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Paris see + do

With upward of 150 museums, scores of parks, lively café-lined boulevards—plus too many monuments and landmark buildings to count—this city and its must-sees of culture and entertainment are best savored over years. If you only have a few days, you can't go wrong with the obvious sights: the Louvre's extensive collection of art from antiquity onward; the Impressionist canvases of the grandiose Musée d'Orsay; and Notre-Dame de Paris, the Gothic cathedral midstream in the Seine. While the Eiffel Tower is another no-brainer, it's best enjoyed from a distance: Instead of queuing up with the massive crowd waiting to ascend to the pinnacle, head for the steps fronting Montmartre's Sacré-Coeur basilica, and you'll be rewarded with amazing views that include the Eiffel Tower's elegant fretwork frame. You'll do equally well relaxing on a park bench in the Luxembourg Gardens on a warm afternoon, strolling through the Right Bank's boutique-lined Marais neighborhood, or people-watching from a café in Saint Germain-des-Prés. But the key to finding the Paris everyone falls in love with is to get off the well-trodden tourist circuit and explore the city on foot or by bike, discovering hidden courtyards, pocket-size gardens, and unbelievably romantic streetscapes along the way.

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Bastille and Eastern Paris, Paris

Over the last decade, hip Paris has been leaning farther and farther east, as mega-rehab projects transform what was a dowdy part of town. The Place de la...more

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Canal St-Martin, 10th Arr.

Long a working-class neighborhood with an edge, the Canal St-Martin is the latest quartier to be reinvented by artists and young bohemians. Built in the early...more

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Centre Georges Pompidou, 4th Arr.

When it opened in 1977, the intention of this inside-out modern art museum—the staircases and pipes are famously exposed on its exterior—was to...more

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Château de Versailles, Versailles

People visit Versailles in the hopes of being absolutely dazzled by opulence. They're rarely disappointed. The palace is glorious, but unless you already have a...more

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Cinema, Paris

Even if you speak no French, Paris is the world's best city for going to the movies. On any given night, hundreds of films, both new and classic, are...more

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Eiffel Tower, 7th Arr.

It's hard to imagine just how avant-garde this tower of cast-iron girders was when it was built in 1889 to celebrate the World's Fair and the centenary of the...more

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Île de la Cité and Île St-Louis, 4th Arr.

Midstream in the Seine, the Île de la Cité is Paris's birthplace, where a Celtic tribe known as the Parisii built their wattle settlement around 250...more

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L'Atelier des Chefs, 8th Arr.

With a convenient location and well-equipped kitchens, this cooking school offers a two-hour, hands-on course taught by working chefs. You'll learn how to cook...more

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Luxembourg Gardens, 14th Arr.

On that inevitable day when you don't want to go to a museum and you're sick of shopping, come to the Luxembourg Gardens. Quite simply, there's no better...more

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Maison Européene de la Photographie, 4th Arr.

Paris was one of the pioneering cities in the birth of photography: It was recognized as an art form here long before anywhere else. This handsome 17th-century...more

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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