Top 20 Places to Visit in Paris
Bonjour! Welcome, all tourists and sightseers alike. Today we are going to take you on a journey of the top 20 places to visit in Paris, France. From the looming Eiffel Tower to the royal Conciergerie, you will see astonishing views full of knowledge, culture, and adventure. Without further ado, strap on your walking shoes and pull out your camera because our first stop is the Eiffel Tower!
1. Eiffel Tower
Did you know the Eiffel Tower has over 1,710 steps? As one of the most recognized monuments in the world, it was built in 1889 by Gustave Eiffel. Today it acts as a beacon to tourists and archeologists alike as well as having physical purposes such as transmitting radio and television broadcasts on around the clock. When the tower was the first process of being built hundreds of artists offered plans but only the great Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel and engineer Maurice Koechlin were granted such a burden. The Eiffel tower has a unique design, made of over 1,800 pieces, with each base piece formed to the four points of a compass. However, due to its beautiful and ingenious design, most of Paris loved the tower but some disliked it so much that they even moved their homes. At first, it was a temporary piece, but after World War 1 it served such an important role that the French people couldn’t bear to be without its glory.
The Notre Dame de Paris translates to Our Lady of Paris. This notorious landmark in Paris is a Catholic cathedral and is considered the finest sample of French Gothic design in its time. As well as being one of the most recognizable churches in the world, it contains some of the most high-valued religious items such as the Crown of Thorns, a piece of the True Cross, and one of the Holy Nails. As beautiful as the church was, it underwent a horrible fate in the 1790’s which ruined most of its amazing stained glass windows. However, it was partially restored in 1991 but will never have the same beauty. When you next visit the Notre Dame, be sure to spot the famous gargoyles you may have seen in the Disney movie “Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
3. The Louvre
For museum buffs, this is your go to stop. The Louvre is not only the world’s largest museum but also a significant monument in Paris. It is the 2nd most visited museum, where the Palace Museum in china takes the cake. Its location is in the Louvre Palace which was first built as a fortress and remnants of its ancestry can be seen from the basement. The Louvre was opened in August of 1793 with over 530 paintings residing within. However, due to design issues, it closed and wasn’t available to the public until 1801. Today, the Louvre is home to over 25,000 paintings from 8 different cultures.
The Arc de Triomphe was built between 1806 to 1836, at the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle. In representation of the French people who fought during the Napoleonic Wars, you can see on the arch all the general’s names as well as the names of the wars during that period. Under the arch, there are transcriptions of the Tomb of the Unnamed Soldier from World War 1. This is the perfect tourist spot for any history or war buff that likes physically seeing history.
The Musee d’Orsay is another exclusive museum in Paris that is home to many paintings, sculptures, photography, and furniture pieces. Some of the most famous artists whose art is included is Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Gauguin, and Degas. Originally built as a train station, however in 1929 it was an unsuitable building for train boarding, it then used as a mail center during World War 1, until it officially opened as a museum in 1986. With its long history comes its long line of artwork collected. It actually took over 6 months to install and deliver all the pieces which led to a late December opening. Some of the most memorable art includes:
• The Birth of Venus
• Starry Night Over the Rhone
• The Circus
• Whistler’s Mother.
The Champs-Elysees is a road in Paris that includes many theaters, luxury shops, and cafes, connecting the Place de la Concorde and the Place Charles de Gaulle. The street is just over a mile long and is surrounded by tourists year long who want to delve into the culture of food, art, and design. Back in the 1560’s most of the Elysees was entirely kitchen gardens and fields, not nearly as diversified as it is today. In today’s modern Elysees, the streets are composed of high-end shops such as Nike, Adidas, the Disney Store, H&M, and Zara. The best time to visit the Champs-Elysees is July 14th, commonly known as Bastille Day, this is when the military parade (biggest in the world) passes by it as well as having the Elysees full of fun festivities. Also during the fall and winter seasons, you can see the famous lighting of the Champs-Elysees, which is one of the more popular events that happen on a yearly basis.
The Montmartre is a giant hill in Paris, 430 feet high, home to many artist studios such as Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dali. As well as settings for major movie sets, it also has 16 major train lines running through it. As a fun fact, Montmartre translates to mountain of the martyr, in memory of Saint Denis who met his demise in 250 AD by decapitation on the hill.
The Sacre-Coeur Paris is another popular church due to its significance of both political and cultural meaning. The church was built in 1914 by Paul Abadie and was primarily used for religious purposes after World War 1. The design of the building showed Romano-Byzantine features complete with a historical pipe organ being on of the largest and most modern one of its time. The church can be accessed by bus or train, open from 6:00 am to 10:30 pm every day with moderately changing winter and fall schedules.
One of the royally known churches, the Sainte-Chapelle has a gothic design and was built for King Louis IX, where he could reside his religious relics such as Christ’s Crown of Thorns. Due to its brilliant design, it is one of the longest lasting buildings along with the Conciergerie. One of its key features is its expensive and beautiful stained glass windows. Today, most local funding has kept the church in one piece although it has lost most of its touch due to pollution and tourists.
Alas, the Catacombs of Paris. Spooky yet a key monument of Paris, the catacombs hold over 6 million deceased bodies. The tombs are also known as, “The World’s Largest Grave” due to its surprising number of inhabitants. The catacomb walls and ceilings are lined with the bones of decades only Parisians, complete with separate rooms dedicated to warning visitors for what lies beneath. At first, this monument was only available to more privileged citizens, but as it grew more popular in interest, it eventually allowed the general public to view as well as tourists. Some of the most popular events that happened in the catacombs:
• Deceased members from the riots in the Place de Greve were put in the catacombs
• In 1871, a radical socialist group killed monarchs in the catacombs
• A fully equipped movie theater and restaurant was found in one of the caverns with no known information on who was behind it
• Ghost Adventures offered a special episode exploring the catacombs, making sure the dead stayed dead
• In 2015, Airbnb offered customers a night to stay overnight.
The Parc de la Villette is the third largest park in Paris located along the northeast edge of the city. This park is the home to the largest number of cultural venues in the city. This park contains everything from the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, the largest science museum in Europe, to Philharmonie de Paris, a newly opened symphony hall, to the famous Conservatoire de Paris. This park even has attractions that the kids will enjoy, such as the Espace Chapiteaux, a permanent circus tent. Nothing catching your eye yet? Take a stroll through one of the ten themed gardens. There truly is something for everyone in the Parc de la Villette.
12. Grand Palais
Located right along the Champs-Élysées is the Grand Palais. This is large complex holds historic sites, exhibition halls, museums, and shops. Perhaps most famously, it is home to the Palais de la Découverte, a world-famous science museum. The real reason to visit the Grand Palais, though, is the building itself. It was built in the style of Beaux-Arts architecture, which was taught and popularized in Paris. The building features ornate stone facades, a formal floor plan, and an iron and steel structure, which was innovative at the time. The building was built as a monument to the glory of French art. It is truly something to behold.
13. Disneyland Paris
You may have been to Disney World before, but you have never experienced Disney like this before. Located just east of Paris, Disneyland Park is the most popular theme park in all of Europe. Once you are finished having fun at Disneyland Park, head over to their new theme park, the Walt Disney Studios Park. This theme park celebrates the show business and movies with all the thrills and chills of an amusement park. Experience the magic of Disney in a whole new and exciting way. In addition to the two theme parks, this resort also holds several hotels, a shopping and dining complex, a golf course, and several entertainment venues. There is no way you could ever be bored at Disneyland Paris.
The Shakespeare and Company bookstore is a must visit destination for any literature buff. The first of these English-language bookstores was opened in 1919 by Sylvia Beach. Located on the Left Bank of the Seine, this bookstore and lending library was a favorite spot of many of the time’s up and coming authors. This included Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, T. S. Eliot, and more. The original Shakespeare and Company is now closed, but you can still visit its second location. Still located on the Left Bank, the current bookstore was opened in the 1950s and named in homage to the original store. It continues to sell new, used, and antique books, as well as operate as a free public reading library.
15. Champ de Mars
This large public park is centered between the Eiffel Tower and the École Militaire. This green space is often the location of many national events. It is always open free to the public to be explored and enjoyed by all. This park also offers the best views of the Eiffel Tower of anywhere in the city. Citizens of Paris and tourists alike enjoy gathering on the lawns to eat, play music, and enjoy the scenery. Take a stroll through the gardens by day or enjoy the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower by night.
The Pantheon is a large building in the Latin Quarter. Though it was originally built as a church to honor St. Genevieve and house her relics, it is now famously a mausoleum. It houses the remains of a number of notable French citizens. The crypt holds the remains of well-known French scientists, writers, and artists such as:
• Marie Curie
• Emile Zola
• Victor Hugo
• Louis Braille
The building itself is also quite famous and beautiful. Modeled after the Pantheon in Rome, this mausoleum is an early example of neoclassical architecture. Its most notable feature is the dome, which is as beautiful on the outside as it is on the in. Go inside and take a look around, you will not be disappointed.
17. Petit Palais
Located in Paris’ 8th Arrondissement, the Petit Palais is one of the city’s many fine art museums. Originally, it was built across from the Grand Palais as the home of the 1900 Exposition Universelle. It is the current home of the City of Paris Museum of Fine Arts. You can find the works of artists like:
The building itself is a work of art. It was designed in the Beaux-Arts style, similar to the Grand Palais. The building was built to last, made of stone, steel, and concrete. The Petit Palais was built around an octi-circular courtyard and garden. It also features ionic columns, a grand porch, and three rooftop domes.
A large building west of the Île de la Cité, the Conciergerie is an old structure with a storied past. In the middle ages, this building functioned as a part of a royal palace named the Palais de la Cité. It was the main home of the medieval kings of France during the 10th to 14th centuries. Later, the building was converted into a prison. During the French Revolution, hundreds of prisoners were housed there and later taken to be executed by guillotine. Perhaps the most famous prisoner held at the Conciergerie was Marie Antoinette. Today, it is a mainly a tourist destination, though a portion of the building is still used as courts of law.
The Musee Nissim de Camondo is a house museum dedicated to the French decorative arts. This elegant museum is located in the Hôtel Camondo along the edge of the Parc Monceau. This mansion was built in 1911 to hold a collection of 18th-century French furniture and art objects owned by the Comte Moïse de Camondo. The house contained modern conveniences and was designed after the Petit Trianon at Versailles. Today, the building is maintained as if it were still a private home. If you visit, you will see the work of artisans like:
• Jean-François Oeben
• Jean Henri Riesener
• Élisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun
• Jean-Baptiste Oudry
• Jacques-Nicolas Roettiers
20. Musee Rodin
This museum, which opened in 1919, is dedicated solely to the works of French sculptor Auguste Rodin. The Musee Rodin has two sites, the Hôtel Biron in central Paris and Rodin’s old home, the Villa des Brillants at Meudon, just outside of Paris. This collection contains 8,000 drawings, 8,000 old photos, 7,000 objets d’art, and 6,600 sculptures. The gardens surrounding the museum are home to many of his large sculptures and, most famously, The Thinker. The museum also contains pieces of Rodin’s personal art collection which include the works of Camille Claudel, Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh. For any art-love, the Musee Rodin is a must see destination.