Panoramic Paris skyline showing the Eiffel Tower
Stuart Bak

Most Popular Tourist Attractions in Paris - Top 10

Paris has more household-name attractions than just about any other city in the world. You’ve heard of the Moulin Rouge, right? Not even in the top 10! That’s because the City of Light has more world-class monuments, museums, parks and palaces than you can wave une baguette très grand at. Some of them (looking at you, the Louvre) are the most popular attractions of their kind on the entire planet. Here, then (in no particular order) are the top 10 most popular attractions in Paris…

Eiffel Tower

Happy couple in front of the Eiffel Tower

Let’s begin with the glaringly obvious, shall we? One of the world’s most iconic structures, the Eiffel Tower is right at the top of every Paris sightseeing itinerary worth its salt. No wonder then, that it’s Paris’s most popular attraction (and indeed the world’s most-visited paid monument), pulling in a whopping 6m+ latticework-lovers every year. Join the queue to take the elevator to the top or, if you have the legs (and stomach) for it, join a 674-step guided climb to the second floor and catch the elevator the rest of the way up from there. There are also many queue-dodging ways to admire the Iron Lady: from the steps of Sacré-Cœur, from the Tour Montparnasse, or on a classic Bateaux Parisiens Seine river cruise.

Disneyland Paris

The Disney castle at Disneyland Paris

Did you know that the effortlessly romantic Eiffel Tower isn’t the most popular spot for marriage proposals in Paris? Nor is it the swoonsome Sacré-Cœur. No, it isn’t even the love-lock-festooned Pont des Arts. The most popular place for proposals in Paris, dear reader, is Disneyland. Blame the social media generation. Anyway, Disneyland Paris is actually 20 miles out of town, but it would be churlish to omit France’s premier attraction (over 16 million visitors annually, fact fans) on a technicality. Catch the train to reach it from Paris proper and say ‘hey’ to Mickey Souris and Donald Canard.

The Louvre Museum

The Louvre Museum in Paris

We continue our journey through Paris’s catalog of ‘biggest and best’ with the mighty Louvre – home, of course, to the enigmatic Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo and, perhaps as a direct result, the planet’s most popular museum. It’s also the largest: a vast multi-level labyrinth of hallways, staircases and galleries that cover 652,300 square feet and house some 616,000 pieces of art. Grab that coveted selfie in front of the distinctive courtyard pyramid before elbowing your way inside to the main event(s). Pro-tip: you’ll need a map and a plan of attack to make the best of your visit.

Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles

As extravagant and flamboyant as the king for whom it was built, Louis XIV’s opulent confection is a fairytale wonderland of mirror-festooned hallways, art-crammed galleries, lavish state rooms, and manicured gardens that overflow with ornate fountains and priceless statues and sculptures (in fact the world’s largest outdoor sculpture collection, as if you hadn’t already guessed). Visit Marie Antoinette’s rustic model village, marvel at the colonnaded pink marble confection that is the Grand Trianon, and take time out for a moment of quiet reflection in the extraordinary Hall of Mirrors.

Notre-Dame Cathedral

Friends taking a selfie in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral

Notre-Dame has been stealing the hearts of tourists for centuries, so it wasn’t about to let a little thing like a blazing inferno change all that. Even while closed, its soaring bell towers, picture-perfect spire and stunning medieval rose windows are essential on any serious Paris sightseeing itinerary. Heck, you could even take a sketchpad and notebook along with you to see if inspiration hits you. You never know, you could be the next Picasso, Hopper, Matisse or Victor Hugo: all were famously enchanted into creating great art by la Grande Dame de Paris.

Montmartre

A classic Citroen 2CV driving along a cobbled street in colorful Montmartre, Paris

Fans of Amelie will find much to enjoy in the Montmartre district, home to many of the locations used in the quirky 2000 movie. Take a stroll along atmospheric cobbled lanes and squares, pausing to pose for a snap by the neon-red Moulin Rouge windmill. Or get a selfie of a different kind in the Place du Tertre, where local artists will paint or sketch your caricature for a few euros. Art-lovers should hit up the Musée de Montmartre for its fine collection of pieces from Toulouse-Lautrec’s Moulin Rouge series, plus other French Impressionist masterpieces. Then, of course, there’s the do-not-miss confection that is the Sacré-Cœur Basilica with its commanding views across Paris to the Eiffel Tower and beyond, particularly romantic at sunset.

Musée d’Orsay

Statues in front of the Musée d'Orsay in Paris

The second of Paris’s ‘big two’ museums, and just across the Seine from the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay houses the world’s largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist art within the hallowed Beaux-Arts walls of the former Gare d'Orsay railway station. If French art and sculpture is your bag, you’ll be in clover here, with highlights that include iconic pieces by Manet, Monet, Renoir, Rodin, Cézanne and van Gogh. Don’t miss ol’ Vincent’s stunning Starry Night over the Rhône and Whistler’s Mother, and hit up the fifth-floor café, where a huge station-clock window affords exhilarating views across the Seine to the Louvre and Sacré-Cœur.

Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysées

Fireworks over the Arc de Triomphe in Paris

No Paris top 10 would be complete without this Place Charles de Gaulle icon. Standing 164 feet high at the western end of the Champs-Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe is a soaring neoclassical memorial to those who died in combat during the Napoleonic and French Revolutionary wars. Pay your respects in the vault, or climb the 284 steps to the top for more of those awe-inspiring Paris views. Afterwards, lighten the mood with a spot of window shopping along the eye-wateringly expensive Champs-Élysées boulevard, and treat yourself to a macaron or six at the legendary Ladurée.

Luxembourg Gardens

Toy boat on the lake at Luxembourg Gardens, Paris

This exquisitely manicured park is a great option for escaping the hubbub of some of Paris’s more oversubscribed attractions (looking at you, Eiffel Tower and the Louvre). Meander over the 6th arrondissement, where over 56 acres of green space includes – deep breath – the baroque beauty of Luxembourg Palace, a small lake where you can sail charming wooden toy boats, pétanque courts, pony rides, walking trails, formal gardens, and one of Paris’s biggest kids’ playgrounds. Grab a picnic of fresh breads and regional cheeses from the local street market and make a day of it! 

Père Lachaise Cemetery

Elaborate tomb at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris

Paris’s largest cemetery is also its most popular, thanks to its huge network of meandering lanes flanked by gothic gravestones, titanic tombs and magnificent memorials to the great and good of Paris and beyond. Stroll its atmospheric walkways and look out for the elaborate resting places of some of the cemetery’s most famous permanent residents, among them Chopin, Molière, Oscar Wilde, Édith Piaf and Jim Morrison of The Doors. And, if you don’t fancy navigating it yourself, a guided walking tour is a great way to get the lowdown on all the salacious scandal and gossip of yore, as well as ensuring you don’t get lost!

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