France’s iconic capital city is filled with fantastic monuments. Many are known all over the world like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc De Triomphe. However, some are less well known.
Here is my list of the 25 Paris Monuments you absolutely must-see when visiting Paris – a mix of the most famous and those that should be.
25 Paris Monuments
Table of Contents
- 25 Paris Monuments
- 1. The Eiffel Tower
- 2. Pere-Lachaise Cemetery
- 3. Le Louvre
- 4. La Conciergerie
- 5. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
- 6. The Seine River
- 7. Arc de Triomphe
- 8. Pont Neuf
- 9. Vendome Column
- 10. Pont Alexandre III
- 10. Le Centre de Pompidou
- 11. Hotel de Cluny
- 12. Place de La Concorde
- 13. Sacré-Cœur Basilica In Montmartre
- 14. Les Invalides
- 15. Memorial des Martyrs de la Deportation
- 16. Paris Opera
- 17. Hotel de Ville
- 18. Sainte Chapelle
- 19. Pantheon
- 20. Palais du Luxembourg
- 21. The Sorbonne
- 22. Palais Royal
- 23. Musee d’Orsay
- 24. Saint-Jacques Tower
- 25. The Statue of Liberty
- Who Paid for What in this Post
1. The Eiffel Tower
Kicking off the top Paris landmarks list is undeniably the most iconic structure in France and the by far, the most photographed, the Eiffel Tower. Standing in sheer wonder, the incredible edifice nestled in Champ de Mars’s centre is the tallest structure in Paris. It stands 324 meters (1,063 ft) tall.
Built between 1887 and 1889 by French engineer Gustave Eiffel, the Eiffel Tower is made of iron rather than steel. It was built to be one of the main attractions at the Paris World’s Fair in 1889.
Parisians quickly fell in love with The Eiffel Tower and more than 2 million visited in the first year that it was open. The tower symbolised French know-how and industrial genius.
Today nearly seven million people visit The Eiffel Tower every year. The top of the Eiffel Tower which can be visited is at 276 metres. The other key viewpoint is on what is called the second floor which is at 116 metres.
I highly suggest you take an Eiffel Tower summit tour and climb to the very top; there, you’ll be welcomed with panoramic views of the capital. Though the tower is impressive at any time, it becomes magical at night as its lights twinkle and oozes with romance.
Ticket prices vary depending on how high you want to go and how you want to get there – stairs or lift. It is possible to take a lift all the way to the top (with the option to stop at the second floor) or to walk up to the second floor and then get a lift to the top.
July and August are the busiest times of year to visit The Eiffel Tower but it is usually quite busy all year round. It is possible to book tickets two months in advance of your visit. I would highly recommend booking a skip the queue ticket for the Eiffel Tower ahead of your visit to Paris.
Psst…Though its incredible structure is one to boot, tons of other magnificent landmarks in Europe are also must-sees.
2. Pere-Lachaise Cemetery
Whilst Paris is home to many cemeteries, Pere-Lachaise is its most famous. It holds the strange honour of being a beautiful cemetery and a lovely place to visit. It is also home to many famous characters from Oscar Wilde to Jim Morrison.
This 44 hectare cemetery is in the 20th arrondissement and more than three million people visit it every year.
3. Le Louvre
When you’re in Paris, you’ll certainly not want to miss attending the most visited museum in the world: The Louvre Museum. It first opened in 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, and today, it houses around 38,000 historic objects.
This iconic structure is the world’s largest art museum and is famously known for housing Mona Lisa. The original of this famous painting hangs in the Louvre today and has been since 1804.
Apart from Leonardo Da Vinci’s jaw-dropping painting, you’ll find plenty of other interesting antiques in this mega museum and symbol of Paris.
From Oriental, Egyptian, Roman & Etruscan antiques to the Greek antique section. Aside from antiques and famous paintings, the museum also houses impressive sculptures like the ‘Venus de Milo’.
IM Pei’s iconic glass pyramid was completed in 1989, adding another element to this Parisian landmark.
The Louvre Museum receives over 15,000 visitors per day, so I highly suggest booking a skip the line tour to get your spot in this iconic space. Tickets purchased online ahead of time are slightly more expensive than those purchased at the museum. However, you will be given a timed entry ticket and will not have to queue which I think is worth the extra.
In 2019, the Louvre was the most visited museum in the world receiving over 9.6 million guests.
⇒ If you like beautiful European towns check out my posts on Saint Antonin Noble Val and Tarn et Garonne in France, 30 Famous Landmarks in France, 37 Fascinating Facts About Paris, 32 Most Beautiful Cities in France, 10 Beautiful Bridges in France, 10 Beautiful Lakes in France and the 6 Best Places to Watch the Sunrise in Paris
4. La Conciergerie
Located next to Saint Chapelle in the first arrondissement, the Conciergerie was part of the former royal palace rebuilt under Philip IV in the 14th century. Only the Guards Room, the Hall of the Soldier and the kitchens are left of the palace.
The Conciergerie was then used as a prison during the French Revolution and Marie Antoinette spent her last days there. Today it is possible to visit La Conciergerie and take a fascinating tour.
5. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
The Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris was initially erected in the 14th-century to honour the Virgin Mary. The French Gothic cathedral is located in the heart of Paris on Île de la Cité island in the middle of Seine and is considered one of the most famous and beautiful in the world.
Notre Dame’s full name is Notre Dame de Paris. This means Our Lady of Paris.
With its grand facade and equally awe-inspiring interior, Notre Dame was certainly built to impress. From its noble church bells, marvellous sculptures, bell tower, stained glass windows to one of the world’s largest music organs.
Notre Dame was damaged during the French Revolution in the 1790s. But it was Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame that really drove interest in the cathedral.
In April of 2019 Notre Dame caught fire whilst it was being restored. Serious damage was done but restoration plans began quickly. The aim is for Notre Dame to be restored to all of its glory for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to visit the inside of Notre Dame Cathedral during this restoration work. However, it is of course possible to come and see this stunning building.
6. The Seine River
This is France’s best known river and it runs from Dijon to the English Channel via the centre of Paris. The Seine borders 10 of the city’s 20 arrondissements and and the city of Paris grew around it.
Today half of the water used in Paris comes from the Seine river. 32 bridges cross it in Paris and it is popular with both locals and tourists. There are many ways to enjoy the Seine – from romantic strolls along its banks to running to taking a cruise.
7. Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe sits at the western end of the Champs-Elysee in Place Charles de Gaulle and in the middle of one of the scariest roundabouts in the world.
This famous European landmark is a tribute to those who died fighting for France in the Napoleonic and Revolutionary Wars. The names of all French victories as well as the generals are inscribed on the arc. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War 1 lies underneath the Arc de Triomphe.
The Arc de Triomphe was commissioned in 1806 by Napoleon. However, it was not completed until 1836. By this time Napoleon had been banished to Elba. He was never able to see the Arc de Triomphe but his remains passed through it on the way to Les Invalides.
Every year the Bastille Day parade on July 14 starts at this triumphal Arch and the Tour de France also finishes here.
8. Pont Neuf
Pont Neuf is the oldest standing bridge that runs over the Seine River in Paris. The first stone of the bridge was laid by Henry III in 1578. However, it wasn’t until 1604 that it was open to traffic, and not until 1607 that it was inaugurated by Henry IV.
Like most bridges built during that time, it followed Roman precedents. It was constructed as a series of short arch bridges and made using stone. Over the years, it has gone through many repairs and renovations, including a major restoration project that took place from 1994 to 2007.
An equestrian statue of Henri IV stands proudly on the bridge. It was commissioned by his widow, Marie de Médicis, after his assassination. During the French Revolution, the statue was destroyed. However, it was replaced in 1818.
⇒ Book a Paris Illuminations River Cruise
9. Vendome Column
The Vendome or Austerlitz column is located in Place Vendome in the 1st arrondissement. It has a statue of Napoleon dressed as Caesar on its summit and was made from 1,200 enemy canons.
Place Vendome is one of the most luxurious squares in Paris. It was built on the orders of Louis XIV and he wanted it to embody power. Today it is filled with expensive jewellry stores.
10. Pont Alexandre III
Pont Alexandre III is a deck arch bridge that’s widely viewed as the most ornamented and grand bridge in Paris. It crosses over the Seine River and connects the Champs-Élysées quarter with Les Invalides and the Eiffel Tower.
It was named after Tsar Alexander III to celebrate and honour the diplomatic relationship between France and Russia at the time. Although, it was Alexander’s son, Nicholas II who laid the first stone for the bridge in 1896.
Pont Alexandre III was built for the Exposition Universelle of 1900. It features an array of masterful and unique sculptures, including cherubs, nymphs, winged horses, and Art Nouveau lamps. It’s also one of the best spots to watch the sunrise in Paris.
10. Le Centre de Pompidou
Opened in 1977, Le Centre de Pompidou is a modern art museum with over 100,000 works of art. When it opened, its high-tech architecture was very cutting edge. The centre is located in the 4th arrondissement of Paris near Les Halles and it is the largest museum for modern art in Europe.
The building was named after ex-French President Georges Pompidou. The building covers 5 acres and has 7 floors. The design is based on the “open approach” to architecture. Nearly 15,000 tons of steel lattices went into this modern art museum as well as glass facades and metal frames.
The result is a building that almost looks like it is inside out. The pipes, cables, plumbing and all the other “internals” are external and colourful.
In addition to art exhibits, the Centre Pompidou also has a public library, a research centre for acoustics and music and more. And don’t miss the fantastic views of Paris from top of the Pompidou Centre.
The Pompidou Plaza in front of the museum is also known for its street performers and home to other cultural activities.
11. Hotel de Cluny
This medieval residence in the 5th arrondissement is the home of Musee Cluny. Located in the Latin Quarter it is home to the famous tapestry The Lady and The Unicorn and has a lovely garden.
In addition to the National Medieval Art Musuem, Hotel de Cluny also has the ruins of thermal baths from Roman times.
12. Place de La Concorde
Located between the Champs Elysee and the Tuileries Gardens, Place de La Concorde is largest square in Paris. During the French Revolution the square was renamed as for a time as the Place de la Revolution. This was where King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were executed.
Between 1836 and 1840 an Egyptian obelisk that was already 3,300 years old was placed in Place de La Concorde. Around this time, two beautiful fountains were added to the square.
Today, Place de La Concorde is the finish line for the Tour de France and also home to the beautiful Hotel Crillon.
13. Sacré-Cœur Basilica In Montmartre
France is home to some of the most exquisite palaces, cathedrals and monuments and the Sacré-Cœur is no exception. Situated on the highest natural point in Paris, giving you sweeping aerial views of the city as it wakes and turns golden.
Climb the stairs up the hill going towards the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. Once you are at the top facing the Basilica, turn to the city. This is one of the best places to watch the sunrise in Paris.
From here you will be able to see the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe in the distance. But the most impressive view is that of the horizon turning pink as the sun rises.
Take the opportunity to explore the Montmartre neighbourhood where you will find quaint cafes serving delicious coffee and fresh pastries.
14. Les Invalides
Whilst you may not know the name Les Invalides, many are familiar with its golden dome which reaches over 107 metres high on the Paris skyline. Hotel Les Invalides was built by Louis XIV as a home for those wounded in battle or homeless water veterans in the 7th arrondissement.
Today, Hotel des Invalides contains three museums: The Army museum, the Order of the Liberation museum, and the Relief Map museum. The Army Museum has a collection of over 500,000 items and is the most important site of military history in France. It is also home to the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Les Invalides and the Army museum are open every day all year round apart from major holidays.
15. Memorial des Martyrs de la Deportation
Designed by G.H. Pingusson and constructed on the banks of the Seine opposite Notre Dame in 1962, this Paris monument is a tribute to the 200,000 people who were sent to Nazi death camps from France during the second world war.
The narrow chamber contains 200,000 crystals with light shining through them. These lights are to represent those who lost their lives. The memorial includes an eternal flame.
16. Paris Opera
This magnificent building was constructed in the 9th arrondissement between 1861 and 1875 during the time of Napoleon III. It was built by Charles Garnier and is often referred to as Opera Garnier or Palais Garnier.
The Opera building has seating for over 2,000 people and features ballet, classical music as well as opera. Today it is the home of the Paris ballet. The official opera company of Paris moved to the Opera Bastille in 1989.
Visitors can tour the Opera building on weekdays throughout the year. Hours vary based on performances. Tickets can be purchased for most of the performances ahead of time online.
17. Hotel de Ville
Paris’ City Hall is in the 4th arrondissement on a plaza that was once the site of public executions during Medieval times and the French revolution. The last execution took place in 1830.
In 1871 fire was set to the Hotel de Ville during the Paris commune. After the fire, only a stone shell remained. It took 20 years to rebuild and this is the version of Hotel de Ville we see today.
Hotel de Ville is the official office of the Mayor of Paris and local government. It holds free concerts, exhibitions and even ice skating in the winter.
18. Sainte Chapelle
Sainte Chapelle was built in the 13th century for King Louis IX. It is perhaps most famous for the over 1,000 panels of its magnificent stained glass windows. The windows tell the story of the Bible. This beautiful cathedral also features wall paintings and stunning carvings.
Today, you can visit Saint Chapelle most days of the year or if you’re lucky you could attend a classical music concert.
This neo-classical Paris monument was built between 1758 and 1790 and was originally a church. The Pantheon sits at the top of the Sainte-Genevieve Hill in the Latin Quarter.
This mausoleum is home to the bodies of Victor Hugo, Rousseau, Alexandre Duma Voltaire and other famous French figures. It also contains the Foucault pendulum which once proved that the earth does rotate. The building was inspired by the Rome monument the Pantheon.
Whilst the Pantheon may not be at the very top of your Paris to do list, if you have more than say 3 days in Paris I would highly recommend a visit, particularly as the top of the dome has fantastic views of Paris.
Tours of The Pantheon are available throughout the year for a fee. The colonnade area of the dome is open for free to the public between April and October.
20. Palais du Luxembourg
This stunning palace was built in 1607 and was named after the Duke of Piney-Luxembourg. The design was based on Pitti Palace in Florence and the palace features beautiful gardens.
Today, Luxembourg Palace is home to the French Senate and upper house of Parliament as well as the 25 hectare gardens. The gardens are a mix of formal French and wild English styles. There is also an apple orchard, an apiary and more than 100 statues in the gardens.
21. The Sorbonne
The Sorbonne is one of the oldest and most esteemed universities in Europe and the world. Originally founded in 1257 by the Catholic Church, it went on to beecome home to some of France and Europe’s most intelligent and creative minds.
The Sorbonne is located in the Latin Quarter of Paris. Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to visit unless you are a student or staff but the front of this Paris monument can be admired from the outside.
22. Palais Royal
This Renaissance-era palace is in the 1st arrondissement between the Opera Garnier and the Louvre. It was once the residence of Cardinal Richelieu but today is home to upmarket shops, restaurants and a few government offices including the Ministry of Culture.
The gardens of the Palais Royal are lovely and worth a stroll before or after eating and shopping.
23. Musee d’Orsay
This museum of the left bank was originally a railway station built for the Paris World Fair in 1900. It is a stunning building both inside and out. Musee d’Orsay focusses on art from between 1848 and 1914. It is perhaps best known for its Impressionist and Post-impressionist art collections.
The Musee d’Orsay is the fifteenth most visited art museum in the world. Book your entrance ticket online before your visit.
24. Saint-Jacques Tower
The less well-known Saint-Jacques tower in the first arrondissement can be seen from many points in Paris. The tower was once attached to the Saint Jacques de la Boucherie church.
This gothic-style tower is 62 metres high and has been on the right bank of Paris since the 16th century. It is possible to take a guided tour of the tower and climb up to the top for some fantastic views.
25. The Statue of Liberty
This considerably smaller reproduction of the original Statue of Liberty is in the 15th arrondissement on Ile aux Cygnes, the third largest island in Paris. The statue was built in 1889, three years after New York‘s Statue of Liberty. It is one-quarter of the size of the New York statue.
Admission to Paris’ Statue of Liberty is free.
Who Paid for What in this Post
I covered all of the costs associated with this post. This Paris monuments post includes affiliate links. That means if you click through and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. I wanted to make sure you were aware of this.