There are many beautiful churches in Paris, but my personal favorite is Sainte Chapelle. I even go as far as to call it one of my favorite sights in Paris.
This large chapel is tucked away on the Île de la cité (where you also find the Notre Dame), but it is certainly worth the search. This beautiful church stands in the middle of the current courthouse.
The exterior is beautiful, but not exactly impressive. But then again, at Sainte-Chapelle it’s all about the inside of the building.
The ground floor is colorfully decorated with red, green and blue shades and at the back you can already find an impressive stained glass window. But it’s actually the second floor that is the highlight of your visit to Sainte-Chapelle. Sixteen gigantic stained glass windows transform this space into a beautiful color palette like you’ve never seen before. The walls and ceilings where there is no glass are equally beautifully painted with biblical scenes.
To visit Sainte-Chapelle you pay €10 per person. If you also want to visit the Concierge, you can arrange combination tickets for €15. Both parts of Sainte-Chapelle can also be visited with the Paris Museum Pass.
2. The Dôme des Invalides
The Dôme des Invalides, or the Hôtel des Invalides, is best known as the place in Paris where Napoleon was buried. But did you know that this large domain is also a gigantic museum?
You walk between a lot of historical weapons, army equipment and original clothing of major wars that the French have fought. If you’re fascinated by armor from the Middle Ages and the French Revolution until the Second World War, then you should certainly take a look here.
It isn’t only about brutal weapons. You also see a lot of beautiful weaponry that looks more like art than murdering tools. You also learn a lot about Louis XIV, Napoleon Bonaparte and Charles de Gaulle in these exhibitions.
The highlight of your visit to the Dôme des Invalides is of course Napoleon’s tomb. In the cathedral with the golden dome you see splendor as you can only see in Paris. An impressive grave for an impressive man!
3. The Louvre
The Louvre probably rings a bell to everyone, but did you know that this is the largest and most visited museum in the world? With a collection of 38,000 artworks, there is plenty to see for everyone!
In addition to world-famous artworks such as the Mona Lisa and the Venus of Milo, there is of course a lot more to discover. Personally I found the exhibition dedicated to Egypt very impressive (there is even a perfectly preserved mummy!), but the French paintings also deserve an hour or two of your attention.
Stretch out a day for your visit to the Louvre, because there is just too much beauty to see here. If you prefer not to waste time searching for certain works of art yourself, you can always take a guided tour. You pay between €50 and €60 for that. For a ticket without a guide you pay €17.
4. The Catacombs of Paris
Paris is probably the most romantic city for couples in love, but not everything here is so romantic! Under the ground you can find a creepy maze filled with the bones and skulls of Parisians who died long ago. These underground catacombs are one of the strangest but at the same time one of the most popular points of interest in Paris.
Every day thousands of people stand in long rows to see the strange collection of bones with their own eyes. Only 200 people can roam the catacombs at the same time, so queues can sometimes be long. Have a little bit of patience, because it really is worth it! On the way you walk about a mile and a half along a clearly marked path, because you don’t want to get lost…
If you don’t mind moving in, you pay € 17 on the spot. Would you rather prefer to line up the queues? Then you pay €30 per person.
5. The Arc de Triomphe
There are several triumphal arches in Paris, but none is as well known as the Arc de Triomphe. This gigantic block of stone stands in the middle of the famous Champs-Élysées and towers 50 meters (164 ft) above all traffic. The outside view is already impressive, because the gigantic images and inscriptions seem lifelike. But did you know that you can also climb the Arc de Triomphe? For €12 per person (free with the Paris Museum Pass) you can climb the narrow stairs. Once you reach the viewing platform, you immediately forget your breathlessness. The panorama from here is really wonderful! It looks like you’re right in the center of Paris and all traffic is heading towards you. Nearby you can also see the Eiffel tower towering above the houses.
6. The Notre Dame
The most famous church in Paris is of course the Notre Dame. This gigantic cathedral is visible from afar, and when the bells are ringing they are heard from even further on. A visit to the Notre Dame is therefore a must if you’re in Paris. The inside of the church is decorated with beautiful vaults, a lot of art and some large and colorful stained glass windows.
Be sure to climb the bell tower too! You need to enter through a separate side entrance for this, but once you have climbed the many stairs you are rewarded with a phenomenal view over the French capital. Also pay attention to the cutegargoyles that dangle on the sides of the cathedral. Don’t forget that there are two levels! You also get the best view from the highest platform.
A visit to the Notre Dame is free, but climbing the tower costs €10.
Update: On the 15th of April, the Notre Dame suffered grave damage from a fire that broke out. Because of this, it now is impossible to visit this famous church. Once there are more details available, I will update this page.
7. Père Lachaise
Visiting a cemetery is normally not such a fun activity during a city trip, but Père-Lachaise might be an exception on this rule. On this graveyard you’ll find thousands of tombs that look more like art than someone’s last resting place. What makes this cemetery really interesting is the many celebrities that are buried here. Stars and celebrities such as Édith Piaf, Oscar Wilde and Jim Morisson are among the most famous, but also classic artists such as Chopin and Molière lay hidden here. It takes a while before you have spotted all the famous graves, because the winding streets and alleyways don’t make it any easier. On the way you also see tombstones of unknown people, and their graves are often much more striking and extravagant than those of the stars.
A visit to Père-Lachaise is completely free and if you prefer to discover the cemetery with a guide, you pay €8 per person.
8. The Sacre Coeur and Montmartre
Montmartre is the highest hill in the French capital. On this elevation also stands one of the most famous tourist attractions of Paris: the Sacre Coeur. This white church can be seen almost everywhere in the city, and it’s therefore not surprising that from here you get a beautiful view over the rest of Paris. Also the inside of the Sacre Coeur is quite spectacular! A gigantic mosaic and the lifelike sculptures certainly make it a visit to remember. If you also want to visit the dome and the crypt, you have to pay. The entrance to the church itself is free.
After you’ve visited the church of the Sacred Heart, I advise you to go a little further and discover Montmartre. This picturesque painting district is characterized by the alternative atmosphere that hangs here. Cute cafes and restaurants and a square full of artists. There is no better place to look at people than here!
9. Le mur des je t’aime
Near the Sacre Coeur and Montmartre you’ll also find ‘le mur des je t’aime’. On the blue tiles of this wide wall, ‘je t’aime’ or ‘I love you’ is listed in hundreds of languages. This attraction is the ideal place to visit for couples in love.
In how many languages can you say ‘I love you’?
10. Galeries Lafayette
The Galeries Lafayette are now world famous. What started as a small shop has grown into a real empire with dozens of branches in France, but also far beyond.
The Galeries Lafayette are anything but an ordinary shopping center! You’ll find expensive brands such as Gucci, Chanel and Prada and that attracts many Asian customers who often wait in rows, as if it were an attraction.
If, like me, you can’t afford to pay for all that, it’s still worthwhile to come here. The interior of the head office (40 Boulevard Haussmann) is breathtaking. A beautiful dome is visible from every floor, and on the roof terrace you get a phenomenal panoramic view of Paris. Be sure to check out the beautiful window displays. No expense or effort is spared either!
11. The Opéra Garnier
You don’t have to be an opera lover to find the Opéra Garnier fantastic. During the day you can walk around quietly in this stately building, without having to listen to one high (or deep) note. From the moment I walked onto the staircase I was impressed. The interior immediately reminded me of a scene of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’, and well… The author of that book was in fact also inspired by the Opéra Garnier for his story!
For me, the stairwell looked a bit like a dark room in which the chandeliers, candlesticks, stairs and sculptures looked eerily like bones, skulls and skeletons.
Once you inspect the upper rooms, you’ll get to see a completely different view. It seems like you’ve suddenly landed in Versailles! The stately rooms are inlaid with shiny gold, paintings with mythological figures, lots of chandeliers and even more beautiful items. If there are no rehearsals in progress, you can also visit the concert hall. There you see a lot of gold and a gigantic chandelier tumbling from the ceiling.
This is really one of those things you HAVE to do in Paris. A ticket costs €11, and for a guided tour you only pay €4.50 extra.
12. The Eiffel tower
A list of things you have to do in Paris would of course not be complete without a mention of the Eiffel Tower. This gigantic steel construction is the tallest building in Paris and is already in the city of light since the world exhibition of 1889. Over the years, the interest in this beautiful monument has only increased, and nowadays it welcomes more than seven million visitors annually.
Instead of just looking to the Eiffel Tower from far away, you can also climb this sight. In total there are three floors that you can visit and from all three you get a beautiful view over the French capital.
A ticket for the Eiffel Tower costs €17 per person. Queues can be huge, so I recommend buying skip-the-line tickets for the Eiffel Tower. These cost you €30, but for that extra price you can skip all the long lines.
13. The Orsay museum
I said it before: Paris is a dream city for culture and art lovers. The Orsay museum is a beautiful art museum that’s housed in a former train station. After the Louvre, this museum is the most visited museum in Paris. It’s popularity with locals and tourists can be explained by the many art treasures that you find here. Most of the paintings and sculptures were made by impressionists with huge names such as Van Goch, Manet, Monet, Cézanne and Degas. Whoever finds paintings less interesting, might be more interested in the largest collection of sculptured works. Many of the works come from Rodin, but sculptures by other masters are also seen.
14. Le Jardin du Luxembourg
If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Paris, it’s a good idea to visit the Jardin du Luxembourg. This large city park is located in the middle of Paris (in the sixth arrondissement) and attracts many locals and tourists in good weather. Have some rest at the large pond, admire the beautiful castle or appreciate the beautiful sculptures (more than 100!) which are scattered all over the park. Especially for families with children, this green park is a warm welcome from all those concrete blocks.
15. Maison Aurouze
Admittedly, this is one of the strangest things to do in Paris, but if you’re in the area, I think you should take a look. Maison Aurouze is a typical shop in Paris that specializes in destroying vermin. Just like traditional shops and grocers, they also like to praise their goods. And how do you do that better than hanging some rats and mice in front of your window?
16. Musée de Cluny
If you would like to travel back in time, the Cluny Museum might be something for you. The Musée National du Moyen Age has a large collection of medieval art, important manuscripts and many medieval items such as furniture and weapons.
Next to the museum you can also visit the Thermal baths of Cluny. These are the ruins of Gallo-Roman baths that stood here many centuries ago. Once they must’ve been quite impressive, but unfortunately right now there’s not much left besides a few ruins.
17. Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
Another park in Paris that’s really worth a visit is the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. This third largest city park is characterized by its hilly landscape, which often gives you very nice views over the French capital. In addition to a lot of greenery and hiking trails, you’ll also find the temple of Sibylle. Especially from the lake this is very nice to look at.
Personally, I thought this was the most beautiful park in Paris, because it looks a bit more rugged than the other parks. Don’t get me wrong: you can clearly notice the English influences here, but still, the rocks, the waterfalls and the sometimes wild vegetation create a unique effect.
18. Rue Crémieux
If you like colors, you have to walk along the Rue Crémieux. Surrounded by streets with gray and yellow buildings you would easily overlook it. But suddenly a few brightly colored houses appear. To enhance the color, there are also dozens of colorful (and fragrant!) flower pots standing outside these houses in spring and summer, which make a visit to Rue Crémieux even more pleasant.
19. The Statue of Liberty of Paris
New York isn’t the only city with a statue of liberty! Paris also has one. Actually there are a few more, because there are also three copies in the Musée d’Orsay (including one of the actual sculptor of the Statue of Liberty: Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi). But the most beautiful sculpture is to be seen on the Pont de Grenelle. Although it’s equally beautiful, I have to disappoint you a bit because it’s a lot smaller than the original. Moreover, it’s also quite far from the other things you have to do in Paris. If you want to see it, it’ll take quite some effort to get there but the sight is pretty impressive!
20. Musée de l’Orangerie
According to many Parisiens (and tourists), the Musée de l’Orangerie is one of the most beautiful museums in Paris. I must certainly confirm that, because the paintings from the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century are all masterpieces. It’s especially the Water Lilies of Claude Monet that are worth seeing here, but the works of Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne and especially Chaïm Soutine enchanted me as well.
After your visit, you should definitely also walk through the park (Jardin des Tuileries). When the flowers bloom and when the weather is nice, this is a great place to take a short rest from all the things to do in Paris!
21. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle
Of course, a museum doesn’t always have to deal with art. The natural history museum of Paris is a real scientific gem! You’ll get to see a lot of taxidermy on the different floors. And believe me… That really is an impressive sight! From small butterflies to the skeleton of a sperm whale: you’ll find almost everything here! Even (almost) extinct animals such as the dodo get showcased in this museum. This place is fun for children and for parents, because it’s not only beautiful but also very informative without it ever getting too complicated. If you’re here I also recomment to visit the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution. This huge space is occupied by hundreds of skeletons of humans and animals. Very impressive!
22. Centre Pompidou
Paris has many museums that are worth visiting, but if you’re looking for modern and contemporary art, then you have to be in the Centre Pompidou. The exterior of this grand building is already impressive! Gigantic tubes in all colors of the rainbow crisscross over and through the building and in the middle of all this runs a long escalator that slowly brings you up. Don’t walk straight into the museum, but enjoy the spectacular view you get from here first.
The sober and clean white walls are full of modern artworks and between all these spaces there are corridors with (strange) and spectacular constructions.
The Centre Pompidou is indeed very big, but the museum only occupies two floors, so you don’t have to rush to see all these well-known and lesser known works of art. What I personally liked very much about the Center Pompidou was the variety of all the art. There are many paintings, but also photographs, film, sculptures and other art forms are seen here.
At less than twenty kilometers (12,5 miles) from Paris lies the world famous Versailles. The former palace of the Sun King keeps you busy for at least a full day! The richly decorated interiors with shiny gold, the finest silk and the beautiful paintings will surely charm you. All that luxury and abundance… It feels as if you ended up in a movie! This gigantic domain is much more than just the castle of Versailles! Be sure to visit the beautiful gardens with a maze of hedges and dozens of golden fountains, the domain of Marie-Antoinette with a reconstructed medieval village or just go relaxing in the rest of this gigantic park. A tip to make your visit more pleasant: book your priority tickets online and a bit in advance of your visit. The queues can be ridiculously long…
Buy your tickets online and in advance
Paris can get incredibly busy! Therefore it’s always a good idea to already have your entrance tickets booked prior to arrival. This way you avoid disappointment and you won’t have to wait in line for every attraction.
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Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.