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  • Pont-des-Arts-Paris - A wonderful evening capture of Pont des Arts, the pedestrian bridge over the River Seine in Paris. It links the Institut de France and the central square of the Louvre. You can also see Notre Dame and Sainte-Chapelle.
  • Louvre-and-pyramid-Paris - Courtyard of the Museum of Louvre and its pyramid. I.M. Pei's redesign of the Cour Napoléon, the main court of the Louvre, was completed in 1989.
  • luxembourg-gardens-paris-france - Luxembourg Gardens in Paris.
  • Sainte-Chapelle-Interior-Paris-2 - Interior of Sainte-Chapelle in Paris.
  • Ile-de-la-Cite-Paris -  The Ile de la Cite as seen from the Pont des Arts in Paris shortly before sunrise in this HDR image.
  • Arc-de-Triomphe-Paris - A nice capture of the Arc de Triomphe (Arch of Triumph), at the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle, Paris.
  • sacre-coeur-paris-france - Sacre Coeur in Paris, France.
  • Notre-Dame-de-Paris - The iconic Notre Dame Cathedral on Ile de la Cite in Paris.
  • montmartre-paris-france - Once painted by Utrillo, La Maison Rose (the Pink House) is a charming little restaurant with an unhurried feel in the Montmartre section of Paris.
  • Eiffel-Tower-Paris -  The Eiffel Tower, as seen from the Champ de Mars in Paris.
  • Mona-Lisa-Leonardo-da-Vinci-Paris - "The Mona Lisa" (c. 1503-1506), oil on wood panel by Leonardo da Vinci at the Louvre in Paris. (Oh, and technically, it's a Leonardo, not a "da Vinci.")
  • louvre-paris-france - The Louvre and its iconic pyramid at night in Paris.
  • latin-quarter-paris-france - A bustling street in the Latin Quarter of Paris.
  • saint-severin-paris-france - Saint Severin in Paris, France.
  • louvre-paris-france-1 - The Louvre and its iconic pyramid at night in Paris.
  • Uniworld-River-Baroness-Paris - Can you really cruise to Paris? Bien sur! Discover the iconic Eiffel Tower on a Uniworld luxury cruise to Paris aboard River Baroness.
  • Eiffel-Tower-panorama-Paris - A view of the base of the Eiffel Tower in Paris at night.
  • Aerial-view-of-Paris - A spectacular aerial view of Paris.
  • Sainte-Chapelle-lower-chapel-ceiling-Paris - Panoramic of the lower chapel ceiling of Sainte-Chapelle, or La Santa Capilla, in Paris.
  • water-lilies-Claude_Monet - "Water Lilies," aka "Nymphéas" (c. 1922), watercolor painting by French Impressionist Claude Monet, can be seen at Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris.
  • path-seine-paris-france - View of the Seine in Paris with Notre Dame in the background.
  • Interior-Sainte-Chapelle-Paris - The upper chapel of the Sainte Chapelle in Paris, built between 1242 and 1248 by King Louis IX of France and restored in the 1800s.
  • palace-of-versailles-detail-france - A corner detail of the 1700s ode to opulence, the Palace of Versailles in France.
  • dome-galleries-lafayette-paris-france - The ornate, stained glass dome found above the perfume department in Paris' Galleries Lafayette department store.
  • Notre-Dame-river-cruise-Paris - A river cruise ship sails past Notre Dame de Paris on Ile de la Cite in Paris.
  • Quai-Tournelle-Paris.jpg - Second-hand booksellers on Quai de la Tournelle along the Seine in Paris.
  • cafe-paris.jpg - A bustling café on Rue Oberkampf in Paris.
  • moulin-rouge-paris.jpg - Moulin Rouge, a famous cabaret  on Boulevard de Clichy in Paris, first opened in 1889.
  • snow-paris.jpg - A snowy Paris landscape is a reminder that visiting Paris in winter can be magical.
  • latin-quarter-paris.jpg - Paris is more than just museums. Take time to wander through the Latin Quarter, laced with quaint streets (rues) like Saint-André des Arts.
  • paris-cityscape-night.jpg - The Paris cityscape illuminated at night with the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
  • louvre-pyramid-night.jpg - The Louvre Pyramid, in front of the Louvre Palace, illuminated at night in Paris.
  • eiffel-tower-long-exposure.jpg -  A time lapse of the base of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
  • louvre-pyramid-night2.jpg - The Louvre Pyramid, in front of the Louvre Palace, illuminated at night in Paris.
  • eiffel-tower-night.jpg - The Eiffel Tower illuminated at night in Paris.
  • paris-skyline-from-eiffel-tower.jpg - The Paris skyline seen from the Eiffel Tower.
  • Claude_Monet_Impression_soleil_levant - "Soleil Levant" (Impression, Sunrise) (1872), by Claude Monet, spawned the Impression movement. See it at Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris.
  • tahitian-women-on-the-beach - "Tahitian Women on the Beach" (1891), by Paul Gauguin, can be seen at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.
  • Pierre-Auguste_Renoir_Le_Moulin_de_la_Galette - "Le Moulin de la Galette" (1876), by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, can be seen at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.
  • Venus-de-Milo-Louvre-Paris - The Venus de Milo (created 130-100 BC, discovered on the small Aegean island of Melos in 1820) is believed to depict Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. See it at the Louvre in Paris.
  • Louvre-Cour-Carree.jpg - Cour Carrée (Square courtyard) of the Louvre museum at dusk.
  • Galerie-Colbert-Paris.jpg - Rotunda of the Galerie Colbert (Colbert Galleria), Paris
  • Galerie-Lafayette-Haussmann-Dome.jpg -  Dome and balconies of Galeries Lafayette store in Paris, with Christmas decorations. Photo has a 170° field of view.
  • Grands-Moulins-de-Pantin.jpg - Pantin Mills and Ourcq canal in Pantin, Seine-Saint-Denis, 4 miles northeast of Paris, at twilight.
  • Notre-Dame-Paris-front-facade.jpg - Lower part of the front façade of Notre Dame Cathedral, in Paris, at night. On the upper part, the 28 kings of Judea and Israel.
  • Sacre-Coeur-Paris.jpg - The famed landmark Basilique du Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre, Paris.
  • interior-Notre-Dame-Paris.jpg - The interior of Notre Dame dazzles visitors in Paris.
  • interior-Notre-Dame-Paris-1.jpg - Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, begun in 1160 A.D., is renowned for its Gothic architecture.
  • gallery-Val-de-Grace-Paris.jpg - Gallery of the cloister of the church of Val-de-Grâce. The church's dome dome is a notable feature of Paris's skyline.
  • Eiffel-Tower-Paris.jpg - At 1,063 feet, the Eiffel Tower is the tallest structure in Paris.
  • Arc-de-Triumph-Paris.jpg - The famed Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysées in Paris.
  • museum-modern-art-paris.jpg - An exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in the Trocadero, Paris.
  • city-science-industry-paris.jpg - The City of Science and Industry in Parc de la Villette in Paris is the largest science museum in Europe.
  • grand-palais-paris.jpg - The Grand Palais, a large exhibition hall and museum complex at the Champs-Élysée in Paris.
  • pompidou-centre-paris.jpg - The Pompidou Center in Paris showcases modern art. The plaza  out in front is a great place for people watching with jugglers, dancers and musicians performing.
  • Montparnasse-Cemetery-Paris.jpg - Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris contains the graves of many notables, including Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre and Samuel Beckett.
  • Musee-Rodin-Paris.jpg - The Musée Rodin in Paris, opened in 1919, is dedicated to the works of  French sculptor Auguste Rodin.
  • luxembourg-gardens-Paris.jpg - The Luxembourg Gardens in Paris are lovely in any season.
  • banks-seine-Paris.jpg - The banks of the Seine in Paris include some floating discos, bars and restaurants.
  • Pont-Louis-Philippe-Paris.jpg - The Pont Louis-Philippe bridge across the River Seine is located in the 4th arrondissement of Paris.

Paris travel guide & photo tour

our guide

The vibe

The City of Light is a pleasure to behold, whether it’s from the graceful bridges spanning the Seine (the locals pronounce it Sen), atop the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame, or among the backstreets and hidden courtyards of the Left Bank. It’s simply the ultimate destination for anyone who loves art, superb food, café life, history, shopping and iconic architecture.

Located in the north of the country on the river Seine, Paris brims with a vibrance and charm that continues to intoxicate visitors. And while you may not associate Paris with cruising, the city is magical when seen from a river cruise ship.

Many river cruises combine Paris and Normandy, starting and ending in Paris. Following the Seine, these itineraries typically include such highlights as the D-Day landing beaches and the seaport village of Honfleur, a favorite of the Impressionist painters. Some river-cruise companies also offer the chance to combine Paris/Normandy cruises with itineraries that include a transfer from Paris to Chalon-sur-Soane for a cruise into Burgundy and Provence. Paris is also included in some multi-country itineraries through Europe.

Cruise ships that call on Paris

River cruise ships that call on Paris

Top reasons to go

  • The outstanding art collections found in the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay as well as in smaller museums
  • The sheer beauty of the cityscape, with its magnificently preserved historic buildings, spacious squares and gardens
  • Superb culinary experiences – not just in gourmet restaurants but in small bistros and street markets

J'adore this 2-minute video love letter to Paris from Sonia Gil of Sonia's Travels.

Top things for cruise visitors to do & see in Paris

Eiffel Tower

Soaring more than 1,000 feet and containing over 18,000 metal sections, the Eiffel Tower, iconic symbol of Paris, offers three levels of viewing sections open to the public.

Musee de Louvre

Arguably the most famous museum in the world, Musee de Louvre holds an impressive display of art, art history and culture dating back to the 6th century BC. The Louvre has more than 200 halls filled with collections that encompass the ancient civilizations of Greece, Egypt and Rome as well as many important European works of art dating from the Middle Ages up through the mid-19th century, including the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. At the entrance, I.M. Pei's impressive glass pyramid has been greeting guests since 1989.

Musee d’Orsay

This former train station is a splendid backdrop for the Musee d'Orsay and France’s incomparable national collection of art created between 1848 and 1914. The top floor is filled with famous works by artists such as Degas, Monet, Manet, Pissarro, Renoir and Van Gogh.

Musee Picasso

Housed in a beautifully restored 17th-century mansion, the Musee Picasso offers an important collection by Pablo Picasso, including paintings, sculpture, ceramics, prints and memorabilia from the artist’s life. 

Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris

A masterpiece of French Gothic architecture, Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris dates from 1163 and took nearly 200 years to complete. The magnificent façade is embellished with gargoyles and flying buttresses, while its interior is bathed in light from a spectacular series of stained-glass windows.

The Sacre Coeur in Paris.
Chiara / Creative Commons BYThe Sacre Coeur in Paris.

Basilique du Sacre-Couer

Crowing the top of the hill of Monmartre, the Basilique du Sacre-Couer with its distinctive white dome offers breathtaking views of Paris. Its base can be reached by a tiny funicular train.

Arc de Triomphe

Built to honor the military might of Napoleon I, the Arc de Triomphe, rising over the Champs-Elyssées, is the site of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, marked by a memorial flame. 

Centre des Georges-Pompidou

It’s hard to tell which is more arresting: the modern art contained within the building or the building itself. Designed in the 1970s, the Centre Pompidou is an amalgam of glass, steel and brightly colored pipes which has caused some critics to call it “the gasworks.”

Musee Rodin

Musee Rodin holds an impressive collection of bronze and marble sculptures by Auguste Rodin, including The Kiss and The Thinker. It's housed in a splendid 18th-century townhouse with an adjoining garden filled with sculptures and shade trees.

Musée de l'Orangerie

Musée de l'Orangerie, an art gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings next to Place de la Concorde in the west corner of the Tuileries Gardens, is best known for French Impressionist Claude Monet's "Water Lilies" (Nymphéas) series depicting his flower garden at Giverny. Not to be overlooked are equally brilliant works by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Henri Rousseau.

See Claude Monet's
United States public domain See Claude Monet's "Water Lilies" series at Musée de l'Orangerie.

Pantheon

At the Pantheon in the Latin Quarter, you'll find the final resting place of Voltaire, Victor Hugo and Marie Curie. It's a great place to look out over all of Paris.

Go literary

Want to stay away from the usual tourist destinations? Red Wheelbarrow (22 Rue St. Paul) is a cool English-language bookstore in the Marais neighborhood in the heart of Paris where you can browse through stacks of fiction and nonfiction and call on the knowledgeable staff for help. 

Best bets for dining

Whether having a meal at a café, patisserie, bistro, brasserie or chic restaurant, you'll find excellent French cuisine all over the city. Paris is a moveable feast, and some possibilities include:

  • Many of Paris’ classic cafes are historic landmarks, especially along the St-Germain-des-Pres, where Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots were once the haunts of Hemingway, Sartre and other 20th-century literati. Les Deux Magots serves authentic Parisian breakfast fare, such as quiche, croissants and an aromatic coffee selection.
  • Less expensive and no less atmospheric, the nearby Le Bonaparte is an equally fine place to sit at a wicker table and enjoy an omelet or salad with toasted goat cheese.
  • With its incomparable setting part way up the Eiffel Tower, Jules Verne is a good choice for a big splurge at lunch or dinner.
  • Near the Louvre, good brasseries include Frenchie and Au Pied de Cochon.
  • For the world’s richest hot chocolate, head to Angelina on the Rue de Rivoli.
  • Try the bistro Julien in the 10th arrondissement for its Bavette à l'echalotte (flank steak with shallot reduction) or a lovely charcuterie, 
  • In the Haut Marais, Máncora Cebicheria at 16 Rue Dupetit-Thouars is a trendy, no-reservations spot with "a colorful ceviche-oriented menu," says the New York Times.
  • Les Chouettes (at 32 rue de Picardie) is a French fusion gastro-pub serving inspired cuisine in an Eiffel Tower-style setting. 
  • Chez Dumonet, in 6th arrondissement, is known for its crispy-skinned duck confit and decadent Grand Marnier soufflé.

Shopping

Shopping is a fascinating activity almost everywhere in Paris, whether it’s at the elegant galleries and fashion houses of the Faubourg St-Honore or the little book stalls and souvenir stands along the banks of the Seine. With its beautiful glass dome and wide-range of apparel, the Galeries Lafayette is the grandest of department stores and an attraction in its own right. Open every day, the Cligancourt Flea Market offers acres of vendors selling antiques and collectibles. Paris is filled with wonderful chocolate shops and gourmet food stores at every turn, especially around the Place Madeleine. The most celebrated of these is Fauchon, but even the ubiquitous Monoprix supermarkets offer delectable goodies.

Don’t miss

  • Tucked into a courtyard of the Palais de Justice, the exquisite Ste-Chapelle is best visited on a sunny day when the light coming through its magnificent stained glass windows, which comprise the largest expanse of stained glass in the world, creates a dazzling spectacle.
  • One of the most beautiful and historic squares in Paris, Place des Voges is lined with stately 17th-century town houses and arcades sheltering elegant galleries and cafés.

Family-friendly options

The 60-acre Luxembourg Gardens (Jardin du Luxembourg) in the Latin Quarter includes formal gardens, fountains, a children’s playground and a charming marionette theater.

A wonderful evening capture of Pont des Arts, the pedestrian bridge over the River Seine in Paris. It links the Institut de France and the central square of the Louvre. You can also see Notre Dame and Sainte-Chapelle.
Benh Lieu Song / Creative Commons BY SA 3.0A wonderful evening capture of Pont des Arts, the pedestrian bridge over the River Seine in Paris. It links the Institut de France and the central square of the Louvre. You can also see Notre Dame and Sainte-Chapelle.

YOLO (You only live once!)

For a close-up look at grimacing gargoyles and sweeping views of Paris, climb the 387 stops to the top of the north tower of Cathedrale de Notre-Dame.

Insider tips

  • Buy a pre-paid Museum Pass if you're planning to visit more than one site. It provides you entrance into many of the city's main museums, churches and landmarks.
  • Buy your Eiffel Tower tickets at least six months in advance! 
  • Take a romantic sunset stroll across the Pont Neuf at sunset. 

Best time to go

Spring and fall are the best seasons to visit Paris, with its colorful landscapes and peak café culture, but rainy days do occur (it can rain up to 25 inches per year). June and September generally have glorious weather. Visitor attractions are at their most crowded in the sweltering summer and some restaurants and shops close down in August. Winters are cold, with occasional snow – making the city look even more magical. But bring a coat: The average high temperature in January is 43°F.

Fun facts

  • It took 666 years to build the Louvre, originally a palace but now the most visited art museum in the world.
  • There is just one stop sign in all of Paris.
  • It is illegal in France to name a pig after Napoleon.
  • Paris was originally a Roman city called Lutetia.
  • The Eiffel Tower receives a fresh coat of bronze paint every seven years — 60 tons of it, painted by hand with circular brushes. 

When you arrive

Docking information

Most ocean cruise ships dock in Le Havre, about a two-hour trip into central Paris by train. But chances are you'll be flying to Paris and embarking on a river cruise from there. 

Getting around

Many of the major historic attractions and shopping areas in central Paris are within walking distance of each other. The city offers bus service as well as the efficient Paris Metro subway system; one- to five-day metro passes called Mobilis or Carte Orange are available to travelers. Taxis cannot be hailed from the street, but taxi stands are plentiful, especially near Metro stops. A fun alternative is the Batobus, boat service that runs up and down the Seine, stopping at major points of interest.

Need to know

Documents: U.S. and Canadian citizens will need a valid passport.

Language: French is the official language, but many people speak at least some English (if begrudgingly). Tip: Use a few polite French words and phrases to placate shopkeepers and help facilitate communication.

Currency: The euro

Safety: While Paris is considered a relatively safe city, you should take precautions in public and be especially on the lookout for pickpockets. See our safety tips.

Your take

Have you been to Paris? Please share a story, tip or discovery. What was the highlight?

Help improve this article! See anything wrong? What did we overlook? Be a co-creator!

miles to go!

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Maria Lenhart
I am a veteran travel writer who has enjoyed reporting on destinations far and near for many publications. My favorite way to travel is on board a ship, no matter where it's going. 

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Overheard

“Bills in bars and restaurants must by law include service, so tipping isn’t required, but it is polite to round your bill with small change, unless you’re dissatisfied. In expensive restaurants, it’s common to leave an additional 5% on the table.”

Fodor’s Travel

“Favorite restaurant...Chez l'Ami Jean, Paris”

Condé Nast Traveler magazine 

 “To reach the top of the Champs-Elysées, take the Metro to the Arc de Triomphe, then saunter down the grand boulevard.”

Rick Steves

“Quedubon — Near the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, this bar specializes in organic wines and is worth the trek for a chin-wag with the eccentric owner, Gilles Bénard. The traditional French fare — boudin, pâté, duck, steak — is also good (22 rue du Plateau, 19th arr.).”

Condé Nast Traveler magazine

 

“The latest must-see attraction in Paris floats like a cloud of glass above the treetops of the Bois de Boulogne. The Fondation Louis Vuitton, devoted to contemporary arts and culture from France and beyond and supported by the luxury fashion conglomerate LVMH, opens on October 27. The building, designed by Frank Gehry, has galleries for its art collection (Daniel Buren; Rineke Dijkstra: Ellsworth Kelly), spaces for site specific works, and an auditorium for music and dance.”

Travel + Leisure magazine

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