Welcome to MetroGuide Networks' overview of Paris-area attractions. The Greater Paris area is
full of attractions for all ages. Greater Paris, epitome of romance and gastronomy, and among
the world's renowned tourism destinations, spills over with historic landmarks, cultural
treasures and other gems. Classic “musts” include the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Arc de
Triomphe, yet those delights are only a start for exploring the City of Light. Adding to the
luster are vibrant street scenes with ample opportunity for shopping and people-watching,
especially from the vantage point of ubiquitous sidewalk cafes. From sunrise strolls along
the Seine to flea market sojourns, Paris attractions take myriad forms far beyond an abundance
of mere brick and mortar. For first-time visitors, guided tours can provide worthy introductions
to help establish priorities. Parisian neighborhoods such as Montmartre, where Toulouse-Lautrec
flourished, and Montparnnase, a favorite of Picasso and Hemingway, have their own fascinations.
Public transportation, especially the underground Paris Metro, makes it easy to get around to
many attractions and neighborhoods.
Below is a list of some suggested things to do in the Paris Metropolitan Area,
with links to more details when available. In addition to these attractions,
we also recommend walking and bus tours of different Parisian neighborhoods,
such as Montmartre where Toulouse-Lautrec flourished, and Montparnasse,
favorite of Picasso and Hemingway, where you will find other attractions
and historical landmarks too numerous to be listed here.
- Arc de Triomphe
First commissioned by Napolean in the early 1800s, this Arch at one end of the Champs-Elysses has come to be a world recognized symbol of French national pride. From the top observation deck you can get a great view of most of the famous museums and landmarks of central Paris, as well as the city's main boulevard. In the middle of a circle which connects the major arteries of Paris, the only way to get to the Arch without getting hit by a car is to use one of the underground walkways.
Place Charles-de-Gaulle-Etoile, 16e Phone: 01-43-80-31-31
- Basilique du Sacre-Coeur
The dome affords the best view of Paris, especially at night just as the lights are coming on. This 19th century cathedral also has an observation platform on the inside of the dome where you can get a full view of the church's interior.
Place St-Pierre 18e Phone: 01-42-51-17-02
- Les Catacombs
An attraction with limited appeal, but nonetheless one of the world's wonders, the Catacombs of Paris consist of almost a mile of illuminated dirt tunnels filled with human bones and skulls transposed for public health reasons from over-filled 18th century cemeteries. Also used by the French Resistance in the forties, the Catacombs have developed a mystique of their own, and are worth seeing while you are here, however briefly.
4850 1 place Denfert-Rochereau, 14e Phone: 01-43-22-47-63
- Cathedrale de Notre-Dame
At the center of the Parisian arrondissements is the famous Notre Dame Cathedral, around which Paris was built. Since the 1100s, Notre Dame has played an integral role in Parisian history, and is one of the oldest remaining structures in the city.
6 place du parvis Notre-Dame, 4e Phone: 01-42-34-56-10
- Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Chartres
If you have the time, it is well worth the less than 2 hour trip to see this medieval wonder of stained glass and iron sculpture. The Cathedral at Chartres contains some of the oldest surviving and most beautiful stained glass in the world, much of it dating back to the 1100s. There is so much to see here that one should allow at least a full day for the adventure. Sundays are especially popular because of the free afternoon organ concerts.
16 Cloitre Notre-Dame, Chartres Phone: 02-37-21-56-33
- Chateau de Versailles
The palace of Louis XIV, the Sun King, where the staff gathered to witness the levee of the rising monarch every morning, is a jaw-dropping excursion into the 17th century world of unbelievable opulence and ornamentation enjoyed by the royal class, which kept a safe distance from the squalor of their subjects in central Paris. You should allow a full day to see this grand siecle phenomenon, though you could spend many days there and still not see everything. Although only about 13 miles southwest of downtown Paris, plan to spend the entire day touring the palace, exotic vegetable, fruit and flower gardens, and enjoy dinner at one of the special neighboring restaurants. Keep your car at the hotel, and use one of the many convenient public transportation or hotel shuttle alternatives available.
Versailles, place d'Armes Phone: 01-30-84-74-00
- Cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise
Visit the graves of Oscar Wilde, John-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, legendary American songwriter Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Moliere, Proust, Chopin, lovers Abelard and Heloise from the 1100s, the Rothschild family, and countless other famous authors, artists, politicians and intellectual leaders collected in one highly spiritual and inspiring setting. Even Rin Tin Tin's grave is here, curiously adopted by the ever-present cats draped reverently across his monument. A visit to Pere-Lachaise is an essential element of your itinerary, and one you will never forget.
16 rue du Repos, 20e Phone: 01-43-70-33
- Disneyland Paris
Despite its American roots, Disneyland Paris is the paradigm of European amusement parks. This 5,000 acre resort, one-fifth the size of Paris itself, is just 20 miles to the east from downtown Paris, and if you start early and allow yourself a full day, you can see a good bit of it. Your concierge can help you select from a variety of public transportation and hotel shuttle alternatives, or if you prefer, you can enjoy one of the excellent theme hotels right at the resort.
Marne-la-Vallee Phone: 01-64-74-30-00
- Les Egouts de Paris
The underground sewers of Paris have become one of the more sophisticated arrays of conduit for drinking water, waste, telephone and pneumatic tube systems in the world. This over 1,300 mile network of alphanumerically coded arteries is an engineering as well as logical marvel. Short tours and an educational program are provided, and the experience is well worth a couple of hours on your itinerary.
Tours start at: Pont d'Alma, 7e (Left Bank) Phone: 01-47-05-10-29
- Foret de Fontainebleau
A little more than a half-hour's drive south of Paris will bring you to Napolean's former palace and the old hunting grounds of French royalty. Fans of nineteenth century French history will find their treasure here, as well as many furnishings and personal effects of Napolean and his era. Even with lunch at one of the local restaurants, the whole adventure can be done in about half a day.
Fontainebleau, place d'Armes Phone: 01-60-74-99-99
- Marche Buci
In the gastronomical capital of the world, you must see where the best chefs of Paris weigh, squeeze, sniff and taste their produce and meats. If you are fortunate enough to have cooking facilities at your hotel, you cannot do better than to obtain your ingredients here, at this famous open-air market. Just take the Metro, stop at St-Germain-des-Pres, and you will see it.
Rue de Buci, 6e Phone: 01-42-51-17-02
- Musee du Louvre
The world's most famous works of art live here, including the Mona Lisa, the statute of Venus de Milo, the ancient Winged Victory, and thousands of other priceless works many of which originally were collected privately by French royalty throughout history and donated to the museum. You will not be able to see everything, not even in several trips on multiple visits to Paris, but your experience will be better if you research ahead of time just a few things you would like to see, then check with your concierge to see which times would be best for avoiding the crowds, so you can have a more leisurly time of it.
34-36 quai du Louvre Phone: 01-40-20-53-17
- Parc Zoologique de Paris
The best way to get to one of the great zoos of Europe is by Metro, which has its own stop here. This is a habitat-style zoo, no cages, and offers a great opportunity to see wild animals truly at home. Many activities, children's programs and refreshment alternatives in the area also augment the experience, well worth a day's investment.
Bois de Vincennes, 53 avenue de St-Maurice, 12e Phone: 01-44-75-20-00
- Place de Pigalle
The 9th arrondissement spans the spectrum of French popular entertainment culture, from brassy to elegant, that defines a world famous part of the unique Parisian experience. Place de Pigalle, termed "Pig Alley" by the American soldiers present during the Allied Liberation, includes everything from the more lurid strip clubs to the famous Folies Bergere and the legendary Opera Garnier. Many of the world's famous entertainers have performed in at least one of these venues, notable poets and painters have frequented the sidewalk cafes, and you can trace their steps while you absorb a lot of the history and spirit of Parisian popular culture by spending an afternoon or evening there.
- La Tour Eiffel
For years the tallest structure in the world, this engineering marvel affords a view of over 40 miles, weather permitting, and includes a movie theater, restaurants and a bar. Built originally in 1899 as a temporary exhibition structure, the Eiffel Tower remained when Paris discovered its utility as a city-wide communications tower.
Champs-de-Mars, 7e Phone: 01-44-11-23-23