Paris is of course one of the most popular destinations to visit in the whole world. World class museums, Instagram worthy spots, delicious food and beautiful walks all abound. There’s no shortage of things to do and therefore it helps to decide what you want to do while spending time in the City of Lights – especially if you’re going for the first time!
While you probably know most of the obvious Paris landmarks you’ll want to hit- I’m here to help you narrow down your Paris bucket list of some of my favorite places to see and things to do while you’re in Paris. I’ve traveled to Paris more than any other place and as the founder of Paris, Perfected, I can also customize your trip to Paris – whether you’re going for the first time or have been regularly.
This list will help you plan your trip to Paris to best enjoy your time there and get to know the city’s unique and charming culture.
I also highly recommend saving these items to a Google map so you can best optimize your days while in Paris. I always say there’s never enough time when you’re in Paris so if you want to really take advantage of your travel, you’ll want to plot out these spots and keep a list handy so you’re not forgetting any of your Paris priorities.
Paris Bucket List
Sainte-Chapelle features some of the world’s most marvelous stained glass and dates back to the 13th century! It was the royal chapel built in the Gothic style and is a must when you visit the Île de la Cité. It is recommended you purchase your ticket in advance. I love to go at sundown when the sun shines through the windows and casts a gorgeous glow throughout the ancient chapel.
One of the most recognizable museums in the world, the Musée d’Orsay is a must-visit in Paris that sits on the Left Bank of the Seine. It is housed in the former Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography. The Impressionist wing is my personal favorite and it is recommended you make reservations in advance to avoid the queue.
Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe stands at the center of the Place de l’Étoile at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. It honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. If your legs are feeling up for it, you can climb the hundreds of stairs to the top for epic views of the city.
Jardin des Tuileries
The Tuileries Garden are a must-visit to stroll or picnic. Located between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde in the 1st arrondissement in Central Paris. The gardens were created by Catherine de’ Medici for the Tuileries Palace in 1564 and were opened to the public following the French Revolution.
It goes without saying that the Eiffel Tower is a must-visit when in Paris. She towers over the skyline at a variety of turns and you’ll want to visit the Best Places to View the Eiffel Tower. If you want to go up the tower, you’ll want to book your ticket in advance.
Jardin des Luxembourg
My personal favorite gardens, the Jardin du Luxembourg, known in English as the Luxembourg Gardens are located in the 6th arrondissement bordering Saint Germain and the Latin Quarter. They were created beginning in 1612 by Marie de’ Medici, the widow of King Henry IV, for a new residence she constructed which remains in the park: the Luxembourg Palace.
You’ll see the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Cœur from afar plenty while in Paris but it is worth an up close visit. Sacré-Cœur Basilica is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city and its steps offer sweeping views over Paris. Following a visit to the church a walk around Montmartre is very worthwhile.
You won’t be able to see all the Louvre has to offer in one visit so plan ahead and determine what is most important for you to see on your visit. And book your ticket in advance! Know that the Mona Lisa remains the most visited piece of art in the whole museum and so expect crowds.
The Palais Garnier or Opéra Garnier, is a 1,979-seat opera house at the Place de l’Opéra in the 9th arrondissement and it is a sight to behold. It was built for the Paris Opera from 1861 to 1875 at the behest of Emperor Napoleon III and the building is beautiful from the outside but it is even more striking to see the insider. Consider a tour of the space or take in a show for the full experience.
The Poilâne bakery is reputed to be one of the world’s best bakeries specializing in sourdough breads baked in wood-fired ovens and is considered Paris’s most famous bakery. Founded by Pierre Léon Poilâne and now owned and operated by his granddaughter, Apollonia Poilâne, there are a few locations but the one in Paris’s 7eme arrondisement is my personal favorite. I once ran into Ina Garten outside of this location! She is personal friends with Apollonia and made the bakery famous with Americans.
Place de la Concorde
The Place de la Concorde is one of the major and most central public squares in Paris (and actually the largest!) It is located at the eastern end of the Champs-Élysées and features an entrance to the Tuileries gardens and beautiful fountains.
Delicious and Instagram-worthy treats from one of Paris’s most famed pastry chefs. His macarons, croissants (try the Ispahan one!) and his chocolates are all worth taste testing.
The Musée Rodin was opened in 1919 and boasts both a beautiful home and gardens – both primarily dedicated to the works of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. It’s a personal favorite of mine.
You should do this every morning if you can! Visit your local bakery and get just-out-of-the-oven croissants that will be fresher and more delicious than what may come with your hotel breakfast.
Merci Concept Store
With an ever changing inventory for both clothes and home goods, the Merci Concept Store in the Marais neighborhood always is worth browsing. My favorite part of the store is the home goods and kitchenwares. You can also get a light lunch or coffee at one of the store’s two restaurants!
La Cuisine Paris Cooking Class
Learn to make classic French treats or take a wine and cheese tasting or market class to learn more about the amazing food culture in France. La Cuisine Paris is my favorite place to take classes while in Paris.
A Marché visit
Paris’s markets boast amazing bounties that are such fun to experience. Pick up goods for a picnic or just browse the stalls. Pro tip: have the vendor help you with what you’d like to purchase. They’d prefer you not touch the goods!
I love to walk in the Palais Royal and its gardens early in the morning before it gets too busy. The Palace and gardens date back to the 17th-century and are home to some restaurants, arcades of shops & Daniel Buren’s striped columns in courtyard.
Le Bon Marché
Get in your shopping at this stunning department store on the Left Bank. Don’t miss the food hall, either in a building across the way from the main store housing luxury goods.
Du Pain et des Idées
This famed bakery serves up traditional French pastries & signature “pain des amis” bread in an 1875 shop with painted ceilings. The goods are worth the inevitable wait!
Evening by the Seine
If you want to live like a local, spend an evening sitting along or picnicking along the Seine river watching the boats go by. I love to bring a bottle of wine with a friend and enjoy the river’s breeze.
The charming Île Saint-Louis is beautiful to wander and is a must-visit for me always. Don’t miss the delightful shops and one of my favorite cheese stores is on the main street!
Ice Cream from Berthillon
While on the Île Saint-Louis, Berthillion ice cream is a must! The famous ice cream is sold at a variety of spots on the island but I prefer to go to the original store located at 29-31 rue Saint-Louis. My favorite flavors are framboise and chocolat!
Café de Flore
Famous for good reason and popular with both locals and tourists alike, there’s nothing like a petit dejeuner at Café de Flore. Enjoy the people watching and soak up what it must have been like to visit in the café’s heyday when famous writers like Ernest Hemingway and Marcel Proust used to frequent for fare and conversation.
Want to stock up on some French beauty products while in town? Look no further than this famed pharmacy in Saint Germain. You’ll be able to get great prices on beloved brands like Caudalie, Bioderma, NUXE, LaRoche Posay and more.
Place des Vosges
This old square in the Marais is a favorite of mine to sit under one of the shady benches and just watch Paris pass by. Browse the shops nearby before or after and I highly recommend bringing along a coffee and pastry for your enjoyment.
Home to the Ritz Paris and some of the city’s most indulgent shopping, Place Vendôme is incredibly regal and worth viewing. This Place is what inspired the famous shape of Chanel’s perfume bottles and watches as Coco used to live in the Ritz and look out over the Place’s octagon shape. Pop into nearby Angelina for their beloved hot chocolate before or after.
Seine River Cruise
While certainly a tourist destination, I absolutely love the Seine River Cruises and try to fit one in at sunset every time I am in Paris. Seeing some of Paris’s most famous sights from the river is so special and you can’t beat the opportunity to see the city by river while also learning a bit about Paris’s history!
I always manage to fit in at least one crêpe when in Paris – but it has to be made to order! So many stalls near tourist sites have a stack of pre-made crêpes and that just won’t do in my opinion! I have a secret vendor that I share only with Paris, Perfected clients – this man makes the best crêpes I’ve ever had in Paris and if you don’t know to look for him – you’ll never find him!
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Pin the below graphic to save it for your next trip to Paris! Or you can print it out to bring it with you!
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Do you have any Paris favorites that didn’t make my bucket list? I’d love to hear about them!
You May Also Like:
- The Best Breakfast Spots in Paris.
- Everything to Know About Staying in an Apartment in Paris.
- A Guide to Paris’s Saint Germain.