Landmarks of Paris cover

Landmarks of Paris

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Travelling to Paris? Lucky you. It would be impossible to cover the astonishing landmarks of this legendary City of Light, but this will give you a brief overview and a little bit of background on some of the most iconic sights in beautiful Paris.
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Landmarks of Paris

Paris

Visiting Paris? Lucky you!

Rich in history, art and gastronomy, Paris is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. The city is made of 20 districts called arrondissements that wind in a clockwise snail spiral beginning at the city center. Each arrondissement has its own unique history and attractions, and you'll find no shortage of things to do when visiting Paris.

If this is your first time there, you'll certainly want to hit these hightlights - but leave yourself plenty of time to just stroll around. Lush gardens, hidden views, or a boat ride down the Seine River all reward the inquiring traveller.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre-Dame de Paris is a Catholic cathedral on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France.

This beautiful cathedral is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and is among the largest and most well-known church buildings in the world. As the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Paris, Notre-Dame is the official seat of the archbishop of Paris.

Notre-Dame de Paris was among the first buildings in the world to use the flying buttress - those arched supports on the exterior. Ground breaking began in 1163 and was complete in 1345.

When you're there, be sure to climb the towers (entry at the front left of the cathedral, 387 steps!), and see the gargoyles and its famous bell close up. You’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view across Paris.

(Metro 4: St. Michel or RER B: St. Michel Notre Dame)

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

The southern facade of Notre-Dame de Paris

(Image licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)

Nearby

Nearby

Île de la Cité

Be sure to take the opportunity for a stoll around the little island of Île de la Cité. This is one of two remaining natural islands within the city of Paris, and is where the medieval city was reformed.

There is an outdoor market most days, featuring flowers, plants or birds. You will also find the exquisite St. Chappelle church, with it’s amazing stained glass.

(Image licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)

Sainte Chapelle Interior

Sainte Chapelle Interior

(Image licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)

Eiffel Tower

Perhaps the most iconic landmark in Paris, the Eiffel Tower was built in 1889 for the World Fair, and was originally considered to be an eyesore.

It has since become a cultural symbol of France and is one of the most recognized structures in the world.

It stands 324 metres (1,063 ft) tall, roughly the same height as an 81-story building, and is the tallest structure in Paris.

Every evening the tower is illuminated with "twinkle" lights on the hour, every hour.

Definitely take the elevator to the very top for an amazing view on a clear day or night.

(Metro 6: Trocadero or Bir Hakeim RER C: Champ de Mars)

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

A great view of the tower can be had from across the river at Place Trocadero

(Image licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe stands in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle, at the western end of the Champs-Élysées.

It honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath it, lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.

The Arc was commissioned in 1806, after a victory by the Emperor Napoleon at the height of his glory. The foundation alone took two years to complete, though work was halted and not finished until 1836.

There is a tunnel under the huge traffic circle surrounding the Arc that takes you in to the center - don't run across the traffic. Be sure to walk up to the top - there are some great views of Paris and you can watch the 12 streets entering the traffic circle. The traffic circle is called Place de l’Etoile – meaning “star” – as the streets coming in resemble a star from above.

(Metro 2, 6 or 1: Charles de Gaulle/Etoile)

The Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe

(Image licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)

Place de lEtoile

Place de lEtoile

Sacre Coeur (Wedding Cake Church)

The Sacré-Cœur Basilica was designed by Paul Abadie. Construction began in 1875 and was finished in 1914. It was consecrated after the end of World War I in 1919.

Sacré-Cœur is built of travertine stone quarried in Château-Landon, France. This stone constantly exudes calcite, which ensures that the basilica remains white even with weathering and pollution. Construction costs, estimated at 7 million French francs and drawn entirely from private donations, were funded before any above-ground visible structure was to be seen. Donations were encouraged by allowing the "purchase" of individual columns or even a single brick.

There are great views of Paris from the steps of the church, and a beautiful Art Deco metro station entrance at Abbesses. Take the time to look at the art work in Place du Tertre (around the left behind the church), and sit in in a café and people watch. The Montmarte area has some beautiful old Parisian buildings, storefronts and stairs/hills… very picturesque!

(Metro 12: Abbesses)

Sacre Coeur (Wedding Cake Church)

Sacre Coeur (Wedding Cake Church)

(Image licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)

Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur

The beautiful mosaic in the apse, entitled Christ in Majesty, created by Luc-Olivier Merson, is among the largest in the world.

(Image licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)