Planning a trip to Paris can be exciting, but occasionally overwhelming. There is frequently so much emotional pressure to see everything that a visitor could almost end up napping through the entire trip. However, when a visitor returns home from a distant sojourn into Paris, there are usually a handful of sights about which almost every single person who knows the returning traveler will want to ask. To help customize a prospective trip, then, this article lists more than a dozen destination-worthy Paris attractions.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the Eiffel Tower is first on the list. Practically synonymous with France itself, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most easily recognizable architectural structures in the world. Built in 1889, it stands approximately 1,050 feet tall and weighs approximately 10,000 tons. The tower was designed by engineer Gustave Eiffel and erected for the historic World’s Fair of 1889. Since then, the Eiffel Tower has become a popular romantic symbol for lovers all over the world.
Notre Dame Cathedral is another Parisian must-see. Originally constructed between 1163 and the 1240s, Notre Dame de Paris has actually been renovated several times. Despite these renovations, the style remains primarily Gothic in nature. Also noteworthy are the historical Gallo-Roman ruins underneath the cathedral, around which a protective structure was erected in 1965. The Crypt is managed by Musée Carnavalet and is open for the public to tour between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., though tickets must be acquired by 5:30 p.m.. For more information on Notre Dame Crypt, see the official website of Notre Dame de Paris.
Closely related to the topic of Notre Dame, another Parisian location which is well worth visiting is the former home of Victor Hugo, celebrated (and dare one say legendary…?) French poet, novelist, dramatist, veteran and general humanitarian. Hugo wrote what is easily some of the most timeless and celebrated pieces of literature that the world has ever known, including “Les Miserables” (The Miserable) and “Notre Dame de Paris” (Our Lady of Paris, but much more well-known to most English-speaking people as “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”). Hugo’s old home is located on the second story of Paris’ Place des Vosges, where he rented a roughly 280 square-meter apartment. Hugo lived there for nearly 15 years of his life, between 1856 and 1870, during which he wrote “Les Travailleurs de la Mer” and “Les Miserables”.
Possibly the most famous art museum in the world is the Louvre, home to such impressive masterpieces as Winged Victory of Samothrace, the “Mona Lisa”, Venus de Milo and the Code of Hammurabi. The Louvre has approximately 380,00 pieces in its collection, of which it displays more than 35,000. Some of these even date as far back as 4,000 B.C..
Like the Louvre, the Bibliothèque nationale de France (National Library of France) is a globally renowned learning center. Established in 1792, the Bibliothèque is home to some of the rarest and oldest texts in all of Europe, including approximately 5,000 Ancient Greek manuscripts. It also hosts multiple cultural exhibitions throughout the year.
The French Parliament is the primary law-making body of Paris, as well as the rest of France. The Parliament of France functions similarly to British Parliament or the U.S. Congress, being comprised of two branches (in this case, the Senat and the Assemblée Nationale) and meeting for several months of the year. Parliamentary debates have been public since the French Revolution.
The Arc de Triomphe, another Parisian hotspot, is located at Place de l’Étoile Designed in 1806 by Jean Chalgrin, The Arc was commissioned by Emperor Napoleon. Though completion was delayed by Chalgrin’s death in 1811 and the Bourbon Restoration, the Arc was completed in 1836 by construction supervisor Héricart de Thury. The Arc de Triomphe stands 164 feet in height and has become a traditional rallying point for French troops after successful missions and during the Bastille Day Military Parade, which happens every year on July 14th.
Probably the most famous cabaret in the world, the Moulin Rouge has inspired all kinds of fiction and artwork. It is also the recognized as the definitive (though not original) source of can-can dancing, and it has one of the most colorful histories of any building in Paris. Minors are permitted to join their families for the show, though reservations and elegant attire are required.
The Seine River is probably the most well-known waterway in France, as well as one of the most tragic. The river infamously flooded in January of 1910, causing thousands of Parisians to lose their homes, and up to several dozen others may have been drowned as a result of the Paris Massacre of 1961. However, not all of the Seine’s history is dark. Rive cruises, small boat rentals, biking and hiking trails, restaurants, lodging, shopping, and fishing can all be found along the Parisian Seine.
If dusty old buildings do not sound appealing, then Disneyland Paris might be more one’s own speed. Built in 1992, this amusement park features close reproductions of many of the rides in Disneyland and Walt Disney World, and well as many Paris-unique additions which are not found within any of the other Disney parks. Last but not least is the home, workplace, and original store of famed fashion designer, Coco Chanel. Chanel revolutionized both national and international fashion during the 1920s, and to this day, her name is practically synonymous with fashion.
These are just of few of the many, many, Parisian tourist attractions which draw more than millions of tourists annually. A full tour of Paris could really take several weeks, so if a person can’t see everything on one trip, then the vacation has by no means been a failed one. The three most important goals on a Parisian vacation should always be to relax, have fun, and enjoy what is truly one of the most amazing cities in all of Europe.