Top Paris Sites
The following suggested things to do are not an itinerary, as much as they are a list of things that we would propose that you make an attempt to visit and enjoy.
There are a number of companies who offer city passes that provide you with various ways to save on Paris attractions & transportation. Here are links to a number of their web sites, where you will find a complete list of what they offer as well as price information; Paris Explorer Pass, Paris City Pass, The Paris Pass, and The Paris Museum Pass. There are other passes, you may want to do your own Google Search - or - take a look at a good city pass comparison article to determine which pass would work best for you.
Do not forget: Having a City Pass does not negate the fact that the majority of Paris Sites require you to obtain a date & time entrance. Yes, a City Pass will reduce your entrance fees, but you are still going to need that date & time ticket.
Paris Museums View Map
According to wikipedia there are 130 museums in Paris. With so many it can be hard to decide which ones to visit. For first time visitors some of the obvious choices for art lovers are the Louvre, the Musée de l'Orangerie and the Musée d'Orsay. Getting online reservations for these museums is highly recommended. Those with the Paris pass can book reservations online for free.
OK, so the Louvre is perhaps the top museum in Paris that you should not miss - it is huge (782,910 square feet), and it is the world's most visited museum as well as the world's largest museum. It is the home of some of the best-known works of art, including the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. Some people can spend days or weeks in the Louvre and others like to do a quick tour… make sure you plan according to your interest and the interest level of your family if traveling together. It is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the city's 1st arrondissement at the eastern end of the Tuileries Garden.
The Musée de l'Orangerie is at the western end of the Tuileries Garden - if you are a fan of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings, then you will enjoy this museum. It is home to Claude Monet’s Water Lilies room which is a permanent collection at the museum. You can also enjoy works by Rousseau, Matisse, Guillaume and many others.
The Musée d'Orsay is located on the left bank of the River Seine. It’s a beautiful museum that started life as a train station and turned into a museum opening its doors in 1986. It is known for having the largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world. The collection is mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography. It is home to the famous Whistler’s Mother painting by James Whistler. It houses paintings from Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Van Gogh and many many more.
Eiffel Tower View Map
Obviously the Eiffel Tower is the most iconic landmark in Paris and it’s worth planning to go to the top if you’ve never been. The views from there on a clear day are amazing!
The crowds can get huge so be sure to reserve your tickets ahead of time online prior to your trip. The Eiffel Tower security will check ticket times and are pretty strict about not allowing you up to the top until the time printed. You are allowed to go through security along the perimeter without tickets. The ticket office is behind the security building.
Palace of Versailles View Map
Louis XIII first came to the hunting lodge at Versailles in 1607 and after he became King in 1610, he contined visiting Versailles and then decided to rebuild it in 1631. This rebuild created the essence of what we can see today as the Palace of Versailles. The son of Louis XIII, Louis XIV was the King that increased the size of the estate by adding new wings to the original building and adding more size to the overall estate - 30,000 acres at it's largest under King Louis XIV.
The Women’s March on Palace of Versailles took place in 1789 and was a defining moment in the French revolution. The estate today consists of the palace, park and gardens and covers an area of about 2,000 acres. Every year about 15 million people visit the palace and gardens. Visit Versaille for the history, the architecture and the beauty of the gardens.
Sacré Cœur du Montmartre View Map
The Basilica of Sacré Coeur de Montmartre (in English "Sacred Heart of Montmartre"), commonly known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica and often simply Sacré-Cœur is a Roman Catholic church dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
This is easily one of the prettiest churches in Paris. Due to the height of Montmartre (256 feet above sea level, the highest natural point in Paris), the church can be seen from all over Paris! Easily reached via the Paris Metro, exit at the Abbesses Station. Its height when combined with a clear day, provides visitors with really good views of Paris - not to be missed!
Word of warning: You can see how the church sits high on the hill? On a hot day, it can be difficult to walk up all those stairs (200 steps). There is a funicular that you should utilize if you are not comfortable with walking up steep stairs. Be forewarned that the funicular is very popular with the "don't want to walkup the stairs" folks, so the line to use it is always lengthy.
The Montmartre neighborhood has several excellent art museums, where visitors can admire the creations of bohemian artists who resided there during the late 19th and early 20th century. During this era, Montmartre was famous for its cabarets and artists' studios.
Paris Bus Tour
Paris is a large city, and taking a hop on/hop off bus tour is a convenient way to travel around the city without having to concern yourself about parking places or where the closest Metro Station might be.
On our first trip to Paris we took the night time bus tour to see the city at night. It was a cool way to see the city of lights and since we were jet lagged we were wide awake for the late night tour. We highly recommend taking a night time tour for those visiting for the first time.
Click here to see a Google Search Results list for "Paris Bus Tours".
Île de la Cité View Map
This is easily accessible as it is situated pretty much in the center of Paris, and it would be difficult to imagine anything in Paris that contains more iconic locations, ie; Sainte-Chapelle, Notre Dame Cathedral, Place de l'Île de la Cité, Place Louis-Lepine, the Flower Market and the Tribunal of Commerce, The Hôtel-Dieu, the Canons' Quarter, Quai de l'Horloge and the Palace of Justice and the Quai des Orfèvres.
Click here to view the complete list on Wikipedia.
Visit the Catacombs View Map
The Catacombs of Paris are located in the 14th arrondissement quartier Montparnasse. The catacombs hold the remains of over 6 million people in a small part of the underground network. The ossuary was created to deal with the growing number of cemeteries in the city. It is not known just how large the Catacombs actually are, there are estimates that there are over 200 miles of tunnels, however, only a very small area of that is part of the tour and "legal". The other areas are considered to be dangerous and are off limits with police patrols, etc. We were told that there are people that sneak into the tunnels for parties and some actually try to live down there.
This is a fascinating tour and somewhat creepy tour but if you are the slightest bit claustrophobic or not comfortable walking among thousands of human remains you might want to not take this tour.
Click here to go to the official Catacombs site where you can find ticket information, prices and other useful data.
Seine River Cruise
This is a good way to see Paris from a different perspective, and there are a number of ways to take a tour like this; dinner cruise, or a lunch cruise or just a sight-seeing cruise. The views you will get of the Île de la Cité and the Eiffel Tower will make the cruise worth every penny.
Click here to view a Google Search Results list for "paris river seine tours".
La Défense View Map
La Défense is Europe's largest purpose-built business district, covering 560 hectares (1,400 acres), for 180,000 daily workers, with 72 glass and steel buildings (of which 19 are completed skyscrapers), and 38,000,000 sq ft of office space. Around its Grande Arche and esplanade ("le Parvis"), La Défense contains many of the Paris urban area's tallest high-rises. Les Quatre Temps, a large shopping mall in La Défense, has 220 stores, 48 restaurants and a 24-screen movie theatre.
Part of the original reason why this area was selected to construct so many skyscrapers, was because Paris had a building height limit until recently. Now that the limitation has been relaxed, there will be more tall buildings constructed in the Paris central districts.
There is an outdoor art collection scattered around La Défense that includes works by Calder, Miro, and other world-famous artists. César Baldaccini is represented by his iconic sculpture of a 40-foot thumb. in total there are seventy pieces of contemporary artworks sprinkled throughout the district.
La Défense is the western terminus of Métro Line 1 and there is an RER station there as well.
Rue Cler/7th arrondissement View Map
The 7th arrondissement is home to Rue Cler, one of the best market streets in Paris. You will be able to find a great selection of specialty food stores, pastry shops, butchers, delicatessens, cheese specialists, fishmongers, greengrocers, chocolate shops and cafés. Most of the street is a pedestrian area and still has its original cobblestones.
There are a number of nice sidewalk restaurants in this area, click here to view the Yelp page for the La Petit Clear, which is where we had brunch the last time we were in that area. The food was very good and the sidewalk cafe vibe was great.
To read a good overview of what there is to see in the 7th arrondisement, take a look at this page from our friends at the "French Moments" website.
Le Marais Area View Map
Le Marais (in English "the marsh") spreads out across Paris’s 3rd and 4th Arrondissements. It’s bordered by the Bastille on the east, the Hôtel de Ville on the west, the Seine on the south, and République on the north. You will be able to find numerous good restaurants & pubs in this area, as well as; Place des Vosges, the home of Viktor Hugo, Saint Paul's Cathedral and the Galerie Perrotin.
The Square du Temple is a garden in the 3rd arrondissement, established in 1857. It is one of 24 city squares planned and created by Georges-Eugène Haussmann and Jean-Charles Adolphe Alphand. The Square occupies the site of a medieval fortress in Paris, built by the Knights Templar. Parts of the fortress were later used as a prison during the French Revolution, and then demolished by the mid-19th century.
Our picture was taken on the Rue de Rivoli as we enjoyed an adult beverage at a sidewalk pub. The Paroisse Saint-Paul Saint-Louis is just a block away to the right of where we were sitting and our VRBO condo was 3 blocks away.
Arc de Triomphe View Map
It's full formal name is Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile, and it honours all those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. It was commissioned by Napoleon I in 1806, just two years after he successfully took control of France. The Arch is still the second largest in the world, and was modeled after The Roman Arch of Titus in Rome.
The view from the Arc de Triomphe: you can either climb the 284 steps or take the elevator to the Museum hall, then climb the remaining 40 steps. Alternatively, you take the elevator directly to its observation deck. Entry to the top of the Arch requires tickets, and you should acquire those in advance to get the date & time of your choice. Click here to purchase tickets online, there are other vendors where you can purchase tickets, click here for a Google Search results list of the places where you can purchase tickets.
WARNING: Do not attempt to walk on the traffic circle to get to the Arch, the Arch is located at the confluence of 12 major avenues and the circular road surrounding the Arch (Place Charles de Gaulle) is wide and very busy with automobile traffic. The Arch can be accessed by the pedestrian underground tunnel located on the Avenue de la Grande Armee side of the circle. You can also access this tunnel from the Wagram exit of the Paris Metro.
Shopping on the Champs-Elysées Avenue: You might want to consider walking east along the Champs-Elysées from the Arch. There are numerous restaurants, pubs and high-end shops along the boulevard and it is a popular place to stroll. Click here to read a good page describing the stores that can be found there. Or click here to read what Rick Steves has to say about this area.
Click here to read the Wikipedia article about the Arch - as it has had an interesting history!
Jardin des Tuileries View Map
In English "The Tuileries Garden", it is the oldest and largest Parisian garden, which has now been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
With the Louvre at the eastern end, and the Place de la Concorde at the western end, this is a nice pedestrian only park with beautiful ponds, open-air cafes, fountains, children's playgrounds, and a number of stunning statues (by Rodin, Giacometti and Maillol) and other works of art. This is a very nice place to spend some time, and with the large number of trees and benches, it is a great place to sit (or stroll) in the shade and contemplate Paris.
Our picture was taken as we walked down the park Allée Centrale (the center-most walking path) as we had just departed the Musée de l'Orangerie and were walking east towards the Louvre. You can see the top of the Louvre in the background of our picture.
The Pont des Arts or Passerelle des Arts (AKA the "Love Lock Bridge") is a pedestrian only bridge accessible on the south side of the Louvre. Paris has removed all of the love locks from the bridge, but it is still a nice way to cross the Seine. If you are looking for the quickest way to reach the Musée d'Orsay from the park, the Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor is another pedestrain only bridge in the approximate center of the park.
If you are looking to get back onto the Metro System, the Concorde Metro Station is at the northeastern end of the park, and the Palais Royal - Musée du Louvre Metro station is at the eastern end of the park just north of the Louvre.
- Paris Wikipedia Article
- Paris History on 'Local Histories' site
- Top 10 Things to do & see in Paris on 'Paris Perfect' site
- 25 things to do and see in Paris on the "Fodors" site
- Google Search Results list for "restaurants in Paris"
- 29 Best Restaurants in Paris on Conde Naste Website
- Google Search Results list for "accommodations in Paris"
- Google list of Paris Catacombs Websites
- Just Traveling Thru European Travel Tips
- Just Traveling Thru Travel Planning Tips
- Things to do in Paris on the "Get Your Guide" site
- Explore Paris's Medieval Landmarks and Modern Delights on the 'National Geographic' Site
- 75 Best Things to Do in Paris on the 'Crazy Tourist' Site
- Exploring Paris on the 'Lonely Planet' Site
- Explore Paris on the 'US News & Travel' Site
- Explore Paris on the 'Rick Steves' Site
- What to Do with Three Days in Paris on the 'Destination Tips' Site
- Take a Paris Literature Walking Tour from the "Paris Perfect" site
- Paris Tourism on the 'Introducing Paris' Site
- Google list of things to do & see in Paris
- Amazon Search Results list for "Paris France"
- Youtube Search Results list for "Paris France"
- Visit our Youtube Channel
- Our Paris Page
- Best walks in Paris from the "Bonjour Paris" Site
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