10 classic Parisian attractions

There is so much to see in this city – so we made the task a little easier by listing the top ten

The Eiffel Tower

Who would have thought that one of the world’s seven wonders would be such a hated and unwanted blight on the Parisian sky when it first opened in 1889! Since then more than 220 million people have flocked towards Paris’ most iconic sight. There is a lift now that takes you up the 1,063-feet tower. Paris lies stretched out perfectly arranged into quarters and even on windy and rainy days, the view is overwhelming. If the weather holds, you should definitely try a night ride. When you are visiting Paris, staying close to the popular tourist attractions help you save travel time and plan your journey wisely. Check out the list of Hotels in Eiffel Tower and pick some hotel that offers all modern amenities and facilities.

The Louvre

What can you say about the world’s most mesmerising museum that hasn’t been said already! The fact that an hour, a day, a week, or even a month is not enough to explore the highlights? There are nearly 35,000 objects that are spread across an area of 6,52,300 sq ft. Of course, the museum’s most popular attraction is the Mona Lisa – a surprisingly small portraiture especially when compared to the hordes milling in front of it. But the best things do come in small packages and if you can elbow your way to the front you’ll understand first-hand the enigmatic appeal of this haunting painting. Remember it’s shut on Tuesdays. Are you inspired by the Dan Brown adventures and curious about the secrets Louvre holds? Well, you must check into one of the good hotels in Louvre Les Halles Palais Royal. Have a great night”s rest before heading to the great museum.

Jardin des Tuileries

On your way out of the Louvre, move towards the exit that takes you to the Jardin des Tuileries. You will pass an outlet of the superb chocolatier La Maison du Chocolade, so pick up a cup of hot chocolate. The garden is the best place for you to enjoy it. It’s located between the museum and the Place de la Concorde and on sunny days will be awash with families, couples and bookworms. Head to the Orangerie at the west end where Monet’s Water Lilies have been displayed and Rodin’s sculptures sit on its terrace. Book into any of the Hotels in 01e Arrondissement. Opt for a room with all modern amenities. Do online booking to enjoy some special discounts.

Sacre Coeur and Montmartre

The incredibly romantic twists and turns of the film Amelie would have turned Montmartre into a tourist paradise, if it wasn’t one already. The boho district was once home to workshops of Dali, Picasso, Monet, Mondrian and Van Gogh. Their legacy lives on in the makeshift studios that flank the streets with artists ready to whip out portraits and caricatures. The hill is topped by the Church of the Sacred Heart, another of Paris’ iconic landmarks. The church commands a fantastic view of the city, and if you can, try and make it for evening mass to hear the choir.

The Latin Quarter

It’s easy to imagine that this is where fashion is born – the edgy residents of the Latin Quarter are not your run-of-the-mill haute couture Dior-totting specialists. Instead it’s a hip, student-peopled area with a great selection of bars dotting the neighbourhood. It was once the intellectual centre of the city, named after the fact that people spoke Latin here on the streets. Today, alongside churches there are underground clubs, quaint bookshops and tons of reasonably priced restaurants.

The catacombs

While the city shines in the splendour of sublime art and architecture poking out of nooks and crannies, it belies a rather macabre history that lies buried underneath. The Catacombs of Paris offer a fascinating experience. The 200-mile network of tunnels is filled with the skulls and bones of around six million people! Most of it is out of bounds for the public. It’s the reason why Paris cannot have any tall buildings, as the foundations will not stand with the catacombs. The Les Catacombs de Paris conducts tours that you can sign up for online. Worth a visit if you’re made of sterner stuff.

Musee D”Orsay

What was originally a railway station today houses the best of the world’s modern art – Impressionist and Post Impressionist works of Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin and Van Gogh. The incredible interiors and fabulous play of light makes the viewing an ethereal experience. The paintings here are not the only draw. If you can bear to tear yourself away from them, head to the fifth floor balcony for yet another breathtaking view of the city.

Centre Pompidou

This rather intimidating structure of steel and glass is also home to the largest museum of modern art in Europe. The offbeat structure is as much an ode to the postmodern aesthetic of architecture as it is a celebration of the works that were once considered ‘odd’ even in their own times. The museum houses masterpieces by Dali, Warhol, Ernst, Pollock, Klee, Lichtenstein, Munch, Kandinski and more. The Place Georges Pompidou is the space in front of the museum that’s become a stage for street performances and even skateboarding competitions.

Père Lachaise Cemetery

If you can subdue the usual gamut of horror stories that accompany cemeteries, you will find them to be some of the more beautiful spots on the planet. Of these the Père Lachaise Cemetery is a particularly gorgeous one – immaculately maintained and ‘peopled’ with some pretty famous names. Getting a plot here is now almost impossible, there are very few left and the waiting lists for them can stretch into decades. Visitors here flock to Oscar Wilde’s tomb, now encased in glass to prevent women lipstick kisses as a tribute to the author. Edith Piaf’s is often covered in red roses and music fans pay homage to Jim Morrison by leaving behind poems.

Notre Dame Cathedral

The Catholic cathedral of Notre Dame is an imposing sight in all its Gothic splendour. Visitors are immediately drawn to the gargoyles, the buttresses (they made their debut with this cathedral) and of course the rose window, the beautiful stained-glass circular marvel. The 10 bells of Notre Dame are a particular feature ringing in time and important events (the main and largest, Emmanuel rang out the news of the liberation in 1944). Visiting the cathedral is a truly humbling experience, the vaulted arches and facades are remarkable feats of art and architecture. Don’t miss the sound and light show in the evening. Check timings of flights to Paris and opt one that suits your schedule. Enjoy special seasonal discounts online.

CNT Insider Tip:

And of course the food – there are more than 66 Michelin star restaurants in the city – but that shouldn’t intimidate you. Picking up a baguette, a platter of cheese and a bottle of wine will do just as nicely for a meal, especially when you’re free to sprawl at a public garden and tuck in. For dessert head to Ladurée or Pierre Hermé, for novelty macarons like caramel and sea salt at the former and rose at the latter.