Since I’ve already discussed transportation in Paris, I decided it would be a good idea to go over the “must see” attractions of Paris. There are a lot of sights to take in, but these are my top 10 “must see” attractions in Paris:
1. Eiffel Tower
When you think of France, the Eiffel Tower is definitely the first image that comes to mind. It is the ultimate symbol of France. At over 7,300 metric tons, it’s huge! I’d seen pictures of it on the internet before, but didn’t realize how massive it was until I stood beneath it. With over 6.8 million visitors per year,the Eiffel Tower is one of the most popular tourist stops in the world and comes first on my “must see” list.
2. Notre Dame Cathedral
It took 182 years to build, but the result is a masterpiece. With three large entrances (Portal of the Virgin, Portal of the Last Judgment, and Portal of St. Anne) the Notre Dame Cathedral contains a level of detail you rarely see in any other structure. While standing in front of it, I was amazed that someone could imagine, let alone build such a splendid structure.
3. Arc de Triomphe
Acting as an entrance into Paris, the Arc de Triomphe honors all those who fought for France (in particular Napoleon’s generals). From the top, you can see multiple avenues converging on the Arc de Triomphe.
The Louvre Museum is the grandest museum in the world. It’s home to the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, and Benus de Milo. The museum has around 35,000 pieces in it’s art collection which is housed in an area of around 645,000 square feet. If you want to see everything in the museum it will take you about three days. I only went for one day and visited most of the popular exhibits. Although I wasn’t too impressed with the Mona Lisa, my jaw did drop when I saw some of the massive 10 foot paintings hanging from the walls.
This church is located at the highest point of the city and from the steps of Sacre-Coeur you get a bird’s eye view of Paris. Looking up at the basilica, the steps to get to the top can be a bit daunting, but nothing you won’t be able to handle. When I reached the top there were a few performances being put on by some break dancers. It was surprising to see that in front of a church.
6. Musee d’ Orsay
The building used to be a train station before being transformed into a museum that houses paintings by Degas, Monet, Pissaro, Sisltey, Renoir, and Van Gogh. There are various sculptures, furniture, and other decorative objects also on display.
7. Jardin du Luxembourg
This park is one of the prime leisure spots for Parisians. It’s surrounded by flowers and well maintained lawns. You can sit and read a good book, like the locals often do. You can also lounge around or sit on the grass (in the designated area, of course). The Jardin du Luxembourg is beautiful and after a long day of sightseeing, it’s a great place to relax.
8. Opera Garnier
A true symbol of stunning French opulence, the Opera Garnier is a breath-taking piece of architecture. This is what it looks like on the outside, but the real view is inside.
The holy chapel was build to house Kind Louis IX’s religious relics (Christ’s crown of thorns, frangments of The Cross, and drops of Christ’s blood). With it’s stained glass windows contanint 1,130 figures from the Bible, it’s one of the most magnificent visual delighters in all of Paris.
A former royal palace turned prison, the Conciergerie was the place where Queen Marie-Antoinette was imprisoned before she was beheaded by the guillotine. Ouch! You can even see the room where she was locked up. This may not be a well advertised attraction, but is a interesting place to visit, even more so if you’ve already seen every other attraction on the list.
That does it for my “must see” places of Paris. There are several other sites to see, including a list of lesser known museums, but if you don’t have a lot of time or are just passing through Paris looking for the most bang for your buck. I would suggest going to these 10 attractions first and then looking for more if you have time. I would go in the order I’ve suggested here. The list was numbered according to what I believe are the most important and worthwhile attractions, but you can pick your won path. One thing I can say is that you want to leave 9 and 10 for the end. You can pretty much see those two attractions in the same trip – they are within around 100 yards of one another.