TOURISM IN PARIS
You’re dying to discover Paris, but you only have a few days to visit one of the world’s finest cities. You won’t be able to see everything, there are so many monuments, heritage sites, museums, parks, typical districts, surprising corners or famous avenues. So, to help you out, we’ve put on our tour guide hat and chosen some of the city's “must-sees”, the essential Paris sites that you really mustn’t miss when you’re in the capital.


The major museums The districts Famous parks
> The Louvre Museum > The Ile de la Cite > The Tuileries Gardens
> The Orsay Museum > Saint-Germain-des-Prés > The Luxembourg Gardens
> The National Modern Art Museum > Montmartre > The Jardin des Plantes

Famous streets, squares, etc Monuments  
> The Champs Elysees Avenue > The Eiffel Tower  
> The Place de la Concorde > Notre Dame Cathedral  
> The Place Vendome > The Arc de Triomphe  
> The Pont Neuf > The holy Chapel  
RESERVATION

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THE MAJOR MUSEUMS :

The Louvre Museum : Located in the 1st district of Paris, with a surface area of 210 000 m², including nearly 70 000 m² of exhibits, the Louvre is one of the biggest museums in the world, and the most visited with almost 9 million visitors annually. It is a showcase for thousands of works - paintings, sculptures, drawings, ceramics, archaeology and other works of art. Some of the most famous are da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo and “Liberty Leading the People” by Delacroix.

The Orsay Museum : Located on the left bank of the Seine in the 7th district of Paris, the Orsay Museum presents collections of Western paintings and sculptures from 1848 to 1914, and also photography, architecture and decorative arts. It houses the largest collection of Impressionist paintings in the world, including some world famous masterpieces such as Manet’s “Luncheon on the Grass” and Courbet’s “Origin of the World".

The National Modern Art Museum Nestled in the heart of the Pompidou Centre in the 4th district of Paris, the National Modern Art Museum houses some 80 000 pieces of modern and contemporary art, and holds regular world-class exhibitions. The collections trace all the artistic movements of the 20th and 21st centuries, from the great masters who were the forerunners of modernity, such as Picasso, Matisse or Warhol, through to the most contemporary artists.

And also : if you have the time, depending on where your interest lies, you can visit other museums on very different and sometimes very original themes, such as the Grevin Museum, the Carnavalet Museum, the Quai Branly Museum, the National Museum of the Middle Ages, the Science and Industry complex, the Music complex, the Chocolate Museum, the Rodin Museum, the Delacroix Museum, the Maillol Museum…


MONUMENTS :

The Eiffel Tower : There is no need to present this world-famous symbol of Paris. The tower is made of puddle iron and is 324 metres high. It was built next to the Seine by Gustave Eiffel for the Universal Exhibition of 1889 as a feat of technology and architecture, only meant to last 20 years. But scientists and public enthusiasm changed the original plan. The Eiffel Tower is in the 7th district of Paris, and is full of romantic or gourmet corners. Get up to the 3rd floor for an unbeatable view of the whole of Paris.

Notre Dame Cathedral : With its 20 million visitors and pilgrims every year, Notre Dame Cathedral is the most visited monument in France. This jewel of Gothic architecture is located in the historic centre of Paris, on the City Island in the 4th district. It took several decades to build, but the date of the laying of the first stone is traditionally thought to be 1163. The two rose windows at the two ends of the transept measure 13 metres in diameter, making them the largest in Europe.

The Arc de Triomphe : The Arc de Triomphe is a national symbol like the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, and is one of the most visited monuments in France. Located on the Place de l’Etoile (Star Place) in the 8th district of Paris on the Champs Elysees, the Arc de Triomphe is a link between ancient and contemporary Paris. It was built by Napoleon between 1806 and 1836 in honour of the Great Army, and is 50 metres high and 45 metres wide. At its feet is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with its eternal flame. At the top are two orientation tables to tell you what you are seeing in the splendid panoramic view.

The Holy Chapel : A masterpiece of Gothic art, the Holy Chapel is in the historic heart of Paris on the City Island in the 1st district of Paris. Building was started in 1248 at the request of Saint Louis who wanted to house the Crown of Thorns, a piece of the True Cross and other relics. The wonderful stained glass windows show religious scenes and the nave windows are over 15 metres high. Some of the decors were destroyed in the revolution and are more modern. But it is worth noting that when it was built, a technical innovation that was very advanced for the time was used, metallic wall ties, that were only discovered in the 20th century.

And also : if you have time, and depending on your interests, you could also visit the Pantheon, the Palais Royal, the Opera Garnier, the French National Library, the Catacombs, Trocadero, the Conciergerie, and if you are going outside Paris, don’t miss the wonderful Chateau de Versailles to the southwest of Paris, a historic monument where the kings of France lived.


FAMOUS PARKS :

The Tuileries Gardens : Classified as a historic monument in 1914 and included with the banks of the Seine as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Tuileries Gardens, in the 1st district of Paris are the largest and oldest of the French-style gardens. This magnificent tree-lined space opens onto the Concorde and the Louvre. Some of the trees in this masterpiece of classical gardens have been growing since the 1850s. The gardeners plant no less than 125 000 plants here each year.

The Luxembourg Gardens : A favourite strolling place for Parisians and visitors from all over the world, the Luxembourg Gardens cover 23 hectares. They are full of flowers, sculptures (106 statues) and fountains. Created at the request of Marie de Medicis to go with the Luxembourg Palace in 1612, the Luxembourg Gardens are in the 6th district of Paris, in the heart of the Latin Quarter. They are a great place for a walk, and easy to recognise with their gold leaf tips to the railings.

The Jardin des Plantes : The singer Charles Trenet said that he based his song “An Extraordinary Garden" on this place. This is a botanical garden in the 5th district of Paris belonging to the National Natural History Museum, a centre for natural sciences, and has a surface area of over 23 hectares. In this elegant garden with its alleys lined with plane trees, you can discover thousands of plants presented by family and species, but also the great Gallery of Evolution, hot houses, the menagerie, the labyrinth… A unique place, with lots to see.

And also : depending on how much time you have and where you are, you could also visit the Parc Monceau, the Parc de la Villette, the Buttes Chaumont, the Parc Montsouris, the Vincennes Woods, the Parc André-Citroën, the Boulogne Woods…


FAMOUS STREETS, SQUARES, ETC :

The Champs Elysees Avenue : Often called “the most beautiful avenue in the world”, the Champs Elysees, in the 8th district of Paris, is known all over the world and is one of the main tourist sites in the capital. It is nearly 2000 m long and links the Place de la Concorde to the Place Charles de Gaulle where the Arc de Triomphe stands. This was originally uninhabited marshland, but is now the most expensive address in the world. A paradise for shoppers and window shoppers, you will also appreciate the elegant buildings, theatres, cinemas, famous cafés and restaurants such as le Fouquet’s…

The Place de la Concorde : This is the largest square in Paris, covering over 8 hectares. The Place de la Concorde is in the 8th district of Paris, at one end of the Champs Elysees, between the Tuileries Gardens and the Concorde Bridge. In terms of town planning, it is the most important creation of the Enlightenment in the capital. The square is dominated by the famous 3300 year old Egyptian Obelisk from Luxor, weighing in at 227 tonnes. The Obelisk is flanked by two monumental fountains.

The Place Vendome : This is reputedly one of the most luxurious squares in the world. The prestigious Place Vendome, located in the 1st district of Paris, is typical of classical French town planning, and most of its facades are classified as historical monuments. Famous for its luxury hotels and fine jewellery, the Place Vendome is also well known for its Vendome Column, a bronze column over 44 metres high in the centre of the square, erected by Napoleon to commemorate Austerlitz.

The Pont Neuf : Don’t be fooled by the name. This is In fact the oldest existing bridge in Paris. Built between the 16th and 17th centuries, it was the first stone bridge to cross the Seine (at the western point of the City Island). At 228 metres, it is the 3rd longest bridge in Paris. It is classified as a historic monument and is a UNESCO World Heritage site along with the whole of the banks of the Seine in Paris.

And also : if you have time,, you could also visit the Place de la Bastille, the Grands Boulevards, the Place des Victoires, the canal St Martin, the canal de l’Ourcq, the Place Saint Sulpice, the place Denfert Rochereau…


THE DISTRICTS :

The Ile de la Cite : Considered as the cradle of the city of Paris, the Ile de la Cite attracts tourists from around the world to visit the exceptional architecture of two jewels of French mediaeval art, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Sainte Chapelle. Located in the Seine, right in the heart of Paris, in the 1st and 4th districts, it covers over 22 hectares. It’s very pleasant to stroll around the streets and alleyways, admire the superb facades of the Law Courts or the Hotel Dieu hospital, visit the Conciergerie or take a break in one of the four squares on the island. And don’t forget to visit the Place Louis Lepine with its flower and bird market.

Saint-Germain-des-Pres : This is in the 6th district of Paris, and has its own particular charm and a rich cultural history. The history of Saint-Germain-des-Pres is closely interwoven with French cultural life. Hosts of artists, painters, sculptors, photographers, etc. made Saint-Germain-des-Pres their headquarters, or lived here, meeting in little cafés or music cellars, listening to jazz or bebop. Léo Ferré, Brassens, Brel, Trenet, Gainsbourg… were all regulars. Today the Saint-Germain-des-Pres district is still one of the symbols of Paris.

Montmartre : The Montmartre district is one of the main tourist attractions of Paris. It is mostly in the 18th district, and is full of very famous theatres and cabarets (Moulin Rouge, Lapin Agile, Chat Noir…), and museums (the Dali Centre, the houses of Dalida and Erik Sati, the Montmartre museum). Other popular places include Barbès, the Place du Tertre with its artists, the Saint Pierre material market, etc. Montmartre is also its famous Butte or hill, with the impressive Sacre Coeur Basilica perched on the top. This is the highest point in the city at 130 metres. A funicular railway takes you to the top, but fitness freaks can walk up the 222 steps.

And also : if you have time,, you could also visit some of the other very famous areas of Paris - the Latin Quarter, the Ile Saint-Louis, the Butte aux Cailles, the Faubourg Saint-Germain, Les Batignolles, the pedestrian streets of the Montorgueuil district, the Oberkampf and Charonne districts…