9 PARIS MUST SEES -TOP SIGHTS YOU SHOULD NOT MISS

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9 PARIS MUST SEES -TOP SIGHTS YOU SHOULD NOT MISS

Under normal circumstances this would have been a list of the top 10 sight but because of the devastating fire to the Notre Damme Cathedral last year, we have not included it in this list. To get the up to date news on the restoration you can CLICK HERE to read a Euronews article.

Whatever your purpose in coming to Paris, there are certain sights you must visit. This is certainly applicable if the visit is your first to the City of Lights.

They are, of course, the obvious. Many of these attractions are the tourist traps of the city.

Nevertheless, you really cannot visit Paris without paying them the homage they deserve. At the minimum, go to look at them. There is no need to enter.

You simply need to be able to say to your friends, co-workers, family and others, “Yes, I saw such-and-such while I was there.”

EIFFEL TOWER

The Eiffel Tower is truly a symbol of Paris. It is the most recognizable feature of the city and, in fact, the world.

It stands alongside such standing structures as the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, Big Ben in London, England and the Statue of Liberty in New York, New York Harbor in the United States.

Located in the 7th arrondissement, the Eiffel Tower was a marvel of “modern” engineering.

At the time of its construction in 1889, the architectural efforts of Gustave-Alexandre Eiffel faced great difficulties in erecting such an edifice.

Once completed, he was the object of massive amounts of ridicule of this – the Giant Asparagus.

Today, the Eiffel Tower stands defiant, stretching some 1,025 feet (320.75 m) into the sky above Paris. This landmark weighs over 7,000 tons. At night, the girders twinkle. Some 20,000 lights send out a bright glow across the city.

There are several ways to “visit” the Eiffel Tower. You can

  • Admire it from many vantage points in the city. It is easily visible in Paris

  • Make a trip to the structure. You can wander around the base of the Eiffel Tower and admire it without entering it

  • Embrace the Eiffel Tower experience completely. Climb the stairs 3 flights or take the lift up 3. Dine in one of the restaurants, sit at a bar or visit the recreation of Eiffel’s office on the 3rd level. If nothing else, simply enjoy the panoramic view. They provide some of the most spectacular sights of Paris.

There are several ways to enjoy the Eiffel Tower. Be sure to fit at least 1 of them into your schedule. While you are in the neighborhood, you may consider fitting in any of the following nearby attractions:

  • Champs de Mars

  • École Militaire

  • Pont Alexandre

  • Musée de L’Armée

  • Musée Rodin

  • Hôtel des Invalides with Napoleon’s Tomb

    ARC DE TRIOMPHE

    arc-de-thiomphe

    arc-de-thiomphe

Located in the 16th arrondissement is the Arc de Triomphe. It stands firmly stretching across the wide boulevard at the western end of the Champs-Élysées as part of what is now the Place Charles-de-Galle-Étoile.

The Arc de Triomphe is the largest triumphal arch in the world. It is also a major route for state funerals. It has fulfilled this function since 1840.

Napoleon Bonaparte first commissioned the Arc in 1806. It was to celebrate the victories of his Grand Armée.

However, it was not completed under Napoleon, but under Louis-Philippe in 1936. By this time, Napoleon had died in exile in St. Helena (1821). Only his body paraded under this arch as he made his way to his final resting place in 1940 at the Hôtel des Invalides.

The Arc has always attracted happy and disturbing scenes. It was through it that Hitler’s Nazis entered Paris triumphantly in 1940. The newsreel footage is an integral part of the history of this period.

So, too, is similar footage taken in when the allies came to liberate the city in 1944. It is only fitting it houses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The Arc de Triomphe is decorated with sculptures and engraved with the names of the many generals of France.

As in the case of the Eiffel Tower, you can enjoy the structure from its exterior of make the pilgrimage up to the top. The Arc has an observation deck located at the top.

You can take a stairway or ride the elevator. There is also an observation deck. It contains a small exhibition hall or museum containing a history of the arch. This consists of many lithographs and photographs covering the period.

While you are in the neighborhood, you may consider fitting in any of the following nearby attractions:

  • Musée Nationale des Arts

  • Musée d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

  • Musée de la Marine

  • Musée des Enfants

BASILIQUE DE SACRÉ-CŒUR

The Basilique de Sacré-Cœur is located in the 18th arrondissement. Built from 1873, this religious structure sits high atop the butte Montmartre.

The architect, Paul Abadie, combined Romanesque and Byzantine style. It is a striking building with a dome rising 271′.

The structure attracts tourists for several reasons. The large dome provides excellent views of the city below.

You can climb up the spiral staircase to an observation perch. There is also the 262′ campanile. The bell is called La Savoyarde. Weighing around 19 tons, it is one of the heaviest bells in the world.

Inside, a golden mosaic rises above the choir. Luc Olivier Merson painted “Christ in His Majesty” in 1922.

It remains 1 of the largest mosaics of this type. Within is also the crypt. It features vaulted arches. The bronze doors of the portico feature Biblical scenes such as “The Last Supper.”

The stained glass windows of the Basilica also draw some attention. They were put into place in 1922. World War II saw to their destruction. They were restored in 1946.

While you are in the neighborhood, you may consider fitting in any of the following nearby attractions:

  • St. Vincent Cemetery

  • Musée de Vieux Montmartre

  • Cimitière de Montmartre

  • Moulin Rouge

CENTRE GEORGES POMPIDOU

Sitting in the Place Georges-Pompidou is the Centre Georges Pompidou. In 1977, it was the “most avant-garde” structure on the planet. It is still an interesting piece of architecture. Its transparent façade is an introduction to its modern contents.

The Centre is home to 5 separate but related attractions. These are

  • The Musée National d’Art Moderne on level 4. This is complete with works by Matisse, Marcel Duchamp, Dali and Modigliani

  • The Bibliothèque Information Publique

  • The Centre de Création Industriel

  • Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique-Musique

  • Atelier Brancusi – a small airy Jazz-Age studio of 4 rooms- a mini-museum to Brancusi

You can wander through to see the modern art, industrial heritage or reading rooms. Be sure to see Duchamps’ dada sculptures of 1936 and his Boîte en Valisefrom both 1941 and 1968. There is also the memorable painting, Josephine Baker (1926) by Calder.

If you have time, stop in the forecourt. It offers free entertainment. This ranges from mimes to fire eaters to circus performers.

While you are in the neighborhood, you may consider fitting in any of the following nearby attractions:

  • Stravinsky Fountain in Place Igor-Stravinsky

  • Musée d’Art et Histoire du Judaisme

  • Musée de l’Histoire de France

  • Musée Picasso

  • Hôtel de Clisson

  • Hôtel de Ville

CHAMPS-ÉLYSÉES

This is the most famous street in the city of Paris. Its tree-lined sidewalks sweep from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe. The concept dates back to 1670 and the Sun King – Louis XIV. Yet, it took many centuries before it became the showpiece street of Paris.

This avenue in the 8th arrondissement is a combination of tourist kitsch and elegant couturier. It is always alive with tourists and wealthy shoppers.

In July, it fills to capacity for the final leg of the famed bicycle race – the Tour de France.

You do not have to buy anything along its route. It is necessary, however, to walk along its length and admire its breadth with its roundabouts, fashionable side streets and 18th century structures.

While you are in the neighborhood, you may consider fitting in any of the following nearby attractions:

  • Arc de Triomphe

  • Palais Royal

  • Luxor Obelix – dating from the 8th century

  • Crazy Horse Saloon

  • Avenue Montaigne

  • Hôtel Crillon

HÔTEL DES INVALIDES

In the Plaza des Invalides is the remarkable Hôtel des Invalides. This structure was originally a rest home for wounded soldiers from the many wars of the 17th century.

The architect, Libéral Bruant began work in 1670. Tourists come here for several reasons. You can join them to say you have at least seen one of the major draws – the Tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Napoleon’s Tomb resides across from the Cour d’Honneur at the rear of the Hôtel in the Dôme church. The tomb and crypt is perhaps a little over the top.

It consists of a red Finnish porphyry sarcophagus resting on a green granite base. There are statues surrounding the tomb representing his various campaigns. There is a huge statue of Napoleon while his much smaller self lies within 6 coffins inside the sarcophagus.

Others beside Napoleon reside in his tomb. These include his son, the once King of Rome. The Church also features an elaborate baldachin and various side chapels. These contain the remains of Marshall Foch and others.

The rest of the Hôtel is worth noting for its exterior architecture. The façade is 645′ long (196 m). The major portico is flanked by the statues of Mars and Minerva. The courtyard features a double colonnade. The structure is home to several museums.

These include the sometime horrifying Musée de l’Armée and the more subtle Musée des Plans-Reliefs. There is also another war-based museum, the Musée des Deux Guerres Mondiales.

While you are in the neighborhood, you may consider fitting in any of the following nearby attractions:

  • Pont Alexant III

  • Musée Rodin

  • Musée d’Orsay

  • Le Musée du Quai Branly

  • Parc de Champ de Mars

  • École Militaire

  • Les Égouts (Sewers)

JARDIN DES TUILERIES

In the 1st arrondissement is the pretty stretch of formal French Gardens called the Jardin Des Tuileries. This is a stereotypical example of French landscaping at the height of their formality. Designed by the famous André Le Nôtre for Louis XIV, these are another must-see of your trip to Paris.

The Jardin Des Tuileries is a garden on the grandest of scales. It features classical statues, fountains, finely pressed gravel paths, and carefully positioned and precisely trimmed hedges.

You can see the Louvre at one end and the Place de Concorde at the other. There are vantage points from which you can clearly see the Eiffel Tower and the Musée d’Orsay.

The Jardin Des Tuileries is also home to the Musée de l’Orangerie, housed in a former greenhouse for citrus trees. This museum contains some of the country’s most beautiful works by the Impressionist, Claude Monet. This is the Water Lilies series – Nymphéas.

The Musée de l’Orangerie also presents early 20th century paintings of interest. Of particular note are the works by John Walter and Paul Guillaume. Also represented are pieces by Rousseau, Paul Cézanne, Renoir, Utrillo, Soutine, Derain and Picasso.

If the museum does not appeal, try walking the paths. Wander along the Right Bank of the Seine to cool off on a hot summer day. There are also several round pools. Here you can try your hand at sailing boats. Children also like the merry-go-round and the pony rides.

The Gardens also have a small bookstore beneath the stairs close to the Rue de Rivoli. Pick up something to read. You can then sit down and enjoy the promenading of Parisian and visitors alike. There is an open-air café to help you people-watch.

While you are in the neighborhood, you may consider fitting in any of the following nearby attractions:

  • Musée de Louvre – Palais Royale

  • Jardin du Palais Royale

  • Forum des Halles

  • Arc de Triomphe du Carousel

  • Musée des Arts Décoratifs

PALAIS DU LOUVRE

louvre

louvre

This enormous palace is the world’s largest museum. The Palais du Louvre is a former royal residence.

Located in the 1st arrondissement, it is a magnet to tourists who admire fine art and enjoy architecture. It is also a colossal structure. To view it in its entirety, you need to take to the air.

The Louvre contains around 300,000 works on display. Within its walls, people flock to view its major pieces. These “Big Three” are the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory and Venus de Milo. Yet, to see only these 3 is but to scratch the surface of a tremendous volume of exquisite works.

It is one reason to give yourself sufficient time to explore the Louvre. It will take not one, but several vacations before you can truly say you have seen what the Louvre has to offer you.

The Louvre is divided into several sections. These are

  • Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities

  • Oriental Antiquities

  • Egyptian Antiquities

  • French Sculpture

  • Decorative Arts

  • Paintings

  • Graphic Arts or Drawings

Each section has its own specialty. There are highlights and set pieces for each of them.

The Egyptian Antiquities is one of the finest in the world. As for paintings – consider allowing yourself the time to see da Vinci’s Virgin and Child with St. Anne or Virgin of the Rocks, Raphael’s Portrait of Balthazar Castiglione and/or Titian’s Man With A Glove or Wedding Feast at Cana.

While you are in the neighborhood, you may consider fitting in any of the following nearby attractions:

  • Jardin des Tuileries

  • Place Vendôme

  • Musée de L’Orangerie

  • Jardin du Palais Royale

MUSÉE D’ORSAY

The Musée d’Orsay resides within a renovated old railway station. This was the Gare d’Orsay. It sits on the Seine across from the Louvre.

This is another art gallery of historic importance. It should never be an either or choice between the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay. It, like the Louvre, is a “must see.”

What draws the crowds to the Musée d’Orsay is the wealth of works by the Impressionists. Within these walls are several celebrated works by Renoir, Manet, Monet and the American Whistler.

Visitors flock to stand in front of Déjeuner sur l’herbe (Manet, 1863), Olympia (Manet, 1865), Moulin de la Galette and Absinthe (Renoir, 1876), Rouen Cathédrale: Full Sunlight (Monet, 1894) and Arrangement in Grey and Black: A Study of the Painter’s Mother (Whistler, 1871). There are also works by Ingres, Delacroix, Daumier, Corbet, Van Gogh and Cezanne.

Besides the paintings, the Musée d’Orsay displays within its 80 galleries, Belle Époque furniture, photographs, objets d’arte and architectural models.

While you are in the neighborhood, you may consider fitting in any of the following nearby attractions:

  • The Louvre

CONCLUSION

Paris is a gourmet buffet. It provides its visitors with a wide selection of delectables. There are many sides to the city. You need to discover what you really wish to do.

Nevertheless, it is in your best interest to visit, even superficially, the great sights and sites of Paris. These are landmarks you should see at least once.

They add to your knowledge of the city. They are also part of the symbolic nature of Paris. From the lofty heights of the Eiffel Tower to the tomblike depths of the Louvre, these tourist traps are nevertheless part of the Paris character. Spend some time enjoying what they can give you.

If nothing else, you can at least say “Yes, I was there.”

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