First-time visitors to Paris usually have the Eiffel Tower on their bucket list. And a visit to this iconic landmark is well worth the effort, especially if you want a breathtaking view of the city. However, once your trip up the tower is done, it's time to figure out what to do next. This area is home to authentic cafes, museums, and parks, but it's also loaded with tourist traps. Avoid getting sucked into the crowds and instead plot your own itinerary. A picnic on the Champ de Mars, marveling over the city's vast art collection, and taking a sunset cruise on the Seine River will round off your once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Very few visitors take advantage of a stroll in the park that leads from the foot of the Eiffel Tower to the Ecole Militaire. This 60-acre garden known as the Champ de Mars is easily appreciated from the panoramic decks of the tower’s upper level. The grounds were first developed during the sixteenth century and used to grow vegetables and grapevines. During the eighteenth century, they were repurposed for military training by Napoleon’s nearby academy. Today, you can kick back and enjoy fantastic views while sprawling out for a relaxed picnic. Playgrounds, ponds, and majestic flower beds make the garden space especially pleasant during the spring and summer months.
Just steps away from the tower stands the grandiose complex known to Parisians as “La Trocadero.” Similar to the Champ de Mars, this outdoor space consists of a long garden, complete with fountains and lawns perfect for relaxing on. The garden also features playgrounds and ice cream vendors for kids. The fountain complex is particularly exciting, consisting of twelve fountains that each throw a water column 12 meters high, 10 water arches, and 24 small fountains.
Perched on the Chaillot Hill in the Trocadero sits the Palais de Chaillot which houses the cultural institutions of Cité de l’Architecture, the National Chaillot Theatre, and a few museums. This large esplanade overlooking the Eiffel Tower has a rather complex history, as Adolf Hitler posed for an official photo here after occupying Paris in 1940 during World War II. Then, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly gathered here to officially adopt the Universal Declaration of Human rights in response to the atrocities committed during the war. Today, you can peruse a collection of model ships and naval institutions at the Naval Museum and discover everything that defines man and human beings at the Museum of Man.
Modern art fans, you're in luck—Paris' best contemporary art museums are just a few minutes walk from the Eiffel Tower. Spend a day (or many) exploring permanent and temporary exhibits on works from the twentieth century to the present day. The Modern Art Museum is a municipal museum that's considered part of the Palais de Tokyo arts complex. Inaugurated in 1961, the museum lives in a building that was originally opened for the 1937 International Art and Technical Exhibition. Their vast collection of art can be viewed for free, making it a great stop for those visiting Paris on a budget.
Palais de Tokyo shares a terrace with its sister, the Modern Art Museum, which offers a bird's eye view of the Eiffel Tower and the Champs de Mars. The terrace itself makes a great place for snapping photos from several vantage points. Then, go inside the Palais de Tokyo for a prime look at both Parisian and global avant-garde art. First opened in 2002, this exhibition space showcases cutting-edge installations and curated shows and boasts a pleasant, modern restaurant, perfect for grabbing a bite to eat.
After visiting the globe’s most recognizable tower, there’s nothing more idyllic than floating down the Seine. From the boat, you can witness many of the city’s sublime landmarks and catch a beautiful sunset while you're at it. Cruise by Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Louvre. Bateaux-Mouches and Bateaux Parisiens—both with boats moored nearby the Eiffel Tower—offer sightseeing river cruises and romantic dinner packages. A trip with either outfit makes a great ending to a memorable day, especially if your city stay is brief.
Constructed by King Louis XIV in the 17th century as a place to house wounded war veterans (les invalides), this structure is not quite a hotel, but rather a military hospital and royal armory. And it's easily recognized thanks to its lavish golden-domed rooftop. Witness Napoleon's tomb under the domed church as part of your general admission ticket to the complex. While inside, those interested in military history can visit the Musée de l’Armée. And for classical music fans, year-round concerts grace the outdoor stage, making for a pleasant outing on a summer evening.
The fascinating exhibits at the Palais Galliera proves the French phrase “a la mode” has both artistic and historical value. The gallery's extensive collections of clothing, costumes, and other fashion artifacts are circulated in temporary shows throughout the year. Past shows included a tribute to French songstress and superstar Dalida, a focus on the works of designers like Balenciaga and Jeanne Lanvin, and a display of the social and artistic significance of era clothing styles. Additionally, the palace's pleasant garden—containing numerous sculptures, flowerbeds, a green lawn, and benches—makes an ideal place to relax.
Note: The museum closes between major exhibitions and is closed entirely for renovations until late 2019, so check the website for updates.
Dining and snacking choices around the Eiffel Tower aren’t very fantastic. In fact, most of the food stands tend to be mediocre and overpriced (similar to other world-wide touristy spots). For this reason, head to Rue Cler, a cheerful market street that’s widely recognized by foodies and gourmets. Along this pedestrian thoroughfare, you’ll find divine pastry shops, greengrocers, cheese vendors, luxury French teahouses, chocolate and gelato shops, and traiteurs (delis) selling a panoply of French takeaway delicacies. Plenty of charming cafes and restaurants also grace the area, including L’éclair Paris (a cocktail bar and casual eatery), and Tribeca, a trendy outfit, perfect for a light meal or high-quality coffee.
This artificially created island that lies in the middle of the Seine River contains an impressive number of statues on its 850-meter-long grounds. It's off the beaten path for most tourists, but it's a great place to go to escape crowds and marvel at the 22-meter high replica of the Statue of Liberty. While there, make sure to snap a shot of the Eiffel Tower from the island's unique vantage point or sneak in a quick workout on the climbing wall. Or, head there on Saturday to watch a steady flow of Parisian newlyweds pose for their first photos as husband and wife.
Located in the gardens of the Trocadero lies Paris' own aquarium, home to fish from around the world. This is a great place to visit if you have kids, as animated shows and workshops are held daily. The aquarium contains 2500 jellyfish, 10,000 fish, 750 coral colonies, and the largest shark tank in France (containing 3,000,000 liters of water). There's also a feeding area where both kids and adults can feed the fish and engage with them up close.
Hop-on, hop-off buses operate all around the city of Paris with stops at the Eiffel Tower. Enjoy an open-topped ride that allows you the flexibility to discover Paris at your own pace. Book a day trip that includes the tower and 11 other stops, or stretch out your adventure with a two-day ticket where you can come and go at your leisure. Prerecorded commentary and onboard Wi-Fi make it easy to follow along as you roll by stops like the Arc de Triomphe, the Opéra de Paris, and La Madeleine.