Paris is such a large city that it’s overwhelming to decide what experiences and places to prioritize in your itinerary. This list of Paris landmarks is ideal for first-time visitors or those trying to round out their Paris bucket list with the city’s top spots to visit.
For those looking to go off-the-beaten-path, check out the top unique things to do in Paris to fill in space between visiting these top landmarks.
Use the menu to skip to find out more about a landmark already in your travel plans or go straight to extra Paris trip planning resources!
While you can see the Eiffel Tower from almost any district in Paris, you can’t skip seeing what is probably the most famous landmark of Paris up close and personal.
Whether you choose to lay out under the sun in the park below, take the elevator to the top of the tower, or enjoy a larger-than-life view of the monument from hidden gem Cafe New York, having a memorable experience with the Eiffel Tower is the top must-do of all Paris must-dos.
Arc de Triomphe
One of the most beautiful locations in Paris to photograph is the Arc de Triomphe. Twelve roads converge into one beautiful chaos encircling the cream-colored stone arch built in honor of Napoleon and his victories in battle.
For an amazing view over Paris, head to the top of the Arc de Triomphe (the entrance fee for adults is 13 euros.)
Don’t be like my mom and I, who contemplated for 15 minutes how to cross the hectic intersection to reach the arch – until we noticed there was an underground walkway. Thank goodness, otherwise, we would’ve been playing real-life frogger in one of the most iconic and crazy roundabouts in the world.
In the historic neighborhood of Montmarte and overlooking the city of Paris, the Sacre-Coeur is one of the must-visit churches in the city.
You can trek the many steps to the top, my suggested method since you can take breaks at each landing to take in the view, or opt for the cable car transport.
Hang out with locals on the lawn or start exploring the charming streets of Montmartre. Also be sure to look to the left to see one of the famous architectural illusions of Paris – the leaning houses over the hill!
Everyone knows the Louvre Museum for being the biggest art museum in the world. But its famous landmark is the stunning, architectural element of its courtyard – the pyramid.
This huge glass pyramid not only creates a centerpiece for the museum courtyard aboveground, but actually has another side to it that stretches into the museum below ground.
It’s completely free to see, but you’ll have to go underground towards the museum’s entrance to see the bottom half.
Its all-glass exterior reflects amazing light at sunset, which is the perfect time to take some beautiful photos at this Paris location.
Notre Dame Cathedral
One of my personal favorite Paris landmarks is the Notre Dame Cathedral, across from the Latin Quarter. Almost a thousand years old, this church is one of the most famous in the world for its gothic architecture, huge stained glass mosaic windows, and stands upon the Ile-de-la-cite, one of the islands along the River Seine.
It’s in one of the cutest neighborhoods in Paris, where you can find unique bookshops and cafes with a view like Shakespeare & Company or Odette.
Enter the Notre Dame Cathedral for free or even attend a mass for a more intimate experience visiting the church.
Pont des Arts
Born from the emotions and creativity of everyday people is the Pont des Arts, better known as the “lock bridge.” In theory, this bridge is like any other along the Seine River, except locals and tourists alike have transformed it into its own monument, representative of Paris’s nickname, the City of Love.
The stroll along the River Seine to reach the lock bridge is almost as romantic as seeing the thousands of locks with handwritten initials, placed on the bridge to represent someone’s love.
The bridge is located near the Louvre, connecting it to the charming arrondissement fo Saint-Germain-des-Pres.
Pont Alexandre III
While Pont des Arts is an unassuming bridge made famous by the public, the most decorated brige in Paris has to be the Pont Alexandre III.
You can spot the bright gold statues atop the huge stone columns at each corner of the bridge from any part along the river.
This is the most scenic bridge in Paris, not only for its own ornate design but also because of the picturesque Eiffel Tower view you’ll have while you make your way across.
The best part is you’ll probably pass this stunning piece of architecture multiple times throughout your trip, as it’s one of the centerpieces of central Paris.
Place de la Bastille
One of Paris’s funkier neighborhoods is in the 11th arrondissement. Way less trafficked by tourists, the Bastille neighborhood holds a small, yet special monument to one of France’s most important structures in history – or shall I say, to the destruction of said structure.
The storming of the Bastille prison was a turning point in the French Revolution and is now a celebrated day in France, called Bastille Day on July 14th. You can visit the Place de la Bastille landmark, which stands on the very same spot the prison once stood.
The monument is like a small tower and, while there’s not much to do but just look at it, it’s one that history lover’s shouldn’t miss.
Some of the most beautiful parts of Paris are its parks. The areas of greenery are a serene oasis from the hectic traffic, both on foot and by car, in the bustling city center.
Luxembourg Gardens are especially unique for hosting the grandiose Luxembourg Palace. Today, it hosts the French Senate, but it was originally built in the 1600s as a royal residence.
Entering the palace or grabbing a baguette and pastries from a local bakery for a picnic on the grounds are both equally wonderful ways to enjoy this monument. Not to mention, you can see the Eiffel Tower in the distance from the upper promenades of the park.
The Luxembourg Gardens are not the only landmark gardens in Paris. The centrally-located Jardin des Tuileries, or Tuileries Gardens, are easier to fit into a shorter Paris itinerary, as they are in line geographically with other popular landmarks of Paris like the Louvre, Champs-Elysees, and Musée d’Orsay.
The specialty here are the large fountains and wide promenade. Being so central, Tuileries Gardens are not as quiet as the Luxembourg Gardens. However, strolling through perfectly trimmed trees and bright florals, while being surrounded by the bustling city is a unique dissonance and an enjoyable experience in its own right.
When visiting Paris, the only building that you won’t be able to miss from its skyline (besides the Eiffel Tower) is Les Invalides. The huge, blindingly gold dome of this military monument is visible from nearly every spot in Paris.
The dome is part of a cathedral, the tallest in Paris. Surrounding the church are a series of buildings once being a military center for Paris but now used to house military museums. The one attraction you can’t miss at this landmark is the Tomb of Napoleon.
Entrance tickets are priced at 14 euros.
Even if you don’t have pockets deep enough to actually buy anything on one of the world’s most famous shopping streets, a walk down the Champs-Elysees is a must for any Paris visitor.
It’s not as picturesque as some of these other monuments, due to how trafficked it is, but it’s still an exciting experience to see all the luxury and specialty storefronts alongside the wide promenade.
Galeries Lafayette Dome
The Galeries Lafayette is the most luxurious and famous department store in Paris.
However, the array of brand names and perfectly hung clothes are not the main reason to visit.
What’s truly magical about this shopping mall is the colorful, massive mosaic dome that creates a stunning rotunda in the center of the building. You can walk out to a platform high above the middle of the rotunda to get right beneath the sparkling mosaic dome.
Plus, this activity is completely free!
Nearby to the Galeries Lafayette and so famous that it probably deserves to be higher than a department store on this list (what can I say, I love shopping) is the Palais Garnier.
This is the main opera house in Paris, decorated in gold and red velvet. The romantic, intricate design is the perfect setting for watching the most dramatic operas and ballets.
Moulin Rouge is may not be the most romantic monument in Paris, but no less special than others on this list. The famous cabaret is located in Montmartre, so it’s a perfect spot to visit after seeing the Sacre-Coeur.
The legendary cabaret, dating from the late 1800s, is still in use today. It will reopen in September 2021, so mark your calendars to have the unique experience of seeing a show here!
Paris Trip Planning Resources
Paris is one of my favorite spots I’ve ever traveled to. Take a look at some of my posts & external resources for planning the perfect trip:
If you want to knockout as many landmarks in Paris as you can in the shortest amount of time, consider booking a guided bus tour!
These are designed so you can hop on and off the bus to see the landmarks you’d like around Paris. Plus, at 35 euros, it’s a cost-effective way to get around the city and see so much! It may be a very touristy thing to do, but if you’re short on time, it’s the best option to get around Paris quickly and easily.
Which of these Paris landmarks is at the top of your bucket list?
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I hope you’ve discovered some new landmarks in Paris to add to your trip itinerary! Bon Voyage!