places to visit in paris

5 Top places to visit in Paris for first time travelers

Paris is one of the top places to visit in the world. The City of Lights is not only a major European capital but it’s the global center for arts, fashion, culture and food. It’s also rich in history and architecture, perfect for luxury France vacations. With its size and the thousands of things to see and do, it can be difficult to decide for the first-time traveler.

I’ve visited Paris once, and being a culture and history guy with a bent on architecture, I chose five top places to visit in Paris. These places, although touristy, clearly encapsulates the soul of the city and are significant not only in History but architecturally too. Time to check out these top places to visit in Paris.

 

Notre Dame de Paris

On a clear sunny October afternoon, I set foot at the front of the Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris and I was stunned. Yes, there were plenty of tourists around the area but coming face to face with something that you’ve read in literature, heard in music, and seen in movies and TV, nothing beats coming face to face with the structure itself. The blue sky and the afternoon sun was casting interesting shadows from the many details at the façade.

The cathedral was built by Bishop of Paris, Maurice de Sully in 1163 after demolishing a much older structure. After several decades and architects, it was finally finished in 1345. Over the course of centuries, it has been witnessing the victories and tragedies of Paris. Kings have been crowned and wed. It has been vandalized during the French Revolution and a series of restorations have been done as early as 1845.

Architecturally, it is one of the finest examples of Gothic Architecture in France and one of the first to use flying buttresses to support its lofty walls. The stunning rose windows, stained glass as well exuberant sculptures are well admired.

Visitors are free to enter the cathedral and can climb up the narrow stairs for a closer view of the gargoyles and an expansive view of the city. Although it’s the property of the government, it is still the seat of the Archbishop of Paris and religious services still happen.

Notre Dame de Paris
Ile de la Cite, 4th Arrondissment
Paris, France

places to visit in paris

The Eiffel Tower is France’s most recognized landmark and its global icon. Named after Gustave Eiffel, the engineer whose company built it.

Eiffel Tower

The icon of Paris and one of the top monuments in the world, the Eiffel Tower was built in 1887-1889. It was intended to be a temporary structure, the grand entrance to the 1889 Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair) marking the centenary of the French Revolution. It was named after the engineer whose company built the wrought iron tower, Gustave Eiffel. At 324 meters, it has dominated the Parisian skyline since it was built and has hosted more than 250 million visitors since it opened.

Visitors can go up the Eiffel Tower where there’s a restaurant, a museum including the quarters of Eiffel at the top but it’s mainly as an observatory and broadcast tower. Although intended to be demolished after 20 years from opening based on the contract, it was never enforced as it proved valuable not only to Science, several important scientific experiments were done, but for commercial purposes as well. It’s the great erection of Paris.

Eiffel Tower
7th Arrondissement
Paris, France

places to visit in paris

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart or the Sacré-Cœur Basilica is one of Paris’s popular landmark. It was built 1874-1914 atop butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city.

Sacre Coeur Basilica

 

The Sacred Heart Basilica, known popularly by its French name as the Sacre Coeur. It sits on the highest point of Paris, atop the butte Montmartre that affords great views of the city. It was designed by Paul Abadie and built in 1875-1914 it was dedicated in 1919 after World War I. The style is Romano-Byzantine, a rather unusual mix especially during that time. Atop the portico are two bronze statues of Joan of Arc and St. Louis IX.

Visitors can climb up the dome for a better view of Paris, although the front already affords an expansive scenery. At any given day, tourists flock the basilica grounds. Camera and video recording is prohibited inside the basilica.

Sacre Coeur Basilica
35 Rue de la Chevalier du la Barre
Paris, France

 

places to visit in paris

More than the final resting place of Napoleon Bonaparte, Les Invalides is a stunning work of architecture and museum

 

Les Invalides

 

The Les Invalides grounds is one of Paris interesting complexes. Its history goes back to 1670 when King Louis XIV ordered the creation of a home and hospital for aging and injured soldiers. Later, two chapels were constructed in 1679 and 1708, the latter being the spectacular domed chapel that can be seen today.

 

In 1840, the then domed royal chapel was designated as the location of Napoleon Bonaparte’s tomb which now has his sarcophagus. The nearby chambers of this quiet spacious area are where other celebrated generals and soldiers, including Bonaparte’s brothers are interred. Although intended to be as a hospital and home for soldiers, the rest of the complexes are now the Army Museum.

Les Invalides
Place de Invalides
75007 Paris, France

places to visit in paris

The Louvre Palace is the biggest museum in the world

The Musee Louvre

The Louvre Museum is considered the biggest in the world and the most visited. With many top artefacts and pieces from Antiquity, natural history to art, like the Venus de Milo, Mona Lisa and many others, its no wonder that its drawing the crowds.

The structure itself has its beginnings as a fortress built in the late 12th century and was expanded several times. In 1546, it was made into a palace. When King Louis XIV decided to use Versailles as the official residence in 1682, the Louvre was then used to display the royal collections. In 1989, the modern glass pyramid by IM Pei was finished. It was part of the Grand Louvre plans to open more exhibition space.

The Louvre
Rue de Rivoli
75007 Paris, France

places to visit in paris

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Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications.

He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces.

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