Oh Paris! The city of lights and the city of love! What a beautiful place to visit! If you want to discover the most famous landmarks in Paris, you are in for a treat here!
Paris is the number one tourist destination in the world. We all dream of going at some point and we all should!
The French Capital is home to some of the most beautiful landmarks in Europe and its history is fascinating! There so many interesting facts about Paris! If you love history, you will be spoiled!
No trip to France would be complete without seeing Paris. Art, architecture, history, culture, food, entertainment… It’s the full package, it truly has it all!
So let’s dive into it and discover the most famous landmarks in Paris, France!
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Map of the famous landmarks in Paris
You can find on the map below the exact location of all the Paris landmarks mentioned in this article.
Most iconic landmarks in Paris
Now is time to get properly started and discover the most famous landmarks in Paris, France.
Who says Paris, says Eiffel Tower. This is Paris’ most iconic landmark!
Created by France’s most famous architect, Gustave Eiffel, the Eiffel Tower has a pretty interesting story.
It was originally created for the World’s Fair (Exposition Universelle) of 1889 and was supposed to be taken down shortly after.
However, as time went on, Parisians started to become very fond of it and it ended up staying.
Since then, it became one of the most iconic french landmarks!
HOW TO VISIT: You can walk to the Eiffel Tower from Bir-Hakeim metro station.
Once there you can buy a ticket to go up to the top. You can either climb up the 1710 steps or take the lift. Tickets are available on-site and on the official website.
That having been said, this is one of the busiest places in Paris which means that the line can be insanely long.
To save time and avoid any disappointment, it’s recommended to opt for a guided tour or a skip the line ticket. The stairs ticket is slightly cheaper than the lift.
No matther what, you will only get access to the second floor though as the third one is a Michelin star restaurant.
That said, you can book a table at the restaurant Le Jules Vernes.
The starting price in this gastronomic restaurant is no less than 135 euros and tables need to be booked months in advance.
You can also walk along the Champs de Mars and enjoy the views of tower from the ground.
A lot of people go there for a picnic, you can sit on the grass and enjoy your meal looking up at the Eiffel Tower. It can get quite crowded but is a nice place in the morning.
If you want to take a nice photo though, the best place to go is just behind the Trocadero metro station. It’s way less crowded and you get a way prettier view with the Trocadero Gardens and the Eiffel Tower just behind.
Notre Dame de Paris
Notre Dame de Paris is France’s favourite landmark.
The cathedral is 800 years old. It was built between 1163 and 1345.
Through the centuries, it became a subject of fascination for many artists and authors.
The most famous piece featuring Notre Dame are les Misérables from Victor Hugo.
This masterpiece of french literature is also London’s longest-running musical!
If you are a Disney fan, you will also have seen this landmark in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
HOW TO VISIT: Unfortunately, Notre Dame burnt in 2019 which means you can’t visit the inside anymore.
The restoration will go on for years so it will be a while before we all get to visit it again.
That having been said, you can still enjoy the views from the outside. Just make your way to the Cité isle and you will be able to see it (Metro station Cité).
Another way you can get amazing views of the cathedral is by opting for a cruise on the river Seine. See prices here.
Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is also an iconic french landmark.
If you love history, you will be in for a treat as it is a beautiful representation of France’s history.
It was originally wanted by Napoleon and was inaugurated by King Louis Phillipe in 1836.
After WWI, the unknown soldier was buried at the bottom of the arch and the flame of remembrance is lit up every day at 6:30pm.
It’s located at the end of the Champs Elysees on the Place Charles de Gaulle, formerly known as Place de l’etoile.
Fun fact about this roundabout. It’s known to be one of the world’s most difficult places to drive through.
As a matter of fact, Parisians say that you only become a real parisian if you can drive around the Etoile roundabout without getting into a car accident.
HOW TO VISIT: You can admire the Arc de Triomphe from the Place de l’Etoile or the Champs Elysées.
If you wish to visit, you can go up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. The ticket costs 13 euros and can be booked online.
It is a rather busy place and it’s worth considering buying a skip-the-line ticket. Click here to see the prices.
The Champs Elysées need no introduction. They are one of the most famous commercial streets in the world and the widest avenue in Europe!
It’s particularly famous to be the final line of the Tour de France and be home to some of the most famous designer shops in the world.
If you like designer clothes and luxury shops, the Champs Elysées will be your paradise.
Dior, Channel, Yves Saint Laurent… they are all there!
You will also find some of the best restaurants in the country.
That said, the Champs Elysees are also known to be home to a lot of rip off cafes and restaurants which is why locals tend to avoid this part of the city.
If you are on a budget or want to experience the real French culture, the Champs Elysées are not the right place for you.
Everything is extremely expensive and not always good quality.
Here is another fun fact about the Champs Elysees (that will give you an idea of how expensive it is). It’s the most expensive street on the french monopoly. Basically the equivalent of Mayfair in the English version.
Finally, it’s also where you will find most celebrations and parades, including on Bastille Day.
HOW TO VISIT: The Champs Elysées are a street which means it’s free to visit.
You can easily walk there from Trocadéro or take the metro. There are several stations near the avenue but George V is the most convenient.
The Sacré-Cœur Basilica is a stunning landmark located at the top of Montmartre hill, the highest point in Paris.
It sits at a height of 130m. The basilica itself is 91 m tall. This means you will get a beautiful view of Paris from there!
The basilica was designed by the French architect Paul Abadie who also worked on the restoration of Notre-Dame and other famous churches in France.
The construction ended in 1914 but the consecration only happened after WWI, for obvious reasons.
There are 5 bells inside the basilica, including one who is amongst the largest in Europe.
HOW TO VISIT: To get to the Sacre Coeur, you can take the metro to Pigalle and start going up the hill. The directions are indicated but if ever you have a doubt, follow the souvenir shops, they lead straight to the basilica.
To appreciate the true beauty of the place, you need to go up the stairs.
Please note there is also a funicular and disabled access.
The entrance to the basilica is free!
It’s open every day from 9:30am to 5:30pm.
To make the best of your time, it’s highly recommended to go on a walking tour of Montmartre. It’s one of the most beautiful neighbourhoods in Paris and well worth exploring! See prices here.
PRO TIP: Please be careful and aware of pickpockets. Nothing you should be particularly scared of but just keep an eye on your purse.
There are also a lot of people trying to send you bracelets and souvenirs. They can be quite insistent but don’t hesitate to say no.
Le Louvre Museum & Pyramid
Located in the 1st arrondissement, Le Louvre is the world’s largest art museum. It’s mainly known for being home to the Mona Lisa painting but there is a lot more to know about it!
The Louvre Palace was originally part of the Louvre Castle which was built in the 12th century by King Phillip II.
It was used as a fortress (defence purposes) until 1546 when King Francis I made it the royal residence.
This lasted until 1682 when Louis XIV decided to make Versailles his residence.
Because of this royal heritage, Le Louvre has always been one of the most beautiful buildings in France (and the whole of Europe). As a visitor, you will discover way more than paintings and sculptures. Everything about the Louvre is full of history and fascinating facts.
HOW TO VISIT: With over 35,000 works on display, needless to say, that you could spend a lot of time in the museum.
Ideally, you will need to reserve a whole day to visit the Louvre. There are many things to see and even a day won’t be anywhere near enough however, it will allow you to see the main parts.
Make sure to have at least 4 hours to spend in the museum otherwise it won’t be worth your time, money and effort. If you don’t have that much time, you can still visit the main courtyard and take photos with the Pyramid. Also, this part is free!
As you may imagine, the Louvre is a very busy place and it’s better to get there early as you may have to wait for a long time to get your ticket.
To make the best of the experience, you should consider going on a guided tour which also includes a skip the line ticket. Click here to see the latest prices.
You can also opt for a guided tour at night. See prices here.
Finally, if you are planning on visiting several museums in Paris, you should consider taking the Museum pass. See prices here.
The Musee d’Orsay is an art museum housed in the beautiful former Beaux-Arts railway station.
It focuses on art pieces from the 19th century.
It’s way smaller than the Louvre but yet just as good.
This would also be a great alternative if you don’t have time to visit the Louvre but still want to catch a glimpse of a beautiful french museum and discover an amazing impressionist collection.
HOW TO VISIT: Unlike for the Louvre, 2 hours is a good amount of time to explore the Quay d’Orsay. Ideally, you will need a bit more time but even with a couple of hours you should be able to see a lot!
To visit, make sure to book your ticket online or opt for a guided tour with skip-the-line. Click here to see the prices.
Pont Alexandre III
The Pont Alexandre III is one of the most beautiful bridges in Paris.
The construction started in 1896 and was finished by 1900 for the World’s Fair. It was named as such in honour to the Russian tsar Alexander III.
Fun fact: the first stone for the bridge was laid by Tsar Nicholas II (Alexander III’s son).
The bridge spans over the river Seine and connects two famous areas of Paris: the Champs Elysées to the Invalides.
Although you will find a lot of bridges in Paris, this is definitely the prettiest one. It’s elegant and features stunning golden statues.
It’s often shown in movies and TV series. If you’ve watched Emily in Paris, you might remember that it’s where they are shooting the perfume commercial.
HOW TO VISIT: You can easily get to the bridge and walk on it. There are footpaths on each side. The views are very nice.
That said, if you want to get a picture of the Pont Alexandre III, you will need to go to one of the next bridges (upstream or downstream) which are the Pont de la Concorde and the Pont des Invalides.
Another option is to go on a cruise on the River Seine. This was already mentioned as you get to see a lot of landmarks on this cruise. See prices here.
Finally, if you want to have a bit of fun, you can opt for a segway tour of Paris which includes a visit to the Pont Alexandre III. See prices here.
Pont des Arts
The Pont des Arts is undoubtedly one of the most famous bridges in Paris, if not in the world.
It’s a pedestrian bridge that links the Louvre to the Institut de France. The construction started in 1801 after a design of Louis Arretche.
It’s often referred to as the most romantic bridge in the city of Lights because of its padlocks. Over the years, thousands of couples from all around the world left a padlock on this bridge as a symbol of their love.
Unfortunately, most of these locks were removed in 2015 as it was starting to pose a safety hazard. Yep, in effect, the weight was making the bridge sink.
HOW TO VISIT: This is a pedestrian bridge so you can go there anytime you want. It’s particularly beautiful in the evening as you can enjoy the lights.
Please note that the city installed protective glass on the bannisters to prevent people to add more padlocks but you can still find them on a designated part of the structure.
The Moulin Rouge is a true french institution! It’s as Parisian as it can ever get! Nobody should go to Paris without visiting the Moulin Rouge, or at least seeing from the outside.
The Moulin Rouge was founded in 1883 and has grown to become the world’s most famous cabaret.
Here are a couple of fun facts about the Moulin Rouge:
- It’s the birthplace of the French can-can.
- It employs more than 80 full time performers!
HOW TO VISIT: You can easily get to the Moulin Rouge on foot from the metro (station Blanche or Pigalle).
The best way to experience it is to go see a show however, you have to book in advance.
The Moulin Rouge sells out every day and the chances of you getting a last minute ticket are very low.
There are 3 shows per day: 7pm, 9pm and 11pm.
Prices for the show only start at 88 euros and tickets can be booked here.
For the full experience, opt for the dinner shows. Click here to see the latest prices.
Dinner shows will start at 190 euros and can be booked here.
Seeing a performance at the Moulin Rouge is an experience of a lifetime. Everything about it is just perfect.
Sensuality, beauty, hand-made costumes… The Moulin Rouge only tolerates excellence and that’s exactly what you will get!
If the tickets are out of your budget, no need to worry. You can still go and see it from the outside. It’s very pretty especially in the evening with the lights on.
The Opera Garnier, also known as Palais Garnier, was ordered by the emperor Napoleon III.
Although it’s not the largest opera house in France, it’s definitely an architectural wander.
This beaux-arts style building is very unique and so very French! It was originally called ‘Le nouvel Opéra de Paris’ (meaning New Paris Operahouse) but was then renamed Palais Garnier because of the architectural achievement that it is.
When it comes to opulence, it sets the standard! There is gold everywhere!
It’s also very well known for being the setting of the famous novel The Phantom of the Opera.
HOW TO VISIT: The Opéra Garnier is located in the 9th arrondissement. You can easily get there by metro (station Opéra). It stands in the middle of the Place de l’Opéra, which was also used as a filming location for Emily in Paris.
When it comes to visits, you have several options available.
Firstly, you can check out their calendar and get a ticket for one of the performances (ballet, opera…). You won’t get to go around the building but it is a unique experience to see a show there.
If you are more interested in the building and its treasure, you can visit it as well. Here are the tickets available:
- Entrance ticket and self-guided tour. See prices.
- Guided tour of the Opéra Garnier and skip-the-line ticket. See prices.
- After-hours tour. Prices here.
If you are more into modern theatre then the Opera Bastille is the place for you.
Located in the 12th arrondissement, the Opera Bastille is the largest opera house in France.
It was inaugurated in 1989 as part of president Francois Mitterand’s grand travaux program.
HOW TO VISIT: If you’d like to discover the backstage world of this modern theatre, you can go on a 90mins guided tour. It costs 17 euros and can be booked online.
That said, don’t expect anything like the Opéra Garnier. The opéra Bastille is a great opera house in terms of size and shows but it doesn’t have this typical Beaux-Arts charm that you can find everywhere else in Paris.
Visiting the Opéra Bastille is recommended for theatre enthusiasts but not for everyone.
The catacombs are the most unique attraction in Paris.
They are an underground ossuaries, holding the remains of more than 6 million people.
In the 18th century, there were many diseases and health issues in Paris. This led to an increase in the number of deaths and therefore bodies. There were so many that the cemeteires could not hold them anymore.
To solve this issue, it was decided to create a network of underground tunnels to put the bodies. These are known as the Catacombs.
Although they are not used for this purpose anymore, they are still open to the public and you can visit them. Admittedly, this is a bit of an odd place to visit and if you don’t like the idea of seeing skulls and other bones, you should skip it.
HOW TO VISIT: The Catacombs are located in the 14th arrondissement. You can get there with the metro or RER (station Denfert-Rochereau).
The catacombs are open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:45 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
There is only a limited amount of tickets available each day and it can get quite busy. For this reason, make sure to book in advance! It’s almost impossible to find last-minute tickets.
Here are the options available:
- Simple entrance
- Skip the line ticket with audio guide. See prices.
- Skip the line ticket with guided tour. See prices
Bonus: Versailles Palace
This landmark is not located in Paris exactly however, it’s such an important French landmark and a popular day trip from Paris so it’s worth mentioning it here.
Up until 1862, the royal residence of the Kings of France was the Royal Palace in Paris. After a couple of decades as a King, Louis XIV, also known as the Sun King came to power, he decided to centralise the power in the monarchy and build a new palace.
This was the Versailles Palace. The Royal court was then moved to Versailles, so were many nobles.
Louis XIV wanted to have the most opulent palace in history and that’s exactly what he got.
Bear in mind that Louis XIV is (still to this day) the longest-reigning monarch in Europe. He lived until the ages of 77 at a time where the average life expectancy was 30 years old.
Louis XIV believed he was blessed by god and could build anything, hence the impressive opulence of the palace and its gardens.
lHe reigned over a period of unprecedented prosperity in which France became the dominant power in Europe and a leader in the arts and sciences.
Even after his death, Versailles stayed the official residence of the French kings until Louis XVI and the French Revolution.
The palace of Versailles is one of the most beautiful buildings in the entire world and that’s why it’s rated as a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s so worth a visit!
HOW TO VISIT: Versailles Palace is one of the most visited sites in France.
You can easily go there on a day trip from Paris but make sure you have the entire day ahead of you. Between the palace itself and the gardens, there is a lot to see!
You can easily get there by train. You can take the RER from the main stations in central Paris to Versailles. The trip lasts about 40 minutes.
If you don’t want to plan your journey, you can also opt for a day tour with transfer. Click here to see the prices.
No matter what, it’s important to get your ticket in advance. Get there as early as you can to avoid the crowds as much as possible. Alternatively, you can opt for a skip the line ticket.
You can choose to visit the palace and gardens on your own, with an audio guide or book a guided tour. See prices here.
Please note that there are different tickets, one for the palace only and one for the gardens as well. It’s highly recommended to take the combo with the gardens as they are absolutely stunning and won’t cost you much more. Click here to see the prices.
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