There is so much to see and do in Paris that it can be hard to know where to begin when planning your itinerary. City guides can be incredibly in-depth, making your choices even more overwhelming. To make your life easier I have prepared a complete list of the essential things to see, eat and do to add to your Paris bucket list.
Looking for free attractions?
Looking for free attractions? Check out my 5 part series of free things to do in Paris which includes parks, gardens and outdoor attractions, cultural and historical attractions, visiting churches and cemeteries, touring museums and browsing through the many markets and shopping centers that the city has to offer.
Indulge your tastebuds…
1) Devour delicious steak frites
Classic steak-frites is a very popular meal served in nearly every Bistro and Brasserie in Paris. For information about the restaurants which serve up the best steak- frites, check out this post.
2) Eat a street food crepe
Crepes are sold everywhere in Paris, even by vendors on the street. Either sweet or savoury, these delicious snacks are perfect for any time of day. Prices usually range from €4-9 for a crepe to-go. Always make sure they are made fresh, and NEVER purchase a pre-made, re-heated crepe.
3) Sample a macaron at Ladurée
Acclaimed patisserie Laduree has become famous for their delicate macarons. These biscuits have two crisp shells that are joined with a delicious ganache filling. There is such a wide variety of classic and seasonal flavours that it’s hard not to purchase a colourful box of these tasty treats!
4) Have croissants at breakfast
When in Paris it’s obligatory to have a famous croissant and pain au chocolat for breakfast. A French staple for centuries, these flaky, light and buttery pastries are easy to eat on the go before a day of sightseeing.
5) Indulge your sweet-tooth at Angelina
Angelina serves-up decadent pastries and the most celebrated chocolate chaud (hot chocolate) in all of Paris. With its rich flavour, thick texture and creamy consistency, Angelina is a perfect stop on a chilly day.
6) Buy the city’s best baguette at Au Paradis Du Gourmand
Each year Parisian bakers battle it out hoping to selected as the best baguette maker in the city. 2018’s winner of the Grand Prix de la Baguette, Au Paradis Du Gourmand, is located in the 14th arrondissement. Try it out and see what you think!
7) Pack a picnic to enjoy on the Champs de Mars
Shop for a baguette, sliced meat, cheeses, and some wine along Rue Cler, and then head to the Champ de Mars for an unforgettable picnic under the Eiffel Tower.
Restaurants and café culture…
8) Have a meal at an outdoor café
All around the city cafes overflow onto the streets. Despite the often cramped tables, awnings, fans, and/or heaters keep guests comfortable even on hot or cold days.
9) Look out at the Paris skyline from a rooftop bar
Some of the best views in Paris are from the rooftop restaurants and bars which overlook the city. I suggest either 43 Up on the Roof or The Peninsula for their Eiffel Tower view.
10) Spend a days wage at a Michelin starred restaurant
France has the largest concentration of Michelin starred restaurants than anywhere else in the world. Rated for their delectable cuisine and exemplary service, each one guarantees the meal of a lifetime. Prices at dinnertime can be shockingly high while lunchtime fixed price menus offer better value.
11) Drink a café au lait at Café de Flore
Café de Flore is one of the most acclaimed cafes in Paris, and the perfect spot to enjoy a break during a busy day of sightseeing.
12) Enjoy an espresso at Les Deux Magots
Les Deux Magots is another one of Paris’s most iconic cafes. It’s a great place to grab some coffee and watch the Parisians go about their day.
Shop ’til you drop…
13) Browse around Galeries Lafayette
Even if you have no plans to shop, Galeries Lafayette is a must-see while in Paris. This world famous French department store stands out for its stained glass dome and ornamental balconies. There is also a rooftop terrace with spectacular views of the Eiffel Tower.
14) Shop among famous authors at Shakespeare and Co.
Shakespeare and Company is an English bookstore which opened in 1951. It was named as a tribute to Sylvia Beach, the founder of a notable bookstore from the 1920’s named ‘le Mistral’. Today, the shop has become a haven for writers, artists, and intellectuals from around the globe.
15) Buy a book from the Bouquinistes
Les Bouquinistes are outdoor booksellers who have stalls set up along the Seine in the 4th arrondissement. Recognized as a Unesco World Heritage site, some 217 riverside booksellers make use of 900 “green boxes” to house roughly 300,000 old books, journals, stamps and trading cards.
16) Find great deals at the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen
Instead of splurging at Paris’s high-end boutiques or famous department stores, why not check out the Saint-Ouen Flea Market? It is among the biggest flea markets in the world, with a staggering 1700 merchants.
17) Shop for a picnic on Rue Cler
Located in the 7th arrondissement, Rue Cler is the quintessential Parisian market street. It’s the perfect street for a one-stop-shop before picnicing on the Champs de Mars.
18) Roam among Les Passages Couverts
The 2nd arrondissement is known for its historic glass-covered shopping arcades. Today they house shops, tearooms and restaurants.
19) Buy a tacky Eiffel Tower souvenir
Every time I go to Paris I buy another Eiffel Tower souvenir. Whether it be a keychain, a small statue, or even a perfume bottle shaped like the Iron Lady herself, they all remind me of the wonderful times I’ve spent in Paris.
Explore your artsy side…
20) Visit The Louvre
When in Paris it’s obligatory to see works of art including Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory. But be prepared, you might need to throw some elbows if you want to get close to the Mona Lisa!
21) Visit the Musée D’Orsay
The Musée d’Orsay is an impressionist art museum located in the former train station, Gare d’Orsay. The collection of impressionist art including works by, Manet, Degas, Cezanne, Renoir, and Gaugin is the largest in the world.
22) See a Monet at Musée de l’Orangerie
This small impressionist museum is home to Claude Monet’s Nymphéas (waterlilies). Other artists featured include Picasso, Renoir, Cezanne, and Matisse
23) Gawk at modern art in the Pompidou Centre
Modern art enthusiasts will be thrilled by the unique architectural features of the Pompidou Centre. While modern art isn’t for everyone, those who prefer can skip the galleries and ascend a glass tube escalator to the rooftop terrace. From here you can see famous landmarks including Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, The Louvre, and The Eiffel Tower.
24) Ride the Metro
The Paris Metro the second oldest subway in the world and one of the largest subways systems in Europe. Almost every building in Paris is within 500m of a metro station, making it the quickest and most efficient way to get around the city.
25) Hop aboard a Seine river cruise
Sightseeing cruises are offered along the Seine river, offering tourists a relaxing change from the hustle and bustle of the Parisian streets These tours offer guests a different vantage point of some of Paris’s most famous landmarks.
26) Take in the views from the Tour Montparnasse
Head up to the Observation Deck on the 59th floor of the Montparnasse Tower for a 360° view over Paris. From here you’ll see what is arguably the best view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
27) Take a trip up to the top of the Eiffel Tower
With incredible views over the Paris skyline, visiting the top of the Eiffel Tower is on many people’s bucket list. After checking out the views, be sure to take a quick tour of Gustave Eiffel’s secret apartment.
28) See the colours on Rue Crémieux
It is said that La Rue Crémieux is the prettiest street in Paris. Situated in the 12th arrondissement, this charming pedestrian street is known for its colourfully painted houses.
En plein air…
29) Walk along the Canal St Martin
Canal Saint-Martin is a popular destination for Parisians and tourists, with many fantastic restaurants and bars. The canal is car-free on Sundays, so this is a great time to go.
30) Walk through the Jardin des Tuileries
Located between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde, the Jardin des Tuileries features several fountains, and many modern sculptures. A public attraction since the 18th century, the park offers plenty of shade on a hot summer day.
31) Pay a visit to Place de la Concorde
Formerly named Place de la Révolution, this was the site of 1119 public executions by guillotine during the French Revolution. Place de la Concorde is the largest square in Paris and is now famous for the Luxor Obelisk, its Neoclassical palaces and its two monumental fountains.
32) Pay your respects at the Père Lachaise Cemetery
The Père Lachaise Cemetery features stunning burial chambers, mausoleums, and Gothic graves. It is one of the most widely-known and most visited cemeteries in the world and contains the remains of Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Molière, Edith Piaf, Frederic Chopin, and roughly 77,000 other Parisians.
33) Visit the Jardin du Luxembourg
Located in the 6th arrondissement, The Jardin du Luxembourg covers 25 hectares. There are many activities for children and adults including puppet theatres, rides, slides, chess tables, tennis courts, and remote control boats.
34) Look around Place des Vosges
Place des Vosges is one of the oldest and most beautiful squares in Paris. Listed as a historical monument since 1954, the square is surrounded by two-storey buildings built from red brick and stone and topped with blue-slate roofs.
35) Take a walk through Saint Germain des Pres
Saint Germain des Pres is a popular neighbourhood to explore in Paris with an abundance of boutiques and famous cafes.
36) Wander around Le Marais
Le Marais was once home to the city’s Jewish quarter and still hosts numerous kosher restaurants. Numerous trendy boutiques, art galleries and gay bars line the cobblestone streets making this district a lovely spot to spend an afternoon.
Join the crowds…
37) Visit Notre Dame Cathedral
The Notre Dame Cathedral is more than 800 years old and one of the most impressive examples of French-Gothic architecture in Paris. Be sure to climb to the top of the tower to see unparalleled views of the city.
38) Stroll around Montmartre
Take a memorable stroll through the quaint Montmartre district, one of paris’s most popular neighbourhoods.
39) Climb the steps to Sacré Coeur
Sacre Coeur sits at the highest point in Paris, offering fantastic views of the whole city. For even more remarkable views, climb the spiral staircase to the top of the dome. From here visibility extends up to 30km on a clear day.
40) Walk down the Champs-Elysées
Famous around the world, the Champs-Elysées extends from the Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde. This impressive tree-lined street is home to some of the most luxurious stores in Paris.
41) Climb the stairs at the Arc de Triomphe
At the end of the Champs-Elysees, at the center of a crazy roundabout, sits the Arc de Triomphe. From the top of this 49.5m tall monument, you will see one of the best views of the Eiffel tower in the Paris skyline.
42) Visit the Pantheon
Resembling the Pantheon in Rome, this mausoleum is the burial place of some of the most influential people in French history. Be sure and join a tour to climb the 276 stairs to the top of the dome for picture perfect views of Paris.
43) See the famous Moulin Rouge
Nightly cabaret shows are a huge hit at the famous Moulin Rouge in the city’s former red-light district.
44) Go inside Palais Garnier
Both beautiful inside and out, Palais Garnier is the world’s most acclaimed opera house and the setting of Andrew Lloyd Webbers “The Phantom of the Opera.”
45) Remark at the stained glass inside Sainte Chapelle
Formerly the residence of French Kings, the 13th-century Sainte Chapelle houses some of the worlds most remarkable stained glass windows.
46) Visit the Conciergerie
The Conciergerie is Europe’s largest gothic hall and the prison in which Marie Antoinette and 2500 others were held before being executed.
47) Head underground to the Catacombs
Venture underground to explore the catacombs of Paris. Human skulls and bones line the walls from floor to ceiling in this world-renowned ossuary.
Escape the city…
48) Take the family to Disneyland Paris
Rub shoulders with swashbuckling pirates, zoom through time and space and look on in awe at the unforgettable firework and light displays over Sleeping Beauty Castle.
49) Head minutes outside Paris to Versailles Palace and Gardens
Tour the royal Palace of Versailles including the Chapel of Versailles and the Grand Apartments as well as the magnificent 800 hectare gardens.
50) Take an unforgettable day trip elsewhere in France
Paris is centrally located in France, making it the ideal hub for exploring the country. These unforgettable day trips will get you back to your hotel by the end of the day.
51) Explore other parts of the country on a weekend getaway
France is a fantastic country to explore. Each region has its own distinct landscape and unique appeal (learn more about each one here). If time permits, I recommend enhancing your Paris bucket list by spending a few nights visiting at least one or two of these destinations.
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