Paris, the City of Light, is full of iconic landmarks. Most major Paris landmarks are within a 20-minute walk of the city centre, but some are out of sight, hidden in the suburbs. It’s a beautiful city, so take your time, and when you need a break from sightseeing activities, stop at a pavement café and watch the world go by.
Psss, if after reading this list you still aren’t sure which to visit, check this Paris Landmarks Quiz.
The Eiffel Tower
Arguably the most famous of all Paris’s landmarks, the Eiffel Tower stands head and shoulders above all other monuments. Paris’s famous Eiffel Tower was built in 1889 and attracts more than seven million visitors each year. There are 1,665 steps if you are feeling energetic, but don’t worry – there is a lift. It doesn’t matter if you have two days in Paris or more, you must visit the Eiffel Tower.
The Palais du Louvre was transformed from a fortress into a Royal Palace in the 16th century. In 1793, it opened its doors to the public and today, the Musée du Louvre contains 35,000 works of art, including the Mona Lisa. It is impossible to see everything in the Louvre in a day, so plan your visit carefully using the museum’s website for inspiration.
The most popular works of art at the Louvre include the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People, and Michelangelo’s Dying Slave.
The magnificent Opera Garnier was built during the reign of Napoleon 111. The Grand Auditorium seats up to 2,000 people and if you look up, you can admire a wonderful painting by Marc Chagall. There are many secret places inside the Opera Garnier, so when you take a tour, imagine the Phantom of the Opera lurking backstage, stalking Christine and her lover, Raoul.
Montmartre and the Basilica of Sacre-Coere attract huge numbers of visitors. On a warm summer’s night, the steps leading up to the Basilica are thronged with tourists admiring the view. It’s easy to dismiss the area as a tourist trap, but if you turn a blind eye to the sex shops and peep shows at the bottom of the hill, this is one of the more interesting neighbourhoods in Paris.
Look out for the famous windmills of the Moulin Rouge. Nearby, you’ll spot the decaying Elysees Montmartre Theatre, allegedly the oldest dance theatre in Paris. You can read more about things to do in Paris beyond the most popular landmarks here.
Notre Dame was the historic setting for the famous Hunchback of Notre-Dame, a famous 19th century novel by Victor Hugo. Built in the 12th century, Notre-Dame Cathedral is a wonderful example of Gothic architecture and a famous Paris landmark. More than 14 million people visit the cathedral each year, but unless 100 million Euros are raised to pay for vital restoration works, some of its famous gargoyles and gothic arches could soon start crumbling into dust.
The Musee d’Orsay on the Left Bank was once a railway station: the Gare d’Orsay, built around 1900. Today, the Musee d’Orsay is a popular museum containing permanent collections from 1848 to 1904. As with all Paris’s most famous art galleries and museums, you simply can’t do the gallery justice in one day.
The most famous works of art in the Musee d’Orsay include Renoir’s Bal du Moulin de la Galette, Degas’ Dinner at the Ball, Manet’s Olympia, Cézanne’s The Card Players, and Monet’s London, Houses of Parliament, among others.
The Pompidou Centre
The Pompidou Centre is located in the 4th Arrondissement. It is a high-tech, modern construction of steel and glass with fantastic views of the city from the top floor. The museum first opened its doors in 1977, when it was feted for its bold architectural statement.
Inside, you’ll find the wonderful Museum of Modern Art, which holds a collection of art containing more than 100,000 pieces. The emphasis is on art dating from 1905. Fauvist, Surrealist, Cubist, and other 20th century masterpieces are all on display.
Le Cimetiere des Chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques
Once you have had your fill of art and culture, head out into the suburbs and stroll around the Cemetery of Dogs and Other Domestic Animals. Founded in 1899, this famous Pet Cemetery is the final resting ground for thousands of much-loved pets and famous animal stars.
There are dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, fish, and even a lion. Look out for the grave of Rin Tin Tin, Hollywood’s most beloved canine.
If you’re short on money while visiting Paris, you can stroll around the Jardin du Luxembourg or take a walk along the La Promenade Plantee for free. If you are looking to visit a quirky side of Paris, go to the Pavillons des Bercy and the Musée des Arts Forains, where you will find an entire collection of funfair objects.
Disclaimer: This post has been written in collaboration with the London Pass.