Bucketlist Travels logo

Bucket list ideas:

47 Best things to see & do in Paris

  • Paris, Ile-de-France, France

Last updated: 15 June, 2024
Expert travel writer: Anna Brooke
  • Paris, Ile-de-France, France

Landscape view of Louvre Museum outside building with the famous glass pyramid structure against a sunny blue day

Bucket List Experience

Louvre Museum

The world’s most visited museum, the Louvre dates back to the 13th century, and was the primary residence of the French Royal family until Louis XVI moved the household to the Palais of Versailles in 1682. It opened as a museum in 1793 with 537 paintings – mainly from the Royal collection; today it houses 35,000 works of art and 380,000 objects.

The building is almost as much of an attraction as the exhibits; explore the grand galleries with ornately painted ceilings, opulent stairways and remnants of a medieval Parisian palace. Let yourself wander – and wonder – your way through the museum’s beautifully laid out, labyrinthine halls and discover world-class Italian Renaissance and French Neoclassical and Romantic painting, antique sculpture, treasures from Ancient Egypt and Assyria, or medieval gold and silverwares.

The sheer wealth of exhibits in the Louvre can be intimidating on the one hand; on the other, it means there’s always something fascinating to discover.

Adult price: £15

Good for age: 13+

  • Paris, Ile-de-France, United Kingdom (UK)

Landscape view of the Eiffel Tower from across the river on a sunny blue day with large clouds

Bucket List Experience

Eiffel Tower

When French civil engineer Gustave Eiffel won a competition to design a building that would be unveiled at the 1889 World Fair in Paris, no-one could have foreseen that it would become one of the most iconic structures on the planet. Eiffel’s design won out against 106 other entries, with digging begun in January 1887, and the tower completed in time for the Exposition Universale two years later, held to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.

Much derided at the time – in spite of being the tallest building in the world – it was only meant to stand for twenty years. More than a century later it remains a much-loved and iconic symbol of Paris; if you can stomach the crowds and the ride up in the vintage lift, the view from the top remains an enchanting treat.

Adult price: £23

Good for age: 4+

  • Versailles, Ile-de-France, France

The Royal Court in front of Palace of Versailles with tourists on site and a striking half blue sky with white clouds

Bucket List Experience

Palace of Versailles

The vast, opulent Chateaux de Versailles began life as a hunting lodge, built in 1623 for King Louis XIII, before being expanded and developed over a period of fifty years by King Louis XIV. In 1682, he moved the royal household from Paris to the palace, making Versaille the de facto capital of France.

It remains a brilliantly over-the-top ode to the power of Louis XIV, with lavish Baroque rooms and sparkling mirrors lining the heavily-gilded Galerie des Glaces.

The opulent interiors are the main event, but a splendid park and gardens have plenty to keep visitors busy, too – with two further (Grand and Petit Trianon) palaces, a sheep farm, a Grand Canal and Marie Antoinette’s private hameau (hamlet or mini-village).

Adult price: £18

Good for age: 13+

  • Paris, Ile-de-France, France

The Centre Pompidou revolutionised both Paris and art museums when it opened in 1976 – and this multi-coloured glass and steel structure, designed by ‘starchitects’ Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano, is still one of the city’s most exciting modern buildings.

Inside, the fabulous Musée National d’Art Moderne – Europe’s largest collection of modern and contemporary art – takes you from Picasso, Matisse and Kandinsky, via Pop Art and Arte Povera, to the latest installation and video art. The multidisciplinary spirit encompasses exhibitions, a cinema, performing arts space, library, bookshop, design shop and a trendy restaurant, Forest.

The celebrated ride up the escalators is still unmissable, providing one of the best views in Paris as the city unfolds before you.

Good for age: 18+

  • Reims, Ile-de-France, France

Landscape view of the the vineyard during a sunset with the countryside in the background

Bucket List Experience

Champagne in Riems

Most of France’s famous Champagne houses are based in the historic city of Reims and smaller Epernay, both within an hour of Paris – although smaller producers can be found all over this specialist wine region.

Cellar tours provide a unique insight into how Champagne is made and blended, what makes it different from ordinary wines, just how much craftsmanship goes into bubbly, and how each Champagne house has its distinctive style – and often include visits to the magnificent cellars.

Good for age: 18+

  • Paris, Ile-de-France, France

A side view of the cathedral at night with street lights and lights on the cathedral itself, illuminating the dark

Bucket List Experience

Notre-Dame Cathedral

Paris’s iconic Gothic cathedral, previously its most visited site, is closed to the public following the devastating fire in April 2019. It’s set to reopen in December 2024 with its unique blend of heavenly views, hunchback legends and gargoyles galore.

Good for age: 13+

  • Paris, Ile-de-France , France

Aerial view of Arc de Triomphe surrounded by trees and the city of Paris

Bucket List Experience

Arc de Triomphe

This ornate, 50m-high arch is an iconic Parisian landmark, situated at the heart of 12 avenues that branch out from it like the spokes of a wheel.

The Arc was commissioned by Napoleon to honour all those who fought and died for France during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars – the names of all French victories and generals are inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces, and an eternal flame burns in memory of the unknown soldier of World War I (whose tomb lies beneath the arch).

Good for age: 13+

  • Paris, Ile-de-France, France

Several paintings on the wall of a rotunda gallery

Bucket List Experience

Marmottan-Monet Museum

Claude Monet (1840-1926) is one of France and the world’s most celebrated and influential painters, and is credited with founding the Impressionist movement. Impressionist painters attempt to paint nature, especially outdoor landscapes, through their perception and senses.

This museum, housed in a grand 19th-century mansion and appropriately one of the loveliest art venues in Paris, holds the world’s largest of Claude Monet’s paintings. They’re displayed along with Empire furniture and other Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works, many collected over two hundred years by the Marmottan family.

The highlight of the collection is Monet’s atmospheric ‘Water Lily’ (Nymphéas) canvases in brilliant blues. They’re part of a series of 250 such oil paintings depicting his flower garden at his home in Giverny, which he dedicated himself to creating during the last 30 years of his life. The rest of the paintings are now held in museums and private collections around the world. Wikipedia has a list of the full series.

Adult price: £10

Good for age: 18+

  • Paris, Ile-de-France, France

Man looking at Van Gogh's self-portrait in the Orsay Museum

Bucket List Experience

World-class art in Paris

Few countries have defined the history of Western art like France; from the 19th century onwards, the country was considered the epicentre of the art world, with Paris as its heart. The city was the home to world-renowned artists such as Picasso, Van Gogh, Rodin and Dali, and central to movements like Impressionism, Cubism and Pointillism.

Even today, cutting-edge galleries house the best modern and contemporary art, in spectacular buildings whose architecture is as much an attraction as the art inside. But the city is also an art capital thanks to its museums, which showcase everything from non-Western indigenous art and medieval sculpture, to Renaissance art and Impressionism.

Good for age: 18+

  • Paris, Ile-de-France, France

Three pink Dior gowns on exhibition in the museum

Bucket List Experience

Museum of Decorative Arts

Housed in a wing of the Louvre – but independently run and ticketed – the Musee des Arts Decoratifs is an inspirational collection of items around the decorative arts, featuring diverse and beautiful types of furniture, home decor and accessories. With over one million objects in its collection, it’s the largest museum of decorative arts in continental Europe.

The collections are arranged chronologically, by period – ranging from the Middle Ages all the way to the latest designers – as well as by theme. Other highlights include beautiful period rooms and historic jewellery.

Changing exhibitions also run, themed around types and styles of furniture, ceramics, fashion and advertising.

Adult price: £12

Good for age: 18+