Top 10 Paris Attractions
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metro stop: Bir-Hakeim, Line 6
Finished in 1889 for the International Exhibition of Paris, this trademark icon of the Parisian skyline was at first considered unsightly to Parisians. Today, of all Paris sights, the Eiffel Tower is a towering symbol of France and draws tourists looking for the ultimate Parisian view up its height-defying elevators in droves. It's a heady feeling just to look up from the base, but for visitors, the Eiffel Tower is worth seeing from the top (you can purchase lift tickets for the 1st, 2nd and top floor). Views of the City of Lights at night from the sparklingly lit Eiffel Tower are phenomenal. Of all Paris sights, the Eiffel Tower is the most famous and most highly recommended visit.
metro stop: Palais Royal, Line 7
The Pompidou Centre
metro stop: Rambuteau, Line 11, or Les Halles, Line 4
metro stop: Charles de Gaulle Etoile, Line 2
A landmark Paris monument, the Arc de Triomphe is located in the center of the circular place Charles de Gaulle, and forms the hub of a 12-spoked avenue grid that radiates from it. Currently dedicated to an unknown soldier, the Arc de Triomphe's origins are much less humble, being commissioned by the power-hungry Napoleon de Bonaparte.
RER C5 to Versailles Rive Gauche (Château de Versailles)
The former gluttony and extravagance of the French monarchy certainly make for irresistible Paris attractions. A lavish spread with a Hall of Mirrors, Stables and the most opulent guesthouses one could imagine, the Chateau de Versailles is a lesson in luxury and an ostentatious display of colonialism's gilded spoils.
RER, Line A to Marne-la-Vallée
Patterned after Los Angeles' Disneyland, Disneyland Paris (formerly Euro Disney) opened to less-than-rave reviews and lagging crowds, but now this bastion of Americanism in Paris is a popular Paris attraction, especially for visiting families and American tourists looking for an updated, if still faithful, version of the original. With five theme parks, including Frontierland, Main Street U.S.A., Fantasyland and Walk Disney Studios, Disneyland Paris is a practically a Paris municipality with hotels, restaurants, golf, shops and a massive entertainment center. To avoid long lines, try to visit Disneyland Paris in the off season, from September to June.
metro stop: Cité, Line 4
metro stop: Denfert Rochereau, Line 6 or, RER, Line B
The Paris Catacombs (or Catacombes de Paris, as they’re called in French) are a maze of tunnels and crypts underneath the city streets where Parisians placed the bones of their dead for almost 30 years. Prior to the creation of the Catacombs in the mid-1700s, residents buried their dead in cemeteries near churches as is still customary in most places.
As Paris grew in size, the cemeteries quickly ran out of space. Additionally, improper burial techniques often led to ground water and land near cemeteries becoming contaminated and spreading disease to those living nearby, so city officials moved to condemn all the cemeteries within city limits and move the bodies in those cemeteries elsewhere.
The decision was made to use an underground section of quarries in Paris, and the bones from Paris’ city cemeteries were moved underground between 1786 and 1788. The process was conducted with reverence and discretion – the quarry space was blessed before any bones were moved there, bones were always moved in a quiet parade of carts accompanied by priests, and these movements always took place at night. The quarries continued to be used as the collection point for the bones from Paris’ cemeteries through 1814 and now contain the bodies of roughly 6-7 million Parisians.
What’s particularly surprising about the Catacombs of Paris isn’t that they’re a tourist attraction in modern-day Paris – what’s surprising is that they started attracting visitors even before the last bones were moved in 1814, and they were already a major attraction just over 50 years later. In fact, in the late 1800s the larger underground crypt areas were even used as mini-concert halls!
metro stop: Anvers, Line 2 or Jules Joffrin, Line 12
This Montmartre landmark, a 19th-century basilica built by the French government following the Franco-Prussian War, features a large medieval dome that provides excellent views of the city.
Free Paris Maps
Printable Paris Metro Map
Paris STREET map (pdf tourist map of Paris)
Decide on Paris sector/ area by magnifying up to 400% and then print on current view. The map includes street names, Paris attractions and metro stations.