Top Things to Do in Paris
No monument symbolizes Paris better than Gustave Eiffel's iconic Iron Lady, a “temporary” structure that opened in 1889. It's breathtaking, whether you join the millions of visitors taking selfies from the top or see it sparkling from your hotel window after dark. Check out the glass floor on the first level.
It took almost 200 years to finish this cathedral, but it was well worth the wait. Immortalized by Victor Hugo and his fictional hunchback, the Dame is a Gothic masterpiece. In 2013 she celebrated her 850th birthday with a bang—or at least a clang: nine new bells now reproduce the sounds of yesteryear.
Jardin du Luxembourg
Beloved by urban-weary Parisians, this is one of the Left Bank's prime leisure spots. Relax in a reclining park chair with a picnic or a book, watch a game of boules while the kids enjoy a marionette show, or visit an exhibition at the Musée du Luxembourg in the 17th-century Palais de Luxembourg.
Jardin des Tuileries
This formal, oh-so-French garden stretches between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde. Originally laid out in the 16th century, it's punctuated by contemporary sculptures and includes two noteworthy museums: the Jeu de Paume and the Musée de l'Orangerie. In summer, there's a small amusement park, too.
Arc de Triomphe
The 164-foot-tall Arc de Triomphe has served as the backdrop for official military parades since its completion in 1836. Use the underground passageway to reach the monument, where you can visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beneath the arch or mount the stairs for amazing panoramic views.
Built as a train station for the 1900 World's Fair, this beautiful Belle Époque building is now filled with Art Nouveau objects, Impressionist paintings, vintage photography, and realist sculptures. Be sure to drink in the Seine views from the grand ballroom, which today houses a restaurant.
Magnificently over the top, Charles Garnier's opera house is a Second Empire jewel. Its marble staircase and ruby-red box seats have been featured in films from Dangerous Liaisons to Marie-Antoinette, and its backstage corridors are famously haunted by the Phantom of the Opera.
Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers’s groundbreaking "inside-out" design delivered a visual shock when Centre Pompidou opened back in 1977—and it’s still an eye-popper. The galleries (including one aimed at kids) make it a top destination for connoisseurs of modern and contemporary art.
Poised at the highest point in the city, this white wedding cake of a basilica dominates Montmartre's hilltop. Most visitors are content with the views overlooking Paris from Sacré-Coeur's stairs, but ambitious sightseekers can ascend to the top of its 271-foot dome for an even better perspective.
Musée du Louvre
The grandest museum in the world began as a medieval fortress and morphed into a sumptuous royal palace before the French Revolution gave it a new lease on life as home to the Republic's art collection. Don't miss the art lover’s “holy trinity”—Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, and Venus de Milo.
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