The 22 Best Landmarks of Paris You Absolutely Must See

In Paris, there are many monuments that ha ve witnessed the extraordinary history of the city, and many constructions testify of this long-gone past. Some are famous and others are not; in many different districts, some are massive and others are humble, but they are all part of Paris’s and France’s history. We have selected the best landmarks to visit in the City of Lights.

View of Paris

 

Must-see Places in Paris

1) Arc de Triomphe

Avenue Charles de Gaulle – 8th District

The arc of triumph

It is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. Built on the Place de l’Etoile, at one end of the Champs-Elysée, the Arc de Triomphe is one the biggest arches in the world.

It was built in 1806 to celebrate Napoleon Bonaparte’s victory in Austerlitz and was inspired by the Roman triumphal arch. However, it was designed on a much bigger scale than its model: it is 50 meters high, 45 meters long, and 22 meters wide. It stands as one of the most famous monuments in Paris.

Beneath the vault is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Under a continual watch, an Eternal Flame is turned on each night at 6:30 p.m. If you choose to visit this glorious monument, you can climb to the summit, from which you have a panoramic view of Paris, be it day or be it night. Inside, a museum explaining the Arc de Triomphe’s history will complete your visit.

Rate:
Full rate: 12€
Reduced rate*: 9€

Free for EU citizens under 26, disabled people and their attendants and the unemployed

*For tourism professionnals, young people (18-25 y-o) from non-UE country and foreign teachers

Access: Metro lines 1, 2, and 6, RER A in Charles-de-Gaulle-Etoile Station

Book a visit of the Arc de Triomphe

 

Buy the Paris PASS – Museums, Attractions and Transport within Paris

  • Unlimited use of the Parisian public transport network (metro zones 1-3, RER, bus, tram)
  • Admission to more than 60 museums and attractions
  • Skip-the-line entry for numerous activities

From €139 for 2 or 4 or 6 days →

 

2) Eiffel Tower

Champ de Mars, 5, avenue Anatole France – 7th district

Bottom view of the Eiffel Tower

Of course, the Eiffel Tower is THE monument you have to see when you visit Paris. It has become the symbol of Paris. Initially built for Paris’ 1889’s World’s Fair, it became the icon of the city.

Looming over the city from its 312-meter height, the Eiffel Tower is visible from afar. After visiting the Tower itself, you can spend some time to admire the Champ de Mars and its garden at its feet.

The Eiffel Tower, quite obviously, attracts many visitors each day, and packs of swarming tourists are in a rush to admire it and have to queue up before getting in.

Fortunately, you can buy your tickets on the Eiffel Tower’s website and cut in line instead of queuing up for hours.

When you go to the Eiffel Tower, you can climb up in two different ways: the bravest can use the stairs, and the others the elevator (which is also the only way to the third floor).

On the first floor you will find shops; the Jules Verne is a beautiful high-class restaurant on the second floor; finally, the third floor offers one of the best view of Paris, and anywhere you look you will see the beauty of the French capital.

Rates:
Lift entrance ticket (valid to 2nd floor): full rate 11€, 12-24 years 8,50€, reduced rate* 4€
Lift entrance ticket to top: full rate 17€, 12-24 years 14,50€, reduced rate* 8€
Stairs entrance ticket (valid to 2nd floor): full rate 7€, 12-24 years 5€, reduced rate* 3€

*For those between 4 and 11, the disabled and their helpers and the job seekers

Free for kids below 4 y-o

Access: Metro line 9 (Trocadéro station) and line 6 (Bir-Hakeim station)

 

3) Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur

35, rue du Chevalier de la Barre – 18th district

The Sacré Coeur

Atop the hill of Montmartre, the Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur is one of Paris’ emblematic monuments.

This building has one of the most astonishing views of Paris.

Nested upon its 130-meter high hill, the basilica, built in a Romano-Byzantine style, is an architectural masterpiece.

It is composed of four minor domes and a central dome culminating at 83 meters.

The most impressive part of this monument is its giant bell, one the biggest in the world.

The Sacré-Coeur was built in 1873 after a decision of the French National Assembly to build a place to commemorate the victims of the 1871 war opposing France and Prussia.

Apart from the view, the building holds much charm as well, and when you enter you will be struck by the beauty of the 480m² mosaic on the floor. You can also visit the crypt.

Finally, if climbing the stairs of Montmartre was not enough, you can choose to go even higher to the dome of the Basilica and admire the best view of Paris from its summit.

Rates:
The entrance to the Basilica is free
Dome & Crypt ticket: 8€; from 4 to 16 y-o: 5€
Dome: 6€; from 4 to 16 y-o: 4€
Crypt: 3€; from 4 to 16 y-o: 2€

Free for those below 4y-o

Access: Line 2, Anvers station; line 12, Abbesses station

For further information about the Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur, click here.

 

4) Army Museum – Les Invalides

129, rue de Grenelle – 7th district

Cannon in the Invalides

It was first created under Louis XIV to shelter the disabled soldiers of his army, but Les Invalides as we know it today was born in 1905.

It became the Army Museum and exhibits over 500,000 items over 8,000m².

This gigantic collection makes this museum the most important place of military history in France as well as one of the greatest in the world.

During your visit, you can admire the permanent collections of the museum, exposed in chronological order from Antiquity to World War II.

You will also find the Dome des Invalides (a church) and, inside, the heart of the Marquis of Vauban.

But what you came for must be the famous tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte the First, resting here beside his son Napoleon II, King of Rome.

Rates:
Full rate: 11€
Reduced rate*: 9€

*For veterans, reservists, large families; for everyone after 5pm

Free for EU citizens under 26 y-o

Access: Metro lines 8 and 12, Invalides station; RER C, Invalides station

For further information about Les Invalides and the Army Museum, click here

Book your tickets to the Invalides

 

5) Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral

6, place du Parvis Notre Dame – 4th district

View on Notre-Dame

Located in the historic center of Paris, on the end of the Ile de la Cité, the Notre-Dame Cathedral is the most visited monument of the city.

Indeed, this architectural masterpiece shines over the entire district.

With its high towers which inspired Victor Hugo one of his novels, Notre Dame bears witness the history of Paris.

Its construction began in 1163 and it took nearly two centuries to finish it.

It is a must-see in Paris. The sound of the bells will guide you to it, with their such charm that “it’s said to be the soul of Paris setting ablaze when they ring.” Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

Through the centuries, Notre-Dame often was at the heart of major historical events.

Including the weeding of Henry IV of France and Marguerite de Valois in 1572 and the funerals of the greatest of men or the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1804, many important marks in French history took place at Notre-Dame.

When you visit the Cathedral, you will learn of these historical nuggets, and will probably fall in love with the 13th century stained-glass and rose windows.

The indoor decoration and the 43-meter-high ceiling are gorgeous as well.

You can also see Notre-Dame’s treasure and climb up the stairs to enjoy the wonderful view from one the towers, at no less than 69 meters in height.

Update February 19, 2020: Due to it being rebuilt, the Notre-Dame Cathedral is currently closed to the public. You can still walk up to -and around- it in order to savor its resplendent architecture which still qualifies it as one of Paris’ iconic monuments.

Rates:
The entrance is free
Climbing up to the towers costs 10€

Visiting the tower is free for citizens of the EU under 26 y-o, disabled people and their attendant, job seekers and those receiving minimum social benefits

Access:

Metro line 4, Cité station or Saint-Michel station

RER B and C, Saint-Michel – Notre-Dame station

For further information about Notre-Dame de Paris, click here

 

6) Centre Pompidou

Place Georges Pompidou – 4th district

Pompidou center

The Centre Pompidou is an architectural wonder designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers.

It is a 20th century building with a futuristic design that is now part of the 4th district’s identity.

The museum hosts various temporary art exhibits such as Dali’s pieces, for example.

The outdoor escalators and the big colorful pipes make it an unmistakably unique building in Paris.

The Centre includes the National Museum of Modern Art, a worldwide reference for its collections of the 20th and 21st century pieces.

There are different tributes to different arts, such as music, design, or cinema in the Centre.

Georges Pompidou was President of France from 1969 to 1974 and wished to give French art a new place on the international stage and open it to the masses. Mission accomplished.

Rates:
Museum and exhibits: 14€ (museum, exhibits, and view of Paris)
Reduced rate: 9€

Free for EU citizens under 26 y-o, disabled people and their attendant, journalists…

Access: Metro lines 1, 4, 7, 11 and 14, Chatelêt les Halles station; RER A, B and D, Chatelet les Halles station.

Book a visit to the Centre Pompidou

 

7) Louvre

99, rue de Rivoli, 1st district

The Louvre museum

The Louvre is probably the most famous museum in the world.

It was the palace of the kings of France and, through its numerous collections, it allows you today to discover occidental art from Middle Ages to 1848, as well as antique civilizations.

There are major sculptural masterpieces, such as the Winged Victory of Samothrace or the Venus de Milo, or paintings like The Raft of the Medusa of Géricault.

We advise you to prepare your visit by checking the Museum’s website: the Louvre is so big you can easily get lost, both figuratively and literally.

And of course you can admire the portrait of Lisa Gherardini, better known as the Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci.

La Gioconda is representative of the museum; it is a painting full of mysteries, just like the Louvre itself.

Rates:
Free for children under 18 and for EU citizens under 26
Full rate: 15€

Access: Metro line 1, Palais Royal/Musée du Louvre station

Book a visit to the Louvre Museum

 

Buy the Paris PASS – Museums, Attractions and Transport within Paris

  • Unlimited use of Parisian public transport network (metro zones 1-3, RER, bus, tram)
  • Admission to more than 60 museums and attractions
  • Skip-the-line entry for many activities

From €139 for 2 or 4 or 6 days →

 

8) Musée d’Orsay

1, rue de la Légion d’Honneur – 7th district

Clock of the Orsay Museum

On the left bank, just in front of the Tuileries, stands the Musée d’Orsay.

The museum occupies an old railway station built for the 1900 Paris World’s Fair of 1900, which makes it an exceptional place for exhibits.

You can enjoy occidental art ranging from 1848 to 1914. While not as famous as the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay also has a very impressive art collection.

It hosts the most important Impressionist and post-Impressionist art collection in the world with more than 900 paintings.

Occasional temporary exhibits show off a particular artist’s work or artistic trend.

The Musée d’Orsay is a must-see, and even while hidden in the shadows of the Louvre, it is an essential display of art in France.

Rates:
Free for children under 18 and for EU citizens under 26
Reduced rate for people under 26: 9€
Full rate: 12€

Access:

RER C, Musée d’Orsay station

Metro line 12, Assemblée Nationale station

Book a visit to the Orsay Museum

 

9) Palais Garnier

8, rue Scribe – 9th district

Palais Garnier opera house

Looming over the Place de l’Opéra, the Palais Garnier, also called Opéra Garnier, is definitely a must-see for anyone visiting Paris.

Its architecture and design were elaborated during Napoleon III’s reign, hence the typical 19th Century style of the building.

Inside, the statues of two women holding torches welcome the visitors.

You can then admire the Bassin de la Pythie and the Grand Escalier leading to the famous vault of the Palais Garnier.

The vault is over 30 meters high and is both colorful and bright due to the various types of marble it’s made of.

You can also discover the history of this sanctuary of Parisian art.

The Palais also organizes events about opera and fashion.

Finally, the Palais Garnier’s auditorium is one of the most beautiful in the world.

Rates:
Full rate: 11€
Under 26 years old: 8€
Free for job seekers and those under 12 years old

Access:

Metro lines 3, 7, and 8, Opera station

RER A, Auber station

Book a visit of the Opéra Garnier

 

10) Place Vendôme

356, rue Saint-Honoré – 1st district

The Vendome Column

This square is very typical of classical French urbanism, with the famous Vendôme Column erected in its center in 1810.

It is also called the Austerlitz column, and it stands in the 1st district panorama, with a statue of Napoleon dressed as Caesar on the summit.

It is considered to be one of the most luxurious squares in Paris.

Designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, it shines upon the whole world.

As a center of French jewelery craft, and with the Rue de la Paix and its many couturiers it symbolizes French refinement.

Rate: Free

Access: Metro lines 7 and 4, Pyramides station

 

11) Panthéon

28, Place du Panthéon – 5th district

The Parisian Pantheon

The Panthéon stands proudly in the heart of the Latin Quarter. Atop the hill of Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, it looks down upon the 5th district.

More or less inspired by the Pantheon of Rome, the Parisian Pantheon was built as a memorial.

Indeed, the crypts are home to the graves of the greatest French celebrities which marked the country throughout history.

You will find such people as Rousseau, Voltaire, or Alexandre Dumas.

A short text sums up the life and work of those who rest here.

When you come inside, you can also discover the Foucault pendulum, invented by Léon Foucault in 1851, which has once proven that the Earth does, indeed, rotate.

Rates:
Full rate: 9€
Reduced rate: 6,5€

Free for citizens of the EU under 26 y-o, disabled people and their attendant, job seekers and those receiving minimum social benefits

Access: Metro line 10, Cardinal Lemoine station

For more information about the Panthéon, click here

Book a visit to the Pantheon

 

12) Grand Palais

Avenue Winston Churchill – 8th district

Wide view of the Grand Palais
Credits: sanchezn, Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 2.5

Next to the Champs-Elysées, the Grand Palais has fascinating dimensions: more than 77000m² are dedicated to various exhibits, which is equal to more than seven soccer fields.

It was built for the 1900 World’s Fair and is now one of the main exhibition centers in France.

The symbol of the Grand Palais is its gigantic 45-meter-high glass roof, in the same spirit as the rest of the building.

The architecture is typical of the eclectic nature of the “Beaux-arts- style,” and this building alone sums up the tastes of the Belle Epoque.

Besides its exhibits, the Grand Palais hides many other nuggets, such as the beehives on the roof placed there to increase awareness about how much such insects are essential to life on Earth.

Rates: Depend on the exhibit

Access: Metro lines 1 and 13, Champs-Elysées Clémenceau station

For further information about the Grand Palais, click here

 

 

Less-known and less-looked-for monuments of Paris

 

13) Saint-Jacques Tower

Square de la Tour Saint-Jacques – 1st district

Saint-Jacques Tower
Credits : HAI YANG, FlickrCC BY-SA 2.0

At the heart of the 1st district stands a prestigious building you can see from afar: Saint Jacques Tower.

While not very well-known in Paris, the tower truly is magnificent.

Built in a gothic style, it is the only remnant of the Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie church.

From its 62 meters, the tower has been an important site of the right bank since the 16th century.

The guided tour lasts about 50 minutes, during which you will climb the steps of this monument.

The visit of the tower begins with its history, its origin, and difficult construction.

After several stops during the climb, to learn of the secrets of the tower, partly destroyed during the French Revolution, you can enjoy the astonishing view from the top of the tower.

Rates:
Full rate: 10€
Reduced rate*: 8€

*Free for those under 18 y-o, students and job seekers

Access: Metro lines 1, 4, 7, 11, and 14, Chatelet station

 

14) La Conciergerie

2, boulevard du Palais – 1st district

View on the Conciergerie
Credits: Patrice.gaudicheau, Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 4.0

This building in the heart of Paris and the 1st district has certainly witnessed history.

It is a beautiful palace built in the way of gothic architecture, a remnant from past times.

This monument was rebuilt under Philip IV the Fair’s reign at the beginning of the 14th century.

From this original building remains only the Salle des Gardes (Guards Room), the Salle des gens d’Armes (Hall of the Soldier), and the kitchens, all of which are a valuable sample of 14th century architecture.

Along the visit, you will learn the full history of this building which is one of the oldest inParis. It was first a king’s palace then a jail, most notably during the French Revolution when Marie-Antoinette was locked up here.

A little known place well worth a visit.

Rates:
Full rate: 8,5€
Reduced rate: 6,5€

Free for citizens of the EU under 26 y-o, disabled people and their attendant, job seekers and those receiving minimum social benefits

Access: Metro line 4, Cité station

For further information about La Conciergerie, click here.

Book a visit to the Conciergerie

 

15) The Expiatory Chapel (Chapelle expiatoire)

29, rue Pasquier – 8th district

Courtyard of the Expiatory Chapel
Credits: Jean-Marie Hullot, FlickrCC BY-SA 2.0

The Expiatory Chapel is an old monument of Paris, but it is often neglected by the tourists, lucky you!

It is located in the 8th district, between Saint-Lazare train station station and the Madeleine.

It is a memorial built upon the tombs of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, where they now rest after being guillotined in 1793.

Inside the Chapel you will find statues of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette.

In front of the statue of Louis XVI they carved his will, written before his execution; and in front of Marie Antoinette’s statue, they carved the last letter she wrote to Madame Elisabeth, the king’s sister

The crypt is the best part of the monument: the altar from which Louis XVI was exhumed.

An unknown yet impressive plac which Chateaubriand qualified as meybe being “the most remarkable edifice in Paris.”

Rates:
Full rate: 5,5€
Reduced rate: 4,5€

Free for citizens of the EU under 26 y-o, disabled people and their attendant, job seekers and those receiving minimum social benefits

Access: Metro lines 3 and 13, Saint Augustin station; Metro lines 8, 12, and 14, Madeleine station

For further information about the Expiatory Chapel, click here

 

16) Alpine Garden

Jardin des plantes, 57 rue Cuvier – 5th district

The Alpin Garden
Credits: Guilhem Vellut, FlickrCC BY 2.0

Once called the “mountain plants garden,” the Alpine Garden is part of the magnificent Jardin des Plantes.

You may have to look for it, but it is an opportunity to wander a bit in a natural and original place.

Stretching over 4000m², the garden is a place of discoveries and preservation absolutely unique in Paris.

It includes plants from all around the world and stands out in front of the Parisian not quite so green background.

Rates: Free visit

Access: Metro lines 5 and 10, Gare d’Austerlitz station; RER C, Gare d’Austerlitz station

 

17) Japanese garden of the Buddhist Pantheon

19, avenue d’Iéna – 16th district

Jardin Japonais Paris Guimet
Credits: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra, FlickrCC BY 2.0

Hidden from the streets and the crowds in a small back yard of the 16th district, a Japanese garden awaits your visit.

Just behind the Guimet Museum and its important collection of Asiatic art, you can visit this unique place of Paris.

It is part of the Buddhist Pantheon (a part of the Guimet Museum), and this garden will amaze you.

It is free to enter, with a surface of 450m². It was built during the renovation of the building in 1991.

You will see giant bamboos, stone pavements, and a wooden bridge over a little stream.

Everything you need to relax is right there.

On the heights of the garden you can admire the lodge designed by Japanese craftsmen and you may even try out a Tea Ceremony.

Rates: Free visit

Access: Metro line 9, Iéna station

 

18) Catacombs

1, Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy – 14th district

Skulls and bones in the catacombs

The Catacombs are huge Parisian ossuaries, stretching underground over 11 000m², inspired from the Catacombs of Rome.

The entry is Place Denfert-Rochereau.

Six millions bones from different Parisian graveyards rest in this maze of 1.7km.

The vault is 1.80m high and the temperature about 14°C.

The tour is unsuitable for people with heart or respiratory problems, those of nervous disposition, and young children.

An original and fascinating tour for sure!

Please note that the exit is 36, rue Rémy Dumoncel.

Paris Catacombs are the most important necropolis in the world.

The remains of 6 million Parisians are stored here.

You will discover the Cemetery of the Innocents, with all their carefully organized bones.

Dozens of other rooms follow, paying a tribute to the dead, like the room dedicated to the victims of September 1792 or another only for those guillotined on the Place de la Concorde, such as Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette.

Rates:
Full rate: 12€
Reduced rate*: 10€

*For large families, teachers, young people (18 – 26 y-o)…

Free for those under 18, art students, disabled people and their attendant, job seekers and those receiving minimum social benefits

Access: Metro lines 4 and 6, Denfert-Rochereau station; RER B, Denfert Rochereau station

Book a skip-the-line ticket to the Catacombs with audioguide included

 

19) The Wall of Love

place des Abbesses – 18 district

The wall of Love
Credits: Guilhem Vellut, FlickrCC BY 2.0

The Wall of Love (in French, Le Mur des Je t’aime) was designed by Frédéric Baron and Claire Kito, on a square Place des Abbesses.

This place is a must-see for every couple in Paris.

Just like the Pont des Arts and its padlocks (which have ben taken off on the June 1st 2016), the Wall of Love in itself is a symbol of Love.

Indeed, with its 40m² and 612 tiles,  311 “I love you”s are written in 250 languages.

It is a real tribute to love on Montmartre; according to the artists, the specked with red tiles symbolize the broken heart of humanity that the wall tries to repair.

An original site, away from the usual agitation of Paris.

Rates: Free

Access: Metro line 12, Abbesses station

 

20) Statue of Liberty

L’Île aux Cygnes – 15th district

The Parisian Statue of Liberty
Credits: TCY, Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 3.0

No, you’re not dreaming, this is indeed the Statue of Liberty in Paris … or rather, a smaller reproduction.

Much smaller than the original, this Parisian Statue of Liberty stands on the Île aux Cygnes, near the Pont de Grenelle (others exist in Paris: will you find them?).

Only three years after its big sister, this one was built in 1889.

Its back used to be facing the United States, which did not please Auguste Bartholdi. It  was then rotated westward, looking at New Yorits in 1937, for the World’s Fair, 33 years after the artist passed away.

Rates: Free tour

Access:
Metro line 6, Bir-Hakeim station
RER C, Champ de Mars – Tour Eiffel station

 

21) Arènes de Lutèce

49, rue Monge – 5th district

The arènes de Lutece amphitheater
Credits: Shadowgate, flickrCC BY 2.0

This monument is one of the oldest in Paris; it was build during the 1st century.

The Arènes are now free to access for everyone, every day from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Winter, and until 9 p.m. in Summer.

This old amphitheater in the Latin Quarter could host up to 15,000 spectators.

Current visitors can still see where the stage used to be.

This is, with the Thermes de Cluny, one of the only remnants of the Gallo-roman era in Paris.

Today, the Arènes are a famous place to visit and spend time at on a sunny day, playing boules, soccer, or taking a nap in the grass.

You can also admire a bird house, which allows children to discover unknown birds.

Rates: Free

Access: Metro line 10, Cardinal Lemoine, or metro line 7, Place Monge

 

22) Open Air Sculpture Museum

Quai Saint-Bernard – Square Tino Rossi – 5th District

scultpure in an outdoor museum
Credits: Guilhem Vellut, FlickrCC BY 2.0

Located on the Quai Saint-Bernard, near the Jardin des Plantes, the open-air sculpture museum is an opportunity to stroll along the Seine.

This open-air museum is both amazing and intriguing.

It is solely dedicated to sculpture, but the works have no fences, so you can approach them, study them from every angle and even touch them …

Important sculptors decided to create a work for the museum, like César-Bru, Brancusi, and Nicola Schöffer. Besides, the museum offers a particularly great view over Notre-Dame Cathedral and its island.

I’s open day and night.

Rates: Free

Access: Metro line 10, Cardinal Lemoine station

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