With thousands of years of history squeezed into just 40.7 sq. mile, exploring a city like Paris can be overwhelming for any visitor. In part one of the series, check out some of the must-see sights and museums that any newcomer must visit while staying in the City of Light.
Best Views of the City:
Eiffel Tower – Originally created for the 1889 World’s Fair , this wrought iron masterpiece has become the most iconic symbol of the French capital, and has more than 7 million visitors every year. Standing at an impressive 324 meters, the Eiffel Tower offers the best panoramic view of the city. Don’t forget to stop by at night to see the tower sparkle at the top of every hour. Buy tickets ahead of time to avoid long queues to get to the top.
Arc de Triomphe – Located at the west of the Champs-Élysées, this massive arc was built to honor those who have fought for France, mainly during the Napoleonic Wars. Also the location of the Tomb of an Unknown Solider and a memorial flame, Arc de Triomphe is recognized as a patriotic memorial site. It also has one of the best views of Paris at the top of the 50 meter, or 284 stairs, climb.
Montmatre – The name of the large hill in the 18th arrondissement, Montmartre offers a beautiful view of the city from the step in front of the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur. The neighborhood is also known as the artists quarter, due to the number of artists and performers that line the streets. Montmartre was also once home famous artists such as Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dali.
Historical, Creepy Places:
Catacombs – Underneath the streets of Paris is the home of the bones of approximately 7 million Parisians. Created from old quarries, the Catacombs where created to house the remains from the cemeteries that were being closed due to the health risk they posed to the public in the late 18th century. This site isn’t for the faint of heart, the Catacombs are located 20 meters underground, and the tour though the winding tunnels filled with bones last about 45 minutes. Be prepared for a long queue, because only 200 visitors are allowed in at a time.
Pantheon – Once the church of Sainte-Geneviève, this historical sight was converted into a mausoleum that now holds the tombs of some of the most influential French citizens ever including Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Marie Curie , and Louis Braille. It is also a hallmark of design, with its impressive dome that stands 85 meters tall that was created by the architect Soufflot.
Most Beautiful Churches:
Notre Dame – One of the most recognizable church in the world (partially thanks to the book turned Disney movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame), Notre Dame is consider one of the most beautiful examples of French Gothic architecture. This giant cathedral is full of gorgeous stained glass windows that line the walls. Head to up to the towers to get a great view of the city, and get up close look at the stone gargoyles that guard the top.
Basilique du Sacré-Cœur – Located atop the highest point of Montmartre, this church is a symbol of a the struggle between Roman Catholics conservatives and secularists radicals around the time of the Franco-Prussian War. Head to the top of the 234 spiral staircase inside the dome to see one of the most affordable panoramic views of Paris.
Best Art Museums –
Musée de Louvre – Located in the 1st arrondissement on the Right Bank of the Seine river is the largest museum in the world: The Louvre. This massive museum hold over 380,000 objects and 35,000 work of art within it’s walls including famous pieces such as the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and Liberty Leading the People.
Musée d’Orsay – Located on the Left Bank of the Seine river, Musée d’Orsay holds the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings in the world. The museum houses a number of paintings bye famous painters such as Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
Centre Georges Pompidou – While containing the largest collection of modern art in Europe, Centre Georges Pompidou is overwhelming known for it’s abstract design that sticks out like a sore thumb in the heart of Paris. The building is not only home to over 100,00o works of art, it also contains a public library on it’s first three floors.
Now you’ve completed the sight-seeing part of Paris it’s now time to enjoy the Parisian lifestyle in Part II of Discovering Paris.