My own first thought when reading the title of this post is that there are way more than just ten highlights of Paris. It would be extremely easy to compile a list of, say, the thirty highlights of Paris. Narrowing them down to ten is a bit harder and involves some subjectivity. Anyway, it’s a pretty exciting list, so definitely read on!
I stayed in Paris for four days a couple of years past and I loved the city. Although people may seem rushed a lot and they’re not always very friendly, Paris has many more good sides than bad sides. The city breathes culture and history; everywhere you look there are grand buildings, historic landmarks, magnificent boulevards, green parks, palaces,… The list goes on and on. It’s a truly exciting city and, I think, one of the greatest on the planet.
Top 10 Things to See in Paris
10. Place de la Concorde
The large square – the largest one in the city – connects the Champs-Elysées with the Tuileries Gardens. The two major landmarks of this public square are the towering 3,200-year-old obelisk that stands in the middle and the fountain.
9. Pont Alexandre III
Easily the most beautiful bridge across the River Seine in Paris, Pont Alexandre III is adorned with reliefs, monuments and sculptures. It wasn’t built for transportation reasons, but rather for diplomatic purposes. It was named after the Russian Tsar Alexander III and symbolizes the French-Russian alliance of the late 19th century.
8. Hôtel de Ville
The massive City Hall has been the center of Parisian politics since the mid-14th century. The building has been through some turbulence though, just like the city has. It was, for example, completely burned down in 1871 and beautifully rebuilt in the former grand Renaissance style. The inside is nothing less than spectacular.
7. Tuileries Gardens
This large urban park is located in front of the Louvre and extends to the Place de la Concorde. It consists of numerous sculptures, a few fountains and many benches. Street performers and vendors make it a lively place all day every day.
6. Centre Pompidou
Arguably the most bizarre building in France, Centre Pompidou looks like it’s been turned inside out. And technically that’s exactly what it is; the exterior of the building is made up of water pipes, power lines, air-conditioning pipes, elevators and so on. On the inside you’ll find one of the finest museums of modern art in the world, a huge public library, a movie theater and a bookstore.
5. Notre-Dame Cathedral
The Notre-Dame Cathedral, the most-visited of all the top 10 things to see in Paris, was one of the very first Gothic cathedrals ever constructed. Located on the Île de la Cité in the middle of the River Seine, the cathedral’s site has always been the religious heart of the city. It’s probably the most famous church in the world and absolutely worth visiting – if you are patient enough to stand in line for a couple of hours!
This is without question the most prestigious street in Paris. The Champs-Elysées stretches from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe and is lined with high-end stores, fashion outlets and fancy restaurants.
3. Eiffel Tower
The symbol of Paris, the Eiffel Tower is visible from most parts of the city. When visiting Paris, it is literally impossible not to see the Eiffel Tower. The queues are enormous there as well, but the tower is equally as impressive from ground level as it is from the inside.
2. The Louvre
Probably the most well-known museum in the world, the Louvre is a not-to-be-missed attraction in Paris. It originally was a royal palace and now houses one of the world’s largest, finest and most important collections of art. Absolute highlights are the Venus of Milo and the Mona Lisa.
Maybe a surprising number one, but Montmartre is by far my favorite neighborhood in Paris. Located on a hill, the area overlooks Paris and consists of cobblestone streets, squares filled with painters and other artists, cozy cafés and restaurants. A major landmark in Montmartre, and also definitely one of the main highlights of Paris is the imposing Sacré-Coeur Basilica, which is my personal favorite building in the entire city.
These are merely a sample of what Paris has to offer. Other major attractions and landmarks include the Père Lachaise Cemetery, the Musée d’Orsay, Panthéon, Pont Neuf, Hôtel des Invalides, Moulin Rouge and the Grand Palais.