You’ll fall in love with the City of Love. 😍
Paris quite literally holds the key to my heart. In June of 2019, my now-fiancé, Ferdy, proposed to me at the top of the Eiffel Tower during our summer trip to Paris. Now, when I think back to our time in Paris, I always smile and fondly reminisce about our whirlwind trip there.
Every morning, Ferdy and I would wake and enjoy some of the most delicious, buttery croissants before heading out for the day to explore Paris, strolling along the old streets and admiring the breathtaking, centuries-old architecture. Filled with so much history and charm, no wonder they call it the City of Love, because you just fall in love with how beautiful the city is.
During our trip, Ferdy and I visited so many amazing sites, including the famous Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, both of which offer some of the most spectacular views of the city.
There certainly is a lot to do in the City of Love—from museum-touring and shopping to cemetery-perusing and district-exploring—and there’s no way to possibly get to it all in one trip, so I’ve rounded up some of my favorites from Ferdy’s and my trip to help you plan for your trip to Paris.
So, without further ado, here is The Colorventurer’s Guide to Paris!
Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel)
One of the most visited tourist attractions in the world, the Eiffel Tower is an absolute must-see on any trip to Paris. Visitors can walk up to the first floor or take the elevator up to the very top, where you will be treated to breathtaking panoramic views of the city. While there can certainly be long lines to visit the Eiffel Tower, especially during the peak season during the summer, it’s worth waiting to get to the top.
While you’re standing at the top of the tower looking at the various arrondissements of the city, it’s hard to believe that, around the time it was constructed, many Parisians viewed this architectural marvel to be an eyesore. The Eiffel Tower was designed and constructed for the 1889 World’s Fair and was actually meant to be a temporary structure but ended up avoiding demolition. In the early 1900s, Gustav Eiffel, chief architect of the Eiffel Tower, had scientific experiments ran on the tower to see if its life could be prolonged, including a wireless transmissions test, which the tower passed. The Eiffel Tower’s transmission capabilities were put to great use during World War I.
It’s also worth visiting the Eiffel Tower at night, because every hour on the hour, thousands of flickering light bulbs make the Eiffel Tower sparkle. One night, Ferdy and I ventured to the Eiffel Tower, sat in the green space in front of the landmark and were left in complete awe when the lights turned on.
You can save time and book your tickets in advance online. If you are a young traveler under the age of 24, make sure to opt for the youth rate as the prices are half that of the adult rate!
Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe, the largest of its kind in the world, is an impressive sight to behold with its intricately carved sculptures. The arch was commissioned by Napoleon to honor the Grande Armee during the Napoleonic Wars, and underneath the Arc, you can see the names of battles fought during the first French Republic and Napoleon’s Empire and generals who fought in them. You can also find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which signifies all the unidentified or unaccounted for soldiers who lost their lives during World War I. The flame that was lit as the soldier was laid to rest in the 1920s has never extinguished with a member of the armed forces rekindling the flame each night at 6:30 p.m.
Aside from admiring the arch, you can actually climb to the top to take in even more incredible views of the city. The trek up the hundreds of stairs to the top can be a serious workout—trust me, I know—but it is worth every bit of the struggle. The Parisian panorama is absolutely spectacular, including the sight of the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
Again, if you are a young traveler, make sure to take advantage of the discounted rates to see this incredible landmark.
The Louvre (Musée du Louvre)
If you’re only able to see one museum during your time in Paris, please let it be the Musée du Louvre. Once you’ve visited the Louvre, it’s easy to see why it is one of the best and most visited art museum in the world. Featuring a total of 35,000 works of art, there is a wide variety of art from different time periods and cultures to see, including Egyptian mummy tombs and ancient Grecian sculptures like the Winged Victory of Smothrace and Venus de Milo. You can also get a glimpse at one of the world’s most famous paintings, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” (though beware of the long lines that can form to see the masterpiece).
It can be a bit overwhelming feat to see all of the works of art in the 650,000 square feet gallery space (it’s said that it would take you around 200 days to see each of the 35,000 works of art on display at the museum if you took only 30 seconds to see each and every piece), so I highly recommend you strategize and select which works of art you would like to see ahead of time and grab a map at the museum to easily find those pieces.
Even if you don’t necessarily have any works of art you’d like to particularly see, just being in the Louvre is a wonder enough. Before the Louvre became an art museum, it served as a royal residence for a number of French powers, including Louis XIV. It was after Louis XIV left the Louvre for Versailles that it transformed into a museum.
While at the museum, make sure to marvel at the glass Louvre Pyramid, designed by Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei, in the main courtyard of the Louvre Palace.
Save time in line so you can spend more time in the museum by securing your tickets online in advance.
Notre Dame Cathedral (Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris)
Like the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame Cathedral is a Parisian icon. Located along the River Seine, the Notre Dame Cathedral is considered a Gothic masterpiece and is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world.
The cathedral has such intricate architectural details including the carefully carved statues that blend seamlessly into the front facade. Unfortunately, the Notre Dame Cathedral sustained significant damage as a result of a fire on April 15, 2019 and its iconic wooden roof and spire collapsed. Visitors are unable to venture into the famous cathedral due to the damage, but its historical significance and beauty still make it a must-visit, including the fact that its construction began in the late 10th century and it was not completed until nearly 200 years later.
Stop by the front plaza to get a look at the beautiful front entrance of the cathedral.
Paris Catacombs (Les Catacombes de Paris)
If you want a less romantic and more creepy look at Paris, make sure to visit the Catacombs. The Catacombs stretch for miles all over the city, but visitors are only able to see a mile’s worth of the tunnels in a 45-minute tour. (Accessing any other parts of the Catacombs are illegal.) Eery and chilling, the skull-and-bone lined tunnels beneath Paris offer a unique story into the city’s departed.
Prior to the Catacombs being built in the 18th century, deceased Parisians were buried in cemeteries, but were quickly being inundated as the city continued to grow. As cemeteries ran out of space and graves were becoming exposed, the limestone quarries beneath the city became the new burial ground, providing ample space to safely lay bodies to rest. From 1787 to 1814, 6 million bodies were transferred from the parochial cemeteries of Paris to the Catacombs.
Make sure to opt for the audio guide at the Catacombs so you can learn more about the history during your visit there.
Flowing through the heart of the City of Love, the Seine River is perhaps one of the most famous waterways in the world. Not only does the river serve as a breathtaking photo backdrop, it is a great way to familiarize yourself with the city. Ferdy and I took a river cruise one evening to get a new viewpoint of the city and to check out where some of the sights were wanted to see were. Plus, a cruise along the Seine River can be romantic, especially when the Eiffel Tower’s lights turned on during our tour.
During your trip, make sure to take a stroll along the banks of the river. There you can find Parisians gathering for meals or even selling locally handmade goods.
Statue of Liberty, Pont de Grenelle
When traveling to Paris, you probably expect to see the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, but the Statue of Liberty? That’s right—located in the middle of the Seine River, you will find a Statue of Liberty! (And if you’re a fan of the National Treasure movies, this is the Statue of Liberty shown in the second film!)
Sitting on the southern end of Île aux Cygnes, an artificial island built in the Seine in 1827, this quarter-scale replica was given to the city of Paris by the American community in the city to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution. The statue was given as a gift to highlight the historically close bond between France and the United States and reaffirm the dedication of the two nations to their republican ideals.
This Statue of Liberty was installed approximately three years after the New York Statue of Liberty, and was, in fact, originally one of the working models made while preparing to construct the one in New York.
It is free to visit the Statue of Liberty.
Umbrella Sky Project at Le Village Royal
A world-famous installation by the Portuguese artist, Patricia Cunha, the Umbrella Sky Project has had a few installations at Le Village Royal in the 8th arrondissement. The 18th century Parisian passage, which now houses a multitude of luxury boutiques, has been filled with a bold and vibrant installation suspended above visitors’ heads. In an effort to bring color and joy to cities, the Umbrella Sky Project installed an abundance of colorful umbrellas above the shopping center.
When Ferdy and I visited, there was a rainbow of hundreds of colorful umbrellas brightening up the sky and it was such an amazing sight to see! It was a fun, Instagramable spot in Paris besides all of the major tourist destinations. In a subsequent installation after we visited, there were hundreds of umbrellas in various shades of pink.
If you’re heading to Paris, check to see if there is a current installation that you can visit!
I hope you add some of these amazing sights to your itinerary for your trip to Paris!
Which landmarks are you most excited to see? Let me know in the comments below!
After visiting these impressive tourist locations, I’m sure Paris will hold the key to your heart, too.