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Paris is the capital of France and a global hotspot for art, fashion, culture, and food. It’s also the first city in Europe that I visited and I’ve been over a dozen times since. Paris grabs you and I often find myself reminiscing about a meal, climbing the steps and strolling Montmartre, or thinking about my French teacher and friend (who I first saw the city with), George La Neve (he passed away a few years ago and I give him credit for some of my wanderlust). From amazing cuisine to shopping to impressive galleries, the City of Lights is certain to spark something in you. Choosing just five was near impossible as I could easily list 20 things to do, but I whittled it down to these top picks.
Here are five things you can’t miss on your visit.
5. Notre Dame
It’s currently closed for repairs after the cathedral’s roof caught fire in 2019. Luckily, Notre Dame can be restored and is on track to reopen in 2024. When it does you’ll be able to marvel at the magnificent French Gothic architecture that began construction in 1163. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame took place here and before the fire over 12 million people visited annually.
Can’t Miss: Check out the almost 1,100 square feet of stained glass within the cathedral.
Address: 6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Place Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France
4. Le Marais
This hip neighborhood has cool boutiques, galleries, and Paris’ gayborhood with bars catering to the LGBTQ+ community found here. It’s also home to a vibrant Jewish community and those roots can be traced through numerous restaurants and the Museum of Jewish Art and History as you stroll along its cobblestone streets and pass by tranquil gardens.
Can’t Miss: Check out the Pompidou Center for an impressive collection of modern art.
Address: Situated in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements (districts) next to Chatelet-Les Halles and Bastille.
3. Catacombs of Paris
If you want to be a bit scared and have a taste for the macabre, head underground to the Catacombs of Paris. The remains of over six million people reside here. Bodies continued to be added until 1860. The bones are all neatly stacked in a mosaic of human anatomy. There is a clear path and sneaking off to other parts can be dangerous, as some passages are very narrow and partially flooded. Stay on course and you’ll live to tell your tale. Stray, and you might never return. (Insert Vincent Price cackling here.)
Can’t Miss: Take some selfies and look for spectral orbs floating through these creepy tunnels.
Address: 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris, France
2. Arc de Triomphe
You might have seen a replica of this famous arch in Las Vegas, but it can’t compare to the original in Paris. The Arc de Triomphe stands at the western end of the Champs-Élysées (at the centre of Place Charles de Gaulle, formerly named Place de l’Étoile). Étoile, or star, is the juncture formed by the twelve avenues. This monument honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. Climb to the top for some great views.
Can’t Miss: Take a moment to stop by the Eternal Flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier below the Arc de Triomphe.
Address: Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris, France
1. Eiffel Tower
It’s impossible to mention Paris without thinking about the Eiffel Tower. The wrought-iron lattice tower is named after its engineer Gustave Eiffel. It was constructed from 1887 to 1889 and was the centerpiece of the 1889 World’s Fair. Since then it has become a symbol of the city and stands at 1,083-feet tall. The tower has three levels to visit, with restaurants on the first and second levels, as well as a great spot to view the city from the top level. Over 300 million people have visited since it was built.
Can’t Miss: If it’s in the budget, have a meal at the Michelin-starred Le Jules Verne restaurant.
Address: Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France
Come for the the culture and stay for the cuisine. It will always hold a special place in my heart. These are my can’t miss picks for Paris.
Bonus Hotel Pick: The Westin Paris – Vendôme is one of my favorite hotels in Paris. It feels more like it should be part of the Luxury Collection. I’ve always had a great experience staying here and find the service top notch without carrying the price tag of some other luxury options. This old-world beauty is conveniently located for shopping and sightseeing. If you’re lucky, you can snag a suite with an amazing Eiffel Tower view like the one above.
Address: 3 Rue de Castiglione, 75001 Paris, France
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