Arc de Triomphe & Champs Élysées
The most famous shopping avenue in Paris leads to one of the city’s most recognizable monuments. Stroll along the Champs Élysées, window-shop, treat yourself to a crepe or coffee, and people watch. Once you’ve reached its westernmost end, you’ll find the Arc de Triomphe — a memorial to Napoléon’s army and a sight to behold. Climb to the top of this Roman-inspired Arc for an incredible view of the city sprawling before you, complete with a cameo by the Eiffel Tower.
Built between 1806 and 1836, the arc stands 162 feet tall and 150 feet wide and also holds the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Admission to the Arc is 12 euros, and it is open from 10 a.m., to 11 p.m., with a few holiday exceptions.
Often called “The World’s Largest Grave,” the Catacombs hold the remains of over six million people. These underground ossuaries are in the Mines of Paris tunnel network below the city, and piqued Parisians’ curiosity since they were created in the 1700s. The line to get in can wind for blocks, so make sure to buy your ticket ahead of time to skip to the front!
The Centre Pompidou houses the Bibliothèque publique d’information (public library), the Musée National d’Art Moderne, as well as the IRCAM, a center for music and acoustic research. But the building itself is the real treat.
It’s an incredible structure built during the High Tech architectural era, and its futuristic style will wow any photographer. Plus, admission is only five euro if you just want to walk around! Make sure to plan your visit carefully — depending on what time of day you’d like to photograph the city (the Centre is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.).
This easily recognizable wrought-iron lattice tower is one of the most photographed landmarks in the entire world. After it was built as the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair, the Eiffel Tower was considered ugly by Parisians for a time. It held the title of “Tallest Man-Made Structure in the World” for 41 years, and is now seen as a French icon. La Tour Eiffel has three visitable levels — two of which include restaurants — and a ride to the top will cost you 17 euro.
Jardin de Tuileries
After sightseeing in the Louvre and Paris’s first arrondissement, head to the Tuileries Garden, which was one of the first public parks in Paris. Created in 1564 by Catherine de Medici, the park endured and became the outdoor social hub of Paris where 19th and 20th century Parisians people watched, picnic-ed, and paraded.
Stroll through the gardens and enjoy ornately organized shrubs, flowers, and hedges — you’ll soon understand why Parisians and tourists alike flock to this serene park. Entrance to the gardens is free. The site opens at 7 a.m. and closes between 9 and 11 p.m., depending on the season.
Jardin du Luxembourg
If you’re looking for a reprieve from city streets, Le Jardin du Luxembourg is a gem in Paris’s 6th arrondissement. This ancient site was created in 1612 by Marie de Medici, who was the widow of King Henry IV. Its beauty has endured — it is now the most popular park in Paris, due to its picturesque promenades, flower beds, and expansive lawns. Admission is free, and the gardens open at 7:30 a.m., closing between 7 and 9 p.m., depending on the season.
The Louvre is France’s most famous museum and is a photo op in and of itself. The legendary museum features over 35,000 works of art, including priceless works by da Vinci and Michelangelo.
Whether or not you explore the countless treasures inside the beautiful building, the courtyard that precedes the Louvre is as photogenic a place as any in Paris. Snap a photo of the iconic glass pyramids before you purchase a ticket (15 euro). The museum is open every day, except for Tuesday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (on Wednesday and Friday, doors are open until 9:45 p.m.).
This museum is housed in a former rail station and boasts one of the greatest collections of impressionist and post-impressionist art in the world. Located across from the Louvre and Jardin des Tuileries, the Musée d’Orsay will allow for a full day of gallery viewing with ease. Just keep in mind that the Musée is closed on Mondays, so you won’t be able to snag a photo by the giant clock on the upper floor on that day of the week!
Musée de l’Orangerie
On the west corner of Jardin de Tuileries sits the Musée de l’Orangerie. This art museum is the permanent home of Claude Monet’s eight Water Lilies murals, which were donated by Monet himself and installed after the rooms they would be housed in were redesigned to be oval shaped.
Though Monet’s Nymphéas series may be the centerpiece, this museum also features works by Cézanne, Matisse, Modigliani, and Picasso. Admission is nine euro, but if you get there early in the morning, you can spend all day staring at Monet’s pastel beauties.
Opened in 1919, this museum is dedicated to sculptor Auguste Rodin. The museum is spread over two sites: the Hotel Biron in the heart of Paris, and at the Villa des Brilliants in Meudon — Rodin’s old home which lays just outside of the city.
The museum houses an astonishing collection of over 6,000 sculptures, 8,000 photographs, as many drawings, and 7,000 pieces of art, including his most famous pieces: The Thinker and The Kiss. The museum is open daily, except for Mondays, from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. A ticket costs 10 euros.
This iconic medieval Catholic cathedral is located on one of Paris’s two tiny islands in the Seine and has been the enduring subject of classic literature and film. Head to Île de la Cité in Paris’s fourth arrondissement and marvel in the intricate facade of the cathedral. If you look closely, you’ll even see its infamous protectors: ornately carved gargoyles.
The view from the top of the cathedral is breathtaking — figuratively and literally, as you’ll have to climb nearly 400 steps to the top. Admission to the church is free and the cathedral is open every day of the year from 7:45 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. — 7:15 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Step back in time when you pay a visit to Paris’s most beautiful opera house, Palais Garnier. Built between 1861 to 1875, the ornate building is a hallmark of Beaux-Arts and Baroque architecture and acts as a wonderland for photography enthusiasts.
Visitors will be stunned by the abundance of gold, chandeliers, and grand double staircases. This incredible theater is also said to be the inspiration for writer Gaston Leroux’s infamous “The Phantom of the Opera.” Admission starts at 8 euro, and visitors have the opportunity to select a tour with or without a guide.
La Basilique du Sacré-Coeur
This white-domed beauty sits at the summit of Montmartre, overlooking the rest of Paris. The Sacre-Coeur is a still-functioning Roman Catholic church, but also features one of the best views of the city. The free vantage point requires a 300-step journey to the top, though, so keep that in mind! The basilica is open from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. every day, and the dome is open from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. (May to September).
This beautiful church was constructed during the 13th century and is now considered one of the greatest feats of the Rayonnant Gothic period. The interior is a magical array of stained glass windows and golden supports. In fact, Sainte-Chapelle’s collection of stained glass is the largest in the world. Make sure to visit the Cathedral on a sunny day to experience the full effect of the colored glass. It’s only 10 euro to get in, and opening hours are extended during the summer.
Shakespeare and Company
This famous bookstore sits across from Notre Dame Cathedral on Paris’ Left Bank. Its worn green and yellow facade is well-known, and literature lovers from across the world flock to its shelves.
The bookstore has a long history — as Shakespeare & Co. is actually the name of two separate Parisian establishments. The first was opened by Sylvia Beach in 1919 and was the gathering place for aspiring writers of the Lost Generation during the 1920s. Beach’s shop closed during WWII and the second bookstore — the one we all know and love — was opened in 1951 by American George Whitman.
Head inside to pick out a book, or hang in the area outside to shoot some photos. The main shop is open every day of the week from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., and the bookstore often hosts events in the evenings.
Header image by Gizem Toker.