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Top 10 Things to do in Paris

After living in Paris for half a year, the city remains a place I love returning to over and over again. Just as recent as september 2022 I went back “home” to Paris on a trip which turned out to be a combination of a study-work trip, leisure and meeting-up-with-an-old-friend-of-mine-trip. It was the perfect combination of discovering something new, revisiting something old and playing a tourist in a city where I feel like belonging. Paris is an endlessly big city which one post couldn’t even nearly cover, so let’s start with the most important and the top 10 things to do and see in Paris.

The iconic architectural landmark named after its creator, Gustave Eiffel

1. Eiffel Tower

The iconic architectural landmark named after its creator, Gustave Eiffel, was originally built for the 1889 World’s Fair as the centre piece and was supposed to remain only temporarily. The large iron structure initially received a lot of criticism and objection from both the public and leading architects and designers believing the tower to spoil the otherwise so harmonious cityscape. Part of the criticism was aimed at the rough appearance of the tower, which was received as a failed attempt to create an artistic building. However, with a height of 300 metres this was a large construction for that time being and would conclusively draw a lot of attention towards the city. Today, the Eiffel Tower remains the highest structure in Paris with a total height of 330 metres, including the tip, which was added in 1957, and is the most visited monument (with an entrance fee) in the world. I still owe myself a trip to the very top of the tower, but the view over Paris at sunset from the first level is just as breathtaking.

Another one of the most famous monuments in Paris is the “Arc de Triomphe”

2. Arc de Triomphe

Another one of the most famous monuments in Paris is the “Arc de Triomphe”, placed at the very end (or beginning?) of the Champs-Elysées in the centre of "Place Charles de Gaulle”, overlooking the legendary star-formed juncture and the outward leading streets of Paris. The Arc de Triomphe comprises of a lot of history, beginning with Napoleon who initialized the construction of an arch in 1806 to celebrate the military achievements of the French armies after returning from war. However, it took 30 years to finish the construction of the arch and by the time of its completion in 1836, Napoleon had already passed away, and the current reign at that time was King Louis-Philippe. I can highly recommend climbing the stairs of the arch which has a height of 50 metres, from where you will have a magnificent view over the streets of Paris and a spectacular view of the Champs-Elysées.

With the Champs Elysées you will find the most famous avenue in Paris

3. Champs Elysées

I dare easily say, that with the Champs Elysées you will find the most famous avenue in Paris and most likely in the world even. It is even commonly recognized as the most beautiful avenue in the world and the with those beautiful buildings lined up next to each other, one can imagine why. The avenue connects the Arc de Triomphe in the west with the Place de la Concorde in the east on a whole 1,9 km long stretch. The street is mostly famous for its luxury stores aligned next to each other with cafés disrupting the alignment every once in a while. The cafés and restaurants along the street are not worth being mentioned, neither in price nor quality of food do they have anything to offer – you merely pay for the location. Albeit being so popular and filled with tourists, I still enjoy strolling from one end of the street to the other whilst soaking up the lively atmosphere and watching people passing by.

The Louvre Palace was originally built as a castle in the 12th to 13th century

4. Louvre

It would take 200 days if you were to explore every piece of art in the Louvre Museum – that's the seize of the largest museum in the world, measured in time. And that only counts for the art works on display, the museum has yet an even bigger storage of artwork. Despite housing the largest museum in the world, there is another story to the building before it was converted into a museum. The Louvre Palace was originally built as a castle in the 12th to 13th century by Philipp II to reinforce the city wall he had built around Paris. Over time and with the expansion of the city, the castle lost its defensive purpose and was thus converted into the primary residence of French Kings in the 16th century, including many alterations and extensions to form the present Louvre Palace. The Louvre is today home to some of the world’s most famous artworks such as the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. Before throwing yourself out in the vast space, make a checklist of art pieces, time periods or categories that you’d like to see, making sure you’ll get as much out of it as possible.

The Sacre Coeur remains my all-time favourite place in Paris

5. Sacré Coeur

From all the beautiful places and corners, you can find in Paris, the Sacre Coeur remains my all-time favourite place of them all. For me, it’s the atmosphere flooding you with a wave of calmness once you enter the vast space of the church. The church itself stands splendidly in its recognizable white colour on top of the hill in Montmartre, one of the highest points in Paris, overlooking the entire city. Next to the Eiffel Tower, this location has the best panoramic view of the city and stretches even further into the suburbs. The church itself is surprisingly new and was consecrated only 100 years ago in 1919 which is, compared to other religious places in Paris, rather new. The construction of the church began in 1875 after the defeat of France against Prussia, whose people were in need to amend for their sins and thus a church dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was proposed.

A walk towards the Louvre Museum will take you through the gorgeous Tuileries gardens

6. Jardin des Tuileries

A walk towards the Louvre Museum when approaching from the Place de la Concorde on the west side, will take you through the gorgeous Tuileries gardens. While Paris may be filled with many admirable buildings, there is still ample, green and open spaces to be found throughout the city to escape into a peaceful paradise from the hustle and bustle of the city. The garden was created by the then Queen of France, Catherine de Medici, in 1564 who was looking for a residence with a private garden as a retreat from the noise and chaos of the city. After living in the Louvre Palace for some years, Catherine de Medici, decided to erect a new residence in front of the Louvre with an adjacent private garden for the royal family, the Tuileries Palace. The palace was burned down in 1871, but the garden still remained and eventually opened to the public in 1667.

The Jardin du Luxembourg is perfect for a tranquil afternoon stroll

7. Jardin du Luxembourg

We have incredibly much to thank the wealthy people for who erected buildings and arranged gardens hundreds of years ago in dimensions which are unthinkable today. Today, we all get to enjoy part of their megalomania and thirst to achieve something great by getting amazed by their beautiful buildings and gardens. A similar story to the “Jardin des Tuileries” unfolds in the 6th arrondissement (district) of Paris, where Marie de Medici, widow of king Henry IV, decided to construct a new residence, the Luxembourg Palace. The Medici family was a wealthy, prominent family in Florence and thus both the new residence and the adjacent gardens were inspired by the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens in Florence. Merely 50 years after Christina de Medici decided to erect the Tuileries Palace and gardens, Marie de Medici decided to do the same in 1612 with an imitation of the Pitti Palace and an accompanying garden. The Jardin du Luxembourg is perfect for a tranquil afternoon stroll or some laid-back hours by the pond.

Notre Dame is until this day considered one of the finest Gothic churches

8. Notre Dame de Paris

You might have heard about the tragic fire that took place in 2019 which burned down a great part of the Notre Dame in Paris. When I revisited the church in 2022, I was terrified to witness the worst. While having the worst thinkable appearance in mind, I was deeply relieved to see that the church still looked the same from the front entrance with its two distinctive towers. It was mainly the back part, the roof and the upper walls which were damaged. It is indeed tragic, especially when considering the history of the church. It all began in 1163 when the Bishop Maurice de Sully commissioned a church which was largely finished 100 years later in 1260. Just imagine for a moment, the lifespan of this church and the great achievement with the erection of such a monumental structure over 860 years ago. In the succeeding centuries, alterations and modifications have taken place, though blending in nicely with the predominantly Gothic style. Albeit the alterations, the Notre Dame is until this day considered one of the finest Gothic churches you might ever visit in the world.

I mainly come to witness the immense beauty of this Art Nouveau building

9. Galeries Lafayette

Don’t worry about making a shopping-related excuse in order to visit the “Galeries Lafayette”. Besides strolling through the mouthwatering, luxurious boutiques, I mainly come to witness the immense beauty of this Art Nouveau building and love to get astonished over and over again. What today is considered the biggest department store chain in Europe, began with a small haberdasher’s shop with a size of 70 m2 in 1893 where two cousins from the Alsace region decided to open a shop selling novelty items. Only three years later in 1896, they purchased the whole building and expanded even further in 1903 with the purchase of another four buildings. With a refurbishment of the building, the store celebrated its inauguration in 1912 with the glass and steel dome and Art Nouveau staircases – the perfect setting for luxury bazar was accomplished.

The Saint Chapelle is a chapel integrated into the medieval Palais de la Cité

10. Saint Chapelle

After living in Paris for half a year due to my studies, there was little time left to explore the city more thoroughly than its usual attractions. When the semester was over, and I finally had time to explore the city I had been living in for the past six months, the first thing I went for was the Saint Chapelle, which I had read about and had made me rather curious. The Saint Chapelle is a chapel integrated into the medieval Palais de la Cité, the royal residence where the Kings of France resided until the 14th century. The chapel was built around 1238 and consecrated in 1248 with the main purpose to house Christian artefacts like the Crown of Thorns and a piece of the True Cross and other artefacts related to the crucifixion. Even though the church was built merely 80 years after the Notre Dame, it distinguishes itself as its own iconic landmark with the most unique gem being the stained-glass windows. Enter the Saint Chapelle and let yourself be amazed by the 1.113 stained glass windows which are nothing less but a true gem inside this historic Rayonnant Gothic building.

2 commentaires

16 mai 2023

Sounds like a lovely time. Thank you for including these wonderful ideas to visit. Enjoyed reading. 😊

Pastor Natalie (ExamineThisMoment)

Marissa Matthiesen
Marissa Matthiesen
29 mai 2023
En réponse à

😊Hi Natalie! Thanks for checking out my blog! Have a wonderful day and should you ever visit Paris, you know what to look for

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