Every year, over 80 million foreign tourists visit Paris, making it the most popular capital city in the world. Culture, history, architecture, fabulous food, iconic entertainment and plenty of shopping opportunities – Paris appeals to everyone for many different reasons and it’s a city everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. A Seine river cruise offers a chance to see Paris from a different perspective, and your entrance into the city will be spectacular from the deck of a river cruise ship.
Here we share some ideas on things to do in Paris, whether you’re stopping over for just a few hours, or have an indulgent few days in this iconic city of art, glamour and romance before or after your river cruise.
Things to See and Do in an Afternoon in Paris
If your cruise ship is docked on the Seine River and you have an afternoon to stroll around, consider seeing a few of the absolute highlights:
- Head for the Paris top attractions you most dreamed of visiting. The iconic Eiffel Tower is always a popular choice, as is the gothic Notre Dame cathedral.
- Stop for coffee or a late lunch in one of the many street cafés around the Notre Dame.
- If you prefer museums, visit the Louvre, the Orangerie or the Musée d’Orsay.
What to Do in Paris in the Evening
If you find yourself with just one evening in this glorious city, then:
- Buy tickets for a show at the Moulin Rouge, the Lido or the Crazy Horse.
- Enjoy a few tipples at Moonshiner, a cocktail bar Paris is truly proud of.
What to See and Do with 24 Hours in Paris
If you have a whole day to spend, there is a bit more time to explore off the beaten track. Take this opportunity and enjoy some of the more unusual things to do in Paris:
- Explore Buttes-Chaumont Park. This 25-hectare space is one of the original and still one of the biggest parks in the city and it’s a popular place to go to enjoy Parisian landscapes and vistas. However, it’s more than just a park with grass and children’s play areas: amongst the trees, lake, wildlife and green spaces, you’ll find mysterious caves and waterfalls! Escape from the hustle and bustle of city life for a while in this haven of tranquillity. There is no entry fee and guided tours run daily but may require advance booking.
- Visit the 19th-century Palais Garnier for a look around, or stay to catch a ballet, light opera or classical music concert.
- History fans may want to head for the Catacombs of Paris, an underground ossuary which holds (and displays) the remains of more than six million people. This is a fascinating place and for a few euros you can hire an audio guide that will tell you all about the history and purpose of the catacombs.
- Enjoy an evening in Paris by visiting some of the best cocktail bars Paris has to offer, or book a spot on a wine cellar tour and sip amazing vintages with meat and cheese plates to snack on.
What to See and Do with 48 Hours in Paris
Having two days to play with leaves plenty of time to see some picturesque Paris tourist attractions, in addition to experiencing Paris nightlife at your leisure.
- Take a leisurely stroll along the banks of the River Seine, where your cruise ship is docked. The water changes colour as the day passes; this is most obvious at sunrise and sunset, so you may want to time your visit to coincide with either of these. Have your camera ready as there are plenty of good photo opportunities.
- The glorious Sacre-Coeur (also known as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris) is a working church and a well-known Paris landmark, famed for its architecture and the 300 steps you need to climb to get to the dome! However, if you can manage the climb, you won’t be disappointed. Entrance is free, but there are no guided tours.
- While you’re in the area of Montmartre visiting the Sacre-Coeur, leave time to explore the many narrow and winding streets which are not typical tourist spots and so should be quieter. Upon rejoining the crowds, why not have your very own portrait drawn by one of the many talented jobbing artists who live and work in this neighbourhood.
- Belleville in Paris is well known for being ‘the cool’ area of the city, so it’s no surprise that artists and performers, both past and present, have made their home there. Foodies absolutely must sign up for a walking food tour of the neighbourhood, which includes visiting several different food outlets where the best local food and drink – from oil and cheese to coffee, cake and wine – are made. Tour members get to sample everything as well as benefiting from a behind-the-scenes look at places off limits to the average tourist. This type of tour is on offer in the daytime and lasts for around three hours.
- As you’re already in Belleville, you’re in the right spot to explore more of the hidden treasures this multicultural area of the city has to offer – in particular, the Rue Denoyez. Once a thriving shopping street, this alleyway has been turned into an ever-changing homage to street art and graffiti. It’s a photographer’s dream, the kind of place where you see something new with each glance. Do watch out for traffic as it’s not pedestrianised!
- You can’t visit Belleville without enjoying some sort of refreshment and there are certainly plenty of charming cafés, delis and small restaurants reflecting their owners’ ethnic roots, plus a mini Chinatown. If you’re not in the mood for North African or Vietnamese food, pop in to one of the most famous cafés in the area – Café Aux Folies – and, if the weather allows, grab a seat on the terrace for a spot of people watching.
- In the evening, why not book some seats for a show at the infamous Moulin Rouge?
- This is a city which knows food, so you absolutely must eat at some of the best restaurants in Paris. These include Le Caulaincourt, rated as fifth most popular and a great choice for parties which include people with allergies and special dietary needs. Feast on the best of French cuisine without breaking the bank.
- Finally, adventurous spirits might want to indulge in a midnight swim in the art deco-style Piscine Pontoise, a public pool in the Latin Quarter with original changing cabins, blue-lit water and music!
Are you excited for a dazzling stopover in the glamorous city of Paris? From Scenic and Viking to Amadeus, Riviera and Uniworld, there is a Seine cruise out there for everyone! Talk to a river cruising expert for tailored advice about the ideal itinerary, hand-picked especially for you. enquire today about which river cruise is best for you by calling 0800 810 8220.