Top 10 must see places in Paris!

Top 10 must see places in Paris!

Top 10 must see places in Paris!

There’s a quote by Jules Renard which says “Just add three letters to Paris and you have Paradise” – and for many Francophiles, Instagrammers, photographers and travellers, the city of lights certainly feels like utopia – the French capital is a magnificent delight for all the senses.

I have been fortunate enough to visit Paris twice now – once for New Year’s in 2016 and again for my birthday last year. Despite two jaunts to this city, I still feel like I haven’t seen all it has to offer!

But what I have seen I have absolutely adored – this spectacular city represents more to me than just cafes, croissants and the inimitable iron lady – Paris has bestowed upon me some of the most magical memories of my life.

As “Paris is always a good idea”, let’s explore my top 10 must see sights:

1 – Eiffel Tower

The Iron Lady…or Tour Eiffel to be exactement!

Outside the Eiffel Tower in September 2018

Is any photo of Paris really complete without a glimpse of this magnificent feat of engineering in the background? And can you believe that on my first visit to Paris that I didn’t visit the tower?! (Insert face palm) …

I had driven past it from a distance and saw it from my hotel room in 2016 however it wasn’t until 2018 when I did visit the Tower, that I felt and comprehended its significance.

Of course, the best way to view the Tower is to visit it (genius idea!) – and I would also recommend a trip up to the second level. I took one of the lifts however you can climb the stairs if you’re feeling adventurous and fit!

The views from the second floor are awe inspiring – laid before you is a 360-degree view of the city – overlooking the Champ de Mars in front of the tower, the Seine river as it elegantly stretches through the city as well as numerous landmarks on the horizon.

Lower viewing deck at the Eiffel Tower

The best street view

Apart from visiting the Tower itself, there are many streets in Paris which offer up magical and unexpected views for the people!

My favourite street which I recommend you visit is 22 Rue de l’Universite. Get there early as it’s popular with Instagrammers and You-Tubers – and with a view like this, it’s not hard to see why:

Eiffel Tower view from Rue de l’Universite

Iconic Trocadéro

Visit Trocadéro early as well – this location has some of the best views not only of the Tower, but also of the Parisian city as well. It’s a popular meeting spot for a lot of Paris tour groups and as the day stretches on, it is swarming with tourists. There are also gardens and a carousel, making this a popular picnic spot.

I arrived there around 7.30am and it was already quite busy with tourists and photographers. Had to wait about 15 mins but I finally got my dream photo in front of the Tower:

Sunrise at Trocadero, overlooking the Eiffel Tower

Location: Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole, Paris

Closest Metro stations:

• Champ de Mars – Tour Eiffel – RER Line c (yellow)

• Trocadéro – train line 9 (yellow)

• Bir-Hakeim – train line 6 (green)

• Écoile Militaire – train line 8 (light purple)

Official Eiffel Tower website:

2. Arc De Triomphe de l’Étoile

Along with Tour Eiffel, the Arc is one of the most popular icons of Paris – it is also surrounded by one of the busiest roundabouts which I’ve ever seen!

Outside the Arc De Triomphe – September 2018

What I consider as the visual entryway into Paris, the Arc De Triomphe is the site of the Tomb of the Unknown soldier from WW1. This monument has major cultural and military significance for France; memorialising those who died in service for the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars.

If you are planning to visit here then the best way to get to the Arc is via an underground tunnel – you can access this by going to the “Wagram” exit of the metro – this will bring you to the tunnel which is on the Avenue de la Grande Armee side of the circle of traffic. Then you will need to climb about 40 steps to get to the top of the Arc, where I hear the views of Paris are incredible.

Location: Place Charles de Gaulle, at the western end of the Champs-Élysée.

Closest Metro stations:

• Charles de Gaulle Étoile – Train line 1 (yellow)

• Charles de Gaulle Étoile – Train line 2 (blue)

• Charles de Gaulle Étoile – Train line 6 (blue-green)

• Charles de Gaulle Étoile – RER Line A (red)

Official Arc de Triomphe website:

3 – Cathédral Notre-Dame de Paris

“Those who know Notre Dame, no explanation’s necessary. Those who don’t, no explanation will suffice”

Lou Holtz couldn’t have articulated this more perfectly – to see Notre Dame yourself is an experience you will never forget.

Widely known as Notre Dame Cathedral or simply Notre Dame; the official name of Cathédral Notre-Dame de Paris means “Our Lady of Paris” in French and the denomination is Roman Catholic. This French gothic masterpiece has a long and dramatic history – construction commenced in 1163 and was completed in 1345.

Notre Dame alongside the Seine river – January 2016

Napoléon Bonaparte and his wife, Empress Joséphine, had their coronation ceremony here on 2nd December 1804 and the “Hunchback of Notre Dame” novel by Victor Hugo inspired a restoration of the Cathedral after the story was published in 1831.

The exterior of the Cathedral is revered by gothic architecture enthusiasts and the interior is spellbindingly intricate and awe-inspiring. The famous stained-glass windows lit up my heart when I first saw them – this remains one of my most vivid memories, as the beauty and colours illuminated by afternoon sunlight took me by complete surprise.

Stained glass windows at Notre Dame – January 2016

Make sure you visit inside this Cathedral on the Île de la Cité. The millions of tourists who visit this site every year are a testament to this Cathedral’s significance!

Location: Place Jean-Paul II, Île de la Cité, Paris

Closest Metro stations:

• Cite station – Line 4 (fuchsia)

• St-Michel Notre Dame station – RER B Train Line (blue); RER C Train Line (yellow)

Official Notre Dame de Paris website:

4 – Pont Alexandre III

Language tip: Pont = bridge in French

Pont Alexandre III, looking towards Les Invalides on the left bank – September 2018

This is the “Pont” where I witnessed the sunrise on my birthday in 2018 – one of the landmarks of Paris which I missed in 2016 and had as a “must see” on my most recent visit.

The prettiest bridge I have ever seen; it is decorated with cherubs, Art Nouveau lamps, nymphs and winged horses. Overlooking the Seine, golden statues and two columns greet you at each of the entrance, which links Les Invalides on the left bank to the Grand Palais & Petit Palais on the right bank of Paris.

Being a Francophile and a Russophile, I adore everything connected to France and Russia. This iconic bridge is named after Tsar Alexander III from Russia in memory of his conclusion of the 1892 Franco-Russian Alliance. Many of the Russian aristocracy learnt how to speak French and the historical connections between these two nations are as long as the Seine river.

Overlooking the Seine with the Eiffel Tower in the background

Pont Alexandre III is adored by Hollywood and foreign film & music industries; being featured in numerous films such as the James Bond movie “A View to Kill”, “Ronin”, the animated version of “Anastasia” and Adele’s video for her song “Someone like you”.

Location: Pont Alexandre III, Paris

Closest Metro stations:

• Invalides station – train line 13 (blue-green); RER train line C (yellow)

• Champs-Élysée -Clemenceau station – train line 1 (purple)

5 – Montmartre

Parisian street art in Montmartre

If you haven’t visited Montmartre, then I firmly believe you haven’t seen Paris! Montmartre is known to the French as the “Mountain of Martyrs” and was once home to artists Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso.

With an artsy, eclectic & village-like atmosphere, winding cobblestone lanes & streets and a smorgasbord of cafes & restaurants – Montmartre is one of my favourite areas to explore here in the French capital.

Set aside at least half a day to visit here – located on a hill, it is one of the outermost regions of the city. This is also where you can find the famous “sinking house”, which honestly isn’t really a sinking house but just an optical illusion which photographers create by tilting their camera angle. The “sinking house” actually looks like this:

The “Sinking House” of Montmartre – September 2018

There are many souvenir shops and some of the best and most iconic cafes which you could find in Paris. Also, bring your walking shoes – this arrondissement is known for its very steep streets.

Location: Montmartre, Paris

Closest metro station:

• Abbesses station – train line 12 (green)

And whilst you are in Montmartre, you won’t be able to miss the next amazing Parisian icon:

6 – Sacré-Cœur Basilica

Front entrance exterior of the Basilica – September 2018

Known as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, this white domed Roman Catholic church sits atop the hill in Montmartre. It is as if all roads in this area lead to this site… You won’t be able to miss it as it is the main attraction in Montmartre and towers over everything; located at the highest point in the capital.

In Paris, it is the second most visited monument, after Notre-Dame Cathedral and completed in 1914, the basilica is representative of deep cultural, political and religious associations.

Stained glass windows inside the Basilica – September 2018

Location: 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, Montmartre, Paris

Closest metro station:

• Abbesses station – train line 12 (green)

Official Sacré-Cœur Basilica website:

7 – Versailles Palace

From the 1600’s, Versailles Palace was home to French royalty up until the French Revolution in 1789. Remember the story about King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette? Yep, this is where they lived in all the glamour, luxury and splendour you could ever dream would exist.

Hall of Mirrors at Versailles – January 2016

This world listed heritage site is in my opinion one of the most beautiful palaces in the entire world. Versailles has something for everyone – architecture, artwork, interior design, the “hall of mirrors”, vibrant gardens, fountains and gold…yes, lots & lots of gold! The French really know how to do style very well!

Outside Versailles Palace – January 2016

You can enjoy an entire day here wandering around the main Palace, which takes you on a historical tour of the French monarchy with its 2,300 rooms. There is also the Royal Stables, the Gardens and the Estate of Trianon (where the Grand and Petit Palaces are also located) for you to explore as well.

Location: Place d’Armes, Versailles, France

Closest Metro Stations: Versailles Château – Rive Gauche station – RER line C Versailles Chantiers station – SNFC trains from Gare Montparnasse

• Versailles Château – Rive Gauche station – RER line C

• Versailles Chantiers station – SNFC trains from Gare Montparnasse

Train tip: You will need to purchase two train tickets (for a “two way” return trip) from your departure point.

Official Palace of Versailles website:

8 – Place de la Bastille

Colonne de Juillet at Place de la Bastille – January 2016

This is essentially where the French Revolution began – with the storming of the Bastille prison on 14 July 1789. This date is now the country’s National holiday known as “Quatorze Julliet” (which in French means 14th July) and widely recognised around the world as “Bastille Day”.

The prison – which held enemies of the French King, including Fouquet, Sade and Voltaire – is no longer in existence, however in this public square stands a moment called “Colonne de Juillet”, meaning the “July Column”.

Colonne de Juillet commemorates a separate revolution which occurred in 1830, where King Louis-Philippe replaced King Charles X. Inscribed on this striking monument are the names of 504 people who died throughout the 1830 revolution – and on top is the “Spirit of Liberty” shining in gold.

For lovers of history this is one site you won’t want to miss – although the Bastille prison no longer remains, to witness the site where the French Revolution began is a special experience.

Location: Place de la Bastille, Paris

Closest Metro station:

• Bastille station – train line 1 (yellow); train line 5 (orange); train line 8 (light purple)

9 – Louvre Museum

Louvre Museum in Paris – September 2018

Museums are my weakness as I adore learning, history and all things beautiful – so if you do as well, you need to get yourself a ticket to this amazing treasure trove! This is the largest art museum in the entire world, where the Venus de Milo marble statue and Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Mona Lisa painting reside.

Venus de Milo at the Louvre – January 2016

Quite a few people had mentioned that the Mona Lisa painting was tiny, however when I saw it for myself I was pleasantly surprised. Plus, being petite, I did manage to get to the front of the crowd for an awesome tourist free photo of her famous smile:

Mona Lisa at the Louvre – January 2016

Ensure you get a “skip the line” ticket – queues at this venue often do result in hours on waiting to buy the ticket and then waiting to enter – this will take away your time which could be better spent exploring what is arguably the world’s most famous museum.

Cupid & Psyche at the Louvre – January 2016

Location: Rue de Rivoli, Paris

Closest Metro stations:

• Louvre Rivoli station – train line 1 (yellow)

Palais Royal Musée de Louvre station – train line 1 (yellow)

Official Louvre Museum website:

10 – Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge – September 2018

If every city has a heartbeat, then Paris’ might be the Moulin Rouge!

Built in 1889, the Moulin Rouge is renowned for its cabaret shows and the can-can dance. When a fire engulfed and destroyed the original site in 1915, the red house with the windmill was rebuilt again – Moulin Rouge = “red mill” in French.

If you have the budget and time then visit one of their live shows – I did this in 2016 and it was so much fun! The costumes, music, sparkles and talent of the dancers are well worth the visit. Get dressed up, pop some champagne and sit back for an “ooh la la” experience you won’t forget!

Address: 82 Boulevard de Clichy, Paris

Closest Metro station:

• Blanche station – train line 2 (blue)

Official Moulin Rouge website:

If you do your research and & plan ahead well then Paris will provide you with unforgettable moments of beauty. It’s one of the top tourist destinations on our planet – with places like these top 10 listed, it’s not hard to see why it’s so beloved 🙂

Artwork at the Louvre Museum – January 2016

Traveller tip: pre-purchase “skip the line” tickets if your budget allows for the following places: The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Louvre Museum and Versailles Palace.

Photographer tip: rise & shine early – Paris is glorious during sunrise and oh so peaceful. The earlier you are out & about then the more chances you have to experience the city and possibly feel like you have it to yourself, even if just for a moment…

Hope you have enjoyed this post! And I would love to know – what is your favourite part of Paris?!

Lauren Harding
Lauren Harding

Fashion & lifestyle blogger based in Sydney, Australia

Find me on: Web | Instagram

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  1. Irena
    January 12, 2019 / 8:42 pm

    Awesome blog! 😊

    • January 12, 2019 / 9:36 pm

      Thanks very much! Really happy you like it! 🤗

  2. Kyleigh Pollock
    January 13, 2019 / 9:28 am

    Amazing blog Lauren! 😊 Wealth of info. Do you have any accommodation recommendations for Paris?

    • January 13, 2019 / 11:38 am

      Thanks so much Kyleigh! Yes, I can definitely recommend the “First Hotel” in Paris. This is where I stayed last year – it’s a boutique 4 star hotel in the 15th arondissement with views of the Eiffel Tower from the room balconies. If you want a super luxe (and super expensive) hotel stay, then the Plaza Athénée is supposed to be amazing too (hopefully one day I can stay there 🤞)!

      • Kyleigh Pollock
        January 13, 2019 / 4:15 pm

        Thank you Lauren! Will definitely look into these recommendations 😊

  3. January 16, 2019 / 11:31 pm

    Hello Dear Lauren,
    it`s a great and very useful Article and so wonderful pictures.
    My favorite is, where you are standing on the bridge “Overlooking the Seine with the Eiffel Tower in the background”.
    I have been to Paris. And maybe I will come again one fine day. Its a lot of fun to explore the inner city.

    Beautiful bridge: You really should come and see “Karls Bridge” in Prag.
    I can very good imagine you sitting on a swing in front of “Karls Bridge”. (Parhaps you can find this nice little playground….) Soon I will be in Salzburg, (and from there:..) in Hallstatt and Munich in February. Best wishes 🌺😻❤️🌷✨

    • January 17, 2019 / 12:05 am

      Hi Marcel! 🙋‍♀️ thank you so much, I’m really happy you found it useful, hopefully you can visit Paris again one day. And thank you for your tip about Karl’s bridge – I am hoping to visit Czech Republic later this year, so will add this to my must see list! Enjoy Salzburg, I miss it there so much 🇦🇹 Try out “Cafe Tomasselli” if you can, right in the main square in Salzburg – they have delicious coffee and Apfelstrudel there 😍

      • January 17, 2019 / 8:51 am

        Thank you very much for your very nice reply and your great recommendation. I will have a look. And maybe we go to this Café Tomasselli. Best wishes ❤️🌷✨

  4. January 22, 2019 / 11:09 am

    This is such a wonderful blog post, Lauren! I really miss Paris and definitely want to make it inside the Louvre next time I go. I also want to visit Versailles too!

    • January 22, 2019 / 11:49 am

      Thanks so much Taylor! I’m really happy you like it 😊 I’m sure you would love the Louvre and Versailles…there’s so much to see in Paris as you know, so it can be challenging to fit everything in one visit! And like yourself, after previous visits there I still haven’t seen everything on my list 🙈 but I guess it’s a good excuse for us to return again! 😉

  5. April 8, 2019 / 11:01 am

    Thank you for the terrific article

  6. April 11, 2019 / 12:14 am

    Thanks, it is quite informative

    • April 11, 2019 / 6:50 am

      Thank you, so happy to hear that you found it useful!

  7. May 5, 2019 / 12:11 am

    Thanks for the wonderful guide

  8. May 18, 2019 / 5:28 pm

    Thanks, it is quite informative

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