Paris, France, ‘The City of Lights,’ is one of the world’s top tourist destinations with over 45 million visitors annually. Paris offers an unrivaled cultural experience coupled with all the amenities of a major metropolitan area. The home to world-renowned attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, L’Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, to name a few, Paris has long been considered a mecca for travelers all over the world.
Paris boasts a collection of world-renowned attractions including museums, cathedrals, historical landmarks, opera houses, and public gardens. Long considered to be a romantic destination, Paris also does a great job of catering to families as evidenced by the success of Disneyland Paris.
Without a doubt, the Eiffel Tower is the most iconic attraction in Paris. Erected in 1889, originally as an entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair, the Eiffel Tower draws over 6 million visitors each year and features two restaurants.
The Louvre is arguably the most famous art museum in the world. With prominent pieces such as Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo statue, the Louvre is universally enjoyed by art enthusiasts and laypeople alike. Other popular museums in Paris include the Musée Cluny and the Musée d’Orsay, which houses arguably the best impressionist collection in the world.
The Arc de Triomphe, which honors those who fought for France, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars, is the linchpin of the Parisian historical axis and is an immensely popular attraction for tourists visiting Paris. From the top one can enjoy a panoramic view of Paris which provides for views of the twelve major avenues leading to the Place de l’Étoile.
Another major attraction in Paris is the famous Notre Dame Cathedral. Located on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité and one of the first gothic cathedrals ever built, the Note Dame cathedral draws more than 12 million visitors annually. Many believe the Notre Dame Cathedral presents the best example of fine French gothic architecture, yet it certainly does not take an architect to recognize the beauty of this historic cathedral.
In addition to the aforementioned attractions Paris also prides itself on its distinguished gourmet cuisine. Over 9,000 restaurants exist in Paris, including many high-quality options boasting Michelin guide ratings. Adventurous eaters can even sample frogs’ legs and snails, which are considered delicacies in France.
When to Go
Summer months are the peak tourist season in Paris and also tend to be the most expensive for travel. Tourists seeking to avoid long lines and huge crowds at popular attractions should consider visiting Paris in the winter months when tourism drops off substantially. Cost-conscious travelers can also snap up cheaper airfares and hotel deals in the colder winter months.
How to Get There
Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), also known as Roissy Airport, is France’s main airport and serves as the principal hub for Air France. It is Europe’s busiest airport and can be reached from most all airports worldwide, including a number of non-stop flights from New York. Orly Airport (ORY) is a slightly smaller airport that also services Paris. Transportation from the aforementioned airports to Paris’ city-center is available by suburban train or bus service, each for about 9€, and by shuttles which are slightly more expensive. Taxi fare from Charles de Gaulle airport to Paris’ center is approximately 40€ and taxi fare from Orly Airport to Paris’ city center is about 30€.
Paris has a seemingly endless number of attractions for each and every type of traveler; however, there are a few that are not to be missed under any circumstances. Seasoned travelers and locals alike agree on the following recommendations, in no particular order. The Eiffel Tower, Paris’ most famous landmark; The Louvre, home to the Mona Lisa; the Arc de Triomphe, France’s memorial to its fallen soldiers; and the stunning Notre Dame Cathedral. Other notable attractions include the Stade de France, built for the 1998 World Cup, the Opéra Garnier (Paris Opera), the Musée Cluny and Museé d’Orsay, and the Centre Pompidou which features modern art, cinema concerts and children’s activities.