10 Must See Things in Paris – France

Recently I’ve finally visited Paris. The amount of history, art and culture in this famous city is just insane and you definitely have to come more than once, to be able to see it all.

I went there for a full week and since I am a history and art lover my daily itineraries were pretty busy as I wanted to see and do as much as I could in those seven days.

You can see my full week, day by day itinerary in this blog post:

..coming soon..

But for those of you who want your trip to be at an easier pace or if you will go there for only a few days and you can’t decide what is best to see or do, I’m giving you a list of 10 things that you just can’t miss if you visit Paris.

 

1. Notre Dame Cathedral

The Notre Dame cathedral is one of the most famous cathedrals in the world and it’s not hard to see why.

It dates back to 11th century and it is built in the Gothic style, which is famous for it’s humongous and tall towers and the beautiful detailing which will definitely amaze you.

If you want to go inside you should be aware of the opening times to plan it ahead.

It is definitelly worth it, especially if you haven’t been inside the Gothic cathedral before. The beautiful rose windows are a true work of art and something everyone should see in real.

 

Notre Dame Cathedral at sunset

 

2. Boat ride on the Seine river 

This is an absolute MUST DO, if you want to see Paris from (in my opinion) the best perspective possible.

The cruise on the Seine river is something that will leave you speechless. I think it’s best to do this at the beginning of your Paris trip, since you can see most of the things you are going to explore later on and you get a sense of distances between the attractions as well.

In my opinion the best time to go is around sunset and that is for a few reasons: it is a truly magical part of the day, the lighting is great for those of you that long for awesome photos and on top of that, you can experience the day and the night time on the boat as it gets dark at the end of the trip so you can see why Paris is called the city of lights.

I took the cruise with the cruise company Vedettes du Pont Neuf which starts it’s journey at the bridge called Pont Neuf (it is in the city centre, not far from the Notre Dame cathedral.

 

Pont Neuf – one of many bridges on the Seine river

 

Paris at night

 

Seine river at sunset

 

Eiffel Tower as seen from the river

 

Banks of the Seine

 

Eiffel Tower and the Alexander III Bridge

 

3. Eiffel Tower 

The Eiffel Tower – the most popular symbol of Paris is a pretty obvious one for this list, right? 🙂

It was built in 1889 for the World’s Fair, which was organised to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the French revolution. It is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. At that time Parisians hated it and they considered it a scar on the Parisian horizon. But with time they got used to it and today, it is the symbol of the city.

You can admire it’s glory from different sides, but the most famous places to get close to it are Champ du Mars and the Trocadéro esplanade. Most photos of the Eiffel tower are also made from these two spots. You can also go up to the top of the tower and experience an amazing view of Paris from above.

 

The Eiffel Tower as seen from Trocadero esplanade

 

4. Musée du Louvre 

This one may not be on the top of the to-do list for some of you, but if you are not completely against visiting a museum, than you should not miss Musée du Louvre when in Paris.

It is the biggest museum in the world and it contains some of the most famous artefacts and pieces of art, including the famous painting of Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, many of the  sculptures from ancient Greek and Egyptian periods and much more.

It’s collection consists of art work from every single period of the human history and you can choose what you prefer to check out. You can check the Louvre Museum website and decide in advance what interests you, so that when you get inside you can just follow the map and go directly to the things you want to see (you get the free map at the entrance).

Since the museum is huge you can not see everything just in one day, maybe not even in two days (unless you don’t mind not feeling your legs and having a huge back pain at the end of the day :-)). So if you are a big history and art lover, you might consider coming here twice or more if desired.

The entrance is free for those of you who are under 26, which is a great thing if you are on a tight budget. Otherwise the ticket costs 15 € and you can buy it online or at the entrance of the museum.

NOTE: Check the opening times for each day  – it is closed on Tuesdays!

 

Louvre Museum

 

Glass pyramid in front of the Musée du Louvre

 

A statue of an Egyptian scribe (Musée du Louvre)

 

Ancient Egyptian sphinx (Musée du Louvre)

 

A huge staute of the Greek goddesss Athena (Musée du Louvre)

 

5. Tuileries Garden 

Just in front of the Musée du Louvre is the beautiful Tuileries garden, that dates back to 1564.

The Louvre museum used to be a palace and every palace comes with it’s gardens. The garden was created by Catherine de Medici, it opened to the public in 1667 and it became a public park after the French Revolution.

Today the Tuileries Garden offers you a chance for a peaceful stroll among the tree alleys, beautiful flowers and bushes, as well as a beautiful lake surrounded with chairs, where Parisians relax and chat while enjoying the fresh air.

You can buy some food and drinks and sit on one of these to rest your legs and recharge.

If you love impressionistic art you can check out the Orangerie museum, which is in the Tuileries garden as well. There, you can see some of the most amazing masterpieces by the painter Claude Monet called The Water Lilies (you can read more about them here) as well as some works by other painters of the era.

 

A stroll through the Tuileries Garden

 

 

6. Musée d’ Orsay

Another museum that was definitely a must for me. Musée d’ Orsay houses some of the most beautiful paintings and art works in the world, but this time mostly from the impressionistic period. If you love Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir and Degas – don’t miss this one out! Set in the ex train station, the building itself is a work of art and an architectural masterpiece, both from the outside and from the inside.

It is smaller than Musée du Louvre, but you still need to save a few hours for it’s visit, if you want to see most of the art works.

In the Orsay museum you can find the famous painting of the Japanese bridge of Giverny by Claude Monet or The Starry Night on the Rhone by Vincent Van Gogh.

Same as for the Louvre museum, the entrance is free if you are under 26 and if not the ticket costs 14 € (you can buy it online or at the entrance).

 

Musée d’ Orsay from the outside

 

The old clock from a previous train station

 

‘Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies’ by Claude Monet (Orsay Museum)

 

‘Starry Night’ by Vincent Van Gogh (Orsay Museum)

 

7. Arc de Triomphe

Another famous symbol of Paris and another great place for an amazing view of the city.

It is a war monument dedicated to all of the soldiers that fought and fell for France.

It was built by Napoleon Bonaparte, to celebrate his victories for France. It’s size surprised me, since I imagined it much smaller than it really is.

You can also climb the stairs all the way to the top of it and have a great overview of the Champs-Élysées, Place de la Concorde and the surrounding centre of Paris.

 

Arc de Triomphe

 

 

8. Champs-Élysées and Place de la Concorde

Champs-Élysées is a very long avenue (1.9 km) which leads from Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde. Strolling through it, you will find high fashion stores as well as many expensive stores selling jewelry, cars, cosmetics etc. There are also some cafés but the prices are really high (like in the most areas of Paris) so if you are on budget, I would not recommend stopping  in one of these.

 

Champs-Élysées Avenue

 

Place de la Concorde is the biggest square in Paris.

In the time of the French revolution it was renamed to Place de la Revolution and it was here, where the guillotine was erected to execute the opponents of the revolution (among them being king Louis the 16th, Marie Antoinette, Maximilien Roberspierre and many others).

After the victory of the revolutionists, it got back it’s primary name and it remained Place de la Concorde ever since.

In the middle of the square stands a real ancient Egyptian obelisk, which was given to France as a gift by an Egyptian ruler in the 19th century. It is 23 metres tall and it comes from the Luxor temple.

Currently there is also a big Ferris Wheel, just like the one in London (the London Eye). If you decide to go up for an amazing view, the prices are between 6-12 € per person.

 

Ferris Wheel and an ancient Egyptian obelisk in the middle of the Place de la Concorde

 

9. Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur 

Another MUST SEE is the Montmartre area and it’s jewel – the beautiful Sacre Coeur cathedral.

Montmartre is a 130 m high hill in Paris’s 18th arrondissement and it gives it’s name to the surrounding district.

At the beginning of the 20th century it became an artistic centre where many artists had studios or worked in it’s streets. Among them were also Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Salvador Dalí, Amedeo Modigliani, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh. Today you can still see painters painting on the streets and finding inspiration in this ‘full of art spirit’ district (check Place du Tertre).

 

The view of Paris from the top of the Montmartre hill

 

Art for sale in Montmartre

 

The Sacre Coeur cathedral is built on the top of the Montmartre hill,which is the highest point in Paris, so from there, you can get another breathtaking view of the city.

The cathedral itself is indescribably beautiful. It’s name means the ‘Sacred Heart’ (of Jesus). It’s construction began in 1875, it was finished in 1914 and it is dedicated to the victims of the Franco-Prussian war, as well as the victims of the Paris Commune of 1871.

It is definitely worth going inside of it as well, since you can see incredible rose windows, statues and a huge image of  Jesus. You can get to the top of the hill by walking the 222 steps of the Montmartre hill or by a small cable car which costs 1.80 € per person.

 

Sacre Coeur Cathedral

 

 

 

 

 

Inside the Sacre Coeur Cathedral in Paris

 

10. Latin Quarter 

If you are a food enthusiast and you want to try cuisines from different countries, you have to visit the Latin Quarter. The quarter is also home to a number of higher education facilities and the Sorbonne University.

It’s name comes from the Latin language which was spoken by the students and teachers of the University in the Middle Ages. It is known for it’s student life, live music bars and all varieties of cuisines like Italian, Greek, Turkish etc. If you are on a budget, but you still want to eat out sometimes than this is the place you should go to. You can eat pretty well for around 6 € per person and there is plenty options to choose from.

In the Latin Quarter you will also find an interesting building called Panthéon, which was originally built as a church but now it serves as a mausoleum of distinguished French citizens. It’s appearance is modelled after the Panthéon in Rome hence also the name.

 

Coffee in the Latin Quarter

 

Panthéon

 

Streets of the Latin Quarter

 

I hope you like this list of 10 Must see Things in Paris.

Which ones did you visit already? Are there things that you want to add to this list?

Let me know in the comments down below.

Happy travels!

Katja

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