Situated on the banks of the River Seine in Northern France, Paris is the capital city of France with a population of over 12 million people with 2.2 million people living in the central city area alone. Often referred to as the City of Lights or la Ville Lumière as the French like to call it, this romantic metropolis attracts more than 42 million visitors every year earning it the distinction of the most visited city in the world.
The city can be conveniently explored by metro, taxi or bicycle but the charm and magical ambiance of this elegant, intimate city are best savored on foot. Paris attractions are never too far apart and, in between, simply walking the streets is like wandering through picture postcards.
The driving force of Paris is La Défense, a modern business district brimming with art and futuristic architecture. It bears testimony to the fact that Paris is designed to be enjoyed even at work. From the Arche de la Défense, more commonly known as La Grande Arche, the six-mile-long historic access to Paris will lead you back to France’s majestic past.
In addition to art, architecture, and culture the city has much more to offer. From the old-world cobbled streets and perfectly pruned trees lining the picturesque avenues, to the intimate tea salons and sophisticated restaurants boasting the best of French cuisine and gourmet dining, there is never a dull moment in this great European destination.
Also dubbed the Capital of Fashion, Paris is home to some of the biggest names in the fashion and cosmetics industry of the world such as Christian Dior, Yves Saint-Laurent, Lancôme, Chanel, Kenzo, and Céline, to name just a few.
While this magnificent city has an overabundance of attractions to offer its visitors, we have selected ten of the most popular ones which would be nothing less than a blasphemy to miss out on.
Top Ten Paris Attractions
This 324-meter-tall 19th-century wrought-iron tower, with steps and elevators leading up to observation decks, is arguably the world’s most famous structure often referred to as the ‘Edifice of Love.’ Made up of 15,000 steel sections held together by 2.5 million rivets, the Eiffel Tower was designed by the French master architect Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel. It was built for the Paris Exhibition of 1889 marking the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. It certainly deserves to be at the top of the places-to-see-in-Paris list.
Arc de Triomphe
The iconic Arc de Triomphe was built by Napoleon in 19th-century to commemorate his victories. It rises from the center of Place Charles de Gaulle, historically known as the Place de l’Étoile, and has an observation deck offering commanding views of the twelve grand avenues, including the Champs-Élysées, which radiate outwards like a star.
Avenue des Champs-Élysées
From the Arc de Triomphe the Avenue des Champs-Élysées continues along the historic axis. This grand avenue is where Parisians and tourists come to dine, shop, enjoy the theatre, and to celebrate life in general.
Place de la Concorde
Gradually opening into lush gardens and majestic buildings the Champs-Élysées merges into the largest public square in Paris, the Place de la Concorde, with magnificent fountains and statues including an Egyptian obelisk.
Just a short stroll away from the Place de la Concorde is the greatest treasure house of art – the Louvre Museum. Formerly a royal palace situated on the bank of River Seine – the Paris residence of the Kings and Queens of France – the Louvre now serves as a magnificent museum of fine art. Situated between the Tuileries Gardens and the church of Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois, the Louvre Museum is another tourist favorite. The controversial, futuristic glass pyramid in the central courtyard was designed by American architect I. M. Pei and opened to the public in 1989.
The museum boasts over 35,000 works of art including medieval art and antiquities and 15th to 19th-century paintings by European masters including the Mona Lisa.
Not far from the Louvre Museum stands the Centre Pompidou, an architecturally avant-garde complex housing the National Museum of Modern Art displaying the largest collection of modern art in Europe. It is also home to a library and music center.
The Notre-Dame Cathedral is a 13th-century structure with flying buttresses and gargoyles situated on Île de la Cité, a natural island in the Seine. Completed in 1345, this gothic masterpiece has played center stage to some of the defining moments of French history and literature.
Looking north, the city rises into the hillside neighborhood of Montmartre. With its winding streets and narrow lanes, Montmartre was once the artistic center of Paris and home to all time greats like Picasso, Dali, and Van Gogh. It is the perfect place to lose yourself and discover the special Parisian moments.
The Panthéon is a 18th-century mausoleum with colonnaded facade housing the remains of notable French citizens. Originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve and to house the reliquary châsse containing her relics, it is situated in the Latin quarter of Paris.
Les Invalides, commonly known as Hôtel national des Invalides, or also as Hôtel des Invalides, is a complex of buildings in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, France, containing museums and monuments including a church & the tombs of many famed officers, including the great Napoleon.