Things to do in Paris: Tourist attractions part 1
This is my first post in a 3 part series to cover my list of things to do in Paris. The never ending list of to do’s in Paris is too long for anyone to do it all and searching for the right list on the internet is a nightmare in itself. That’s why, I have listed down my list of things to do including Landmarks and Historical sites, museums, parks, shopping, and food, to help you plan your own itinerary, and see Paris on your own terms. In this post, I have listed Landmarks and Historical sites. I expect to publish part 2 and part 3 of the series covering museums, parks, shopping and food in Paris in coming days.
Paris, arguably the most beautiful city in the world, is a global center for arts, fashion, and culture. Visited by over 40 million tourists annually, Paris is the world’s most visited capital. Honoré de Balzac rightly said, “Whoever does not visit Paris regularly will never really be elegant.”
A wrought-iron lattice tower on the Champ de Mars. More than 7 million people visit this iconic tower every year.
The queue is long, especially during the summer. You can book your tickets online at the Eiffel Tower’s website. I recommend making an additional trek at night to catch the view when thousands of flickering light bulbs make the Eiffel Tower sparkle, its sure to leave you in complete awe.
Arc de Triomphe
Built between 1806 and 1836, The Arc de Triomphe stands at the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle.
The triumphal arch is in honor of those who fought for France, in particular, those who fought during the Napoleonic Wars. Engraved on the inside and at the top of the arch are all of the names of the generals and wars fought.
The Arc de Triomphe is 50 m tall. Enjoy a unique view of the Champs-Élysées from platform atop the arch. You can buy the tickets by clicking here.
Château de Versailles
Built with the architecture of 17th and 18th century, The Palace of Versailles is a must see. Together with its gardens, the Palace is one of the most famous monuments in France. Located about 20 kilometers southwest of the center of Paris. It attracts more than 7 million visitors every year. Visit the Palace’s website for tickets and pricing information. The Palace opens every day at 9 AM except on Mondays.
Notre-Dame de Paris, also called Notre-Dame Cathedral is the most famous of the Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages and is distinguished for its size and antiquity.
The cathedral was built on the ruins of two earlier churches, which were themselves predated by a Gallo-Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter. Admission to Notre Dame is free, but visitors need tickets to enter the tower (€8.50) and the crypt (€6).
The Sacred Heart Basilica of Montmartre, commonly known as Sacré-Cœur, is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It’s a famous landmark in Paris with a deep and complex history as it is not only a religious monument but also a political one. Attracting more than 11.5 million visitors every year, the
Sacré-Cœur, is France’s second most visited church after Notre-Dame cathedral. It is open from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily, and admission is free.
The Centre Pompidou
Centre Pompidou and also known as the Pompidou Centre in English, is a complex building in the Beaubourg area of the 4th arrondissement of Paris. It houses Musée National d’Art Moderne, which is one of the most visited art museums in the world and one of the largest for modern and contemporary art. That, if you are not a fan of modern art, it’s better to give it a miss as you will probably not enjoy it. The museum is open every day from 11 AM to 9 PM except Tuesdays. You can buy tickets on the official website
Place de la Concorde
The Place de la Concorde is the largest square in Paris. It is situated at the end of the Champs-Elysées. Known today for the Luxor Obelisk (a 3,300 year old Egyptian obelisk erected on the square in October 1836), the surrounding prestigious hotels, and the two monumental fountains (Fontaine des Mers and Fontaine des Fleuves). A lot of people also knowas the site of many notable public executions during the French revolution. Theobelisk was placed to mark the spot where the guillotine stood during the French Revolution. Its difficult to miss as it stands right between Tuilerie Gardens and the beginning of the Champs Elysees.
Tour Montparnasse or Montparnasse Tower, is a 210-meter office skyscraper located in the Montparnasse area of Paris. Constructed from 1969 to 1973, it was the tallest skyscraper in France until 2011, when it was surpassed by the 231-meter Tour First. You can enjoy one of the best views in Paris from the top of the tower. On a clear day, you can see for miles and see buildings such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe and much more. You can buy tickets on the Tour Montparnasse website
Located in the heart of Paris on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the Grand Palais is an iconic monument. Built for the Universal Exhibition in 1900 and dedicated “by the French Republic to the glory of French art”, is best known for its enormous glass roof. It houses a science museum
Palais de la Découverte, which attracts more than 1 million visitors annually and is one of the most visited museums in the world. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday 9.30 AM to 6 PM and on Sunday from 10 AM to 7 PM. You can buy tickets to the museum on the official website
Originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve and to house the reliquary châsse containing her relics, the Pantheon now functions as a secular mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens. The Pantheon is a fine example of Neoclassicism architecture. If you are interested in the history of Paris or the Neoclassicism architecture, its a must visit. The Pantheon is open daily from 10 AM to 6.30 PM and its tickets can be purchased on the ticket monuments website
Palais Garnier – Opera National de Paris
The Palais Garnier is a 1,979-seat opera house which was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera.
The best way to fully experience the Palais Garnier is by purchasing a ballet or opera ticket. Do remember, to book your tickets much in advance. If you don’t plan on watching the opera, you can explore the building’s interiors on your own. The building’s interior is stunning and is sure to leave you stunned. Due to the popularity of the opera, the wait times to enter the opera or the building are quite long. The opera is open daily from 10 Am to 5 PM and you can book your tickets on the opera website
The Pont Neuf is the oldest standing bridge on the Seine river in Paris. At completion, the Pont-Neuf was the only bridge to span the whole width of River Seine. For the best views of Pont Neuf, head to the Ponte des Arts footbridge near the Louvre, famous for the love locks shackled to its rails, which unfortunately are no longer there. From here, you can see the Pont Neuf in all its glory.
Pont des Arts
The Pont des Arts is situated between the Institut de France and the Louvre. Built between 1801 and 1804, it was the first iron bridge in Paris and is famous for the love locks shackled to its rails, which unfortunately are no longer there. The bridge is reserved for pedestrians and makes for a good walk for family and couples. Both the Pont Neuf and the Pont des Arts are good locations for holiday photos as they offer a fine view of the Seine and its monuments.
This is my list of Landmarks and Historical sites that are a must visit in Paris. I will be sharing part 2 and part 3 of this series covering Museums, Parks, Shopping and food in Paris in coming days.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this list and what are some other places that you think should be on this list.
Do checkout my post on how to book the best flight in your budget. I am sure this post will help you save a few bucks in your trip to Paris.