Paris, the City of Light is the world’s most visited capital. The city is proud of its many monuments from the iconic Eiffel Tower to the lofty Notre-Dame cathedral and the majestic Arc de Triomphe. No doubt this is Europe’s most enchanting capital! Here is our list for the top 10 most famous monuments of Paris.
What are the most famous monuments of Paris?
We often take for granted that all our readers should be familiar with Paris’ iconic monuments. As I toured with visitors from the Americas, the UK, India or Australia I found out that this was not always the case. Of course everyone knows the Eiffel Tower but not all our clients were able to recognise the Sacré-Cœur or Notre-Dame, had trouble distinguishing the dome of the Invalides from that of the Panthéon… I hope this little list will help some of you to discover the grandest and most popular moments of Paris. Please let us know of your favourite Parisian landmarks by commenting below, we’d love to hear from you! Oh and by the way thank you to all our readers for making this post our most successful ever published! 🙂
1. Eiffel Tower
The world-famous metallic tower was built for the Paris International Exhibition in 1889 for the centenary of the French Revolution. At the time of its inauguration, it was the world’s tallest monument.
Read more about the Eiffel Tower.
The cathedral of Notre-Dame-de-Paris is a jewel of Gothic architecture and arguably one of the finest churches in Europe. Built from the Middle-Ages, it is renowned for being at the centre stage of “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame”, a 19th century novel written by French writer Victor Hugo.
Read more about Notre-Dame.
3. Arc de Triomphe
The monumental triumphal arch sits at the top of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées at the centre of Place de l’Étoile (or Place du Général Charles de Gaulle) where 12 avenues radiate.
It was built in honour of the French Imperial army of Napoleon.
Read more about the Arc de Triomphe.
4. Palais du Louvre
It is said that the Louvre is the world’s largest museum. Whether it is true or not, it is one of the most majestic palaces of Europe.
Former residence of the Kings of France, the Louvre and its glass pyramid open onto the garden of the Tuileries at the starting point of the Historical Axis.
Read more about the Louvre.
The Romanesque-Byzantine basilica of Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre stands like a whipped-cream edifice atop the hillock and shares more resemblance with the Taj Mahal in India than the Notre-Dame cathedral!
It was built between 1875 and 1914 by architect Paul Abadie, also known for restoring the cathedral of Périgueux.
Read more about Sacré-Cœur.
This neo-classical white monument with its formidable colonnaded dome stands at the top of the Sainte-Geneviève hill. Originally a church, the Panthéon has since become a necropolis for France’s greatest citizens and a popular national monument.
7. Opéra Garnier
The opulent Paris Opera house was built from 1861 to 1875 by Charles Garnier during the reign of Napoleon III. It is part of the great reconstruction of Paris by Baron Haussmann during the Second Empire. The auditorium seats nearly 2,000 people and features the grand chandelier and a fine ceiling painting by Marc Chagall.
Read more about the Palais Garnier.
8. Les Invalides
The grand complex of Les Invalides in the 7th arrondissement is easily recognisable with its magnificent golden dome. It was built by Louis XIV to house the homeless and wounded veterans of his army. Today the Hôtel des Invalides is famous for housing the tomb of French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. The Hôtel des Invalides also hosts three museums: the Army museum, the Musée de l’Ordre de la Libération, and the Musée des Plans-Reliefs.
Read more about the Invalides.
9. Centre Pompidou
The Pompidou Centre in Beaubourg (4th arrondissement) is one of France’s most visited museums.
The complex, not far from Les Halles, was designed in the style of high-tech architecture. The top floor offers panoramic vistas over the roofs of Paris. With its colour-coded pipes and ducts, the design of the modern art museum has been the source of much controversy since its construction.
10. Palais du Luxembourg
The Luxembourg Palace, surrounded by the garden, was created in 1617 and owes its name to the Duke of Piney-Luxembourg, landlord of a domain which was later acquired by Maria de Medici, widow of the King of France, Henri IV. The Italian born Queen wished to create a building to remind her of the Pitti Palace as well as establishing gardens evoking those of Boboli in Florence. The construction of the palace, opening onto a park comprising 8 hectares, was entrusted to Salomon de la Brosse. It now houses the French Senate.
Read more about the Luxembourg Garden.
Looking for a great guide of Paris? We bought The Rough Guide to Paris and found what we needed to know for discovering the must-sees to the more offbeat sites of the French capital. The guide gives an accurate practical information on everything from public transport to opening hours and museum passes.
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(f) for féminin, (m) for masculin, (adj) for adjective and (v) for verbs
- arch = arc (m)
- basilica = basilique (f)
- cathedral = cathédrale (f)
- church = église (f)
- Eiffel Tower = Tour Eiffel (f)
- French Revolution = Révolution Française (f)
- garden = jardin (m)
- Middle-Ages = Moyen-Âge (m)
- monument = monument (m)
- museum = musée (m)
- necropolis = nécropole (f)
- opéra = opéra (m)
- palace = palais (m)
- Senate = Sénat (m)
- triumphal arch = arc de triomphe (m)