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crowdsourced: paris

Updated: Aug 18, 2023

Welcome to the city of love, lights, and croissants - Paris! I am not sure that there is a more quintessentially European destination than France's cosmopolitan capital. With a deeply rich history, world-class museums, grand architecture, and a proudly distinct culture, a trip to Paris is truly worthy of any bucket list. Who hasn't dreamed of strolling a tree-lined boulevard with a warm baguette sticking out of your bag? (Or is that just me?)

With 20 arrondissements (neighborhoods) to explore, it can take weeks if not months for a single traveler to get a more complete understanding of this magical city. That is why I have called in for backup, asking 15 other travelers to share their best Paris recommendations alongside mine in order to cobble together this crowdsourced guide. The most commonly recommended places and activities are ranked highest. Bon voyage!


#1 eiffel tower at night

Of course you must see the Eiffel Tower (en francais: Le Tour Eiffel) - that much should be obvious. But what is less obvious is the best way to see it. Many people suggested to skip climbing the tower during the day, as the best views in town should include the tower in it (a good alternative is Arc de Triomphe). Instead, visit the tower at night, where you can admire the brilliant light show from ground level with your own Parisian picnic.

#2 le marais

On the banks of the Seine, nestled in between the 3rd and 4th arrondissements, lies the picturesque neighborhood of Le Marais. This is the best area to stay, eat, and explore. Be sure to peruse the markets here (don't miss Marché des Enfants Rouge) and grab delicious food at L'As du Fallafel and Pain Vin Fromages.

#3 boulangeries, patisseries, and more

Perhaps the best part of Paris is the abundance of bakeries (boulangeries), pastry shops (patisseries), and other delicious street treats. A fail-proof method for finding the best spots is looking for places busy with locals, but the friends who contributed to this guide specifically mentioned Du Pain et Des Idées, Stohrer Patisserie, and La Patisserie Cyril Lignac. Another must-try treat? Fresh crepes from any street vendor!

#4 the iconic must-sees

You certainly don’t need me to remind you, but the most recommended iconic sights are: the Louvre Museum (dedicate a minimum of half a day here, if not longer!), the Notre Dame Cathedral (set to reopen in December 2024, after extensive renovations from the tragic fire), and Versailles Palace (the gardens are just as lovely and lavish as the interiors).

#5 tours to your taste

It’s hard to fully appreciate the French people's downright obsession with food and wine without the proper guidance. Taking a food tour is the best way to appreciate a huge part of the local culture, and Secret Food Tours puts on a great one. Of course, there are many more non-food specific tours that give you a better feel for this large city, and Fat Tire Tours was a favorite.

#6 cafés, bistros, and brasseries

Is anything more Parisian than lingering outside a café? Maybe lingering outside a café while drinking a Bordeaux and chain smoking cigarettes, but I digress. Cafés are distinct from bistros and brasseries, the former being more focused on drinks (like coffee, wine, or beer) while the latter two tend to offer casual meals alongside your drinks. All three are distinct from the more upscale restaurant setting (more on that below), and here are some recommend places: Café Charlot, Le Mansard, Pied de Cochon (literally Pig's Foot; get the French onion soup), and La Brasserie De L'Isle Saint Louis.

#7 classy dining

Paris is home to some of the most exquisite restaurants in the world, with the second most Michelin-starred spots of any city (behind Tokyo). For classicly French fare and a memorable dining experience, book at a table at Le Train Bleu, Girafe, Pavyllon, La Jacobine, or Chez Fernand Christine. For non-French but equally delicious food, try Ober Mamma (pizza), Lili (Chinese), and La Massara (Italian).

#8 picturesque parks

Parks are a relaxing way to soak up the atmosphere of the city and do a bit of people watching to see how modern Parisians live. Spend a quiet morning or lazy afternoon in Tuileries Garden or Luxembourg Garden. You can also grab brunch with a view of Luxembourg Garden at Treize Au Jardin.

#9 montmartre

Located in the northern 18th arrondissement, Montmartre is a charming hilltop area that has thankfully retained much of its bohemian, artistic past. Climb the steps of Sacre Coeur to be rewarded with a lovely view of the city, taste some delightful macarons at Christophe Roussel, and finish your evening with dinner and ambiance at Le Potager.


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