Paris Pictures, France 2017-07-20T20:01:43+00:00

Paris Pictures, France

A nude statue in Tuileries Gardens, Paris, France

Take a walk in the Jardin des Tuileries, next to the Louvre Museum. Nude by Aristide Maillol.

Paris Pictures: Top Ten  Attractions

Paris is the most visited city in the world and deserves the attention because it’s stunning, stylish and sensual, with a dramatic past and a buoyant present, even if France’s economic status generally is questionable thanks to weak and short-sighted politicians.
Paris is a seductive place of grand structures, world-beating museums, attractive walks, spacious gardens and fine eating in both large and small establishments – all tied together by an efficient public transport system.

See our Paris Map for the location of the sights listed below.

Note: To avoid lining up for most Paris attractions

Tourists need to do just two things:
a) buy a Museum Pass online, at a tourist office or at some museum that has short lines such as Sainte-Chapelle that is conveniently located between the Louvre and Notre Dame.
b) arrive as close as possible to opening time, usually at 9am.

Louvre central plaza, Paris, France

The Louvre is generally considered to be one of the world’s top three museums.

You are likely to be overwhelmed by its sheer size and crowds, but Paris’ Louvre museum is well worth the trouble to come face to face with some of the world’s most celebrated antiquities and art in a spectacular building.
Smart visitors will line up first thing in the morning with tickets already in hand, get a free plan/info and aim to see only specific targets. For instance, if you are there as a beginner essentials such as the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace will be at the top of your hit list.

notre dame gallerie gargoyles, paris, france

Magnificent interior sights and exterior views.

The Cathédrale Notre Dame (Cathedral of Our Lady) has been at the heart of Paris since its foundation in 1163. It’s on an island in the Seine River, Ile de la Cité and the distance from Paris to any place in France is measured from this cathedral. Both worshippers and sight-spotting travellers come from all over the world to soak in the aura of this masterpiece of French Gothic architecture.
Notre Dame is also free to enter (but get your timing right unless you don’t mind a long wait) and offers lots of interesting sights, inside and out.

Sainte-Chapelle entrance hall, paris, france

Downstairs is colourful but upstairs is like walking into a kaleidoscope!

This little Gothic masterpiece was built by Louis IX in 1248, originally to house holy relics (which are now nearby in the Notre Dame cathedral).
The Upper Chapel is surrounded by brilliant 13th century stained glass windows, almost floor to ceiling, creating an explosion of coloured light. The glass images depict scenes from the Bible from Adam and Eve to the Crucifixion, though they are difficult to pick out. If you wish to study the glass detail bring binoculars.

champs-elysees seen from top of arc de triomphe at night, paris, france

Avenue des Champs Elysées is the central boulevard in the photo. Twelve busy roads converge around the Arc without any form of control! It’s madness, but it works. Only in France!

The Champs-Elysées stretches from the obelisk at the Place de la Concorde roundabout (which is at one end of the Jardin Tuileries, which is at one end of the Louvre Museum. . . ) straight to the Arc de Triomphe.
A stroll from the Louvre to the Arc is an unwavering line of about 3 kilometres (almost 2 miles); if you care to continue straight on to La Défense it’ll be another 3 kilometres.

eiffel tower seen from champ de mars, paris, france

Crowded and endless lines in season, but you’ve got to stand underneath it at least! Views can be almost as good elsewhere, such as the Pantheon or Notre Dame.

Straddling the well-trodden grass of Champ de Mars, this symbol of Paris was the world’s tallest building – at 321m – when it was built for the Exposition Universelle (World Fair) in 1889.

The Eiffel Tower is famous for its panoramic views and infamous for long lines for the lifts.

To avoid queuing/lining up for the Eiffel Tower

Buy your tickets online for a specific half-hour time slot, up to one month before your intended trip at Tour-Eiffel website. Print out the ticket then get to the entry just 10 minutes before your time and look for priority boarding.

Busy times on the tower are 10am-12 noon and 2pm to 4 pm so try to avoid those times as there will still be a line for the upper lift. Try the shorter queue for night sights, or walk up the stairs to the platforms on the first (57m) or second (115m) levels for very fit visitors.

From the top over 60km distance may be visible on a clear day, and the best time is at dusk.

There is a bistro on the first level and a restaurant on the second. The Tower is open everyday until 11pm, or until midnight in the summer.

Very nearby is the visually stunning Quai Branly Museum of exotic artifacts.

hotel des invalides sword display, Paris, France.html

A massive military complex that encompasses two areas of interest to visitors, Napoleon’s tomb and a spectacular museum of gorgeous killing devices, regalia and French military history.

The Hôtel des Invalides (Hôtel in French means much the same as as the grand form of ‘House’ in British English) was built under Louis XIV in the 17th century to house wounded French soldiers.

It’s now mainly military offices and an extensive Military Museum, the Musée de l’Armée, but also houses Napoleon’s tomb directly under the dazzling church dome which was gilded by order of the Sun King Louis XIV in 1715 – a long time before the appearance of Napoleon.

The Panthéon, Paris, France

Finished in 1790 and looking somewhat between Rome’s Pantheon and London’s St Paul’s, Paris’ Pantheon has been a church, a mausoleum and is now a kind of museum/gallery, with some wonderful frescoes, statues, a tomb or two, a bizarre pendulum clock right in the centre (Foucault’s Pendulum) and views over Paris that outshine the Sacré Coeur, though not the Eiffel Tower, of course, if you have the patience to get to the top.

Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France

The Pompidou Centre, displaying modern and contemporary arts in the Musée National d’Art Moderne, in addition to space for shops, library and cinema, attracts more than 25, 000 people a day, not only for its avante-garde building style and excellent temporary exhibitions, but also to savour the colourful and wacky street action around the building.

Orsay Museum, Paris, France

Previously a railway station, the Musée d’Orsay was saved from demolition and turned into one of the Paris’ finest museums. It is now home for a superb collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings.

Most visitors come to see the masterpieces by Degas, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Monet and Renoir among others, though these top floor rooms are a bit cramped.

Other key works are found in the airy sculpture gallery on the ground floor, or Rodin sculptures and an Art Nouveau collection on the middle floor. There’s a great view over the river Seine from the open-air terrace.

Photos are not allowed inside the building and the museum is closed on Mondays.

To avoid queuing (lining up) for literally hours, the best option is to buy a museum pass

Alternatively

– get advance tickets from the Musee d’Orsay website or from Paris branches of the French department store FNAC.

Entry is not timed so it’s best to get to priority-access door C (on the right of the main entrance) at opening time, 9. 30 a. m, then head directly to your main targets, especially if they are the busy impressionist galleries.

Try visiting the Orsay on Thursday evening when they open till 9. 45pm.

See also: Louvre and Pompidou Centre pages.

Sacré Coeur, church, Paris, France

Sacré Coeur was undoubtedly the bugcrew’s least favourite major Paris attraction for a number of reasons, and tourist numbers was the least of them

– The approach street was dirty, tacky and housed the least friendly service personnel in Paris.
– the route further up involved dealing with unusually aggressive souvenir vendors.
– the Sacré Coeur had little of interest inside but even so did not permit photos (Notre Dame and Ste Chapelle both do).
– the patio outside the church was filthy.
– the much vaunted panorama was useless compared to the Notre Dame, Pantheon and of course the Eiffel Tower (though we were too late to book a quick trip to the top and too impatient to wait in line, so we didn’t go up the tower). From the church terrace the view reveals a mere 90 degrees of nothing (see below).

Don’t bother with Sacré Coeur, there are better things to do in Paris!

Speed up use of trains or buses and reduce costs with a carnet

Paris sights are thickly clustered around the central Seine River region so visitors who like walking and manage to find accommodation on the left bank near Notre Dame, for example (which is relatively inexpensive), will find that they rarely need to use the Metro, let alone hop in a taxi – which are expensive.

Most tourists will stay within Zones 1 and 2, the 20 arrondissements (districts) of Paris and will find a metro station within a very few hundred meters of anywhere.

There are many complex systems to keep costs down when using the Metro, RER rail network and bus systems which cover the city thoroughly. Normal tourists spending a few days or even a couple of weeks will be well satisfied with a simple carnet (pron: ‘carnay’) of 10 tickets for 12 euros, as opposed to an individual ticket for 1. 7 euros. Use them anytime.

More information on other multi-use transport passes

Paris weather

Best: April-July, September, October, with average highs of 15C-25C (59F-77F) and lows of 7C-14C (44F-57F) but rapidly changeable conditions. Christmas is luminous with romance and decorative lights and January hot for bargains in the sales.

Not so good: August when the weather is likely to be fine but may be over-heated, will be over-crowded and – oddly but so French – many places are closed and staff are on holiday! C’est la vie ici.

January – February will be cool with average daytime highs of 7C (45F) and lows of zero to 2C (36F), but short daylight hours and probably miserably wet weather.
Rain makes a regular appearance but less so in the summer months.

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