Best things to do in Paris

Paris Bucket List: 45 Must-Have Experiences in Paris

Julie France 2 Comments

If you are planning a trip to Paris, how do you decide what to do? There are the places that people dream about visiting on their first visit to Paris, like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, but there are also neighborhoods to explore and new foods to try. This Paris bucket list contains 45 of the best experiences you can have in Paris. Don’t expect to see them all on your first trip to Paris, we didn’t either. If you are like us, Paris is the type of city that you will want to visit again. We have been to Paris three times and it just keeps getting better.

At the end of this post, read our recommendations of the very best things to do in Paris. If you have limited time in the city, this will help you narrow down this huge list of sights.

Paris Bucket List

Eiffel Tower

Without a doubt, the Eiffel Tower is one of Paris’ most recognizable landmarks. For many people, it’s thrilling the first time you see the Eiffel Tower. And for first-timers, a visit to Paris would not be complete without a trip up the Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel Tower

Pro Travel Tip: The line to visit the Eiffel Tower can be epic (we’re talking a 2 to 3 hour wait). To avoid this nightmare, book your tickets in advance.

The Louvre

The Louvre is the world’s largest art museum. This building was once the home to French Kings, including Louis XIV. During the French Revolution in the 18th century, the Louvre was converted to a museum.

The Louvre is massive and you could literally spend days here. However, you can see the highlights (Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and the Winged Victory) in just an hour or two.

Louvre

Walk Along the Champs-Elysees

Touristy? Yes. But even so, it’s a must do. This is one of the most recognizable streets in the world, running from Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe. Along the way, pop into Laduree for macarons, another must do while in Paris.

Champs Elysees

Arc de Triomphe

Sitting at the top of the Champs-Elysees is the Arc de Triomphe. From the top of the Arc you get one of the best views of Paris. Look down the Champs-Elysees to the Louvre, out to La Defense, and over the rooftops to the Eiffel Tower. At night, you can watch Paris (and the Eiffel Tower) sparkle…quite the sight to see.

Paris at Night

Ile de la Cite

Ile de la Cite is the small island in the center of Paris that is home to Sainte-Chapelle and Notre Dame. It is the historic heart of Paris.

In front of Notre Dame is a plaque on the ground marking Point Zero (Point Zero des Routes de France), the historic center of Paris.

Point Zero Paris

Also on Ile de la Cite is the Au Vieux Paris, one of the prettiest cafes in Paris.

Au Vieux Paris

Pont Neuf

Pont Neuf is the oldest bridge in Paris. It connects the Right Bank with Ile de la Cite. From this bridge, enjoy the view of the Seine River, Pont des Arts (the next bridge on the river), and the Eiffel Tower off in the distance.

Pont Neuf

Notre Dame Cathedral

The Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the oldest and grandest cathedrals in the world. Step inside to see the nave and the stunning stained glass windows, but the highlight of a visit here is the gargoyle’s view over Paris from the top of the cathedral.

Paris View

Sainte Chapelle

Just a short walk from Notre Dame is Sainte Chapelle, another gorgeous cathedral and one of the world’s best displays of stained glass. Lines to get into Sainte Chapelle are usually long, but it’s worth the wait.

Sainte Chapelle

The Conciergerie

The Conciergerie can be combined with a visit to Sainte Chapelle, since they sit beside one another. This is the place where Marie Antoinette and others were imprisoned before being taken to Place de la Concorde to be executed.

Place de la Concorde

Place de la Concorde is a large round-about that is sandwiched between Tuileries Garden and the Champs-Elysees. This famous square is full of French history. This was the spot during the French Revolution where King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and Robespierre were executed by guillotine.

The Big Wheel on Place de la Concorde

From mid-November to early May a giant Ferris wheel sits in Place de la Concorde. If the line is short and you want a nice view of Paris, consider taking a ride.

Versailles

Versailles is a royal chateau located on the outskirts of Paris. In 1682, King Louis XIV moved the Royal Court from the Louvre to the Palace of Versailles. For a little more than 100 years, this was the seat of government for France. That ended in 1789 with the French Revolution. The monarchy moved back to Paris and since then, the city of Paris has remained the seat of government for France. During your visit to Versailles you will tour the palace and stroll through the gardens.

Versailles

Inside Versailles

Enjoy the View from a Rooftop Bar

There are a bunch of great restaurants and bars that offer views over the city. Why not watch the sunset and enjoy a fabulous dinner at the same time? Just a few include Terass en Haute, Le Perchoir, and 43 Up on the Roof.

Musee d’Orsay

Musee d’Orsay houses the largest collection of Impressionist art in the world. It is here that you can see Monet, Manet, Degas, Cezanne, Renoir, Van Gogh, Gaugin and more. It’s literally a collection of the who’s who in the Impressionist art world.

This museum is more than just Impressionist art. The building is also a work of art. Musee d’Orsay was once Gare d’Orsay, an old train station, which was renovated and became this art museum.

Musee d'orsay

Eat Street Food Crepes

Small stands selling crepes can be found all over Paris. These make delicious, cheap snacks, perfect to satisfy your sweet tooth and give you a pick-me-up while sightseeing.

Visit Le Marais

Le Marais is one of Paris’ most interesting neighborhoods. Stroll along Rue de Rosiers and if you are looking for a great place to have a budget meal, go to L’As du Falafel, the most famous falafel restaurant in Le Marais.

Pompidou Centre

This is the largest modern art museum in Europe. It has an interesting design, with all of its plumbing and pipes located on the exterior of the museum, color-coded in vibrant colors. It’s definitely a unique sight to see. This is large museum and you could wander here for hours. From the top level of the museum you are treated to another wonderful view of Paris.

Pompidou Center

Take a Food Tour

One of the best things to do while in Paris is to eat. And a great way to sample some of the best foods in Paris is to take a food tour. Sample French bread, wine, cheese, and more as a local guide takes you to some of the best spots in the city. Secret Food Tours and Paris by Mouth are two of the more popular companies.

Visit Montmartre

Montmartre is one of Paris’ most popular neighborhoods to visit. Wander the maze of hilly streets, have your portrait drawn at Place du Tertre, and have a drink at one of many cafes that spill out onto the streets here.

Montmartre

Watch the Sunset from the Steps of the Sacre-Coeur

The Sacre-Coeur Basilica sits atop the highest hill in Paris. Join the crowds on the steps and watch the sunset. You also have the option to climb the 300 steps to the top of the Dome for an even better view.

Sacre Coeur

The Wall of Love

The Wall of Love, also called Le Mur des Je T’aime, is a large, blue wall where the words “I Love You” are written in 250 languages. It’s free to visit and worth a quick visit if you are in the area. It sits right next to the Abbesses metro stop.

Wall of Love Paris

Moulin Rouge

If you are looking for something to do in the evening, why not experience the most famous cabaret in the world? Colorful can-can dancers take the stage nightly at the Moulin Rouge. Shows are offered at 7 pm, 9 pm, and 11 pm. Visit the Moulin Rouge website for full details.

Canal Saint-Martin

Canal Saint-Martin is a small waterway lined with boutique shops and cafes. This area is more popular with locals. So if you’re tired of the tourist crowds, escape here for a quiet afternoon and dinner at one of the cafes.

Indulge at Angelina

Angelina, located on Rue de Rivoli near the Louvre, is one of the best spots to visit for decadent hot chocolate and delicious French pastries. Enjoy!

Angelina

Pont de l’Archeveche

This bridge joins Ile de la Cite with the Left Bank. From here, you get an iconic view of Notre Dame. Walk along the bank of the Seine and enjoy the view of the cathedral and Ile de la Cite.

Pont larcheveche

Go Shopping at the Bouquinistes

Set up along the Seine River are stands selling used books, magazines, and artwork. This tradition of selling used books along the Seine started in the 16th century and this is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bouquinistes

Luxembourg Gardens

This tranquil spot is popular in the spring and summer, when the weather is nice and the flowers are blooming. This is a great spot to take a break from the hustle and bustle of Paris.

Mundolingua

If you are interested in languages, this is a great little museum to visit. With hands on and interactive exhibits, learn all about world languages.

Mundolingua

This is a much different experience than the larger, crowded museums like the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay. Mundolingua is a very small museum and during our visit on a very busy Easter weekend, we were the only visitors here. If you are looking for something a little bit different than the typical tourist destinations in Paris, this is one to add to your list.

It’s geared to all ages but I think older kids and young adults benefit from a visit here the most.

Enjoy the View from Montparnasse Tower

From the observation deck of Montparnasse Tower you can get an amazing panoramic view of Paris.

Montparnasse Tower

The Catacombs

Descend under the streets of Paris and tour the labyrinth of tunnels lined with human bones. In the 18th century, cemeteries around Paris were cleared and the bones were moved to these underground tunnels. Now, this is the final resting place of six million Parisians.

Paris Catacombs

Paris Sewer Museum

Here’s another unusual tourist attraction and another chance to descend under the streets of Paris. During this visit, you will learn not only about the sewer system but also about how Paris has grown over the past several centuries. Most visits last about an hour, but if you can’t stand the smell, your visit may be much quicker.

Musee de l’Orangerie

This is a small museum that features Impressionist artwork. The highlights of this museum are the eight Water Lilies murals painted by Claude Monet. You can also see art by Picasso, Sisley, Cezanne, Matisse, and more.

Orangerie

Dine at a Street Café

This really should be at the top of your list to things to do in Paris. Throughout the city, cafes spill out onto the city streets. Even when the temperatures are cool, many places run heaters to keep customers warm. Grab a table and have lunch or a glass of wine, the perfect way to take a break from sightseeing.

Le Consulat

Walk Across Pont Alexandre III

This is the most extravagant bridge in city. Decorated with nymphs, cherubs, and golden statues, Pont Alexandre III spans the Seine, joining the Grand Palais with Les Invalides. You may recognize this bridge from movies including James Bond: A View to Kill and Midnight in Paris.

Pont Alexandre

La Grand Arche at La Defense

Journey out to La Defense (and leave the crowds behind) for a view from the top of La Grande Arche. This view may not have the same “wow factor” as those from the Arc de Triomphe or Notre Dame Cathedral, but from here you can most of Paris sprawling out in front of you.

Stroll through Saint Germain des Pres

This is another very popular area to stroll. Filled with small lanes, boutique shops, and a bunch of very famous cafes, Saint Germain des Pres is a fun spot to spend an afternoon.

Shakespeare and Company

Located on Paris’ Left Bank, Shakespeare and Company is a small but very famous bookstore.

Shakespeare and Company was started by American Sylvia Beach in 1919 at a different location. It was this bookstore that was frequently visited by authors like Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and Ezra Pound. This first shop closed in 1941 during the German occupation of France.

In 1951, George Whitman opened a second bookstore that was also visited by famous writers. In 1964, his bookshop was renamed Shakespeare and Company, and this is the bookstore on the Left Bank that people still visit today.

Shakespeare and Company

Rodin Museum

This small museum features sculptures by Rodin. It’s quick and fun to visit. If you are traveling with kids, this is a museum they may actually like. Just ask them to pose like the statues.

Rodin Museum

Have Dinner and Drinks at the Buddha Bar

If you are looking for a very cool dinner/drink spot, go to the Buddha Bar. The lower level is a restaurant and along the second level are lounge areas with views over the restaurant. It feels like you have left Paris and entered Asia.

Buddha Bar Paris

Visit the Pantheon

The dome of the Pantheon is referred to as the “Balcony of Paris” because it offers 360° views of Paris. Look out over the Latin Quarter to Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, and Luxembourg Gardens.

Palais Garnier

Palais Garnier is the world famous opera house in Paris. Operas and ballets are performed here and this opera house is the setting for the book and musical “The Phantom of the Opera.” Inside, the Opera House is opulent, ornate, and stunningly beautiful. During your visit you can tour the opera house or watch a performance.

Opera house

Visit Pere Lachaise

Pere Lachaise Cemetery is one of the best known and most visited cemeteries in the world. A visit here may sound like a macabre way to spend an afternoon, but a stroll among the tombstones and mausoleums can be fascinating.

Pere Lachaise

Rue Cler

On this short shopping street, go shopping in the patisseries (pastry shops), boulangeries (bread shops), fromageries (cheese shops), and shops selling wine, fruit, and chocolate. Once you are finished shopping, find a nice picnic spot on Champs de Mars and enjoy the view of the Eiffel Tower.

Seine River Cruise

For a relaxing experience, take a cruise on the Seine River and enjoy the view as the landmarks of Paris drift by. Cruises are offered all day, but for the best experience go at twilight so you can watch as Paris lights up around you.

Visit Galeries Lafayette

The Galeries Lafayette is an upscale French department store. Even if you are not in the mood to go shopping, it still may be worth the quick visit. It is gorgeous inside, with a colorful stained glass ceiling and ornately decorated balconies.

Galeries Lafayette


That’s quite the list, right? Now, if you only have a few days, what are the most important things to see?

Our Top Ten in Paris

Here are our top ten favorite things to do in Paris.

  • Eiffel Tower
  • Musee d’Orsay
  • The Louvre
  • The Arc de Triomphe
  • Dine at street café
  • Notre Dame Cathedral
  • Montmartre
  • Sacre-Coeur
  • Le Marais
  • Walk along the Seine River

Do you want to learn how to put all of these sites into an epic trip to Paris? Click here to view our 3 Day Paris Itinerary.


Have you been to Paris? What are your favorite things to do? Comment below!

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Paris Bucket List Travel

Comments 2

  1. Your list is fantastic. It gives me ideas for our next Paris trip. There are a few things I would add to the list. A walking tour is our favorite thing to do in a new city. The pay-what -you-can tours in Paris are fun and informational. Also the Musee de Cluny in enjoyable. It highlights the medieval period and contains original ancient Roman baths. We visited after a recommendation from a walking-tour guide. A little outside of Paris (but still on the metro) is the Basilica of St. Denis where most of the Kings and Queens of France are buried. Paris is great, no matter where you decide to venture.

    1. Post
      Author

      I love the idea of the walking tour and the Basilica St. Denis sounds fascinating. Thanks for sharing!! Cheers, Julie

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