Located at the center of the Île-de-France region, Paris rests within a depression hollowed out by the Seine River. Renowned for its diverse range of agricultural riches, the city is known as the Paris Basin and is one of eight départements of the Île-de-France administrative region. The city’s geography spans from heights of 430 feet in Montmartre in the north to 85 feet in Grenelle in the southwest. These multitudinous elevations contribute to its socio-cultural roots, with Paris being an unrivaled source of commerce and culture throughout France.
Paris is known for its world-class attractions and cultural offerings. Business, education, culture, and entertainment all thrive in this metropolitan center that also serves as a hub for finance, fashion, and art. The city’s restaurants draw diners to experience Parisian gastronomy, while connoisseurs of haute couture covet its shopping establishments.
The Eiffel Tower (The Iron Lady)
Sitting 324 meters tall, the Eiffel Tower is a stirring sight to behold. With its iconic iron framework and sophisticated carbon-fiber aerials, take a ride to the top, where visitors can appreciate awe-inspiring 360° panoramic views of Paris beneath them. On the second level, you can explore Gustave Eiffel’s former office and drawing room, or if it’s nighttime, admire the city sparkling with glittering streetlights. For extra indulgence, head up to the third floor for chilled Champagne and beautiful views at sunset. It’s no wonder why even today, it’s still one of Paris’s most treasured monuments.
France’s National Art Gallery and Museum
No matter what kind of art you are interested in, the Louvre has something for everyone. Its vast collections span over 350,000 objects and 35,000 works of art from different cultures and eras. Exhibits range from paintings to sculptures, archaeological finds to drawings, making it one of the largest museums in the world. Touring its 60,600 square meters of space is no small feat, so you should consider getting a map and an audio guide before beginning your exploration. With some planning, you can make the most of your visit to this iconic former royal palace-turned-museum.
Fashion Capital of the World
For over three centuries, Paris has earned its status as the world fashion capital for its unwavering commitment to high-end fashion. At the heart of its exquisite offerings lies Paris Fashion Week, one of the world’s most celebrated and prestigious fashion events. It houses today’s greatest designers, including Balenciaga, Céline, Chanel, Chloe, Dior, Givenchy, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Louis Vuitton, and Yves Saint Laurent. These mainstays are augmented by influential newcomers like Hermès and Lanvin jumping onto the scene. The concept of haute couture originated in Paris and is still alive there due to its impeccable attention to detail.
The City of Love
The evolution of Parisian women in society has had a regulating impact on the city, transforming it from its reputation as the European Brothel to its modern image as the City of Love. The revolution was spearheaded by women’s increasing emancipation and presence in public places. People began to marry for love instead of convenience, creating a more romantic atmosphere for the citizens. This energizing spirit spilled into the public square, impacting architecture, art, and culture in unforeseen ways. The wide avenues and elegant buildings were romanticized by artists, while popular French dining options provided a charming backdrop for love to flourish.
Relive Belle-Epoque Era in All Its Glory
It’s no surprise that Parisian cabarets are some of the most sought-after nightlife experiences in the world. Founded in 1889, Le Moulin Rouge remains one of the city’s premier cabarets. Its original architecture, topped by a towering windmill, makes it hard to miss. Here, patrons can enjoy an energetic dinner show known as “Féerie” and take in the culture as they marvel at performers clad in dazzling costumes and witness enthralling modern and traditional dance sequences. For those looking for other renowned locations, Crazy Horse, Lido, and Paradis Latin are just some of the many other cabarets throughout the Belle Epoque district.
Home to the Mona Lisa
The Mona Lisa, renowned for its mysterious smile and enigmatic expression, is one of the world’s best-known artworks. It is also regarded as the greatest portrait ever painted in history. Painted by Leonardo da Vinci sometime between 1503 and 1506, it was originally part of the collection of the French Court. Upon Leonardo’s death, it was left to his apprentice, Salai, who sold it to a representative of King François I. After the French Revolution, the Mona Lisa became officially recognized as the property of the Republic, thus finding its current refuge inside Paris ‘Louvre Museum.
The Most Visited Theme Park in Europe
Disneyland Paris promises an incredible experience every time. It is located 40 minutes outside the city center. This theme park is the most visited in Europe. It offers an abundance of rides, attractions, and activities suitable for all ages. Disneyland Paris is home to incredible features such as ‘The Ratatouille: The Adventure’ 4D Ride and a range of Pixar, Disney, and Star Wars-themed experiences. The park is also much more compact yet just as magical as Disney World, thoughtfully designed to be more easily managed with two much smaller parks than other U.S-based locations.
Birthplace of Decadent Desserts and Dreamy Patisserie
Paris is home to the world’s best-known desserts and has truly taken dessert crafting to a new level. Thanks to its profound pastry heritage, Paris has established itself as the de facto capital for all things dessert. From creating delicate confections for palace banquets to catering for renowned Michelin-starred restaurants, Parisian artisan patisseries have artfully mastered the art of creating masterful desserts such as creme brulee, choux pastry, croissant, and Tarte Tatin. Famous dessert spots such as Laduree, Jacques Genin, and Hugo are a testament to the enduring legacy of Parisian desserts that will continue enchanting foodies worldwide.
Palace of Versailles, a Great Achievement in 17th Century Art
One of the most prominent attractions near Paris is the Palace of Versailles. This immense complex of palatial buildings has been listed as a World Heritage Site for 40 years. It has been an international symbol of French grandeur since Louis XIV declared it his primary residence in the 17th century. Today, the palace boasts over 20 splendid formal gardens with over 372 statues, 600 fountains, 55 water features, and an impressive supply of breathtaking topiary set between eucalyptus trees, winding trails, and majestic lawns.
Paris’ Luxurious and Eclectic Shopping Scene
No other city can make a luxury shopping spree as enjoyable as Paris. It’s the home to renowned designer fashion houses like Yves Saint Laurent and Coco Chanel that stay on-trend year after year. While purchasing new designer clothing is an obvious highlight, vintage lovers will want to explore the hidden gems in second-hand stores and rare finds at bargain prices. Whether you’re looking for a classic item for your wardrobe, accessories, jewelry, shoes, or even handbags, you’ll be able to find it in Paris. Locals flock for their luxurious shopping fix in popular spots such as Rue de la Paix, and Boulevard Saint-Germain.
Paris’ Intangible Culinary Heritage
Paris isn’t just a renowned center of art and fashion and boasts an intricate culinary heritage. Every meal produced in Paris is packed with flavor, from cafe snacks to haute-cuisine classics. This is due, in part, to skillfully adapted techniques like sautéing, poaching, braising, and flambéing. These methods unlock the appetizing character of ingredients featuring heavily in classic Parisian dishes such as steak frites at Relais de l’Entrecote, French onion soup at Pie de Cochon, and the classic sandwich jambon-beurre at Petit Vendome.
Art Lovers’ Paradise
Discovering art in Paris is a treat, with glorious museums and galleries dotted around the city to explore. Given the country’s long history of art, seeking out some of France’s most renowned artists is a great way to appreciate their creativity and innovation. If you’re keen to learn more about famous French artists, visit Eugène Delacroix’s groundbreaking Romantic style. Also worth exploring are Edgar Degas’ stunning paintings of ballet dancers and Auguste Rodin’s modernized sculptures. And who could forget Claude Monet, the famous French impressionist who changed the face of landscape painting?
The Epicenter of the French Capital
The iconic Seine River is one of Europe’s longest-standing waterways and has played an important role in the culture and commerce of France for centuries. Starting in Dijon, 18 miles northwest of Paris, it pushes through the capital city on its winding journey west to Le Havre. The 485-mile-long river provides half of the water used in Paris and is well known for its picturesque scenes along its banks, which acclaimed impressionist painters like Monet and Renoir have captured. It also serves as a major transportation route for commercial barges to other parts of Europe.
The City of Light
Paris is a vibrant, luminous city with an exciting, innovative history. Its nickname, The City of Light, is rooted in the Enlightenment era when ideas around democracy, social reform, and philosophy flourished. It also refers to its pioneering use of gas street lighting on a grand scale. Nowadays, Paris has more than twice that number of light fixtures across its boulevards and monuments, an impressive 50,000, and an additional 33 bridges lit each night. All these illuminated features recreate old Paris’ essence of glamor and sparkle, thus living up to its title as the City of Light.
Paris’ Most Representative Visual Features
Paris is well-known for its stunning Haussmannian architecture, created in the mid-19th century under Napoleon III. Commissioner Baron Georges-Eugene Haussmann had an ambitious plan to modernize the city and expand its reach beyond tight medieval streets to accommodate a growing population. He brought light and air into the blocks of Paris with wide avenues and constructed majestic new buildings in Paris’ iconic Haussmann style. Haussmann also improved sewer systems, added public fountains, built parks, and unified buildings along street fronts. This magnificent architectural style of Paris resonates through time as a testament to his ambition and creativity.
Paris’ Enduring Café Culture
Paris’ café culture has a storied and romantic history that thus far has managed to stand the test of time. Cafés first appeared in Paris in the 1600s, with Café Procope emerging as one of the first establishments on record. What followed quickly embodied the city’s culture, with notable figures such as writers, intellectuals, and politicians gathering regularly at cafés for conversation, debate, and philosophical dialogue. Today, while much of Paris may have changed since its early years, café culture persists strongly.
World-Renowned Commemorative Monument
Standing at a towering 50 meters tall, the Arc de Triomphe is one of Paris’ most iconic monuments. Commissioned by Emperor Napoleon in 1806 at the end of his victorious Battle of Austerlitz, the arc symbolizes the military prowess and grandeur of France and its people, with names of great generals and French victories inscribed on its outer and inner walls. It also pays tribute to those who fought selflessly for France in the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. In addition, under its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the First World War.
World’s Most Beautiful Avenue
The legendary Avenue des Champs-Élysées is a sight that needs no introduction. This two-kilometer-long boulevard traces its roots to the 17th century, when André Le Nôtre, gardener to Louis XIV, transformed a swamp into one of the most desirable addresses in Paris. Today, the iconic strip is home to grand monuments like the Arc de Triomphe and landmarks like the Place de la Concorde. It is also a top destination for tourists and locals, with 300,000 visiting each day to explore its many parade grounds, luxury boutiques, restaurants, and cinemas.
The Most Famous Gothic Cathedral
Notre Dame de Paris is a famous landmark worldwide and has played an important role in France’s history. King Louis VII commissioned the Notre Dame Cathedral in the 12th century to showcase the power of Paris as a political, economic, intellectual, and cultural hub. This iconic cathedral quickly became a distinctive feature on the Paris skyline due to its two majestic towers.