Paris things to do

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Centre Pompidou

Price guide: Mid-range
#1/30
expert-rated things to do in Paris
Expert overall rating:4.9 (out of 5)

A buzzing landmark of modern art and architecture.

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Les Invalides

Price guide: Mid-range
#5/30
expert-rated things to do in Paris
Best for History -
Expert overall rating:4.7 (out of 5)

Meeting point for two great megalomaniacs: Napoleon and Louis XIV.

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Sainte Chapelle

Price guide: Mid-range
#11/30
expert-rated things to do in Paris
Expert overall rating:4.6 (out of 5)

A jewel of High Gothic architecture with fabulous stained glass.

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#14/30
expert-rated things to do in Paris
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Expert overall rating:4.5 (out of 5)

A Modernist must-see for architecture buffs – and it's not just white.

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#17/30
expert-rated things to do in Paris
Expert overall rating:4.5 (out of 5)

Discover gargoyles, headless kings and great views at Paris's Gothic cathedral.

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Palais de Tokyo

Price guide: Mid-range
#20/30
expert-rated things to do in Paris
Best for Chilling out -
Expert overall rating:4.4 (out of 5)

Exciting contemporary art in an artfully distressed setting.

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Musée d'Orsay

Price guide: Mid-range
#21/30
expert-rated things to do in Paris
Expert overall rating:4.4 (out of 5)

Impressionists, symbolists and realists galore in the old Orsay train station.

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#23/30
expert-rated things to do in Paris
Expert overall rating:4.4 (out of 5)

A beautiful church and shrine of Paris's patron saint.

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Cité de l'Architecture

Price guide: Mid-range
#25/30
expert-rated things to do in Paris
Expert overall rating:4.3 (out of 5)

From Romanesque to Le Corbusier, a tour of French architecture without leaving Paris.

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Musée du Quai Branly

Price guide: Mid-range
#27/30
expert-rated things to do in Paris
Expert overall rating:4.3 (out of 5)

Non-western art and artefacts in a radical, colourful building.

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Arc de Triomphe

Price guide: Mid-range
#28/30
expert-rated things to do in Paris
Expert overall rating:4.2 (out of 5)

A monumental triumph just for the view.

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Most museums and galleries close on either Monday or Tuesday. In general, state-run museums (Louvre, Centre Pompidou, Rodin, Cluny, etc) close on Tuesday and municipal ones on Monday (Carnavalet, Petit Palais, Bourdelle, etc), with a few exceptions (state Musée d'Orsay closes on Monday) and independently run museums and galleries may have close one or two days a week, or not at all – so check first: it's tragic to see all those people milling around outside the Louvre on the day it's closed.

You may find queues shorter in the evening for those places with late night opening.

Paris's municipal museums have free entry, though generally not for temporary exhibitions. National museums are free for all under 18s and all European Union nationals under 26.

If you're planning very intensive sightseeing, the Paris Museums Pass (www.pasismuseumpass.com), which gives free entry to around 60 museums and monuments in Paris and the Paris region – see the website for the full list – can be good deal, especially as it often allows you to queue jump at ticket desks. It is available for two (32 euros), four (48 euros) or six (64 euros) days, but generally does not include temporary exhibitions, and can be bought at tourist offices, selected museums and monuments and branches of Fnac.

How I’ve picked my things to do: 

As well as the mega museums like the Louvre, d'Orsay and the Centre Pompidou and must-see icons like the Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame, I've also chosen some of Paris's smaller specialist museums, such as the Musée Gustave Moreau, which has the personal appeal of the artist's own house and studio, lesser known churches like the beautiful Eglise St-Etienne-du-Mont that forms part of Parisian history and some of the squares and parks that are an intrinsic part of the urban landscape and places where Parisians themselves go to relax. There's enough in Paris to keep you occupied for months, these are just a starter.

Set focus

As well as the mega museums like the Louvre, d'Orsay and the Centre Pompidou and must-see icons like the Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame, I've also chosen some of Paris's smaller specialist museums, such as the Musée Gustave Moreau, which has the personal appeal of the artist's own house and studio, lesser known churches like the beautiful Eglise St-Etienne-du-Mont that forms part of Parisian history and some of the squares and parks that are an intrinsic part of the urban landscape and places where Parisians themselves go to relax. There's enough in Paris to keep you occupied for months, these are just a starter.