Top Paris' landmarks
Paris' skyline is made up of world-famous landmarks. Put these sights – from the glass-domed Grand Palais to the richly decorated Roman-style Arc de Triomphe – at the top of your agenda.
The Louvre isn't just the most important museum in Paris – it’s also the biggest in the world. Visitors come here to see the Mona Lisa and her enigmatic smile. But there are another 35,000, less well-known masterpieces on display in this former fortress, too – so plan what to admire ahead of time.
You might want to focus on the winged human-headed bulls in the Near Eastern Antiquities section, or maybe you'd rather seek out Louis XV's gem-studded crown in the gilded Apollo Galerie?
The museum’s labyrinth of corridors stretches out for eight kilometres. It's easier to navigate on Wednesday and Friday evenings, when opening hours are extended to 9:45pm. Skip the queues by reserving your ticket on The Louvre's website.
When the 1,665-metre Eiffel Tower was first finished – in time for the World Fair in 1889 – many Parisians were unimpressed by the soaring structure. It was scheduled to be torn down a year after it was built. Luckily, the population grew to love the wrought-iron landmark and, over the last century or so, more than 250 million people have visited it.
Planning to take the lifts up for a bird's-eye view over Paris? The quietest times to go are before 11am and after 5pm. If you're up for a workout, you can reach the top in a breath-stealing 1,665 steps.
To avoid lining up for tickets, buy yours in advance on the official Eiffel Tower website. If you're feeling fancy, feast your eyes on the picture-perfect Parisian skyline with a glass of bubbly in hand in the third-floor champagne bar.
Arc de Triomphe
Influenced by the Roman Arch of Titus, the Arc de Triomphe is a national symbol of victory. It was built in 1836 as a tribute to the armies who fought in the Napoleonic Wars and the French Revolution. Take in the intricately carved Roman figurines on the façade, then climb to the top for panoramic views of central Paris from the terrace.
To see the flame of remembrance relit here, visit at 6:30pm – there's a handy underground passage to help you reach the arch without having to navigate the city centre's rush-hour traffic. Afterwards, take a five-minute wander down to the famous Champs-Élysées.
This is the main shopping street in Paris, where you'll find flagship stores of luxury brands, as well as plenty of high-street favourites.
Montmartre, or the Mount of Martyrs, stands 180 metres tall in Paris’ 18th arrondissement (neighbourhood). Topped with the bright white Romano-Byzantine style Sacré-Cœur Basilica, it draws the eye – and the tourists. But it's not just this spectacular structure that lures people to this area. Visitors love to stroll around Montmartre's quaint cobbled streets and browse handmade souvenirs at the market in the Place du Tertre.
Follow in the footsteps of the famous artists who spent time in this area, like Van Gogh and Picasso, while dipping in and out of the small cafés and galleries. Those in the know also make sure to stop by the Nouvelle Athènes, a neighbourhood lined in neoclassical mansions home to an inviting mix of museums.
Drop by the Musée Gustave Moreau to see the symbolist painter's eclectic apartment, then meander to the Musée de la Vie Romantique for displays depicting illustrious writer George Sand's life. The tearoom in the garden is the ideal spot for a refreshing drink when the sun is beating down on Paris in the summertime.
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
The 2019 fire closed Notre-Dame to the public, which means you won't be able to explore this medieval cathedral's interior – but the overall structure still stands tall, ready to be admired by visitors.
Study the Gothic carvings and detailed figurines of the Twelve Apostles on the building's western end, then circle round to the east to see the trio of thirteenth-century rose windows and the single-arch buttresses which appear to defy gravity.
If you're visiting Paris for the first time, ticking off its top landmarks is an excellent way to start getting to know the city. Introduce yourself to France's show-stopping capital by following our tips to get the most out of these attractions.