paris bucket list what to do in paris

Your perfect Paris bucket list! 20 things to do when in Paris

Paris is one of my favourite cities in Europe. When I lived in Belgium, Paris was never far away. At a mere 3 hour drive from where I lived, spontanious trips to Paris were never far away.
Although I do like the very cosy tourist spots, I got to know Paris as a local. I loved the little streets in the outskirts and the tiny flea markets at the edge of Mont Martre.
Because I tended to avoid tourist areas, I can offer a nice selection of great places and spots to visit you might not have known off.
As this is a bucket list, I included a few must see tourist spots for first-time travellers. But I am sure my list will help you to navigate this beautiful city!

Climb Trocadero and see the Eiffel Tower

You cannot miss the Eiffel Tower. In fact, even I still try to visit this iconic landmark when I travel to Paris. I love how the Eiffel Tower lets the realisation that I am in Paris sink in.
The Eiffel Tower might as well be one of the most recognisable landmarks in the world. When you show a picture to people from China, Russia and Peru alike, they can all name The Eiffel Tower. They will also be able to point out you can visit this landmark in paris, France.
When you are visiting Paris, a cheesy picture with the Eiffel Tower should be on your bucket list for sure.
Try to take out some time in your schedule to visit the Eiffel Tower. Although you might have had the impression that the Eiffel Tower is all there is to see in that area, the tower is part of a much larger park. The Champ de Mars park is a very nice, well-kept park with many great photo oportunities with this giant icon.
There are many little benches next to the wide lanes of the Champ de Mars park. Bring some bread and some nice cold meats and have an in promptu picknick at the Eiffel Tower!
You can walk down the Champ de Mars and up to the Eiffel Tower. Do watch out as there are many scam artists and pickpockets around that will try to steal your money.
Once you have walked past the Eiffel Tower, try to climb the steps of Trocadero. You will have an amazing view from this angle!

When travelling to  The Eiffel Tower, you might want to take the Metro.

The closest Paris Metro station to the Eiffel Tower is Champ de Mars / Tour Eiffel on line RER C.

Other Metro stations close to the Eiffel Tower include Ecole Militaire on Line 8, and Bir-Hakeim on Line 6.

Enjoy the panoramic view from Arc de Triomphe

Another tourist staple you need to visit in Paris is the Arc de Triomphe. Standing on Place de Charles de Gaule, this Arc commemorates a large number of wars and battles at which many men lost their lives.
The Arc de Triomphe stands in the middle of a crazy roundabout. You can take a bus or a metro to get to the Arc de Triomphe.
The monument is open for visitors. You can walk underneat it for free. You can also take a long winding staircase and have a panoramic view over the city from the Arc. This however, is paying.

Closest Paris Metro stations to the Arc de Triomphe:

  • Charles de Gaulle Etoile – Line 1 (yellow)
  • Charles de Gaulle Etoile – Line 2 (blue)
  • Charles de Gaulle Etoile – Line 6 (green-blue)
  • Charles de Gaulle Etoile – RER A (red)

Walk through the gardens of Musee Rodin

MUSEE RODIN paris what to do bucket list
I love going to the Musee Rodin. This beautiful little castle in the middle of the bustling city is a haven of rest.
Musee Rodin is a museum in the house of Rodin. The museum offers tourists and locals alike a stroll in the magnificent gardens. You will also be able to learn more about the life of this master.
In Musee Rodin you can get up close to the masterworks from Rodin such as The Thinker and The Kiss.

I love the gardens of Musee Rodin and often find myself here reading a book in the sun. It is important to plan in days that are less intensive so you can rest. Musee Rodin is a great place to come on one of these less intensive days.

Closest Paris Metro stations to the Musee Rodin:

  • Varenne– Line 13 (light blue)
  • Saint-François-Xavier – Line 13 (light Blue)

Fall in love with the Waterlillies at The Orangerie

The museum of The Orangerie might as well be one ofmy favourite museums in Paris. The Orangerie is a small museum but houses some of Monet’s most important works.
I have visited The Orangerie every single time I went to Paris and I will keep doing so. The waterlillies are breathtaking. I can sit on the little bench in the middle for absolute hours.
The Orangerie was also one of the first places I took my -now- husband to and where he had planned to propose to me (was it not for the fact the museum was closed).

The Orangerie is a must see when you are in Paris. Even when you are not a lover of fine art, this museum is worth your time. It is not too big and most people spend about 1 hour in The Orangerie. It won’t take long out of your day but it will leave a lasting impression.

Closest Paris Metro stations to the Orangerie:

  • Concorde– Line 1 (Yellow)
  • Concorde – Line 8 (Purple)
  • Concorde – Line 12 (Green)

Visit the flower market at the Place Louis-Lépine

The very first time I stumbled upon this magnificant little flower market I was in awe of its charm. This flower market lies tucked away behind the Notre Damme Cathedral.
This little market sells everything. You can find flowers and flowerpots. But you can also buy birds and animal toys.
It reminds me of certain markets we have in Belgium – especially the “Vogeltjesmarkt” in Antwerp. If you are not Western European this little market might be an eye opener.
The market houses in green nineteenth century buildings. Although from the outside the market might not seem like much, it is worth taking a stroll past the stalls.
Of course buying flowers as a tourist is very hard, but you can still enjoy the scents and colours of the plants. Strolling through the stalls does not take long – 20 minutes max!

Closest Paris Metro stations to the flower market:

  • Cite– Line 4 (Fuchsia)
  • Notre Dame – Line 4 (Fuchsia)
  • Notre Dame – RER B
  • Notre Dame – RER C
  • Hotel de Ville – Line 1 (Yellow) 
  • Hotel de Ville – Line 11 (Brown)

Stroll through the gardens of Versailles

Versailles is another of those typical attractions I need to visit every time I go to Paris. Versailles is the beautiful guilded palace of Louis the 14th. The palace has been the stage for many historical events such as the signing of the treaty of Versailles.
Getting to Versailles from Paris is quite easy. There are many trains that will take you to the little village outside of Paris. When you come out of the station you will see that the palace lies in the middle of the village.
In fact: there is a busy road that passes before Versailles.
versailles paris bucket list
I would recommend visiting the palace on the inside. The interior of Versaille is magnificent. Gold leaf covers the walls and ceilings. Intricate designs and carvings can be seen everywhere. Tapestries and beautiful furniture decorate the rooms.
There might be a long line to enter the museum – but it is well worth the wait.
If you are not willing to wait or pay the entrance fees, you can take a stroll through the beautiful gardens.
The gardens of Versailles are by far the most beautiful of their kind. The gardens boast a lot of garden chambers, statues and fountains. The gardens are so large you need half a day to see everyhing! My husband and I lust like to take a stroll through the gardens of Versailles in spring.

Drink a coffee at Place Du Tertre

Montmartre is my favourite area in Paris. Not only do you have an amazing view from the steps of the Sacre Cour, Montmartre was also the bohemian quarter of Paris.
Artists like Picasso, Van Gogh, Matisse and Duchamp all lived in Montmartre during their stay in Paris. Montmartre is well known for its little curvy streets and many steps.
One of the nicest squares in Montmartre is Place du Tertre. This square was where local artists would gather to paint.
Now you will find a lot of old and commercial (not so good) artists and painters on this square. They sell (bad) paintings of the area or will offer to draw you.
It is worth it to visit Place du Tertre and drink a coffee on one of the terraces and watch the hustle and bustle on the square. You will also be able to find souvenirs here.

Closest Paris Metro stations to Place Du Tertre:

  • Abbesses – Line 12 (green) 
  • Anvers – Line 2 (blue) 
  • Lamarck Caulaincourt – Line 12 (green)

Descend into the catacombs

The paris catacombs are a must see for history lovers and lovers of the macabre.
The catacombes used to be a stone quarry. This quarry supplied Paris with its famous yellow-white stones. In the eiteenth century they decided to replan the city due to the ever growing population. This meant that they had to dig up graveyards and even plague pits to construct roads, roundabouts and squares.
The bones of the dug up graves were then placed in the quary. This is when they formed the Catacombes as we know today.
The very first time I went to the catacombes, I expected it to be nothing more than just some bones lying around. But there are informative plaques set throughout the entire complex.
My husband and I enjoyed our visit to the Paris Catacombs very much. He would even say it is one of his favourite museums in Paris – even though he pisses his pants at anything that is remotely scary.
If there is a chance of rain, I would bring an umbrella to the Catacombs. The line is often very long and you have to wait outside.

Closest Paris Metro stations to the Catacombs.

  • Denfert – Rochereau – Line 4 (Purple) 
  • Denfert – Rochereau – Line 6 (Green) 
  • Denfert – Rochereau – RER B

Be a local foodie at Rue Daguerre

rue daguerre paris bucket list what to do
Paris can be very expensive. Especially eating out in Paris can break the bank. I always found Rue Daguerre to be exceptionally good and reasonably cheap.
Rue Daguerre is a small street with a few nice traiteurs and food shops. It lies close to the Catacombs and to the famous Cordon Blue cooking school.
The first time I discovered this street was when I wanted to visit the Catacombs. I came all the way from Montmartre to the Catacombs, only to find they were not open.
I wandered into Rue Daguerre with a bit of an apetite and found a nice little restaurant. La Chop Deguerre serves nice daily courses for €12.
Further down the street you will find nice boutique shops and traiteurs. I love the greek traiteur and always want to take home some pasta from the fresh pasta shop.
A little further away from the hustle and bustle of this quaint market street you will find Le Naguere. This little cafe serves nice wine and coffee at a fair price.
You will not find very many tourists here which keeps prices low and food local!

Closest Paris Metro stations to Rue Daguerre.

  • Denfert – Rochereau – Line 4 (Purple) 
  • Denfert – Rochereau – Line 6 (Green) 
  • Denfert – Rochereau – RER B

Step into the footsteps of Amelie of Montmartre

Amelie has always been one of my favourite movies. It is the movie that made me fall in love with Paris and Montmartre. I still listen to the OST when working.
When in Paris – and especially when you are looking to visit Montmartre, you will want to take an Amelie tour.
These Amelie walking tours will take you to the filming locations of the movie and the most romantic spots of Montmartre.
I enjoyed the tour we took very much. Our guide was very knowledgeable about Montmartre and was able to answer all our questions.

Closest Paris Metro stations to cafe des 2 moulins

  • Abbesses – Line 12 (Green) 
  • Blanche – Line 2 (Blue)

Have dinner on The Seine

seine cruise paris bucket list to do
Another Paris favourite is taking a nice cruise on the Seine. I love these little river boat cuises. Especially the ones at night – or during the day in Summer. That way you can enjoy the sun or watch the light show on the Eiffel Tower.
When travelling to Paris – especially when it is your first time in this city, you should book a river cruise.
There are many kinds of cruises you can book. First of all, there are cruises that will guide you through over the Seine. You can sit inside or outside and enjoy looking at the Paris life unfolding itself on the banks of this river.

You can also hire one of these boats and have dinner. The food might not be amazing, but you will find that there is an amazing atmosphere on these boats. Having dinner on a Seine cruise is a once in a lifetime opportunity! A great experience to tick off on your Paris bucket list.

Skip stones at canal St-Martin

This is the last Amelie reference – I promise!
Canal St Martin is nothing short of a best kept secret. This gorgeous canal attrackts thousands of Parisians every year during summer. It is one of the favourite chill spots of the locals.
Trees line this beautiful canal and locks and bridges overspan the water, throwing reflections in the canal.
I love walking next to Canal St Martin or drink an espresso in one of the nearby cute coffeeshops.
In summer you can easily bring a bottle of wine and some fingerfood out to the canal and enjoy the son and live music that is played by buskers.
You can also take a little boat tour over the canal! This is especially nice in summer!

Closest Paris Metro stations to canal St-Martin

  • Jaures – Line 2 (Blue) 
  • Jaures – Line 5 (Orange) 
  • Jaures – Line 7b (Blue-green) 

Taste the Macarons at Laduree

The Macarons of Laduree are world renowned. From New York to Dubai, people pay lots and lots of money to get a taste of one of france’s favourite cookies.
When in Paris you should go and eat some macarons at Laduree. There are a couple of Laduree shops around. You can drink a cup of coffee in these shops and even order some macarons.
If you have a real sweet tooth, you can even order a complete macaron tower.

Closest Paris Metro stations to Laduree Champs Elysees

  • Roosevelt – Line 1 (Yellow) 
  • Roosevelt  – Line 9 (Mustard) 

Drink champagne on the steps of the Sacre Coeur

One of the best views in Paris must be the view from the steps of the Sacre Coeur. Climb the beautiful white steps before sunset and drink a glass of French champagne on the steps.
This is something I do almost every time I head to Paris. Montmartre is one of my favourite areas. I have to climb the Sacre Coeur at least once to gasp at the stunning view.
There are many little shops at the bottom of the steps selling champagne. Your best guess might be a Carrefour. There is a great one on Rue Clignoncourt. I bought amazing Cremant D’elzas (better than champagne in my opinion) for €4.
champagne montmartre sacre coeur paris bucket list to do

If you forgot your bottle of champagne or fizzy wine, you can always buy one from the many hustlers. Last time a dodgy man offered us a bottle of sparking cider for €10. I am sure this is a massive mark-up, but you have to admire his ingenuity.

Closest Paris Metro stations to the Sacre Coeur

  • Abbesses – Line 12 (Green) 
  • Anvers – Line 2 (Blue)

Go art-spotting in Musee D' Orsay

musee dorsay paris bucket list to do
Musee D’Orsay used to be Paris’ main train station. Later the city refurbished it into one of the city’s best museums.
Musee D’Orsay might be a bit art-heavy for people who are not very fond of art. The collection, however, is extensive and includes many famous and important works of art.
My husband, who knows very little of art was enamoured by the old masterworks and the museum’s interior.
That’s right! This museum is not only a must visit because of its famous and impornat collection, the interior is also incredible. I remember my feet hurting a lot when visiting Musee D’Orsay. There was so much to see and so many pieces and masterworks to discover.

Musee D’Orsay also boasts an amazing little cafe. From the cafe you have an amazing view on Paris and Montmartre.

Closest Paris Metro stations to Musee D’Orsay

  • Gare Musee D’Orsay – RER C 
  • Solferino – Line 12 (Green)
  • Assamble Nationale – Line 12 (Green)

Go wine tasting

When in France, it would be a pitty if you left without tasting the wine. As drinking age is 16 (as opposed to 21 in the USA) you will be able to book in a nice wine tasting.
France has so many nice wines. During a wine tasting event you are able to discover different wines and learn about the wine making process. The instructor will teach you about the different tastes of the grapes and about the body of the wine.
There are a variety of different wine tasting tours and events in Paris. I would recommend to research the tours you are considering as there might be a lot of dirrerence in quality between the tours.

Shop and eat at La Defense

La Defense, Paris’ financial district, boasts the La Defence Arch. This massive frame looks out over the city and offers you an amazing panorama of Paris.
The massive square before the arch is lined with nice pubs and restaurants. It is a very hip and up and coming neighbourhood that sees thousands of commuters and workers every day.
On the left there is also a big mall. This mall houses most of the high street brands but also some luxury boutiques. I love shopping at La Defense as there are less locals than in the centre of Paris.

Because the shops at La Defense are catering to locals, prices are often lower and fair. Staff is more helpful and during the day you can shop in peace and quiet.

Closest Paris Metro stations to La Defense

  • Gare de La Defense – RER A 

Pose with the French Statue of Liberty

Did you know you can visit a Statue of Liberty in Paris? This statue is a best kept secret and very little tourists know about this copy.
Not too far from the Eiffel Tower, two bridges further to be precise, the French statue of Liberty welcomes visitors with her torch. It was Eiffel – the designer of the Eiffel tower, who designed the Statue of Liberty.
France gifted the Statue of Liberty we know and love so well to the United States. The country held a model of the statue and placed it on one of the quais.
Take a picture with this American icon – in Paris!
Statue of liberty paris bucket list to do

Closest Paris Metro stations to La Defense

  • Javel – RER C
  • Javel – Line 10 (mustard)

Windowshop at Galeries Lafayette

Galeries Lafayette is – for me – one of the most beautiful department stores in the world. This famous parisian department store stocks luxury brands and food.
From the amazing little eclaires to the lush dresses, shopping at Galeries Lafayette will break your bank. But like shopping in Harrods, it is more about the experience.
Galeries Lafayette has jaw dropping ornaments and beautiful laticed glass and ceiling domes. You can also climb up to the roof from where you have awe inspiring views over the city.

Going up to the roof is free. Since not many tourists know of this little attraction, it will be fairly quiet. You have great views over the Eiffel Tower and the Grand Palais

Closest Paris Metro stations to Galeries La Fayette

  • Chaussée d’Antin La Fayette – line 7 (Pink) 
  • Chaussée d’Antin La Fayette- line 9 (Yellow-Green)

Try the escargots

escargots paris bucket list to do
I love escargots. Escargots are snails often found in vineyards. Escargots are often prepared with garlic and herbs.
They are not for everyone but they are typically French. When you forget you are munching on a snail they are delicious!
There are many different places you can go and eat escargots, but I would research the best places. I would hate it if you try escargots at a shitty restaurant and you end up hating them.
If you are renting an Airbnb or an apartment you can pick up a plate of escargots in a nearby supermarket. They are cheaper and that way and you can wash them down with a great bottle of wine with your partner

Drink a glass of wine at Polidor

Polidor is one of the most famous cave de vins in Paris. In this little cafe and wine bar, famous artists and painters such as Hemingway and Dali were regular customers.
The cafe itself is still decked out like it was 100 years ago. It does not look fancy and that is part of its charm.
I would not recommend eating at Polidor. Food is not amazing and they cash in on massive busses of Asian tourists, but one thing they really do well is wine.
I redommend drinking a glass of wine at Polidor. Order the house red or house white. And take some time to think about the fact that long ago, Hemingway might have been sitting on that exact same spot!
polidor paris bucket list to do

Closest Paris Metro stations to Polidor

  • Odeon – line 4 (Fuchsia)
  • Odeon – line 10 (Yellow) 
  • Cluny Sorbonne- line 10 (Yellow)
21 things to do when in Paris
the ultimate paris bucket list 21 things to do in paris

3 thoughts on “Your perfect Paris bucket list! 20 things to do when in Paris”

  1. I’ve still not visited France just yet. Automatically when thinking of Paris you think of the Eiffel tower. I did not consider Versailles, I LOVE macaroons too. Also, dinner on the Seine looks amazing! I will have to start creating a list of activities for when I do visit…

  2. So much things I had not hear off! I hope to go to Paris soon again after this horrible virus is over. Your website makes me dream. Danke!

    1. Hi Tina! Thanks! Yes. I hope it is over soon. My husband and I are currently stuck in Sri Lanka 🙁 I wish I was in Paris now though!

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