Top 10 Monuments of Paris
Paris holds no shortage of monuments and visual pleasures. It often feels like there is something to bask in no matter where you look, be it the unassuming charm of a corner cafe, or some old Haussmann architecture in a central arrondissement.
These 10 attractions drive people from all over the world to Paris, just to stand before or inside of them. Here’s what you can expect from each one.
1. The Eiffel Tower in Paris
What would Paris be were it not for this very recognizable entity standing proud and tall? There is no Paris without the Eiffel Tower, at least not in modern terms.
Sometimes called the Iron Lady, the Eiffel Tower is an obvious first choice to any monument list for Paris. But there’s good reason for this. Constructed in 1889, the Eiffel Tower is now single handedly responsible for the influx of 7 million people to France each year.
You’ll glimpse her from almost everywhere in the central arrondissement, but my favorite viewing of the Eiffel Tower is by night, when the light show takes place every hour, on the hour.
2. The Sacre Coeur in Paris
The Scare Coeur and the Eiffel Tower were brought to Paris during the same time period. This was a time of great expansion and improvement for the French capital, and in 1875 it was decided that construction on this fabulous basilica should commence.
By 1914, it was completed, and stands in all its glory to this day a top the illustrious Montmartre Hill. On crisp, sunny days, you’ll easily see the church gleaming on top of the hillside from just about everywhere on the right bank.
A walk through Montmartre is a must when on a first time visit to Paris!
3. Notre Dame in Paris
Number three on our list is actually the most visited monument in Paris, brining in far more foot traffic than both the Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur.
The Notre Dame Cathedral is an impressive structure that was built a very long time ago: 1163 to be exact. It lives on the Île de la Cité, one of that last remaining natural islands floating on the Seine River.
The cathedral is one of the earliest displays of gothic architecture. In 2019 it was overcome by a rogue fire that brought down the ceiling. Reconstruction is still underway.
4. Arc de Triomphe in Paris
One can’t visit Paris and not walks the Champs-Élysées at least once! At the western end, you’ll find the Arc de Triomphe.
This public monument stands in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle; a famous 12 pointed juncture with radiating avenues that connect Paris.
This is a commemorative monument that was commissioned by Napoleon and later dedicated to the armies of the Revolution.
5. Les Invalides in Paris
Invalides is a cluster of monuments in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. You won’t see these forming part of Paris’ skyline, but they hold worthwhile architecture and history for any curious traveler.
Built between 1670 and 1676, Invalides was intended as a place of retirement for French war veterans. It contains several buildings that now house churches, museums and even the tomb of Napoleon.
6. Hotel de Ville in Paris
It’s inevitable one will unknowingly pass by the Hotel de Ville while exploring Paris. Usually, it’s the overwhelming beauty that causes passersby to stop and marvel, only to realizing this is one of the most historic spots in all of the center.
The Hotel de Ville was completed in 1628, but stood empty for close to 200 years. It survived the turmoil that was the Revolution, and has gone on to become the official administration building for city council.
7. Pantheon in Paris
Between the years of 1758 and 1790, the Latin Quarter was selected as the building zone for what would be one of Paris’ most important monuments to date.
The Pantheon is an exquisite mausoleum holding the remains and tombs of noteworthy Frenchmen who helped shape the course of history as we know it. It took a while for this monument to start to acknowledge that women too have shaped the history books, and there are now just five of them honored in the space.
8. Colonne de Juillet in Paris
A lot of Paris’ public squares have pleasing monuments on them, but none quite compare to the Juliet Column that stands in the center of the Place de la Bastille.
It’s an elaborate 47 meter tall column made out of brass drums that have been stacked up to the clouds. The column weighs an unfathomable 74,000 kg, and was erected to commemorate the end of the Revolution in 1830.
9. Pompidou Center in Paris
The Pompidou Center is one of the youngest additions to Paris’ list of memorable monuments. This is still a very important one, as it has brought a postmodern flair to an otherwise quite traditional architecture tradition, particularly in the 4th arrondissement.
The building houses a modern art museum that has quickly become a sought after place to view the works of the greats.
10. Sainte-Chapelle in Paris
Up until the 14th century, the site of this church was actually the official residence of the King of France. It was then known as the Palais de la Cité, and it shared an island with Notre Dame.
When this church was constructed next to Notre Dame, many had their doubts. But Sainte-Chapelle actually offers a much more intimate and less overwhelming church-goer experience compared to the very grand cathedral nearby.
If you’re over the age of 26, you’ll have to pay to enter this church.