Your first visit to Paris, like any other big city, can be somewhat daunting. Almost every where you go you will stumble upon places of tantalizing beauty and history. This city is perfect for exploring but it can be difficult to know where to start and what to see first. With a huge list of museums, monuments and parks, and a Metro system that at first seems complicated, first time visitors often get a little confused. So, in an effort to get you on your way, here is a list of Paris’ most interesting and iconic places. Of course, there is much more to the city, but this is a good way to start.
If you are planing to visit several of these popular sights during your trip, consider buying the Paris Museum Pass. It gives you entry to several of the city’s most popular museums and attractions at a fraction of the cost.
The Palaces of Versailles
One of the largest and most opulent castles in the world, and definitely worth a visit. This majestic historic castle has beautiful architecture, stunning gardens, and a long and interesting history. Located 20km outside of Paris, a day trip here will be one of your French holiday highlights.
Sacre-Coeur & Montmarte
With its unmistakable white dome, the Sacre Coeur sits at the very highest point in Paris on the Montmartre knoll This basilica took 46 years to build and was finally completed in 1923 at a cost of 40 million francs. Priests still pray for the souls of the dead here 24 hours a day. From its dramatic terrace, you can expect stunning views of Paris on a clear day. Take the funicular railway up and stop off at Sacre Coeur before later exploring the winding streets of Montmartre. On your way down, consider a visit to a traditional Parisian cabaret at the legendary Moulin Rouge. This page has a good list of suggestions for hotels in Montmartre.
Take a relaxing trip down the River Seine
There is nothing quite like seeing Paris’ most beautiful sites while drifting down the Seine river. It is easy to find great one-hour tours of the Seine year-round for about 10 Euros. Get a boat near Notre Dame or the Eiffel Tower. If you go at night, you’ll see the amazing Paris lights shimmering on the water. But be sure to dress warmly as the wind from off the Seine can be quite chilly.
This is a Gothic masterpiece, built by Louis IX as a shrine for his holy relics of The Passion. It was completed in 1248, and is considered by many people as the most beautiful church in all of Paris. Check out the 15 stained-glass windows soaring 15 metes to the vaulted roof.
The Arc De Triomphe
This is probably one of the most well known monuments in Paris. It was built to commemorate Napoleon’s victory at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805. Work began on the 50 meter arch in 1806 but was not completed until 1836, due to Napoleon’s fall from power
This is Paris’ icon, the most distinctive symbol of the city. The Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel) was laughed at by critics when it rose on the city’s skyline in 1889 as part of the Universal Exhibition, but its beautiful symmetry soon made it Paris’ top attraction. At the time, it was the world’s tallest building until New York’s Empire State Building went up in 1931. It weighs more than 10,000 metric tons and is so solid it never sways more than 5 inches in high winds.
This amazing museum is home to some of the worlds finest art works. The Mona Lisa, Michelangelo’s David, and thousands of other classic and modern masterpieces. The Louvre Museum is the jewel in the crown