-climatic but there is nothing more Parisian than hanging out on the Seine. Unlike many other cities, the walkway on either side of the river is kept up really well.
I definitely recommend cruising down by Notre Dame and Île Saint-Louis where the river splits. The city looks somehow even more beautiful from down on the Seine.