Paris has a timeless familiarity for first-time and frequent visitors, with instantly recognizable architectural icons, along with exquisite cuisine, chic boutiques and priceless artistic treasures. We've put together a bunch of top attractions in Paris to take the guesswork out of your next trip. Enjoy!
1. Musée d'Orsay
The Musée d'Orsay is home to France's national collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Art Nouveau works. Its richness and marvels make it one of the most culturally important museums in the world.
The Musée d'Orsay is housed in the stunning Beaux-Arts style Gare d'Orsay railway station on the left bank of Paris's River Seine. It's rich in history, both in the works that are hung on its walls, and through the grandeur of the building itself.
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The Musée d'Orsay's collection includes excellent examples of French art from 1848-1914, including many of the most significant Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings ever created. Significant and stunning works by painters including Gauguin, Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, and Van Gogh.
2. Louvre Museum
Grand Old Dame of art museums, the Louvre's collection ranges from Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Greek antiquities to masterpieces by artists such as da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Rembrandt. With 35,000 artworks it's a big and worthwhile commitment.
The Louvre is of the world’s largest and most authoritative museums. Its magnificent Classical silhouette is a familiar sight in the center of Paris. The collection focuses on two important eras in art history; Art and Craftwork from ancient civilizations (especially those that laid the foundation for Western art) and Western European Art from the Middle Ages to 1848 or so (later art can be found at the Musée d’Orsay).
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This famous museum began as a palace, bearing the personal art collections of French kings. Art first went on display here under the initiative of the royal academy in 1725 but it wasn't until 1793 - during the French Revolution - that it opened as a public art gallery (not a coincidence).
3. Centre Pompidou
Much maligned when it first opened, it took people some time to realize that the Centre Pompidou wasn’t a monster, it was simply new. Radically new. It’s fitting that this rule-breaking building hosts so many iconoclastic modern masterpieces. Skip the line and get right into a building that wears its innards on its exterior.
Slap bang in the middle of Paris, the Centre Pompidou is best described as a building turned inside-out. Utilitarian features like plumbing, air vents, and cables form part of the external façade and it’s all rendered in see-through glass.
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That sets the stage for the groundbreaking art inside. Start on the top floor and take in the various isms: Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism, Dadaism, and Surrealism, all laid out chronologically over the course of the 20th century. Along the way you’ll see works by Picasso, Man Ray, Chagall and many, many more.
4. Arc De Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is a Neoclassical take on the ancient Roman triumphal arch style. 50 m tall, the view from the platform atop the arch is well worth the hike. You'll see all of the dozen Parisian avenues radiating out from it into the City of Light. Paris is one of the most fascinating places in the world, and you're at the center.
Inspired by the great arches of ancient Rome, Napoleon commissioned the Arc de Triomphe shortly after his victory at Austerlitz. Unfortunately, he never lived to see its completion, but that's what happens when you design something so elaborate: relief sculptures at the base of each of the four pillars, ornate soldiers in a frieze around the top, plus the names of 128 battles and 558 generals. It took thirty years, but was well worth it.
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Standing atop the arch is worth the 284 stairs. From 50 m up, you can survey all of Paris. Unlike the obligatory Eiffel Tower trip, getting into the Arc de Triomphe is an effort not all tourists undertake.
5. Musee National Picasso-Paris
The Musée Picasso in Paris has an incredible collection of over five thousand works of art. Dedicated to one of the most well-known artists of the 20th century, this spectacular 17th-century hôtel particulier is filled to the brim with iconic modern masterpieces by Pablo Picasso - as well as works that he collected.
Picasso used materials in a way that had never been used before, inspiring artists who came after to follow in his paintsteps. His singular style inspired movements such as Futurism and Dadaism. And this museum showcases the range and depth of his work.
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In the same way that Picasso reveled in mixing his media and creating new styles from old ways of working, this stately mansion is a perfect setting to experience some of the world's most groundbreaking modern painting, sculpture, and prints.
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