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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 of the top 10 most famous monuments of Paris, France. However, if you’re unfamiliar with the French capital’s iconic landmarks, you’ll surely recognise a few!

 

What are the most famous monuments of Paris, France?

 

We often take for granted that all our readers should be familiar with the iconic monuments in Paris. As I toured with visitors from the Americas, the UK, India and Australia, I discovered this was not always the case. Of course, everyone knows the Eiffel Tower, but not all our clients can recognise the Sacré-Cœur or Notre Dame. Moreover, some had trouble distinguishing the dome of the Invalides from that of the Panthéon… I hope this little list of the most famous monuments of Paris will help some of you to discover the French capital. Please let us know your favourite famous monuments of Paris by commenting below; we’d love to hear from you!

 

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There is more!

Want to know more about France outside of Paris? Check out this post on The Travel Scribes, which describes no less than 21 fantastic landmarks in France!

 

Palais du Luxembourg

[6th  arrondissement]

Famous Monuments of Paris - The Luxembourg Palace © French Moments
The Luxembourg Palace, Paris © French Moments

The Luxembourg Palace, surrounded by its beautiful gardens, was built in 1617. It owes its name to the Duke of Piney-Luxembourg, landlord of a domain later acquired by Maria de Medici, widow of the King of France, Henri IV. The Italian-born Queen wished to create a residence to remind her of the Pitti Palace and establish gardens evoking those of Boboli in Florence.

Furthermore, architect Salomon de la Brosse has been entrusted with the palace’s construction. It now houses the French Senate, the upper house of Parliament. The palace opens onto a beautiful park, actually one of my favourites in Paris. I love coming here in Spring and Autumn. If you have kids, it also has a brilliant play area.

The Medici Fountain in the Luxembourg Gardens © French Moments
The Medici Fountain in the Luxembourg Gardens © French Moments

 

Centre Pompidou

[4th  arrondissement]

Famous Monuments of Paris - Centre Pompidou © French Moments
Centre Pompidou, Paris © French Moments

The Pompidou Centre in the district of Beaubourg is one of France’s most visited museums.

Near the busy shopping precinct of Les Halles, the Pompidou Centre was designed with high-tech architecture. With its colour-coded pipes and ducts, the design of the modern art museum has been the source of much controversy since its construction.

However, inaugurated in 1977, some see it as an eyesore, while others praise its architectural audacity. Honestly, I don’t know what to think of it, so I much prefer to climb to the top floor to enjoy the panoramic views over the roofs of Paris, which also has a famous restaurant.

Famous Monuments of Paris - Pompidou Centre © French Moments
The Pompidou Centre from rue Beaubourg © French Moments

>> Get your Tickets for Pompidou Centre: Priority Entrance! <<

⚠️ The museum will undergo a significant revamp in the coming years and will be closed during the renovation works.

 


 
 

Les Invalides

[7th  arrondissement]

Famous Monuments of Paris - Hôtel des Invalides © French Moments
Hôtel des Invalides, Paris © French Moments

This is a place I’m much more familiar with as I used to work as a French teacher in a nearby language school.

The grand complex of Les Invalides on the Left Bank is easily recognisable by its magnificent golden dome reaching 107 metres high. Louis XIV initially built it to house the homeless and wounded veterans of the King’s army.

Today the Hôtel des Invalides is famous for housing the tomb of French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

Finally, the Hôtel des Invalides also hosts three museums: the Army Museum, the Order of the Liberation Museum, and the Relief Map Museum.

Napoleon's sarcophagus, Dome church of Les Invalides © French Moments
Napoleon’s sarcophagus, Dome church of Les Invalides © French Moments

>> Get your Tickets for Les Invalides: the Army Museum [Priority Entrance], Napoleon’s tomb, and see war memorabilia! <<

 

 
 

Opéra Garnier

[9th  arrondissement]

Famous Monuments of Paris - Opéra Garnier © French Moments
The main façade of the Place de l’Opéra © French Moments

Charles Garnier built the opulent Paris Opera House from 1861 to 1875 during the reign of Napoleon III. It is part of Baron Haussmann’s significant reconstruction of Paris during the Second Empire.

The auditorium seats nearly 2,000 people and features a grand chandelier and a fine ceiling painting by Marc Chagall. Therefore, you must visit the opera house’s interior, including the stunning grand staircase.

Famous Monuments of Paris - Grand Foyer of Palais Garnier © French Moments
Inside Palais Garnier: the Grand Foyer © French Moments

You can pay to look around or have a guided tour at certain times of the day. It’s just mind-blowing! You can sometimes get last-minute tickets for operas and ballets, but it is best to book in advance, which you can do online.

>> Get your Tickets for Opera Garnier: Self-guided visit! <<

 

 
 

Panthéon

[5th  arrondissement]

Famous monuments of Paris - Panthéon © French Moments
Panthéon, Paris © French Moments

Situated in the Latin Quarter, the Panthéon stands at the top of the Sainte-Geneviève hill. A massive collonaded dome tops the neo-classical white monument.

Originally a church, the Panthéon became a necropolis for France’s most outstanding citizens and a famous national monument.

I recommend you climb the dome of the Panthéon to see the whole of Paris, from the Eiffel Tower to Notre-Dame and Montmartre.

Famous Monuments of Paris - Pantheon © French Moments
Paris in May from Pantheon © French Moments

>> Get your Tickets for the Panthéon: Priority entrance to meet France’s famous citizens! <<

 

 
 

Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Montmartre

[18th  arrondissement]

Famous monuments of Paris - Sacré-Cœur, Montmartre © French Moments
Sacré-Cœur, Montmartre © French Moments

Visible from many parts of Paris, the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur stands like a whipped-cream church atop the hill of Montmartre. With its Romanesque-Byzantine style, the church resembles the Taj Mahal in India more than the Gothic cathedral of Notre Dame!

The Sacré-Cœur was built between 1875 and 1914 by architect Paul Abadie and houses France’s giant bell, La Savoyarde, weighing 18 tonnes.

The panoramic view of Paris from the top of the dome is breathtaking, especially at sunset!

Paris View from Montmartre 9 copyright French Moments
Paris from the top of Sacré-Cœur © French Moments

Finally, I recommend visiting the church and the neighbouring streets of Montmartre early in the morning to avoid the masses of tourists. Make sure you also head to Place du Tertre, where you can have your portrait painted and soak up the atmosphere.

 

Notre-Dame Cathedral

[4th  arrondissement]

⚠️ April 15. 2019 – A fire broke out at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and spread rapidly across the building. During this catastrophic blaze, the spire and roofs collapsed. Reconstruction work is in progress, and we hope the cathedral will be restored by 2024 at the earliest.

Notre-Dame Fire © Antoninnnnn - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Notre-Dame Fire © Antoninnnnn – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
The Paris Cathedral of Notre Dame is a jewel of Gothic architecture and arguably one of the finest churches in Europe. Constructed in the Middle Ages, the cathedral is the centre stage of “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame”, a 19th-century novel by French writer Victor Hugo.

Famous Monuments of Paris - Notre-Dame Cathedral © French Moments
Notre-Dame Cathedral before the April 2019 Great Fire © French Moments

I particularly liked visiting Notre-Dame at Christmas to admire the monumental Nativity Scene.

Before the great fire of April 2019, if you climbed up the 380 stairs to the South Tower, you’d meet the many chimaeras and gargoyles that watched over the city of Paris day and night.

Goat-shaped Chimera, Towers of Notre-Dame © French Moments
Goat-shaped Chimera, Towers of Notre-Dame © French Moments

 

Palais du Louvre

[1st arrondissement]

Famous monuments of Paris - Louvre © French Moments
Most famous monuments of Paris #3: the Louvre © French Moments

It is said that the Louvre is the world’s largest museum. Whether it is true or not, it ranks as one of Europe’s most majestic palaces.

Originally this was the former residence of the Kings of France. Today the Louvre Museum displays over 38,000 pieces of art. Don’t miss visiting the remains of the medieval foundations on the lower ground floor.

Some of the most famous are Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and Delacroix’s painting Liberty Leading the People…

Eugène Delacroix - La liberté guidant le peuple
Eugène Delacroix – La liberté guidant le peuple

Finally, the Louvre and its glass pyramid open onto the Tuileries Gardens at the starting point of the Historical Axis. With places like this available to visit, it is no surprise that France has been named one of the top 25 holiday destinations of 2021.

Walking in Paris: the Historical Axis © French Moments
Walking in the Tuileries Garden, Paris © French Moments

>> Get your Fast-Track Tickets for the Louvre: Skip The Line and meet Mona Lisa! <<

 

 
 

Arc de Triomphe

[8th  arrondissement]

Famous monuments of Paris - Arc de Triomphe © French Moments
Most famous monuments of Paris #2: the Arc de Triomphe © French Moments

The Arc de Triomphe is a triumphal arch at the top of the prestigious Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

It was raised at the centre of Place de l’Étoile (or Place du Général Charles de Gaulle) from where 12 avenues radiate. In fact, the Arc de Triomphe was built in honour of the French Imperial army of Napoleon.

You can admire it from afar at the Place de la Concorde or the Esplanade de la Défense.

Famous Monuments of Paris - Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysées © French Moments-001
Avenue des Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe © French Moments

>> Get your Tickets for Arc de Triomphe: Skip The Line + Rooftop Access <<

 

 
 

Eiffel Tower

[7th arrondissement]

Famous monuments of Paris - Eiffel Tower © French Moments
Most famous monuments of Paris #1: The Eiffel Tower © French Moments

Among the famous monuments of Paris, La Tour Eiffel is undoubtedly the most popular. The “dame de fer” (iron lady) is known worldwide.

But did you know that the world-famous metallic tower was built for the Paris International Exhibition in 1889 for the centenary of the French Revolution? Then at the time of its inauguration, it was the world’s tallest monument.

More than 7 million visitors each year!

Nowadays, it welcomes more than 7 million visitors annually, and it is estimated that more than 250 million people have visited the tower since its completion. In fact, the Eiffel Tower is the most visited paid-entrance monument in the world.

>> Get your Tickets for the Eiffel Tower: Guided Visit + Access to the Top! <<

 

 
 

More photos of the Eiffel Tower
Travel to France - Explore Secret and Offbeat Paris © French Moments
Explore Secret and Offbeat Paris © French Moments
Famous Monuments of Paris - Eiffel Tower © French Moments
The metallic structure of the tower © French Moments
Famous Monuments of Paris - Eiffel Tower © French Moments
The second level of the Eiffel Tower © French Moments
Famous Monuments of Paris - Eiffel Tower © French Moments
Famous monuments of Paris: the Eiffel Tower from bottom to top! © French Moments
Famous Monuments of Paris - Eiffel Tower © French Moments
The Eiffel Tower, one of the most famous monuments of Paris © French Moments

 

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20 other famous monuments of Paris

Paris is a city rich in remarkable sites. There needs to be more than a list of 10 famous monuments of Paris to describe the French capital’s architectural, historical and cultural wealth.

Below you’ll find the rest of the list of 20 must-see monuments on a visit to Paris.

 

Palais-Royal

[1st arrondissement]

Famous Monuments of Paris - Palais-Royal © French Moments
Cour d’honneur of the Palais Royal © French Moments

A former royal palace turned public space, Palais-Royal features beautiful gardens, historic arcades, and the renowned Comédie-Française theatre, offering a tranquil escape in the city’s heart.

Learn more about this monument…

 

Colonne Vendôme

[1st arrondissement]

Famous Monuments of Paris - Place Vendôme © French Moments
Place Vendôme © French Moments

Standing tall in the Place Vendôme, the Colonne Vendôme is a monumental column adorned with intricate bas-reliefs, commemorating Napoleon’s military victories and showcasing exquisite craftsmanship.

Learn more about this monument…

 

Conciergerie

[1st arrondissement]

Famous Monuments of Paris - Conciergerie and Pont au change © French Moments
Pont au change, Tribunal de Commerce and Conciergerie © French Moments

Once a medieval palace turned prison, the Conciergerie offers a glimpse into Paris’ dark history, where notable figures, including Marie Antoinette, were held before their executions during the French Revolution.

Learn more about this monument…

 

 
 

Sainte-Chapelle

[1st arrondissement]

Famous Monuments of Paris - Upper Chapel of Sainte-Chapelle © French Moments
The Upper Chapel of Sainte-Chapelle © French Moments

A masterpiece of Gothic architecture, Sainte-Chapelle enchants visitors with its stunning stained glass windows, depicting biblical stories and creating an ethereal atmosphere.

Learn more about this monument…

 

 
 

Paris City Hall

[4th arrondissement]

Famous Monuments of Paris - Hôtel de Ville © French Moments
Paris City-Hall © French Moments

Located in the heart of Paris, the Paris City Hall, or Hôtel de Ville, is a striking example of Renaissance architecture and serves as the administrative centre for the city, hosting cultural events and exhibitions.

Learn more about this monument…

 

Val-de-Grâce

[5th arrondissement]

Famous Monuments of Paris - Val de Grâce © French Moments
The dome of the Val de Grâce seen from rue de la Santé © French Moments

This former royal abbey turned military hospital showcases exquisite Baroque architecture and houses the Church of Val-de-Grâce, known for its impressive dome and ornate interior.

 

Saint-Germain-des-Prés Church

[6th arrondissement]

Famous Monuments of Paris - Saint-Germain-des-Prés © French Moments
The neighbourhood of Saint-Germain-des-Prés © French Moments

Situated in the vibrant Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighbourhood, this Romanesque abbey church is one of the oldest in Paris and is renowned for its tranquil ambience and historical significance.

Learn more about this monument…

 

Saint-Sulpice Church

[6th arrondissement]

Famous Monuments of Paris - Tour Montparnasse - Saint-Sulpice church © French Moments
Saint-Sulpice church © French Moments

One of the largest churches in Paris, Saint-Sulpice Church is a stunning example of French Gothic architecture, with its impressive façade and iconic organ played by renowned composers.

 

Institut de France

[6th arrondissement]

Famous Monuments of Paris - Institut de France © French Moments
The Institut de France, Paris © French Moments

Overlooking the Seine River, the Institut de France is an esteemed institution dedicated to promoting literature, arts, and sciences, housed in an elegant neoclassical building.

 

Orsay Museum

[7th arrondissement]

Famous Monuments of Paris - Orsay Museum © French Moments
Orsay Museum, Paris © French Moments

Housed in a former railway station, the Orsay Museum is home to an extensive collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces showcasing the revolutionary art movements of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

 

 
 

Palais Bourbon

[7th arrondissement]

Famous Monuments of Paris - Palais Bourbon © French Moments
The classical façade of Palais Bourbon © French Moments

Serving as the seat of the French National Assembly, the Palais Bourbon is an impressive neoclassical building that houses the country’s legislative power, reflecting the importance of democracy.

Learn more about this monument…

 

Grand Palais

[8th arrondissement]

Famous Monuments of Paris - Grand-Palais by night © French Moments
Grand-Palais by Night © French Moments

A magnificent Belle Époque building, the Grand Palais hosts prestigious exhibitions, art fairs, and events, showcasing a blend of architectural grandeur and cultural significance.

Learn more about this monument…

 

Petit Palais

[8th arrondissement]

Famous Monuments of Paris - Petit-Palais © French Moments
Petit-Palais, Paris © French Moments

Located across from the Grand Palais, the Petit Palais is a beautiful museum housing an extensive collection of fine art, ranging from antiquity to the early 20th century, within its stunning Belle Époque building.

Learn more about this monument…

 

La Madeleine Church

[8th arrondissement]

Famous Monuments of Paris - La Madeleine Church © French Moments
La Madeleine Church © French Moments

Inspired by ancient Greek temples, La Madeleine Church is a neoclassical masterpiece known for its imposing Corinthian columns and richly adorned interior, offering a unique architectural experience.

Learn more about this monument…

 

Elysée Palace

[8th arrondissement]

Famous Monuments of Paris - Élysée Palace © Remi Mathis - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
The Inner Courtyard of the Élysée Palace © Remi Mathis – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
The official residence of the President of France, the Elysée Palace is an elegant mansion showcasing French neoclassical style and serving as a symbol of political power.

Learn more about this monument…

 

July Column

[11th arrondissement]

Famous monuments of Paris - Place de la Bastille © French Moments
Place de la Bastille © French Moments

Located in the Place de la Bastille, the July Column commemorates the July Revolution of 1830 and symbolises the fight for freedom and democratic ideals.

Learn more about this monument…

 

Bastille Opera

[12th arrondissement]

Famous monuments of Paris - Opéra Bastille © LPLT - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Opéra Bastille © LPLT – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
A modern opera house built on the site of the former Bastille prison, the Bastille Opera showcases a diverse repertoire of opera and ballet performances, combining contemporary design with artistic excellence.

Learn more about this monument…

 

 
 

Bibliothèque Nationale de France

[13th arrondissement]

Famous monuments of Paris - - The National Library of France (François Mitterrand) in the 13th arrt © French Moments
The National Library of France (François Mitterrand) in the 13th arrt © French Moments

The National Library of France, located in the François-Mitterrand district, is a vast modern library complex housing a vast collection of books, manuscripts, and cultural treasures.

 

Montparnasse Tower

[15th arrondissement]

Famous monuments of Paris - Tour Montparnasse Terrace © Benedicte Jezequel67 - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
The top terrace of Tour Montparnasse © Benedicte Jezequel67 – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Offering panoramic views of Paris, the Montparnasse Tower is a prominent skyscraper that provides a bird’s-eye view of the city’s iconic landmarks, making it a popular attraction for visitors.

Learn more about this monument…

 

 
 

Grande Arche de la Défense

[La Défense]

Famous Monuments of Paris - Grande Arche de La Défense © French Moments
Grande Arche © French Moments

Located in the La Défense business district, the Grande Arche is a modern architectural marvel, forming a monumental arch-shaped building as a gateway to the city, reflecting Paris’ contemporary spirit and innovation.

Learn more about this monument…

 

 
 

Last note about the famous monuments of Paris

As we end our journey through the remarkable and famous monuments of Paris, we are left in awe of the city’s rich history, architectural marvels, and cultural treasures.

From the iconic Eiffel Tower to the grandeur of the Louvre Museum, each monument has a story to tell, reflecting the spirit, creativity, and resilience of Parisians throughout the ages.

Whether it’s the Gothic splendour of Notre Dame Cathedral, the majestic Palais-Royal, or the modern elegance of La Grande Arche, these monuments stand as testaments to human ingenuity and the enduring legacy of Paris as a global centre of art, culture, and history.

As you explore the streets of this enchanting city, may these monuments inspire you to delve deeper into the captivating tales and hidden gems that await around every corner. Paris remains a city of dreams, where the past and present intertwine to create an unforgettable experience for all wandering its streets.

Thank you for reading so far, and if you liked the article, please share it on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest!

Gems of Paris by French Moments
About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

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  2. Hey !! I’m French and I live in Paris. I saw all of these monuments and I think you choose the good word for describe them. Thank you !!

  3. Hi, I would really apreciate if certain details are updated and made easier to find…
    *The surname of the Author Pierre?
    *The year the text has been written in and last updated.
    Hope to hear back soon.

  4. Really Thanks alot for this informative Post with images. Paris is my bset place and I have no any idea about these places but after reading this post and see images I feel wow its amazing place. I like very much historical place and monuments, really I will go there in these places.

  5. Paris is one of my favorite city to travel as i gone for 2 times there with my friends and we enjoyed alot there specially the nightlife is beautiful there.

  6. Thanks so much for your help, i have a competition in school and needed a monument not many people have heard about. Thanks again and the blog was amazing. I really want to go see France once again now.

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