Top 10 Things to Do in Paris
The cloud-piercing, wrought-iron Eiffel Tower, broad Arc de Triomphe guarding the glamorous avenue des Champs-Élysées, flying buttressed Notre Dame cathedral, lamplit bridges spanning the Seine and art nouveau cafes’ wicker-chair-lined terraces are enduring Parisian emblems. Despite initial appearances, however, Paris’ cityscape isn’t static: there are some stunning modern and contemporary icons too.
1. Eiffel Tower
No one could imagine Paris today without it. But Gustave Eiffel only constructed this elegant, 324m-tall signature spire as a temporary exhibit for the 1889 World's Fair. Luckily, the art nouveau tower’s popularity assured its survival.
2. Arc de Triomphe
If anything rivals the Eiffel Tower as the symbol of Paris, it’s this magnificent 1836 monument to Napoléon’s victory at Austerlitz (1805), which he commissioned the following year.
3. Musée du Louvre
It isn’t until you’re standing in the vast courtyard of the Louvre, with sunlight shimmering through the glass pyramid and crowds milling about beneath the museum’s ornate facade, that you can truly say you’ve been to Paris.
4. Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris
While its interior is closed off to visitors following the devastating fire of April 2019, this masterpiece of French Gothic architecture remains the city’s geographic and spiritual heart.
5. Château de Versailles
Amid magnificently landscaped formal gardens, this splendid and enormous palace was built in the mid-17th century during the reign of Louis XIV – the Roi Soleil (Sun King) – to project the absolute power of the French monarchy.
6. Musée d’Orsay
The home of France’s national collection from the impressionist, post-impressionist and art nouveau movements spanning from 1848 to 1914 is the glorious former Gare d’Orsay train station – itself an art nouveau showpiece.
7. Musée Rodin
Sculptor, painter, sketcher, engraver and collector Auguste Rodin donated his entire collection to the French state in 1908 on the proviso that it dedicate the beautiful 1730 Hôtel Biron, to displaying his works.
8. Jardin du Luxembourg
This inner-city oasis of formal terraces, chestnut groves and lush lawns has a special place in Parisians' hearts. Napoléon dedicated the 23 gracefully laid-out hectares of the Luxembourg Gardens to the children of Paris, and many residents spent their childhood on the octagonal Grand Bassin pond.
9. Basilique du Sacré-Cœur
Begun in 1875 in the wake of the Franco-Prussian War and the chaos of the Paris Commune, Sacré-Cœur is a symbol of the former struggle between the conservative Catholic old guard and the secular, republican radicals. It was finally consecrated in 1919, standing in contrast to the bohemian lifestyle that surrounded it.
10. Hôtel des Invalides
Flanked by the 500m-long Esplanade des Invalides lawns, Hôtel des Invalides was built in the 1670s by Louis XIV to house 4000 invalides (disabled war veterans). On 14 July 1789, a mob broke into the building and seized 32,000 rifles before heading on to the prison at Bastille and the start of the French Revolution.
How to move around Paris
Take a historic tour and explore Paris charming neighborhoods and beautiful hidden places. The city’s public transportation network offers a wide variety of routes, combining many different means, namely the metro, railway, buses, trolleybuses, and trams.
Day Trips from Paris
The City of Lights, the home of famous artworks, beautiful architecture, and gastronomic extravaganza offers so many unique experiences. View our suggestions of day trips that you can take while you are there.