“The city of Love” is a common nickname for the capital city of France. Last weekend I had the privilege of returning to Paris for the eighth time in my life, and it got me thinking; why not write about the third most visited city on earth (Forbes). Having visited quite a few times, I figured I could write two articles serving as guidebooks to seeing the “real Paris” for those fortunate enough to visit more than once, as well as the tourist version for those of you who have never gone and may not have more than one opportunity to go. This week will be about visiting the “tourist” side of my favorite city. With that being said, if it is your first (and likely your last) time you are going to Paris, here are four things you absolutely need to do. Obviously, the Eiffel Tower is a necessary, but before visiting the first free-standing structure surpassing 300 meters, there are other places you must see.
To begin the list, The Louvre Museum, in the first arrondissement is an absolute necessity. It is the largest museum in the world, ranks 27th on the list of most visited attractions in the world, (Huffington Post) and boasts some of the most renowned pieces of art ever created, most famously, the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. The Louvre is so large that you can’t tour the whole thing in one day, so here are the most important things to see when visiting. The Louvre Museum is actually a Palace, where Napoleon lived, and inside you can tour his private residence where he held parties, foreign diplomats, etc. Other must-see pieces include the “Winged Victory of Samothrace”, Michelangelo’s “Dying Slave”, “Venus de Milo”, and one of my personal favorite paintings “Eugène Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People”. These exhibits are ones you can’t miss.
Next on the list is the Arc de Triumph, located at the west end of the Champs-Élysées. This historic monument honors those who fought in the French Revolutionary War, the Napoleonic Wars, and beneath serves as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers from World War I. it also has the world’s largest roundabout in the world circling it. This massive and beautifully designed structure is a need to see on your trip, and for those of you interested, for 10,000 USD you can enjoy a five-course gastronomic brunch at the top of it with your party (yes you will be served fancy champagne).
Thirdly on the list, is the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. This medieval Catholic Cathedral which lies on the river Seine is one of the most stunning pieces of Architecture in Western Europe. Inside of it are famous Cloister stained glass windows that are unable to be replicated today because the method has been retired, and there are no others like the ones found here. Interestingly enough, Notre Dame ranks 13th on the list of most visited attractions in the world, (Huffington Post) beating out a well-known tower that I have yet to talk about.
Last, but certainly never least, the Eiffel Tower, ranked 38th on the list of most visited attractions in the world (Huffington Post), however, it is most visited paid monument in the world. Built in 1889 by Gustave Eiffel, for the Paris Convention, the Eiffel Tower was supposed to be taken down after 20 years after construction. At the time of construction, the Eiffel Tower was the world’s largest structure and remains an iconic monument of France. When visiting, I recommend going early evening, when it is all lit up, and if you’re lucky, it will be sparkling. You must pay to go all the way up, but it is worth it. I’m not going to go into too much detail because I don’t want to ruin the experience for those of you who have yet to visit.
All in all, these are the four most important places, in my opinion, to visit if you only have a short time in Paris, and want to get the best possible experience in the limited time you have. In next week’s article, I will dive into visiting the non-tourist version of Paris.