From stylish boutiques to exquisite cuisine, Paris is synonymous with the finer things in life. The charm of Paris lies in the small details: the picturesque cobblestone streets, the legendary café scene, small tea salons and sweet pastries.
Located on the banks of the Seine (the river divides Paris into a northern and southern part), Paris has a way of captivating visitors with its elegant beauty and magical ambience. This incomparable city is full of grandiose monuments and structures such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Champs-Elysées Boulevard. But these Paris attractions are far from the only attractions you should have seen in the City of Love.
Which museums, sights and places of interest should necessarily be on your Paris list for a romantic weekend, you will find out here.
With what, if not the probably most famous landmark of the city, we should start this list: The 324 meter high Eiffel Tower was built between 1887 and 1889 as a mighty entrance portal and lookout tower for the World’s Fair; He should also remember the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.
Today, with its three floors, the Eiffel Tower still serves as a lookout tower, home to two restaurants (the Michelin-starred Le Jules Verne on Level 2 and the 58 Tour Eiffel on Level 1) and also acts as a television tower. With the broadcast of the first radio program in Europe (1921) and later of the first European television program (1935), the Eiffel Tower is also an important building for the history of radio and television.
Incidentally, the huge iron trash tower is named after its builder Gustav Eiffel, a French engineer with German roots.
Arc de Triomphe
With the Arc de Triomphe (completely “Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile”) on the Place de l’Étoile above the Champs-Élysées, the French capital has the largest archway in the world. Napoleon commissioned the building in 1806 to chisel his victory at the Battle of Austerlitz in Stein. Under the 50-meter high landmark is the memorial “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier”, which is to commemorate the war dead (the First World War), which were never identified.
By the way, there is another triumphal arch in Paris that tourists have often mistaken for the more famous and twice as large Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile: the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. This too was built under Napoleon and is no less worth seeing. The “second” Arc de Triomphe stands between the Louvre and Tuileries.
Obelisk of Luxor
The Obelisk of Luxor is one of the most interesting monuments on the Ax Historique between the Louvre and the Grande Arche. The 230-tonne granite monolith towers over 23 meters high here. Originally, the obelisk actually came from Egypt, where Ramses II had it built in the 13th century BC. Together with his counterpart, which is still in place today, he flanked the passage of the pylon in the Luxor Temple.
The obelisk has been on the Place de la Concorde in Paris since 1836, after King Louis Philippe received it as a gift from the reigning viceroy of Egypt, Muhammad Ali Pasha. The transport from Egypt to Paris took a full 3 years.
The Louvre is one of the most famous museums in the world and houses the most famous painting of all: the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci. The collection of the museum in the Palais du Louvre (the former residence of the French kings) goes back to the collecting passion of Duke Jean de Berry (1340-1415), a brother of Charles V. Some of the paintings, tapestries and illuminations can still be seen in today’s exhibition.
The very special paintings, however, only came under King Francis I (1515-1547) to the collection, which was at that time still in the castle Fontainebleau. Francis I established a residence on the Loire in 1517 for the old Leonardo da Vinci, so that after his death the paintings of the master came into the possession of the king. In the Louvre moved the collection, which was subsequently expanded under Louis XIII, Louis XV and under Emperor Napoleon, until 1660.
The collection of important works of art in the Louvre is too big to list individually – it’s best to make yourself a picture. Except Tuesdays, the Louvre is open daily from 09:00.
The glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre
No, of course we did not forget the glass pyramid, which is famous from films like “The Da Vinci Code”, in the description of the Louvre. Rather, we even want to dedicate a section to her – after all, she is one of the modern landmarks of Paris in itself.
Since 1989 (construction started in 1985), the large glass pyramid serves as the main entrance to the museum. It should not be forgotten that the pyramid ensemble of the Louvre includes three other pyramids, which should provide sufficient light for certain exhibition areas in the underground part of the museum. Insiders will now say: “There are five pyramids, not just four pieces”. The right thing to do is not visible from the outside at first glance is the inverted (fifth) pyramid in the entrance hall of the Louvre. Anyone who has read the book or seen the movie knows this part from Dan Brown’s bestseller mentioned earlier.
The Jardin des Tuileries extends west of the Place de la Concorde, where the Obelisk of Luxor is located, to the Louvre in the east and the right bank of the Seine in the south. Northern boundary of the park is the Rue de Rivoli.
The garden was built in the mid-16th century for the French queen Catherine de Medici (tip: For more on the Medici you will find in our article on the attractions in Florence) in the style of the Italian Renaissance. The private garden of the rulers was an addition to the Palais des Tuileries, which fell victim to a fire at the end of the 19th century. Under the various rulers of France, the park was redesigned several times. Today, the Tuileries Gardens are French Baroque in style.
The Notre-Dame Cathedral is not only one of the most popular attractions in the French capital, but also one of the most famous buildings in the entire country. Definitely contributed to the popularity has certainly Victor Hugo’s 1831 published novel “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame”.
The construction of the church, whose name translates into German as “Our Lady of Paris”, started as early as the 13th century, but was completed only 200 years later. A highlight of the cathedral are the colorful stained glass windows with their window roses inside the gothic building. You can also visit a part of the treasury in a later built extension. These include historical goblets and robes, ancient crucifixes and much more.
Tip: If you do not shy away from the 422 steps in total, there is a viewing platform on the cathedral, from which you can enjoy a gigantic view over the rooftops of the city.
Another landmark of the city of Paris is the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, built between 1875 and 1914. The main attraction inside the gleaming white house, which stands on the hill “Butte de Montmartre”, is the largest mosaic in France, which is 480 m² in size. The “Mosaïque du Christ en gloire” shows the white-clad Jesus with outstretched arms and a golden heart with a crown of thorns.
Tip: Be sure to charge the smartphone or digicam batteries; The view from the square in front of the basilica is breathtakingly beautiful. It gets particularly romantic in the evening at sunset.
Centre Georges Pompidou
Time for a little education: The Center Georges-Pompidou was opened in 1977 on the initiative of former French President Georges Pompidou. The goal of the state art and culture center is to enable French people and people from all over the world to have “free access to knowledge”.
The “Pompidou” houses the Musée National d’Art Moderne (Modern Art Museum) with important works of the 20th century, a center for industrial design, the Bibliothèque Publique d’Information (BPI) with more than 400,000 media, the Music Research Center IRCAM ( Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique / Musique), a children’s workshop, various cinema, theater and lecture halls as well as its own bookstore. Because staying with so much culture can sometimes take longer, an attached restaurant and a café provide for the physical well-being.
No, we did not forget it: the world famous Disneyland Paris. The 1,944 hectare recreational complex has been in existence since 1992 – at that time it was called the Euro Disney Resort or the Euro Disney Resort Paris, and later just Disneyland Resort Paris.
In total, over 4.5 billion euros were invested in the construction and extensions of the park. You can feel it in every single area of the resort, which is much more than just an amusement park.
- the two theme parks Disneyland Park (since 1992) and Walt Disney Studios Park (since 2002),
- Disney Village entertainment area,
- Golf Disneyland,
- several hotels, residential and business districts.
The Disneyland is located in the commune of Chessy, about 32 km east of Paris. Thanks to Marne la Vallée-Chessy train station, the park has direct access to the Paris S-Bahn RER as well as the TGV high-speed rail network and the Eurostar train to London. There are also two own motorway exits. Our tip: if you are right in the center of Paris and you want to go to Disneyland, you just take the RER line A. About 20 minutes later you are already on site at Mickey and Co.
The large building on the southern bank of the Seine, directly opposite the Tuileries Garden, immediately captivates every visitor to the city. The similarity to a historic train station is no coincidence: the Gare d’Orsay railway station was built on the occasion of the 1900 World’s Fair and served until 1939 as a hub for long-distance traffic in the southwest of France. In 1977, the French government decided to turn the station into a museum.
Since 1986, the Musée d’Orsay inspires an average of 3.8 million visitors per year. This makes the museum one of the most popular attractions in the city today. The 16,000 square meter exhibition includes paintings, sculptures, graphics, photography, arts and crafts, and architecture.
It was originally built as a church between 1764 and 1790, but since the French Revolution, the Pantheon has served as a fame and burial place for various French celebrities. Among the best known are the philosopher Voltaire, the writers Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo, and the eminent physicist and Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie.
One of the highlights inside the Panthéon is the “Foucault pendulum”, which proves the earth’s rotation. In addition, numerous paintings on the interior walls show scenes from the history of France.
Tip: For EU citizens under the age of 26, admission is free all year round. For all over the age of 26, entry is free between the 1st of November and the 31st of March on the 1st Sunday of the month.
In 1671, the then King Louis XIV had the building built as a kind of home for all the invalids who had fought as soldiers under him. Many of them returned homeless, unemployed and severely wounded from the bloody battles. Even today, the Hôtel national des Invalides in Paris serves as a hospital and hospice.
In addition, there are the offices of the Ministry of Defense and an army museum. In the Invalides, a domed building on the grounds of the Hotel des Invalides are also the remains of Napoleon. Originally built as a church, the cathedral was rebuilt in 1840 to the tomb of the famous emperor.
If you want to enjoy all the sights in Paris at a glance to complete your city exploration, you only need to climb the Montparnasse. However, “climbing” is not the right word; Rather, one of the 25 elevators takes you up to the 56th floor of the 210 meter high tower in just 38 seconds, where there is a viewing platform with a restaurant. After the Eiffel Tower (300 m), the Tour Montparnasse is the second highest building in the city.
The most spectacular view, however, you can enjoy on the roof: the 59th floor of the tower – there is also a viewing platform. Tip: If you are not afraid of heights, you can save the 17 Euro entrance fee. If you have no problem with altitude, the driveway on the Tour Montparnasse is one of the highlights of any sightseeing tour.