It’s difficult to determine what is the best of Paris; when you come for first time to Paris, you get amazed because as you arrive, every square inch of the city seems to be full of history and culture, so you won’t be sure from which place to start your visit, but there are some Paris highlights simply you shouldn't miss due to their popularity, importance or just appearance.
Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower)
The Eiffel Tower literally towers over the Champ de Mars in the smart 7th arrondissement. The top (third) floor offers a sweeping panorama of the city. From directly underneath there is a fascinating view of the delicate ironwork of Gustave Eiffel, who was commissioned to build the tower for the Exposition Universelle in 1889, the centenary of the French Revolution. The Tour Eiffel is also home to a number of restaurants, which offer views of Paris and sky high prices to match.
- Cheap flights to Paris.
Cathédrale de Notre-Dame
The stocky Notre-Dame Cathedral, located on the Ile-de-la-Cité, could not be more different from the filigree Eiffel Tower. Bishop Maurice de Sully began construction on the cathedral in 1163, to outshine the new abbey situated at St-Denis and work was completed in 1345. The result is a Gothic masterpiece, with 3 stunning rose windows. Visitors should be prepared to climb the 387 spiral steps to the top of the 75m (246ft) north tower. The views over the River Seine and the city centre are well worth the climb. There is also a treasury with various liturgical objects on display. A violent storm in 1999 caused significant damage to the cathedral, though by 2004 much of it had been repaired. The scaffolding, which has blighted the cathedral for as long as anyone can remember, looks set to remain for the foreseeable future.
La Basilique du Sacré-Coeurz
A long, wide series of steps lead to the snowy-white-domed Sacré-Coeur that dominates the arty district of Montmartre. A mishmash of styles, the Catholic church was built between 1870 and 1919, to fulfil a vow made during the Franco-Prussian war. The interior is splendid with neo-Byzantine mosaics and the domed tower offers a spectacular view over Paris. The crypt contains an interesting collection of religious relics and a slide show on the construction of the Basilica. Below the church, a park tumbles down the hillside in a flurry of benches that make an ideal spot for surveying the city skyline.
Musée National du Louvre (Louvre National Museum)
The Louvre first opened to the public during 1793, following the Revolution, as a showcase for the art treasures of the kings of France. The museum is organised into 3 wings on 4 floors, Richelieu (along rue de Rivoli), Sully (around cour Carrée) and Denon (along the River Seine).
The vast permanent collection includes Greek, Etruscan, Roman, Egyptian and East Asian antiquities, French, Spanish, Italian and northern European sculpture and 19th-century objets d’art. The painting collection is the strongest, with French, Italian, Dutch, German, Flemish and Spanish masterpieces from the mid-13th to the mid-19th centuries. Most famed French works include David’s Coronation of Napoléon, Ingres’ The Turkish Bath, Géricault’s depiction of disaster, The Raft of the Medusa and Delacroix’s ode to revolution, Liberty Leading the People. The museum’s greatest treasure, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, is in a bullet-proof case. There are plans to move it into its own room, but for now it is on display in room 13, on the first floor of the Denon wing. Excavations have exposed traces of the medieval Louvre, which are on display together with the history of the Louvre under the Cour Carrée, in the entresol level in the Sully wing. Buying tickets from the official website in advance saves unnecessary time spent queuing.
Musée Rodin (Rodin Museum)
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) worked and lived in this 18th-century hôtel particulier. Now the Rodin Museum, his sculptures populate the interior and gardens. Indoors, The Kiss portrays eternal passion frozen in white marble, while The Hand of God gives life to creamy white, half-formed figures. Works of Rodin’s mistress and pupil, Camille Claudel, and paintings by Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir and Rodin himself are also on display.
Musée d’Orsay (Museum of Orsay)
The museum’s home, an impressively converted railway station located by the banks of the Seine and is stunning, but the real strength of this large museum lies in its collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. The collection, covering the decisive 1848-1914 period, is arranged chronologically, beginning on the ground floor, jumping to the third, then descending to the middle level. Among the most famous works are Déjeuner sur l’Herbe (Luncheon on the Grass), rejected from the Salon of 1863, five of Monet’s paintings of Rouen Cathedral and the realist work, L’Origine du Monde (The Origin of the World), by Gustave Courbet, whose graphic depiction of the female sex continues to shock.