What to see in France
Tourist attractions Paris
Paris, the so-called ‘City of Light’ is the capital of France and a major global city. Covering more than 105 square kilometres of north-central France, Paris sits on the River Seine and is famed for its arts, fashion, cuisine and culture. As the second most visited destination in the world, the old saying ‘Paris is always a good idea’, still rings true today! If you visit Paris you’ll be greeted by an abundance of world-renowned galleries, museums, monuments, landmarks and high-end shops. You could never get tired of exploring Paris.
Paris has long been a centre of French politics and culture, rising to prominence at the end of the 12th-century. It was famously the centre stage of the French Revolution in the late 18th-century. In later years, Paris gained a reputation as an artistic hub, with creatives such as Picasso, Matisse, Hemingway and Marcel Proust spending time in the city to inspire their masterpieces in the 19th and 20th centuries. Perhaps the best place to soak up this creative ambience during a trip to Paris is in the historical district, located beside the River Seine and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The ‘City of Light’ has captured the imagination of countless romantics over the centuries and is a favourite destination for honeymooners and couples. Whether you’re taking a short city break to Paris or are planning a longer stay, the sheer number of sights are sure to keep your schedule very busy! The Louvre Museum, Eiffel Tower and the fabulous Champs Elysse are just a few of the bucket-list attractions you’ll see on a tour of Paris, but simply wandering along the lively Rue de Rivoli or enjoying a sunny afternoon in the green spaces that line the L’Esplanade des Invalides will let you experience Paris like a local.
You can visit Paris at any time of year, but the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn are best as you’ll avoid the crowds that descend on the capital during the balmy summer months. Also, these are the cheapest times of year to travel to Paris.
What to see in Paris
It’s difficult to know where to begin when planning a tour of Paris, but there are certainly some unmissable sights that must be included in your itinerary.
Whether you’re an art aficionado or just a casual viewer, the Louvre is a must-see if you travel to Paris. The largest art museum in the world, the galleries of this inspiring museum are home to masterpieces ranging from the Mona Lisa and Venus of Milo to works by legendary artists such as Delacroix and Rembrandt, to name just a few. The museum is also home to a vast array of Egyptian antiquities. The galleries are housed within the majestic Louvre Palace, it’s most recognisable feature being the glass Louvre Pyramid, which stands in the central courtyard. Visiting the Louvre is always at the top of the list of things to see in Paris, so be sure to make plenty of time to soak up its vast collection.
Another emblem of the city is Notre Dame Cathedral, currently under renovation since the tragic fire of 2019, which caused terrible damage to this national landmark. This remarkable work of medieval ecclesiastical architecture is one of the most famous cathedral buildings in the world. Sat on a natural river island on the banks of the Seine, Norte Dame is easily recognisable by its two imposing towers, where the fictional Hunchback of Norte Dame famously lived, and its Gothic facade. Until restoration works are completed, visitors can only access the underground crypts of the cathedral and not the interior, but its worldwide acclaim means it is still a worthwhile stop on a tour of Paris.
Of all the showstopping sights in Paris, there is nothing quite like the famous Moulin Rouge, a cabaret venue, crowned by an illuminated red windmill, the backdrop to many a tourist photo! Founded in 1889, the original building burnt down in 1915, but the reconstructed building still operates as a musical entertainment venue today, where visitors can relive the romance of old Paris and enjoy watching the ‘can-can’ dance at its birthplace!
A trip to Paris is incomplete without visiting the most famous landmark in the entire city, if not the entire world: the Eiffel Tower! Standing tall above the verdant Champ de Mars, the Eiffel Tower is instantly recognisable by its wrought-iron lattice towers and twinkling lights come nightfall. At 324 metres tall it is the tallest structure in the city and if you visit the Eiffel Tower you can explore three different observations levels. The first two levels even have restaurants for dining with an unforgettable view! Originally constructed to act as an extravagant entrance to the 1889 World Fair, today, tourists and Parisians alike still hold the Eiffel Tower close to their hearts.
Perhaps the city’s most notable avenue, it’s impossible to visit Paris without passing down the Champs-Élysées. Known for its luxury shops, theatres and restaurants, the Champs-Élysées is the Paris you see in the movies. This almost 2-kilometre long avenue leads you to the unforgettable Arc de Triomphe, another must-see sight on a tour of Paris, notable for its role as the finish line of the annual Tour de France cycling race.
Finally, nestled within the historic neighbourhood of Montmarte, atop a hill known as butte Montmarte, is the spellbinding Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, one of Paris’ premier landmarks. Completed in 1914, it is the second most visited religious monument in the city, after beloved Norte Dame, and is home to a huge mosaic, which covers the interior ceiling apse. If you want one of the best views of the city, be sure to climb up to the top of the central dome, where you can enjoy breathtaking views across the entire ‘City of Light’.