Ah, Paris. Is there any city that evokes such a magical image? Glittering streetlights, a fluttering, rose-scented breeze. Street after street of Haussmann-style apartment buildings rising from the cobblestones. A winking peek of la tour Eiffel through the trees. Sultry nights spent wandering past the best of jazz clubs and wine bars. No wonder it’s considered one of the most romantic cities in the world.
Here, we’ve gathered our top bucket-list experiences in Paris — what we long to do in the city of light. Whether it’s your first trip or you’re a seasoned practically-Parisian, you’ll find something on this list to bookmark. Bon voyage!
1. Treat yourself to a night at a luxury Parisian hotel
Nothing says luxury like Paris. Sip champagne, order room service, and wear a ridiculously fluffy robe every second you’re not out sightseeing. Not to mention the views.
2. Dine on a riverboat cruise and take in the city lit up at night
They don’t call Paris la ville de la lumière for nothing. Plan a riverboat cruise so you can gently glide past all those glittering lights — a truly magical evening for the books.
3. Take a French pastry or cooking class
What’s better than a croissant? A croissant that you made yourself — in Paris, no less. Learn the art of cooking the French way and delight your friends when you return.
We recommend classes at La Cuisine (which is actually run by a woman from Chicago who has lived in Paris the past ten years)! Both the market cooking class and croissant baking class are a treat (no pun intended). Classes are small and book up quickly, so be sure to book at least a month ahead!
4. Imbibe at a Parisian jazz club
Transport yourself to the 20s in Paris — imagine glittering castanet skirts, bright jazz trumpets, and whirling around the dance floor doing everything from the Charleston to the Lindy Hop. Good drinks, better atmosphere, best music? What are you waiting for?
5. Do the private tour of the Louvre
The Louvre is filled with so much history — it should be required to enter with an educated guide. The amount of information you’ll learn will exponentially increase your appreciation for everything around you.
6. Get yourself something you’ll have forever
A hat, a handbag, a piece of jewelry, or a vintage home good… find something classic that will outlast the trends and great quality that will last a long time.
7. Stroll the gardens and grounds at Versailles
Part of the experience of Paris is walking everywhere (good thing there’s all that bread, cheese, and wine to keep you fortified) and one of the best walks of your entire trip will be in Versailles. The opulence! The majesty! The landscaping!
If you want to catch the beauty of Versailles another way, Fat Tire Tours has the most AMAZING Versailles bike tour. The grounds are so expansive that sometimes it can get a little overwhelming on foot. See both the grounds and the town with this tour that ends in a picnic at the end of the Grand Canal.
8. Shop a morning market and picnic along the River
Grab your market tote and fill it with fresh cheese, a crumbly, hot-from-the-oven baguette, and a fabulous bottle of wine for an impromptu picnic along the Seine. Let the beauty of Paris be your brunch-mate.
9. Visit Monet’s Garden and House at Giverny
Experience the beauty that inspired some of Monet’s most classic and reverential work. Tour his home, stand on the Japanese bridge, and spot the hovering water lilies. A must for any bucket list.
10. Attend the Paris Opera
Don your finery and step out on the Parisian town for one of the most classically luxurious occasions: the opera. A memory you’ll never forget in a setting that will make your iPhone camera weep with joy.
11. Tour the Hilly Artist Neighborhood of Montmartre
Montmarte is everything your Parisian-loving heart has ever wanted. Spindly, winding streets full of vine-covered stone walls and classic buildings. Wander past Sacré-Cœur into the heart of the historic neighborhood, an artist favorite from Monet to Renoir.
12. Spend an Afternoon Cafe Hopping
Another simple one to cross off your list… but also difficult considering most people’s itineraries for such an expansive city are jam-packed from morning to night. But Paris, after all, is all about slowing down, enjoying life. So spend a few hours doing just that. Cafe hop. Sit in those picturesque chairs and sip cappuccinos or wine. People watch. Read or journal. And soak up that joie de vivre.