What to do in Paris for fun? There are plenty of choices! Enjoy the lively atmosphere of Places des Vosges and soak up the contemporary art scene at the Palais de Tokyo to name a few. The possibilities are endless! If you’re tempted to book a holiday to this exciting city, take a look at our fantastic selection of Paris holidays.
The Arc de Triomphe towers above the traffic in the middle of place Charles-de-Gaulle, also known as l’Étoile (“star”) on account of the twelve avenues radiating out from it. Climbing the twisty, narrow 280 steps to the top (there is a lift you can ask to use) will be amply rewarded by the panoramic views; the best time to come is towards dusk on a sunny day, when the marble of the Grande Arche de la Défense sparkles in the setting sun and the Louvre is bathed in warm light. It’s one of the best fun things to do in Paris for sure.
The celebrated avenue des Champs-Élysées, a popular rallying point at times of national crisis and the scene of big military parades on Bastille Day, sweeps down from the Arc de Triomphe towards the place de la Concorde. A number of major fashion brands have their flagship stores on the avenue, particularly on the southern side, where Louis Vuitton, Lanvin and the like flaunt their wares. On account of its high concentration of luxury hotels and flagship designer stores, the area bounded by the Champs-Élysées and, to the south, avenue Montaigne and rue François-1er, is nicknamed the Triangle d’Or (Golden Triangle). The Champs-Élysées began life as a leafy promenade, an extension of the Tuileries gardens.
A grand square of symmetrical pink brick and stone mansions built over arcades, the Place des Vosges, at the eastern end of rue des Francs-Bourgeois, is a masterpiece of aristocratic elegance and the first example of planned development in the history of Paris. It was built by Henri IV and inaugurated in 1612 for the wedding of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria; Louis’s statue - or, rather, a replica of it - stands hidden by chestnut trees in the middle of the grass and gravel gardens at the square’s centre. The gardens are popular with families on weekends - children can run around on the grass and mess about in sandpits. Buskers often play under the arcades, serenading diners at the outside tables of restaurants and cafés, while well-heeled shoppers browse in the upmarket art, antique and fashion boutiques.
The western wing of the Palais de Tokyo is occupied by a huge cutting-edge gallery focusing exclusively on contemporary and avant-garde art. Prominence is given to French artists, but many international artists are also represented, ranging from the well-established, such as Julio Le Parc, to emerging artists such as Taru Izumi. The museum has two restaurants: Les Grands Verres, with its cool cocktail bar, and classy Monsieur Bleu, overlooking the Seine.
Perched on Paris’s highest hill, towards the northern edge of the city, Montmartre was famously the home and playground of artists such as Renoir, Degas, Picasso and Toulouse-Lautrec. The crown of the Butte Montmartre, around place du Tertre, is a touristy scrum, but the cobbled streets around Abbesses métro preserve an attractively festive, village-like atmosphere with their tall, shuttered buildings and steep staircases - this quartier becomes more gentrified with each passing year. Edgier is Pigalle, the brassy sprawl at the southern foot of the Butte, where in the once gritty area now rebranded as SoPi, or “South of Pigalle”, bars sit side by side with indie shops and boutique hotels. The Goutte d’Or, to the east, meanwhile, remains thoroughly multicultural. Out at the northern city limits, the mammoth St-Ouen market hawks everything from extravagant antiques to the cheapest flea-market hand-me-downs. Don’t miss marveling at the Sacré-Coeur in the area too.