Top 10 Paris Attractions

Panoramic view of Paris from the Eiffel Tower

At the same time, Paris is historical and modern, cheerful and gloomy, sunny and slightly rain-washed, as in Camille Pissarro's paintings. You only need to visit the French capital to discover it for yourself and leave a piece of your heart there.

"Paris is not a city; it is a world," King Francis I of France once said. The city is a capital of art and fashion and one of the most romantic places in Europe; almost everyone wishes to visit the "City of Light" at least one time in their lives. Its colossal historical value and incomparable atmosphere attract more than 30 million foreign tourists each year, making it the most visited city on the planet.

Honestly, I'm not a great admirer of Paris. It is neither Eternal Rome nor Royal London. My impression of the French capital is rather monotonous: its interminable streets with hundreds of nearly identical buildings don't give it any particular appeal. "Thanks" to Baron Haussmann, the prefect of the Seine department, who was commissioned by Emperor Napoléon III, all of Paris's medieval quarters were destroyed in the 19th century during the city reconstruction. However, the French capital was worth visiting because of its numerous unique tourist spots, such as the Catacombs and the Eiffel Tower. My guide below highlights the top ten attractions in Paris worth visiting.

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Top 10 Attractions in Paris

Paris Map

1. Eiffel Tower

Panoramic view of Paris from the Eiffel Tower
Panoramic picture of Paris from the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is easily the most recognizable architectural landmark in France's capital. Nobody now imagines Paris without the structure. Built by the French civil engineer Gustave Eiffel between 1887 and 1889, it was the world's tallest construction for a long time. The 324 meters (1,063 feet) high metal tower stands between the public greenspace Champ de Mars and 19th-century bridge Pont d'Iéna in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. It has 1,665 steps and three observation decks. The platform at the top level is 276 meters (906 feet) above ground. There are two ways to get there: stairs or lift.

Address: Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France

If you want to skip the lines at the Eiffel Tower, have a guided 1.5-hour tour of the 2nd floor, and then continue to the summit on your own, take the Eiffel Tower Skip the Line and Small Group Tour with Summit Access by Elevator.

2. Notre-Dame de Paris

Top 10 Paris Attractions
The cathedral's main façade

The medieval cathedral with the catchy name Notre-Dame-de-Paris has blended everything you'd expect to see in Paris – it's a stunningly beautiful structure in the heart of the city. The Romanesque style predominated in French architecture at the period of the first stone laying. During construction between the 12th and 14th, the Gothic style took its place, and as a result, the cathedral incorporated the best elements of both forms, giving it a distinct appearance.

Address: 6 Parvis Notre-Dame - Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France
Website: Notre-Dame de Paris

3. Seine River Banks

Paris Attractions
The Seine River, with the city's oldest bridge, Pont Neuf, in the background

The Seine is more than just a river; it's France's symbol. It divides Paris into the Right and Left Banks, each of which has a different life. Many great painters, writers, and musicians lived and worked on the Left Bank, and it was here that France's bohemian culture took place. The Right Bank rose to bourgeois reputation, boasting of its wealth and splendor. Along the Seine in the center of Paris, there are the most famous landmarks of the French capital: the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Louvre, as well as beautiful bridges connecting the river's banks. The history of many bridges goes back centuries. For example, the Pont Neuf is the oldest bridge in Paris: Henry III of France laid the first stone in 1578. The banks of the Seine are unique in every sense – both mentally and physically – and therefore included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. 

Take the Seine River Cruise and Paris Canals Tour for a 2.5-hour combo cruise down the River Seine and Canal Saint-Martin to see Paris' iconic landmarks and lesser-known gems from the water.

4. Paris Catacombs

Paris Attractions
Human skulls and bones stacked in rows in the Catacombs

Paris is usually associated with romanticism, but there is one area in this city that is simply horrific and hidden underground from the eyes of a tourist. That is the famed Paris Catacombs. The network of underground and winding tunnels formed by mining limestone to build cathedrals and palaces in medieval Paris can have a total length of up to 300 kilometers (186 miles) and a depth of 15 to 20 meters (49 to 65 feet). Overcrowded Paris cemeteries in the late 18th and early 19th centuries resulted in approximately 6 million people's remains lying in rest in the tunnels. Visitors can visit a 1.7-kilometer (1-mile) area filled with old tombstones and thousands of human bone and skulls fragments arranged in bizarre compositions and tall columns. 

Address: 1 av. du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy 75014 Paris, France

Take the Paris Catacombs Tour with VIP Access to Restricted Areas if you want to discover the darker side of the City of Lights with a skip-the-line tour of the famed catacombs of Paris and special access to restricted areas closed to the general public.

5. Luxembourg Gardens

Paris Attractions
The Statue of Liberty in the Luxembourg Gardens (first model, 1870, by Frédéric Bartholdi)

The atmosphere on Paris's Left Bank exudes a distinct French charm. Located in the Latin Quarter, there is the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens. Visitors have been drawn to the garden since the 17th century for the opportunity to walk along shady alleys, relax by the fountains, admire numerous elegant sculptures, and lie on green lawns. Visitors have been drawn to the garden since the 17th century for the opportunity to walk through shady alleys, relax by the fountains, admire numerous elegant sculptures, and lie on green lawns. Parisians owe the appearance of their favorite garden to Marie de Medici, wife of King Henry IV. Originally from Italy, Marie longed for her homeland so much that she decided to establish a small piece of it in Paris. The Orangerie, the Luxembourg Museum, and the stunning Baroque-style Luxembourg Palace, which now houses the French Senate, are all located in the garden.

Address: The 6th arrondissement, 75006 Paris, France

6. Sacré-Cœur Basilica

Paris Landmarks
Southeastern view of the basilica

Completed in 1914, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a bizarre imitation of a Byzantine temple. Its white tower and dome have become an iconic part of the Paris skyline. The most beautiful mosaic in France, measuring 480 square meters (5166 square feet), appears hypnotic inside the church. Built to commemorate the Franco-Prussian War victims at the end of the 19h century, it is the second most visited religious monument in France, after Notre Dame.

Address: 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris, France

If you want to get to know the romantic Montmartre, the birthplace of Impressionism, visit places that inspired famous artists, admire incredible city panoramas from the top of the Basilique du Sacré Coeur, take the 2.5-hour art-themed Montmartre Guided Walking Tour.

7. Tuileries Garden

Paris Attractions
The Louvre's side building seen from the Tuileries Garden

The Tuileries Garden is one of the first parks created in France according to the "French formal style" rules, the layout of which still serves as an example for all park creators. This style prevailed in the 16th century when designers, through structural form, emphasized man's power over nature. The park has a geometrically correct plan with prominent symmetry, which gives it solemnity and majesty. It is extremely popular with tourists due to its proximity to the Louvre, France's principal museum. The Tuileries Garden, adorned with flowers, greenery, and sculptures, is the epitome of peace and tranquillity after walking through Paris's bustling streets. The majority of the park's sculptures are exact replicas of the originals. There is a Ferris wheel and several cafes on the site.

Address: 1st arrondissement, 75001 Paris, France

8. Château of Vincennes

Paris Landmarks
The Château de Vincennes's donjon

Together with the Palace of Versailles, the Château de Vincennes is the most remarkable royal residence in Paris, built between the 14th and 16th centuries for the kings of France in the Bois de Vincennes (hence its name) wood. Vincennes grew up around the castle and is now a Paris suburb accessible by metro. The building, which remained a strong fortress for 700 years, was constantly at the center of events: kings were born, married, lived (including as prisoners), and died here. The large, 52-meter (170 ft) high keep rises in a large courtyard, surrounded by a moat and fortress walls. The Sainte-Chapelle de Vincennes, a beautiful Gothic chapel – a Monument Historique on France's national heritage list – stands in front of the castle.

Address: 1 avenue de Paris, 94300 Vincennes, France
Website: Château de Vincennes

9. Père Lachaise Cemetery

Paris Attractions
A life-size statue of the famous French journalist Victor Noir

The Père Lachaise Cemetery is one of the world's most famous burial sites. This cemetery, located in the eastern part of Paris, is the city's largest. Many celebrities are buried here, including writer Oscar Wilde, cabaret performer Edith Piaf, actress Sarah Bernhardt, dancer Isadora Duncan, author Honoré de Balzac, opera singer Maria Callas, musician Frédéric Chopin, Doors vocalist Jim Morrison, and others. The Père Lachaise Cemetery is a beautiful place: on properly planned alleys, there are artistic tombs with complex sculptural compositions, architecturally impressive family crypts with modest or majestic gravestones, and elegant columbariums.

Address: 16 Rue du Repos, 75020 Paris, France

On the Pere Lachaise Cemetery Walking Tour, you can visit the graves of famous artists, musicians, and writers, as well as learn about the cemetery and those buried there with an English-speaking guide.

10. La Défense

Paris Attractions
La Défense seen from the Eiffel Tower

It's no surprise that La Défense is known as the French Manhattan. It is considered the grandest business center in Europe. The modern business and residential district, which includes skyscrapers and shopping malls, is located 3 kilometers (2 miles) west of the city. The main local attraction is the Great Arch, included in many tours of the French capital. Tourists from all over the world enjoy sitting on the architectural modernism monument's steps and gazing out at the evening edge of skyscrapers and Paris in the distance. The pedestrian area in La Défense is attractive, with fountains and over sixty abstract sculptures.

Paris's Most Adventurous Experiences

What a beautiful Paris is when the sun shines! Forget about taking the bus, metro, or taxi in the city. If you want to take your time and see the city's many landmarks, there are alternative ways to explore the French capital at a leisurely pace. You might choose to experience Paris by participating in one or more of the activities listed below. Enjoy!

French Currency

France joined the Eurozone by adopting the euro in 1999, making it incredibly convenient to visit Paris and travel throughout neighboring countries, such as Belgium, Germany, and Spain.

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