Paris, the City of Lights, is considered the most romantic city in the world. Its architecture and quantity of attractions is second to none. Here is my list of the best things to while you are in this enchanting city.
1. Climb the Eiffel Tower — Built for the 1889 World Exposition, this iconic landmark has become a symbol of the city and is beloved by Parisians. It looks like it was made with an Erector Set, and, because of its height, can be seen from most areas of the city.
2. Climb to the Top of the Arc d’Triomphe — This memorial arch was built by Napoleon to celebrate his many victories. It sits at the top of the famous boulevard, Champs Elysses, and is the nexus of a series of grand avenues. There are fantastic views from the observation deck.
3. Visit Sacre Coeur — This beautiful, gleaming, white church prominently occupies one of the highest hills in the city. When originally built, it was considered garish, but now has been adopted by the French people and is very popular with tourists.
4. Spend a few Hours in the Louvre — This magnificent museum, one of the best in the world, would take days to fully appreciate, so visitors usually spend a morning or afternoon looking at some of the immense collection. The most celebrated work is Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
5. Cruise the Seine on a Bateau Mouche — These tour boats leave from the docks in front of the Eiffel Tower. The narrated tour provides a great orientation for the area of Paris around the river.
6. Take an Excursion to Versailles — The world’s quintessential royal palace is only about 20 miles southwest of Paris and is a must-see for visitors to the city. Louis XIV’s grand residence is the standard against which all mansions are measured.
7. Side Trip to Chartres Cathedral — Lying some 50 miles southwest of Paris is the classic Gothic cathedral of Chartres. Built in the late 12th century, this magnificent edifice features beautiful stained glass, some in a shade of blue known as “Chartres blue.”
8. Excursion to Fontainebleu — Another royal hunting lodge, this grand palace was enlarged and embellished over the years. It is located just southeast of the city.
9. Get Ghoulish in Paris’ Catacombs — Thousands of bodies were buried in these tunnels beneath the city. Now, tourists can take an eerie tour to see these remains from many years ago.
10. Walk the Champs Elysses — With rents that are astronomical, only the wealthiest vendors can afford an address here. It’s fun just to walk the broad avenue and window shop or people-watch.
11. Take the Kids to Disneyland Paris — This was Disney’s first venture out of the United States, and, with some necessary tweaking in the early days, has become a popular destination on the continent.
12. Hang Out With the Artists in Montmartre — This avant garde section of Paris, north of the Seine, has long been an enclave populated by artists. It’s fun to walk the neighborhood and stop in a cafe to relax.
13. Check Out the Moulin Rouge — The Pigalle section of the city is known for its seedy nature. The most recognized landmark in this area is the nightclub, Moulin Rouge (red windmill) which still puts on risque girlie shows.
14. Visit Notre Dame Cathedral — This is one of Paris’ most visited and recognized attractions. The premier Gothic church was immortalized by Victor Hugo in his novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
15. Side Trip to Giverny — Impressionist Claude Monet bought this country home, just northwest of Paris, and forever embedded its landscape in our minds with his many paintings. Fans flock to the home and walk the gardens.
16. Take a Rest at Luxembourg Gardens — This piece of tranquility and beauty in the heart of the city is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. The colorful flower gardens and shaded paths offer an escape from the bustle of the city.
17. Visit Musee d’Orsay — This museum, housed in an elegant building across the Seine from the Louvre, is much more manageable than its big sister and has become a popular alternative.
18. People-watch at a Cafe on the Left Bank — The left bank of the Seine has long been known as the hang-out of intellectuals, because of the proximity to the Sorbonne, Paris’s grand university. Take a walk through the area and be sure to stop at a cafe for an hour or two.
19. Visit Sainte-Chapelle Church — This charming church sits on an island, the Ile de Cite, in the middle of the Seine, and was built to house several important relics from the time of Jesus Christ.
20. See Napoleon’s Tomb in Les Invalides — The domed church in this complex, dedicated to France’s military heroes, contains the tomb of Napoleon, although the site began as a hospital.
21. Check Out the Paris Opera House — Ernest Hemingway once said that, if he sat here long enough, everyone in the world would pass by. True or not, the opera house is a well-known landmark in the city center.
22. Go Modern in the Pompidou Centre — This venue is dedicated to Modern Art and competes with the Louvre and Orsay for tourist attention.
23. Get Morbid at Pere Lachaise Cemetery — This popular cemetery contains the graves of many of Paris’s notables. Probably the most visited gravesite, however, is that of Jim Morrison of the rock group, the Doors.
24. Visit Paris’ Pantheon — Not nearly as old or as significant as the Pantheon of Rome, this church of all religions, nevertheless, is popular with tourists who venture into this left bank neighborhood.