11 Must-see landmarks to visit in Paris

Tick off these must-see landmarks in Paris on your next visit to the French capital. From museums to statues and attractions, you don’t want to miss these.

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  • 08 July 2021
  • • 13 min read

People come from all over the world for the food, the wine, the shopping but most notably for the world class landmarks Paris has to offer. The Eiffel Tower at night and the view from the Arc de Triomphe are just two of the many incredible sights that will take your breath away and transport you straight onto the set of a film. Paris’ landmarks and attractions have each played an important role in piecing together the history of the city, making them all fascinating sights to visit and dedicate time to exploring. Plus, these famous Paris monuments are absolute must-visits in 2021 for those eager to catch the city on camera, from the iconic glass Louvre pyramid to the view behind the clock in Musee D’Orsay. 

Our local Paris expert Alex Alves, Sales & Marketing Manager at St Christopher’s Inns Gare du Nord, shares his on-the-ground tips for visiting some of these landmarks in Paris. During your trip to the City of Light, add these unmissable Paris sights to your travel itinerary and slow down to appreciate the history behind each one.

Looking for somewhere fun and affordable to stay in the centre of Paris? Check out St Christopher’s Inns’ two

1. Eiffel Tower

Nearest Metro stations: Bir-Hakeim (M6), Ecole Militaire (M8), Trocadero (M9)

Distance from St Christopher’s Inns Paris Gare du Nord: 30 minutes via Metro

Distance from St Christopher’s Inns Paris Canal: 40 minutes via Metro

The shining star of France and without doubt the most famous landmark in Paris is the one that springs to everyone’s mind when they think of the City of Love. The Eiffel Tower is an unmissable sight in Paris, so it’s no surprise that the attraction is constantly buzzing with tourists snapping that must-have photo and queueing to reach the top. It was for the 1889 World’s Fair that the Eiffel Tower was designed, engineered and constructed by civil engineer Gustave Eiffel and his team. It took 2 years, 2 months and 5 days to build the tower in time for 1889, and is the tallest building in France to this day standing at 300 metres tall. Now the Eiffel Tower welcomes 7 million visitors a day, making it the most visited paid attraction in the world. 

Book your ticket in advance to climb the three floors to the very top of the tower and get panoramic Parisian views of the city and beyond. You can even stop on your way up for a bite to eat at one of the restaurants with a view (just check on the website about pre-booking a table). While it’s impressive and majestic whatever time of day, the Eiffel Tower at night is something really special. The minute night falls, the tower comes to life with hundreds of  spotlights illuminating its structure over the Champs de Mars, providing one of the most romantic views in Europe. 

Our Paris expert, Alex says: “Rue St Dominique is a truly Parisian street like we see in the movies. Visit this famous street at the end of the day and enjoy the sunset with the Eiffel Tower illuminations at the end of the road.”

2. Notre Dame Cathedral

Nearest Metro stations: Saint-Michel Notre Dame (RER B & C), Cité (M4)

Distance from St Christopher’s Inns Paris Gare du Nord: 12 minutes by RER

Distance from St Christopher’s Inns Paris Canal: 20 minutes by Metro

At over 850 years old - making it the oldest landmark in Paris - the Notre Dame Cathedral has seen it all, not least the devastating fire that saw the roof and spire up in flames in April 2018. While work is well underway to restore the cathedral after this heartbreaking event, the Notre Dame continues to be one of the most iconic buildings in Paris since it became famous worldwide by author Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1831. Construction of the UNESCO World Heritage Site began in 1163 and was completed in 1260, meaning it really has lived through centuries of royal families, the French Revolution, the coronation of Napoleon I and countless more important French historical events. You can't visit inside at the moment due to the reconstruction work going on, however you can still walk around the grounds and marvel at the medieval structure from the other side of the river with a drink at one of the many cafes opposite. 

3. Arc de Triomphe

Nearest Metro station: Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile (M2)

Distance from St Christopher’s Inns Paris Gare du Nord: 25 minutes by Metro

Distance from St Christopher’s Inns Paris Canal: 28 minutes by Metro

Standing majestically in the centre of Place Charles de Gaulle at the end of the most beautiful street in Paris (the Champs-Elysees) is the mighty impressive Arc de Triomphe. It’s another landmark in Paris you simply have to visit before you leave the city, and one of its extra special features is the incredible views of Paris from the rooftop, which you can visit for free if you’re under 25. The monumental arch was built between 1806 and 1836 in honour of all the soldiers who fought for France, notably during the Napoleonic wars and marking the events of the World Wars with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Memorial Flame which has been rekindled each evening since 1923. 

Put aside at least an hour to visit the Arc de Triomphe and have a good look around the museum, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the panoramic views across Paris (which you’ll have to climb 284 stairs in total to reach). If you’re over 25, a visit will cost €13 and be warned that queues get pretty long, so try and get there early.

4. The Panthéon

Nearest Metro station: Cardinal Lemoine (M10), Maubert - Mutualité (M10), Jussieu (M7 & M10), Luxembourg (RER B)

Distance from St Christopher’s Inns Paris Gare du Nord: 20 minutes via RER

Distance from St Christopher’s Inns Paris Canal: 37 minutes via Metro

Another of Paris’ most visited tourist attractions is the Pantheon, a grand Neo-classical building where past great French writers, scientists, churchmen, generals and politicians have been laid to rest. Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Marie Curie (the first woman to be buried here in 1995) and many more famous French citizens are buried in the Pantheon’s crypt. Built in 1758, the Pantheon was previously the Church of Saint-Genevieve, however throughout the 19th century the meaning of the structure has been pulled this way and that, alternating between being one of the city’s great religious buildings to a patriotic symbol. 

You can visit the Pantheon, located in the Latin Quarter, and experience its grandeur inside and out. It’s decorated inside with intricate mosaics and majestic paintings of scenes from French history. When you look around inside, you’ll see a huge pendulum demonstrating how the Earth rotates, constructed in 1851 by Leon Foucault. The one you see today is a replica as the original is now permanently in the National Conservatory of Art. Admission to the Pantheon is €11,50 or free for under 25s.

5. Place de la Concorde

Nearest Metro station: Concorde (M1, M8, M12)

Distance from St Christopher’s Inns Paris Gare du Nord: 20 minutes via Metro

Distance from St Christopher’s Inns Paris Canal: 28 minutes via Metro

Place de la Concorde is the largest square in Paris created in 1772 right at the end of the Champs-Elysees. Originally the square was the site for executions during the French Revolution, including Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, receiving the name Place de la Revolution (Revolution Square). After a blood-stained history and over 1200 executions, the spot was renamed Place de la Concorde, referencing peace and harmony in Paris. Today, it is most well-known for the 3,300 year old Luxor Obelisk - the tall Egyptian monument which was gifted to Paris by the Egyptian government in 1829 - and the two opulent fountains that you won’t be able to miss during a trip to Paris.

6. Louvre

Nearest Metro station: Palais Royal Musée du Louvre (M1, M7), Louvre Rivoli (M1)

Distance from St Christopher’s Inns Paris Gare du Nord: 18 minutes via Metro

Distance from St Christopher’s Inns Paris Canal: 24 minutes via Metro

Both the largest art museum and the number one most visited museum in the world is, of course, the Louvre. Paris’ Louvre museum isn’t just the iconic glass pyramid at the end of Jardins des Tuileries, as it’s home to over 380,000 objects and 35,000 works of art over an enormous space, including inside part of a French palace. One of the main draws to this incredibly famous Paris landmark is Leonardo da Vinci’s world-renowned Mona Lisa portrait - the most famous painting in the world. Sculptures, paintings, drawings and even archaeological finds are all displayed throughout the Musée du Louvre, but the collection is so vast that it would take 100 days to see every artefact, giving each piece just 30 seconds without a single break!

7. Musée D’Orsay

Nearest Metro station: Gare Musée D’Orsay (RER C), Solférino (M12)

Distance from St Christopher’s Inns Paris Gare du Nord: 18 minutes via RER

Distance from St Christopher’s Inns Paris Canal: 32 minutes via Metro

Musee D’Orsay is a unique museum in that it’s located inside a train station that was purposely built for the 1900 World’s Fair. This famous landmark is another must-visit for those who are fans of impressionist art, as this collection is the largest of its kind in the world, including masterpieces by artists such as Monet, Berthe Morisot, Renoir, Degas and Vincent Van Gogh. It’s just around the corner from Jardins des Tuileries, right by the bank of the River Seine, and home to around 3,000 art displays at any one time. The infrastructure is breathtaking, so not only will you marvel at the incredible collections of art, but the architecture itself with the striking, industrial glass roof flooding the main hall with natural light. From inside the Musee D’Orsay, you can find spectacular views over the River Seine and the Sacre Coeur from behind the clock, providing one of the best photo opportunities in Paris.

8. The Seine River

Nearest Metro station: Multiple Distance from St Christopher’s Inns Paris Gare du Nord: From 17 minutes via Metro

Distance from St Christopher’s Inns Paris Canal: From 22 minutes via Metro

The River Seine is the most famous river in Paris. At 775 kilometres long and running past a number of top landmarks in the city, you’re guaranteed to walk across it at least once during your time in Paris. 37 bridges cross the Seine at different points in Paris, some of the most photo-worthy spots being Pont Neuf (the city’s oldest bridge), Pont Des Arts (or ‘love lock bridge’) and Pont Alexandre III. Book a river cruise along the Seine to take in sights like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Grand Palais, Musee D’Orsay and more from a different perspective, and learn about the long, rich history of the river dating back to the Vikings and beyond. Enjoy a morning coffee by the riverside, or grab a table at sunset for an alfresco meal while the sun goes down over the river. The Seine has forever been one of the most important features of Paris, and while you’re visiting the city be sure to soak up its tranquil atmosphere.

Our local expert, Alex says: “Every Wednesday and Thursday at Quai St Bernard and Tiro Rossi garden, you can join a meeting of salsa and tango dancers. If you want, join them for a dance next to the quais de Seine! 

For somewhere super romantic to spend an evening with your soulmate, visit pont des arts - there’s no place more romantic than by this famous bridge.

Parc des rives de seine (quai de la mégisserie 1er) is THE place to be! It’s one of the most trendy places to chill with a friend or relax alone with a good book.”

9. Pont Alexandre III

Nearest Metro station: Invalides (M8, M13, RER C)

Distance from St Christopher’s Inns Paris Gare du Nord: 24 minutes via RER

Distance from St Christopher’s Inns Paris Canal: 28 minutes via Metro

Of the 37 bridges in Paris, Pont Alexandre III is by far the most opulent. The deck arch bridge is one of a few that connect the Champs-Elysees with Invalides, but this one stands out from the crowd having been classified, as of 1975, as a French monument historique. It was named after Tsar Alexander III, Emperor of Russia, King of Denmark and Grand Duke of Finland, to honour his conclusion of the Franco-Russian Alliance in 1892. Pont Alexandre III with its golden-winged horses, Art Nouveau lamps and sculptures of cherubs and nymphs was an engineering marvel when construction first began back in 1896. Now it’s simply a beautiful example of French design which flows perfectly along from the stunning Grand Palais next door.

10. Luxembourg Palace

Nearest Metro station: Odeon (M4, M10), Luxembourg (RER B)

Distance from St Christopher’s Inns Paris Gare du Nord: 16 minutes via RER

Distance from St Christopher’s Inns Paris Canal: 32 minutes via Metro

The history of Luxembourg Palace dates back to when it was first commissioned by Queen Marie of Medici in 1625. The magnificent architecture and stunning green gardens were originally created as a Royal residence in the heart of Paris, but what came next was pretty far from royal, becoming a prison during the French Revolution. Now, the palace is home to the French Senate with a few public exhibitions a year to commemorate Marie of Medici’s passion for displaying art - many of her collections can now be found in the Louvre and the Musee D’Orsay. Jardin du Luxembourg is the beautifully kept surrounding garden, inspired by Boboli Gardens in Florence with both French and English influences. It’s the perfect place to explore during a hot day in Paris . Amongst the 25 hectares of land you’ll find an Orangery, orchards, a rose garden, the Medici Fountain and 106 statues dotted around the park. While you may not have the chance to explore inside the palace, a wander around its magnificent exterior is just as breathtaking.

11. Sacré Coeur

Nearest Metro station: Anvers (M2)

Distance from St Christopher’s Inns Paris Gare du Nord: 17 minutes via Metro

Distance from St Christopher’s Inns Paris Canal: 24 minutes via Metro

On the horizon of all the best views in Paris is the majestic Sacré Coeur, standing tall from the highest point in the city in Montmartre. The gleaming white facade can be seen from miles away, but once you get up close you’ll be able to make out all the intricate, unique details that contribute to this landmark being one of Paris’ most famous places to visit. Venture inside the basilica to see more of its impressive design, heading down to the crypt and up to the top for 360-degree panoramic views over the city. Construction of the Sacré Coeur began in 1875 but was only completed years later in 1914, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus while also holding honour to the thousands of people who lost their lives during the war.

Our local expert, Alex says: “Escaliers de Montmartre are the most iconic stairs in Paris with the best view of the city. The perfect compromise between sightseeing and exercise! Then, if you’re not afraid to climb, the centre of Pompidou offers the opportunity to visit the 5th floor and see the Sacré Coeur like you’ve never seen it before.”

Looking for more Paris tips? Check out these 10 underrated things to do and how to spend 48 hours in Paris on a budget

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