Ever since I first went to Paris, aged 13 on a French exchange at high school, I fell in love with the city. I can still remember that moment, sailing along the River Seine at sunset, when I knew that it was somewhere I would come back to and, over the years, I have returned countless times. It’s very hard to explain to someone who hasn’t visited Paris just how amazing it is, not just for the many things there are to see and do, but for the general atmosphere, the air of mystery and romance, the way that it makes you feel inspired, happy, alive. And I guess for those reasons, and so many more, it has become my favourite place in all the world.
I thought I would share my top ten must see places in Paris!
1. The Eiffel Tower
Unsurprisingly, The Eiffel Tower is at the top of my list as the most well known, and prominent, place in Paris. At 325 metres high, the Eiffel Tower was built for the Paris World Exhibition in 1889 by Gustave Eiffel. At the time it was the world’s highest building on record and today remains the second most visited building in France. I recommend buying tickets for a tour of The Eiffel Tower and a visit to the top is a must, the views are just breath-taking!
2. Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame is the most impressive Gothic cathedral which took over 170 years to build, starting in 1163. Until the 13th century it was the largest religious building in the West, and over the years it has been lovingly restored to maintain its impressive stature. The cathedral became hugely iconic thanks to Victor Hugo’s novel, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, published in 1831. The belfry houses the biggest bell of Notre Dame, weighing 13 tons which you can actually visit before entering the panoramic terrace that offers a 360 degree view across Paris.
3. Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysees
One of my favourite landmarks in Paris is the Arc de Triumph, ordered by Napoleon to commemorate the victory of there Battle of Austerlitz in 1806. Today it commemorates the First World War and holds the flame of the Unknown Soldier. There us something hugely emotive about standing at the Arc de Triomphe for its enormity in all it represents.
The Arc de Triomphe overlooks the Avenue des Champs-Elysees, known to be the most beautiful avenue in the whole world. If you want to hit the shops in Paris, this is where you need to be!
4. Louvre Museum
The Palais du Louvre is not only incredibly beautiful, but has been hosting the Louvre Museum since 1793. Home to some of the most iconic works, such as Leonardo Da Vinci’s mona Lisa, it would be a sacrilege to visit Paris and not visit!
5. Cruise on the River Seine
I honestly can’t stress enough that a cruise on the Seine is a real must have for a visit to Paris. It’s the best way to see the ‘City of Light’ and enjoying dinner as you cruise along the Seine is undoubtedly the most romantic way to spend an evening with the one you love. I still get goosebumps when I think about it!
6. Centre Pompidou
One of my favourite buildings in Paris is the Centre Pompidou, a 40 year old post-modern design that was so shocking when it was first built with it’s criss-crossing primary coloured popes and a diagonally rising tube escalator. It fast became one of Paris’s must see buildings and now houses a significant collection of modern art, as well as a cafe a library and shops.
7. Visit Pere Lachaise Cemetery
It may seem unusual to recommend visiting a cemetery but Pere Lachaise has a whole host of celebrities buried there. You can visit the graves of Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Eugene Delacroix, Jean de la Fontaine and Moliere. I remember my first visit to the cemetery and how humbling it was to stand at the grave of such huge icons.
8. Moulin Rouge
The Moulin Rouge is a cabaret known as the spiritual birthplace of the famous cancan. Located at the foot of the Montmartre hill in the heart of Pigalle, it was built in 1889 and was initially introduced as a courtship dance. Today, the Moulin Rouge is a tourist attraction, providing entertainment for visitors from around the world.
9. Sacre Coeur
Located at the top of the Montmartre Hill, the Sacré-Coeur is the second most visited religious monument, right behind the Notre-Dame cathedral. Built after the Franco-German war of 1870 it is a historical landmark well worthy of a visit. Not only is the inside absolutely stunning, with its white stones and the painting of the Christ inside the Heart, but the view from the top of Montmartre is breathtaking.
10. Disneyland Paris
For the big kids amongst us, Disneyland Paris is a must! I have been three times now and honestly, it is just magical! With two parks to visit – Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios, and between the rides, the parades and the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle, it is the most amazing way to finish off a visit to Paris!
** This is a collaborative post **