With no doubt the Eiffel Tower is Paris’ major highlight. It was built to be displayed at the world expo in 1889. The Eiffel Tower was the tallest building in the world until 1930, before it was bypassed by the Chrysler building in New York. There were several plans in history to tear the structure down.
Thank goodness this never happened, as today the Eiffel Tower is both Parisian’s as its many visitors’ favorite landmark.
Let’s not waste any more words here. The Eiffel Tower is a must see. One of the wonders of the world. It’s possible to take an elevator to the first or second floor but we recommend you to go to the very peak for breathtaking views of the city. At night the Eiffel Tower is eliminated spectacularly.
Address: Champ de Mar, 75007 Paris
One of the most stunning museums on earth. This museum will literally take days to explore. The amount of invaluable paintings and other artifacts is truly unbelievable.
Whether it’s the Egyptian Sarcofagues, Greek Sculptures or Mesopotamian wall paintings…., paintings by Italian, French or Dutch masters, the world’s most beautiful furniture, carpets, jewelry, the Louvre will blast your senses by the immense size and beauty of its collection. Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is here as well as many other of Da Vinci’s masterpieces. Furthermore, there is a wing filled with the most famous masterpieces painted by Monet, Botticelli, Vincent Van Gogh, Donatello, Rembrandt, Breughel, but also Picasso, Vermeer, Dali, etc, etc, etc.
Wow, don’t miss the wing with Napoleon’s quarters, hidden in the corner of the second floor. This is where the former Emperor of the French empire lived and it’s truly majestic.
Come EARLY to avoid the queues and to ensure that you’ll have plenty of time. Don’t use flash when taking photographs, it will damage the paintings.
Address: 34 Rue du Louvre, 75001 Paris
Open: Mon and Wednesday 9:00 am till 9:45 pm. Thursday-Sunday 9:00 am – 6:00 pm. Tuesday closed. Registers close 1 hour before closing time
Do you remember the stories about the Hunchback of Notre Dam. Well this is your chance to see the home and work space of the thrifty caretaker Quasimodo. We actually have no idea whether the story of Quasimodo is true, that’s up to your imagination.
The Notre Dame surely is one of the most impressive gothic cathedrals on earth with its mighty façade, beautiful spire and 13 ton bell. It took nearly 200 years to build and was completed in 1345. The two front towers were never finished by lack of funds. The inside is dark… the enormous space and high columns and ceilings are imposing. Steps and whisperings echo through the enormous space. The walls are beautifully and richly decorated. How on earth were people able to build a structure like this so many years ago? Take notice of the somewhat scary Gargoyles on the sides of the Cathedral. If you’re up for it, climb the 400 steps to climb the towers. From here you can admire views over the Seine and it’s also possible to see the impressive 13 ton bell.
You’ll most likely have to queue to get in. Lines are shorter if you come early.
Address: Parvis de Notre Dame, 75004 Paris
Open: Mon-Fri 08:00 am – 06:45 pm ; Sat – Sun 08:00 am – 07:15 pm
Although the Sacre Coeur (Holy Hear) Basilica is one of the younger monuments of the city, it is one of the most visited spots in Paris. Indeed, it’s a great spot and must see during any trip to Paris. The bright white Sacre Coeur church, is majestically situated on the top of the Montmartre Hill. It was built to commemorate the 60.000 fallen soldiers and citizens of the French German War and it was only finished in 1914 after nearly thirty years of construction.
It is possible to enter the church for free. A small fee is charged to visit the crypt or to climb to the top of the dome from which you’ll have spectacular views over Paris. It’s a hefty climb though!
There are wonderful views from the wide stairs in front of the church and many people sit down to relax and enjoy the view. With so many people in one place it is a good spot for pickpockets to so beware. Right next to the stairs is a funicular train, so it is also possible for the less fit to visit the Church.
Right behind the Sacre Coeur is the Place de Tetre, the infamous Place du Tetre where famous painters like Dalí, Picasso, van Gogh hung out in their days. Nowadays, Place de Tetre is still entertaining, but teeming with tourists on their way to the magnificent Sacre Coeur church on the very top of Montmartre Hill.
Address: Parvis du Sacré Coeur, 75018 Paris. Metro Abbesses, Anvers, Abbesses, Chateau-Rouge or Lamarck-Caulaincourt
Open: Daily 6:45 AM – 11:00 PM. Dome and crypt 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM.
Jardin du Luxembourg
With so many stunning highlights to see, visit and explore in Paris and a lot of walking in between you may feel like you need a break to relax and to let all the beauty sink in. The Jardin du Luxembourg is an absolutely lovely green oasis right in the center of Paris. It’s located right next to the Palais du Luxembourg which currently is home to the Senate.
Both Parisians and tourists come here to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s a favorite spot for a picknick.
We especially liked the Medici fountain which comprises a carp pond with a romantic overgrown baroque waterfall. A lovely place to sit down, enjoy the sun, read a book.
Address: Boulevard Saint-Michel, Ile-de-France, Paris, France, 75006
Open: Daily, Open 7am to 1 hour before sunset in summer, Open 8am to 1 hour before sunset in winter
Price: Free of charge
Seine boat cruise
The Seine river crosses right through the heart of the city. Seeing the city from a boat deck has been a favorite way of exploring the city’s major highlights for years. Given the fact that many of the cities great highlights are situated right next to or close to the Seine, there are countless boat cruise operators offering all kinds of river tours varying from cheap and basic transport to luxury river dinner cruises. It really depends what you’re looking for. You’ll get close up views of the Notre Dame, the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, and of course the Eiffel Tower.
If you’re on a budget and looking for a cheap way to get to the city’s major highlights the Bato Boat is a good and cheap option. You can hop on and off at several stops for a day, or multiple days depending on the ticket.
Arc de Triomph
The Arc de Triomph was erected as a memory of Napoleon’s victory at Austerlitz over the Austrian and Russian troops in 18396 and is one of the most famous landmarks in Paris. It is situated at the Place de Charles de Gaulle. It is possible to enter and climb the Arc de Triomph and you will have great views over Place de Charles de Gaulle, the Champs Elysees and the surrounding area.
Address: Place Charles de Gaulle, Paris 75008
Open: October – March : 10:00 am – 10:30 pm. April – September : 10:00 am – 11:00pm. Closed on special holidays.
Avenue des Champs-Elysees
The majestic Avenue des Champs-Elysees perhaps is the most elegant boulevard in the world. The lane is 2 km long and stretches from Place de la Concorde to Place Charles de Gaulle. The Champs Elysees is home to Paris’ fanciest fashion boutiques, clubs and restaurants. This is where you’ll find the world’s largest storefronts of brands like Louis Vuitton, GAP and Benetton. It is also home to the finish of the annual Tour de France cycling event, which is the largest cycling event in the world and it’s held in July. A visit to Paris is not complete without a stroll along the Champs Elysees to get a unique feel of the class and elegance of this wonderful city.
Address: Champs Elysees, Metro Champs-Elysees - Clemenceau
Place de la Concorde
The Place de la Concorde is a massive open square in the heart of the city. The square is of major historic importance to Parisiens. Main reason to come here, besides enjoying the absolute insanity of Parisien traffic is to see the Obelisk from Luxor. This obelisk was built around 1250 BC, it is nearly 23 meters high and was originally situated at the Amon temple at Luxor. It was donated by Egypt to France and it took several years to get this massive piece of rock actually get to Paris.
The octagonal square is decorated with fountains and statues and makes a nice stroll.
Address: Place de la Concorde
Day trip to Versailles
One of the most amazing highlights of Paris is a day trip to Versailles, the former palace of King Louis XIV. Versailles is situated about 20 kilometers southwest of Paris. The Palace was home to the Royal family until 1789, the start of the French Revolution. With over 700 rooms Versailles is just massive and can be overwhelming. Don’t worry they are not all open to the public, so your trip will be digestible. The palace reminds us of the wealth and splendor of the French Empire not too much time ago. Of particular interest are the Grand Apartments bedrooms, the Hall of Mirrorsl, the State rooms, the Clock room and not to forget he fantastic Royal gardens.
A trip to Versailles will certainly be one of your most memorable highlights of your visit to Paris. A trip to Versailles will most likely take three quarters of a day, including transport and sightseeing. The easiest way to get there is by train. Take the RER line C (yellow line) to Versailles-Rive Gauche/ Chateau de Versailles. From there it’s an easy 5 minute walk. Note that not all trains go to Versailles-Rive Gauche station – only use trains with the train name starting with a V or bearing the line number C5. Other lines stop at the less convenient Versailles-Chantiers station. From Versailles- Chantiers it’s about a 20 minute walk.
Another option is to hop on the 171 bus to Versailles from Pont de Sevres bus station.
Château de Versailles,
Open: Tue-Sun, except on certain French public holidays: May-September 9 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. October-April 9a.m. to 5.30p.m
Gardens are open every day from 7 a.m. in summer, 8 a.m. in winter, until sunset. Gardens may close during bad weather.
Strolling Parisian neighborhoods
Besides visiting the major sights a great way to spend the day is to simply wonder through Paris’ lovely neighborhoods. Below you’ll find a global description of what to expect in each Paris’ most appealing neighborhoods.
Saint Germain du Pres
Saint Germain du Pres is an upscale neighborhood with a ‘Bohemian’ twist and is characterized by its elegant streets, cinemas and art galleries. It’s a nice neighborhood to explore with some fine shopping, for example at the Bon Marché warehouse, and there are many trendy and intellectual bars and excellent restaurants. Main highlight is the Elise de Saint Germain.
The Bastille neighborhood is situated around the Place de la Bastille which originally was home to the Bastille prison. It was here where the French revolution started in 1789. The people stormed the Bastille and eventually it was torn down. Today La Bastille is a palce of historical importance. But it is also a fun neighborhood to wonder around and it’s packed with nice shops, second hand clothing shops, all kinds of restaurants, bars and intimate cafes, and some of Paris’ greatest clubs. The Rue de Lappe is renown for its many international, mostly Spanish/Latin and Asian restaurants and cool bars.
The Latin quarter is home to the world famous Sarbonne University and with its many Medieval swirly streets is a very interesting neighborhood to explore. As it’s renown as the student neighborhood you’ll find numerous bars and restaurants and nightlife possibilities. Highlights are the Musee National de Moyen Age Middle Age Museum and the Eglise de Saint Severin.
Montmartre is a charming neighborhood on the Montmartre hill north of the city center. Parisians also refer to the hill as “La Butte.” The characteristic neighborhood is known for attracting an interesting mix of poets, painters, writers, musicians and other artists for over a century. Place du Tetre is the place where famous painters like Dalí, Picasso, van Gogh hung out in their days. The neighborhood has a rowdy history and was traditionally known for its bordels and kinky cabarets, especially around kinky Pigalle Square with the legendary Moulin Rouge as the “flagship.” Nowadays, Place de Tetre is still entertaining, but teeming with tourists on their way to the magnificent Sacre Coeur church on the very top of Montmartre Hill. But the neighborhood has kept much of its charm if you wonder off the main tourist spots.
Originally the Montparnasse neighborhood was a meeting place for students, painters, artists and other creative minds. After the city reform the Maine-Montparnasse was turned into a business complex and is now home to the Montparnasse Tower which with 215 meters is the highest building in Paris. Although its more business oriented character the neighborhood’s main avenue, Boulevard de Montparnasse still attracts a blended crowd with its many cafes, clubs and cinemas.
Le Marais is one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Paris with many hip fashion boutiques and a some nice bars and restaurants. The Rue des Rosiers is the center of the Jewish community with the Jewish synagogue as the major attraction. At night Le Marais boasts some excellent nightlife with its many trendy bars and clubs which attract a gay friendly crowd.