Welcome to Paris, the French capital! The city of love, the world’s capital of fashion, the city of lights; Paris offers so much to discover that it is difficult to make an exhaustive list of everything. Paris is a million things – there is so much to do in this beautiful capital that it’s easy to quickly feel overwhelmed. In this post, I will summarize the best places to visit in Paris according to different areas of interest to help you get a better idea of what this incredible city offers.
Whether you’re an art lover, architectural enthusiast, just looking for a romantic getaway, or you want to embark on a spiritual journey, this Paris Bucket list will show you all the places to visit to satisfy your wanderlust. But if you want to go off the beaten path, then check out these hidden spots in Paris and if you’re visiting Paris for the first time, make sure you avoid these Paris travel mistakes for an incredible trip.
Best places to visit in Paris
For Arts Enthusiasts
The Louvre Museum
It is the museum of all superlatives – the largest art and antiques museum in the world and also the most visited museum on the planet! The Louvre Museum is so vast that it is absolutely necessary to prepare and organize your visit beforehand to be sure to enjoy what you like. To give you an idea, about 35,000 artworks are on display, which means that if you spend only 30 seconds in front of each one, it would take more than 12 days to see everything.
It is home to Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous “Mona Lisa”. Book your ticket online before coming to skip the long lines, it’s essential! I also advise you to use the help of a tour guide to make your visit easier as well as learn more about all the art. This guided tour is a perfect choice as it not only have professional and knowledgeable guides but also a money-back guarantee shouldn’t you be fully satisfied with the service. You can also visit the official Louvre Museum website to plan everything.
The Pompidou Centre
The reference of modern art museums is to offer the most important collection in Europe. The building’s innovative metal tube architecture alone is worth a visit as it contrasts with the surrounding Haussmann buildings. Like many Parisian museums, the idea is to buy your ticket via the internet to avoid queues – (you can actually buy the Pompidou center skip the line ticket from here).
The permanent and temporary exhibitions are very diverse, you will undoubtedly find your happiness there. Go up to the top for amazing views of the city which are exceptional making it one of the most beautiful places in Paris.
The Eugène Delacroix Museum
A little nugget of a wonder, little known to tourists and sometimes even to Parisians themselves, the Delacroix Museum honors the artist of the same name. Located in the artist’s own apartment at the twilight of his life, the place is a true haven of peace in the heart of the city. Stroll through the cozy rooms of this house and you will feel at home.
The Flowered Garden behind the building is the perfect place to rest and relax in a peaceful setting. The museum offers free tours, and the staff is very welcoming.
The Orsay Museum
The largest collection of Impressionist paintings in the world! The museum is located under the glass-roof of a former railway station in the 7th arrondissement. In addition to the hundreds of paintings, there are also sculptures, photos, and architectural art.
The museum is also renowned for its high-quality temporary exhibitions! As usual, don’t forget to buy your e-ticket in advance, with it you can go directly to “gate C” entrance and avoid the queue.
Other Museums not to miss in Paris;
The Rodin Museum, Orsay, The Grand Palais, Cluny, The Picasso Museum, the “Musée du Quai Branly” you can easily understand that Paris is FULL of greats museums (over 150!) with each being more interesting than the other on such a diverse and varied subject. If you love culture and art you will not be disappointed with all these places in Paris.
For a spiritual journey
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart
This basilica built in Romanesque-Byzantine style is entirely white and is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Christ. It is a major place of worship, pilgrimage and one of the best places to visit in Paris. Inside, let yourself be overwhelmed by the solemnity of the place, its impressive architecture and admire the largest mosaic in France – more than 400m representing Jesus and his holy heart.
The underground crypt is also open to visitors, although it is quite austere. Perched on the Montmartre hill, the highest natural point in Paris, you can admire superb panoramic views of the city not only at the bottom of the edifice but also by climbing to the top of its cupola! It is also an opportunity to get a closer look at its magnificent 83-meter high dome.
Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral
Commonly called Notre-Dame in honor of the Virgin Mary, it is probably the most famous cathedral in the world. It is also the most visited monument in Paris after the Eiffel Tower! Absolutely inevitable, it was damaged by the flames a few months ago, fortunately, the firemen saved the majority of the church and only the roof was damaged.
Located on the island of “La Cité”, its history is interesting and incredible! Feel free to book a guided tour to learn more, it’s so worth it. Get up at dawn to enjoy the calm surroundings before the crowds of tourists arrive. Admission is free, only the access to the summit is charged but since the fire, we can unfortunately no longer go up there but don’t worry, even if you stay on the ground it is still worth a visit!
It’s hard to believe it’s a church at first sight: no dome, crosses or towers! Conceived under the reign of Napoleon in honor of his army, the monumental architecture is strongly inspired by Greek temples. It became a church under the leadership of Louis-Philippe. In a neoclassical architectural style, it is surrounded by 52 Corinthian columns. On the pediment, the fantastic high relief represents the last judgment.
Enter through the immense bronze gate to see the world-famous mosaic designed by Lameire that lies inside. Concerts are regularly organized day and night (sometimes for free access!) to showcase its wonderful church organ. It is located in the 8th arrondissement, often considered as the wealthiest district in Paris.
Nestled in the heart of Paris, this 126th-century church stands out for its architecture and its numerous artworks. Built and restored many times, it mixes multiple architectural styles but remains very homogenous. Unfortunately disregarded by the tourists, I find that it has nothing to envy to “Notre -Dame”.
It is by entering the interior that you can appreciate its grandeur, the arches are perched more than 30 meters high! It also houses the largest organ in France (8000 pipes!) and regularly hosts art exhibitions and classical music concerts.
For Architectural Wonders
The Eiffel Tower
Undeniably one of the Paris top attractions, it is probably the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about Paris – a visit to the Eiffel Tower is always a highlight. The ideal route is to access the Eiffel Tower via the Place du Trocadéro and the Palais Chaillot (Trocadéro metro station on lines 6 and 9). From here you will have a breathtaking view of the monument below, then go down the stairs and cross the “Pont D’Iéna” to finally reach the legendary Iron Lady.
If you feel up to it, I advise you to climb up by the stairs, it is a guaranteed thrill. Otherwise, there is an elevator to get to the upper floors easily. The third floor culminates at more than 300 meters, perfect for a 360-degree view of the city. The “champs de Mars”, in the continuity of the Eiffel Tower, is one of the most beautiful Parisian gardens.
Louis Vuitton Foundation
Imagine walking through the Boulogne park west of Paris when all of a sudden you come across this exceptional modern architectural glass building among the trees and walkways. Designed by the infamous Frank Gehry, it houses a private museum dedicated to contemporary art and offers panoramic views of Paris from its different terraces.
You can do a “micro visit” of 15 minutes for free to get a glimpse of the museum and its fantastic building. Like a lot of other museums in Paris, night-time visits are also possible.
Of course when you hear “Louis Vuitton” the first thing you think about are the expensive and luxury bags, but make no mistake, Louis Vuitton created a non-profit foundation that supports art and culture, hence the name of the place!
Alexander III Bridge
In my opinion the most beautiful and impressive bridge in Paris. Named in honor of the Russian tsar, it was inaugurated for the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900, one year after the one that saw the birth of the Eiffel Tower. Beautifully decorated and illuminated by superb candelabra, it is impossible not to be dazzled by the beauty of the monument.
At each of its ends are columns decorated with winged horses. In the center of the bridge, fantastic bronze sculptures represent characters. In the south “l’esplanade des Invalides”, in the north the “Grand Palais”, it is probably one of the most spectacular (and also very romantic by night!) sites in Paris.
The Great Arch of Defense
Located in the Paris business district (although technically outside Paris), the largest business district in Europe, the Great Arch is an excellent example of modern architecture. Inaugurated in 1989, it is a huge 110-meter high cube hollowed out in the center. Although the roof is no longer accessible to the public, you can still go up to the last floor and enjoy the view.
The whole district offers large modern buildings and will delight architecture photo-lovers – it is a gulp of modernism in a historical Parisian setting. But “La Défense” is not only a business center but also an “open-air” museum where you can find art exhibitions like Joan Miró’s abstract sculptures all around the building.
Philharmonie de Paris
This concert hall dedicated to classical music offers not only absolutely incredible acoustics but also an extraordinary aesthetic. The building designated by Novel represents an abstract bird covered with aluminum and reflective steel plate. The whole building shines with a thousand lights under the sunset. You can book a guided tour from this website as the interior is just as impressive as the exterior.
For romantic (or not so much!) walks
A Night walk
It is no coincidence that we call Paris the City of Lights. Paris takes all its dimension at night – it is a free pleasure that it would be a shame to miss. I advise you to start your walk on the Place de la Concorde illuminated by traditional candelabra then walk along the quays to have a splendid view on the Seine and its thousands of glints up to the “avenue des Champs-Elysées” and the “Erc de Triomphe”.
You can also take a look at the Eiffel Tower’s illumination, it sparkles for 5 minutes at the beginning of each hour. You should also be aware that many museums offer night exhibitions, which are generally much less crowded than during the day! And while you are around the Louvre, go and check the magnificently lit facade of the Hôtel du Louvre Hyatt.
Pleasant and relaxing, a stroll on the historic “fly boats” along the Seine River will offer you a new perspective on the capital. I advise you to take your trip at sunset to fully admire the city’s reflections and the twilight on the Seine. To add the pleasure of the taste buds to the pleasure of the eyes, offer yourself a romantic dinner on the boat!
There are many companies that organize boat rides, feel free to compare prices and boats from here, some of them are completely open so bring a small scarf if it is chilly. All companies take roughly the same route and offer a multilingual guide to discover more about the city and its history. But if you’re looking for a specific seine river cruise, then you can book this I hour cruise from getyourguide which is highly recommended.
Street art enthusiast, don’t worry! Paris offers its share of street art, you just have to know where to look! Browse between the 10th, 11th and 19th and 20th districts to admire the mural paintings. The most famous street is probably the “Denoyez Street” in the Belleville district where each building is covered with graffiti. You can also take a walk along the sidewalks of street Henri-Noguères and street Ménilmontant.
The Montmartre district
Located in the 18th arrondissement, this hilly district with its timeless beauty would deserve a full day’s visit as its cobbled streets are swarming with hidden treasures. I advise you to start your excursion in front of the “Lapin Agile”, a famous cabaret where immense artists such as Picasso or Toulouse-Lautrec used to meet.
Extend your visit by passing by the famous Montmartre vines which give birth to the “Clos Montmartre” wine. Then join the “Place du Tertre” lined with Parisian cafés, painter artists and musicians. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart in the heart of the district is obviously the highlight of the visit but do not be afraid to get lost in the many charming old-fashioned alleys and feel like in the movie “Amélie Poulain”! Romantic walks guaranteed!
The “red light” district
Pigalle, the red light district of Paris is a great place to party. Forget about the cute romanticism of Montmartre, Here, it’s sulphurous, erotic and sexy! The district is full of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. Everything is there to have an exciting evening. I recommend the “Lipstick”, a bar with an extraordinary ambiance. A visit to the very popular “Moulin Rouge” is also essential to immerse yourself in the culture of French cabaret! And if you want to enjoy Moulin Rouge fully, make sure you don’t miss the Féerie spectacular show – with this entry ticket, you get to enjoy the Féerie show – world’s most famous cabaret shows at the Moulin Rouge as you sip on your champagne.
Many people don’t know, but under the streets of Paris lies a huge labyrinth of mining galleries that once served as catacombs. The growing population of Paris and the lack of space in the cemeteries led the authorities to bury the bodies in mass graves during the 18th century. Several million Parisians are buried there.
It is still possible to visit some parts of the city. The thrills are guaranteed at the sight of these thousands of skulls and bones crammed on both sides of the path. The visits last from 1 to 2 hours and allow you to learn more about this unique place in the world. To learn everything about this mysterious place, it’s better to buy a ticket that comes with a free audio guide. This online ticket will save you time by skipping the long lines and it also comes with an audio guide.
Take a jacket, it is always cool down there even in the middle of summer. The public area is about 2 kilometers long and only represents 0.5% of the total underground galleries. Remember to bring good shoes as the ground can be wet and slippery!
To get away from it all
Located in the 8th arrondissement, it is one of my favorite parks. Rather small, it is decorated with superb statues depicting writers and musicians such as Maupassant or Chopin, and it is also home to the largest concentration of wild birds in Paris. The park is very quiet as it is surrounded by luxurious hotels and residential buildings.
The Tuileries park
The oldest park in Paris, its position is very unique since it is located between the Louvre Museum and the “Place de la Concorde”. Typical “à la Francais” garden with flower beds and precise geometrical shapes. It is classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Along the walk, you can admire statues of Rodin or Maillol. It also houses a small museum, “L’orangerie”, dedicated to Impressionists.
Père Lachaise Cemetery
I know it may seem strange to visit a cemetery, but this one is well worth a visit! Whether it is for the great performers buried there or its particular history, it is the most visited cemetery in the world! Politicians, writers, actors, singers, scientists, I advise you to book a guided tour to discover more about this cemetery.
The Chaumont Buttes Park
Much less formal than the other Parisian gardens, this park in the Belleville district is rather unknown to tourists, yet it is quite remarkable. The park is located on a former gypsum quarry, which explains its very rugged profile that gives it character. In the middle of it is a pond topped by a 30-meter cliff crowned by a superb small Italian-inspired temple, Cascades, and streams – the park is a playground on its own.
That was quite a huge list of places to visit in Paris but honestly, it’s impossible to visit all of them if you only have a couple of days in Paris. So you’ll need to prioritize and decide on what to see now and what to see on your next Paris trip. And if you haven’t yet been to the city of lights, I hope this Paris bucket list inspires you to start planning your trip.
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