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Ten things to do in Paris - Attractions in Paris, France - Part 1

Updated on January 2, 2013
The Pont des Arts at night
The Pont des Arts at night | Source

Paris is known as the City of Love and as the City of Light. Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and if you ever visit it (which you really should), make sure at least not to miss the following ten places and buildings, in no particular order.

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The Eiffel Tower, with the Palais de Chaillot on the foregroundThe Eiffel Tower seen from belowThe Eiffel Tower at night
The Eiffel Tower, with the Palais de Chaillot on the foreground
The Eiffel Tower, with the Palais de Chaillot on the foreground
The Eiffel Tower seen from below
The Eiffel Tower seen from below
The Eiffel Tower at night
The Eiffel Tower at night

The Eiffel Tower

The Tour d’Eiffel, also named La dame de fer (the iron lady), is Paris’ and even France’s most well known structure. It was designed by Gustave Eiffel to serve as entrance arch to the World Fair of 1889. Initially of temporary nature, the Eiffel Tower is 324 meters (1,063 feet) tall and has been the tallest man-made structure in the world for 41 years since its completion. As much as it was criticized it when it was built, the Eiffel Tower is now the worldwide symbol of both Paris and France, and received its 200 millionth visitor in 2002.

Probably the best way to approach the Eiffel Tower is to take the metro to station Trocadéro. From the esplanade between the two wings of the Palais de Chaillot, which house several museums, you have an excellent view of the Eiffel Tower. When you have crossed the Seine, you’ll probably want to climb the iron lady. For the first two levels, there is the choice of using the stairs or taking an elevator. At the second level is another elevator all the way to the top, but prepare for a long wait here if you’re willing to touch the sky.

Back on solid ground, you’re facing the Champ de Mars (Field of Mars), which lies between the Eiffel Tower and the École Militaire (Military School). The École Militaire was founded in 1750 and has in the past been using the Champ de Mars as marching grounds. Nowadays, the Field of Mars is one of the green areas near the center of Paris where people come to enjoy the sunshine.

Near the École Militaire is a Metro station from where you can go and enjoy the rest of Paris. Alternatively, just around the corner lies L’Hôtel National des Invalides.

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The Dme des Invalides seen from the southern sideThe tomb of Napoleon underneath the Dome
The Dme des Invalides seen from the southern side
The Dme des Invalides seen from the southern side
The tomb of Napoleon underneath the Dome
The tomb of Napoleon underneath the Dome

Les Invalides

The Hôtel National des Invalides (National Residence of the Invalids) a complex of buildings which comprises of three museums relating to the military history of France, a hospital and retirement home for war veterans and, at the south end, the Cathédrale de Saint-Louis-des-Invalides and the Dôme des Invalides.

First opened in 1674 by Louis XIV, the building gets its name from its original purpose, housing the soldiers that got injured while fighting for the glory of their country.

In the crypt under the dome lie the remains of Napoleon Bonaparte, where they were entombed in 1861, being 40 years after his death. The dome and the crypt are open for the public.
From Les Invalides, one can walk along the Esplanade des Invalides to the Pont Alexandre III, considered the most extravagant bridge over the Seine in entire Paris.

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View over the Seine to le-Saint-Louis and the Pont SullyView over the Seine from Quai Saint-Bernard in the direction of the Pont d'AusterlitzView over the Seine from the Eiffel Tower, with in the far right background the Sacr-Coeur on Montmartre
View over the Seine to le-Saint-Louis and the Pont Sully
View over the Seine to le-Saint-Louis and the Pont Sully
View over the Seine from Quai Saint-Bernard in the direction of the Pont d'Austerlitz
View over the Seine from Quai Saint-Bernard in the direction of the Pont d'Austerlitz
View over the Seine from the Eiffel Tower, with in the far right background the Sacr-Coeur on Montmartre
View over the Seine from the Eiffel Tower, with in the far right background the Sacr-Coeur on Montmartre

The River Seine

Another hallmark of Paris is the Seine that runs all the way through the city and the 37 bridges crossing the river, the most well known of these being Pont Neuf (New Bridge). In spite of its name, Pont Neuf is the eldest bridge in Paris, dating back to 1607, although planning started as early as 1550.

On a sunny day, it’s great to sit on one of the banks of the Seine and enjoy the sunshine, accompanied with a fresh drink, or eating a baguette or croissants for lunch. At nighttime, all the lights in combination with the river yield beautiful views of the city.

Many notable buildings and places in Paris are located along the Seine, such as the Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides, the Louvre Museum, the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) and the Quartier Latin (Latin District).

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The Sorbonne University in Quartier LatinThe Panthon in Quartier Latin, seen from the direction of the Jardin de Luxembourg
The Sorbonne University in Quartier Latin
The Sorbonne University in Quartier Latin
The Panthon in Quartier Latin, seen from the direction of the Jardin de Luxembourg
The Panthon in Quartier Latin, seen from the direction of the Jardin de Luxembourg

Quartier Latin and Panthéon

The Quartier Latin (Latin District) is situated on the southern bank of the Seine, just east of the Jardin du Luxembourg. Home to the university, it is the student district of Paris, known for its lively atmosphere and many bistros. Along with Montmartre, it probably is the best place to have dinner at one of the little restaurants that are ubiquitous.

Located in the Quartier Latin, the Panthéon served originally as a church, but is now a secular mausoleum where the remains of many prominent citizens of France in general and Paris in particular rest. Amongst the distinguished buried here are Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, and Pierre and Marie Curie.

A 360 degree view over Paris from the second level of the Eiffel Tower
A 360 degree view over Paris from the second level of the Eiffel Tower | Source

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    • Robin Oatley profile imageAUTHOR

      Robin Oatley 

      6 years ago

      Yeah, it is a shame that we often have far too little time on trips like these. However Paris is a great city and the Eiffel Tower is of course the greatest attraction. It really gives the city its allure.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 

      6 years ago from Iowa

      I only spent a couple of days in Paris and made it to 2 out of 4 of the attractions you list here. The Eiffel Tower at sunset was beautiful.

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