Centre Pompidou – This is a massive modern art museum and movie theatre centre that opened in 1977 and houses a massive collection of Modern Art, including large scale modern sculptures – from Pop Art to art by Dali, Matisse and others. The closest Metro is Ramuteau.
Palais Garnier Opera House – 8 Rue Scribe, Nearest Metro, Opèra.
This is a MUST SEE and has to one of the most stunning buildings in Paris – the Palais Garnier, named in honour of Charles Garnier who designed and built the building between 1861 and 1875. It is beautiful both just seeing the outside, with its gold statues on top and even more beautiful inside – with its Opera Balconies, grand staircases, statues and other massively decorated interior. There are tours of the building and of course there are Operas too that you could see. Next door is the Opera Bastille building too. Make sure if you visit the Palais Garnier that you look to see the Ceiling designed by Marc Chagall. It is stunning. See www.operadeparis.fr Also here see the Paris Story, a film about Paris and its history, along with an interactive miniature model of the city, with 3D images of the most significant buildings. See www.paris-story.com
Basilique de Sacre-Coeur – closest Metro, Anvers – See www.sacre-coeur-montmartre.com
When you look over the Paris skyline two things stand out – the Eiffel Tower and the central round towers of Sacre- Coeur Basilica in Montmartre. The Basilica stands out, both in the day due to its white colour and at night when it is lit up by flood lights. The white colour is due to the fact that it is built using Château-Landon stone – a white limestone from the Château-Landon region about 100 kilometres out of Paris next to the River Fusain.
Building the Basilica began in 1876 and it was consecrated in 1919. Being high on a hill overlooking the city, you can either climb steps to the top or take the Funicular Railway to the entrance to the Basilica. It is magnificent inside, and if you want, you can also climb the steps to the top of the central dome tower where the Bell is located for great views over Paris.
Panthéon – located at Place de Panthéon, nearest Metro Maubert-Mutualité. See www.monuments-nationaux.fr Also see www.monum.fr This was the Royal Church built commissioned by King Louis XV in 1750, but it wasn’t completed until 1789, the time of the French Revolution, so it ceased to be a church after that. It is now a Mausoleum and above the portico columns at the front, and below the fresno there is the inscription that reads “Aux grand hommes la Patrie reconnaissante” ( Loosely translated as: To the great men their countrymen Recognize (salute) them). Many famous men are entombed here, as well as Madame Curie, who although she died in 1934, was only re-buried here with her husband Pierre Curie in 1995.
Montmartre – is the area surrounding the Basilica best known for its artists, both past (including Renoir, Picasso and others) and present along with people selling souvenirs. Montmartre is where Moulin Rouge with its windmill and Music Hall dance shows happen. The Moulin Rouge is located at 82 Boulevard de Clichy, nearest metro, Blanche. See www.moulinrouge.fr The Moulin Rouge girls have been in stage shows here since 1889, though not the same girls, and the shows still attract full houses every night, so you need to book early to secure a good table and seat. One of the most famous artists in France, Toulouse-Lautrec created posters for the Moulin Rouge, and this poster art has been reproduced millions of times on postcards and other items that you will also see when here. Also at not far from Moulin Rouge is the Musée de L’Erotisme – see www.musee-erotiisme.com
The area around Moulin Rouge is a mixture of shops, restaurants, hotels and other activities so a good place to just wander. Look for the Place du Tertre square – next to the Abbesses Metro station and the Salvador Dali Museum at 11 Rue Poulbot.
One of the most interesting places to see here is the Montmartre Cemetery at 20 Avenue Rachel. The cemetery dates back to 1798 and covers some 27 acres (11 hectares) of ground, with famous artists, writers, dancers and others here in crypts and graves, many marked by elaborate sculptures and interesting inscriptions, most dating back to the 1800’s. Look for the graves of Emile Zola, Edgar Degas and Adolphe Sax (1814-1894)- the inventor of the Saxophone.
Catacombs - 1 Avenue Colonel Henri-Roi-Tanguy, nearest Metro, Denfert Rochereau.
The Catacomb Tunnels (Ossuaries) were first created in 1786 as a series of tunnels to house the skeletal remains of bodies from the ‘Cemetery of the Innocents’ in Saint Eustache that was over crowded with bodies. Today you can take a tour of the Catacombs through the two kilometres of tunnels and underground Avenues, with the skulls and bones of the dead, and signs such as “Stop. This is the Empire of the Dead” written in French. It is also cold down in the tunnels, and this is not a place or tour that will appeal to all people.
Hôtel des Invalides - 129 Rue de Grenelle, just south of the Seine River, nearest Metro, Invalides, or Varenne or La Tour-Maubourg. Look for the golden dome roof (1708 Eglise de Dôme) and if you go inside look to see the High Altar and Emperor Napoleon’s Tomb on a pedestal.
You may recall that the French Revolution began with the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789, but to do this the revolutionaries needed rifles, so what better way than raiding the place where War Veterans had them – the Hôtel de Ville, where there were an estimated 32,000 rifles!
The Hôtel de Ville was built by Louis the XIV and is today a museum where you will find the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Musée des Plans-Reliefs – more than 100 models of some of the great Châteaux and fortified villages of France, some dating back to around 1700 - Quite an amazing sight. Also the massive Musée de l’Armée is here too, and if you like seeing Military history, uniforms and other memorabilia then this is the place to see it.
Who is your favourite artist? If you have a particular favourite artist, then Paris is certainly the place to see their work in the big Gallery/Museums and also in these ones that are dedicated to the artist.
- Rodin – see www.musee.rodin.fr
- Picasso – see www.museepicassoparis.fr
- Salvador Dali – www.daliparis.com
- Degas – see www.musee.orsay.fr
- Van Gogh – see www.musee.orsay.fr
- Rousseau – see www.musee.orsay.fr
- Delacroix – see www.musee.delacroix.fr
- Moreau – see www.musee.moreau.fr
- Dubuffet – see www.dubuffetfondation.com
- Hébert – see www.musee-hebert.fr
- Victor Hugo (writer) – see www.maisonvictorhugo.paris.fr
- Ossid Zadkine (sculptor) – see www.zadkine.paris.fr
There are many beautiful churches in Paris, some more famous than others.
There is of course, Notre Dame Cathedral - the most famous of all, and Sacre Coeur but if you want to see others, these are just some of them. What is perhaps fascinating about Cathedrals, Churches and Monasteries is how individual each of these great buildings are with their unique histories, glasswork, religious stories, symbolism, artistry, craftsmanship and architecture, many the result of hundreds of years of work.
If you have the time and inclination, these are some of the great places to see -
- The Panthéon – modelled on the Greek Pantheon building with its massive columns, both inside and out, and crypts as detailed above. Closest Metro, Maubert- Mutualité. See www.monum.fr
- Sainte Chapelle – with its incredible stained glass windows, near Notre Dame is truly beautiful inside, and certainly if you are seeing Notre Dame, you should also visit here.
- Saint Germain des Prés – with its grand arches, 3 Place Saint Germain des Prés. The square tower and Steeple here was constructed between 990AD and 1014AD. Inside you will find the Tombstones of the Philosopher, Descartes (1596-1650) and Mabillon (1632-1707).
- La Madeleine – see www.eglise-lamadeleine.com (The Church of Saint Mary Magdalene) is built like the Panthéon, with massive Greek style columns. It was consecrated in 1842 and inside the Nave, altar, sculptures, cupola roof are all great to see. The Church was built to honour Napoleon’s Army. Nearest Metro, Madeleine.
- Saint Eustache – 2 Impasse Saint Eustache in Les Halles. See www.saint-eustache.org A magnificent church with a beautiful interior and a Church Organ that has some 8000 pipes. Closest Metro, Les Halles.
- Saint Étienne-Du-Mont – is not far from The Pantheon at Place Sainte-Genevière. Nearest Metro, Maubert Mutualité. This church was built between 1492 and 1626, but has history dating back to King Clovis around 500AD. This is also a beautiful church with great atmosphere, with the stained glass windows said to be second only to those of Sainte Chapelle. I really liked this church when I was there in 2015. See www.stetinnedumont.fr
- Saint Jacques – Square de la Tour Saint-Jacques, nearest Metro, Hôtel de Ville. All that remains of the Church that once stood here is the Tower that dates back to 1508. The Church was destroyed in 1797 at the time of the French Revolution, but the 54 metre high restored Gothic style tower, or 62 metres to the top of the Statue of Saint Jacques, are amazing in its detail. If you are lucky the Tower will be open for you to go to the top of the Tower.
- Saint-Sulpice – Place St. Sulpice, nearest Metro, St. Sulpice. There has been a church here since 1211, but the current church with its columns in front at ground level and on the 1st floor, with two towers above was built between 1649 and 1745. See www.stsulpice.com The two towers are different in both height and decorative features, making this Church also quite unique, but it is inside the church where you will be amazed at the grandeur of the church, and also the neo-classical organ that is here. It is massive. They also have organ recitals here too at different times too, and if you have the chance to be here to hear the organ being played, it will be an extra bonus.
- Basilique Cathédrale de Saint-Denis – 2 Rue de Starsbourg, Saint Denis. Nearest Metro, Basilique de Saint Denis (Line 13). This Gothic Cathedral Basilica dates back to 1136, and is the Royal Necropolis, containing the tombs and crypts of most of the French Kings and Queens, even a tomb that goes back to 570AD. There are 70 sculptures here and magnificent stained glass windows to see. Marie Antoinette tomb is also here. See www.saint-denis.monuments-nationaux.fr
Other Museums –
There is no shortage of Museums to see in Paris, and these are some of the ones that you might find interesting –
ASIAN ART - The Guimet – 6 Place d’lena. Closest Metro, D’lena. See www.guimet.fr
Officially called the “Musée national des arts Asiatiques Guimet”, this is the biggest museum of Asian Art from countries right across Asia – some of the artefacts on show being over 1000 years old.
- AFRICAN ART – see www.dapper.fr located at 35 Bis Paul Valéry. Nearest Metro, Victor Hugo. If you have a special interest in African Art, this is the place to see it. Also see more in the Quai Branly Museum, 37 Quai Branly near the Eiffel Tower. See www.quaibranly.fr
- CHOCOLATE – see www.museeduchocolat.fr located at 28 Boulevard Bonne Nouvelle. Nearest Metro, Bonne Nouvelle and Strasbourg Saint Denis. Here you will see and learn all about Chocolate.
- FASHION – Musée Galliera de la Mode de la Ville de Paris – See www.palaisgalliera.paris.fr , located at 10 Avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie. This is where you can see dresses, fans, hats, gloves and everything fashion from the 18th century to today.
- WAX MUSEUM – **** MUST SEE museum. See www.grevin-paris.com located at 10 Boulevard Montmartre. This museum is great. Here you will see notable French characters and also great room settings too. The rooms settings alone are fabulous. Nearest Metro, Grands Boulevards.
- DOLLS – see www.museedepoupeeparis.com 7 Impasse Berhaud, close to 22 Rue Beaubourg. Nearest Metro, Rambuteau.
- WINE – Musée du Vin – See www.museeduvinparis.com 5 Square Charles Dickens, nearest Metro, Passy.
- PERFUME – see www.fragonard.com. 9 Rue Scribe, Nearest Metro, Opéra. Here you can see and learn the art of creating great perfumes.
OTHER SPECIAL MUSEUMS –
Palais de Tokyo – 13 Avenue du President Wilson. Nearest Metro, Léna. See www.palaisdeparis.com . This is one of the most exciting museums in Paris, with changing exhibitions that showcase modern art that may shock, thrill, confront, confuse, make you laugh or squirm, but will always entertain.
Musée de Cluny (now called the Musée National du Moyen Age). The Museum is located at the Hôtel de Cluny, Place Paul Painlevé. See www.musee.moyenage.fr Nearest Metro, Cluny-Sorbonne. This is a great museum to see, with Medieval Art, Tapestries and sculptures. The building was built between 1485 and 1510 over the top of a Gallo Roman Bath House that you can see at the Museum.
Musée Cognacq-Jay, 8 Rue Elzevir (in Marais). Nearest Metro, Saint Paul. This is a house museum, where you can see both the incredible collection of paintings and other work, as well as the décor and furniture in the House/Hotel too.
PEOPLE DON’T JUST COME TO PARIS ONCE, THEY ALSO RETURN – and no doubt you will too.
Paris changes with the seasons, and your impressions of Paris will also change too, depending on when you come to Paris, where you stay and what you do. If you head to any of the ‘big name’ attractions, you will also find the areas in which they are also have many things happening too, and remember that as much as in daytime there is an atmosphere, at night when the streetlights of Paris come on, another world of Paris opens up.
On these pages we have written about many of the great things to see in Paris, but we haven’t talked about restaurants, theatres and events that happen throughout the year. There are many great restaurants in Paris, and also great theatres (mostly in French language), street art happenings and other events that are celebrated throughout the city.
There is also a certain joy in finding places that become special memories to you and your time in Paris. Hopefully, some of the places we have talked about on these pages will help you find those special places.
Have a great time in Paris, take some great photos and above all, have fun in the ‘City of Light’, the ‘City of Romance’.
Also if you like what you read here, feel free to print it out, circle the places you really want to see and head off to Paris!
Also feel free to pass on this information to your friends too!