Paris Bucket List: Top 50 Things You Need to Do Around the City
August 31, 2017 10:00 am
How many of these can’t-miss activities have you ticked off your Paris Bucket List?
If you’re planning a trip to the City of Lights and lacking inspiration for your itinerary, look no further. Brought to you by the team at Paris Pass, we’ve taken everything there is to do in the city and whittled it down to the 50 best exhibitions, experiences and entertainment. Whatever your interests, and whether you’re in the city for a weekend or a month, there really is something for everyone in our Paris bucket list.
- Explore the Musée du Louvre, once the residence of the French royals and now home to the famous Mona Lisa.
- Check out the Musée d’Orsay, home to Paris’ collection of modern art, to see work by the likes of Monet, Renoir and Cézanne.
- Get the lift to the top of the Eiffel Tower, Paris’ most iconic monument (or climb the 704 stairs if you’re feeling active).
- Admire the Gothic masterpiece of Notre Dame Cathedral with its beautiful stained-glass ‘flowers’ and walk amongst its famous gargoyles.
- Climb up to the dome of the sugar-white Sacré Coeur to admire beautiful panoramic views of the city, before taking a break on the steps in front of the Cathedral to watch the street performers.
- Head to the top of the Arc de Triomphe at dusk to admire the sunset over Paris, and stick around during the evening to catch the glittering Eiffel Tower illuminations.
EXPLORING THE CITY
- The Montparnasse Tower is Paris’ only skyscraper, rising high above the rest of the city; enjoy a first-class view of the Eiffel Tower from the observation deck at the top.
- With 15 enormous stained glass windows depicting 1113 different scenes, the 13th century royal chapel of Sainte-Chapelle is a Paris bucket list essential.
- Catch a ballet at the Palais Garnier opera house, used as the setting for The Phantom of the Opera (complete with a mysterious subterranean lake).
- Take a boat trip along the Seine for a whistle-stop tour of Paris’ most famous landmarks.
- Visit the Panthéon in the vibrant Latin Quarter, and go down into the crypt to see the final resting places of Voltaire, Marie Curie, Emile Zola and Victor Hugo.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
- Head to the family-friendly Jardin du Luxembourg for an afternoon of people-watching – with everything from tennis courts to children’s pony rides, there’s something for everyone.
- Stroll through the Parc des Buttes Chaumont, the fairytale park complete with waterfalls, wooden bridges and hidden grottoes.
- Grab an evening picnic and head to the Jardin des Tuileries, once the royal garden attached the Louvre palace.
- Walk on the wild side in the Jardin des Plantes menagerie (zoo), one of the oldest in the world, and say hello to everything from big cats to orangutans.
- Explore the ‘lungs’ of Paris in the Bois de Boulogne, a huge green expanse that feels more like the French countryside than a city park.
- Whizz through the city on a velib, Paris’ rental bike service. Go online to hire bikes for 24 hours or a whole week.
- Walk along La Coulée Verte, an old railway track transformed into 5 kilometres of elevated gardens.
- Learn to dance in the Jardin Tino-Rossi, a park on the left bank which welcomes hundreds of dancers on summer evenings.
- Take a dip in the Piscine Josephine Baker, a ‘floating’ outdoor pool that feels as though you’re swimming in the river itself. Learn more about Paris’ swimming spots here.
ART AND CULTURE
- Go for a ride on one of the colourful escalators at the Centre Pompidou and see its enormous modern art collection.
- Visit the Musée de l’Orangerie in the Jardin des Tuileries to see Monet’s famous ‘Waterlilies’.
- Take a statue-hunting stroll around the romantic gardens of the Musée Rodin to admire the sculptor’s best works, including the famous statue The Thinker.
- Take the train to the tiny village of Giverny to visit the home of Claude Monet, and wander through the gardens which provided the inspiration for his waterlilies series.
- Spend an afternoon at the Fondation Louis Vuitton to admire its collection of modern, African and Asian art.
- Head to the Musée Picasso to explore the masterpieces of the avant-garde artist, (most of which were donated by his family to avoid paying their inheritance tax).
- Check out Napoléon’s final resting place at the Hôtel des Invalides, still used for its initial purpose as a home for war veterans and now housing the National Army Museum.
- Go celebrity-hunting at the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise and find the likes of Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf and Oscar Wilde hiding amongst the graves.
- Hire a rowboat on the Grand Canal at the impressive Château de Versailles, before catching a fountain display in the gardens and exploring the ornate palace.
- The fortress of La Conciergerie was used as a prison during the Revolution, its most famous inmate being Marie-Antoinette. Take a tour to learn more about its turbulent history.
- Drifting around Montmartre, Paris’ most romantic quartier, feels like you’ve gone back in time – grab a crêpe and explore cosy cafes, lively squares and winding lanes lined with ivy-clad houses.
PARIS IN LITERATURE
- Discover the life and work of Victor Hugo, author of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, on a visit to his home at Place des Vosges.
- Order a coffee at Les Deux Magots or Café de Flore on Boulevard Saint-Germain and follow in the footsteps of their literary clientele, such as Hemingway, Camus and Sartre.
People-watch like a local with our guide to the best cafes in Paris.
- Browse the shelves of Shakespeare and Co., the left bank bookshop which welcomed – and sometimes housed – the likes of James Joyce, Jack Kerouac and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Discover the top literary spots around the city, with our book-lovers itinerary!
- Rifle through the many bookstalls that line the left bank of the Seine and pick up some bargain antique novels, prints or magazines.
FOOD AND DRINK
- Taste Paris’ best ice-cream at Berthillon, with flavours ranging from traditional classics to the more eclectic (roasted pineapple and basil, anyone?).
- Pick up an edible souvenir at the Fromagerie Quatrehomme, the place to find Paris’ best cheeses.
Test your cheese knowledge with our guide to French Cheese here.
- Sample the mint tea and Turkish baklava at the Grande Mosquée, before heading into the mosque itself to admire the beautiful architecture and decoration.
- Have dinner on a shoestring at Bouillon Chartier, one of Paris’ oldest and most beloved restaurants serving great traditional French cuisine at very reasonable prices.
Get a taste of history at Paris’ oldest restaurants!
- Snap up a falafel wrap in the Marais, Paris’ Jewish quarter – wandering the maze of narrow streets is sure to bring you to a stall selling the tasty and budget friendly sandwiches.
Paris is jam-packed with delicious street food, eat your way around the city with our guide!
- Explore the enormous Marché Bastille, stretching for almost a kilometre, and find everything from fresh fruit and veg to cheese, meats, fish, spices and wines.
- Hunt down the hidden entrance to the Marché des Enfants Rouges and discover a paradise of street food stalls, the star of which is Chez Alain Miam Miam; braving the queue for one of Alain’s legendary sandwiches is well worth it.
- Potter around the Marché aux Fleurs, a haven of peace on the Ile de la Cité. Go on a Sunday and be entertained by the bird market selling everything from parrots to budgies.
- Prepare to haggle at the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, the old shanty town now considered the biggest flea market in the world. Browsing this Aladdin’s cave is sure to reveal some hidden treasures – just keep an eye on your wallet.
- If you’re a fan of art that throws the rulebook out the window, head over to the Palais de Tokyo for some weird and wonderful exhibitions – a recent display involved an artist living in a rock for a week before attempting to ‘hatch’ a group of eggs.
- Descend into the depths of Paris and tour the city sewers at the Musée des Egouts. It doesn’t sound pleasant, but exploring the underground labyrinth is a truly fascinating way to see the city in a new light.
- Discover the Musee d’Histoire Naturelle, spread across Paris – check out the Galerie de l’Evolution and the quirky Galerie de Paléontologie et d’Anatomie Comparée (both in the Jardin des Plantes) for a foray into the weird and wonderful natural world.
- Visit the endless skull-lined corridors of the catacombes – if you dare – and discover the remnants of Paris’ former inhabitants.
- Disappear into one of the many speakeasies across the city. Lavomatic and Moonshiner are two of the best, if you can find them.
- Catch a cabaret show at the Moulin Rouge, Paris’ most famous venue – other excellent shows include the extravagant Lido and the more risqué Le Crazy Horse.
And there you have it: 50 great ways to spend your time in Paris and make the most of your holiday. All there’s left to do is go… We hope you enjoy making your way through our Paris bucket list on your next visit to the City of Lights!