What to do in Paris: 10 must-see sites
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- What to do in Paris: 10 must-see sites
Paris has an incomparable historical and cultural heritage. Iconic monuments, museums and collections not to be missed, castles, palaces… the list is long! To help you plan your trip to Paris and make sure you don’t miss anything on your first visit to the most beautiful city in the world, here’s a list of 10 places you absolutely must see at least once.
The Eiffel Tower, the Iron Lady of Paris
You can’t visit Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower. Built for the 1889 World’s Fair, it is now the quintessential symbol of the City of Light. Linger on the first floor with its spectacular glass floor. You can even stop here for a bite to eat. From the very top, the great Iron Lady offers an incredible view of the most beautiful monuments of Paris.
The Louvre, the world’s largest museum
A former palace of the French monarchs, the Louvre, covers a surface area of 360,000 m² and sits along the banks of the Seine. Discover priceless collections of paintings, Egyptian, Greek and Roman artefacts, crown jewels… The Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo and The Winged Victory of Samothrace are among the 35,000 masterpieces on display!
The Musée d’Orsay, an exceptional impressionist collection
Formerly a railway station, the Musée d’Orsay now holds the world’s largest impressionist collection. Stroll through the most beautiful paintings by Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Cezanne and even Renoir. The museum also has a magnificent collection of sculptures and decorative arts.
The Arc de Triomphe, to the glory of Napoleon I
From the Place de la Concorde, walk up the famous Avenue des Champs-Elysées which leads you straight to the Arc de triomphe. Built under the orders of Napoleon I, a symbol of the First French Empire, the monument evokes the greatness of France and its victorious armies. Enjoy the panoramic view of Paris and the avenue at your feet.
Notre-Dame, the heart of historic Paris
Immortalised by Victor Hugo in his novel of the same name, the Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral is one of Paris’s most iconic monuments. Although damaged by fire in 2019, this Gothic art masterpiece still stands majestically on the Ile de la Cité, as it has since the 12th century. As we await the cathedral’s reopening, visitors can marvel at its monumental architecture, sculptures, stained glass windows and rose windows, which have been fortunately preserved.
The Sainte-Chapelle, a Gothic art masterpiece
Situated close to Notre-Dame, the Sainte-Chapelle and the Conciergerie are an integral part of French history. Built in 1248 by Saint-Louis to house holy relics, the Sainte-Chapelle is a fine example of the Rayonnant Gothic style and a true architectural feat for its time. The beautifully preserved stained glass windows reach a height of 15 metres.
The Conciergerie, in the turmoil of the French Revolution
Together with the Sainte-Chapelle in the Palais de la Cité, of which the Salle des Gardes and the immense Salle des Gens d’Armes remain, the Conciergerie became a revolutionary court and prison during the French Revolution. It was within its walls that Queen Marie-Antoinette was imprisoned before she was led to the gallows.
The Sacré-Coeur Basilica, one of the most beautiful views in Paris
The Byzantine architecture of the Sacré-Coeur Basilica rises into the sky in the district of Montmartre. Built from 1875 onwards at the top of a hill, the most visited religious building after Notre-Dame appears to be watching over the city of Paris, which it dominates from a height of over 130 metres, offering one of the most beautiful views of Paris. Stroll along the bustling Place du Tertre, next to the impressive monument, with its many cafés, restaurants, street painters and more.
The Centre Pompidou, Europe’s largest museum of modern and contemporary art
Located in Les Halles, one of the oldest districts in Paris, the Centre Pompidou stands out with its resolutely futuristic architecture. Set across 6 floors, the building is home to Europe’s largest museum of modern and contemporary art, where the works of masters such as Kandinsky, Picasso, Dali and Matisse, can be found. The external escalators provide access to all areas of the museum, while simultaneously offering a magnificent view over the rooftops of Paris.
The Palais Garnier, the most prestigious opera house in France
Not far from the department stores on Boulevard Haussmann, the Palais Garnier offers an interlude between music and architecture. Allow yourself to be charmed by the beauty and sumptuousness of the décor, the grand staircase in particular. A visit to the opera house provides an opportunity to explore the different spaces, including the auditorium with its ceiling painted by Marc Chagall. Prolong the magic by booking tickets for a ballet or a guided tour to explore behind the scenes at the Opéra National de Paris.
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- Copyright image: CRT Paris Ile-de-France / Quincy