The capital of France, Paris, is an art, culture, and fashion powerhouse that has captured the imagination of millions of people. Without a doubt, it’s also home to a plethora of famous and iconic structures, one of which is the Eiffel Tower. While every traveler should visit the notoriously famous tower in Paris, especially if it’s their first time visiting the city, there are many others that shouldn’t go ignored. Travelers can view ancient artifacts at the Louvre Museum, tour the luxurious rooms of the Palace of Versailles, and admire the architecture of Saint-Chapelle. If you’re wondering about accommodation options, you’ll find many affordable Airbnbs and hotels with a view. To plan your touring activities accordingly, check out our list of famous buildings in Paris, France.
1. Arc de Triomphe
One of the most famous French structures is none other than the Arc de Triomphe, which translates to the Triumphal Arch of the Star in English. It’s a fitting name since the building is at the center of the juncture where 12 avenues meet, forming a star from an overhead perspective. Its architectural design draws inspiration from the Arch of Titus found in Rome but also conveys a patriotic message that resonates with the French people. Furthermore, it’s in a good spot to take breathtaking photos of the hustle and bustle of Parisian life.
Arc de Triomphe
Address: Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris, France
Website: Arc de Triomphe
2. Louvre Museum
If you love viewing art and historical artifacts, then there’s no better place than the Louvre, which is the largest museum of its kind. This iconic building in Paris is housed inside the historic Louvre Palace and it features the popular glass pyramidal structure by its entrance. Once you enter the museum, you’ll be able to view hundreds of thousands of artifacts from ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Middle East, and Medieval and Renaissance Europe.
Address: Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France
Website: Louvre Museum
3. Hôtel National des Invalides
Commissioned by King Louis XIV in 1670, Hôtel National des Invalides was originally intended to serve as a hospital and retirement home for war veterans, particularly those who had fought in his armies. The grand design by architect Libéral Bruant resulted in a majestic ensemble of buildings centered around a vast courtyard, with its most famous feature being the gilded dome church, which remains one of the tallest domes in Paris.
Over time, the complex evolved beyond its original purpose, becoming a symbol of France’s military prowess and heritage. Its renowned gold-domed roof shelters the tomb of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, making it a place of pilgrimage for history enthusiasts and a symbol of national pride. The Hôtel National des Invalides stands as a testament to both the grandeur of French architecture and the nation’s enduring appreciation for its military history.
Hôtel National des Invalides
Address: 75007 Paris, France
Website: Hôtel National des Invalides
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4. Palais Garnier
Designed by Charles Garnier and inaugurated in 1875, Palais Garnier was commissioned by Emperor Napoleon III as part of his grand vision for the reconstruction of Paris under the guidance of Baron Haussmann.
Palais Garnier’s opulent façade, characterized by intricate sculptures and lavish ornamentation, embodies the extravagance of the Second Empire. Its splendid interiors, including the grand marble staircase, the dazzling chandelier-adorned auditorium, and the sumptuous Marc Chagall-painted ceiling, create an unparalleled immersive experience for opera and ballet patrons.
Beyond its architectural and aesthetic significance, the Palais Garnier holds a rich cultural history, having hosted premieres of legendary works such as “The Phantom of the Opera.” This convergence of architectural grandeur, historical resonance, and artistic excellence has cemented the Palais Garnier’s reputation as an iconic Parisian landmark, drawing admirers from all corners of the globe to bask in its grandeur and artistic legacy.
Address: Pl. de l'Opéra, 75009 Paris, France
Website: Palais Garnier
The Conciergerie is one of the major historic structures you can find in Paris located on the west side of Île de la Cité on the river Seine. It was once a part of Palais de la Cité, which was the former residence of the country’s monarch. The structure was a former courthouse and prison which has seen some of the darkest times in the country’s history as it’s where tens of thousands were tried, sentenced, and imprisoned including Marie-Antoinette, the last queen of France, before the French Revolution.
Today, it’s a museum and one of the country’s top tourist attractions drawing in local and international visitors by the millions every year.
Address: 2 Bd du Palais, 75001 Paris, France
Opening hours: 9:30am - 6pm (daily)
Price: 13 USD
6. Fondation Louis Vuitton
Fondation Louis Vuitton building is a museum and a cultural hub on Avenue Mahatma Gandhi and was inaugurated on October 24, 2014. It’s a true architectural wonder designed by the world-renowned American architect Frank Gehry. The two-story structure features postmodern Deconstructivist design elements with sail-like glass panels and beautifully landscaped grounds. The museum features works by several popular international artists including Jeff Koons, Gilbert & George, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Janet Cardiff, George Bures Miller, Sarah Morris, Ellsworth Kelly, and more.
Fondation Louis Vuitton
Address: 8 Av. du Mahatma Gandhi, 75016 Paris, France
Website: Fondation Louis Vuitton
Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 10am - 8pm; Fri: 10am - 11pm; Sat - Sun: 9am - 9pm
Price: 18 USD
7. La Sorbonne
La Sorbonne is a popular historic landmark that houses one of the oldest universities in the Western World, the College of Sorbonne or currently known as the University of Paris. The structure is named after Robert de Sorbon, chaplain and confessor of Louis IX and the college founder.
Although the college has been around for centuries, the familiar building with a mix of neo-Renaissance, antique, and classical architectural styles was actually constructed in 1901. It was designed by architect Henri-Paul Nénot at the request of the former Minister of Education, Jules Ferry. Today, this famous French building continues to attract tourists from around the world due to the structure’s architectural beauty.
Address: 1 Rue Victor Cousin, 75005 Paris, France
Website: La Sorbonne
8. Centre Pompidou
Just a 10-minute walk from the popular shopping district of Les Halles lies one of the most recognizable buildings in Paris: Centre Pompidou. The construction of this notable structure was completed in 1977, and the complex was built with the intention of housing art and literature. It’s home to Musée National d'Art Moderne and its vast collection of modern and contemporary art, as well as Bibliothèque publique d'information or BPI, the city’s main public library. Combining postmodern and high-tech architecture, it’s hard not to be arrested by the sight of this complex. Besides the building itself, its location on Place Georges-Pompidou makes it a worthy tourist destination, since you’ll likely find street performers, sketch artists, and various attractions parked in front.
Address: Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris, France
Website: Centre Pompidou
Opening hours: Wed - Mon: 11am - 9pm (closed on Tue)
Price: 11 - 15 EUR (13 - 18 USD)
The Panthéon is a famous Frenhc building located in the 5th arrondissement. It’s older than Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower as it was built between 1764 and 1790 at the bidding of Louis XV, who intended for it to be a church. By the time it was finally completed, the French Revolution had begun, and the year after it was decided that it would be used as a mausoleum.
Notable French figures and citizens are interred here, including Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, Marie Curie, and, among others, the Panthéon’s architect, Jacques-Germain Soufflot. There are also paintings and sculptures inside, as well as a copy of Foucault’s original pendulum, making it one of the best places to visit.
Address: Place du Panthéon, 75005 Paris, France
Opening hours: 10am - 6:30pm (daily)
10. Palace of Versailles
This exquisite palace will amaze travelers with its manicured gardens, canals, fountains, Hall of Mirrors, Royal Opera, and lavish salons named after the pantheon of ancient Greek and Roman deities. It was formerly the residence and hunting lodge of Louis XIV, the monarch of the House of Bourbon during the late 17th century. Today, it’s owned by the French state and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and museum.
Palace of Versailles
Address: Place d'Armes, 78000 Versailles, France
Website: Palace of Versailles
11. Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre
Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre is one of the most important and visited landmarks in Paris. It’s a Roman Catholic church that’s built on top of Montmartre, which is the highest hill in the entire city.
Construction of the church began in 1875 and is a representation of a loving Christ while also playing an important role in the area’s cultural and political landscape over the past century. Travelers enjoy visiting the basilica to relax by its luscious grounds, follow a liturgy, and enjoy the sounds of its bells and pipe organ.
Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre
Address: 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris, France
12. Grande Arche de la Défense
At Puteaux, which is a western Parisian suburb, one will come across a cool building in Paris. This giant cube structure that’s 110 meters (361 feet) high and known as the Grande Arche or Grande Arche de la Défense.
The building is a representation of a hypercube that’s projected into our three-dimensional reality, and it’s dedicated to humanitarian values. There’s a metro station, a busy motorway, and a business district in the immediate vicinity that lights up beautifully at night giving tourists plenty of photo opportunities.
Grande Arche de la Défense
Address: 1 Parvis de la Défense, 92800 Puteaux, France
Website: Grande Arche de la Défense
13. Arènes de Lutèce
The Arènes de Lutèce is an ancient Roman amphitheatre built during the 1st century AD. It features a circular arena, and most of its circumference consists of a terraced seating area. The ancient Romans, whether they were rich or poor, would congregate here to watch gladiators engage in gut-wrenching combat. Nowadays, it’s a far more tranquil environment that attracts locals and tourists who can relax for a while and take photos at this important landmark.
Arènes de Lutèce
Address: 49 Rue Monge, 75005 Paris, France
Website: Arènes de Lutèce
14. Luxembourg Palace
There’s no denying that the French Baroque architectural style is both beautiful and iconic. So head off to Luxembourg Palace, which was originally the residence of Queen Marie de’ Medici, where you can take in the magnificent facade of the building and its plush garden area.
During the early 19th century, the palace was transformed into a legislative building with a senate chamber, that’s why one of its key attractions are the seven statues of notable French politicians. Make sure to get to the palace early to spend time some quality time by its garden basin and then take a tour through its many lavish rooms.
Address: 15 Rue de Vaugirard, 75291 Paris, France
Website: Luxembourg Palace
15. Musée d'Orsay
During your trip to Paris, you’ll likely want to spend some time by the picturesque Seine River. You could even take a riverside tour along the Seine. One of the most iconic buildings next to the left bank of the river is the Musée d'Orsay. It’s worth your while to pop in and admire the amazing impressionist and post-impressionist artworks from various world-famous painters. You’ll also notice the gorgeous clock and ceiling, which were the original fixtures of the train terminal before it was transformed into an art museum.
Address: 1 Rue de la Légion d'Honneur, 75007 Paris, France
Website: Musée d'Orsay
16. Notre-Dame de Paris
One of Paris’s many stunning architectural masterpieces is none other than the Notre-Dame de Paris, which was partially popularized by the famous novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. This medieval cathedral boasts a French Gothic style, an imposing rib vault, awe-inspiring flying buttresses, and eye-catching stained glass rose windows. Furthermore, there’s a massive organ with 8,000 pipes below one of the rose windows that impresses many visitors.
Notre-Dame de Paris
Address: 6 Parvis Notre-Dame - Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France
Website: Notre-Dame de Paris
King Louis IX, also known as Saint Louis, owned several items related to Christ such as the Image of Edessa and the Crown of Thorns. He decided to build Sainte-Chapelle, a famously beautiful structure in Paris, in the courtyard of Palais de la Citéto to store these Passion relics. This Catholic church features a French Gothic architectural style, intricately detailed stained glass windows, and impressive stonework and sculptures throughout the building. Travelers interested in architectural gems will have a blast exploring this important historical landmark.
Address: 8 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris, France
Never a dull moment
Paris is quite special, and that’s apparent when one comes across one of its famous buildings that have captured the imaginations of artists, writers, filmmakers, and travelers. Gorgeous museums, Gothic cathedrals, lavish palaces, and even the incredible street art define the aesthetics of this fascinating city. Moreover, there are so many of these magnificent buildings that you’ll never get bored exploring them during your trip.
Frequently asked questions about the famous buildings in Paris, France
1. Which iconic buildings can one visit for their architectural beauty in Paris?
While there are plenty of marvelous structures that you can gaze upon for days on end in the City of Lights, some of the best ones to visit for their famous architecture in Paris and around the world are: i) Sainte-Chapelle, ii) Palais Garnier, iii) Palace of Versailles, and iv) Basilica of the Sacré Cœur.
2. Which famous buildings in Paris are great sightseeing destinations for couples?
If you want a worthwhile sightseeing adventure in Paris with your beloved, be sure to include these spots on your travel plans: i) Louvre Museum, ii) La Sorbonne, iii) Palace of Versailles, and iv) Luxembourg Palace.
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