For the urbane, sophisticated traveller, classical tourist destinations such as Versailles and the Eiffel Tower may seem too pedestrian and predictable. Here are 12 great options for exploring the City of Lights like a true local. Bon voyage!
1) Eiffel Tower: It is impossible to miss the Eiffel Tower as you wander around Paris. Whether it is a short mini tour or a longer one, this monument is always a prime choice for sightseeing in Paris. But there's more to this attraction than just the fact that it's still standing after 135 years since it was completed.
2) Notre Dame Cathedral: Built in the 12th century, Notre Dame is one of the best-known and most beautiful monuments in Paris. The cathedral is well known for its flying buttresses, stained glass windows, and gargoyles.
3) Arc de Triomphe: The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most noticeable monuments in Paris, France. It is often called the “Arch of Triumph” because its main purpose is to commemorate victories and important wars or battles. The Arc stands at 31.10 metres (102 ft) high, but you can also take a lift up to the top.
4) Louvre: Even if you’re not an art connoisseur, you can appreciate some of the most famous works of art like Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and other masterpieces that reside at France’s most visited museum. In 2010, around 8.5 million people passed through its doors, so expect crowds year-round. Don’t forget your camera! The Louvre houses some priceless works of art that are well worth documenting on film.
5) Pantheon: The Pantheon is Paris' most dramatic monument, with a splendid dome capped by an oculus and boasting the famous tombs of Voltaire, Victor Hugo, and other French luminaries. The Pantheon was built as a church in the 18th century to honour St. Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris. Since the Revolution, it has become a secular mausoleum. The Pantheon is one of the most recognizable buildings in Paris—and in France—and is also one of the most important to the city's history. It's worth a visit!
Credit: Nathalia Usanova
6) Palais Garnier Opera House: The Palais Garnier Opera House is a unique Parisian landmark located on the right bank of the Seine River, between Rue Scribe and Rue Auber. Inaugurated in 1875 as the home of the Opera de Paris, this extraordinary building displays remarkable architectural achievements such as its grand staircase, gilded theatre, and fine chandeliers that together create a majestic yet elegant atmosphere that welcomes millions of visitors every year.
7) Les Invalides (Napoleon's Tomb): When visiting Paris, Les Invalides is not to be missed. After admiring the outside of the complex, you'll enter via the grand cour d'honneur, a large courtyard dominated by a bronze equestrian statue of Louis XIV. You'll then see Napoleon's Tomb, which consists of six coffins in a pyramid shape. Behind them is a circular crypt where his remains are interred.
Credit: Lewis Robert
8) Place de la Concorde: The Place de la Concorde is an enormous public square in the centre of Paris, France. It is situated on the banks of the Seine River and features an obelisk, fountains and two large statues of French royalty – Louis XIV and Louis XVI.
Credit: Arrival Guides
9) Sacré-Coeur Basilica: Sacré-Coeur Basilica is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, the largest church in Paris and one of the largest churches in the world. It is situated on the hill of Montmartre, 130 meters above the level of Paris, and was built from 1875 to 1914.
10) Champs-Elysées:The Champs-Élysées (French pronunciation: [ʃɑ̃z‿e.li.ze]) is an avenue in Paris, France, 1.9 kilometres long and 70 metres wide, running between the Place de la Concorde and the Place Charles de Gaulle, where the Arc de Triomphe is located. It is known for its theatres, cafés, and luxury shops, for the annual Bastille Day military parade, and as the finish of the Tour de France cycle race.
11) Centre Georges Pompidou: In the heart of Paris sits the Centre Georges Pompidou also Beaubourg, an art museum and cultural centre. You can get there by taking the metro from any direction or even walking from all over the city. As it's in the middle of Paris, you can also ride on a bicycle and stop off for a relaxing break in one of the many parks that overlook the river Seine. It is definitely worth travelling to be able to visit this amazing venue.
12) Jardin des Tuileries: Take a stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries and experience the gardens awash with impossible charm, beauty and delight. The gardens were inaugurated in 1664, during King Louis XIV's reign. They are named for their lovely shape as well as for their similarity to the former tile-maker's neighbourhood in Paris.
About the author
Stephanie has a knack for making language learning and teaching fun and engaging. She holds a Master of Arts and a Bachelor's Degree in French Studies and is fluent in three languages. The writer has lived in France, Ghana, and Canada, and enjoys reading, travelling, and writing about her adventures.