One of the leading tourist and vacation destinations in the world, Paris is renowned for its art, food, fashion and architecture. The “City of Lights” abounds in historical and cultural attractions.
1. Eiffel Tower
Perhaps the most iconic structure in Paris, the Eiffel Tower has thrilled visitors since its erection in 1889. A staircase and elevators lead to observation decks atop the 324-meter-high, wrought-iron tower. It was the tallest building in the world until 1930. There are three levels, two of which feature restaurants.
2. The Louvre
The world’s largest and most-visited art museum, the Louvre houses famous paintings like Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and classic sculptures such as the Venus de Milo. About 38,000 works of art, representing thousands of years, are on display. The museum is part of the Louvre Palace, a castle fortress King Philip II built more than 900 years ago.
3. Arc de Triomphe
This national monument was erected between 1806 and 1836 to celebrate Napoleon’s conquests and honor French military veterans. It stands at the west end of the Champs-Elysees, a wide tree-lined boulevard full of cafes, nightclubs, museums and shops. The 49.5-meter-high arch is decorated with Francois Rude’s La Marseillaise and other sculptures.
4. Notre Dame de Paris
A stunning Gothic-style cathedral, dating to the Middle Ages, this building incorporates gargoyles and flying buttresses in its design. The church has multiple chapels, a pair of imposing towers, and magnificent doors with artistic carvings and biblical king figures.
5. Palace of Versailles
A sprawling, ostentatiously lavish landmark, this former royal hunting lodge showcases French furnishings and works of art by many of the country’s masters. The palace’s Hall of Mirrors contains 17 arches with 357 mirrors, and the grounds feature lush gardens. There is also a museum commemorating the history of France.
With its picturesque white dome, the Sacre-Coeur is among the more recognizable sites in Paris. Visitors marvel at the stained-glass windows and gold mosaics in this magnificent marble basilica. Sitting atop the city’s highest hill, the church holds one of the biggest clocks on Earth.
7. Musee d’Orsay
No place on the planet boasts a larger collection of impressionist paintings than this museum, inside a former railroad station. Thousands of items from 1848 to 1914 are on exhibit, including works by Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, Renoir and Cezanne.
This 13th century cathedral is another prime example of Gothic architecture. King Louis IX ordered it built to house Christ’s Crown of Thorns and other Passion Relics. The chapel has more stained glass from the 1200s than can be found anywhere else.
9. Jardin du Luxembourg
Paris offers a number of scenic parks, but none is more popular than this spot. The landscape of grassy expanses, gardens and fruit orchards is graced with fountains and statues. There are foot trails, tennis courts and a playground.
10. Seine Cruise
A favorite activity for visitors is taking a cruise on the River Seine, which flows beneath bridges and passes some of the attractions on this list. One-hour tours provide an overview of the delights of Paris. Evening tours are particularly enjoyable.