Paris Travel Guide: Must see attractions

by andreasnestoros

Paris is a city that’s on almost everyone’s bucket list. It’s the city of love, fashion and art. Needless to say, you’ll never run out of things to do in Paris, France.

From cruising down the Seine River to admiring the iconic Mona Lisa and works of art in the Louvre, to chowing down on some escargot (snails) and endless croissants and macarons, there’s plenty to keep you, and the family, occupied.

In fact, deciding which attractions in Paris to add to your itinerary is the hardest part. To help you out, we’ve created this list of unmissable Paris attractions so you can make planning easier.

Whether you’re visiting for a weekend, or a week, these are not to be missed. Read the tips below, then don’t miss our top 12 Must See Attractions!

1. See Incredible Views of the Eiffel Tower from Montparnasse Tower

The most iconic site in Paris is of course, the Eiffel Tower. But where is the best viewpoint? At 210 meters tall, the Montparnasse Tower is the tallest building in Paris. It features an outdoor observatory deck on the 56th floor that provides stunning panoramic views of Paris, including, the Eiffel Tower.The tower itself is a beautiful sight, but when you add in the cityscape of Paris in the background, it’s a truly amazing view. You can see all the famous landmarks from up here, from The Louvre to The Panthéon and more.

2. Visit the Mona Lisa in The Louvre

Exploring the Louvre Museum is one of the best things to do in Paris, and for good reason. It is home to some of the most famous art in the world, such as the Winged Victory of Samothrace and Venus de Milo by Alexandros of Antioch.

But perhaps the most iconic piece of work is Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, one of the great masterpieces from the Italian Renaissance.

The museum is massive, with more than 35,000 works of art on display. It can be overwhelming to try to see everything, so it’s best to plan ahead and decide which exhibits you want to see. There is something for everyone at The Louvre, from ancient artifacts to modern art.

One of the best things about visiting The Louvre is the architecture of the building itself. The museum was originally built as a royal palace in the 16th century, and its grandeur is still evident today.

3. See the Iconic Arc de Triomphe

Commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1806 and completed in 1836, the Arc de Triomphe is arguably the most famous monument in Paris. The arch was built to honor the French soldiers who fought and died in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars.

It is decorated with numerous reliefs and sculptures, including a large representation of Nike, the goddess of victory. At 50 meters tall, the Arc de Triomphe is an imposing sight, and it’s definitely worth a visit when you’re in Paris.

Visitors can climb up to the observation deck at the top of Arc de Triomphe, where they can see the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Sacré Coeur.

4. Take a Seine River Cruise

One of the best ways to see Paris is from the water, and a Seine River cruise is the perfect way to do that.

The river cruises offer stunning views of some of Paris’ most famous landmarks, including Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre Museum.

There are many different companies that offer Seine River cruises, and each offers something different.

We highly recommend one with narration so you can learn a little bit about Paris and France as you float down the Seine River!

If you’re traveling in the high season, make sure you get your tickets ahead of time, and confirm your departure point, because each company’s boats leave from different wharves.

5. Watch an Opera at Palais Garnier

When most people think of opera, their minds will jump to Italy. However, one of the most beautiful and opulent opera houses in the world is located in Paris.

Palais Garnier was built in the mid-1800s and is a stunning example of French architecture. The inside is just as magnificent as the outside, with a grand staircase, marble floors, and ceilings painted with gold leaf.

The Palais Garnier is home to the Paris Opera, and it stages some of the most popular operas in the world. If you are a fan of opera, or even if you’re just curious about it, then we recommend checking out a show at Palais Garnier!

6. Explore the Vibrant Montmartre Neighborhood

Montmartre is a picturesque hilltop neighborhood in Paris that’s worth visiting for its charming streets, lively atmosphere, and stunning views of the city.

The narrow cobblestone streets are lined with colorful buildings, quaint shops and bistros, and art galleries.

Montmartre was originally its own small agricultural village before being absorbed into Paris in 1860. That is why you’ll find plenty of village charm as you stroll down its streets!

There’s always something going on in Montmartre – street performers, artists, and musicians can be found throughout the neighborhood. And don’t forget to visit the Sacré-Cœur Basilica for some of the best views of Paris!

7. See Daniel Buren’s Columns In Palais Royal

In the center of Paris’s Palais Royal gardens, you’ll find an installation of striped columns by French artist Daniel Buren.

The outdoor installation consists of 260 octagonal columns of different heights arranged in a grid pattern. The columns are made of black and white marble creating alternating stripes.

Its unusual modern decor contrast starkly with the classical architecture of Paris’s Palais, and many did not like the installations at first. However, it has since become one of the most popular and well-known landmarks in Paris.

8. Visit the Stunning Sacre Coeur Basilica

The Basilica of Sacré Coeur de Montmartre, or in English, the Sacred Heart of Montmartre, is a Roman Catholic Church that is dedicated to the “Sacred Heart” of Jesus.

It’s located on a hill in Montmartre which offers stunning views of the neighborhood below. The dome sits 200 meters above the Seine, which makes it one of the best places to visit in Paris for views.

The Basilica took forty years to build under the supervision of five different architects. It was officially completed in 1914 and consecrated after WWI in 1919.

9. Check Out The Paris Catacombs

Exploring The Catacombs is one of the most unique things to do in Paris and is definitely not for the faint-hearted (especially if you’ve seen the horror movie, As Above, So Below).

The catacombs are a series of underground ossuaries that hold the remains of more than six million people. Each of their graves is placed in the rock walls inside the tunnel network.

The catacombs were built to deal with the overflowing cemetery problem in the late 1700s.

In the 19th century, strangely, the catacombs became a venue for events and concerts. Today, it serves as a museum.

It’s best to take a guided tour or at the least an audioguide, so you can learn all about its creation and uses, as well as to find your way around this underground maze!

10. Orsay Museum

The Musée d’Orsay is within a 10-minute walk from the Pont Alexandre III. Cross the bridge and stroll down the artistic avenue to find the spectacular art museum.

On the outside, the long building, which was previously a station, is impressive. The interior, on the other hand, is simply magnificent! Discover a large open area with an arched glass roof that houses outstanding art treasures. Whether you prefer classic or modern art, the Musee d’Orsay has something for you.

11. Go to the Moulin Rouge!

Wander down the hill to the Pigalle neighbourhood, which has many gorgeous locations and, of course, the world-famous Moulin Rouge. Montmartre was previously famed for its several windmills situated on the hill, one of which housed the Moulin Rouge (Red Windmill) during the neighborhood’s peak of underground nightlife and depravity.

12. Notre Dame Cathedral

Visit the Notre Dame Cathedral as early as possible to see its splendour without the crowds. If you visit before 8 a.m., the sun will still be behind the cathedral, and the square in front will be nearly deserted.This breathtaking basilica is another Paris icon and a must-see on any Paris tour, primarily since it is one of the world’s oldest Gothic cathedrals (constructed between 1163 and 1245)! Admire the unique gargoyles and gothic embellishments, and then climb the 422 steps to the top of the cathedral tower for incredible views of Paris.

Note: The Notre Dame Cathedral has been closed for renovations since the 2019 fire that destroyed it. You can still visit the cathedral square and see Notre Dame (though be warned that there is a lot of scaffolding covering the facade), as well as visit the crypt.

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