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France: Paris – 10 great things to do

Paris, capital of France, is one of the most important and influential cities in the world. In terms of tourism, Paris is the second most visited city in Europe after London.

We have both been to Paris many times and absolutely love visiting this beautiful city. The is something truly special about the ‘City of Lights’. Of course, there is plenty to enjoy in the culture, restaurants and bars of Paris, but for the first (or many times) visitor, there are some must-see places.
 
We have listed below 10 of our favourite places to see in Paris. The cathedral of Notre Dame would normally have made this list, but you will have to wait until 2024 to visit there (hopefully) when the work to repair the damage done by the horrible fire of April 2019 should be complete.

1. BANKS OF THE RIVER SEINE

The banks of the River Seine through the heart of Paris are listed as UNESCO world heritage site due to the incredible architecture of buildings such as Notre Dame, the Louvre and the Grand Palais and the examples of outstanding town planning, in particular, the large squares and avenues built by Haussmann at the time of Napoleon III have influenced town planning throughout the world.

2. VERSAILLES

The Palace of Versailles was the principal residence of the French kings from the time of Louis XIV to Louis XVI. Embellished by several generations of architects, sculptors, decorators and landscape architects, it provided Europe with a model of the ideal royal residence for over a century.

3. THE LOUVRE MUSEUM

The Louvre, or the Louvre Museum, is the world’s most-visited museum, and a historic landmark in Paris, France. It is the home of some of the best-known works of art, including the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. At any given point in time, approximately 38,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are being exhibited over an area of 72,735 square metres.

4. MUSEE D’ORSAY

Housed in a train station built for the 1900 World’s Fair, the Musée d’Orsay is known throughout the world for its rich collection of Impressionist paintings including masterpieces as iconic as the Bal au Moulin de la galette from Renoir or The room at Arles de Van Gogh. Its collections include works of architecture, decorative arts and photography in addition to traditional artistic fields (painting, sculpture, graphic arts). They thus draw a broad panorama of French and European art from 1848 to 1914.

5. THE PALAIS GARNIER

The Palais Garnier, also known as Opéra Garnier, is a 1,979-seat opera house at the Place de l’Opéra in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, France. It was built for the Paris Opera from 1861 to 1875 at the behest of Emperor Napoleon III. It is also famous due to its use as the setting for Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera.

6. PÈRE LACHAISE CEMETARY

The Père Lachaise cemetery takes its name from King Louis XIV’s confessor, Father François d’Aix de La Chaise. It is the most prestigious and most visited necropolis in Paris. Here you will find the graves of such famous people as Frédéric Chopin, Colette, Jean de La Fontaine, Molière, Yves Montand, Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Camille Pissarro and Oscar Wilde are just a few.

7. SACRE-COEUR

The Sacré-Coeur, consecrated in 1919, is one of the most iconic monuments in Paris. At the top of the Butte Montmarte, it has one of the most beautiful panoramic views of the capital, from 130 metres above the ground. In a Roman-Byzantine style, the Sacré Coeur is recognizable by its white colour. Inside the building, the ceiling is decorated with the largest mosaic in France measuring about 480 m². The crypt is also worth a visit. And to go even higher up, visitors can access the dome where the 360° view of Paris is magnificent.

8. CHÂTEAU DE FONTAINBLEAU

The Château de Fontainebleau is located in the small town bearing the same name and lies 40 miles (65 km) south-southeast of Paris by road. It has been the residence of 34 kings and two emperors, Fontainebleau is the only château that was lived in by every French monarch for almost eight centuries. With 1500 rooms, it is one of the biggest châteaux in France, and the most furnished in Europe.

9. BOAT CRUISE ON THE SEINE

A tour cruise on the Seine offers you the chance to see all the most famous monuments of Paris for an affordable price. Beginning at the Eiffel Tower, the tours are specially designed to bring you the most breathtaking views of iconic Parisian landmarks, including the Cathedral of Notre Dame and the Louvre. Accompanied by entertaining commentary available in a variety of languages, a boat tour will allow you to fully appreciate Paris’ famous monuments and beautiful bridges.

10. THE EIFFEL TOWER

The Eiffel Tower is just about the most iconic symbol of Paris. You can visit all three stages of the Tower. The first floor has transparent floors, which might not be so good if you suffer from vertigo. The 2nd floor is a little higher – here you can enjoy if you have the money – a Michlin star restaurant. 

Best time to visit Paris

You’ll experience crowds from May to September, but encounter the most people in July (followed closely by June and August). We’d recommend visiting between October and April if your main objective is to avoid crowds. For the warmest temperatures, October and April are the best times to visit Paris sans crowds.

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Paris

The Île-de-France is the most populous of the eighteen regions of France. Centred on the capital Paris, it is located in the north-central part of the country and often called the Région Parisienne. Île-de-France is densely populated and retains a prime economic position on the national stage: though it covers only 12,012 square kilometres (4,638 square miles), about 2% of metropolitan French territory, its estimated 2020 population of 12,997,058 was nearly one-fifth of the national total; its economy accounts for nearly one-third of the French gross domestic product.

The region is made up of eight administrative departments: Paris, Essonne, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, Seine-et-Marne, Val-de-Marne, Val-d’Oise and Yvelines. It was created as the “District of the Paris Region” in 1961. In 1976, when its status was aligned with the French administrative regions created in 1972, it was renamed after the historic province of Île-de-France. Residents are sometimes referred to as Franciliens, an administrative word created in the 1980s. The GDP of the region in 2021 was US$984 billion at market exchange rates. The Paris region is Europe’s richest region with a GDP (PPP) at over $1 trillion, ahead of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany and Greater London in the United Kingdom. It has the highest per capita GDP of any French region and the third highest of any region in the European Union. The Île-de-France region alone accounts for 5% of the European Union’s GDP, for only about 2.7% of the Union’s population. In 2018, nearly all of the twenty-eight French companies listed in the Fortune Global 500 were based in the Île-de-France.

Beyond the city limits of Paris, the region has many other important historic sites, including the palaces of Versailles and Fontainebleau, as well as the most-visited tourist attraction in France, Disneyland Paris. Though it is the richest French region, a significant number of residents live in poverty: the official poverty rate in the Île-de-France was 15.9% in 2015. The region has witnessed increasing income inequality in recent decades and rising housing prices have pushed the less affluent outside Paris.

Capital: Paris

Blog Posts:

France: Paris – 10 great things to do

We have both been to Paris many times and absolutely love visiting this beautiful city. The is something truly special …

France: Paris – Château de Fontainebleau

The Château de Fontainebleau is located in the small town bearing the same name and lies 40 miles (65 km) south-southeast …

France: Paris – Père Lachaise cemetery

The Père Lachaise cemetery takes its name from King Louis XIV\’s confessor, Father François d\’Aix de La Chaise. It is the …

France: Paris – Palais Garnier, Opera House

The Palais Garnier, also known as Opéra Garnier, is a 1,979-seat opera house at the Place de l\’Opéra in the 9th …

France: Paris – The dome of the Galleries Lafayette

Created by master glassworker Jacques Gruber in the “Art nouveau” or “Art déco” style, the dome ceiling of the Galleries …

France: Paris – The Louvre Museum

The Louvre, or the Louvre Museum, is the world\’s most-visited museum, and a historic landmark in Paris, France. It is the …

France: Paris – Sacré-Cœur & the Monmartre

The Sacré-Coeur, consecrated in 1919, is one of the most iconic monuments in Paris. At the top of the Butte Montmarte, it …

France: Maison la Roche – Le Corbusier

Designed and built between 1923 and 1925 by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, the Maison La Roche was widely photographed …

France: Paris – Statue of Liberty

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France: Paris – Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles was the principal residence of the French kings from the time of Louis XIV to Louis XVI. …

France: Paris – Musee D’Orsay

Housed in a train station built for the 1900 World\’s Fair, the Musée d\’Orsay is known throughout the world for its rich …

France: Paris – the banks of the Seine

The banks of the River Seine through the heart of Paris are listed as UNESCO world heritage site due to the incredible …
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