From Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and The Palace of Versailles: Paris has beautiful monuments at every turn. Discover the best landmarks of the city of lights.
The Eiffel Tower
It’s hard to believe that the Eiffel Tower was considered an eyesore by some Paris artists before it was inaugurated in 1889. Notable insults at the time included “a truly tragic street lamp” and “a hole-riddled suppository”. Upon completion it was instantly adored by the public, becoming an iconic symbol of Paris. Today, the Eiffel Tower is best appreciated at night, when it shines bright in a cascading five-minute light show at the top of every hour.
Arc de Triomphe
Don’t miss the 19th Century Arc de Triomphe, subject of many a Parisian postcard, standing at the head of the chic shopping avenue Champs Elysées. It proudly commemorates French soldiers lost in battle, with the tomb of the Unknown Soldier resting beneath. Every day at 6.30pm, an eternal memorial flame is rekindled in a ceremony conducted by one of France’s many veterans’ associations. The Arc de Triomphe is nearly 50 metres high and offers beautiful views of the Eiffel Tower and even as far as Sacré Coeur from its roof, open to visitors until 10.30pm in winter and 11pm in summer.
Notre Dame and other historic Paris treasures
Notre Dame Cathedral, one of the world’s most famous churches, loved for its dramatic towers, spectacular windows and flying buttresses, is always worth a closer look with its endlessly fascinating figurines. Other historic treasures include the ethereal white-washed Sacré-Cœur Basilica overlooking the whole of Paris from its perch atop Montmartre, the fabled hill of the art-centric 18th arrondissement, and the Place de la Concorde, the largest square in Paris, featuring two stunning fountains, eight statues representing French cities and the 3,300 year-old Luxor Obelisk.
Exploring off the beaten track
The bohemian area in and around Montmartre features beautiful mansions and other signs of former wealth. Notables include the Maison Eymonaud, belonging to a 19th century count, and Château d’Eau de Montmartre, an ornate water tower from the same period. A short distance from the iconic Louvre Museum, the Palais Royal boasts beautiful manicured gardens too often overlooked.
A treat for the kids
Paris has more to offer kids than a day at Disneyland or an educational visit to the Palace of Versailles. A Bateaux Mouches boat tour in Paris grants passengers a Seine river perspective with some fun surprises: a miniature Statue of Liberty, the city’s smallest apartment and the backside of Rodin’s The Thinker can all be spotted. If your child loves to explore from above, then you’re in luck, many of the top landmarks, such as the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower offer elevators or stairs to their scenic summit, making them easier to access for small feet.
Beyond the city of lights
Paris offers access to one of the most efficient train systems in Europe, making life easy if you’re eager to explore further afield. You can reach the The Palace of Versailles, with its stately adorned rooms, Hall of Mirrors and lush gardens in about an hour from central Paris, for a breathtaking example of the opulent world of 18th century nobility. Art lovers looking to sample the enchanting spring scenes that inspired the great impressionist Claude Monet could even skip to Giverny in just 45 minutes.
Feeling inspired? Start planning your trip to Paris – and find out more about what Paris has to offer.