So you’re off to one of the most beautiful cities in the world but you’ve only got two days and therefore want to know what the top 5 things to do in Paris are. Not a problem, here is a handy list, brought to you by the team at the Paris Pass.
One of the most recognisable structures in the world, this iconic steel construction was built by engineer Gustave Eiffel and his team to serve as the main entrance for the 1889 Exposition Universelle (World Fair). Although it was originally planned as a temporary installation, the tower is still standing over 126 years later.
Situated alongside the Seine, the tower has several levels, each one offering a spectacular view over Paris and from up high all roads appear to lead to the Eiffel Tower. If you’re feeling fit, then why not try walking up the 704 steps to the top? The tower has a three levels: Level 1 features a transparent floor for a hair-raising view; the Jules Verne restaurant can be found on Level 2 for dinner with a spectacular view; while Level 3 offers a stunning perspective across Paris and Gustave Eiffel’s former office. To find out more about the history of the Eiffel Tower with photos, posters, videos, illustrations and interactive displays don’t forget to check it all out on Level 1.
Next on our list of top 5 things to do in Paris is another famous, but much older structure. Notre-Dame de Paris translates to ‘Our Lady of Paris’ and is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. This Catholic cathedral is built in the French Gothic style and is one of the largest and best-known church buildings in the world. It is particularly famous for its outstanding sculptures and stained glass.
Instigated around 1200 by the bishop and mayor of Paris, Maurice de Sully, the main construction work was completed under the direction of four different master builders by 1250. Additions in the late 13th and early 14th century included the flying buttresses, choir chapels and a 15m apse.
Notre Dame is one of only a few free attractions in Paris, although there is a fee if you want to climb the towers. 387 steps up a narrow spiral staircase and you will be rewarded with some truly impressive gargoyles and roof sculptures, as well as an astonishing view. A beautiful sight and an intrinsic part of the splendid Paris skyline.
The river Seine flows through the heart of Paris, touching ten of the twenty arrondissements (districts). It has served as a backdrop to centuries of Parisian writers, intellectuals, painters, architects and lovers. However, its most important role is as a thoroughfare for commerce and transportation; it also provides half of the city’s water requirements.
The river has a grand total of 32 bridges with some being far more remarkable than others. One of the most impressive is the oldest bridge, Pont Neuf, completed in the year 1607. The name actually means ‘new bridge’, which it was at that time.
Visitors often wonder which bank is the ‘right bank’ or ‘left bank’, but there is a simple way to remember: face downriver and make a mental note of which bank is which.
Explore the riverbanks to discover a multitude of discos, floating restaurants and cafes. If you prefer a quieter life, there are also plenty of benches where you can sit while enjoying a fresh baguette and some fromage. However, the most memorable way to experience the river is aboard a boat. You may like to take a taxi-boat or even reserve a table for a lunch or dinner cruise.
Free to all Europeans under the age of 26, this is the world’s biggest museum. It’s also an important Paris monument and landmark. Situated on the right bank of the Seine in the Louvre Palace, it houses approximately 35,000 objects from almost all historic periods.
The Louvre Palace was the city home of Louis XIV before he moved out to the Palace of Versailles in 1682. When he and his court vacated the palace, the Louvre was home to the royal collection that included many ancient Greek and Roman artefacts.
We recommend you plan your visit in advance due to the sheer number of fascinating and popular items in this museum, including of course the Mona Lisa. Highlights include classics such as the Venus de Milo, the beautiful Tuileries Gardens and the stunning sculpture collection. History lovers will particularly enjoy the Egyptian Antiquities and the Greek, Etruscan and Roman department.
Although located just outside Paris, this incredibly opulent royal palace should feature on any Paris must see list. Constructed in the 17th century, the Palace of Versailles was the main residence of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
The gardens span over 230 acres and include a multitude of water fountains, formal and private enclosed gardens. The fountain shows, scheduled during summer months, are well worth a look. You may also like to hire a rowing boat on the palace’s boating lake, known as the Grand Canal.
King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette lived at Versailles until the start of the French revolution in 1789, when they were forced to return to Paris and were beheaded by guillotine. The splendour of the palace stood in stark contrast to conditions endured by France’s starving citizens. Just a 25-minute train ride from the city centre, this historic venue makes for essential viewing.
Paris has many fascinating attractions and sights to see, but if you’re looking to focus on only a few, then these are our recommendations for the top 5 things to do in Paris. Wishing you a good trip!
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