20 Bucket List Experiences in Paris
Call them cliche, but a bucket list of experiences is the best way to isolate your most favored excursions when visiting a new city. Being the highly romanticized city that it is around the world, there are a plethora of bucket list items that most people aim to cross off as they tour around.
Yes, they’ve been done. Yes, hundreds of other people will be doing them with you simultaneously. Yes, you have to get a photograph for Instagram to prove it really happened. All this aside the Paris bucket list is a wonderfully light and perfectly doable bunch of excursions, even in a short period of time. Read on…
1. Watch the Eiffel Tower Light Show in Paris
Just seeing the Eiffel Tower, day or night, is a bucket list experience in itself. But being somewhere central at the stroke of any hour after sunset gives all who are watching an experience never to be forgotten.
The Eiffel Tower sparkles for five minutes at the top of each night time hour. It’s the kind of thing you see in the movies, only now you’re in the front most seat.
Everyone has their preference for where to watch the show take place. Some prefer to be right underneath it, while others prefer a bit of distance such as from a nearby bridge or balcony of an Airbnb.
2. Have Your Portrait Painted at the Place du Tertre in Montmartre
Every morning Montmartre’s main square comes to life with 150 French artists who will sit and make works for the duration of the day. The day attracts thousands of tourists who take home commissioned works as souvenirs.
The Place du Tertre is lined with restaurants and cafes, a great spot for lunch while in the 18th arrondissement.
OPENING HOURS: Monday TO SUNDAY – All Day
ADDRESS: Place du Tertre, 75018 Paris
METRO STATION: Abbesses
3. Find the Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum in Paris
Is she smiling? Where are her eyebrows? How big is she actually?
Hunting down the historic painting inside of Paris’ most famous museum is one of the first thing travelers to Paris want to do. Once you find her, you’ll see what I mean.
While the painting is absolutely worth seeing, don’t neglect any of the other works in the space. It’s a museum that will take more than one visit to properly work through; make the most of your time here!
OPENING HOURS: Wednesday TO Monday – 9aM TO 6pm
ADDRESS: Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
METRO STATION: Palais Royal Musée du Louvre
4. Picnic on the Champ de Mars
The Champ de Mars is the giant public lawn directly before the Eiffel Tower. Thanks to romcoms and just about every film set in Paris, having a picnic of cheese, baguettes and wine while lounging on the grass is as idealistic as it gets.
Take note that the lawns can get crowded from the late afternoon into the evening. In the summer the midday hours are popular for sunbathers too.
5. Ride the Big Wheel at the Place de la Concorde in Paris
Free guided walking tours through the 1st arrondissement will generally start or end in the Place de la Concorde. This is considered to be one of the most major squares in Paris, it is also one of the biggest.
Its size permits the building of a giant ferris wheel once a year called the Big Wheel of Paris. The ferris wheel is open to the public during the winter months only, making it a bucket list item for winter travelers.
From the top you’ll have panoramic views over the whole of Paris.
6. Take a Day Trip to Versailles
The Palace of Versailles is the ultimate fairytale destination when in Paris, especially for honeymooners. It is the most opulent, extravagant and breathtaking castle in France, and arguably in Europe.
Versailles is roughly a 40 minute trip outside of Paris city center. One can take the train from any of the main stations, or catch a bus service through to the Versailles village.
OPENING HOURS: Tuesday TO SUNDAY – 9aM TO 5:30pm
ADDRESS: Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles
Bus or Shuttle Service Required
7. Eat Escargot (or Any Other French Delicacy) in Paris
The French are famous for enjoying snails, frogs legs, cow tongue and even udders. Your time in the French capital marks the perfect opportunity to brave the unfamiliarity and taste these age old recipes.
The streets of Paris are lined with French bistros, brasseries and bouillons. All of which will features at least one or two delicacies as well as traditional French classics like foie gras and onion soup.
8. Visit Monet’s Water Lilies at the Orangerie Museum in Paris
Paris would be a very different place without the artists who arrived in the city after the Revolution.
Inspired by the natural wonders of Paris and France, Monet created his Water Lilies series between the city and his home in Giverney. The entire piece is comprised of a total of 250 oil paintings. They are housed at the Orangerie Museum in the Tuileries Gardens just across from the Louvre.
OPENING HOURS: Wednesday TO Monday – 9aM TO 6pm
ADDRESS: Jardin Tuileries, 75001 Paris
METRO STATION: Concorde
9. Watch a Cabaret at the Moulin Rouge in Paris
You’ll find many cabaret opportunities in Paris. Perhaps the Moulin Rouge is always the bucket list maker because of its infamous history as well as Baz Luhrmann’s renowned film with the same name.
The Moulin Rouge and its bright red windmill are a symbol of Paris. The cabaret is nothing as it used to be back when sex and sleeze ruled the 18th arrondissement, but it still hosts daily cabaret performances featuring many of the original dances that were birthed in the space.
OPENING HOURS: Daily
ADDRESS: 82 Boulevard de Clichy, 75018 Paris
METRO STATION: Blanche
10. Eat a Baguette While Sitting on the Bank of the Seine in Paris
Since the Seine river runs through the center of Paris, you’ll have ample opportunity to tick this experience off your list. It only requires about 30 minutes of your time!
11. Walk From the Bottom to the Top of Montmartre Hill in Paris
Montmartre is Paris’ village on the hill. It’s an artist’s village and stuck in time in some ways, which adds considerably to its overall charm. One you get to the top you’ll have one of the best views over Paris’ south, you’ll also be on the doorstep of the Sacre Coeur (bonus bucket list item!)
12. Eat in a Traditional Bouillon in Paris
The Bouillons became popular in Paris back when the country was very much divided into the poor, the working class and the aristocrats.
There was a huge demand for mass eateries that could accommodate the workers during their lunch break, serving “bouillon”, a thin broth-like soup with meats and vegetables, for just a few pennies.
The bouillons have been recreated in Paris in recent years. They are massive eateries offering traditional French cuisine at a fraction of what one would pay in a regular bistro or brasserie.
The Bouillon of Pigalle is the newest on the scene and has people lining up to get in from 11:30am each day. The space seats 350 people at a time, so you are virtually guaranteed a table. You’ll eat a three course, quality meal here for under €10, with change.
OPENING HOURS: Monday TO SUNDAY – 12pM TO 12am
ADDRESS: 22 Boulevard de Clichy, 75018 Paris
METRO STATION: Pigalle
13. Buy Macarons in Paris
Whether from Paul’s, Ladurée or simply your nearest patisserie, taking macarons home from Paris is one of the most sought after souvenir experiences in the city. When purchasing, be sure to mention to the store clerk that you’ll be traveling with them so that they can pack them up properly.
14. Buy a Book from Shakespeare and Company in Paris
The Shakespeare and Company bookstore is an institution for Paris’ Left Bank, right by Notre Dame.
The bookstore has been serving the people of this neighborhood for 100 years, opened in 1919 by Sylvia Beach. It’s a majestic little shop with multiple stories and a wall paying ode to the man himself, Shakespeare.
OPENING HOURS: Monday TO SUNDAY – 10aM TO 10pm
ADDRESS: 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris
METRO STATION: Saint-Michel Notre-Dame
15. Hunt Down the Best Croissant in Paris
This is more of a process of elimination rather than a bucket list item. Croissants in Paris are something you’ll encounter daily throughout your stay.
While the best croissants in the city are debatable depending on ones preferred arrondissement, your best bet is to take every croissant eating opportunity that presents itself. Personally I opt for the almond versions wherever possible, you can’t go wrong.
16. Find the Graves of Famous People in Paris
Paris features four major cemeteries in the north, east, west and south of the city. They are giant garden-style burial grounds that are absolutely breathtaking to walk through.
Many influential artists, writers and singers who lived in Paris are buried on these cemetery grounds and their graves are popular tourist attraction.
Edith Piaf, Jim Morisson and Oscar Wilde can be found in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris’ east. Serge Gainsbourg can be found in the south in Montparnasse Cemetery. French singer Dalida finds residency in the beautiful Montmartre cemetery on the hill in the 18th.
17. Find the Five Women in the Paris Pantheon
The Pantheon is a historic building in the Latin Quarter on the Left Bank. It’s the mausoleum for distinguished French citizens, and up until very recently it was a space solely reserved for men.
Today there are a total of five women honored in the Pantheon. There are 72 men.
Sophie Berthelot was the first, followed by Marie Curie, Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz, Germaine Tillion, and finally Simone Veil most recently in 2017.
All of these women are recognized for their humanitarian works, contribution to science or socio-economic progression. Pay your resects inside of the Paris Pantheon.
OPENING HOURS: Monday TO SUNDAY – 10aM TO 6:30pm
ADDRESS: Place du Panthéon, 75005 Paris
METRO STATION: Luxembourg
18. Eat While You Walk in le Marais in Paris
Grabbing a falafel wrap, baguette or an ice cream to cling to while you roam the cobblestone streets is truly Parisian. Try to make your way to the Place des Vosges in the north of the neighborhood.
19. Eat a Crepe in Montparnasse
The crepe is an authentic French dessert, having originated in the town of Brittany.
The Montparnasse train station is the only one to run between Paris and Brittany. It was here that the crepe originally made its way into the city from the outlying towns.
As a result, Montparnasse in Paris south has some of the best street crepe vendors around. Enjoying this world renowned dessert right from where it started is a bucket list item worth the trip to the south for.
20. Watch the Sunset Over Paris from a Rooftop
Watching the sunset from anywhere in Paris is suitable for all bucket lists! Watching from a rooftop simply takes it to the next level.
Public rooftops are hard to find in Paris, you’ll usually have to dine in the hotel or drink in the rooftop bars, but there are a few spots where you can simply observe and leave. The most popular would be the rooftop at the Galeries Lafayette department store. Access is free!