There are so many wonderfully relaxing things to do in Paris, you could spend a week with minimal exertion if you were so inclined.
One of the best things about the City of Light is that it can accommodate so many types of travelers. You can see Paris as a backpacker on a shoestring budget or spend an almost unlimited amount of money on luxury experiences, it’s all up to you!
For those who are a little spent from work, maybe a bit traveled out, or otherwise just looking to chill, here’s my list of the most relaxing things to do in Paris.
Why Paris can be one of the most relaxing cities to visit
You might not immediately think of Paris as being one of the most relaxing cities in the world, but I’m here to tell you that it can be! With its sprawling, immaculate gardens and parks of all sizes scattered throughout the city, you’ll find locals and tourists alike lounging all over Paris.
Compared to the US, Paris is full of public spaces. You’re welcome to grab a snack and read your book under a shady tree in any number of iconic and beautiful parks. You’re restricted from sitting on the grass in many parks, but there are many surprisingly comfortable metal chairs around for you to lounge on.
If you’d like to partake in another Parisian tradition, spend some time relaxing on the terrace of a restaurant or cafe. You’ll see many Parisians smoking, reading, or quietly chatting with friends over a glass of wine or an espresso at one of the many terraces throughout the city. I’ve recommended a few of my favorites, but you really can stop just about anywhere with open tables to have this experience!
Related post: How to spend a weekend in Paris
Day pack tips: Things to bring for your day in Paris
When it comes to visiting Paris, you’ll want to be prepared with a day pack. I like to carry a small backpack so that I have everything I need for the day, since it can be challenging to make your way back to your Parisian hotel or Airbnb for supplies.
In my Paris day pack, you’ll usually find a water bottle. Unlike other cities in Europe, tap water is free in Paris and restaurants are legally obligated to provide you with water if you ask. You can also drink the water from the large cast iron fountains located throughout the city.
Also in my pack, you’re likely to find a book, cash (including euro coins), a blanket or sarong, a wine bottle opener, small paper cups, bamboo utensils, sunscreen, snacks, and extra layers if you’re visiting outside the summer months. In my experience, you’ll likely find yourself sitting outside if the weather is decent, so you’ll want to be prepared with everything you might need for an impromptu picnic.
What to wear on your relaxing day in Paris
There are seemingly endless articles about what to wear in Paris. For me, it all comes down to choosing comfortable clothes, including shoes you can walk a distance in. If you’d like to be sure that you’ll have clothes that fit the local style, you can always shop for a few staples once you arrive. I often buy a few outfits at H&M in Paris because their selections are a bit different from the US and Ireland.
Here’s the list: Relaxing things to do in Paris
1. Watch the boats in Jardin du Luxembourg
I’d been to Paris many times before visiting the Jardin du Luxembourg, and I now realize what a mistake I’d made! The Jardin du Luxembourg is an expansive, immaculate garden, complete with statues, a playground, tree-lined walkways, and the iconic sailboats floating around the central pond. The sailboats are rented for children, who roam the edges of the central pond and push the small ships away from the edges with special wooden sticks.
There is a cafe with a bathroom, but otherwise the facilities are limited in the Jardin du Luxembourg. You’ll want to be sure that you bring a book, water, and snacks if you plan to stay a while.
2. See The Thinker at the Rodin Museum
One of the most relaxing museums in Paris is the Rodin Museum and sculpture garden on Rue de Varenne. You can see many famous sculptures from Auguste Rodin both inside the house-turned-museum and in surrounding gardens, as well as works from other artists like Vincent Van Gogh and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
Perhaps the most famous sculpture in the garden is The Thinker, a cast bronze sculpture intended to represent the mind at work. Throughout the sculpture garden, you’ll find benches where you can sit, relax, and think about the world. On my last trip to Paris, I spent about an hour journaling on a bench because I was feeling some pre-emptive post-vacation blues.
The museum entrance fee is €13, but there was a machine in the entrance that offered a combined ticket with the Musée d’Orsay for €24. I opted for the combined ticket and saw both museums on the same day, as the Musée d’Orsay is open until 9:45pm on Thursdays. The combined ticket exempts you from needing to choose a timeslot for the d’Orsay.
Pre-book your ticket for the Musée Rodin.
3. Eat a crepe and sip a cider at Breizh Café
One of my must-visit restaurants when I go to Paris is Breizh Café, a creperie that sells savory galettes and sweet crepes. If you’ve never tried a galette, it’s a buckwheat crepe that’s typically made with cheese, vegetables, meat, and sometimes contains an egg (Breizh has several vegetarian options). If you’re hungry, definitely give Breizh a try for lunch or dinner!
If you’re simply in the mood to relax, grab a seat at Breizh and order a sweet crepe with a glass of the café’s low ABV cider. My favorite combination is a crepe with raspberry butter and sugar, along with a glass of their dry cider. Be aware that they have a few locations; my favorite is their Rue Vieille-du-Temple café, where I suggest that you sit inside for the best experience.
4. Have a sunset picnic in Champs de Mars
Champs de Mars is the iconic and large park in front of the Eiffel Tower. Unlike many other gardens and parks in Paris, you can sit in the grass and enjoy a great view of one of the most famous landmarks in the world. The park is large enough that you’ll have plenty of room to speak out, even if you visit during peak tourist season.
Note that the park has very little shade cover so as to provide great views of the Eiffel Tower, so sunset is a great time to visit. You can easily bring some bread, cheese, and wine and chat with your friends well into the evening. Once the sun sets, the Tower lights up every hour on the hour for 4 minutes. The glittery light show is impressive even if you’ve seen it 100 times, so try to squeeze in a visit after dark if you can!
5. Wander around Le Marais
Of all the neighborhoods in Paris, Le Marais is the one I’d recommend that you simply take some time to wander around. Historically, Le Marais has been known as the Jewish quarter of Paris, and it’s also the epicenter of the Parisian LGBTQ community. The streets are lined with interesting quirky shops, boutiques, and restaurants, perfect for strolling and window shopping.
Don’t miss Rue de Rosier, which is home to the infamous L’as Du Falafel restaurant. Having lived for a while in the Middle East and being a bit of a falafel connoisseur, you can trust me when I say these falafels are on point. If you like spicy food, be sure to sample their chili sauce! The falafel plate is significantly more than the falafel pita, but the pita by itself is usually plenty of food for me.
L’as Du Falafel has also been incredibly accommodating to me in the past. I one visited with two friends and all of our luggage, and they found space for us and our stuff without saying a word.
Finally, make a stop at La Paleteria, a Brazilian popsicle shop that serves up simply the best popsicles I’ve ever tried. The yuzu citrus pop was my favorite, but I’ll have to go back and try a few more to be sure!
6. Relax along the Seine
The banks of the Seine are a World Heritage site, and perhaps one of the most relaxing and Parisian activities of all is sitting next to the river and chatting with friends. You’ll see locals and tourists alike in small clusters up and down the river, usually eating some snacks and sipping wine they bought at a local grocery shop. If you show up without a bottle of wine, there are usually men walking up and down the crowds offering bottles of Heineke and wine for purchase.
If you’d prefer a more established spot, there are several bars without large outdoor seating areas for you to enjoy along the river. My favorite spot for relaxing and enjoying the Seine is on Pointe Neuf, a small island that cuts through the middle of the river close to Notre-Dame. From most anywhere along the Seine, you can wave to the boat cruises as they pass.
My favorite bridge in Paris is the Pont Neuf Bridge, which is distinguished by the 381 unique stone masks that line the sides of the bridge. Pont Neuf Bridge has been in use since the 17th century, and is the oldest bridge in the city. Paris recently turned the road along the Seine that passes under the bridge into a pedestrian walkway, so it’s easier than ever to see the masks up close!
7. Stroll along Coulée verte René-Dumont
Coulée verte René-Dumont is an elevated greenway that runs for just under three miles though the 12th arrondissement of Paris. It runs along an old rail line, starting at Opéra Bastille and ending at Porte Dorée. It is full of sunny and shady spots to stop and relax on your walk, and there are plenty of places to jump on and off the greenway.
Before setting off on the greenway, take some time to wander through the covered market at Le marché couvert Beauvau or the adjacent open air market, Marché d’Aligre. You’ll want to go early, as the market closes by 1pm, then opens again at 4pm. Inside the market, you’ll find the best cheese shop I’ve tried in Paris (Fromagerie Hardouin), along with a charming coffee shop run by an Irishman from Dublin.
If you’re in the mood for a picnic, you can grab some aged comté or roquefort cheese to try while you wander along the Coulée vert René-Dumont. There are many bakeries near the market, and they will most likely sell baguettes at a reasonable price. Note that the greenway is elevated above the street, so you’ll want to watch for large staircases leading upwards to access the pathway.
8. Browse an English Language Bookshop
You might be surprised to learn that Paris has many English language bookshops, and they can make for a rather relaxing afternoon. On a recent trip to Paris, I made a stop at Shakespeare and Company, where I bought a cookbook so that I could expand my kitchen repertoire. There was a bit of a line to get in, but I really enjoyed wandering through the stacks.
Another bookstore worth a visit is the San Francisco Book Company, known for having stacks of books piles high throughout the shop. You might also enjoy The Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore, The Abbey Bookshop, and Smith & Son Paris.
9. Cycle down the Rue de Rivoli on a Velib
In candor, cycling in Paris is not most people’s idea of relaxing. There’s traffic throughout the city, and the stretches of road that have bike lanes can sometimes be crowded. That said, I love to bike down the Rue de Rivoli on a Velib, one of the city bikes available for rent throughout the city.
If you don’t mind occasionally getting dinged at by a local on a bike, it can be simply lovely to bike up and down the Rue de Rivoli. This is the road that goes in front of the Louvre Museum, and it has a bike lane that is completely separated from car traffic. For maximum relaxation, it’s best if you set out on bicycle when the road isn’t too busy, like in the early morning hours.
10. Sip espresso on a terrace on Rue Cler
There really is nothing like sitting on a terrace in Paris and sipping an espresso while the world passes you by. To have this experience, really any terrace in Paris that looks nice will do, but if you’re looking for a spot I’d recommend Rue Cler. This market street has a variety of options, and there are many tourists and locals who will wander by while you enjoy your coffee.
Most of the restaurants will serve meals, but they won’t mind if you simply grab a coffee. Beware that the prices can sometimes vary based on where on the terrace that you sit, so you may end up paying a few euros for your good view.
After you’ve finished your coffee, wander up and down Rue Cler and check out all of the market stalls. I’m particularly fond of the fruit stall, which always seems to have fresh and delicious-looking cherries, apricots, watermelon, and more.
11. Lounge in Jardin des Tuileries
The Jardin des Tuileries, or the Tuileries Garden, is the expansive green space that runs from the Louvre Museum to Place de la Concorde. I prefer the west end, near Place de la Concorde, for relaxing. While you’re there, you can make a stop to see Monet’s water lilies paintings at Orangerie Museum, which is located at the far end of the park.
I skipped the Orangerie Museum and instead opted to stare at the spire–supposedly of incalculable value–in Place de la Concorde. Though it’s been redesigned since, Place de la Concorde was once the site of many notable executions, including Marie Antoinette.
The Jardin des Tuileries isn’t terribly far from Angelina’s, a wonderful chocolate shop that serves delicious and creamy hot chocolate in the winter. In the summer, you can also find “cold chocolate” which is a drink of a similar consistency, only chilled. On a chilly day, it’s lovely to sip a warm Angelina’s chocolate and wander through Jardin des Tuileries from the Louvre all of the way to Place de la Concorde.
12. Visit less popular exhibits at the Louvre
One of my all time favorite activities is to wander through the Louvre Museum in Paris. This mammoth museum is the largest in the world, so you’ll be able to find some space for yourself even during peak tourist season. I’ve visited the Louvre twice, and I saw almost entirely new artwork on my second trip.
A few tips for visiting the Louvre: first, buy your tickets ahead of time, especially in the summer. This will not only guarantee that you’ll be able to visit, it’ll also give you access to other entry points with smaller lines. Check your tickets for more information.
For the most relaxing experience, be sure to visit exhibits off the beaten track. The Mona Lisa will always be mobbed, but you might experience a room filled with ancient Persian pottery all by yourself. Take some time to research the museum before you go, and have a general idea of the things you’d like to see. You’ll probably still get lost, but it’ll help you to get back on track more quickly.
A tour guide once told me that it would take 4 days to see every piece of art in the Louvre if you spent only 10 seconds looking at each one. So, rest assured there’s plenty to see and you simply won’t see it all! That’s ok, just enjoy what you are able to see while you’re there.
Pre-book your tickets to the Louvre Museum.
13. Sip a beer at BBP Pigalle (the Brussels Beer Project)
Almost literally across the street from Moulin Rouge, there’s a small brewery with tasty beers and a laid back atmosphere called the Brussels Beer Project, or BBP Pigalle. The seating area is spacious enough, with plenty of tables for groups of two or four, and the volume is usually moderate. I visited with friends on a hot day in July, and it was a great place to get off our feet, cool off, and relax a bit.
The beer list is relatively long and varied, with a mix of pale ales, IPAs, sours, stouts, porters, and lagers. They have about 16 beers on tap, along with some guest brews, and they sell bottles and cans if you’d like to take a few home or with you to a nearby park. BBP Pigalle also serves up some snacks that are tasty but not extraordinary, including bar food staples like french fries, pulled pork, and cheesy toast.
14. Watch the sunset in Montmartre
At least once on your trip, you simply must climb to the top of Montmartre. Sacré-Cœur is a very famous hill with a beautiful church sitting at the top, and it overlooks the whole of Paris. All along the hillside, you’ll find tourists sitting alone or with friends, taking in the sunset over the city.
My tip is to go about halfway up the hill so that you get a view of both Sacre Coeur and the city. If you sit on the steps of Sacré-Cœur you won’t be able to fully appreciate the church as much. On your way down towards the city, stop for a moment to admire the vintage carousel at the bottom of the steps.
Montmartre was featured in the iconic film, Amelie. You can see a list of all of the real life locations used in the filming of the movie here.
15. Browse the aisles of Le Bon Marche
Similar to a few other items on this list, you might be surprised to see a trip to Le Bon Marche on a list of the most relaxing things to do in Paris. Although it can be busy at times, I find a stroll through this heated and air conditioned store to be a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Le Bon Marche is an expansive store with interesting and unique foods and gifts from around the world. It’s several stories tall, with massive sections for food, clothing, and homewares. I’d recommend sticking to the food and gifts sections, as I find them the most interesting. This is also the best place to buy small gifts for friends and family, as you’ll find things like French chocolates, cakes in cute tins, and other adorable and affordable treats.
If you tried some marvelous cocktails while in Paris and are looking to make them at home, Le Bon Marche is a great place to buy fancy french spirits and liqueurs. It’s so big and so expansive, there really is a little something for everyone. They even have boxed mac and cheese–albeit a different brand than anything I’ve ever seen in the US.
16. Have a vegan burger and beer upstairs at Hank Burger
If you’ve been in Paris for a few days and are feeling a little homesick, Hank Burger on Rue des Archives might be just the thing you need. This vegan spot offers delicious burgers (definitely opt for a Beyond Burger over the house patty), along with tasty potato wedges and cold beer. The prices are very reasonable, and they have a menu option with a burger, side, and a drink for a set price.
I love relaxing at Hank Burger because the upstairs has lots of cushions, making for a laid back and fun atmosphere. There’s also unlimited ketchup and mustard, something I’ve missed since moving abroad. The beers aren’t anything to write home about, but if you’re looking to relax and eat a tasty, affordable meal in a homey space, Hank’s is for you.
17. Savor a few macarons from Pierre Herme
You simply must try a French macaron while you’re in Paris, and the best place to do that, in this humble blogger’s opinion, is at Pierre Herme. If you think I’m just being unfair to Ladurée, I assure you I love them too–just not for the macarons. The macarons at Pierre Herme have stronger, more interesting flavors, and the texture just can’t be beat.
My favorite flavors from my most recent trip were: rose, lyche, and raspberry; passionfruit and chocolate; pistachio; green tea, azuki, lime, and ginger; shiso and strawberry; and caramel.
Many of the Pierre Herme locations are near parks, so you can easily grab a few macarons and head to a small green space. Take care to eat your macarons pretty soon after you buy them, as their shelf life is only a few days if you keep them refrigerated.
18. Stroll through the Petit Palais
This relatively small (and free!) museum is a great place to take a quick break from the hustle and bustle of Paris. If you’re visiting on a hot day, it’s relatively cool inside and can offer a little reprieve while you’re wandering around. There are a few interesting pieces inside, and it’s not usually crowded.
A significant downside to the Petit Palais is that there are not many places to sit once you get inside.
19. Wander through the city at night
There’s something almost magic about Paris after dark. Once, while biking through the city at night, I stumbled upon a dance class in front of the Musée d’Orsay. Guided by an instructor, couples danced together in the open summer air to a small gathering of passersby. The moment felt strangely timeless, as if it could have taken place in 2022, 1922, or 1822, if it weren’t for the fashion choices of the dancers.
Wander along the Seine, stroll by the pyramid of the Louvre, and stare into the cannons of Invalides while on your late night jaunt. The city is mostly safe at night, but remain vigilant and travel in groups if possible. Here are some tips for traveling with friends.
20. Grab a gelato from Amorino
If you visit during the summer, one of the most relaxing things to do is to grab a rose-shaped gelato from Amorino and eat it along the Seine or at Jardin de Luxembourg. If gelato isn’t your thing, there are plenty of ice cream shops throughout Paris that are sure to suit.
My favorite flavor at Amorino was the mango sorbet, which I paired with passionfruit and lemon sorbets to create a tropical theme. If you’d like, you can add a macaron to the top of your ice cream cone for an additional few euros.
21. Have a coffee at Ten Belles near the Canal Saint-Martin
If you’re looking to get away from the tourists and try a more local haunt, make your way to the Canal Saint-Martin for a coffee at Ten Belles. Once you get to Ten Belles, you’ll want to sit upstairs or outside to sip your coffee and nibble a pastry from the case. There are a few Ten Belles locations, you’ll want to visit the one on Rue de la Grange aux Belles.
While you’re in the area, you can wander around the canal and imagine what it would be like to live in Paris. Watch for little plaques above street level that mention the famous authors who once lived or worked in the surrounding buildings. If you find yourself at the canal later in the day, there is a microbrewery called Paname Brewing Company that has great beer in a fun atmosphere.
22. Shop for artwork and used books along the Seine
If you take some time to walk up and down the Seine during the day, you’re sure to see the long stretches of booksellers and artists selling their wares on the sidewalk. While the quality of books and artwork will vary from vendor to vendor, it can be run and relaxing to spend a few minutes glancing at their stalls as you walk by. The prices are usually reasonable, so if you feel so inclined, feel free to grab a small souvenir.
23. Enjoy a bowl of ramen on Rue Sainte-Anne
A lesser known fact about Parisians is that a decent number of them are actually Japanophiles! This means that Paris has a number of excellent Japanese restaurants, most of which are clustered on or near Rue Sainte-Anne. On my most recent trip to Paris, I had the vegetarian miso ramen at Menkicchi and loved it. If you go, be sure to order the iced green tea–it was exceptional!
The following ramen spots have also been recommended to me: Yatai Ramen, Neko Ramen, Higuma, and Hakata Choten.
Side note: one of the earliest Japanophiles was Lafcadio Hearn, a 19th century Irish travel writer who introduced the west to Japanese culture. His great, great granddaughter, Ayuko Moriya, is currently retracing his footsteps around the world and you can read all about her journey if you’re interested!
24. Splurge on dinner at a cozy wine bar
Paris is scattered with charming and delicious French wine bars, and if you have a little extra room in your budget it can be fun to try an upscale one! My choice is Augustin Marchand d’Vins, a very small operation with bottles of wine that stack up to the ceiling. I had a refreshing panzanella salad there recently, along with a truly memorable “camouflaged” burrata that was covered in pesto and almonds.
If you’d like to try a wine bar, I’d strongly recommend that you make a reservation. They can fill up quickly, and they typically serve very few tables each night. Dinner and wine at Augustin Marchand d’Vins is likely to run about €80 per person.
25. Sample popelinis at Popelini Odéon
I discovered popelinis completely by accident one day while wandering through Paris. Popelini Odéon is a small and artful shop in a row of boutiques, and as soon as I saw the small pastries I knew I needed to try one. They’re small pastries that seem reminiscent of both a cream puff and a custard-filled donut, absolutely bursting with flavor.
My favorite popelinis were the rose flavor; they’re very rose-forward, creamy, and not too sweet. The chocolate popelinis were also very good, and I’d recommend them as a safer option. Beware that these treats are even more sensitive than macarons, so you’ll want to eat them right away or get them to a fridge pretty quickly.
26. Grab a savory crepe at Au P’tit Grec
There are seemingly countless places to grab a crepe in Paris, but none has held my attention quite like Au P’tit Grec. I remember when I first tried this spot in 2015, and I remember telling friends about it for years and years. When I visited most recently in August 2022, it was just as good as ever, though they’d redesigned the shop (presumably to make it more COVID friendly).
With the current setup, you can wander up to the window and watch the team make your crepe. I’ve had a few great flavors of crepes here, but I always go back to the feta crepe with salad (onions, lettuce, and tomato). One of the best parts is watching your crepe as it’s being cooked, so don’t wander away if you can help it!
The crepes are folded into small, portable triangles and can be enjoyed standing on the sidewalk or in a nearby park. For the most relaxing experience, I’d order a crepe and a can of sparkling water, then wander to a nearby green space and enjoy my crepe set back a bit from the street.
27. Take life in the slow lane in Parc Monceau
You’ve probably noticed by now that this list is full of parks and gardens, but I promise each of them is worth visiting! Parc Monceau is no exception; this park feels distinctly different from other parks in Paris because it’s modeled after English gardens. The paths are windy, the statues are placed seemingly randomly, and you’re welcome to sit in the grass.
Monet was said to be very fond of Parc Monceau, and he painted a series of paintings of the park in 1876. When you visit, you’ll see why–the park has a palpable peaceful quality to it. If you’re lucky, you can even see a performance of the Marionettes. We missed the puppet show by several minutes, and we were left standing at the gates with a young girl who informed us that the show was sold out.
We said goodbye to her as she peered through a gap in the fence, hoping to catch as much of the show as possible.
Bonus: Watch an outdoor film at Parc de la Villette
Full disclosure, this was on my intended itinerary for my last trip to Paris, but I didn’t make it there! I wanted to include it on this list, however, because it sounds delightfully relaxing to me.
There are outdoor cinema spots throughout Paris, but Parc de la Villette is probably the most famous and well known. In the Parc de la Villette, you’ll find a large cinema screen and plenty of space on the grass to stretch out and maybe meet a few new friends. The movies run during the summer months and you can find the schedule here.
Final Thoughts: Relaxing Things To Do in Paris
If you look for them, you’ll find seemingly endless relaxing things to do in Paris! The city has inspired artists for centuries, in part because of the relaxed and intellectual energy that it embodies. If you set out to take your day slowly and take care to avoid the most crowded attractions and longest lines, you’re sure to be able to have a rejuvenating trip to Paris.
When in doubt, look up the closest park or garden on Google maps and head straight there. You’re bound to find a shady spot under a tree, and there you can collect your thoughts, contemplate life, and imagine how it would have felt to be Parisian at different points in history.