Paris is blessed with important monuments for visitors to explore. It's perhaps impossible to imagine a city boasting more iconic monuments per square kilometre than the "City of Light", with many of its most famous landmarks well-known the world over.

    From magnificent and splendid towers to sleek galleries and museums, Paris is known as a sightseer's paradise for very good reason. Almost everywhere you turn in the city, you stumble across another example of spectacular architecture. Read on to discover our choice of unmissable monuments in, arguably, the most romantic city in the world.

    1

    Arc de Triomphe

    One of Paris' most quintessential and recognisable sights

    Arc de Triomphe is undoubtedly one of the most iconic monuments in Paris. Inaugurated in 1836, the mighty structure was originally built to commemorate Napoleon's 1805 victory at Austerlitz, and today stands as a tribute to the French soldiers who lost their lives fighting in World War I, the Napoleonic Wars, and the French Revolution.

    The imposing 50-metre structure sits at the western end of the Champs-Élysées in the centre of Place Charles de Gaulle. Inscribed on the Arc's walls are the names of all France's wartime victories and its generals, and underneath the structure lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It's possible to climb the Arc's 280 steps for breathtaking views of the Paris skyline.

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    Location: Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris, France

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 10 pm

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    2

    Notre Dame Cathedral

    A Gothic icon of Paris and of French literature

    Notre Dame Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris) is a stunning Gothic-style cathedral located in the fourth arrondissement of Paris. One of the first Gothic cathedrals ever constructed, building work commenced in 1163 and the project took some 300 years to complete. The building is adorned with an array of delightful sculptures, gargoyles and colourful stained-glass windows, and its characteristic flying buttress structure was among the first of its kind to be built.

    The cathedral's international fame blossomed following the 1831 publication of Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, and it's been synonymous with Parisian culture ever since. Disastrously ravaged by fire in 2019, restoration work is well underway, and the full re-opening is planned for 2024 to coincide with the Paris Olympics.

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    Location: 6 Parvis Notre-Dame - Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France

    Phone: +33 (0)1 42 34 56 10

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    3

    Panthéon

    An immaculate example of neoclassical architecture

    Panthéon is a towering neoclassical monument with a distinctive dome roof situated in Paris' Latin Quarter. Originally designed to be a church, the Panthéon was constructed between 1758 and 1790 and has since become a necropolis for a selection of France’s greatest citizens. The impressive facade of the building is modelled on a classic Greek temple design and features huge Corinthian columns adorned with intricate sculptures by David d'Angers.

    Inside the dome is a replica of the famous pendulum designed by Léon Foucault to demonstrate the rotation of the Earth, and beneath the building lies the necropolis containing the remains of some of France's most notable figures, including Voltaire, Rousseau, and Victor Hugo.

    Location: Place du Panthéon, 75005 Paris, France

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 6.30 pm

    Phone: +33 (0)1 44 32 18 00

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    4

    Pyramide du Louvre

    Sleek modern style against a French Renaissance backdrop

    Pyramide du Louvre is a spectacular glass pyramid that serves as the entrance to the Palais du Louvre. Designed by Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei, the sleek structure stands in the Palace's Cour Napoléon and was commissioned to help accommodate the huge number of visitors attending the Louvre each year.

    The stylish 21.6-meter main pyramid is surrounded by 3 smaller pyramids, and each was constructed entirely from glass segments and metal poles. Work was completed on the building in 1989, and it has since become one of Paris' most recognisable modern landmarks. The pyramid's contemporary design provides a genuinely breathtaking contrast to the classic architecture of the Palace, and – when viewed at night – its dramatic lighting gloriously brings it to life.

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    Location: 75001 Paris, France

    Open: Saturday–Monday 9 am to 6pm, Wednesday 9 am to 9.45 pm, Thursday 9 am to 6 pm (closed on Tuesdays)

    Phone: +33 (0)1 40 20 50 50

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    5

    Sainte-Chapelle

    A magnificent French Gothic gem

    Sainte-Chapelle is magnificent royal chapel on the River Seine's Île de la Cité. The chapel is set inside the medieval Palais de la Cité, which was the residence of the Kings of France until the 14th century. The building was consecrated in 1248 – remarkably taking just 7 years to build – and is considered a treasure of the Gothic style.

    The chapel was commissioned by King Louis IX to house a collection of Christian relics, including Christ's Crown of Thorns, and is perhaps most famous for its dazzling, 15-metre-high stained glassed windows. The 15 brightly coloured panes depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments, recounting events in world history until the chapel's relics arrived in Paris in 1239.

    Location: 10 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris, France

    Phone: +33 (0)1 53 40 60 80

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    6

    The Palais Garnier

    A site of Napoleonic grandeur

    The Palais Garnier is a wonderfully lavish neo-baroque opera house in the 9th arrondissement of Paris. The magnificent 2000-seat venue was commissioned by Napoleon to house the Paris Opera between 1861 and 1875 and is considered a masterpiece of 19th-century theatre architecture.

    The splendid exterior stands proudly as the most conspicuous landmark in the famous Opera-Haussmann shopping district. Inside, the grand staircase greets visitors before they enter the plush auditorium with its high, decorated ceiling and burgundy furnishings. Also known as Paris Opera, or Opera Garnier, today the building is home to the Paris Ballet. The ballet regularly performs inside its decadent surroundings.

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    Location: Place de l'Opéra, 75009 Paris, France

    Phone: +33 (0)1 71 25 24 23

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    7

    The Sacré-Cœur Basilica

    A breathtaking basilica perched high above the Paris skyline

    The Sacré-Cœur Basilica, also known as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, is one of the most stunning monuments in Paris. A key feature of the city's picturesque skyline, the spectacular church perches above the charming cobbled streets of Montmartre, at the highest point in Paris. The building was consecrated in 1919, and its Byzantine-inspired features and bleached white facade help it to stand out majestically among the city's landmarks.

    Built to help counteract “a century of moral decline” in France, Sacré-Cœur is known as a symbol of civic pride as much as its religious significance, although it continues to operate as a Roman Catholic church today. Visitors are welcomed to marvel at the jaw-dropping architecture, the church's fine art collection and its exceptional, uninterrupted views of Paris.

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    Location: 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris, France

    Open: Daily from 6 am to 10.30 pm

    Phone: +33 (0)1 53 41 89 00

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    8

    Père Lachaise Cemetery

    A final resting place of illustrious cultural icons

    Père Lachaise Cemetery (Cimetière du Père Lachaise) is the largest and most prestigious cemetery in Paris. The atmospheric park landscape covers more than 40 hectares and contains upwards of 70,000 burial plots. An almost countless number of cultural icons are buried here, including Frédéric Chopin, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, and The Door's Jim Morrison, ensuring the site is the most visited cemetery in the city.

    Almost all imaginable styles of funerary are on show here, from Gothic graves to archaic mausoleums and Haussmanian burial chambers. It may seem a little macabre to visit a cemetery, but on a bright Paris day, the cobbled paths and tree-lined ambience make this a uniquely picturesque backdrop to a gentle Paris stroll.

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    Location: 16 Rue du Repos, 75020 Paris, France

    Open: Tuesday–Friday 8 am to 6 pm, Saturday 8.30 am to 6 pm, Sunday–Monday 9 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +33 (0)1 55 25 82 10

    Map
    9

    Conciergerie

    A dramatic Paris monument, once a parliament building

    Conciergerie is a dramatic Paris monument on the Île de la Cité, with a complex and significant place in French history. Originally built as the Palais de la Cité, it was the Parisian seat of power until King Charles V moved his residence to the Louvre in the 14th century. Renamed the Conciergerie, it then functioned as the parliament building until the late 1700s, when – during the French Revolution – it was used to jail political prisoners and criminals.

    Marie-Antoinette was the most famous of the ill-fated guests, and a commemorative chapel now stands on the site of her cell. Now open to the public, its intimidating Gothic towers are steeped in France's wildly fascinating history.

    Location: 2 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris, France

    Phone: +33 (0)1 53 40 60 80

    Map
    10

    The Flame of Liberty

    A shining beacon celebrating freedom and friendship

    The Flame of Liberty in Paris is a full-sized replica of the Statue of Liberty's iconic fiery torch. Marking the continued friendship between France and the US that the Statue of Liberty herself represents, the flame section of the 12-ft tall sculpture is fabricated from copper and entirely covered in gold leaf.

    The eye-catching monument was donated to Paris in 1986 by the International Herald Tribune newspaper to commemorate its 100th year of business and to extend gratitude to France for restoration work carried out on the actual Statue of Liberty. In recent years, the flame has also become something of a shrine for those wishing to remember Princess Diana, who died tragically in Paris in 1997.

    Location: 7 Place de l'Alma, 75008 Paris, France

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    Patrizio Cavaliere | Contributing Writer

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