The Handy, First-Timers Guide to Activities in Paris

You know that there are a lot of activities in Paris to choose from. That's a given. The thing is, though, as a first-time (or infrequent) visitor, what do you choose? Where do you start? Don't worry, we're here to help. Our mission is to see that you have the best trip to Paris ever, with the least amount of stress, of standing in lines, and time-wasting planning.

In fact, that's why we started Paris Insiders Guide — to share our decades of combined experience in living in and visiting the City of Light. But, this article is for first-timers, right? So, we're going to start with some basic things that you're going to want to do and see. Don't worry if some of the suggestions seem "touristy" — after all, you are a tourist, so have all the fun you can while you're there. Let's get started. Bon voyage!

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Hop-On, Then Hop-Off an Open-Top Bus

Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus

This is one of those things we mentioned that may seem a bit touristy at first glance. But we'll tell you, there's no better way to get an overview of the city and see a lot in a short time. (And for not much money!)

Hop-on-hop-off buses explore all the popular neighborhoods of the city. The entire route takes one hour but you're free to hop off anywhere to explore and then hop on when you're ready to check out another neighborhood. And with the open top, it's easy to see everything and understand where the sights are in relation to each other.

By the way, a hop-on bus tour is included free with the Paris Pass

Taste French Wines in Paris

French Wine Tasting in Paris

"France" + "Wine"… pretty inseparable, no? So it makes sense while you're in Paris that you take an hour or two to learn about French wines. This popular wine tasting class is a good one to choose — it introduces you to the major wine-growing regions of France.

You'll learn how to pair the wines with the best French cheeses and charcuterie. Nicely centrally located, the class is held in a popular wine bar near the Louvre. You can book the wine tasting directly, but it is also included free with the Paris Pass.

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Cruise Down the Seine River, Drinking Champagne

Cruise Down the Seine River

Here's a truism, at least according to our readers — when you're in Paris, you must take a Seine River cruise. Paris simply looks different as you glide past all the famous landmarks and get a panoramic view from the river.

There are many river cruises to choose from — day or night, romantic or family, dinner or lunch cruises. Among our favorites is the Dinner Cruise, Eiffel Tower & Moulin Rouge that includes the best of Paris in one amazing evening package. Our readers' choice, on the other hand, is the Seine River Nighttime Dinner Cruise

But really, when it comes down to choosing just one, we always opt for a Champagne River Cruise. Paris, the romantic river, all those famous sights, while drinking bubbly. Can you think of anything better?

Visit the Eiffel Tower – The Easy Way

Visit the Eiffel Tower

Here's one of our best pieces of advice and one we've written about more than once — book skip-the-line guide tours whenever you can. Paris is a busy place and the top attractions always have line-ups. If you just show up without a plan, you're either going to be disappointed or you're going to wait in line a long time.

We used to think we could do it all on our own, but we've learned our lesson over the years. Now, we always opt for a guided, skip-the-line tour whenever one is available. That's our advice, and it particularly aplies to the most popular monument in the world, the Eiffel Tower.

So, take a tip from us and our readers and get to the top without the hassles of buying tickets in the long line ups. You're going to want to see the great view of Paris from the tippy-top of the tower, but get there by booking a skip-the-line Eiffel Tower tour online, before you leave home. It's easy, and, honestly, it's the only way to do it.

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Musée d'Orsay

Musée d'Orsay

To our way of thinking, the best of the bigger museums in Paris is Musée d'Orsay on the Left Bank, just across the river footbridge from the Tuileries. It's dedicated to the Impressionists and other 19th-century art, and there's some great stuff here. Think the best of Manet, Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh. In recent years the Orsay Museum has seen a renovation which dedicated even more area to the Impressionists.

Not only is the artwork phenomenal, the building itself is also something you don't want to miss. It started life as a Belle Epoque train station, and it's a large, beautifully decorated space, filled with natural light and is the perfect place to view all these great 19th-century works of art.

But, again, you want to avoid the line-ups. This is where you need the Paris Museum Pass, which lets you waltz right in the fast-access door at the museum. We've done it and there's nothing like the feeling of walking right past those long ticket lines. The Paris Museum Pass is included as part of the Paris Pass, and we explain it all in our in-depth article.

Louvre Art Museum

Louvre Art Museum

It's the biggie, the one that rules over all other museums, at least in size and the amount of art. The Louvre is so huge and packed with so many amazing works of art that you can't see it all one trip. You won't be surprised to hear that our recommendation is to book a tour that gets you past the long lines and directly to the Mona Lisa. Free entrance to the Louvre is also included with the Paris Museum Pass, but here's the link to the most popular skip-the-line Louvre guided tour —

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