Most of the famous monuments are located in the centre of the city, so walking tours are a great way to discover Paris. Take time to stroll along the banks of the Seine, listed by UNESCO, from Pont de Sully to Pont de Bir Hakeim.
Built for the 1889 World Exhibition, the Eiffel Tower is the most emblematic monument in Paris and was at the time its tallest building, with a height of 300 meters. It is the most visited monument in the capital and has been lit at night since the millennium celebrations.
The viewing platform on the third floor offers breathtaking views of the capital.
Cost: about 13 euros per adult, 9.90 euros for young people (14-24) and 7.50 euros for children (4 to 11). Reduced rate if you take the stairs.
Jewel of Gothic architecture, it was built at the eastern tip of Ile de la Cité on the site of a Roman temple. Its construction took over 150 years and it was not completed until 1330. The western facade features a central rose window forming a halo above a statue of the Virgin, which was added in the 19th century. Marvel at the Portal of the Last Judgement, the statues of the Apostles and the Portal of the Virgin Mary. The interior of the cathedral is magnificent: built in the traditional plan of a Latin cross, the dimensions of the nave are impressive. The ceiling supported by arches and rib vaults rises majestically over 30 feet high. The South Rose Window in the transept, and the woodwork of the choir stalls, which date from the early 18th century, are particularly beautiful. A staircase in the north tower allows a closer look at the famous gargoyles and offers magnificent views over the capital. The archaeological museum in the crypt is also worth a visit.
Note the bronze star on the square that marks the kilometre zero from which all French road distances are measured.
Montmartre, and especially the painters and cartoonists from the Place du Tertre, attracts many visitors. You can reach the basilica via the funicular.
Located on top of the Butte Montmartre, the Basilica with its resplendent travertine white stone is one of the main landmarks in the Parisian sky. Built in the Roman-Byzantine style, it is decorated with four domes and a central dome 80 meters high. Its construction began in 1875, but it was not consecrated until the end of the First World War. Its bell tower is home to "la Savoyarde", the largest bell in France. The basilica welcomes pilgrims from around the world, who can stay at the Ephrem hostel, located next door.
Arc de Triomphe
Inaugurated in 1836, the Arc de Triomphe was commissioned by Napoleon and erected to the glory of his great army. The monument is decorated with bas-reliefs depicting scenes from the revolutionary era. A lift provides access to the summit, which offers breathtaking views over Paris. A small museum tells its history.
Address: Ile de la Cité, 2, boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris.
Seat of the royal power until the second half of the 14th century, the Conciergerie was later converted into a prison. Many illustrious personalities were held there during the French Revolution, before being taken to the guillotine, and you can see the cell of the unfortunate Marie Antoinette. From the Middle Ages still exist the Salle des Gardes, kitchens and the Great Hall.
Close to the Conciergerie, the Sainte-Chapelle is considered a jewel of Gothic architecture.
Opening hours: daily from 9:30 am to 6pm (1st March to 31st October), 9am to 5pm
(1st November to 28th February). Last admission 30 minutes before closing. Closed 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.
Address: 6, rue de Montpensier, 75001 Paris
Only the gardens are open to the public, but it is worth walking around the gardens to appreciate the architecture of the monument, completed at the end of the 18th century. Social centre of the capital, residence of the Kings’ favourites and seat of the administrative offices during the Empire, the Royal Palace now houses the Constitutional Council. The gardens and disreputable gambling arcades were hotbeds of revolutionary agitation at the end of the 18th century. You can now find elegant boutiques in the galleries.
Garden tours: daily from 7:30 am to 8:30 pm (10:15 pm in summer).
Hotel des Invalides
Address: 129, rue de Grenelle - Avenue de Tourville, 75007 Paris
Built in the late 17th century under Louis XIV, it was initially designed as a hospice for wounded and invalid soldiers. It is the largest monumental complex in Paris, with 15 courtyards and a chapel. A majestic golden dome, home to Napoleon’s ashes since December 1840, tops the imposing façade of the church, which was consecrated in 1706, and later elevated to a cathedral.
The gardens and the Esplanade des Invalides, which stretches from the main building down to the Seine, are popular with the Parisians, who come here to walk or relax. Note the 17th and 18th century-guns on the walls erected by Vauban.
The northwest wing houses the Army Museum, the largest museum complex devoted to military history in France.
Opening hours: 10 am to 5pm from 1st October to 31st March, until 6pm from 1st April to 30th September.
The museum is closed on the first Monday of each month, on 1 January, 1 May, 1 November and 25 December.
Address: Place du Panthéon, 75005 Paris
Metro: Maubert-Mutuality and Cardinal Lemoine
Located on the mountain Ste Genevieve, the Pantheon is a fine example of Neoclassicism. It was commissioned in the 18th century by Louis XV and was designed by the architect Soufflot, whose ambition was to compete with St. Peter's in Rome. Crowned by a striking dome, its façade is modelled on the Pantheon in Rome, a monumental portico of Corinthian columns. In 1885, the church became a temple dedicated to the great men, and women, of France and visitors still come to pay homage to the great figures buried in the crypt - Zola, Rousseau, Jean Moulin, Pierre and Marie Curie and Malraux, among others. A curiosity inside: Foucault’s pendulum, living proof of the rotation of the earth.
Opening hours: 10am to 6:30pm (1st April to 30th September); 10am to 6pm (1st October to 31st March). Last admission 45 minutes before closing.
Full price: 8 euros; concessions: 5 euros
Address: 14, rue de Surène, 75008 Paris.
Imposing Greek temple erected to the glory of the Great Army, its construction was entrusted to the architect Bartholomew Vignon in 1806 by Napoleon. Corinthian columns 20 meters high support the building. The wide staircase leads to the shrine where are kept the revered relics of St Mary Magdalene. The interior is richly decorated with frescoes.
The church is open daily from 9:30am to 7pm.
A very pretty flower market is held near the church.
Address: at the corner of Scribe and Auber, 75009 Paris.
Masterpiece of Second Empire architecture, Opera Garnier was completed in 1875 and was at the time the largest opera house in the world. The building was listed as a historical monument in 1923: note the elegant staircase, the mosaics in the foyer, the coloured marble, bronze statues and ornate boxes. The brightly coloured frescoes on the ceiling are the work of Marc Chagall.
You can visit the Opera every day, from 10am to 5pm (9 euros; concessions: 5 euros). Guided tours are also available on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 11:30am and 3:30pm (every day in summer and during school vacations). Tickets: 12 euros (concessions: 10 euros)
Bibliothèque Nationale de France
Address: 58, Rue de Richelieu, 75084 Paris
Huge building consisting of four glass towers, it is one of President Mitterrand’s avant-garde projects. It has been open to the public since December 1996. French law requires publishers to submit several copies of their work to the National Library, so it boasts the largest collection of books, periodicals, photographs and multimedia documents in France. Several reading rooms and a research library are open to the public. The library also houses a superb collection of maps, prints and manuscripts and hosts temporary exhibitions.
Opening hours: from 9 am to 7pm, Tuesday to Saturday; from 1pm to 6pm on Sunday; 2pm to 7pm on Monday.
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