Top 10 Must-See Places in Paris, France according to DK
10. Hotel des Invalides
Les Invalides is a complex of buildings in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building’s original purpose.
Soaring stained glass windows beaming ample light onto the rich primary colours of the tile mosaics on the floor, this photogenic church was built by the French kings to house the relics of the Crown of Thorns – far more beautiful than the famous, but gloomy, Notre Dame, which is nearby.
8. The Panthéon
Originally conceived by Louis XV as a grand neo-classical church honouring St. Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris. After the Revolution, the building was converted into a mausoleum for the great philosophers, military, artists, scientists, and heroes of the French Republic.
7. Centre Georges Pompidou
Those who are unfamiliar with conceptual art sometimes don’t know quite what to expect, or how to approach it. Such travellers should rest assured that the curators at the Pompidou Centre have assembled a marvellous introduction consisting of mostly approachable works which delight, amuse, and entertain.
6. Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. It stands in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle. The Arc de Triomphe honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.
This wedding cake-white church rises visibly above the north part of Paris. The striking building, with its towers and white onion dome, was built between 1875-1914 on the birthplace of La Commune, officially as an act of penitence for the sins committed during the civil war in which thousands of Communards were executed, as well as for the bloodshed of the 1870 Franco-Prussian war which followed.
The early Gothic Cathédrale de Notre Dame (Our Lady) has a 12th century design but wasn’t completed until the 14th. Still it is a good example of the development of the style, though the west or main portal is a bit unusual in its rigidity. Remember that this is an active church, there may even be a mass going on.
3. Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is an iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris. It was named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Erected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair, it was initially criticised by some of France’s leading artists and intellectuals for its design, but has become both a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world.
2. Musée d’Orsay
Housed in a former Beaux-Arts railway station, the rambling, open-plan museum is home to the works of the great artists of the 19th century (1848-1914) – Impressionists, post-Impressionists, and the rest – that were formerly displayed in the l’Orangerie. This is perhaps the most spectacular collection of European impressionism in the world—breath-taking rooms full of Manet, Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, and many others.
1. Musée du Louvre
Its exhibits come from such diverse origins as ancient Egypt, classical Greece and Rome, medieval Europe, and Napoleonic France. Its most famous exhibit, of course, is Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of the Mona Lisa, generally to be found surrounded by hordes of camera-flashing tourists. If you want to see everything in the Louvre, plan at least two full days.