Notre-Dame de Paris
Along with the Tour Eiffel, the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris is one of the symbols of the French Capital. The French Gothic spires of the cathedral, with its stunning stained glass sits on the eastern side of the Île de la Cité and dominates the Seine and central Paris. The cathedral took almost 200 years to build, and it remains a prime example of French Gothic architecture. The cathedral is well known for its 10 bells and the hauntingly beautiful and iconic gargoyles and chimeras which decorate its exterior. When visiting, make sure you climb atop one of the bell towers to catch a glimpse of one of the most incredible views of the city.
Montmartre and the Basilica of Sacré Coeur
One of the most popular tourist spots, yet with timeless charms is the hill of Montmartre dominated by the Sacré Coeur Basilica. As well as enjoying the stunning walk up to the white domed basilica, the winding streets up the hill retain their Belle Époque charm, lined with small shops and “struggling artists”. Montmartre was the home of many artists who based themselves in Paris including Salvador Dalí, Amedeo Modigliani, Claude Monet, , Piet Mondrian, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh. Head to the area just before lunch, peruse the shops, maybe have a caricature artist draw a portrait of you and then rest on the white steps of the basilica, taking in the views and enjoying a fresh baguette filled with delicious French produce.
The Tour Eiffel
Without a doubt the Tour Eiffel is a timeless symbol of Paris. Built in 1889, the tower has dominated the Capital’s skyline for so long, it’s almost impossible to imagine Paris without it. Once you see the iconic monument, then you know you’re in Paris. Walk up to the Tour through the Champ de Mars and take in the dwarfing sight. Whether you have the stamina to climb up using the stairs or the lift, the view from the top is not to be missed, by anyone. With Paris at your feet, you’ll feel truly in Heaven. If you’re feeling peckish after the climb, don’t miss one of the two eateries of the Tur Eiffel, including Le Jules Verne, the one-star Michelin restaurant run by Alain Ducasse which resides on the second floor of the tower.
Its different districts all showing a different facets of the city’s soul
One of the most fascinating things about getting to know a metropolis the different areas it is made up of, almost like a large agglomerate of different villages, with their own character. The same stands with Paris, and just a subway ride away you can explore different worlds. The old-world grandeur of the central Arrondissements (1-4), with their imperial architecture and high-end shops, the newer fancy district of Saint Germain de Pres, playground of the cool kids, or the Jewish district Les Marais, today’s hot spot, Bastille, a hipster’s paradise, and the colourful and world famous Quartier Latin, to name but a few.
Paris is also a centre of culture and of course the city is home to some of the most well-known museums Europe has to offer. The Louvre, the home of the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, as well as other countless works of art, the Musée d’Orsay, with its collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, the Centre Georges Pompidou, The Musée des Arts Decoratifs with its impressive fashion exhibitions and many more.
It’s impossible not to mention one of the things the French love the most, and that the world loves about France: food! Paris has the highest concentration of Michelin stars in the world, and the choice for gourmet dining is endless. That said, food permeates everything, and for the foodie there are endless patisseries to try, delicious bistrots, street food stalls or simply, shop at one of the many gourmet food shops and enjoy your cheese, bread, and wine in the open air by pic nicking in one of the many parks the city has to offer. How very Parisian!
The Palace of Versailles
Perhaps not strictly in Paris (its 20 km) away, it’s one of the most impressive buildings the city, and its outskirts have to offer. The world famous abode of the kings of France, Versailles became the centre of French political power since 1682, Louis XIV moved there from the centre of town. The grandeur of the Palace is unsurpassed in Europe (maybe just the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg) and the most revered attraction is the must see the galerie des glaces (Hall of Mirrors). Make sure to take a stroll around its perfectly manicured gardens with its Italian Gardens and Orangerie.
The rooftops of Paris
In 2015 Paris moved to list the emblematic grey zinc rooftops which inspired Van Gogh and many other artists, as a Unesco and world heritage site. The most spectacular roofs are city centre’s elegant 19th century Haussmanian apartment buildings and grand 17th century townhouses. You can take in the view from the highest points of the city, or from rooftop bars, apartments and hotel suites in the centre of town.
La Seine and Canal Saint Martin
Cities that boast a river or canals are often the most romantic, and thanks to this natural asset they reach iconic status. Paris is crossed by the Seine, and a beautiful way to take in the sites is by taking a cruise along the river. With Notre-Dame dominating the Île de la Cité, the stunning bridges, Le Louvre and Musée d’Orsay almost across the water from each other this is an unforgettable experience. The banks of La Seine are also a meeting place for lazy summer evenings to idle, drink and chat. Canal Saint Martin is equally romantic, and the new hipster hot spot in town, with plenty of trendy restaurants and bars lining the canal, and youngsters populating the street.
Paris is as much about its monuments as it is about its parks. Parisians love to enjoy all of their city, including its green spaces. When it’s hot and sunny the city’s many parks are taken over by the locals enjoying picnics with friends and family. From smaller squares of green like the centre of Place des Vosges. Parc des Buttes-Chaumont with its pretty lake, the grand Jardin de Luxembourg, and the Champ de Mars, where idlers enjoy their afternoons in the shade of the Eiffel Tower.