Paris: Top 10

(continuer en français) – Last updated: December 19, 2020

How to make a short list in a city where so many monuments and renowned sites are crowded together, this is a challenge that will never give a perfect result, but it has to start with something. So if I had to plan a short stay in Paris, or introduce the city quickly to visiting friends, here is how I would do it.

01. Eiffel Tower

The Tower is the symbol of Paris and even of the entire France. Even if long queues can be daunting, it will be difficult to justify a trip to Paris without climbing up there. At least you will have to walk around and take pictures to illustrate the trip. The evening sparkling lighting is spectacular, five minutes at the beginning of each hour, until 1 a.m.

02. Arc de Triomphe

Celebrating the Napoleonic saga but completed by the monarchy, the Arc is associated with the glorious moments in French history. It is located in the centre of an astonishing urban perspective, like a balcony overlooking the twelve avenues arranged in a star shape around the plaza. Inspired by ancient Rome, its harmonious proportions make its mass elegant.

03. Notre-Dame

With or without its spire, Notre-Dame remains one of the great witnesses to Paris’ history. Probably the fire that damaged it in April 2019 made us more aware of this. In the immediate future, visits are of course not possible, but despite the scaffolding, the cathedral retains all its majesty from the quays (more).

04. Louvre Museum

From the Middle Ages to the 20th century, the Louvre-Tuileries complex offers a remarkable review of French architecture. Royal and imperial palace, now a museum, it is one of the first in the world for the richness of its collections. If the queue can be discouraging, walking through the courtyards and gardens already allows you to appreciate the sumptuousness of the façades.

05. Champs Elysées

The “most beautiful avenue in the world” as the French like to say. Superlatives always leave a doubt, but not in the case of the Champs, which form a triumphant walk through the best of Paris. In addition to the flagship boutiques of the major brands, there is a cosmopolitan atmosphere that is a journey in itself.

06. Sacré Cœur

The large neo-Byzantine building of the late 19th century is not in itself an architectural masterpiece, but its location at the top of the hill overlooking the city gives it a visibility that contributes to its fame. Above all, you have to go for the view of Paris’ rooftops and the Montmartre neighbourhood with its well-kept retro look.

07. Pantheon

History stammered in the Pantheon, church or mausoleum, before the celebration of national glories took precedence over the religious. There is a spectacular view from the bottom of Soufflot Street, when the setting sun comes to greet the great Men. The dome can be seen at random from the streets of the Quartier Latin, a place to get lost with curiosity and a nose up.

08. Musée d’Orsay

This former railway station, transformed into a 19th century museum, first of all houses the masterpieces of Impressionism. A time when Paris was at the centre of the artistic and intellectual world. But what strikes first is the space perfectly exploited by museography to lead to the works.

09. Place de la Concorde

The sumptuous scenery of the Place de la Concorde dates back to the 18th century and served as a setting for the bloody executions of the Revolution. The city’s largest square seems even larger because it is built on only one side, opening elsewhere onto perspectives that only Paris has in such large numbers thanks to Haussmann’s 19th century clever urban planning.

10. The Quays of the Seine

From the Eiffel Tower to Ile Saint Louis, the quays provide a pleasant walk near many monuments. Better than bateaux mouches passing too fast, walking along the water provides direct access to places you want to see closer. The atmosphere is festive with several cafés and in season entertaining and relaxing animations far from the traffic.

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