There’s nothing quite like Paris. Like a grand masterpiece, its broad strokes and grandeur immediately impresses, but it’s the finer details in its intimate quarters that truly captivate. It’s best to become immersed into its little neighbourhoods at a leisurely pace, but if you are only here for a few days, here’s a list of places that will leave you charmed.
Day one: get acquainted with the city
There are several ways of getting around the city. The Paris metro is one of the oldest and best systems in the world and will get you within a couple of blocks of almost anywhere you’d like to go. You could purchase 3-day Le Paris Visite tickets for tourists. A more exciting way to take in the sights of the city is, of course, getting around above ground. Metro tickets can also be used for the buses. Paris is a large and sprawling city, so on Day One, you’ll want to spend some time getting acquainted with the highlights of the city. Paris L'OpenTour buses will take you on tour routes around all the major places of interest and to the most notable landmarks you need to see.
1. Basilica du Sacre-Couer de Montmartre
The Basilica Sacre-Coeur is a significant political and social monument, symbolising both the defeat of France in the 1871 Franco-Prussian War and an embodiment of conservative moral order. Its design includes nationalist themes, with statues of the French national saints, Joan of Arc and King Saint Louis IX. Tourists can visit the top of the dome for a spectacular panoramic view of the city of Paris.
Today, on the surface, the Basilica may be touristy, but it still has a heart of gold. You will be delighted by its more personal charms like the musicians performing on the steps, or groups of friends picnicking on the hillside park. You can get to the Basilica by taking Buses 30, 31, 80, or 85 to the bottom of the hill the Basilica is built upon. From there, you could walk or take the funicular directly to the Basilica.
Basilica of the Sacred Heart Jesus
Address: 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris, France
Opening Hours: Daily 6.00 am to 10.30 pm
Duration: 1-2 hours.
Access: Take the subway to Jules Joffrin (M° 12) and Montmartrobus (Place du Tertre stop)
Website: Sacre-Coeur, Montmartre
2. Eiffel Tower
Of course, no visit to Paris is complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower. Seeing the structure firsthand is astounding enough, but exploring its insides is something else. You could choose to go to its 1st floor with its transparent floor and have a meal in the Tour Eiffel restaurant, or go to the 2nd floor for views and to photograph the city. There’s a champagne bar at the top, where you can toast to finally being in Paris. The tower is open until late, so stay to enjoy the romantic views of the City of Lights. Lift entrance tickets to the top begin at 17,00 EUR.
Address: Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France
Price: from 21 USD
Opening Hours: 9 a.m. to midnight from mid-June to early September, from 9:30 am to 11 pm during the rest of the year.
Duration: Around 2-3 hours required.
Access: By metro, Line no.9, “Trocadéro” station
Contact: 33 08 92 70 12 39
Website: Eiffel Tower
Frequently described as the world’s most beautiful avenue, the Champs-Elysees is as much a symbol of Paris as the Eiffel Tower. Here, tourists and Parisians stroll the streets lined with restaurants, luxury boutiques, flagship stores, and nightclubs. Some of Paris’ top museums, including Grand Palais, the Petit Palais, and the Palais de la Découverte are located here. Every first Sunday of the month, the avenue is reserved for pedestrians and cyclists, and the museums are free.
Address: Avenue des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris
Access: Take the Metro, Line 1 to Charles de Gaulle, George V, Franklin Roosevelt, Champs-Elysees Clemenceau.
4. Arc de Triomphe
The Arch of Triumph, in honor of all those who fought for France, particularly those in the Napoleonic Wars. Engraved on the inside and top of the arches are the names of generals, and every evening, a flame is lit on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the Great War. From the terrace, you have a great view of the Champs-Elysees, which is even more stunning at night.
Arc de Triomphe
Address: Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris, France
Price: from 9 USD
Opening Hours: 10 am –11 pm
Duration: around 3 hours required.
Access: There is an underground tunnel on the Avenue de la Grande Armee side of the circle. You can access this tunnel from the Wagram exit of the Metro. Take the Metro: lines 1, 2 and 6, station Charles-de-Gaulle-Etoile
Contact: +33 1 55 377377
Website: Arc de Triomphe
5. River Cruise on the Seine
The River Seine has many secrets. The ashes of Joan of Arc were scattered here, and Napoleon apparently wished to be buried here, too. Today, a cruise on the Seine gives visitors a unique way to see Paris. You’ll glide past the Notre Dame Cathedral under the famous Pont Neuf, and catch a glimpse of Parisian landmarks, from the Louvre to the Tuileries Gardens. The river cruise takes about an hour and tickets start from 15 EUR (16 USD).
Address: Bateaux Parisiens Port de la Bourdonnais, 75007 Paris
Price: from 16 USD
Opening Hours: 10 am - 10.30 pm. Sightseeing cruise times according to schedule.
Duration: around 90 minutes required.
Access: Metro to Bir-Hakeim.
Contact: +33 01 76 64 14 45
Website: Bateaux Parisiens
6. Moulin Rouge
At night, prepare to be dazzled by arguably the best cabaret show in the world. Its popular Feerie play promises to be entertaining, with glorious feathery costumes, and a dazzling array of singing, dancing, and the unmistakable French can-can. This is entertainment like no other, set in a historic location. Shows start at 9 pm Online bookings can be made. You’ll want to pay attention to the dress codes, as jacket and ties are preferred, bermudas and sports attires are not.
Address: 82, Bd de Clichy, 75018 Paris, Montmartre
Price: from 108 USD
Opening Hours: Shows start at 9 p.m.
Duration: More than 3 hours required.
Access: Metro stop Blanche on line 2 is a walking distance from the theater.
Contact: +33 01 53 098282
Website: Moulin Rouge
The breathtaking architecture of the Pantheon is something you must see for yourself. The Pantheon Paris (from Greek Pantheon, meaning “every god”) was constructed under the order of Louis XV as gratitude to God after his health recovered. The views from here are fantastic — you can literally see almost all of Paris. Inside, the Gothic decorations and its classical style are visually amazing. The Pantheon crypt, located in its subterranean chamber, is the final resting space of respected French poets, writers, and scientists, including Voltaire, Rousseau, Louis Braille, and Marie Curie.
Address: Place du Panthéon, 5e
Price: from 8 USD
Opening Hours: Daily 10 am - 6 pm.
Duration: 2-3 hours required.
Access: Metro: Walking distance from Cardinal station.
Contact: 01 44321800
2. Notre Dame
Perhaps most famous for its role in Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Cathedral is widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in the world. With its vast displays of sculptures, artwork, and stained glass art, this cathedral built eight centuries ago remains unrivaled in its display. There are tours offered every day in different languages and specific schedules are listed online.
Cathedral Notre-Dame of Paris
Address: Cathedral Notre-Dame of Paris, 6 parvis Notre-Dame - Place John Paul II, 75004 Paris
Opening Hours: 7.45 am - 6.45 pm.
Duration: 1-2 hours required.
Access: Short walk from St-Michel Notre Dame Metro Station (blue line)
Contact: + 33 01 42 345610
Website: Cathedral Notre-Dame
3. Luxembourg Gardens
After taking in the grand historic monuments, perhaps you’d like to head outdoors for a stroll in the landmark Luxembourg Gardens, the most romantic gardens in Paris with its flowers, statues, and fountains. Created under Queen Marie de Medici in 1612, the gardens are kept vibrant with outdoor cafes, activities for children, and Parisians playing chess.
Address: Jardin du Luxembourg, 75006 Paris, France
Access: Take the Metro to RER B Luxembourg station.
Contact: +33 1 42 34 20 00
4. The Louvre
The Louvre is the world’s greatest art museum. It’s also one of the largest, with works from almost every civilisation on earth displayed in a structure with a history spanning nine centuries. The Mona Lisa is, of course, the main attraction, along with a myriad of other coveted masterpieces. The Louvre is open every day except Tuesday, and there is less of a crowd on Wednesday and Friday nights when the museum is open late. The entrance fee starts at 15 EUR; purchase online to avoid queues.
Address: Musée du Louvre, 75058 Paris - France
Price: from 18 USD
Opening Hours: 9 am - 6 pm. Closed on Tuesdays. Wednesdays and Fridays closing time at 9.45 pm
Duration: 4-5 hours required.
Access: Walk from Métro: Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre (lines 1 and 7)
Contact: +33 01 40205317
Website: The Louvre
On day three, explore the quieter quarters of the city.
1. Place des Vosges
One of the oldest and most beautiful squares in the city. Take a long stroll under the arches and along the paths of the central garden. Admire the red brick facade of the buildings. On Sundays, there are shops set up. To get to the square, take the Metro 1 to Saint-Paul or Metro 8 to Chemin Vert.
Place des Vosges
Address: Place des Vosges, 75004 Paris, France
Website: Place des Vosges
2. Place du Tertre
Another square that is worth a visit is Place du Tertre at Montmartre, home of artists and writers. In the 1880s, artists started communing and working here, giving the square the bohemian vibe it has to this day. This was where artists like Dali, Renoir, and Van Gogh found inspiration.
Place du Tertre
Address: Place du Tertre, 75018 Paris, France
Website: Place du Tertre
3. Centre Georges Pompidou
Centre Pompidou is instantly recognisable by its enormous coloured tubing and external escalators. Visit this museum to admire a 20th-century architectural marvel and view more modern and contemporary art by artists like Picasso, Matisse, and Andy Warhol. The museum is open every day except Tuesdays. It’s located right in the center of the city.
Address: Centre Pompidou, Place Georges Pompidou, 75004 Paris
Price: from 17 USD
Opening Hours: 11.00 am – 9.00 pm every day except Tuesdays
Duration: Around 1-2 hours required.
Access: Take the Metro: Rambuteau (line 11), Hôtel de Ville (lines 1 and 11), Châtelet (lines 1, 4, 7, 11 and 14); or Bus: 29, 38, 47, 75.
Contact: +33 01 44 78 12 33
Website: Centre Pompidou
The city of Paris is like a lady, beautiful inside and out. She has a million stories that have shaped more than just her facade but runs deeper into her culture, her soul. Paris something you must experience at least once, but be prepared to be charmed.
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