Paris easily tops most people’s “to visit” list. There is no city as magical, breathtaking and inspirational as Paris. Writers, poets, artists and musicians have historically chosen the “City of Love” as their home because of Paris’ unique beauty and charm. You could spend a lifetime exploring France’s capital city, but if your flights to Paris only permit a short stay, there are five things you must do.

1. Left Bank Tour

A walking tour of the Left Bank is a must for every first time visitor to Paris. The tour takes you to all the main sites, such as the Latin Quarter, la Sorbonne and the Pantheon. Plus, your guide will point out places visited by Cyrano de Bergerac, a bar with a working guillotine and the famous English bookstore, “Shakespeare and Company.” You will also get a mini lecture on Parisian architecture that will change the way you see the city forever. Tours are often by donation so bring five to 10 euros to tip your guide.

Also, tours generally start in front of the Notre Dame. Get there early so you have time to visit the cathedral.

2. Eiffel Tour

No one will believe you went to Paris unless you bring back a picture of yourself in front of the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower is great to visit during the day when you can go up to see the views of Paris, but few sights compare to the beauty of the tower lit up at night. Budget 13 euros to take the elevator all the way to the top. Alternately, you can pay 4.50 euros to walk up the first two flights of stairs.

3. Le Louvre

Le Louvre is the largest museum in the West and home to one of the world’s most amazing art collections. You can see the Mona Lisa, known as “La Joconde” in French. The Winged Victory statue is another favorite piece. Expect to fight crowds for a decent few at both spots. Although it is impossible to see the entire museum in one day, do not miss the Venus de Milo statue.

For many people, Le Louvre is their first stop in Paris. Luckily, you can use American dollars to pay your entrance fee if you have not yet had time to change money.

4. Montmartre

Montemartre is the bohemian community of Paris’ right bank. It is home to clubs, bars, restaurants and even the Montmartre cemetery. Catch a show at the Moulin Rouge or walk over to la Basilique du Sacré Coeur, which boasts one of the most amazing views of Paris. Fans of the international favorite, “Amelie,” can have a meal at the café where the title character worked in the movie.

5. Les Champs-Elysées

Paris is known for good food, great art and amazing fashion. Les Champs-Elysées is one long, wide street dedicated to luxury shops, cafés, theaters and movie theaters. At the end of Les Champs-Elysées you find L’Arc de Triomphe, another favorite photo spot.

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I’m an attorney that took off on my birthday in December of 2008 to circumnavigate the globe without ever getting on an airplane. After 16 months, 6 continents and 44 countries, I made it all the way back home. Right now, I am back on the road writing about it all. Read more by Michael Hodson and connect on Google Plus.

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