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Paris bucket list: the 10 best places to visit in the City of Lights

Updated: Sep 23, 2022

These top sites to visit in Paris, including prominent museums, galleries, landmarks, and more, will provide you with the opportunity to experience the very best that the City of Lights has to offer.

Putting out a "bucket list" of things to do in Paris might be difficult since the city is home to a wide variety of landmarks and destinations that are known all over the globe. So that you may get the most out of your trip to the magical City of Lights, we have compiled a list of our most recommended tourist destinations in Paris, including museums, markets, famous buildings, and more.


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1. Lap up the magnificent views from the Eiffel Tower

A journey to Paris is not worthwhile until it includes at least one visit to the Eiffel Tower, the city's most recognizable monument. The magnificent wrought-iron tower is the city of Paris's highest building, reaching an impressive height of 324 meters. Additionally, it is one of the most stunning views to witness, particularly at night when it sparkles with 20,000 lights for five minutes out of every hour. It is interesting to note that the well-known building was originally conceived as a temporary display for the World Fair in 1889, which was held to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. Despite this, the towering beauty continues to be a famous emblem of Paris more than 125 years after it was built. Each year, millions of people from all over the globe go to the summit to take in the amazing views that can be seen there.

If you have the stamina, you may make your way up the 704 stairs to the second floor and investigate the many stores and exhibits that are located there. And if you become hungry, you can eat at either 58 Tour Eiffel or Le Jules Verne, which are located on the first and second levels, respectively. If you choose the former option, you will not want to miss out on seeing the see-through floor. You may ride a glass elevator to the top of the tower, where you can see the office of the famed engineer Gustav Eiffel, whose firm developed and constructed the tower. However, you can only do this if you are feeling very courageous. To put the cherry on top, you may have a glass of champagne while gazing out over the city. The observation tower is open daily until 23:00, and until midnight during the warmer months. You can skip the lines if you pre-book your tickets online, where you can get them for anything from $2.60 and $25.90.

2. Get lost in the Louvre and other smaller museums

The Louvre, which is both the biggest and most visited museum in the world, is an excellent place to idle away an hour or two. And this is just the first floor of the magnificent bookstore and gift shop! The wonderful museum can be found in the middle of Paris on the right bank of the Seine. It is home to around 38,000 pieces of artwork and artifacts, some of which date back to ancient times. The exhibition takes place in a space that has a total size of 72,735 square meters and is structured as a labyrinth of halls and passages. The Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo are two of the most well-known works of art that can be seen at the Louvre. I.M. Pei's well-known glass Louvre Pyramid, which can be seen in the museum's main courtyard, is also housed in the museum. The Louvre is one of the busiest sites to visit in all of Paris, with 9.6 million people expected to pass through its doors in 2019. Purchasing your ticket in advance is the wise thing to do.

However, if you want to experience some culture but do not feel like fighting the crowds, there are plenty of alternative museums and galleries for you to check out. One of the most extensive collections of Impressionist and post-Impressionist art may be seen in the Musée d'Orsay, which is located in a former Beaux-Arts rail station and has been renovated to accommodate the museum. In this location, you will see masterpieces created by artists such as Degas, Cézanne, Manet, Renoir, and Monet. Meanwhile, the art collection of Bernard Arnault, CEO of Louis Vuitton, may be seen in the museum that is part of the Foundation Louis Vuitton. The magnificent structure is reminiscent of a mystical sailboat, and it seems to be floating on a man-made lake in the Bois de Boulogne. Free admission is also available on the first Sunday of each month, so be sure to plan your trip accordingly. Another option is to visit the romantic Musée Rodin, which is located in the center of the city, where you may gaze in awe at the sophisticated and believable sculptures of the well-known French sculptor Auguste Rodin.

3. See Paris from the top of the Sacré-Coeur Basilica

You can get a breathtaking view of the Sacré-Cur Basilica from the top of the 130-meter hill in Montmartre by either making the strenuous ascent on foot or taking the short trip on the funicular train. The well-known structure was constructed between the years 1875 and 1914 and is now the second most visited monument in Paris. It also occupies the position of greatest elevation in the city. The Sacré-Cur was built as a memorial by the French government to pay respect to the deaths of the 58,000 French soldiers who lost their lives during the Commune and the Franco-Prussian War. After so many traumatic years spent engaged in battle, it is now seen as a sign of the restoration of one's self-confidence.

Each year, more than one million people make their way to the breathtaking basilica to take in the interior's Romanesque and Byzantine-style architecture, as well as to ascend the 300 steps to the Dome. On a day with clear skies, you may get breathtaking views of Paris from this vantage point that extends up to 30 kilometers away. Because it is possible to visit the Sacré-Cur whenever you choose and because it does not cost anything to do so, it is an excellent addition to any list of things to do in Paris. The adjoining cobblestone lanes, which are dotted with cafés, street performers, and hawkers, also add a certain appeal to the surrounding area. The neighborhood of Montmartre is linked to the careers of a great number of renowned painters, such as Renoir, Degas, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Picasso. And if you go to the adjoining plaza known as Place du Tertre, you can encounter contemporary street painters who are willing to draw your picture or sell you a painting.

4. Get the royal treatment at the Palace of Versailles

The majestic Palace of Versailles is one of the most visited tourist destinations in all of Europe. It is situated around 20 kilometers to the southwest of the heart of Paris. Additionally, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a wonderful illustration of French art from the 18th century. The palace was at one time the primary home of the Kings of France, beginning with Louis XIV and continuing until Louis XVI's reign. During the time of the French Revolution, it was also the political power center of France. Over many centuries, the palace has been adorned by the work of several generations of architects, sculptors, decorators, and landscape architects.

Even in modern times, people still have high regard for its lavish royal rooms and other costly features, such as the Hall of Mirrors, which was used in ceremonies. The expansive grounds around the palace are not only a sight to see, but they also include features like fountains, canals, geometric flower beds, and woods. The Grand Trianon and the Petit Trianon are two breathtaking chateaux that may be seen on the grounds of the castle. This latter item was a present from Queen Marie-husband, Antoinette's Louis XVI, to her. She made advantage of it as an escape from the pomp and ceremony of court life as well as the stress of her royal responsibilities. After all, she was famed for allegedly saying "Let them eat cake," which was a reference to the malnourished peasants who were suffering from starvation. One of the most frequented tourist destinations in all of Paris, the opulent palace welcomes more than ten million guests annually and is widely considered to be among the city's top tourist attractions. It should go without saying that purchasing tickets online in advance is the best way to prevent losing out on available seats.

5. Relax along the boho banks of Canal St. Martin

A walk along the banks of Canal St. Martin is an absolute need if you wish to avoid the throngs of tourists at the city's most popular attractions and see the bohemian side of Parisian life. This previously rundown area is now frequented by creative types and wealthy shoppers because of the proliferation of hipster cafés and shops that have sprung up in the area. The canal, which can be found in the 10th arrondissement of Paris between the Gare du Nord and the Republic, was established in 1802 by Napoleon as a component of the city's overall freshwater system. It was predominantly a working-class neighborhood back in those days. However, as a result of years of gentrification, it has evolved into one of the hippest and most happening tourist destinations in Paris.

On a pleasant day, you may see students, artists, and young professionals ambling along the canal, picnicking and playing their guitars. A magnificent arched iron footbridge and the shaded, tree-lined quayside together make a lovely scene for aspiring photographers to capture. Pubs and cafes are abundant where you can relax with a glass of wine or a cup of coffee if you need a break from shopping at the chic boutiques and bookstores. On the other hand, if beer is more your thing, the well-known Paname Brewing Company has an expansive outdoor deck where they offer their exquisite craft brews and ales.

6. Spend your money till it hurts on the Champs-Elysées.

If you have a passion for shopping, then you will undoubtedly be in hog heaven as you stroll along the Champs-Elysées and peruse the infinite selection of businesses that line the street. The 1.9-kilometer-long roadway, which was formerly thought to be the most beautiful avenue in the world, runs between the Place de la Concorde and the Place Charles de Gaulle, where the Arc de Triomphe is situated. It was also designated for the most opulent and high-end designer names like Dior, Gucci, and Ralph Lauren, amongst others. Additionally, the ultra-glamorous Vuitton flagship shop may be found on this illustrious boulevard. However, there is now a great deal of high-street businesses, international chain stores, and even multiplex movie theatres located in this area.

These contain a wide variety of brands, ranging from H&M and Sephora to Apple and Adidas. However, if you would rather do your shopping in a less commercial setting, both the Galerie du Claridge and the Galeries Lafayette are attractive retail centers. On the Champs-Elysées, the second location is often considered to be the most creative retail destination. It also has an outstanding gourmet food deli and market in addition to housing a variety of up-and-coming designers from across the world. The bright and airy Café Citron, on the other hand, has garnered a stellar reputation for the mouthwatering Mediterranean food that it serves.

7. Browse one of the many Parisian markets

In addition to being a mecca for high-end designer labels and high-street shopping, Paris is also home to a plethora of huge markets that offer a wide variety of goods, ranging from food and apparel to antiques and knickknacks. Whatever it is that you have your heart set on purchasing, you will undoubtedly find it among these colorful and eclectic kiosks. These are often located in areas with stunning landscapes, as well. The Marché Bastille, which is located on the Boulevard Richard Lenoir, is one of the largest marketplaces in Paris. You will find more than 150 booths here offering a wide variety of goods, from fresh fruit and vegetables to apparel, jewellery, and antiques, among other things. On the other hand, the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, which is located on the northern outskirts of the city, is the biggest flea market in all of Paris, and quite possibly the globe.

Within this seven-hectare market, you can find more than 3,000 canvas-covered and open-air booths and businesses offering a wide variety of antiques and knickknacks. Many of the stalls and shops are even open on Sundays. However, those with a passion for reading can discover a plethora of interesting books at Le Marché du Livre, a specialized marketplace that is devoted to the sale of vintage and pre-owned books. On the other side, fashionistas may find the monthly l'Hôtel Bohème market to be an enjoyable place to peruse new and emerging businesses. Here, the most talented up-and-coming designers present their latest collections, which may include apparel, jewellery, lingerie, or cosmetics. Want more? Have a look at this comprehensive list of Paris's daily marketplaces.

8. Dine at one of the 114 Michelin-starred restaurants

It probably will not come as a surprise to learn that France has the most Michelin-starred restaurants of any nation in the world. And the city of Paris alone is home to approximately one-fourth of all of them. The city is known for its gastronomy and has 114 restaurants and other businesses that have been awarded the famous title. This is the largest number of any capital city, second only to Tokyo, which is home to 226. In case that was not amazing enough for you, 10 of these Parisian restaurants have been given a rating of three stars, while the other eighteen hold a rating of two stars. It goes without saying that if you are a serious eater, you will be completely spoiled for choice when it comes to culinary alternatives in the City of Lights.

However, the good news is that you do not need to be wealthy to taste the exquisite food that is served at these renowned restaurants across the globe. On the other hand, many of them provide both pre-set meals and products that may be ordered a la carte at shockingly affordable costs. As of the year 2020, Frenchie, Septime, and Garance are three of the restaurants in Paris that provide some of the best prices for their food. Therefore, if you are interested in experiencing some of the most exquisite cuisine in the world in the same nation that was responsible for the creation of the Michelin Guide, you have a wide variety of alternatives available to you. Just make sure you are not full when you get there!

9. Catch some can-can at the Moulin Rouge

Looking for some entertainment to help you have a more enjoyable evening in Paris? Then why not go to the magnificent Moulin Rouge and enjoy the cabaret that is considered to be the most renowned in the world? Can-can dancers decked up in brightly colored costumes perform nightly at the renowned theatre, which is easily recognizable due to the presence of a windmill from the 19th century. Since the year 1889, when the theatre originally opened its doors, audiences have been drawn in by these risqué acts. Moulin Rouge!, directed by Baz Luhrmann and released in 2001, was a winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Although the box office success movie may have exaggerated the size and grandeur of the theatre (spoiler alert: there is no longer a gigantic elephant chamber in the garden), it is nonetheless stunning. Every evening, there will be performances at the following times: 19:00, 21:00, and 23:00. These include a wide range of performances, including singing, dancing, roller skating, and juggling, among others. However, if you want to go all out, you can make a reservation at the restaurant within the Moulin Rouge cabaret and have a refined meal while being illuminated by the show's signature red table lights. Ooh, la la!

10. Embark on a riverboat excursion along the Seine.

The Seine is one of the most picturesque urban rivers in the world since it is flanked on both sides by world-famous landmarks and gorgeous structures such as the Eiffel Tower, the Musée d'Orsay, and the Louvre. UNESCO designated the banks of the Seine as a World Heritage Site in the year 1991. A cruise along the picturesque river in Paris is one of the greatest ways to take in the city's sights and sounds, and it is also one of the most relaxing ways to do it. From this one-of-a-kind vantage position, it is possible to obtain an understanding of the city's rich history as well as its development and architecture.

The good news is that there is a wide variety of river cruises from which to choose; your options will be determined by both your available funds and the amount of free time you have. Prices may start as low as €10 per person for a straightforward boat trip lasting one hour and reach as high as €200 for a gourmet dinner cruise lasting four hours. Regardless of what you decide to do for your date night, the two of you are certain to have a night that neither of you will forget anytime soon. After all, it is not without reason that Paris is known as the City of Love!



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