Last Updated on 31st March 2022 by Sophie Nadeau
Come rain or shine (yes, even in the rain because it rains a lot in Paris), the city of love is one of the most beautiful cities in the World. When you think of Paris, you probably conjure up images of the Eiffel Tower and views over the Champs Élysées.
There is more to Paris than croissants and caricatures. In fact, there’s a lot more! As such, I’ve come up with the ultimate Paris bucket list, including some of the very best things to do in Paris!
In every city, there are certain things that you should see, do, visit and eat. And of course, Paris is no exception! So, whenever I think of Paris, a few must see Paris attractions and districts always seem to pop into mind. The Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and a stroll along the Champs Élysées to name but a few…
Here is a complete guide to the must-see attractions in Paris, and the areas in which to find them. Some are those places are where you’ll find the hottest tourist attractions, others are further off the beaten path and are some of the more unusual things to do in Paris…
- #1 Read ‘How to be ‘Parisian wherever you are’
- #2 Visit Jardin des Tuileries
- #3 Visit the Orangerie
- #4 Visit Place Vendôme
- #5 Visit Palais Royal
- #6 Visit the Louvre
- #7 Drink hot chocolate at Angelina
- #8 Visit Notre Dame
- #9 Discover Le Marais
- #10 Visit the Flower Market, Île de la cité
- #11 Visit Centre Pompidou
- #12 Wonder at Sainte Chapelle
- #13 See the Conciergerie
- #14 Shop at BHV
- #15 Visit Maison Victor Hugo
- #16 Visit Place des Vosges
- #17 Have an espresso at one of the many cafés in Paris
- #18 Visit the Paris Panthéon
- #19 Eat at HANK Burger
- #20 Buy a book at Shakespeare and Co.
- #21 Visit St Sulpice
- #22 Visit Jardin du Luxembourg
- #23 Drink tea at Café de Flore
- #24 Secure your love at Pont des Arts
- #25 Visit Musée D’Orsay
- #26 Visit Les Invalides
- #27 See the Eiffel Tower (at sunrise)
- #28 Walk along the Champs Elysees
- #29 Go up the Arc de Triomphe
- #30 Eat a macaron at Ladurée
- #31 Shop at Galeries Lafayette
- #32 See Palais Garnier (The Paris Opera House)
- #33 Visit Cemetery Père Lachaise
- #34 Walk along Canal St Martin
- #35 Belleville/ Père Lachaise (parts of 10th, 11th, 19th, and 20th arrondissements)
- #36 See Rue Cremieux
- #37 Go down into the Catacombs
- #38 Visit Cemetery du Montparnasse
- #39 Go up Tour Montparnasse
- #40 Discover the Latin Quarter
- #41 Stroll around Montmartre
- #42 Opera/ Pigalle (9th and 18th arrondissements)
- #43 Walk around Chic Saint-Germain-des-Prés
- #44 Visit Sacré Coeur
- #45 Take a day trip to Fontainebleau
- #46 Visit Château de Chantilly
- #47 Take a day trip to Château de Vincennes
- #48 Take a day trip to Versailles
- #49 Take an afternoon out to visit Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen
- #50 Buy an Eiffel Tower keyring
- France Travel Information
#1 Read ‘How to be ‘Parisian wherever you are’
To prepare yourself for your Parisian adventure, make sure you check out the book that everyone’s talking about on Instagram! ‘How to be Parisian wherever you are’ will make you cry with laughter and teach you how to be a ‘true Parisienne’. After all, Parisians are not born, they’re made… Purchase a copy of How to be Parisian Wherever You Are here.
#2 Visit Jardin des Tuileries
Jardin des Tuileries is Paris’ answer to New York’s Central Park. People often claim that Paris is completely lacking in green space in comparison with a city like London. However, this is just not the case! You just have to know where to look for the green spaces!
In the summer, there is a fairground in the Jardin des Tuileries on the Louvre side of the gardens. There’s also a large Ferris wheel near Place de la Concorde throughout the rest of the year! During the winter, there’s an annual Christmas Market in the Jardin des Tuileries, which is, in fact, the largest of its kind in Paris.
#3 Visit the Orangerie
Home to Monet’s Nymphéas (waterlilies), the Orangeries houses just some of the 250 oil paintings that Monet created in his flower garden at Giverny. Although you can see the images online, there’s nothing as moving as seeing an artwork in person for the first time. Purchase your Orangerie entrance ticket here.
#4 Visit Place Vendôme
A quaint little square filled with designer boutiques and luxe hotels, Place Vendôme is presided over by a giant Triumphal Column. During the winter, the square is filled with giant trees decorated with hundreds and thousands of twinkling lights. In other times of the year, the pretty square is perfect for photography and can be found just a few streets away from the Palais Garnier Opera House.
#5 Visit Palais Royal
Home to the controversial Colonnes de Buren and located a short walk away from the Louvre, Palais-Royal is now an administrative building which is closed to the public but its stunning garden makes for a great place for a picnic nonetheless.
#6 Visit the Louvre
Take a selfie with the Mona Lisa in the largest museum in the world. At the Louvre you can also find favourites such as the Winged Victory of Samathrace and the Venus di Milo. Truth be told, one of my top tips for visiting the Louvre would be not to try and see everything in one go! Instead, focus on certain areas of the museum or a specific time period. Purchase your Louvre ticket here in advance.
#7 Drink hot chocolate at Angelina
I hope that you have a sweet tooth because a visit to Paris is all about all the sweets on offer. From the macaron to the rich hot chocolate, to the endless croissants for breakfast, a trip to Paris is full of culinary delights! For more chocolat chaud inspiration, check out this guide on where to find the best hot chocolate in Paris.
#8 Visit Notre Dame
Notre Dame sits right in the centre of the city in the middle of the Seine on Île de la Cité. From the 4th to the 14th centuries, the island was the hub of Paris. Most of the exterior was originally painted (including all of the gargoyles). The cathedral is free to visit and open every day of the year.
Editor’s note: please note that due to the terrible fire at Notre Dame in April 2019, the cathedral is closed until further notice. France, and particularly Paris, is the birthplace of the Middle Ages gothic church and so there are still plenty of other churches in Paris where you can admire stained glass and see some stunning carvings.
#9 Discover Le Marais
Situated in the very heart of the city, le Marais should make your Paris bucket list whether it is your first, or even 100th time, to the city! With gems to visit like the red-bricked Place des Vosges (the oldest public square in the city) as well as small museums such as Musée Carnavalet (one of those museums for people who hate museums; situated in an old mansion and filled with the gory details following the history of Paris), there’s plenty to see and do for everyone.
Oh, and I’ve not even started mentioning the fact that le Marais is home to what may well be the oldest house in Paris, or that Nicolas Flamel lived in the area! You know, that famous alchemist from Harry Potter… Elsewhere in the district, there’s even a former turreted mansion turned library that you can visit for free, and even study or work in- the WiFi is pretty speedy!
#10 Visit the Flower Market, Île de la cité
and buy a bunch of flowers… If you’re in Paris and you’re in search of fresh cut flowers, indoor plants, or exterior greenery, then you may well want to visit one of the prettiest flower markets in Paris, that of the Île de la Cité Flower Market.
Formerly known as the Marché aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux (market of flowers and birds), the name of the Parisian market was changed in 2014 to Marché aux fleurs Reine-Elizabeth II in Paris France. For more information on visiting, check out our guide to the Île de la Cité Flower Market.
#11 Visit Centre Pompidou
The largest collection of modern art in Paris, here you can find Picasso, Braques and a whole host of other famous names. (The Centre Pompidou’s central location in the heart of le Marais also means that the roof terrace provides the most amazing views over the city). Purchase a Centre Pompidou Permanent and Temporary Exhibits Access ticket here.
#12 Wonder at Sainte Chapelle
Sainte-Chapelle is home to one of the most extensive and impressive sets of stained glass windows in the World. Dating all the way back to the 13th Century, the gothic chapel was originally built to house Louis IX’s collection of relics of the Christ.
One such relic was the Crown of Thorns (now held in Notre Dame). Shockingly, the Crown of Thorns actually cost more to purchase than it did to construct Sainte Chapelle. If you wish to visit the iconic stained glass for yourself and want to skip the line, purchase your Sainte-Chapelle tickets in advance here.
#13 See the Conciergerie
The largest gothic hall in Europe and where Marie Antoinette was kept prisoner during the French revolution, the Conciergerie is now a museum that’s one of the less busy cultural institutions in the Île de la Cité part of Paris.
To the side of the building, overlooking the Seine, you’ll soon discover the oldest public clock in Paris, which dates all the way back to the 15th-century! If you’re looking to visit both Sainte-Chapelle and the Conciergerie, then you may well want to consider purchasing this combined entrance ticket (which also includes a skip-the-line feature).
#14 Shop at BHV
Often hailed as one of the only stores in the center of Paris to sell everything from pillow covers to light fittings to vintage clothing, the BHV (Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville) department store has been open since 1856. On the 5th floor, there is a sushi bar, Starbuck’s café and cafeteria. For more information, be sure to check out the top department stores in Paris.
#15 Visit Maison Victor Hugo
Author of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo lived at #6 from 1832-1849 before his exile to Jersey and Guernsey in 1851 (due to his staunch support for Napoleon I). Although temporary exhibitions are charged, the house museum itself is free.
#16 Visit Place des Vosges
Built in the early 1600s, the earliest planned square in the city, Place des Vosges, is enclosed by red brick houses and arcades of shops, bars, and restaurants.
Many a famous French people have lived here; including Cardinal Richelieu and Victor Hugo. Victor Hugo’s former residence has since been transformed into a free-to-visit small house museum which is a must-see while you’re in the area.
#17 Have an espresso at one of the many cafés in Paris
“Un expresso s’il vous plaît”. No Paris bucket list would be complete with at least a gentle nod to the coffee culture that the city is so famous for! For your ultimate guide to the cutest places to go, check out the best cafés in Paris.
#18 Visit the Paris Panthéon
Originally a church, the Paris Pantheon is now the resting place of many famous French men and women (notably Voltaire, Victor Hugo and Marie Curie). Over time, it has been the scene of many a controversy, including a rumour that Voltaire’s body had been stolen and a feminist criticism in 2012 that very few women were actually interred in the Pantheon.
#19 Eat at HANK Burger
You won’t regret it. Hands down one of the best vegan burgers in Paris, HANK stands for Have a Nice Karma and locations can now be found in several spots across Paris, as well as in the French city of Lyon.
The options on offer are simple, making it easy to select a choice. There are four varieties of burger on offer, three are permanent whilst the fourth changes every couple of months (this one is known as ‘le touriste’).
#20 Buy a book at Shakespeare and Co.
The first Shakespeare and Company was opened in 1919 and attracted writers such as Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce throughout the 20s. It was closed during WWII and never reopened.
Originally called ‘le Mistral’, the second store was rebranded ‘Shakespeare and Company’ as a tribute to the founder of the original Shakespeare and Company store, Sylvia Beach.
#21 Visit St Sulpice
Saint-Sulpice is the second largest church in Paris (after Notre Dame). The current building, built in the 17th Century, was featured in Dan Brown’s novel, the Da Vinci Code. The book proved to be so popular that it has since been turned into a movie starring Tom Hanks. Check out the best of Da Vinci filming locations in Paris here.
#22 Visit Jardin du Luxembourg
Especially pretty in the summer: here you’ll find cute hand painted boats floating around the pond and a huge assortment of pretty flowers.
#23 Drink tea at Café de Flore
A must for any Gossip Girl fan! Sip on a glass of wine in this iconic café, which was once frequented by many an acclaimed writer, and watch the world go by… For more information about the history of this Parisian institution, check out my guide to Café de Flore here.
#24 Secure your love at Pont des Arts
If you and your lover inscribe your names on a padlock, lock it onto a bridge and throw away the key into the Seine, your love will last forever… Please note that, since 2015, you can no longer fix your locks to Pont des Arts.
The weight of the locks became such that it started to endanger the structural integrity of Pont des Arts. And so, in 2015, the locks were removed. Glass panels have since been installed across the metal bridge to make it harder to, but the tradition nevertheless persists in other parts of the city.
#25 Visit Musée D’Orsay
Situated in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, the Musée d’Orsay is situated in a former railway station, Gare d’Orsay. Home to Starry Nights and an impressive collection of Rodin bronzes, it is also the site of a window clock that offers views over Paris all the way over to Sacré-Coeur.
#26 Visit Les Invalides
Commonly known as Hôtel National des Invalides, the complex of buildings that form Les Invalides (for short), are located in the 7e arrondissement. The courtyards, church, and gardens are all free to visit. Les Invalides also happens to be the location of several museums, including the Army Museum, Museum of Relief Maps, and museum of 3D models. Purchase your Napoleon’s tomb and Army museum combined ticket here.
#27 See the Eiffel Tower (at sunrise)
Okay, if there’s one thing you make a point of doing when you visit Paris and tick off your Paris bucket list, make it waking up early enough to see the sunrise. For the best place in the city to see the sunrise, I recommend heading to Trocadéro and watching the sunrise over Paris).
#28 Walk along the Champs Elysees
With a name reminiscent of Ancient Greek mythology’s Mount Olympus, this is the place for luxury shopping. Famous the world over, where else could you find French brands residing in the shadows of the symbol of France, the Arc de Triomphe? The avenue is just under 2 km long and is completed by matching rows of impressive trees.
#29 Go up the Arc de Triomphe
If you’re pressed for time, I don’t recommend going up the Eiffel Tower. Instead, I can’t praise the view from the Arc de Triomphe instead! Not only is the view fantastic, but the waiting time is about a third of that of the Eiffel Tower.
#30 Eat a macaron at Ladurée
If there’s one place that’s known for having some of the best macarons in Paris, it’s Ladurée. Salted caramel and pistachio remain firm favourites and for the best experience, head to the Ladurée flagship store along the Champs Élysées.
Although you may have to wait a little while to venture inside, and the macarons are a little on the pricier side, dozens of Paris enthusiasts will tell you it’s well worth it! Otherwise, there are several other Ladurée locations across Paris, including at 14 Rue de Bretagne, where you’ll find the prettiest shopfront and store interior!
#31 Shop at Galeries Lafayette
No trip to Paris would be complete without visiting the World Famous department store, Galeries Lafayette. The best ‘window licking’ experience in town (the French phrase for window shopping ‘lèche vitrine’, literally means window licking). Galeries Lafayette also boasts a free-to-visit rooftop terrace that offers incredible views over the city, including of the Eiffel Tower…
#32 See Palais Garnier (The Paris Opera House)
Palais Garnier, which is situated right by Galeries Lafayette, is actually one of two opera houses in Paris. Should you wish to visit yourself, you can attend a show, or alternatively book a self-guided tour of the premises. Purchase your guided tour of the Palais Garnier Opera House here in advance.
#33 Visit Cemetery Père Lachaise
From Oscar Wilde to Jim Morrison, many famous people are buried here. The Cemetery is also the final resting place of tragically star-crossed lovers Heloise and Abelard.
#34 Walk along Canal St Martin
Canal Saint-Martin is over 4 km long and was commissioned by Napoleon I in the early 1800s. If you’re truly looking for a district where all the locals hang out, then you simply must head to the 10e arrondissement of the city, specifically Canal Saint Martin.
Forget the Seine, because this is where you can walk along the waters edge, enjoy Parisian picnics during the summer months, and hang out in plenty of trendy bars along the canal.
#35 Belleville/ Père Lachaise (parts of 10th, 11th, 19th, and 20th arrondissements)
When I lived in Paris, this area- and more specifically, Rue Oberkampf- was my home, and so I’m pretty sure that the 11e arrondissement will always have an extra large spot in my Paris-shaped heart. Nearby, you’ll also find the site of the infamous Père Lachaise cemetery, the final resting place of greats such as Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, and Chopin.
Elsewhere in the district, the area is filled with great and inexpensive eateries, as well as plenty of green spaces. The park at Belleville is the location of the few remaining Parisian vineyards and also offers spectacular panoramic views of the Eiffel Tower and beyond.
#36 See Rue Cremieux
The prettiest street in Paris, situated in the 12e arrondissement, rue Crémieux lies close to Gare de Lyon. Opened in 1865, the road was renamed ‘Crémieux’ in 1897 in honour of Gaston Crémieux.
#37 Go down into the Catacombs
Head right down into Paris’ underbelly. The macabre scene that greets you in the Paris Catacombs is like stepping right into the pages of history.
#38 Visit Cemetery du Montparnasse
There are a number of cemeteries scattered across Paris, the most known, of course, being that of Père Lachaise. Situated in the 14th arrondissement, this cemetery is the final resting place of Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, among others.
#39 Go up Tour Montparnasse
Tour Montparnasse is the tallest building in Paris (that’s not the Eiffel Tower). From the top, everything looks like tiny doll’s house pieces. Head here at sunset for an amazing view over the City of Light!
#40 Discover the Latin Quarter
The Latin Quarter is so-called after students from the Sorbonne University located in the area. In the middle ages, students would learn, write and even converse in the now dead language. It was so common to hear Latin spoken in the area, despite French being in its early stages, that the area came to be known as the ‘Latin Quarter’.
This is one of those Paris must see locations and should not be missed on any trip to the city of love. Home to good eats and even better shops, it’s here that you can find quirky bookstores such as Shakespeare and Co, as well as the Abbey Bookshop.
#41 Stroll around Montmartre
Montmartre has long been the muse of artists, writers and actors alike. And even just a short visit to the area should give you a clue as to why. Visiting the district is as close a step back in time as you’ll get to the Paris of yesteryear, specifically the Paris of the early 1900s when Picasso, Renoir, and Van Gogh inhabited the 18th arrondissement.
Filled with small museums, cobbled lanes, and even its own hidden vineyard, Montmartre has quickly become one of my favourite haunts of the city. Be sure not to miss the Sacre-Coeur (though its high elevation and sheer size mean that it is pretty difficult to miss!) as well as Place Dalida (what may well be the prettiest square in all of Paris).
#42 Opera/ Pigalle (9th and 18th arrondissements)
In the area surrounding the base of the large hill that is Montmartre, you’ll find even more Paris must see locations and attractions. Home to one of two major Parisian opera houses, the infamous ‘Moulin Rouge’ and plenty more off the beaten path sights, my favourite rooftop terrace is also situated in the area.
#43 Walk around Chic Saint-Germain-des-Prés
The area of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, not far from the Seine and close to the Eiffel Tower, is probably the chicest arrondissement in all of Paris. It’s here you’ll find iconic cafés like that of Café de Flore, pricey boutique, quirky design shops and an abundance of florists selling peonies.
Oh, and if you’re searching for something a little more unusual, you can see the Church of Saint-Sulpice. Allegedly it is through this ancient place of worship that the Rose Line, made famous by the Da Vinci Code, runs… Nearby, the picturesque Jardin du Luxembourg, a stunning set of gardens commissioned by Catherine de Medici herself, are well worth a wander through.
#44 Visit Sacré Coeur
Over 11 million visitors visit the Sacré-Coeur every year. Completed at the beginning of the 20th Century, the stone comes from Château-Landon. During wet weather, the stone leaks calcite, re-bleaching the stone and maintaining the basilica’s chalky appearance. Read more: The Sacré Coeur and its Pagan origins
#45 Take a day trip to Fontainebleau
Napoleon called Château Fontainebleau ‘house of the centuries’ and gave his final salute at the bottom of this very staircase. Fontainebleau is one of those places that you could easily visit over and over again.
#46 Visit Château de Chantilly
Situated to the North of Paris, the Château at Chantilly was home to French princes for almost two centuries. The Château now houses the Musée Condé, one of the largest collections of paintings in France. Opened in 1898, the museum collection includes three paintings by Rafael and three by Tra Angelico.
#47 Take a day trip to Château de Vincennes
The royal fortress of Château de Vincennes began life as a hunting lodge in the middle of the 12th Century. In the 13th Century, a larger manor was constructed before the site was turned into an important royal castle during the following three centuries.
#48 Take a day trip to Versailles
Rich with history and brimming with fascinating tales of times long gone by, Versailles is famous the world over. Once home to one of the richest kings in history, Louis XIV commissioned the Palace that would have cost over $2 billion to build in today’s money. Read more: Versailles
#49 Take an afternoon out to visit Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen
St-Ouen (le Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen) is the biggest flea market in the World. The flea market in Paris consists of 14 markets; all carrying goods of varying time periods and styles, it is possible to find everything from dishes, to armchairs, to vintage clothing.
#50 Buy an Eiffel Tower keyring
And to end the Paris bucket list, and your time in the city of lights, make sure you buy a keyring so that you’re always reminded of your special time in Paris! Even if it is a little tacky…
France Travel Information
France uses the Euro (€)
The main language spoken in France is French. Though you can get by with English is more touristic places, it’s always a good idea to learn some of the local language. Bring along a simple phrasebook like this one to help make your travels easier.
The capital of France is Paris. For more information and inspiration, check out our best Paris travel tips.
France uses plug types, types C and E. As such, if you’re travelling from the UK, USA, Canada, and many other destinations, you’ll need to buy an adapter. I recommend buying a universal travel adapter that you can use for multiple destinations (rather than buying a new adaptor for each place you visit).
As one of the most popular destinations in the world, you should always consider booking your accommodation well ahead of time. Check out this website for price comparison details and detailed reviews.
Be careful with your belongings. I also highly advise to avoid wearing a backpack and to instead opt for a crossbody bag like these ones. I personally use a crossbody bag by this brand and love its shape, size, and versatility.
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Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, travel, pizza, and history. A fan of all things France related, she runs solosophie.com when she’s not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming something sweet. She now splits her time between London and Paris! Subscribe to Sophie’s YouTube Channel.