History, art and cultureTrip inspiration
Fiona

Top 10 Historical Paris Monuments

Take a step back in time and enjoy a slice of history with these historical Paris monuments!

Paris, a city synonymous with romance, art, and history, is home to some of the world's most famous landmarks and monuments. These architectural marvels and historical monuments stand as testaments to France's rich cultural heritage. From the towering Eiffel Tower to the majestic Notre-Dame Cathedral, each monument in Paris tells a unique story of the past. As you wander through the streets of this enchanting city, you'll encounter famous Paris landmarks that have stood the test of time, capturing the essence of French history and the spirit of its people.

Whether it's the iconic landmarks in Paris like the Arc de Triomphe or the lesser-known gems tucked away in its charming arrondissements, these famous landmarks in Paris are not just national treasures, but also a significant part of the global cultural landscape.

Since time may not be on your side, we've compiled a useful list of 10 must-see monuments. We hope that by visiting some of these attractions, you’ll fall in love with Paris just as much as we have.

Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower, not just a global icon but also the most visited historical monument in the world, epitomizes Paris' architectural brilliance. Gustave Eiffel, the mastermind behind its design, intended this awe-inspiring structure for the 1889 'Exposition Universelle', celebrating the centenary of the French Revolution. Towering at a height of 324 meters, this architectural marvel is composed of 18,000 individual metallic parts, held together by a staggering 2.5 million rivets. Remarkably, the Eiffel Tower was initially planned as a temporary installation, meant to stand for only 20 years.

Beyond its impressive engineering, the Eiffel Tower offers an unparalleled experience for visitors. For the adventurous, climbing its 1665 steps leads to some of the most spectacular panoramic views of Paris, offering a unique perspective of the city's historical landscape. Those preferring a more leisurely ascent can opt for the elevator, which smoothly transports visitors to the summit. The Eiffel Tower is not just an iconic landmark; it's a symbol of French innovation and history, making it a must-visit for anyone exploring the historical monuments of Paris.

The Louvre

The Louvre, a jewel among Paris landmarks, is not just the world's largest museum; it's also the most visited. This magnificent monument, set within two historic royal palaces dating back to the 12th century, stands as a testament to French history and architecture. Inside, you're greeted by a vast collection of 35,000 artworks, spread across 350 rooms and exhibition spaces. Exploring the entire Louvre without stopping would take nearly nine hours – a testament to its immense scale and variety.

Given its size and the richness of its collections, it's wise to plan your visit, particularly if you're with children. Identifying key exhibits or sections of interest beforehand can make your experience more enjoyable and manageable. For those keen on a deeper exploration, the Louvre offers a plethora of guided tours, each providing unique insights into this iconic Parisian landmark. Engaging with the Louvre's art and history makes for an unforgettable experience in the heart of Paris.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame, a stunning example of French-Gothic architecture, stands as a historical monument that has witnessed centuries of Parisian history. Its construction, which began in 1163 and continued until 1345, involved numerous architects, resulting in a fascinating blend of styles that enhance its original Gothic charm. This sprawling, magnificent structure is famed for features like the intricate stained-glass ‘rose window’, the eerie gargoyles and chimera statues, and the revered statue of the Virgin and Child.

As a beacon of historical and cultural significance, Notre Dame not only captivates with its architectural beauty but also with its rich historical narrative. For those eager to immerse themselves in this historical monument, climbing one of its spires offers breathtaking views of Paris. Inside, the cathedral houses treasured Catholic relics, including the Crown of Thorns, each with its own story, adding layers of historical depth to your visit. Notre Dame truly is a monumental piece of history, encapsulating the essence of French heritage and artistry.

Sainte-Chapelle

A jewel of the Rayonnant Gothic period, the 13th-century Sainte-Chapelle chapel is most famous for its 1113 stained-glass windows depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments. The chapel was originally built to hold the French Catholic Church’s most prized relics, such as the Crown of Thorns (now in Notre Dame). Sainte-Chapelle is a designated UNESCO world heritage site and both audio tours as well as traditional guided tours are available, explaining the chapel’s history, stained-glass art and other details you might otherwise have missed.

Luxembourg Palace

The Luxembourg Palace is a beautiful example of early French classical architecture. It was originally commissioned in 1615 by French regent Marie de Médicis (mother of Louis XIII) and designed by architect Salomon de Brosse. As well as housing royals, the Palace has had a number of functions: it was the original royal art gallery (before it moved to the Louvre) and was even used as a prison during the French Revolution. From the beginning of the 19th century, however, it has mainly been used as the seat of the French Senate. In addition to its iconic architecture (inside and out), the palace is situated in 22.5 hectares of gardens. The ‘Jardin du Luxembourg’ is the finest and largest park in Paris, and contains as much art and history as the palace itself.

Basilica of Sacré-Cœur

Look up to the top of Montmartre and you can’t miss the white domes of the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur. The basilica contains France’s largest mosaic, an enormous 480m2, and the panoramic views from its 130m-high dome are among the city’s best. Consecrated in 1919, the basilica was built in the Roman-Byzantine style and contains a crypt where the famous French cardinals Guibert and Richard are buried. While you’re there, wander through the adjacent Abbesses area, once the artists’ quarter and home to Picasso. This is definitely one of the most popular and famous landmarks in Paris.

Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe is the centerpiece of ‘L'Axe historique’, a sequence of grand boulevards and monuments stretching from the Louvre to the outskirts of Paris. Built in honour of those who fought for France, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars, the 49.5m arc holds the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I, and a memorial flame burns to honour those lost in battle. You can’t miss it at the western end of the Champs-Élysées, in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle. Don't miss out on this well known Paris historical site.

Musée d'Orsay

The Musée d'Orsay is a former railway station on the left bank of the Seine, built in the Beaux-Arts style and home to France’s national collection of impressionist, post-impressionist and art nouveau treasures. Many of the most famous works by Monet, Cézanne, Picasso and van Gogh can be found here. Musée d'Orsay is second only to the Louvre as a home to world famous paintings as well as containing a wide selection of other decorative and graphic artworks and sculptures.

Les Invalides

The Hôtel des Invalides is a group of buildings dating from 1678, originally commissioned by Louis IVX as a hospital and retirement home for France’s war veterans. Les Invalides now contains several museums and monuments dedicated to France’s military history, as well as, to this day, a hospital and retirement home for war veterans. The Dôme des Invalides church within the complex is the burial site of none other than Napoleon Bonaparte himself as well as several other of France’s most famous war heroes.

The Palace of Versailles

Another UNESCO world heritage site, the Palace of Versailles is one of the world’s most lavishly opulent palaces. With floor space covering 721,206 square feet and 230 acres of beautiful gardens, it is also one of the biggest. Perhaps the highlight of the palace is the Hall of Mirrors, a spectacular corridor of 357 mirrors reflecting the gardens outside through the arched windows, though the splendour of the Chapel of Versailles is a close second. Other must-sees include Marie Antoinette’s apartment, the Grand Apartment and the Opera auditorium. Despite its location on the outskirts of the city, this is one of the most visited Paris monuments. The 18th-century building is beautiful in itself, but it’s the spectacular interior, dripping in art and wealth, that really draws visitors. Our top ten historical Paris monuments are a good starting point for any visit to the City of Light. There is so much to see and do in Paris, you’ll be spoilt for choice! Wishing you a good trip.

Love this article? Why not share it:

Buy with confidence

Free cancellation

Plans can change, we get it. All non-activated passes are eligible for a refund within 90 days of your purchase date.

Find out moreChevron Icon

Got a question?

Check out our FAQs or live chat with our customer service agents now

See our FAQsChevron Icon

The Paris Pass® is highly rated, but don't just take our word for it!

Have a 5% discount, on us!

More savings? You're welcome. Sign up to our newsletter and receive exclusive discounts, vacation inspiration and much more.

  • Thick check Icon