There are certain European cities with a romantic, fairytale-like reputation. Paris, France is one of them. The current capital of France, Paris has been an important European city for over 2,000 years. Today it is a world leader in business, entertainment, and culture. Over time it has earned nicknames like “the city of love.”
It’s easy to become overwhelmed if you’re a first time visitor to Paris. Monuments, museums, and cathedrals are everywhere. Every corner and café in the city is worth exploring, but there are certain places you just can’t miss. Here are the top three tourist attractions in Paris, France:
#3 – Notre Dame Cathedral
The world-famous Notre Dame Cathedral is a wonder to behold with its gargoyles, chimeras, dramatic towers, and prominent spire reaching over 400 feet into the air. This Catholic cathedral is a marvelous example of French Gothic architecture. Bishop Maurice de Sully commissioned the cathedral in 1163. Legend goes that the church’s design is based on a sketch Sully drew on the ground as the result of a holy vision. After more than 100 years of labor, the cathedral was completed in 1345. It was one of the first buildings in the world to feature flying buttresses and its stained glass and sculptures were harshly at odds with the Romanesque architectural style prevailing at the time. Today the cathedral is the official chair of the archbishop of Paris. Take a tour of the place to behold wondrous sculptures, Gothic carvings, ancient relics, and breathtaking rose windows. Don’t forget to climb the North Tower, where you can view the city from Quasimodo’s lair.
#2 – The Louvre
They say you could spend a lifetime exploring the Louvre. Indeed, the museum is home to over one million artistic works dating from the medieval period to the present. Located inside the Louvre Palace, which was originally built as a fortress for King Phillip II, the art museum opened in 1793 with a proud exhibit of 537 paintings. The structure itself is a work of art with its signature glass pyramid entrance. Inside you will find world-famous works such as Michelangelo’s Dying Slave, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and the Greek sculpture Venus of Milo. The diverse collection includes exhibits featuring Egyptian artifacts, works by Rembrandt, the Code of Hammurabi, the luxurious apartments of Napoleon III, and much, much more. When in Paris, you won’t want to miss this most coveted of the city’s museums located on the banks on the Seine.
#1 – The Eiffel Tower
What image comes to mind when someone mentions Paris or France? The Eiffel Tower, of course! This worldwide cultural icon soars over 1,000 feet into the air. Located on the Champ de Mars, this gigantic structure is one of the most photographed attractions in the world. Named for engineer Gustave Eiffel, construction on this iron lattice tower started in January 1887. The tower was finally unveiled in May 1889 as the entrance to that year’s World’s Fair. Although Parisians disliked the structure when they first saw it, the Eiffel Tower is now the most-visited paid monument in the world. Did you know there are actually two restaurants within the tower? Visitors can take the elevator (or stairs!) to see breathtaking views of Paris during the daytime or evening.