The City of Love is known for its long boulevards, charming cafes, rich history, and its many famous sights. Visitors are drawn to the Eiffel Tower for photo opportunities and to learn about the city’s history. While the Eiffel Tower was an incredible architectural feat for its time, it’s only one of the many attractions the French capital has to offer.
Whether you love trying new bistros or learning about the city’s complex history, Paris has something for you. It’s easy to find ways to spend your days in this incredible city, but before you leave, here are five sights (besides the Eiffel Tower) that you won’t want to miss.
This enormous, sprawling museum is home to some of the greatest artwork in the world. Originally a palace, the Louvre is now the largest museum in the world, and the artwork in its collections covers almost 10,000 years of history.
The Pyramid, located in the main courtyard, is the main entrance to the museum. The Louvre Estate also includes two gardens, Carrousel and Tuileries, that you can explore once you’re ready for some fresh air.
Whether you’re interested in classic Greek art, Egyptian antiquities, paintings, Islamic Art, or portraiture (you’ll be able to see the Mona Lisa in person!), the Louvre has it all. At 17 euros, the price for admission is more than worth it.
Shakespeare and Company Bookstore
If you’re more interested in literature than visual art, then you can’t miss Shakespeare and Company Bookstore. The original store was founded in 1919 by Sylvia Beach and served as a gathering place for the great writers of the Lost Generation.
George Whitman, an ardent fan of Beach, opened his own bookstore and originally named it Le Mistral. In 1964 he changed the name to Shakespeare and Company to honor both Shakespeare and Sylvia Beach, who he greatly admired.
The current location on the Left Bank of the Seine is near Notre Dame Cathedral. A literary mecca, Shakespeare and Company bookstore is a can’t-miss sight for any visitor to Paris.
If you thought you saw enough grand architecture and opulence while you visited the Louvre, wait until you see Versailles. While this enormous estate is outside the city center of Paris, it’s more than worth the train ride and ticket price.
The Palace of Versailles dates back to the 1600s. Over the centuries, it has served many purposes. At first, it was built as a hunting lodge for nobility. Later, it became a seat of power. In the 1800s, it became a museum and it has served that function ever since.
The Palace of Versailles contains the palace itself, the gardens, the park, the Trianon Estate, and several buildings in town. With its gardens and park, it spreads across almost 2,000 acres. Famous for its many stunning architectural features, such as the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles teaches visitors about design, art, and history. Don’t leave France without visiting Versailles!
The Opera House at Palais Garnier
The Opera House might not make it on everyone’s must-see list, but its history and drama make it well worth the time. Its history stretches back centuries: in June of 1669 the Opera Academy was established, and in the decades after it was organized, performances began.
While the Paris Opera has inhabited several different buildings since its inception, the Palais Garnier is a sight that you don’t want to miss. It’s a masterpiece of architecture, and admission is well worth the 14 euros, which will also give you access to any current exhibitions.
For 6.50 euros, you can take a self-guided tour that will teach you about the history of the Palais Garnier over 90 minutes. You’ll learn about the ceiling from Marc Chagall and the building’s incredible architecture. It’s a must-see, especially if you’re interested in theater!
Notre Dame Cathedral
Of course, you can’t leave Paris without seeing the famous cathedral, which is the oldest sight on our list. The iconic cathedral dates back to the 1100s and is an iconic example of Gothic architecture. Its age and size set it apart from other examples of architecture from the Middle Ages.
Throughout history, kings (and emperors) were crowned at Notre Dame. Many know the cathedral from the movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which was based on Victor Hugo’s novel Notre Dame de Paris. It has appeared in other popular films such as An American in Paris, Amelie, and Midnight in Paris.
The cathedral has suffered damage throughout the centuries, but it has also been rescued, time and time again. Most recently, in April 2019 a fire broke out in the cathedral’s attic during a restoration campaign. Most of the roof was destroyed, and it was a devastating loss. The effort to repair it is ongoing.
You might go to Paris for the fashion, the food, or the music. But don’t leave the beautiful city without exploring a little of its history. No matter what your interests are, Paris has something for you.